Brian Orakpo was officially tendered the franchise tag by the Washington Redskins. It was anything but an easy call, but it was the right call.
"They did what they had to do," Orakpo told ESPN 980 via phone on Monday afternoon, shortly after the news was announced by the Redskins.
"I am glad about moving forward with the franchise tag," Orakpo said while stressing that he is optimistic about the direction that the two sides can now take in securing a long term deal.
Being glad about the franchise tag might be a little bit of an overstatement. Nobody really wants to be tagged or to use the tag.
The cost is plenty on both sides. The player only gets a one year deal at a fraction (Half?) of the guaranteed money he would normally receive, while the organization has to absorb a huge salary cap number of at least 11.45 million that counts entirely against the 2014 cap space.
Normally a long term contract is designed to cost lower against the cap in the first and second years, before beginning the bloated financial figures that are part of these deals.
While the two sides have until July 15th to work out a long-term deal, the Redskins will have to carry that cap charge of at least 11.45 million forward until such a time. That is assuming that Orakpo's agents do not win a designation that he is a defensive end.
They shouldn't. He's an outside linebacker and everyone (including the Redskins and the NFL) knows it. Sure, Washington runs a four-man defensive line front about 62% of the time, but that is not four down linemen.
Orakpo is almost always standing up and rushing from a two point stance with two down linemen in a "nickel' design.
While there will be some sort of debate about that issue, that's not the debate that seems to have some a little hot under the collar. It is the perception that Dan Snyder made this decision, despite others in the organization feeling differently.
It's the questions that Jay Gruden or even Bruce Allen may not have been on par with the decision. Or Morocco Brown.
There was a very intense, healthy debate and "internal struggle" as one source called it on what exactly to do.
The long term extension is the best salary cap option, and the best option for Orakpo. It's also the best option for the Redskins if the money is right. That doesn't mean just right now, it means in Year three and four, where if you have to dump a guy at 29 or 30 years old that is a key core of your defense because of bloated salary cap figures created by keeping the year one and two charges down, that's not a great situation to be staring down the road at.
Especially considering the Redskins are going to have to take care of Trent Williams (entering Year five of a rookie six-year deal), Robert Griffin III (entering year three of essentially a five year deal) and Alfred Morris (entering year three of a very low rookie deal).
Some fans and members of the media took the internal struggle on what to do with Orakpo as a sign of chaos or dysfunction. I don't quite see it that way.
I see it in this way. You want different voices and perspectives, that ultimately come to a consensus.
Maybe the consensus is spend more now, while you are rebuilding the defense and make the long term decision in three months after the draft and free agency to see if you have a viable long term plan.
Maybe the consensus was "we couldn't lose our best player" on a sub-par unit, and face the challenge of not only replacing him but still adding to the mix.
That would be my guess, which is what I've been saying all along. The Redskins put an engagement ring on Brian Orakpo's finger after dating him for the last five years, and now they have to determine if they want to marry him.
Sounds silly, right? However, I would say that's the true debate. I would allow that I heard a lot of rumblings about letting Orakpo hit the market or to use the transition tag on him, which would lower the cap number while also allowing the Redskins to match any offer.
That thought process made a certain amount of sense. Especially the transition tag option. As one source said "you keep yourself in the game longer" with that mechanism. However, you also don't give yourself any compensation if you decide not to match.
If you think a very complicated decision should have been a slam-dunk, you are nuts. NFL teams want certain players all the time, but then the cost short and long-term has to be weighed and measured. This is the debate.
Anybody that thinks this kind of debate does not go on all around the NFL, just isn't paying attention. This is not dysfunction, this is collaborative decision making. As one Redskins source put it, "Media in this area, they think everything is a conspiracy."
The Redskins ultimately decided they were not willing to play poker with the rest of the NFL, and chose to show part of their hand to Orakpo's side while maintaining the trump card.
They can do that. It's the business of the NFL. Orakpo has options, they have options.
As one player source said to me, "nobody should be mad about making 11 million dollars." Orakpo to his credit is certainly saying all of the right things. "I am relieved and happy," he told ESPN 980 on Monday.
That's it. The decision is done. The franchise tag guarantees nothing but the Redskins right to do what they feel is appropriate. Orakpo can still shop his services. The Redskins could ultimately choose to trade him.
What should the Redskins do with Brian Orakpo? First, they must retain him and I feel by any means necessary.
Franchise tag him or sign him to a long term deal at a fair number are the only two choices in my eyes. Yes, that means that if you are amongst the group that thinks Orakpo can just be replaced, you are not thinking realistically and more important, you are wrong.
This defense needs to add talent, not subtract and then try to replace it. Orakpo is not Aldon Smith or Von Miller. He's also not an idiot like those guys are. Both of them. Two knuckleheads that I would never want on my team.
Orakpo is a core Redskin. The Redskins need players have worked hard to get better. Many believe he's not an elite pass rusher. I know he feels like he is,and Jim Haslett feels he is, but the raw numbers would suggest a debate can be made on both sides.
Orakpo is now a three time Pro Bowler after his addition to the 2014 game. He posted double digit sacks in 2013 for the first time since 2009.
Orakpo started off somewhat slow and tentative as he was trying to make his way back from missing nearly the entire 2012 season. He posted a sack in a dreadful loss at Lambeau Field when the Redskins were attacking Aaron Rodgers before the Packer great got comfortable himself. That sack put Orakpo over 30 in his career and was his first since what happened in St. Louis in week 2 of 2012.
In Orakpo's best individual game of the season, he abused an awful, backup left tackle in Oakland for two sacks and also had a monster run stop on 3rd-and-1 that forced a long field goal miss by Sebastian Janikowski and which turned into points for the Redskins and their first win of the season.
Who knew they would only have two more?
In the Redskins 2nd win of the season, Orakpo would have his first interception in the NFL and his first career touchdown as Reed Doughty combined with Orakpo to pop a ball up in to the air, and Orakpo had what he called his first interception at any level. Hard to fathom, but he insisted on it.
Orakpo did not dominate another backup left tackle in Chris Clark of the Broncos like the Redskins really needed but he did have a 2nd career fumble recovery in a valiant effort for the defense in Denver.
He really cranked up the pass rush numbers and very much improved run defense down the stretch with a sack in Philadelphia and against San Francisco. Six days later, in the midst of a lost season - Orakpo had two sacks against the Giants for his eighth multi-sack game.
During this stretch, Orakpo had a sack in four straight games for the first time in his five year career, a period that ended with 5.5 sacks in that four game span.
Orakpo got into double digits in Atlanta with 1.5 sacks against a backup left tackle yet again but it still should be noted that not everybody gets to double digits. Very few do. Orakpo also had a 2nd career fumble recovery in the Atlanta loss.
So what do you do with him? How do you retain Orakpo while protecting yourself at the same time.
"If I could get him to agree to take a home-team discount which I don't think he will, in the Paul Kruger range (8 MM per year),I would sign that," said Joel Corry on ESPN 980 Wednesday night. Corry, a former sports agent and NFL salary cap analyst for CBSSports.com and the National Football Post realizes the chances are slim and none on that front. "Knowing that's not going to happen realistically, the franchise tag becomes a real option."
For a change the Redskins have money to spend under the cap. While figures vary and are dependent on what they do with certain situations (Adam Carriker, Chris Chester?) "the Redskins are going to have roughly 25-26 million worth of cap room," says Corry. That allows them to tag Orakpo (at just under 11 million) and "then you make the decision next year."
Tagging Orakpo with the designation might frustrate Orakpo and his agents at CAA, but it is the most realistic option. It does not prevent a long term deal as Corry explained that both sides could still arrive at one by the cut-off date of July 15th.
Corry explained that Orakpo would still have some leverage in this particular scenario by not reporting to training camp in Richmond (unlikely) and not signing the franchise tender offer. In such a scenario, Orakpo could negotiate a clause that would prevent a franchise or transition tag designation for 2015 or Corry said Orakpo could actually ask for more money than the franchise tag would dictate.
Corry said the reason for this would be that a "2nd franchise tag (2015) is 120 % of the previous year's salary." In other words, Orakpo would get more money this year (2014) while making it extremely difficult for the Redskins to use the franchise tag again.
The problem for Washington is that a franchise tag this year would count for more than one-third of their approximate salary cap room.
If the Redskins were to seriously entertain a long term contract with Orakpo, the average annual value of the contract could be north of 11 million, but "it's really what he's going to make in the first three years," according to Corry.
Corry points out something to keep in mind that "Greg Hardy (Carolina DE) who will be the best pass rusher on the market," will probably not get out of Carolina. However, Michael Johnson of Cincinnati could certainly be set free by the Bengals (Minnesota anyone?) and whether he is or he isn't, take a guess who the next best pass rusher is?? "It's Brian Orakpo," says Corry and thenumbers from ProFootballFocus.com would certainly back that up.
Ultimately, Orakpo is going to want money too rich for the Redskins blood and as I've said all along, that's why the NFL created the current system.
"Franchising him may become the actual thing that happens if the Redskins think his demands are excessive," says Corry. They will be, in any reasonable opinion.
The Redskins also have to balance whatever they do with Orakpo with the assumed need that they will try very hard to bring back DeAngelo Hall, Perry Riley and Chris Baker.
The problem is, combined with a franchise tag for Orakpo (my expectation) and three new contracts for those players, it might leave the Redskins with five million dollars or less of salary cap room to actually add talent.
Hall played for virtual peanuts last year, and will be looking for a deal that will bring better value. Corry explained "the big problem is he's at 30 so that's the wrong age. He made 2 million if you include his incentives. Maybe a 2-3 year deal, you give him some salary escalators and incentives. Maybe 9-10 million over three years if he maxes out everything, but you don't break the bank for him."
That's not even getting to Riley who may want something similar to what Dannell Ellerbereceived from the Dolphins. Baker should be a hot commodity, after drawing interest from the Seahawks as a restricted free agent last year. His strong play down the stretch as a versatile defensive lineman who can play nose and end, along with the ability to play a defensive tackle position in a 4-3 should lead to a nice payday.
Tough decisions ahead for Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the Redskins
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
1. Pierre Garcon. The catch on his back was incredible as was his game and his record-setting season. He set the single-season reception record for the franchise; a record that stood for 29 years.
2. Forced turnovers. A nice play by Wilson to force the fumble on Clutts and a nice interception by D-Hall.
3. Kai Forbath. He made 3 kicks and 2 of the snaps were a little off. Nice job by Rocca to get both of the snaps down. Forbath has quietly made 12 straight kicks.
1. Ineffective pass rush when they had to have it. Tony Romo converted two crucial 4th-down plays in the 4th quarter including the game-winning touchdown pass with little pressure from Skins' pass rushers. Bottom line, the guy (Orakpo) that thinks he's a game-changer didn't change anything. Few if any impact plays from Brian Orakpo who appeared to be dominated at times by Tyron Smith.
2. Penalties and offensive miscommunication. The Skins' final offensive play where Moss seemed to lineup on the wrong side of the field forcing a hurried snap and a frenetic Cousins reflected too much of what went wrong today. Receivers not knowing where to line up or lining up illegally was an issue and shouldn't be in week 16. Penalties were killers all day but none more ridiculous than the back to back penalties on 3rd and goal at the 2 (2nd qtr) when the Skins followed up a false start with an illegal shift. The next play was a Skins' timeout. A possible 7 pts. became a self-inflicted 3.
3. Not enough offense. Bottom line, Dallas was allowing 427 yards per game coming in and the Skins didn't even get 300. Other than Garcon & Morris who consistently moved the pile for extra yards, nothing else was that impressive. There were drops by Morris on the first play of the game and Darrell Young in the 3rd qtr and there was the big miss from Cousins to Moss late in the first half that resulted in an interception. They made Dallas' defense look professional for the first time in several weeks.
4. Punt coverage. The worst the league has seen in a long time at 17.2 yards per allowed coming in. They gave up a 62-yarder on the first punt of the day. It would be less painful and maybe more productive if they just went for every 4th-down. With that said, their kickoff coverage was pretty good in this game.
5. Clock mgt. The Redskins took a crushing timeout on defense with 2:16 left, the clock stopped, and the playclock winding down to 3 seconds. First, it was possible Dallas would've been called for delay-of-game....secondly, the Redskins needed that timeout to stop the clock when it was running. It cost them 40 potential seconds of clock when they got the ball back. Shanahan said it was called on the field by a player....who cares. The timeout used on the 4th and 2 earlier in the 4th quarter because of 10-men on the field would've been helpful at the end also. Not saying they shouldn't of called it in that particular situation, but having 10 men on the field for a play that crucial is embarrassing.
1. Cousins' day was average. His miss to Moss that ended in INT was points off the board and he had an opportunity with 1:08 left to get the team in FG range and he didn't get them close. With that said, for the 2nd straight week, it was clear that he is a much better pocket passer right now than RG3.
2. The field was torn up and players were slipping all day long.
3. It was far too early for the Skins to go for 2 when they scored in the 3rd qtr to take the lead.
4. Ryan Kerrigan is better lined up inside than outside.
5. Tony Romo's 2 touchdown passes were all because of his extend-the-play ability. As good as anyone in the league buying time to make a throw.
An up and down game for all three phases of the team. The good, bad, and more.
1. Chance to win despite 7 turnovers. It’s almost impossible to win a game with 7 turnovers but the Redskins nearly did it. The defense forced 6 punts and had 2 solid goal-line stands. One of them ended with a forced-field goal; the other was on 4th down. The offense was responsible for 6 of the 7 turnovers but when they weren’t giving the ball to the other team, they were rolling up big yards and pts. The SP Teams lost a fumble, gave up a 25-yard punt return, but Rocca had one of the best days he’s had this year.
2. 1st-half quarterbacking. One of the best halves of quarterback play for any Skins’ QB this year. Cousins was decisive, confident, and got the ball out to the right receiver on time. The one fumble WAS his fault despite the poor pass protection on that play. He must protect the ball under pressure in the pocket. He completed 65% of his passes for 248 yards, 2 touchdowns, with no picks in the first half. Despite 4 turnovers in the half, he led the team to 20 pts on 320 yards. The Redskins had 9 total plays of 10+ yards and 5 of 20+ including their longest play of the year (62 yarder to Robinson).
3. Brian Orakpo. He’s been playing some of the best ball of his career. Another 1.5 sacks and several hurries. He covered well and tackled well also.
4. Perry Riley. Not sure how he’ll be graded out overall by coaches but he was high-energy and around the ball all day. His 4th and goal stop on Jackson was nice.
5. Pierre Garcon. 7 catches for 129 yards. Could’ve been a bigger day if not for 1-2 throws that were behind him a bit including the 3rd and 10 on the drive that ended with a FG to tie the game at 17-17 in the 2nd qtr. He’s the best player on the team.
1. 7 Turnovers. 6 of the 7 were more careless than defensive-forced. Both of Moss’ fumbles were on Moss. Same for the first Morris fumble. His 2nd was a strip but he was carrying the ball loosely in traffic. Both of Cousins’ picks were bad throws without much pressure in the pocket. Cousins’ fumble was the only one of the 7 turnovers that could be described as defensive-forced.
2. Decision to go for 2 and the win. I guess you could say who cares when you're 3-10. However, it seemed to me to be the wrong decision in terms of win probability. The odds of making that 2 pt. conversion was likely in the 40% range while the odds of winning in OT seemed to me to be at worst, 50-50. The defense was playing well and the offense had moved the ball on its last 2 possessions. The Skins had nearly doubled the Falcons in yards to that point so barring an 8th turnover, it seemed like OT was no-worse than an even-money proposition.
3. 3rd-quarter quarterbacking. Kirk looked like Joe T. in the first half but Rex G. in the 3rd quarter. He knows the offense, he’s decisive, and gets the ball out on time to the right place most of the time but his accuracy in the 3rd quarter was bad. Both interceptions were badly thrown balls.
4. End of first-half clock mgt. An inexcusable handling of the clock at the end of the first half and it cost them a legit shot to get 7 instead of 3. This has been a major problem with this coaching staff. Today you could argue, it cost them a chance to win the game. The goal is more plays at the end of a half if you have the ball, not less. The Skins' actions cost them a potential 3-4 offensive snaps. After the Gumbs INT, they ran a play that ended with :31 seconds on the clock. They didn’t call the timeout until there were :21 seconds left. 10 seconds is no less than 2 snaps they could’ve run. After the next play that netted 7 yards, they wasted time spiking the ball instead of calling a quick timeout. The difference was roughly 8 seconds or another play, maybe 2. Then they took a huge risk by running a play with 7 seconds left to get 5 rather meaningless field-goal range yards. While a long shot, there was some risk that play could’ve eaten up the remaining time on the clock. Everything they did after the Gumbs play from a clock mgt. perspective was wrong. The potential 4 points they didn’t get (3 vs. 7) could’ve been the difference in the game.
5. Losing Darrell Young. Just 23 yards for Morris in the 2nd half without him. He’s so valuable to the run game.
1. Barry Cofield (I think it was him) was offsides on the 4th and goal stop on Steven Jackson but it wasn’t called.
2. The defense gave them a chance to win the game.
3. 9 penalties for 66 yards and 7 turnovers are signs of a bad team.
4. Ryan Kerrigan had his10th forced-fumble of his career.
5. Morris’ first fumble was Tom Compton’s first play. Compton’s contact with Morris caused the fumble.
6. I hate when Skins go with soft zone coverages, especially on 3rd down and makeable yardage.
7. I’m not sure what Chris Baker’s responsibilities are on every play but he gets penetration more than most of the other guys on the D-line.
8. Skins’ punt coverage team rarely is near the punt returner when the punt returner catches the ball.
A good start, bad finish. The good, bad, and more.
1. Brian Orakpo. As active as he's been this year as a run-stopper and pass rusher.
2. Barry Cofield. He's their only legit defensive linemen although Chris Baker is growing on me.
3. Reed Doughty. Despite getting hurt, when he was in there he was what he always seems to be....a solid run-stopping safety and a very good special teamer.
4. Santana Moss as a punt returner. He catches what he's supposed to catch and when he doesn't fair-catch it, he's decisive as a runner. So much better than Thompson, Morgan, and Williams that it just angers me that they didn't put him back there in mid-September.
1. Offense after taking 14-zip lead. After taking a 14-nothing lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins had 9 drives the rest of the game with the following results--184 total yards, 4 dropped passes, 4 penalties, 5 sacks, one fumble, 3 points. As for why the offense fell apart, it's not because Alfred Morris didn't get enough carries. He had 9 carries in the first half for 11 yards. How much more did you want him to get the ball? To whom was it obvious that he was on the verge of a monster 2nd half? Until they proved that they could make plays down-field in the passing game, their conventional inside-zone/outside zone run-game was going to be a tough go. The offense's lack of productivity over the final 3 quarters had more to do with drops, penalties, sacks, and lack of passing game execution.
2. Game-changing Special Teams gaffe. The Redskins had a 17-14 lead with a dominant field position advantage when Kyle Nelson rolled the snap back to Rocca and Rocca had his punt blocked. The net yardage with a holding penalty added on was 8 yards. Giants started at the Skins 46 instead of deep in their own territory and they took the lead on that drive. Not that it was game-over but it was a game-changer for sure.
3. Drops and penalties. As mentioned above, one of the reasons the offense didn't produce more in the final 3 quarters. Garcon, Davis, and Paulson all had at least one. Davis' drop on the final drive was huge. It would've given the Skins a chance late.
4. The field. Too slippery. Cost the Skins a first-down in the 2nd quarter when Morris slipped after a catch and came up a yard short. Next play, Royster stopped on 3rd and 1.
5. Aldrick Robinson. His effort and ball skills on the one deep ball weren’t very good. He also appeared to have had a big opportunity on a reverse but got less than he should've.
1. Collinsworth is one of my favorites but he went overboard with his praise of everything Redskins-related. He said the following about Mike Shanahan and staff....."if they stick with this group, they'll win the division next year".
2. Why did RG3 run rather than throw a "Hail-Mary" on the final play of the first half?
3. Griffin went to his check-down receiver several times, especially in the first half. It seemed to be an emphasis for him. It almost looked like the coaches made it a point to let him know it was okay if that's where he ended up. It worked for the most part. He was an impressive 16-17 in the first half for 149 yards.
4. The refs blew it on the "1st-down" indication on the Skins' final drive. Bottom line, even if Triplett himself indicated third-down, other officials including at least one that authorized the chains to be moved were handling the result of the play differently. There was crew confusion so he should've stopped the clock and measured the 2nd-down spot. That was the appropriate course of action. They obviously blew it and while it DID cost them a chance to continue their final drive, I've seen enough in recent weeks to believe that their chances of tying the game even if they got the correct call were less than 50-50. We were probably headed for another Minnesota/Philly ending.
A painful loss against a team that was hurting, down several starters, and lost its starting quarterback during the game. The good, bad, and more.
1. 1st-half offense. Amazing first half which included 24 points on 4 drives, 288 yards, 18 first downs, 7-8 on 3rd down, and 20:40 of time of possession. Robert went 16-21 for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns. He completed 6 of 7 for first downs on third down. Morris, Garcon, and Reed were outstanding in that first half.
1. Defense. A regression to the first two weeks and this time they can't blame being out there too much because of an ineffective offense. Minnesota scored 34 pts on just 50 plays (not counting kneel downs) and had the ball for just 23:59. The defense didn’t stop Minnesota once on its own. The Vikings scored on 6 of 8 drives and the only two times the Skins' D got off the field was because a receiver fell down on a third down throw and Ponder threw a terrible pass on the first drive of the game. Other than those two drives, the defense got torched.
Now, did Minnesota have some good field position in the 2nd half courtesy of a bad punt and a penalty….yes. And overall, the D did an okay job on Peterson relatively-speaking. But play-action passes off of Peterson's run-threat killed them all night long. Kerrigan was a non-factor as a pass rusher. In fact, other than the sack on the 2nd play of the game by Orakpo, the pass rush overall was non-existent. Just 3 QB hits the entire night. Pathetic. Ponder and Cassel combined to go 21-27. I can barely remember an incompletion.
2. 2nd-half offense. The offense had to be perfect all night long to win with the defense getting zero stops and it wasn’t. They really needed a touchdown on that opening drive of the 2nd half to extend the lead to 2+ scores but didn't get it. The 1st and 10 read-option run by Robert at the Minnesota 22 on that drive should've gone for big yardage but Reed didn't stay on his block thinking Griffin had passed him already.
Drops hurt them too, particularly the Garcon drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 in the 3rd quarter. Robert also missed Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 throw with Minnesota leading 31-27. It should’ve been a fairly easy throw if he had some touch to it. It was a 15-20 yard play that didn’t happen.
There's talk already of Kyle getting away from the run after they took a 27-14 lead but that’s not accurate per usual. There were 19 offensive plays run between the time they took a 27-14 lead and first and goal with no timeouts left with 38 seconds left. Those 19 plays included 11 runs and 8 passes.
For those that want Morris on every play with a one-score lead, why? They built a 27-14 lead with balance, there was no reason to get away from that balance up 27-21 when they got the ball back.
3. Drops. Paulson’s on the first drive was catchable even though it was thrown quickly and hard. Garcon’s drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 was one of those turning-point plays. The Skins had scored on every drive of the game up until that point and had gone 9-11 on third downs. The play call was a good one, the execution wasn’t. Garcon doesn’t drop many but that was a big one. Also, Reed could’ve had the touchdown catch at the end even though he was held before it got there.
4. Pass protection. The interior of the O-line really struggled in the 2nd half.
5. Clock Mgt. It was very good at the end of the game but they got lucky at the end of the first half when they wasted a down by spiking the ball on first and goal at the Minnesota 8. The spike came with 24 seconds left. They should’ve called their last timeout with 36 seconds left after Moss’ catch got them to the 8. 36 seconds is plenty of time to run 3 pass plays into the end zone and then kick the field goal if you don’t get in. Just another example of how poorly they handle these situations even though they overcame the loss of a wasted down with a touchdown anyway.
6. Penalties. The Riley 15-yarder in the first half may have been the difference between 7 pts and 3 and the Young 15-yard penalty on Sp teams gave Minnesota great field position which led to another score.
7. Officiating. No sour grapes intended but the officiating seemed one-sided tonight. The late hit on Chris Baker in the first half was a brutal call. There were at least two hits on Robert that were later than the Baker hit and neither one got called. Josh Morgan was clearly interfered with on the punt return that he fumbled and it wasn’t called. There was a fairly obvious false start that wasn’t called on Minnesota on a key third down. And Jordan Reed was held by Erin Henderson on the 2nd and goal at the end and it wasn’t called.
8. Special Teams. Morgan’s decision not to fair catch a first-half punt was a bad decision. Rocca’s 2nd shanked punt in last 3 weeks hurt. The fake punt attempt was obviously badly executed.
9. Final Play. It looked like Robert should've thrown to Reed. He was open.
1. Saw some screen passes in the game…perhaps not enough.
2. Niles Paul did a nice job on kick returns.
3. Griffin’s inability to slide makes him reluctant to turn some of those read-option runs up field when it looks like there’s a ton of room.
4. Kerrigan’s near-pick would’ve been huge.
5. RG3 was near-perfect in the first half but he missed a wide-open Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 play down 31-27 and he had an opportunity to avoid lost yardage on one of the sacks if he had just thrown it away.
Another season-saving win. Avoiding 0-4 with a win in Oakland was big; avoiding 1-5 with the big win over Chicago was absolutely necessary; today's 30-24 OT win over the Chargers gives them a chance to get back into things over the next few weeks. The good, bad, and more.
1. Goal-line stand. Let's start there because without it, they would've lost the game 28-24. It was a tough situation because the Chargers had 1st and goal at the 6-inch line with 2 timeouts left meaning that they had the option of throwing or running. They chose to throw it twice which seems surprising until you realize that they barely ran it all day long.
2. Offensive game plan and play calling. A great game called by Kyle Shanahan who didn't seem to let any of the criticism about the lack of Morris runs last week deter him from calling the right game for the team rather than for his critics. Six of the first 8 plays of the game were passes when the whole town has been screaming to run Morris on every play. The Shanahans believe in taking what the defense gives you and the Chargers came out with the intent of stopping the run and Kyle called a game that early on used the pass and a couple of triple-option plays to set up easier running lanes for Morris.
Their first 4 first downs of the game included 2 passes and a triple option pitch to Jordan Reed. The Chargers were kept off-balance all day long thanks to excellent play calling and some seldom-used twists like Darrell Young carrying the ball, more triple option, and a few empty backfield sets.
Two specific play calls show that despite recent mishaps in similar situations, Kyle stuck to his aggressive guns. When they got the ball back up 21-14, he went read-option throw to a wide-open Moss over the middle. The ball was poorly thrown and fell incomplete but this was similar to last week when everyone thought he should run Morris over and over. The play was open and should've worked. The other play was the first play after San Diego had cut the lead to 24-21. I'm sure everyone including San Diego was thinking here comes Morris yet he goes play-action and a perfect throw to Garcon for 26.
3. Read-Option. The Redskins ran a ton of it today and Morris, Young, and the passing game totally benefited from it. Robert didn't keep it much except on the triple-option plays but the threat that he would keep it set up the other stuff. The new twists to the read-option game will keep teams guessing in the coming weeks. The blocking scheme looked different and Moss, Morgan, Reed, and Hankerson have all been pitch options on triple-option plays this year. Young as a full-back run-threat in the backfield as part of the "Pistol" formation with Griffin and Morris is a new twist as well. The Skins ran 21 read-option style plays for 180 yards. Morris was 8-55 yds on read-option style runs while RG3 went 7-8 for 84 yards on read-option/play action passes.
4. Offensive execution, especially on 3rd-down. Last week in Denver at 21-21 in the 4th quarter, Josh Morgan and Aldrick Robinson had opportunities to make catches that could've changed the game but they dropped the ball. Today, Garcon made at least 3 brilliant catches while Griffin made very good throws at key moments, especially on 3rd-down. The Redskins went 12 for 17 on 3rd downs for the game. RG3 was 8 for 9 on 3rd-down throws, 7 of them for first downs. He also ran 10 yards for a 1st down on 3rd and 9.
5. Pierre Garcon. Money game for the guy who said last week "we suck at passing". 7 catches for 172 yards and at least 3 of them were incredible grabs. The deep ball on 3rd and 12 early in the 3rd quarter that he caught was amazing. There was P.I. on the play but he didn't need it with an incredible catch.
6. Alfred Morris. He was great today and really benefitted from the read-option success.
7. RG3. For starters, he made great decisions most of the day on read-option plays. I remember just one read that should've stayed with Morris and it would've been a big run but other than that play, he was very good in the read-option game. He missed a few throws but made a ton of good ones including clutch throws on 3rd down. Among the missed throws....1) overthrowing a wide-open Santana Moss early in the 4th quarter and 2) a throw behind Pierre Garcon on 2nd and 19 late in the 4th quarter on a drive that could've ended the game. Garcon made the catch for a 16-yard gain but a good throw would've been a first down.
With that said, Robert made big throws and perhaps the biggest run of the game. He went 8 for 9 on 3rd down, 7 of those for first downs. His 10-yard run on 3rd and 9 with the score tied at 14 was a monster play....he paid for it with a big hit. Some would prefer he run it out of bounds short of the sticks and punt....he's just not wired that way. It was a big drive, a big play, he knew it, he went and made a play even though he took a big hit.
8. Darrell Young. 3 touchdowns and a new option out of the read-option that other teams must now prepare for.
9. Jordan Reed. Big catch and move-the-sticks run in OT on 3rd and 8.
1. Special Teams. 2 blocked field goals in one game are really hard to do but they managed to do it. Josh Morgan on punt and kick returns is a total disaster and if he's back there next week I'd question who he has pictures of. He makes horrible decisions as a punt returner when he doesn't catch punts he should catch. He let two hit the ground and one of them nearly bounced back and hit one of his teammates. Also, on the kickoff at the end of regulation after San Diego tied it, I don't think he knew that he had to go back and down the ball in the end zone. It was laying there and could've been recovered by San Diego until someone yelled at him to go down it.
2. Pass rush. I heard a lot of complaints after the game about Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan getting held all day long but that sounds like excuse-making to me. Both looked like they were handled most of the day. You can tell they play with high energy but they don't get consistent results. Obviously Kerrigan is a major play maker for this team but he needs more consistent pressure. Orakpo just isn't consistent enough. In fact, Rob Jackson still looks like a better play-maker than Orakpo. Jackson had the team's only sack. Bottom line, 1 sack and 4 QB hits aren't enough. They got close a few times but this team doesn't get enough pass rush....period.
1. The Biggers INT was huge. He benefited from a clear mix-up between Rivers and Brown but that play kept the Skins from falling behind by two scores early.
2. Refs were bad all day long...until the end, thankfully. There was on offensive P.I. called on San Diego's Keenan Allen in the first half without any contact. Chris Chester got called for holding on a play early in the 3rd quarter that wasn't close to being correct. The defenseless hit on Garcon in overtime was a bad call. I thought Woodhead fumbled on the play in the 4th quarter that Shanahan challenged. In overtime, Morris had a run that appeared to spotted poorly. It looked like he got 10, they gave him 9. At least they got the Woodhead play at the goal line at the end right.
3. Chargers' DE Lawrence Guy created a 10-point swing by himself. He blocked a short field goal and tipped an RG3 pass that was picked off in the end zone for the first score of the game.
4. Too many close calls on delay of game for Skins' offense. Cooley talks about tempo all the time and it looked like their tempo was too slow at times. They had one delary of game penalty on a big 3rd and 1 late in the 3rd qtr.
5. Niles Paul's 24-yard kickoff return looked better than anything Morgan has had all season long.
6. The 2 early San Diego Scifres punts to the Skins' 1...an example of great special teams play and it led to a 7-nothing Chargers' lead.
7. No "Turbo" offense today.
8. David Amerson can make plays, good and bad. He had a great pick and he got beat on occasion. Typical for a rookie corner with talent.
9. Hankerson stepped up and had a nice game. No drops, that's encouraging.
10. Skins ran 38 snaps from Pistol for 233 yards, 180 of those yards coming on read-option style plays. 2 of those snaps were no plays because of penalties.
The Redskins got their first win of the year, 24-14 in Oakland. The good, bad, and more.
1. Game's biggest plays made by Skins. This game wasn't a gem by NFL standards....these 3 big plays were the difference between win and potential loss. In order they were....1) David Amerson's pick 6. Down 14-3 with the Raiders on the move again, David Amerson stepped in front of Moore and made a monster play. Who knows if the Redskins would've generated enough offense today to win. I thought at the time that it was a game-saver and given that they won today, it could prove to be a season-saver. 2) Janikowski's missed 52 yd FG midway through the 3rd quarter was a big play in the game. It easily gave the Skins their best field position of the game and they took advantage of it by marching 58 yards for their first offensive TD of the day and their first lead in the 2nd half this year. 3) Kerrigan's sack/forced fumble on Flynn in the 4th quarter. Oakland had made a first down for the first time in the 2nd half and had great field position. It set up the Skins 2nd offensive TD and their first 2-score lead of the season.
2. Defense. After a shaky start, it shut the Raiders out on Oakland's final 12 drives covering nearly 3.5 quarters. The D generated 7 sacks, scored a touchdown, and had a sack/forced fumble.
3. Pass rush. A lot of the credit for the 7 sacks and the many pressures goes to the Redskins' D but a lot of it was that Matt Flynn is incapable. Flynn stunk. I'm not sure how the Skins would've fared against Pryor but they wouldn't have sacked him 7 times.
3. Brian Orakpo. He had his best day of the season. Not only did he get to Flynn twice, he had a near-pick early in the game and a wicked stop on 3rd and 1 on Jennings in the 3rd quarter.
4. Ryan Kerrigan. He makes plays that help win games and he does it a lot.
5. Up-tempo offense. Down 14-zip and looking like the season was teetering on the brink of disaster, the Skins' O went up-tempo and it caught Oakland by surprise. It didn't produce a touchdown but it did produce a meaningful field goal and it started the process of changing momentum after getting behind 14.
6. Raiders stink. The Oakland defense is legit but with Flynn, they just weren't capable on offense. Add to that, the Raiders committed a couple of potential game-changing penalties including the offsides on Helu's catch and maybe fumble. Their clock/game management was amateur. How come they didn't take a timeout at the end of the half with the ball at midfield and take a shot. They just let the clock run out. Then, down 10 points, they went for it on 4th and 1 when the field goal was the right choice. I knew they'd go for it when they went for the play-action on 3rd and 1 but getting it to 24-17 with 3:23 left and two timeouts out left was the right strategy.
7. Morris YAC. Morris always gets more yards than it appears he should.
1. Special teams. The Redskins had some bad plays on special teams today and several near-misses. There was the blocked punt and the fake punt. There were a couple of bad punts. There was consistent lost punt yardage because Thompson let the balls bounce and roll rather than getting up and fielding them. Thompson almost didn't get out of the way of one of the punts inside the 10. Murphy nearly got knocked into a punt that was still rolling on the ground....a punt that Thompson should've fielded. Skins need a new punt returner. If for nothing else then to save them field position by catching the kicks.
2. Pass protection. Is it Robert's responsibility to recognize pressure more consistently or is it that the O-line that isn't doing its job. Only the coaches know for sure but it would seem that 3rd and more than 6 can be a problem if Robert is going to stay in the pocket. Too much pressure today and some bad throws either because of it or at least influenced by it.
3. No timeout on fake punt. We've seen the Skins through the years call timeouts for less serious situations, why not a timeout when the Raiders shifted into an offensive formation on 4th and less than 1.
4. Did Robert look like he got nicked up on the 11 yard read-option keeper? Garcon's holding penalty nullified the play but it looked briefly like Robert hurt himself.
1. Rg3's game was mixed. He missed throws including a potential deep TD pass to Moss. He made some curious decisions including throwing to Fred Davis deep when Garcon was open on the bootleg and the intentional grounding throw on 2nd and goal in the 2nd quarter. His mobility still doesn't look anything like last year however; he did make several "off-schedule" pass plays by extending them with his feet. The 3rd and 10 to Helu in the 2nd quarter was a great play. He made a nice play to find Paulson on one of the only solid 3rd and long plays of the day although Paulson fumbled. The 3rd down TD throw to Garcon was perfect and the escape and throw to Helu for 28 yards after the Kerrigan sack/fumble was the kind of play he must make for this team to have a chance.
2. Lots of injuries. Both teams lost several players during the game.
3. Was Fred Davis dressed? That's an exaggeration but if not for that deep "uncatchable" ball in the end zone I wouldn't have thought he played.
4. I liked the 3rd and 8 draw call to Helu right with 2:30 left. The Raiders were guessing run as they should've but the play made them hesitate and Helu went for 9 and a first down that iced the game.
5. Did Robert look like he got nicked up on the 11- yard read-option keeper? Garcon's holding penalty nullified the play but it looked briefly like Robert hurt himself.
The Redskins fall 27-20 to the Lions. The good, bad, and more.
1. Best effort of the year. They didn't play great but the overall performance was much improved compared to the first two games. I know that's not saying much but the offense finally got into some rhythm with an attack/scheme that looked similar to last year's while the defense gave the team a shot with several stops in the 2nd half. RG3 was back making plays even though some of those plays ended poorly like the 4th quarter run/fumble. The defense wasn't great but it was much better than at any time in the first two games and it gave the team a chance to win in the 2nd half.
2. RG3 played. We hadn't seen anything resembling the RG3 of last year during the first two games but we did today. Even though his performance was far from perfect, he looked much more like the playmaking quarterback we saw last year. The read-option QB keeper was back in the game plan and just the threat of Griffin as a runner made play-action work and led to more room for Morris on runs out of the Pistol. He just looked like a capable playmaker making plays as a passer and a runner. Late in the first quarter he made a throw to Paulson after escaping pressure in the pocket. He hadn't made one play in the first half of any of the first two games that resembled that one. Making a few plays with his feet seemed to make normal throws from the pocket more relaxed. He completed 3 of 4 third-down throws in the first-half alone. They had been 0-9 on third downs in the first half coming into this game, they were 4 for 6 today. His 21-yard 4th quarter run and subsequent fumble was his best playmaking play of the season until of course, the end of the play.
3. Offensive scheme. The true read-option component was back and that meant the defense had to account for the QB in the run game. We saw more of Griffin on the move with several bootlegs called in addition to a few sprint-out throws. The offense only generated 13 points but obviously the two turnovers inside the Detroit 21 and the Robinson touchdown drop cost them 3 more scores. The 420 yards generated today were much more meaningful than the bogus 422 a week ago in Green Bay. Today's offense gave them a chance to win the game. Last week's was garbage offense after falling behind by 31.
4. Pierre Garcon. Arguably the Skins best offensive player although Trent Williams is close. He catches everything and he's a true YAC threat.
5. 3rd-quarter defense. The defense is really struggling but forcing Detroit to punt on all three of its possessions in the 3rd quarter could've turned into the deciding stretch of the game.....but of course, it didn't.
1. RG3 erred. Two turnovers deep in Detroit territory cost them dearly. The first interception was a horrible decision. The 2nd turnover, the fumble, was as uncomfortable to watch as it was for him to execute. He just doesn't seem to be comfortable getting down and avoiding contact in the open field. He also missed some throws and seemed to throw to the wrong guy a few times. On their first drive of the game, he threw to a covered Paulson when he could've run for the first or dumped it off to Morgan. On the next play, he chose to throw the slant to a covered Robinson when Reed was wide open at the sticks over the middle. On a key third-down on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, he threw behind an open Hankerson at the 18. A good throw would've been a new set of downs and a chance to get 7 instead of 3.
2. Robinson's drop. He has to make that catch. It's a chance for a 24-20 lead in the 4th quarter with major momentum.
3. First-half defense. The tackling in the first half was some of the worst of the season and that's hard to believe because it was god awful in the first two games. The 3rd and 10 to Bell early in the game that went for 37 yards included multiple missed tackles. The Bell touchdown run later in that drive was a tackling disaster. Another run by Bell on the Lions' 2nd touchdown drive was aided by bad tackling. And the most crucial missed tackle of the day was Orakpo's miss on Bell at 20-17 in the 4th quarter on a first and 10 at the Skins 21. That would've been a 2nd and 11 on a drive where you had to hold them to a FG, instead, 2nd and 1. Horrible.
4. End of first-half clock mgt. I liked that Shanahan came out aggressively instead of trying to run the clock out after Detroit took the lead 17-14 with :44 sec left. But instead of stopping the clock by using one of their remaining 2 timeouts with :31 seconds left after a 9-yard completion over the middle to Reed to the 35, he didn't use a timeout until after the next play with :13 seconds left. That was a mishandling of the clock and reduced significantly the chances for a FG attempt.
5. Punt and kick returns. I can't imagine there's a team in the league with worse results though the first 3 weeks. They've gotten nothing on returns this year.
1. The play after the Robinson drop/overturn was a disaster but it could've been worse. Even after the replay overturn they had a 2nd and 10 at midfield in a 3-pt game but the Pistol snap hit Paulson and deflected away from Griffin. Griffin actually tried to scoop it up and run. He was lucky he didn't lose it.
2. Say what you want about D-Hall but he does make big plays occasionally. He's now one of just two players in league history to have 4 INT and 4 Fumble returns for touchdowns. I thought he played pretty well considering who he was matched against for most of the day.
3. Merriweather played the whole game! AND, he nearly knocked out his 3rd player in two weeks when he went head first into Orakpo.
4. I wonder if Shanahan considered going for it on 4th and 5 in a tie game in the 3rd quarter in a tie game.
5. There were two booming punts in the game....Rocca had a 63 yarder; Martin had a 72 yarder. Both with the wind I think.
6. Calvin Johnson is incredible but the sideline catch on the first play after Griffin's fumble in the 4th quarter was exceptional.
7. The Lions got a terrible spot on Bell's 3rd and 1 run with just over 4 minutes left. Schwartz would've won a challenge on that spot.
8. The 15-yard penalty for a "defense-less" hit on Garcon late in the game was an awful call.
9. Did Rambo play at all at safety in this game or was it exclusively 3 corners with Wilson playing in the box as a safety on several plays.
1. they pressure Aaron Rogers. They have little chance on the road at Lambeau if Rogers has time to pick the Skins' secondary apart. The Packers had some injuries along their offensive line in training camp but they protected Rogers with some success in San Francisco last week and that was without much of a running game to help out. This could be a moment for Brian Orakpo. He had a big game in the Skins' 2010 win over the Packers at Fed Ex with 2 sacks. He and Kerrigan must be a factor today as pass rushers.
2. they get into rhythm offensively from the start. They need to make a few first downs on their first drive. I firmly believe that this offense is built around the threat of RG3 as a potential runner out of the Pistol. He doesn't have to run much but the threat of him as a runner made last year's offense roll. I think it's the key to this year's offense. Now, I wouldn't discount the possibility that the Shanahans could come up with something new that could work just as well and I do like RG3 as a quick thrower with the field spread with 4 and 5 wides. However, it just seems finishing as the #1 rush offense is more likely than finishing as the #1 pass offense.
3. they win the turnover battle. Can't win today turning the ball over like they did on Monday night. Plus-1 at least today or it could be a long day.