10 Takeaways Off The Redskins' Win Over Philadelphia
Week 11: Redskins improve to 4-6 with a 31-6 rout of Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 18, 2012).
1. We still have a season, and thanks to a rare blowout win for the Skins.
The Skins, despite having lost three consecutive games prior to this victory, are just two games behind the NFC East-leading Giants. Five of the Skins’ final seven games (starting with this game) are division games. The Skins are very much in the mix when it comes to winning what seems to be a mediocre division this season.
The 25-point margin of victory is the Skins’ largest since a 34-3 blowout of Detroit in Oct. 2007.
The Skins improved to 15-27 in regular-season games under head coach Mike Shanahan. Just four of the 15 victories have been by 10 points or more.
The Skins' first game off their bye was a home game against the Eagles for a third consecutive season. The Skins lost, 59-28, in the Monday Night Massacre on Nov. 15, 2010, and lost, 20-13, in the Rex Grossman four-interception game on Oct. 16, 2011.
2. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III was outstanding.
RGIII completed 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards, four touchdowns, no turnovers and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He also had 12 carries for a team-high 84 rushing yards. RGIII did have a second-quarter fumble that was recovered by fullback Darrel (duh-REHL) Young. The only other performance by RGIII that you realistically could argue was better was what he did in the Week 6 win over Minnesota: 17-of-22 for 182 yards, a touchdown and a pick; 13 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns, including the magnificent fourth-quarter 76-yard touchdown run.
RGIII is fourth in the NFL in yards per pass attempt (7.92), fifth in the league in passer rating (101.0) and tied for sixth in the league in completion percentage (67.1).
RGIII is leading an offense that now has gone three consecutive games without committing a turnover.
Impressive plays for RGIII included: • Fourth-quarter first-and-20 28-yard run. Three plays later RGIII stood strong in the pocket and fired a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Logan Paulsen, who fought through an attempted tackle by safety Kurt Coleman. Paulsen did this despite having suffered a left-hip injury in the third quarter.
• Third-quarter third-and-14 23-yard scramble. Three plays later RGIII connected with receiver Santana Moss on a 61-yard touchdown bomb.
• Second-quarter third-and-six 10-yard scramble on which he eluded attempted tackles by defensive end Jason Babin and rookie linebacker Mychal (MY-kuhl) Kendricks. Three plays later RGIII fired a 49-yard touchdown bomb to a wide-open receiver in Aldrick Robinson.
• First-quarter six-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Young
The Skins went 5-for-11 on third downs off having gone 6-for-27 on third downs over the previous two games and having entered this game last in the NFL in third-down efficiency (28.6 percent; 32-for-112).
RGIII did have a late-second-quarter completion to receiver Pierre Garcon for minus-one yard. RGIII did a nice job of avoiding pressure on the play but was throwing across the field and should have just thrown the ball away. Of course, he’s turned similar circumstances into significant gain before (second-quarter 26-yard pass play to tight end Fred Davis in the Week 1 win at New Orleans).
3. Safety Brandon Meriweather finally made his regular-season Skins debut. And then was lost for the season.
Meriweather, who had dealt with an injured left knee since the preseason, was impactful. • First-quarter third-and-21 pick that he returned 25 yards
• First-quarter tackle of tight end Clay Harbor on a reception for minus-one yard
• First-quarter heavy hit on Harbor to dislodge the ball and force an incompletion
• Second-quarter tackle of running back LeSean McCoy on a run for one yard.
But Meriweather suffered a right-knee injury early in the third quarter and did not return. Shanahan revealed on Monday that Meriweather had suffered a torn right ACL. The Skins placed Meriweather on injured reserve on Tuesday, when they signed free-agent corner Jerome Murphy, who was a third-round pick of St. Louis in the 2010 NFL Draft.
4. The Skins’ defense played its best game of the season.
That’s not saying much, I know. And the Eagles were without quarterback Michael Vick (concussion; rookie Nick Foles got the start), receiver Jason Avant (hamstring) and three injured offensive linemen (left tackle Jason Peters, right tackle Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce (KEHL-see)). But the defense was largely very good.
The Skins forced three first-half takeaways off having gone two consecutive games without a takeaway. The Skins now are third in the NFC with a turnover differential of plus-10 (19 takeaways versus nine giveaways). The Skins had 21 takeaways all of last season and haven’t had 30 takeaways since the 2003 season.
The Skins totaled four sacks and seven quarterback hits. The Skins entered this game having totaled just two sacks over the previous three games and just three quarterback hits over the previous two games. The Skins now are tied for 23rd in the NFL with 18 sacks.
The Skins held McCoy, whom Shanahan has consistently referred to as one of the top backs in the NFL, to 15 carries for 45 yards. McCoy was carted off the field with a concussion in the fourth quarter thanks to a hit from safety Madieu (muh-DEE-oo) Williams. The Skins are seventh in the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (94.6) and tied for 13th in the league in fewest yards allowed per carry (4.1).
Nose tackle Barry Cofield had perhaps his best game since signing with the Skins prior to last season, grading out at plus-5.5 according to Pro Football Focus. He had an excellent forced fumble late in the second quarter, using his left arm to knock the ball out of McCoy’s hands while falling forward. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan recovered the ball, ripping it from the grasp of rookie center Dallas Reynolds. Cofield and Kerrigan teamed again in the third quarter, as Cofield pushed aside Reynolds and then Kerrigan finished the play, tackling McCoy on a carry that resulted in a six-yard loss. Two plays later Kerrigan, while being blocked by McCoy, chopped the ball out of Foles’ hand for what was officially a sack-strip (McCoy did recover the ball). Kerrigan also played a major role in corner DeAngelo Hall's second-quarter tackle of receiver DeSean Jackson on a reception for minus-three yards but did not play on every defensive snap of the game for the first time in his career.
Hall had a first-quarter pick that returned 22 yards. The ball bounced off tight end Brent Celeck (who was being covered by linebacker London Fletcher), and Hall caught it. He also had a fourth-quarter tackle of McCoy on run for minus-five yards and the second-quarter tackle of Jackson on a reception for minus-three yards. Hall did commit a fourth-quarter five-yard holding penalty and was run by (while on his knees) tight end Riley Cooper on his first-quarter third-and-seven 15-yard reception.
Linebacker Perry Riley had a third-quarter third-and-six sack, tipped the ball on an attempted screen to McCoy on a first-quarter incompletion and, along with rookie linebacker Keenan Robinson, provided pressure on the next play, which resulted in Meriweather’s interception. Riley did get beat by Celek on a third-quarter third-and-five 22-yard reception and did commit a fourth-quarter 15-yard unnecessary-roughness penalty and a first-quarter five-yard illegal-formation penalty.
Corner Josh Wilson was credited with a second-quarter sack-strip, though it was defensive end Jarvis Jenkins coming in to finish the sack that forced the fumble. Wilson also drew a second-quarter 10-yard holding penalty on receiver Jeremy Maclin. Wilson did get beat by Cooper on a first-quarter third-and-eight 23-yard reception and did suffer a second-degree strain of the rotator cuff in his left shoulder late in the game.
Linebacker Rob Jackson had a fourth-quarter sack.
Foles completed just 21 of 46 passes.
5. There were some rough moments for the Skins’ defense.
The Eagles went just 7-for-19 on third downs but 4-for-9 in the first half. • Rookie fullback Stanley Havili (huh-VEE-lee) had a first-quarter third-and-two nine-yard reception.
• Cooper had the first-quarter third-and-seven 15-yard reception.
• Copper had the first-quarter third-and-eight 23-yard reception on which he beat Wilson.
• Rookie receiver Damaris (duh-MAHR-iss) Johnson had a second-quarter third-and-17 21-yard reception.
Celek had the third-quarter third-and-five 22-yard reception.
A late-first-quarter three-play stretch was bookended by McCoy receptions of 20 and 25 yards on screens. The Skins rushed seven on the 20-yard screen, which came on a second-and-20.
Fletcher committed a first-quarter five-yard neutral-zone-infraction penalty. He suffered a left-ankle injury in the first quarter but did return.
Corner Cedric Griffin committed a fourth-quarter five-yard delay-of-game penalty.
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander committed a late-fourth-quarter five-yard offside penalty.
6. Penalties remain a massive problem.
The Skins had 13 more accepted penalties for 80 yards. The Skins now have an NFL-worst 88 accepted penalties and have been penalized for a league-worst 729 yards.
7. Morris was mostly having a very bad game until the fourth quarter.
Morris had a first-quarter third-and-one carry for minus-five yards, was stuffed for no gain on an early-fourth-quarter fourth-and-one, committed two third-quarter false-start penalties and had a third-quarter fumble that he recovered.
But Morris had fourth-quarter carries for 17, seven, nine and 20 yards and finished with 20 carries for 76 yards.
Morris did have a fourth-quarter carry for minus-five yards on a direct pitch. The same play resulted in a second-quarter 12-yard run on which Young provided a terrific block on Kendricks.
Morris provided a terrific block on RGIII’s third-quarter third-and-14 23-yard scramble.
Morris also served as the Skins’ third-down back, as he played on 91 percent of the Skins’ snaps on offense. Running back Evan Royster played for just two of the Skins’ 53 snaps on offense.
8. The Skins’ offensive line did not have its best game.
Credit the front five for some of Morris’ lengthy runs, but the running game largely disappointed over the first three quarters. Also, RGIII was running on pass plays too often in this game, although the Eagles officially finished with just two sacks and four quarterback hits.
Babin beat left tackle Trent Williams for a third-quarter third-and-17 sack that resulted in an eight-yard loss. Babin got significant push on right tackle Tyler Polumbus on a second-quarter sack for zero yards (the sack did not officially go to Babin). The Skins are 19th in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed with 23.
Polumbus committed a third-quarter five-yard illegal-formation penalty.
Right guard Chris Chester committed a third-quarter five-yard false-start penalty.
Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger had a second-quarter five-yard false-start penalty.
9. Skins coaches deserve some scrutiny.
Let’s make clear that this was a much-needed and very-welcome win, and the Skins’ coaching staff overall has a lot to be proud of, especially oft-criticized defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and his crew.
But the going for it on the early-fourth-quarter fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 18 made little sense to me. The Skins had not been running the ball well, RGIII had just been stuffed for no gain on a third-and-one and the Skins have a kicker in Kai Forbath who had made a second-quarter 25-yard field goal to improve to 9-for-9 with the team. Another Forbath field goal would have given the Skins a 27-6 lead. Instead, Morris was stuffed for no gain.
The Skins were in complete personnel confusion in the third quarter and were forced to call a timeout while on offense. But the next play was RGIII’s 61-yard touchdown bomb to Moss.
Some of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling was questionable, though, as is always the case, execution is more to blame than play-calling. Also, these calls were perhaps a function of the Skins not having faith in their pass protection. • Morris’ first-quarter third-and-one carry for minus-five yards was the result of an option pitch as opposed to, say, just running the ball up the middle or a quarterback draw.
• The Skins ran Morris on a second-and-11 at the Eagles’ 15 with 14 seconds left in the second quarter. He gained three yards. Why not throw the ball into the end zone? Forbath then made the 25-yard field goal as the first half ended.
• The Skins didn’t have much success on receiver screens that admittedly have worked this season. Receiver-returner Brandon Banks had a third-quarter reception for no gain on the play before the timeout. Garcon, who’s dealing with a very painful injured toe on his right foot, had a third-quarter reception for minus-one yard.
Also, the coaches must share in the blame for the Skins’ terrible penalty problem.
10. Miscellaneous notes:
Moss’ third-quarter 61-yard touchdown reception was the play of the year for the Skins from a degree-of-difficulty standpoint. Moss, listed as being 5-foot-10, caught the ball between two Eagles defensive backs: Coleman and rookie corner Brandon Boykin. Moss then broke through an attempted tackle by Boykin to get into the end zone. Moss now has just 25 receptions over 10 games but also six touchdown receptions over the last eight games.
Garcon had three receptions on three targets for five yards in his first game since the Week 5 loss to Atlanta.
Forbath's (FOHR-bath's) second-quarter 25-yard field goal made him 9-for-9 on field goals of 50, 20, 43, 45, 48, 45, 47, 25 and 25 yards over five games with the Skins. Forbath did see just one of his five kickoffs result in a touchback and now has seen just nine of his 25 kickoffs result in touchbacks.
Punter Sav Rocca, who is dealing with a torn meniscus in his right knee, averaged 45.4 yards and 39.8 net yards on five punts, placing three inside the 20. He now is 25th in the NFL in yards per punt (43.9) and 20th in net yards per punt (39.1).
Banks had punt returns of eight, 11 and 13 yards. He ran into Alexander on the eight-yard return in the second quarter. Banks also had a fourth-quarter run for six yards to go with the third-quarter reception for no gain. He did not register a kickoff return. Banks is 23rd in the NFL in yards per punt return (6.9) and is tied for 21st in the league in yards per kickoff return (24.6). One of our Skins insiders, Rich Campbell of The Washington Times, wrote about Banks dealing with a right hip injury that likely will require surgery in the offseason.
Inactives for the Skins were Grossman, linebacker Mario Addison, receiver Dezmon (DEHZ-mihn) Briscoe, rookie corner Richard Crawford for a third consecutive game (and he did not play for a fourth consecutive game), rookie guard Adam Gettis, guard/tackle Maurice Hurt and defensive end Doug Worthington.
Rookie guard Josh LeRibeus (luh-REE-biss), a 2012 third-round pick, was active for just the third time this season.
Long snapper Nick Sundberg returned from the broken left arm suffered in the Week 1 win at the Saints.
The Skins remained without: • Davis (torn left Achilles suffered in the Week 7 loss at the Giants)
• Linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn left pectoral muscle suffered in the Week 2 loss at Saint Louis)
• Defensive lineman Adam Carriker (right quadriceps tendon tear suffered in the Week 2 loss at Saint Louis)
• Running back Roy Helu Jr. (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 26 due to turf toe; he also had dealt with tendonitis in both Achilles)
• Right tackle Jamal Brown (hip; is on the physically-unable-to-perform list)
• Safety Tanard Jackson (indefinite suspension due to a third violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy)