Rapid Reaction: Washington Redskins

DALLAS -- A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

What it means: The Redskins fancied themselves as Super Bowl contenders, from the top of the organization on down. Losing to Dallas and falling to 1-4 makes them one of the NFL’s bigger disappointments this season. And now the serious questions have to start coming: Why has this organization failed to sustain last season's momentum? Head coach Mike Shanahan felt he had built something powerful; that is not the case. Why? Is this about coaching? Talent evaluation? It’s not just on the players at this point. It’s an all-around failure. And this is not just about Robert Griffin III’s knee injury. The Redskins fail to do so many of the little things well -- and every penalty ends up hurting them -- that their fortunes won’t change until that does. The season isn’t over. It’s darn close, though.

Woeful unit: The Redskins’ special teams have been bad as a group all season under first-year coach Keith Burns. Is it his fault? He has no track record to fall back on to say he’ll get this turned around. I don’t think there’s a lot of confidence among that group right now. After Sunday night, I’m not sure there should be. They allowed a punt return for a touchdown. Then, on their next kickoff, Washington allowed a 90-yard return.

Stock report: Down -- Washington’s offensive line. The Redskins have done a good job this season in pass protection, but they had all sorts of issues with the Cowboys’ interior, tackle Jason Hatcher in particular. Dallas lost end DeMarcus Ware in the first half and yet the Cowboys still applied too much pressure on Griffin.

Red zone woes: The Redskins had to settle for field goals of 20, 32 and 33 yards. That might have been OK if their special teams weren’t so bad or if the defense were dominant. Instead, the Redskins missed an early opportunity when linebacker Sean Lee tackled Griffin on a quarterback draw. At the end of the first half, poor clock management cost Washington time and potentially more chances to go for a touchdown.

Up next: The Redskins host the Chicago Bears next week, a game they must win with a trip to Denver the following week. The season is more than slipping away. A loss to Chicago and you can start looking ahead to the offseason.