The Washington Redskins have now done (at least for them) the almost unthinkable. They've actually won two football games in a row (had not happened since Week 1 & 2, 2011) and have done it in impressive motion. This has a much different feel than last year's back-to-back wins over the Giants & Arizona Cardinals - for many reasons.
Just six days ago, Redskins players woke up staring a must-win in the face and the task of avoiding another embarrassing loss at home, and to a rookie quarterback for a 9th consecutive time. The Redskins came out of the bye week with their hair on fire, and blasted Philadelphia into cheese steak hell, 31-6.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. A 28-point 2nd quarter ultimately proved to be the difference, along with some brilliant play by Robert Griffin III, clutch kicking by Kai Forbath and a dominating defensive effort in the 1st half. Even in the 2nd half, that Redskins fans are fretting about - Jim Haslett's troops came up with several monster plays to stuff a few turkeys named Romo, Garrett and Jones.
Before I fully watch the TV version & some of the coaching tape that gets posted (whenever they feel like it) on NFL.com -- here are some "Quick Snaps" thoughts and reaction to the Redskins 38-31 win that resembled what your kitchen looks like after Thanksgiving Day. What I mean by that, is a lot of delicious goodies that give you that happy, elated feeling but a lot to clean up afterwards.
***Let's start with Aldrick Robinson's 68 yard bomb touchdown, which was thrown perfectly in stride by Robert Griffin so that the dynamic Robinson could run full speed and catch it over his shoulder and in perfect stride, without the speedster having to slow down for even a half-second. Wow, what a throw and a nice route with similar components as his 49-yard score last Sunday against the Eagles. To me, this was more impressive for many reasons.
Robinson split the corner and safety on a scissor post route from the right side of the formation. The safety (Danny McCray) was caught flat-footed or was frozen for one second, because of one very important component. The Redskins ran this play out of a bunch run look. Washington had a twin H-Back type set, with Darrel Young and Logan Paulsen set behind the offensive line and split slightly in front and on both sides of Robert Griffin III.
The play before, had almost exactly the same formation with Paulsen running a left to right, stop-and-go motion and setting to Griffin's left, with Young to Griffin's right - while Alfred Morris was set behind the QB. Aldrick Robinson (on the play before TD) was lined up to the left of Griffin in a tighter alignment. Robinson tried to get a good start off the snap, and drew a false start.
On the TD, Paulsen ran motion from right to left halfway, before settling off-set right of Griffin. Young was to Griffin's left, with Morris once again lined up as part of the full house backfield look behind Griffin III. Washington ran a zone-read play action, as Robinson (on Griffin's right) got a free release and with the safety frozen - BINGO - for the touchdown and the Redskins SIXTH touchdown play of 60+ yards on the season.
One other interesting element of the play. Because it was the same exact play and formation (just flipped) when Aldrick Robinson broke the huddle - he tried to go back to the left side of the formation, before realizing that he was supposed to be on the right. In a flash, it was 7-3 Redskins and they were off to the races. You can get a better feel for how the Redskins drew this up schematically here, courtesy of Mark Bullock (@UKRedskin1) and by checking out his great timeline - pic.twitter.com/i0d1Lys7 .
**The touchdown eliminated Brandon Banks horrifying decision to catch a punt while back pedaling towards his own goal line. Officially, Banks was 'credited' with fielding the ball at the Washington 0-yard line and was knocked out of bounds at the Washington-7. Clearly, a mind numbing mistake that cost the Redskins 13-yards of field position. Mike Shanahan addressed the issue on Friday with reporters during a tele-conference, saying "we're going to take a hard look at it and make sure he makes the best decisions."
Sounds to me like they would consider putting someone else back in that role, but the question becomes who? Richard Crawford has been inactive the last few games. Santana Moss is too valuable as a receiving threat, with 7 touchdowns already and closing in on his best single season mark here in Washington. DeAngelo Hall has played on kick-off coverage this year, and of-course had the on-sides kick recovery to end the 38-31 win.
Shanahan also pointed out, when I asked him to grade Banks' performance - the key 3rd & 4 conversion he had on a quick pass for a first down. Banks slipped out of his break and still charged ahead for the first down. It was an 8-yard gain that came two plays before Pierre Garcon's 59-yard scoring catch and run.
I also thought it was interesting that on the Aldrick Robinson touchdown drive, which started with Banks' bad decision - he was immediately put back into the game and the offensive sets. On first down, Banks was in the backfield after a shift, on a Alfred Morris 4-yard run. The next play was a 9-yard gain out of the pistol by Robert Griffin III for a first down off the right side because of the threat Banks commands. After a Pierre Garcon catch and a Alfred Morris run of ten yards (the 54th run of 10 + per ESPN 980's Chuck Sapienza to lead the NFL), the Redskins dialed up the formation and scoring play that we wrote about earlier.
***Alfred Morris scored his 6th rushing touchdown of the year, and racked up 113 yards on 24 carries, to move to within 18 yards of the 1,000 mark. He would become the first Redskins RB to achieve that mark since Clinton Portis in 2008. Morris told me on "Monday Night Live" at Velocity 5 Lansdowne - that's the back he wants to be and why he first became a Redskins fan.
Morris racked up his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the year, and per Redskins public relations - the last ten players (Royster, Helu, Morris, Griffin III) to rush for 100 yards in a game have all been rookies. He also has nine games in 2012 in which he has run for 75 or more yards, which puts him on the same line for that achievement as the great Adrian Peterson and also Marshawn Lynch.
Morris' touchdown was his first since the Minnesota win, and came out of the I-formation with a zone block to the right and a left side kick out block by Darrel Young who had several destructive blocks in the win. The most important play on the drive was a 3rd-and-2 seed to Santana Moss. It may have been Robert's most impressive throw of the day, which is pretty hard when you consider his back shoulder TD to Moss before the half and the Robinson bomb.
***So happy to see Niles Paul get rewarded for his continued improvement as a tight end. His 3rd/1 acrobatic touchdown catch that expanded the Redskins lead was a 29-yard catch and roll into the end zone. The play was so well designed that Paul could have had turkey dinner and leftovers before a Cowboys defender got near him. The play was actually on 3rd & inches, and the Redskins as you would expect gave a heavy run look with two tight ends (including Paul) and an I-stack in the formation
Robert Griffin III gave really a "show-me" fake, meaning it wasn't even a good one, but just more to create illusion and the Cowboys had two defenders including Ernie Sims cover Alfred Morris in the right flat for some unknown reason. Aldrick Robison (out of 1 WR set) and Logan Paulsen ran medium depth routes and Paul was free. He made a tough catch on a far from perfect throw as Robert was about to get popped. We mentioned Darrel Young..he had a huge cut block of DeMarcus Ware that gave Griffin a clear throwing lane.
Can you believe many fans wanted to cut Niles Paul? It's another case of Redskins fans being so passionate and angry, that they can't think with any common sense. I have received so many tweets and have seen/heard so many people talk about Niles. It truly was more ridiculous than even the Jim Haslett situation. Even after the touchdown, I faced that silly wrath. It's just so preposterous, I can't even begin to fathom the idea.
Remember, Niles Paul was far from a polished wide receiver in a option based, quarterback running scheme at Nebraska when he was drafted by the Redskins in 2011. He had no off-season in his first NFL year, then was asked to transform himself from a wide receiver to a tight end. DUH, it's going to take some time. Paul has made a big 37-yard catch in Pittsburgh and had a 22-yard catch against Carolina. It's not a huge statistical improvement but the best is yet to come.