Fauber: Redskins already in big trouble

It’s only Week 4 of the NFL season, but the Washington Redskins are already in trouble.

Washington was hammered 45-14 by the Giants in a divisional matchup at home Thursday night, dropping the Redskins to 1-3 on the young season. With the loss, Washington is already 2 ½ games behind NFC East division leader Philadelphia, which has a chance to widen that margin Sunday if the Eagles can pick up a win at San Francisco.

I would say the Redskins are probably close to hitting the panic button already this season, but I’m not exactly sure what the realistic expectations were for this year’s team.

Regardless, Washington is in quite a predicament, and it’s not going to get any easier. Up next on the Redskins’ schedule is a home contest against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks on Oct. 6, a Monday night. Then it’s off to Arizona to take on a Cardinals team that is 3-0 heading into Sunday’s game against the Broncos. Washington is staring at a very good possibility of a 1-5 start and falling quickly out of the playoff picture.

That’s a not-so-great notion for a franchise eager to get back to the postseason under first-year head coach Jay Gruden.

Things appeared all well and good for Washington in Week 2, when the Redskins bounced back with a blowout win over Jacksonville despite losing quarterback Robert Griffin III for the foreseeable future to a dislocated ankle. The offense looked sharp behind the leadership of backup QB Kirk Cousins, and there were plenty of Washington fans entertaining the idea that perhaps Cousins, and not RG3, is the franchise’s future at quarterback. (Ah, the joys of playing the Jags).

Then things began to turn sour. Washington blew a 10-point lead in the first half against Philadelphia last Sunday and eventually fell to the Eagles, 37-34. It actually wasn’t a horrendous loss for Washington. The Eagles appear to be, by far, the best team in the NFC East right now, and Cousins was again on point, throwing for 427 yards and three touchdowns.

But then Thursday night happened. Cousins looked like the Eli Manning of yesteryear, Eli Manning looked like Peyton Manning and the Giants completely dismantled the Redskins, handing them their second division loss in a span of just five days.

And it’s not just the notch in the loss column that is cause for such concern for Washington — it’s how bad the Redskins looked on its way to that defeat.

Cousins single-handedly turned the ball over five times — four interceptions and a fumble — and actually threw three picks in a span of five pass attempts and may have quieted all that “franchise QB” talk somewhat. (Did I really see a Tweet calling for the Redskins to put in Colt McCoy?).

Washington’s six total giveaways led directly to 31 of the Giants’ points, and one of the Redskins’ best offensive weapons, running back Alfred Morris, carried the ball just 12 times.

The Redskins defense, which had seemed like one of the team’s biggest strengths in the first three games of the season, allowed 449 yards of offense while Eli Manning completed 72 percent of his passes (28 of 39) for 300 yards and four touchdowns.

As I mentioned, the road only gets tougher from here, and the Redskins need to hope that the few extra days of preparation for their Monday Night Football matchup with Seattle will be enough to find some way to right the ship before things spiral completely out of control.

Washington won’t have to play that game in front of Seattle’s vaunted “12th Man,” which is a major plus, but the Redskins are already in must-win mode and must do so against a team that could very well be making a return trip to the Super Bowl in February.

It’s probably too early to write off the Redskins just yet, but that statement may only hold true for a couple more weeks.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com