Three takeaways from Redskins' 33-7 loss to Patriots

New England Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton sacks Washington Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jonathan Newton.

LANDOVER, Md. - Cheers of "Brady! Brady! Brady!" echoed from the FedEx Field stands shortly before future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady threw his third touchdown pass of the game for the New England Patriots. On the opposite sideline, the Washington Redskins were suffering their way through another nauseating offensive performance, led by their third quarterback in five games.

Colt McCoy made his 2019 debut as the starter for the Redskins, who were desperate to inject life into an offense that began the day ranked 28th in the NFL in both points per game (16.5) and average yards (296.3). The Redskins failed to reach either of those averages Sunday, with just 220 yards in a 33-7 loss, and McCoy's performance left the team with more questions as to how it would move forward at the quarterback position.

"Tough day, I don't want to paint any other picture," McCoy said. "I felt fine physically. But when you get down a couple scores to these guys, it's a hard thing to just drop back and throw with their pass rush and their defense."

The Washington offense never got going against the defending Super Bowl champs. The Redskins were 1 for 11 on third down, fumbled three times and threw an interception. McCoy finished 18 of 27 for 119 yards with a 60.6 passer rating in his first game action since breaking his leg last season and undergoing multiple surgeries. He was also sacked six times.

"He rushed a couple things there early in the game, and rightfully so," Coach Jay Gruden said. "Had some trouble picking up some stunts, which we have practiced and worked against all week, all year. It's an unfair evaluation right now; have to check out the protections first. He handled things pretty well, I think, but we have to do a better job around him."

The results put the quarterback position back into limbo for the Redskins. At 0-5, the team is staring at a potential lost season, and many observers have begun to call for rookie first-round pick Dwayne Haskins to be put in as the full-time starter as Washington prepares for the future.

But Haskins looked overwhelmed in his pro debut last week against the New York Giants, which is partially what led to Gruden opting to start McCoy this week. Gruden's fondness for McCoy is well-known, and McCoy appeared set to win the starting job coming out of training camp before the setback to his leg. Gruden could easily decide to ride out McCoy the rest of the season - or at least for the next few games - given that Haskins has not proved he's ready to be a starting NFL quarterback. There's also Case Keenum, who was inactive Sunday after starting the first four games of the season and is dealing with a foot injury.

The Redskins' quarterback situation, a question mark for much of training camp and for the last couple of weeks, figures to remain an issue heading into Sunday's road game at the Miami Dolphins.

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Defense makes strides

The Redskins' defense arguably had its best showing of the season, which is a tough thing to say considering it allowed 33 points. But against Brady and one of the most productive offenses in the league, the Redskins held the Patriots to just 12 points in the first half, forcing three punts and a turnover on downs. The defense finally got pressure on an opposing quarterback, recording four sacks after having five in the first four games.

Things fell apart in the second half, as the offense sputtered and the defense grew tired. New England scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions of the second half. The Washington defense was on the field for over nine minutes in the third quarter.

It remains to be seen whether this performance is something the defense can build upon, particularly heading into a stretch of the schedule that should be easier than the team's first five weeks. That starts Sunday against the winless Dolphins. In the immediate aftermath of the loss, however, frustration remained.

"It sucks for everybody right now," defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. "Sucks for Coach Gruden, [defensive coordinator Greg] Manusky. Literally, everybody here is going through it.

"But at the end of the day, no one cares about that. No one cares about your feelings, coaches' feelings or my feelings. We have to get it done."

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Sims shows potential

Undrafted rookie Steven Sims has turned into a multifaceted weapon for the Redskins, and the team's efforts to get him more touches on offense paid off in the first quarter, when he rushed for a 65-yard touchdown that would be the team's lone score of the game. Sims took the misdirection carry, broke two tackles and ran away from the rest of the defense down the sideline.

While that play gave Washington an early lead and much-needed energy, he showed his inexperience late in the second quarter. On a first-and-10 play with 58 seconds remaining, Sims broke off a slant route too early, leading to a Jason McCourty interception off McCoy that set up Mike Nugent's 23-yard field goal that gave the Patriots a 12-7 halftime lead.

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