LANDOVER — The Redskins preseason frustrations with their passing game bled into the regular season and crystallized on their very first play from scrimmage of 2017.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw deep to wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. When the ball left Cousins‘ hands it was all potential: a big completion to a new weapon on offense, a play that could have gotten Pryor into a rhythm. Then, the big receiver lost track of the ball in the afternoon sun.
“I think he just couldn’t find it,” Cousins said after the Redskins 30-17 loss in the season opener. “I don’t know if it was he couldn’t see where I was in the pocket when he looked back or he couldn’t see where the ball was.”
It wasn’t technically a drop, though Pryor had a few of those. An obvious drop on what would have been a touchdown didn’t matter once Jordan Reed was called for holding on the same play. But the play added to the concern over Pryor’s hands. Pryor said after the game that he just lost track of the ball in the sun, though he didn’t blame the elements and said that he put the Redskins loss “on me.”
“I’m just shooting myself in the foot right now, dropping that ball,” Pryor said. “I’m just real pissed at myself right now.”
A difficult loss for the Redskins was littered with bad plays. The offensive line allowed four sacks. Cousins fumbled at least once, twice according to the stat sheet. There was little semblance of the commitment to the running game players and coaches preached throughout the week.
Within all that, the passing game — supposedly Washington’s greatest strength —didn’t do much either. Cousins and his receivers looked like guys who haven’t played together much, which is what many of them are.
Cousins completed 23-of-40 passes for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a game where the Redskins were near-completely reliant on the pass. Pryor finished as the Redskins’ leading receiver, with six catches for 66 yards on 11 targets. Ryan Grant caught four balls for 61 yards, the only other wideout to surpass 50.
For his part, Cousins was consistently high, including on the game-sealing interception he threw in the fourth quarter.
“We’re better than that at receiver — dropping balls — and we’re better than that at quarterback,” coach Jay Gruden said.
Josh Doctson played, but was never thrown to. The Redskins have maintained that the former first-round pick is fine and will be a big part of their offense this year. Gruden said after the game that health was a factor in Doctson’s limited usage.
“We’re getting him back in there. We’re making sure he’s 100 percent healthy and ready to go, and can handle practice after practice, and game after game. We’ll give him more and more reps as the season progresses,” Gruden said.
Even the usually-reliable Jamison Crowder caught only three of the seven passes intended for him, including the goal-line throw that was intercepted at the goal-line by Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills.
“I would start by saying I can be more accurate,” Cousins said.
Cousins threw off his back foot on the interception and the ball was well high for Crowder, who is 5-foot-9. Cousins said that he’d read the field and was trying to lead Pryor with his eyes, and ended up giving the play away when he went to Crowder.
“My eyes were in the wrong place and it leads to what you saw,” Cousins said. “It’s disappointing. You’ve got to be able to make that play there. I think if we do, we probably get the first down to Jamison. If not, he scores and it’s a different ball game. Those are the plays you look at at say, ‘I’ve got to be better.’”
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