The Washington Redskins are (3-8) and get a primetime showcase to either keep their extremely remote playoff chances alive against a team that is better than them in the standings, the New York Giants (4-7). It is the first time the teams have met this year and it has been almost a full calender year before the two squads shared the same gridiron. The two division rivals played two terrific games last year, and this year could be playing in two games that mean absolutely nothing.
I have a feeling it will be a very dis-interesting December 29th at MetLife Stadium as the clubs finish out the regular season.
Either way, we will have pre-game coverage for you that begins at 4:30 on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, ESPN980.com and Audio Now at (832) 999-1980. The game doesn't start until about 830 so make sure you bring some toothpicks to keep your eye-lids open. This will be the Redskins fifth regular season primetime game, and eighth game this season played under the lights including the preseason schedule. As you know, they are a robust (0-4) on the primetime stage.
With that as our scene-setter, let's go "Inside the Numbers" for this epic battle of two teams that have crapped their pants more than a six month old on stewed carrots overload.
I. The Mike Shanahan era in Washington has not produced enough wins. That is indisputable. What are the reasons for it? That's in every way debatable. As you know by now, the Redskins are (3-8) this year, and when you combine that with (6-10), (5-11) and (10-6) plus an NFC East Crown - you get a unsavory (24-35) with the one divisional crown and one playoff game.
Before we get to Shanahan's tenure here in Washington (which may be coming to an end), it is often said that Mike Shanahan was nothing without John Elway. He hasn't won a Super Bowl Championship without Elway, so that must mean his success is largely a byproduct of # 7 getting over the top and wanting to go out with the perfect Hollywood ending.
Let's take a closer look. Shanahan took over the Broncos as their Head Coach in 1995 after appearing in three Super Bowls as an assistant and several league championship games. He went (8-8) in his first year with Denver, after a previous top job stint with the Los Angeles Raiders that finished (8-12).
The next three years for Shanahan (with Elway) were (13-3), (12-4) and (14-2) with two Super Bowl titles and a (7-1) playoff record. Shanahan was (47-17) in the regular season, with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Shanahan as we speak going into Sunday Night Football is (170-133) in the regular season as an NFL Head Coach, for 56.1 winning percentage. This is just as a head coach, the numbers are more impressive if you combine his record as an assistant with the Broncos and 49'ers.
Focusing then on the success level of Shanahan without Elway is the purpose of this argument. If you take away his time with Elway, Shanahan is (123 - 116). He is (1-5) in the playoffs without Elway. Obviously not overly impressive on the surface, but I would counter by saying that the best coach of this era - Bill Belichick - is (41-55) in full seasons without Tom Brady as his starting quarterback.
Brady took over in the Patriots magical 2001 season in Week 3, after New England was (0-2) with Drew Bledsoe. The Patriots were (11-5) in 2008, while Brady was injured in the very first game (win vs. Kansas City). In essence, without Brady in games those two years, the Patriots were (10-7). Brady was (11-3) in 2001 and (1-0)in 2008 as the starter.
If you add the (10-7) record for Belichick without Brady in those games to the (41-55) in his stint with the Browns and his first year as head coach in New England, Belichick is (51-62) without Tom Brady as his starting quarterback. Belichick overall in regular season action is (195-104) as the top banana. With Brady, Belichick is (144 - 42) and three Super Bowl Championships.
Is Bill Belichick EVER going to be looked at in any other way other than a coaching genius? Before you scream, no - I am not saying that Shanahan is even on the same neighborhood block as Belichick - but the overall point is this, head coaches are only as good as their quarterbacks make them.
Shanahan's 123 wins without Elway are more than Mike Ditka, Dick Vermeil, George Seifert, John Madden, Tom Flores or the legendary Bill Walsh had in their careers. Of course, not everybody has been a head coach for the same amount of time, but the point still serves.
His winning percentage is 51.4% without Elway as his starting quarterback, which would rate him ahead of Marvin Lewis, Norv Turner, Buddy Ryan, Jim Mora, Jerry Glanville, Herm Edwards, Butch Davis and Jim Schwartz. Again, not elite company by any means but Belichik's winning percentage without Brady is 45.1% which would rank him 114th all time.
The point is for those that argue Shanahan has not been successful since John Elway retired, you have a point. Shanahan has been just above the average mark since that time. Not sure about you, but I'd rather be above average than well below.
The Rest of the Rest
***Speaking of Shanahan, according to Redskins public relations , in his time as an Offensive Coordinator with the San Francisco 49'ers (1992-1994), Head Coach of the Denver Broncos (1995-2008) and his nearly complete four years with the Redskins, Shanahan guided teams have scored 8,136 points in that time span. That's only 2nd to the Green Bay Packers at 8,180 after their loss in Detroit.
So if the Redskins score 44 points tonight, that would vault "Team Shanahan" as Redskins PR calls it into the lead during that 20-year span.
***During that span, "Team Shanahan" leads the NFL in rushing yards with 44,774 and net yards of offense at 124, 215. Shanahan's teams (including the SF stint) ranks fourth in regular season wins and postseason wins during that time as well.
**Per ESPN Stats & Info - 6.79 is the Yards per play-action pass for the Redskins, ranking them 23rd in the NFL. Last season, the Redskins averaged 10.35 yards on such plays, which was second best in the NFL.
***Eli Manning has not had a lot of statistical success against the Redskins in his career. He's 11-6 which is the ultimate goal, but that is about team as opposed to the individual. He's only had two 300-yard passing games with the second one coming last October 21st (337) thanks to that blown coverage and long Victor Cruz touchdown.
He's averaged 33 passing attempts per game in his 17 starts against Washington, with an average of 18.7 completions per game for an average completion percentage of 56.2 % (Career 58.5%). Manning averages 227.4 passing yards per contest against the Redskins and averages 0.82 touchdown passes per contest. He also has thrown 15 interceptions in the 17 games.
This year, Manning is targeting and completing 26.7% (60-851, 4) of his completions to Victor Cruz, 18.8% to impending free agent Hakeem Nicks (42-620, O) and 14.3% to the rising Rueben Randle (32-524, 6 TD). TE Brandon Myers (29-336, 2)had a touchdown last week and he counts for 12.9 %. The Redskins have struggled against tight ends as many defenses do and Myers is a guy who many around the league hold in good regard.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Washington Redskins season is officially on life support. Sure they return to a brand new playing surface at FedExField for three home games in a span of 13 days, and theoretically that could provide an injection of juice to a season that is wasting away.
Here's a problem, among many. The wrong team is coming to DC to try and feel good about their chances of winning. You can never rule anything out in this league, but the San Francisco 49'ers are a much better team on both sides of the football than the Redskins are.
Yes they are only (6-4) with tough back to back losses to Carolina and New Orleans, but who are we kidding? The Redskins would not and could not beat either one of those teams this year, either.
Certainly not at the maddening inconsistent level of play by all three phases and units. The offense is just that. Inconsistent and bordering on disaster when it comes to the passing game and the various sub-plots and headstrong individuals that are associated with that side of the ball.
Special teams has been....well to put it kind, anything but special. Essentially, they've been as bad of a unit as you can probably fathom. The image I have in my head is trying to make an over-sized pig after a mud bath look like Carrie Underwood. It's not working. It's not going to work. It's not good. It's a unmitigated disaster.
The defense continues to get hammered with criticism. They are not a good unit by any measure, but they are not an awful unit by any realistic observation - when you consider they have gone against Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Phillip Rivers, and Tony Romo for half of their schedule.
When not going against some of the blue-chip gunslingers, they've had to face Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, and the Eagles contingent of Nick Foles, Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy.
Sure they have caught some breaks (Oakland) and with Jay Cutler getting hurt before halftime, but seriously, while I might make way too many excuses for Jim Haslett and the defense, the notion that they should be anything more than a below average defense against the schedule they have faced is simply preposterous.
Especially when you consider that unit has not had a serious infusion of established talent since 2011. Brandon Meriweather is the only significant veteran addition to the starting core in that time. He's missed 17 of the Redskins 26 games in that time and played in parts of two others (Philadelphia 2012, Green Bay 2013).
Sure they added 2nd round pick David Amerson this year, and he has made some big plays, but the rookie has also given up some huge plays as well. So far, in some ways - he is living up to his boom or bust reputation at North Carolina State.
Phillip Thomas, the fourth round pick hybrid safety out of Fresno State, was lost before the first preseason game was even at halftime. He's done for the year. Bacarri Rambo was seriously over-matched in his first two games as a pro against two high octane attacks and was benched. He re-surfaced in Denver and played a very nice game but has not really been a factor since.
During this three year period, the defensive unit has lost Carlos Rogers, LaRon Landry, Adam Carriker (essentially two seasons lost due to injury), Brian Orakpo (almost a full year due to injury), Jarvis Jenkins for his rookie year and Keenan Robinson for a year-and-a-half.
Because of the cap penalty, the Redskins were unable/chose not to bring back Lorenzo Alexander who helped them in a variety of ways on defense and of course was a special teams monster.
If you factor in the lack of infusion (in talent) along with the injuries - you can see why there are so many issues. Mike Shanahan knows it, Jim Haslett knows it. The entire defense knows it. The only ones that don't understand it are the maniacally frustrated and angry fan base who quite honestly should stick to water on game-days.
Anyways, keep blaming it on some phantom theory that the 4-3 would be better or that Jim Haslett and his staff do not know what they are doing. You have to have horses, you have to have studs. You have to have weapons. You'll see them on the field Monday Night. They'll just be dressed in 49'ers uniforms.
I was curious to see how the Redskins defense matched up statistically in realistic terms to opposing offenses and the league wide average. As we wrote about last week, going into the Eagles loss - the Redskins defense was giving up less rushing yards per game and passing yards per game, as we wrote here; than their opponents were racking up against the rest of the league on average. The point is essentially the same. The defense is only "awful" because the league is a offense driven league, and you have had a regime that has invested heavily in the offensive side of the ball.
This week, we take a further look "Inside the Numbers" and walk away with this. The Redskins (as a team) are allowing 31.1 points per game (311/10 games). Of course, you can't count all of those points against the defense as the Redskins have allowed five return touchdowns in 2013, which included a blocked punt, two punt returns, and two interception returns for scores. That's 35 points allowed (including extra points) that are not on the defense. It's only fair to take that number away and charge Haslett's crew with 276 points.
That's 27.6 points per game in reality (276/10 games) and if you take away the extra points (special teams plays, caused by the touchdown allowed) that is another 34 points. If you really want, the net average is 24.2 points per game allowed (242/10 games). I'll go with 27.6 because that is more accurate.
The defense has also scored five touchdowns for the Redskins, which again totals up to 35 points or 16.1% of the Redskins total team points, which is 246.
Naturally, if you are looking at the Washington offense for comparison sake, you take away those 35 points because the offense did nothing to earn them, and you get 211 points scored by the offense (including extra points). That's an average of 21.1 points per game on offense (211/10 games). Works both ways, right?
So you have an offense that is earning a true 21.1 per game average with a defense that is yielding a true average of 27.6 points per game. You have those 35 points that the defense scored, which kind of just are out there somewhere in between both numbers.
According to Joseph White of the Associated Press and via STATS INC., NFL offensive units are scoring an average of 21.4 points per game purely on offense.
Just to do my own research before Sunday's games, I went to every teams' offensive production and charted their actual offensive production. The following is the cold hard numbers (entering Sunday)
Arizona (21 offensive touchdowns, 18 field goals, 20 extra points) = 180 pure offensive points, 200 including extra points - 10 GP (20.0).
Atlanta (23 offensive touchdowns, 17 field goals, 24 extra points) = 189 pure offensive points, 213 including extra points - 11 GP (19.36).
Baltimore (19 offensive touchdowns, 20 field goals, 20 extra points (1-2pt) = 174 pure offensive points, 195 including extra points - 10 GP (19.5).
Buffalo (21 offensive touchdowns, 22 field goals, 22 extra points (2-2 pt) = 192 pure offensive points, 215 including extra points - 11 GP (19.54).
Carolina (26 offensive touchdowns, 14 field goals, 28 extra points) = 198 pure offensive points, 224 including extra points - 10 GP (22.4).
Chicago (26 offensive touchdowns, 19 field goals, 27 extra points, 3-2pt) = 213 pure offensive points, 242 including extra points - 10 GP (24.2).
Cincinnati (28 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 32 extra points) = 213 pure offensive points, 241 including extra points - 11 GP (21.9).
Cleveland (18 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 20 extra points) = 153 pure offensive points, 171 including extra points - 10 GP (17.1).
Dallas (27 offensive touchdowns, 17 field goals, 29 extra points, 1-2pt) = 213 pure offensive points, 241 including extra points - 10 GP (24.1).
Denver (47 offensive touchdowns, 14 field goals, 50 extra points) = 324 pure offensive points, 371 including extra points - 10 GP (37.1).
Detroit (30 offensive touchdowns, 14 field goals, 31 extra points) = 222 pure offensive points, 252 including extra points - 10 GP (25.2).
Green Bay (25 offensive touchdowns, 23 field goals, 27 extra points) = 219 pure offensive points, 244 including extra points - 10 GP (24.4).
Houston (18 offensive touchdowns, 17 field goals, 18 extra points, 1-2pt) = 159 pure offensive points, 178 including extra points - 10 GP (17.8).
Indianapolis (25 offensive touchdowns, 20 field goals, 22 extra points, 3-2pt) = 210 pure offensive points, 238 including extra points - 10 GP (23.8).
Jacksonville (11 offensive touchdowns, 12 field goals, 11 extra points) = 102 pure offensive points, 113 including extra points - 10 GP (11.3).
Kansas City (18 offensive touchdowns, 19 field goals, 25 extra points) = 165 pure offensive points, 183 including extra points - 10 GP (18.3).
Miami (21 offensive touchdowns, 17 field goals, 22 extra points) = 177 pure offensive points, 198 including extra points - 10 GP (19.8).
Minnesota (24 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 27 extra points) = 189 pure offensive points, 213 including extra points - 10 GP (21.3)
New England (25 offensive touchdowns, 24 field goals, 26 extra points) = 222 pure offensive points, 247 including extra points - 10 GP (24.7).
New Orleans (35 offensive touchdowns, 20 field goals, 35 extra points) = 270 pure offensive points, 305 including extra points - 11 GP (27.7)
New York Giants (19 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 21 extra points) = 159 pure offensive points, 178 including extra points - 10 GP (17.8).
New York Jets (15 offensive touchdowns, 23 field goals, 16 extra points) = 159 pure offensive points, 174 including extra points - 10 GP (17.4).
Oakland (20 offensive touchdowns, 11 field goals, 23 extra points) = 153 pure offensive points, 173 including extra points - 10 GP. (17.3)
Philadelphia (31 offensive touchdowns, 17 field goals, 31 extra points) = 237 pure offensive points, 268 including extra points - 11 GP (24.4).
Pittsburgh (21 offensive touchdowns, 22 field goals, 20 extra points, 1-2pt) = 180 pure offensive points, 214 including extra points - 10 GP (21.4).
St. Louis (20 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 23 extra points, 2 - 2 pt) = 165 pure offensive points, 187 including extra points - 10 GP (18.7).
San Diego (23 offensive touchdowns, 20 field goals, 24 extra points) = 198 pure offensive points, 221 including extra points - 10 GP (22.1).
San Francisco (26 offensive touchdowns, 14 field goals, 29 extra points) = 198 pure offensive points, 224 including extra points - 10 GP (22.4).
Seattle (31 offensive touchdowns, 24 field goals, 32 extra points) = 258 pure offensive points, 289 including extra points - 11 GP (26.3).
Tampa Bay (18 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 20 extra points) = 153 pure offensive points, 171 including extra points - 10 GP (17.1).
Tennessee (23 offensive touchdowns, 15 field goals, 26 extra points) = 183 pure offensive points, 206 including extra points - 10 GP (20.6).
Washington (26 offensive touchdowns, 10 field goals, 26 extra points, 2-2 pt) = 186 pure offensive points, 214 including extra points - 10 GP (21.4).
I have a total of 7,003 points scored by the 32 teams on offense only (including offensive touchdowns, extra points on those scores, two-point conversions and field goals). I have the total amount of games played by these teams entering Sunday at 326, for an average of BAM, 21.4 points per game.
What that means is that the Redskins offense is just slightly below the league average (21.6 - 21.4) and the Redskins defense is giving up six more points per game than the league average scored (21.4 - 27.4).
The Redskins' ten opponents, with Philadelphia counting twice, have accumulated 2,493 points over 102 cumulative games. That's an average of 24.44 point per game. If you only count the Eagles once (some people are picky), you get 2,225 cumulative points divided by 91 games played, you still get an average of 24.45 offensive points scored per game.
All of a sudden, that true defensive average of 27.4 against their schedule and the offensive talent they have faced is not so bad. (27.4 - 24.45). We're talking about a freaking field goal.
As I have said all along, the Redskins defense is not great. Or good. It's a below average defense with below average talent. I believe that in my heart. The numbers prove my case. If you are willing to go "Inside the Numbers."
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Dallas Cowboys and their Owner/General Manager/President/Czar/Head Coach/Grand Puba of all things star related, Jerry Jones gave his head coach Jason Garrett a public vote of confidence but not the dreaded kind yesterday.
Garrett apparently will be back as head coach of the Cowboys next year, win or lose this year. Playoffs or not. At least that's what Jones said on Thursday.
Jones simply said "yes" to reporters at practice on Thursday, when asked if Garrett would be the coach next season, before adding "I'm disappointed that we don't have a better record, but he has got us in position to win the division and has got a team here that I firmly believe has the ability to be one of the better-playing teams at the end."
Jones added "we're positioned to get in the playoffs. We see logically how to get in the playoffs. We have that, for all practical purposes, in our control," Jones said. "Now that's a pretty good spot to be in after 10 games. A lot of this story is to be played out, but it does not have a bearing on whether or not he will be our coach next year. It has no bearing on that."
So, assuming that Jerry doesn't go back on his words - essentially that means the Cowboys could theoretically bottom out at (5-11) or (6-10) and Garrett should be safe. However, call me skeptical - I would have to see that to believe that.
It's why Jones is brilliant and maddening all at the same time. On one hand, he removed some or perhaps all of the public scrutiny over Garrett's job status but the bottom line is this - he still very much can be fired.
Jones isn't the only all powerful everything to make a declarative statement and then do completely the opposite when push comes to shove.
It's typical Jerry Jones. It's everything that the Cowboys are about. Garrett reportedly has multiple years remaining on his contract, so maybe that is a part of the thinking. Maybe not. Who knows.
Here's what I know. You aren't going to hear Dan Snyder say anything like that about Mike Shanahan. Good or bad. Right or wrong.
I asked the Redskins on Thursday if Snyder would be willing to sit down with me on ESPN 980, and the request was politely declined for now. I don't expect that to change.
The real question is what does Snyder ultimately decide to do? Mike Shanahan has a 7 million dollar guaranteed contract for next year, along with the perks and incentives he normally receives as the head coach - it would put that figure well north of 10 million dollars in value for Shanahan.
If you fire him, you owe him that and while the perks might go away - you also have to factor in some of the coaching contracts that would have to be extinguished as well. Nobody knows for sure what current assistants have on their deals that are remaining, but it is highly unlikely that Kyle Shanahan is without a guaranteed deal for next year.
The often unfairly criticized Jim Haslett is believed to be up for renewal at the end of this year. Keith Burns just signed a deal so it would be almost inconceivable that he signed only a one year contract.
Then, there is Bobby Turner, Bob Slowik, Jacob Burney. All Mike Shanahan guys. It would be hard (but not impossible) to see them stay if Shanahan is not the head coach, although Turner did stay in Denver for one year after Shanahan was let go. Turner still lives in Denver and commutes back and forth, so that might be the easiest situation to figure out. Slowik is one of Shanahan's closest friends.
The point is you may very well have to absorb several million (3-5?) in guaranteed salaries if you fire the head coach and hire a new coach that those assistants choose not to work for, or that the new coach chooses to dispose of.
If you believe that money is not a major factor in the decision, I would argue that you don't understand pure business. If I had the forum to ask Dan Snyder if he cares about paying 10-12 million dollars to coaches he no longer employs, I would guess that he would be very much opposed.
Not to mention what a new head coach and staff would cost you. Let's just speculate that Jon Gruden could be that guy. Jon Gruden is not taking this job in this insane pressure cooker for less than what Mike Shanahan was making, right?
Now we are somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 million for the previous coaching staff and the new head coach. That also might be conservative. In addition, you would need to hire several new coaches. Who exactly? Not sure, because there are a lot of ties to Gruden on this staff that is already in place.
Raheem Morris could stay. Haslett could certainly stay. Perhaps tight ends coach Sean McVay, who was a young assistant in Tampa the last time Gruden was in charge. Who knows, maybe Kyle Shanahan doesn't leave. Highly unlikely, but he also was a part of Gruden's staff for a short time in Tampa.
Does Gruden then totally trust the judgement of his friend and partner in Oakland/Tampa Bay, Bruce Allen to not replace the scouting staff on both sides (college and pro) or does Scott Campbell take the hit?
To me, it would be completely unfair to point the finger at Campbell or Morocco Brown or even Eric Schaffer. However, anything and everything is on the table when you are hiring a new head coach. It would not be the massive regime change that 2010 brought, because Allen is staying and not going anywhere.
I've heard from several people in the building that money would not be a primary factor, winning is. However, is there truly any guarantee that hiring Gruden or any other coach for that matter - guarantees winning?
If they are worried about appeasing the quarterback - the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
What the Redskins should do is either extend Shanahan's deal by one year right now and publicly reveal it so that everybody knows he is still in charge, and his power is not to be challenged OR they should let him choose between coaching the final year of his deal with that enormous pressure. If he chooses to do that, the circus continues.
If he chooses to not do that, perhaps you come to a settlement and it costs the organization less money.
I am much more in favor of stability and patience, but I realize that I am a loner in this area. Before you ask, no I have not been drinking anything other than coffee. I would give Shanahan the extension and if things don't work out next year, you can then still fire him and be saddled with the same decision/circumstances.
The bonus to that would be the stability it would provide and that you would give this regime a chance at a normal off-season. A concept that would be a change from the first four years.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The (3-6) Washington Redskins visit the (5-5) Philadelphia Eagles today for a do or essentially die NFC East match up for Washington. Realistically, if they have any hope of rebounding to win a second consecutive NFC East, it starts now and it starts today.
Coverage begins at 9 AM and stretches until about 7:30 PM on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, ESPN980.com, Audio Now (832) 999-1980 and SIRIUSXM Radio.
How do the Redskins win and avoid going (0-3) in the division? Well it starts with good play in all three areas. Forget perfection, forget complete. At this point, you should just be looking for less mistakes and more consistency.
With that being said, let's go "Inside the Numbers" for the Eagles and the Redskins.
It always comes down to the offense being able to essentially carry more of the load in this offensive driven league - where teams are scoring at near record pace. Special teams as we know has been a complete and ungodly disaster for the Redskins. So it could be up to the defense to try and save the season.
Many fans would argue that thought is worse than an elephant sitting on their chest. Of course, they're wrong and if that is you - you are wrong. Sorry.
The Redskins defense has had to take on a virtual "murderers row" of quarterbacks this year. They had two relatively easy games on paper, both coming on the road in Oakland and Minnesota.
Sure they caught a major break with Terrelle Pryor out for the Raiders, and other injuries that left the Raiders with their hands tied behind their back. They caught very few breaks in Minnesota last Thursday, against a team that was a lot better than their record said they were. Oh yeah, they also won 10 games last year and contrary to popular belief - that did not happen solely because of one player.
I decided that I wanted to take a good look at what the opposing offenses of the Redskins defense have done on a comprehensive level for all of their games. The reason I wanted to do this, was to essentially prove my theory that the Redskins defense is not as bad as people make it out to be. Largely, it has been the combination of insanely good quarterbacks or terrific running games that have put the Redskins defense in a deep hole.
I decided to break down the Redskins opponents by group and by quarterback, in the case of teams that have had multiple signal callers. I list all of the pertinent information so that you can get an idea of what is important to most.
Philadelphia - Vick (77-141), 1,215 - 5 TD, 3 INT / Foles (86-136) 1256, 16 TD, o INT / Barkley (30-49), 300, 0 TD, 4 INT
Overall 4,134 net yards (10 games), 252 points (1 return score), 245 points on offense, 1,535 net yards rushing
Denver - Manning (262-369) 3249 33 TD, 6 INT / Overall 4,128 net yards (9 games) 371 points (4 return scores) 343 points offense - 947 net yards rushing
San Diego - Rivers (232-324) 2,691 18 TD, 7 INT / Overall 3.559 net yards (9 games) 212 points (1 return score) 205 points offense - 961 net yards rushing
Minnesota - Ponder (115-179) 1,246 5 TD, 7 INT /Freeman (20-53) 190, INT / Cassel (52-75) 536 3 TD 2 INT -- Overall 2,841 net yards, 983 yards rushing net (9 games) 220 points (4 return scores) 192 points offense
Totals - (187-307) 1,972 60.9 6.42, 8 TD, 10 INT
The Redskins opponents for the nine games this season have played a combined 83 games this year. On a combined basis, the quarterbacks for these teams against the league as a whole are (1,921 -2992) 64.2%, 23,191 - - 279.40/Passing yards per game (YPG) - 7.75 yards per attempt (YPA) - 160 passing touchdowns (1.93/game) - 69 interceptions (0.83/game). These teams as a whole in the 83 games have run for 9,702 Net rushing yards (116.89 YPG)
The often criticized Redskins defense has allowed opponents (210-316) 66.5 % , 2,473 net passing yards (2,613 gross), 274.8 net yards per game, 7.82 YPA NET ( 8.27 Gross) , 19 TD, (2.1/game) 10 INT (1.1/game). They also allow 1,024 net yards rushing or 113.8 net yards per game.
In the two key statistical areas of net passing yard per game and net rushing yards per game, the Redskins defense actually averages a lower number than what these opponents have averaged in all of their games.
As you can see, the Redskins defense matches up statistically for the most part with what these teams and first nine opponents are doing against EVERYBODY. It is an offensive driven league, and the notion that they are this awful defense or one of the worst statistically based on the caliber of competition they have had is simply preposterous.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
You are what you are. It is what it is. Always feels good to get a few cliches and boring statements out of the way as we crank up the bus on the highway to football hell.
What's that mean? Oh, it could interpreted in so many ways. That's for you to decide.
Either way, this is shaping up to be one hell of a next seven weeks and the ball won't stop rolling downhill with fury until about June 15th.
The Redskins play in Philadelphia this Sunday, a game they are more than qualified to win. Will they? Again, they could. Maybe I could go so far as to say they SHOULD. However, that hasn't exactly worked out for them recently.
They are (3-6) and have played bit the part.
This is third year in a row that they've been at that meager record after their first nine games. Let's hope for everybody's sanity, 2013 goes much closer to what 2012 was, as opposed to 2011 -- which ended with a robust (2-5) stretch and a (5-11) record overall.
It's very unlikely, perhaps extremely unlikely that you could even hope for (7-0) so I completely just dismiss that notion. Honestly, I think if the Redskins finish (5-2) the rest of the way and wind up (8-8) regardless of the division title or what others do - that's a victory and you should probably be willing to accept that.
My guess? They finish (4-3) down the stretch and wind up a bitterly disappointing (7-9). And then......the fun begins. Bring in the big tent and the clowns, because we are going to the circus boys and girls.
I have been asked this a few times over the last few weeks. Does this first half of 2013 seem worse or feel worse than it did in 2012? My answer is a pretty resounding yes for many reasons.
Let's discuss. While the record is the same, there are many more factors as to why I think we all feel this way. The first reason is...
Expectations: Right or wrong, fair or foul. This team was expected by many to win nine or ten games, and in some circles more. I thought nine was fair, ten if everything broke right. It's not happening. They could still win the division, and while that would be all that ultimately matters - there would be very little to celebrate if say the record is .500 or even (gasp) worse.
It would be very hard to take any huge level of pride in winning a division at anything less than (9-7). Even then, if San Francisco or Seattle were the first round opponent at FedEx, is there anybody alive that would think that Washington would stand a good chance at winning that playoff game?
Maybe the expectations were too much, considering Robert Griffin III's rehabilitation and lofty goal to return by Week 1. I still say he needed more time, but he, they or others did not want or allow that.
I was a very strong proponent of Griffin III playing in the preseason. As we found out (much too late) it was supposedly Dr. James Andrews who put the kibosh on such a notion. I just didn't feel Griffin would be ready in Week one to take on live bullets with no game seasoning, no true off-season program and a very limited time-frame of 11-on-11 practice.
Once they put the block on not playing in the preseason however, I understood the mentality to get him ready for Philadelphia - because there simply was no other way to get him live game reps. If they would have waited until the bye week or another week, he still would be rusty because there is absolutely no way to simulate actual game conditions.
My point is - I would have been OK with him playing lightly in the preseason and then perhaps taking a few extra weeks of 11 on 11 practice reps before the season opener and evaluating where he was at then - instead of having this pre-determined plan that the powers that be had -- that Robert Griffin III would play unless the comeback train hit a major pothole.
I still think it was the wrong strategy ultimately and I won't back down from that. I believe it would have been the wrong strategy if they were (4-0) or (0-4). You are trying to last a career, not a year. Sorry, not backing down from that.
Clearly, Griffin's return and the early season struggles of the entire team were not just dependent on one medical clearance. Maybe last year's 7-game win streak was a mirage.
Perhaps, the magician reached into the hat one last time - and came away with a dead rabbit? Who knows.
The bottom line is this - we ALL over estimated how good this team was. It has been a total team struggle from start to the halfway plus pole.
The Quarterback is not a rookie anymore: Last year, almost any time Robert Griffin III struggled you could chalk it up to the fact that he was a rookie. Either way, you sliced it - you saw a quarterback clearly on the rise with a wonderful skill set.
You still see it in glimpses this year, but it clearly has not been enough. Opposing defenses have adjusted and taken away the edge at times or the play-action 'pop' passes that were so succesful BUT there has also been a lack of consistency. Even in his two best games, at home against San Diego and Chicago - Griffin had bouts of inaccuracy and inconsistency - along with a mistake or two along the way that left you wanting more or feeling unfulfilled.
Maybe that's the unrealistic expectation, but that's just the way a uber-talent rolls. Griffin III would be best served by a full healthy off-season, something he did not have last year. All of the coaches, along with both Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman strongly believe that you get a significant comfortability with this scheme/playbook when you have a full off-season of on-field and behind the scenes work. Griffin obviously never got that.
I sincerely hope some of the concerns I (and others) had out of Baylor are not justified and the constant reality. Aside from his natural enormous talent, I was very concerned about the beating he would take in the pocket by "staring down the gun barrel" and I worried about his consistent accuracy in the short to intermediate areas.
Last year, it was not a problem. This year, for a variety of reasons, both concerns have been largely present. Griffin has a 60.8% completion rate, with 12 touchdown passes to nine interceptions. The interception rate is one shy of twice his 2012 total (five), in only nine games. Certainly a few were not his fault at all (Green Bay, Dallas) but ultimately, they still count. He also has three fumbles lost (nine total fumbles). Last year, he lost two fumbles and had 12 overall on the entire season, in his 15 regular season games played. His completion percentage last year was a very solid 65.6% on 393 attempts.
This year, he already has 337 attempts, meaning he is 56 attempts away (393 - 337) from his 2012 total. He is 53 completions away (258 -205) from his 2012 total. He does have 2,450 passing yards, which means he's 750 yards away from his rookie total (3,200 - 2,450) and is eight touchdown passes away (20 - 12) from his 2012 mark.
Sure, teams have adjusted and taken stuff away. The major issue that I am concerned about? Griffin III has been sacked 18 times in his nine games, or an average of twice per game. Last year, the Redskins allowed 33 sacks in 16 games (Griffin 30 times in 15 games), so the averages are about the same.
Here's a key in my eyes. At this point last year, the offensive line had allowed 21 sacks in the first nine games, along with seemingly more quarterback hits and pressure, but with a lot more magic, smoke and chicanery to deal with than this year.
The point is - the protection has been better this year than last (statistically) and I believe in reality, and yet - the Redskins have had far less consistent success.
One Mess After Another: One game, one quarter, one series after another - the Redskins have put out one fire only to have another one smoldering. In some cases, they haven't had enough water left in their tank to douse the flames.
Special teams has been a complete debacle from the lack of a return game all year, poor blocking, a blocked punt for a touchdown in Oakland, a fake punt for a first down run by the Raiders in the same game, to two enormous returns (one TD) in Dallas and a punt return touchdown to Devin Hester and the Bears.
There's no doubt, their coverage has been a lot better of late coinciding with the additions of Trenton Robinson and Josh Hull - but they have also had to pooch/short kick or intentionally kick towards the sidelines or out-of-bounds on punts, because they could not count on the coverage units executing what many other teams do.
This strategy, while keeping returners like Trindon Holliday and Cordarrelle Patterson off the scoreboard - has significantly hurt the Redskins defense in field position at times, specifically against those two returners in Washington's last two road games.
In addition, Kai Forbath does not have the consistent ability to boom touchbacks in a league designed to do just that, which forces these situations more than the normal amount.
Forbath has also struggled with accuracy or distance this year on field goals, at a (7-11, 63.6%) clip. He missed three games and did have two kicks blocked but Mike Shanahan admitted the obvious that the kicks were too low. Forbath has only tried one kick from 50 + all year (blocked) so that is not a reason. Dating back to Dallas of last year in Week 17, he is seven of his last 12.
In Minnesota, the Redskins ran a fake punt that some players (the targeted receiver, Niles Paul) were not aware of, and even if they were - it would not have counted because of a penalty on Jerome Murphy. That disaster led to a punt by Sav Rocca to Marcus Sherels who promptly returned it for 20 yards to the Minnesota - 44, plus had a Darrel Young bonus gift in the form of a 15-yard personal foul tacked on.
In other words, they started a touchdown drive that gave them the lead at the Washington-41. Can't have it. That simple.
The Redskins have committed 14 (accepted) penalties on special teams this year according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Then there is the fact that many players have expressed publicly and privately that they are not on the same page as new Coordinator Keith Burns. It's not exactly going away anytime soon and might force Mike Shanahan into a difficult corner at the end of the year, for more than one reason.
The Rest of the Rest: Because the special teams nightmares have been so plentiful - the unit earned an entire section on it's own.
There are many other problems, like on defense. It could be a lack of a consistent pass rush to bad tackling at times or a failure to catch an easy interception or a penalty that extends a drive and puts the defense in a compromising position. At times, the run defense has failed and in some games, the pass coverage has broken down in a offense driven league.
London Fletcher has struggled for a third consecutive year in the first half of the season, Perry Riley has not emerged in any meaningful way. Brian Orakpo has been good at times, but far from dominant. Ryan Kerrigan is dealing with a knee that is less than 100%.
Stephen Bowen doesn't appear to have the same consistent explosion, and Barry Cofield has not been dominant since a two game stretch against Detroit and Oakland.
Brandon Meriweather has had his issues from illegal hits and suspensions to even more injuries. Bacarri Rambo was benched, E.J. Biggers played safety in a pinch in the first game against the Eagles and had his struggles.
The only consistent good news for the defense has been DeAngelo Hall, who is the Redskins MVP so far this year. Josh Wilson has been much better in coverage this year, but hasn't made enough impact plays and missed quite a few tackles early in the year. David Amerson has made some very big plays and also has given up some impact plays, which is typical for a rookie.
If we are talking offense -- the offensive line has been spotty at times, especially on the road in the second halves of games. The wide receivers have dropped far too many passes ( 29 of Griffin's pass attempts, 3rd highest in NFL) and outside of Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson, the team has failed to get consistent production from anybody.
Jordan Reed is a tremendous bright spot, but Logan Paulsen has struggled mightily due a very painful knee injury. What more can be said about Fred Davis who is less popular with the Redskins coaching staff than Obama care is with the American public.
The coaches have been shaky at times and clock management has been highly questionable. In other words, this is a football team that has been a slowly sinking ship taking on significant water since before Week 1.
One final reason why this (3-6) is worse? A lack of injuries. Only CB/PR Richard Crawford, LS Nick Sundberg, ILB Keenan Robinson and special teams standout/LB Bryan Kehl have been lost for the season out of the significant contributor category. That's not bad for Week 11 of the NFL season. As a matter of fact, the Redskins on a short week (San Diego --> Minnesota) had their entire roster practice fully twice. Hard to beat that. Certainly, they were more beat up last year.
Not sure exactly what this all means for this Sunday and beyond, but while last year's (3-6) record wasn't pretty -- this year's feels a whole lot worse. That might be an overstatement, but that's the reality the Redskins live in.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Redskins (2-5) start to the 2013 season has been frightening. For many reasons. Opponents have been dressing up in their costumes (uniforms) and stealing candy way too easily.
On this Halloween 2013, we look at a dozen hot button issues and problems facing the Redskins as they head into November and a span of two games in five days.
1. Robert Griffin III's inconsistency as a passer
Griffin III overall is (158-268) for 1,878 gross passing yards, a 59% completion rate with nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He is averaging 7.01 yards per attempt, and has a quarterback rating of 79.2. He already has more interceptions this year (8) than he did last year, but in fairness - three of them are probably not his fault. Josh Morgan did not catch a pass on a 4th down conversion attempt in Green Bay. In Dallas, Santana Moss slipped in the end zone and went down, leading to a pick in the back of the end zone. In Denver, Pierre Garcon slipped out of his break and went down.
Excuses? Maybe, but more than reasonable cause and effect in my eyes. Griffin still needs to be sharper, and the receivers need to help him out - which they have not in many ways but no matter who is at fault, it has to change.
There's been way too much miscommunication with burned timeouts, mis-timed snaps and bad fake read option plays. The Redskins have 26 drops according to ProFootballFocus.com. Way too many mistakes. It needs to stop, like now.
In his first seven games last year, Griffin III was (133-189) for 1,601 gross passing yards, and a 70.3 % completion percentage. He had seven passing touchdowns and three interceptions in that span. He averaged 8.47 yards per attempt in his maiden voyage through the NFL.
Remember how good you felt, despite a really tough loss in New York against the Giants? Think about this. That loss felt similar in a lot of ways to the one in Denver because of a wasted opportunity. The Redskins turned the ball over four times in that game, and five times overall last Sunday. Of course, the ending of the game was very different for many reasons.
Call me crazy, but (2-5) this year feels somehow worse than (3-6) did last year. One thing is similar. The Redskins will play the quick turnaround tango (San Diego, @ Minnesota) just like they did last year (Philadelphia, @ Dallas).
2. Robert's relationship moving forward with Mike and Kyle Shanahan
You hear so many things about this dynamic, but I am often left to think this. I think ideally it hasn't worked out like both sides hoped that it would, but losing and frustration doesn't help that. What also doesn't help is the scrutiny that both sides are under. It leads to frayed nerves. I call it "competitive friction" and I still believe that the two sides could work it out if they find someway to get past the current issues and start winning consistently, a lot of the tension or friction will subside.
That being said, a decision likely needs to be made by all parties involved early this upcoming offseason on the future, with Mike Shanahan entering the final year of his contract. Nobody wants to go through a lame duck situation.
I think it would be wise for all parties to strongly consider a one-year extension for Shanahan in the early off-season assuming that the Redskins show some signs of progress the rest of the way. I believe they will.
3. Do they have any wide receivers that can help Pierre Garcon?
Maybe not a wide receiver, but Jordan Reed is a hybrid target with wideout skills. They lined Reed up wide quite a few times and he responded with eight catches for 90 yards. That's 17 catches for 224 yards in the last two weeks. Imagine where they would be without him.
The bottom line is they need Santana Moss to be the Moss of last year. He only has four catches for 62 yards in the last four games combined. Not catching a touchdown pass on a key 3rd down Sunday was symbolic of the lack of production in recent weeks from Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan.
Since Week 4, in the last four games the trio has only 15 catches combined for 195 yards and one touchdown.
4. What can they do to get the passing game on track?
Clearly, the passing game is not as effective without the threat of the run - which the Redskins really did not have from Griffin's perspective on Sunday.
They had it the two previous games (@ Dallas, Chicago) and the passing game was still a mixed bag. Sure they are connected to some degree, but the bottom line is -- Griffin running well does not automatically equal success as we found out in Dallas.
Here's a question. How about mixing in a natural screen to a running back or two? Without going through the All-22 of every game and because I take horrible notes, I believe the last natural running back screen that I can find was in Dallas. It was an Alfred Morris drop that really hurt momentum in the red zone.
Roy Helu Jr. had a 14-yard catch on a arrow route concept near the end of the first half in Denver, but it wasn't a 'natural' screen.
Sure they run the occasional tight end screen and the bubble screen to the wide receivers but I need to see more of the Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb-Brian Westbrook design than we see. It helps defeat a pass rush and I believe strongly gets a quarterback into a rhythm.
5. Why does Alfred Morris have so few carries?
Morris is averaging only 15.4 carries per game (7 games) this year, with an average per carry of 5.2 (108-565, 4 TD). Last year, thru seven games Morris has 138 carries (30 more) for an average of 19.7 carries per game or a difference of 4.3 less per game from 2012 to 2013.
Clearly early season defensive woes contributed to this, but so has play-calling. It seems like as soon as Morris has a series in which he doesn't rip off 5 plus yards per carry, Kyle Shanahan gets antsy. Especially as the opponent takes the lead by even a manageable margin.
My guess is that Kyle Shanahan wants a chunk play in a chunk league, and presses just a bit.
6. The offensive line. Offensive or miscast?
The Redskins are passing an average of 39.57 times per game. Last year after seven games, it was an average of 28.28 times per game. You do the math. An offensive line that is undersized and based on athleticism is not built to pass block 40 times per game or handle 320 pound defensive tackles with speed and strength. That's a performance issue ultimately, but it is a design issue and a coaching decision in my eyes more than anything.
7. Is this the right coaching staff?
Well...I believe it is but they have to be more creative and less stubborn. Case in point, with the offensive line. Or the lack of screens. Or the inconsistent commitment to what the offense is built for.
The franchise is in much better shape because of Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen and their staff. It would be easy to blow it apart and bring in a fresh face to perhaps get the organization over the top - but call me crazy - stability still counts for something.
8. To extend or not to extend?
I would do it, as I mentioned above assuming that the team doesn't completely tank down the stretch. I would not a long term extension however. The real question is - if you choose not to extend, what happens next year. Is Mike Shanahan willing to go through that uncertainty or does he accept a settlement and a guy like Jon Gruden comes here? Remember that affects a good deal of the staff, but I do believe that if Gruden was the choice - there would be more of a stable atmosphere than anybody else.
Bruce Allen and Gruden have worked together and won a championship together. Raheem Morris was on Gruden's staff. Jim Haslett and Gruden have a good relationship. Perhaps even a guy like Sean McVay stays. It would be real interesting if another name, like Baylor's head coach Art Briles is brought in.
9. Can Haz and the boys save the Skins?
Speaking of Jim Haslett, he's not looking so bad these days huh? With a patchwork unit, Haslett put the clamps on Peyton Manning for three quarters, Jay Cutler for a half and Tony Romo's Cowboys to only 213 yards of offense. That's not all that bad, and oh by the way - Haslett's defense has generated five touchdowns this year for Washington.
10. Will Brian Orakpo ever become dominant?
No. He won't, but he needs to keep making impact plays. He was involved in one last Sunday as he recovered the fumble from Manning as he was hit by Ryan Kerrigan. He has been in the right place at the right time the last two weeks, including his interception return against Chicago. Now he needs to create more plays.
11. Will DeAngelo Hall maintain his excellent All-Pro level?
I think he can. Three touchdowns already, and has taken on some of the upper level elite like Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant and DeMaryius Thomas. Hall is playing aggressively and smart. The Redskins are mixing coverages, and if he had any help from his safeties - he might even be better than he has been. I said it before Denver and will say it again - he's been the best player on the Redskins all year. Nobody is all that close in my eyes, with apologies to Ryan Kerrigan. Hall has been a big time difference maker.
12. Will the special teams continue to be a liability or will it slowly keep improving?
Outside of one shanked punt by Sav Rocca, most sane and rational fans will realize that the unit overall was terrific in Denver. Sure they allowed a Devin Hester 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, but clearly improvement has been made. They even got a bulldozing punt return from Josh Morgan.
A bonus "bakers dozen" question because more is better than less.
13. Do you or I care about the never ending name change debate?
No - with all due respect to my fellow members of the media that want to tirelessly chase this story. I care about football and not politics. I believe you do as well.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The (2-4) Washington Redskins head to beautiful Denver, Colorado and Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (6-1) on Sunday at 4:25 PM ET.
You can listen to all afternoon and evening long coverage beginning at NOON with Larry Michael's Redskins Gameplan on ESPN 980, followed by the official Redskins Radio Network pregame show at 1 PM, hosted by Kevin Sheehan and featuring John Keim, myself and a cast of hundreds live from Denver.
Larry, Sonny Jurgensen, Rick "Doc" Walker and Chris Cooley bring you all the in-game action with yours truly at halftime and Al Galdi wraps it all up until about 10:30 or so on the official Redskins postgame show.
This is a shock the world type game for the Redskins if they can somehow pull this off. Logic and common sense tells you that they won't be able to do it, but I wouldn't be so sure. I think they have a shot of pulling the upset IF they do 8 or 9 things out of 10 right. What I mean by that is you don't have to be perfect, but you damn well better operate at a very high level of efficiency in all phases.
With all of that being said, let's go "Inside the Numbers" for a game that could define a season or be what 99 percent of America is expecting. The Redskins have been installed as roughly 12 point underdogs. I believe this puts a very talented team on a mission.
I. Mike Shanahan returns to Denver as a head coach for the first time since being fired by the Broncos.
Shanahan won two Super Bowls as Broncose Head Coach and is somehow almost scoffed at by some members of the media for not winning a Super Bowl without John Elway. Well....Elway did not win a championship without Shanahan either. Mike was the head coach from 1995-2008 after serving as an assistant with the team at a few different positions. He also left and went to San Francisco and was the head coach of the then Los Angeles Raiders for a short period.
This will be the first time since September 24, 1989 with the LA Raiders that Shanahan will face the Broncos as a head coach. Shanahan is actually 2-1 against the Broncos in his head coaching career. Against teams the comprise the AFC West, he is 60-34, but only 23-25 on the road including a win at Oakland this year.
The Redskins beat Denver in 2009 at FedExField, the last time these two teams met. Shanahan was in his one-year hiatus planning his return while Josh McDaniels was the Broncos head coach. Shanahan was (146-91, .616) in his 14 years at the helm, with an (8-5) postseason record. His 138 regular season wins are the most in Broncos history. Oddly enough, two of those five postseason losses came at Indianapolis during Manning's early career dominance, and helped formulate Shanahan's thought process of running at "34" defense. If and when Manning has struggled, for the most part it has come against those fronts. If you don't remember, New England, Pittsburgh and San Diego all had playoff success against Manning playing a 3-4 defense.
A win against his former team would be his 170th career regular season victory and his 178th overall win. The Redskins beat Shanahan and Denver at the old Mile High Stadium on November 18th 2001, 17-10.
This is also the return of Keith Burns to Denver where he served as assistant special teams coach until last year, helping a very talented group perenially be at the top of the special teams food chain. Burns also won two Super Bowls with Shanahan as a player and a special teams standout. Kory Lichtensteiger played in Denver in 2008. Tyler Polumbus in 2008-2009 and even Chris Baker was here in 2009.
Linebackers coach Bob Slowik was Shanahan's Defensive Coordinator in 2007-08. Jacob Burney was the Broncos Defensive Line Coach from 2002-2008 and Bobby Turner was here from 1995-2009, before joining Shanahan in Washington as the Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs.
II. Peyton Manning and how you attack him.
In the Broncos loss at Indianapolis last Sunday night, the Colts twice stopped the Broncos on 3rd-and-1 for no gain on two run plays. A pretty astonishing feat, considering the Broncose are converting at a 52.8% clip (47-89), which is the best in the NFL. I also saw the Colts playing a lot of two safety looks with man-press and sometimes where they didn't even Jame the Broncos receivers.
Here's the thing. Denver is going to make some big plays in this game. They know it. The Redskins know it. Everybody knows it. Nobody is expecting anything other than the Broncos scoring a minimum of 30 points. Jim Haslett probably knows it. Here's a note directly from ESPN.com NFL Nation Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold on the Broncos offense.
"If the Broncos score 34 points against the Redskins, Denver will have the league record for points scored in a season’s first eight weeks. But on the flip side, the Broncos are currently allowing 28.1 points per game and if that stands it would be the second-highest total by any team to reach the playoffs in league history. The ’07 Patriots currently have the eight-game scoring record at 331 points, just ahead of the 2000 Rams, which scored 330 points through eight games."
The Broncos have Eric Decker with 627 receiving yards (25 career TD's) and Demaryius Thomas (610 rec yards,6'3", 229). Oh don't forget about Wes Welker (474 yards, 8 touchdowns) and the explosive Julius Thomas (422 yards, ) at tight-end who has been terrorizing opposing defenses. The Broncos are the first team in NFL history to have four players total at least 35 receptions through seven games.
I think you have to not only pressure but dial up some creative blitzes. The Redskins will be without Reed Doughty and Brandon Meriweather for this game, which obviously hurts. To me you blitz up the middle or the A-gap on either side of the center. It is the shortest and most direct path to Manning and maybe with a less than one-hundred percent ankle, he's off just enough for a key turnover or a less than Manning like day.
Directly from Legwold at ESPN.com again "It looked like the Colts were far more aggressive rushing quarterback Peyton Manning and got to him far more times than the Broncos’ first six opponents did, and the video backs it up. Manning was sacked, hurried or hit while throwing on 17 of his dropbacks against the Colts. That was his highest total since 2009. He wasn’t pressured on more than eight dropbacks in any of the Broncos’ first six games. And in an indication it may be time to use more two-tight end looks even when they want to throw, on plays with Chris Clark and Louis Vasquez at the two tackle spots, Manning has been sacked or hurried on 24 percent of his dropbacks. With anyother combination of tackles, Manning has been sacked or hurried on just 13 percent of his dropbacks."
I also believe the Redskins need to have some double fire rush's with Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo lining up on the same side to create a jail break situation. LT Chris Clark is nowhere close to all everything Ryan Clady, so this is a break for Washington. We'll discuss another break in just a little bit, but I would be disappointed if the Redskins do not walk away with 3 sacks and say 15 hits or serious pressures on Manning.
Here's the thing. You might be able to figure out Manning for a while, but eventually he picks you apart (at least during the regular season). Manning and the Broncos led the NFL with a + 161 scoring differential in the second half of games last year. This year, they also lead the league with a + 77 scoring margin. They've outscored opponents (469-231) in the second half in that span and have only been outscored in three of the 23 games during that time.
Manning also has 49 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. He threw 37 touchdowns last year and already has 25 this year, to mark the 2nd highest total in NFL history through seven games.
The Broncos 298 points is the highest total in NFL history for a teams first seven games, and they have gone for 40 points plus in four games so far.
III. The Redskins offense vs. the Broncos Defense
The Broncos will not have former Redskins CB and long-time standout Champ Bailey in this game. He's been banged up with foot issues all year and re-injured himself last week. That means it is time to take advantage of a secondary that has allowed the 30th most net yards in the league.
The Broncos two safeties are Rahim Moore who infamously misplayed the game-tying touchdown against Baltimore late in regulation last January and Duke Ihenacho. Ihenacho is a 2nd year product out of San Jose State.
Quite simply, if you are Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon - you have to be licking your chops. Throw in Jordan Reed for good measure. Leonard Hankerson has been dealing with a minor foot injury but it would be nice if he could get back in the end zone, or Josh Morgan and Santana Moss.
The Redskins need to take some deep shots in this game, and I would do it off play-action on the very first play of the game to try and loosened up the Broncos expected loaded fronts.
Here's a couple of examples that might work. Against Indianapolis, the Broncos showed a couple of different looks and got hurt on two big plays. Former Maryland product Darius Heyward-Bey ran and caught a 27-yard dig route inside the Broncos-10 yard line against a zone coverage over the top with man underneath. The Broncos only rushed four, and didn't get to Andrew Luck. Simply when you get this opportunity, you have to win.
Later, the Colts showed a jumbo look with an extra offensive lineman and ran a neat play that featured Bey faking a reverse and stopping before arrowing back out. The Colts were able to recognize it was man coverage, and Bey basically dropped back to his original spot to the left of Luck who threw a quick receiver screen or smoke to the left flat and it went for a touchdown.
Not only are the Broncos 30th in the NFL in net yards per game on defense at 397.0 but they're giving up 5.9 yards per play (28th) and 28.1 points pergame (27th). Their pass defense or lack there of, is yielding 319.9 YPG, but a lot of that can be attibuted to no Champ Bailey and Von Miller for most of the season.
Two things that jumped out was that the Broncos early in the game were able to tighten up inside their own 10-yard line by pressuring Andrew Luck. Derek Wolfe (95) had a terrific pressure on a Luck incompletion and on the very next play, DL Terrance Knighton had a sack as he torched the offensive guard with a swim move for the sack. This forced the Colts from a 2nd-and-goal from the three-yard line into afield goal. The point is don't waste any goal-to-go opportunities.
While the Broncos will be without Ryan Clady and Champ Bailey, they do get Miller back. Miller looked pretty sharp to me, on one sequence drawing a false start and then on the next play - he was engaged with RT Gosder Cherilus and ripped off of him to blow up a run. Miller will mostly line up over or near Tyler Polumbus, who has put together a much better year than many realize.
Defensive lineman Shaun Phillips is also having a great year so far with 6.5 sacks, and starting DE Robert Ayers has 4.5 sacks. In other words, the Redskins offensive line could be in for a very long day.
IV. Trindon Holliday - Is he more dangerous to the Redskins chances than Peyton Manning?
The Redskins have allowed three special teams touchdowns in their last threee games for the first time in franchise history. A blocked punt for a touchdown in Oakland, followed by punt return touchdowns against both Dallas and Chicago. Elias Sports Bureau, which provided that statistic could not find a time thru their database in which a team has allowed a special teams touchdown in four consecutive games.
Enter the explosive Trindon Holliday. Found off the scrap heap by the Broncos last year (a staff that included Keith Burns) Holliday is lightning fast and dangerous no matter when he touches the rock. He's dangerous for both sides.
Last week, the Colts did a pretty good job against him, kicking right down the middle after a field goal and nine yards deep. Holliday was lassoed by good Indianapolis coverage at the 11-yard line. On the next punt return, Holliday caught one at the Broncos-7 yard line (in the middle of the field) and ran towards the left sideline where he was stripped for a turnover. The Colts cashed that in on the next play for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Holliday busted one up the same sideline for a huge return that flipped field position. You might remember this as the collision between him and Pat McAfee of Indianapolis.
Holliday is averaging 34.9 yards per return on kickoffs (10) and 11.4 per return on punts (19). YIKES. The Redskins are allowing an average of 21.4 per kickoff return and 21.6 per punt return. They are the only team in the NFL to have that out-of-whack stat line, and they might be the only team in the history of mankind to allow more yards per punt return, than yards per kick return.
Just in case all of that doesn't scare you -- Holliday has returned six punts or kickoffs for touchdowns in his 15 games played with the Broncos. SIX. That included the two in the Broncos postseason loss. He has recorded a touchdown per every four games played (24 career games, six TD). That's the highest special teams return touchdown rate in NFL history.
Don't forget about Broncos PK Matt Prater is terrific and he's knocked down all 11 of his field goal attempts this year. Punter Dustin Colquitt is pretty good as well with a (44.7/40.6) average on 25 punts. Colquitt set a Broncos net punting average record for the second year in a row in 2012, while ranking third in the NFL with a 42.1 net. The Broncos also allowed only 6.0 yards per punt return last year, which was 2nd in the NFL.
**The Redskins have allowed 578 passing yards in their last three games (192.6/game). In their first three games of this season, they allowed 999 passing yards or (333.0/game).
***According to Scott Kacsmar from FootballOutsiders.com, with Peyton Manning at the helm - the Colts lost 23 fumbles in his last 64 games as their quarterback from 2007-2010. In the first 23 games with Manning in charge of the Broncos, Denver has lost 24 fumbles. Obviously, that is a surrounding cast issue, but still somewhat relevant against a Redskins team that needs to generate turnovers.
***Per Evan Silva of Rotoworld, Alfred Morris has 432 yards on his last 80 carries (5.40 YPC) since Week 2 at Green Bay.
In a expected to everyone (but apparently Mike Shanahan) move, the National Football League suspended Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather today for two games, for repeated violations this season of NFL safety rules.
The NFL made the announcement via this press release http://nflcommunications.com/2013/10/21/washington-redskins-safety-brandon-meriweather-suspended-for-two-games-for-repeat-violations-of-player-safety-rules/ while clearly spelling out the next steps for Meriweather.
In the statement, the league said "Meriweather may not practice during the suspension nor play in the Redskins’ games this Sunday against the Denver Broncos and on November 3 against the San Diego Chargers. He may not participate in any football activities with the team during the suspension. Meriweather will be reinstated on Monday, November 4."
He does have three days to appeal. Meriweather could not be reached for comment, when asked by ESPN 980 via text in the mid afternoon Monday. An expedited hearing is available, but it is likely after several one game suspensions were overturned on appeal, that the best Meriweather could do would be to get the penalty reduced to one game. Both Ed Reed and Dashon Goldson have had one-game suspensions overturned on appeal.
The Redskins will get a roster exemption for Meriweather and would be able to sign a player to replace Meriweather, according to Rich Tandler of CSN Washington via Greg Aiello of the NFL.
Washington is thin already at safety in terms of depth and talent, with Reed Doughty having to pass tests for the league's concussion protocol. E.J. Biggers has been playing safety quite a bit this year, while Bacarri Rambo has not played on defense since the Green Bay disaster. Rookie Jose Gumbs has been active the last two weeks, but is mostly a special teams contributor. Washington released Jordan Pugh last week, and signed Trenton Robinson who I was told was "just a special teams guy."
**In other news, the Redskins are trying to trade TE Fred Davis as first reported by ProFootballTalk.com. It could certainly be pressure by Drew Rosenhaus for the Redskins to set Davis free, being that he doesn't fit into their future plans. Davis is a unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and re-signed with the Redskins for 2.5 million plus a per game active roster bonus.
He has three catches for 25 yards, and was not active on Sunday vs. Chicago. He was also inactive for the Detroit loss, after injuring himself two days before in practice.
The New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills showed the most amount of interest in Davis, in the off-season before Davis signed back with the Redskins.
Regardless of the public explanation given by Mike Shanahan on Sunday about Davis not being able to play special teams, the situation has been brewing for a while for Davis. He was one of a few starters that played in Tampa to end the preseason, normally a night off for veterans with secure roster spots. There has been a lot of speculation and rumors that Davis has been not paying attention in meetings and not sharp in practice. Officially, the Redskins will not comment on any of those rumors.
Chris Russell -- SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The (1-4) Washington Redskins return home to FedExField on Sunday to host the (4-2) Chicago Bears. We begin our early pregame coverage at 9 AM with Larry Michael and Redskins Gameplan on ESPN 980 live from the booth, then Kevin Sheehan and the official Redskins pregame show and go all throughout the afternoon and evening until about 7:30 with Al Galdi and the post game show.
I'll be joining all of these shows throughout the day with my thoughts and analysis on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM and the Redskins Radio Network.
For twitter coverage - please follow ESPN.com & ESPN 980 Redskins Insider John Keim (@John_Keim) and me (@RussellMania980) -- along with the radio station account where we post a lot of great information (@ESPNRadio980).
For the Bears, one stop shopping is really all you need. Our pal Rich Campbell is back at FedEx as he now covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune and can be followed at (@Rich_Campbell).
With all of that said, and Peyton Manning in the on-deck circle along with Mike Shanahan returning to Denver - let's go "Inside the Numbers" for a key NFC match up that will for all intents and purposes be a major blow to the Redskins faint playoff hopes if they lose.
I. How do the Redskins stop the Red Ink in the Red Zone?
Per Chuck "Stats-ienza" Sapienza, who is the VP of Programming for Red Zebra Broadcasting (ESPN 980) and the official in game statistician for our game broadcasts -
The Redskins have run 36 Red Zone plays so far this season. Here is the breakdown: 25 passes - 69.5%, 11 runs - 30.5%
After 5 games last year (2012) they had run 40 Red Zone plays. Breakdown: 28 runs - 70%, 12 passes - 30%.
This year (2013) - Robert Griffin III statistics in the red zone. Griffin is (12-24) 89 yards, 5 TD's and one interception. He has been sacked once, with a QB rating of 81.4.
Last year (2012) - Robert Griffin III statistics in the red zone were (8-10) 35yards, 2 TD's and no interceptions. He was sacked twice and his QB rating was 120.8.
As for the Redskins running the ball in the red zone. This year (2013), Alfred Morris is (6-18, TD). Roy Helu Jr. is (2-12, TD). Robert Griffin III is (3-6).
Last year (2012) in the red zone through five games, Alfred Morris was (16-51, 3 TD). Robert Griffin III was (11-48, 4 TD) and Ryan Grant was (1-5).
This year (2013), the Redskins have five red zone touchdown passes, with Pierre Garcon catching two, Leonard Hankerson with one, while Jordan Reed and Santana Moss each have one.
Last Year (2012), the Redskins had two red zone touchdown passes in their first five games, with Moss and Aldrick Robinson each catching one.
Through five games this year, the Redskins have two red zone rushing TD's, last year they had seven (Morris 3 & Griffin 4).
Last year the Redskins had 7 rushing TD's in the red zone in their first five games. This year, they only have 11 rushing attempts. Griffin had more red zone rushing TD's last year then he has attempts this year (4-3). Morris had 3 red zone TD's last year, he only has 6 attempts this year.
Last year the Redskins had 104 red zone rushing yards, this year they have 36 rushing yards in the red zone. Last year Washington had 35 passing yards in the red zone through five games, this year they have 89.
II. Devin Hester and the Bears are exactly who the Redskins need to see?
Niles Paul said on Wednesday the challenge of Hester is exactly what the Redskins need. OK, well here you go.
Before last Sunday in Dallas, Washington had allowed five punt returns for a total of 44 yards (5-44). Opponents fair caught the ball eight times, and of course there was the punt block for a touchdown and the fake punt for a first down in Oakland.
Before last Sunday, the Redskins with two different placekickers (Kai Forbath & John Potter) had piled up 11 touchbacks and there were seven returns for a combined 125 yards on kickoffs.
The total before the Dallas game was 12 defended returns for 169 yards. Not awful by any means. They were among the league leaders. In one game that was blown to smithereens as they allowed (2-113) on the kickoffs and (2-109) on the punt returns. A total of four defended returns for 217 yards.
There are all sorts of reasons for this. On the punt return for the touchdown, Bryan Kehl tore his ACL and says (video suggests this is true) that he would have made the tackle. On the long kickoff return of 90 yards to set up a touchdown, David Amerson was illegally blindsided and suffered a concussion, Kehl was already out and Forbath had an opportunity to slow Harris down and did not. He completely whiffed.
Perhaps a bigger issue, one that reared its ugly head starting in Green Bay is the amount of penalties the unit has incurred. In the Green Bay game, they had five called penalties with four accepted because they committed two fouls on one play. In Dallas, they drew four special teams fouls, including one on Jerome Murphy which led to a re-punt on the punt return touchdown. Overall, they have 12 called penalties on special teams, 11 of which counted (because of a double foul on Nick Sundberg).
Again, you can talk scheme all you want (and the players have). You can talk coaching style and trust until you turn blue in the face, but here's what is mind numbing. You can't coach or scheme around penalties to a large degree. Finding disciplined players that do not make mistakes on the field are pretty hard to come by.
Special Teams Coordinator Keith Burns is under heavy scrutiny for a unit that has been an unmitigated disaster. In fairness, they struggled at times under Danny Smith. I believe more than anything, special teams cost you or win you more games than people realize. It might even be more than "one-third" of the game as coaches and players often refer to it as.
Devin Hester brings his unique talents and skills to Washington on Sunday, and while he has no touchdowns on the year -- he does have 19 kickoff returns for 575 yards, which is an ungodly 30.3 return average, with a long of 80 yards. On punts, Hester is much more modest in his results at (6-35) with a long of 17.
Hester had 249 yards on five kick returns against Minnesota in Week 2 of this year, and has 19 career (regular & post) return touchdowns, with 12 coming via punt return. He has the most combined kick return (punt & kick) touchdowns in NFL history, at 17 regular season returns eclipsing ESPN 980's Brian Mitchell (13). He also has a 108-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a TD in the Super Bowl XLI.
Hester has not had a return for a touchdown since 2011. In the last meeting between the two teams, Hester had one punt return for 12 yards and no kick returns as Danny Smith, Sav Rocca and the coverage units did an outstanding job denying him opportunities.
The other notable special teams situation that will come up is placekicking. Kai Forbath made (3-4) field goals last week with his miss coming from 49-yards out with a new long snapper. This week, another new long snapper in Kyle Nelson. Perhaps more concerning is Forbath has now missed three field goals in each of his three regular season games. He was near perfect from his debut, but now has to find that form. He's had five touchbacks and four returns this year in his two games. Safe to say, touchbacks are going to be the best recipe for success on Sunday.
III. Ranking the Redskins
My colleague Michael Phillips does this feature every week in the Richmond Times Dispatch and it is worth a look. It provides some interesting fodder. http://redskinsxtra.blogs.timesdispatch.com/2013/10/17/the-53-week-5/
I am not sure if Michael is basing his rankings purely on just this year, or what exactly the criteria is but as talented as Robert Griffin III is, he hasn't been the best player on the Redskins this year. I think Ryan Kerrigan makes a very strong argument (comes in at # 3). I think if we are purely basing the rankings on this year, DeAngelo Hall has to be way higher than # 8.
There's no way he's behind Will Montgomery, who has struggled at times.
Phillips also asks the question at # 9 -- Is Roy Helu "the better running back" than Alfred Morris. No, they are similar in some ways and very different in a lot of ways. They are pretty good complimentary backs with Helu helping out on third downs and as a better pass catching threat. He is a physical runner and not a Darren Sproles type weapon.
I think if we are basing the rankings on this year, Josh Wilson has to be higher than # 22 and Leonard Hankerson may be a bit higher than # 19.
These are just a few of the thoughts and issue I had, but anytime you rank something - it is good water cooler material. What do you think?
IV. Various Stats and figures that will make you go WOW!
A. Per @JPSTATS on twitter, the Saints defense leads the NFL in making 93.5% of their tackle opportunities.The Redskins are the lowest at 82%.
B. The Redskins are fourth in the NFL behind Philadelphia, Green Bay and Denver (two previous opponents and next week's opponent) in net yards per game at 399.2.
C. There are 16 teams in the NFL that score more points on a per game average than the Redskins, while also averaging LESS yards per game. It backs up what any coach will tell you that scoring points and not racking up yards is what matters. The Redskins have received 21 of their 107 points directly off of defensive turnovers (same play)
D. Per the Elias Sports Bureau and via request by John Keim and ESPN 980: Since 1970, all 82 teams to start 0-5 in conference play have missed playoffs
E. Per ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) via request by John Keim & ESPN 980: The Chicago Bears rank 1st since the start of the 2012 season with 207 points off turnovers. The Redskins are 7th with 147.
F. The Chicago Sun-Times put this graphic and chart together on some Bears numbers http://voices.suntimes.com/sports/week-7-inside-the-bears-numbers-by-stats/. Matt Forte has 33 catches for 244 yards, but according to the graphic provided by Stats INC, he has 211 of his 244 receiving yards after the catch. In other words, the Bears do something I've been begging the Redskins to do more of - traditional screens.
You'll also notice that Pierre Garcon was on that chart. He has (35-408) on the year with two touchdowns to lead the team in all categories. 228 of his 408 yards have come after the catch per STATS.
G. Per Rich Eisen of the NFL Network and via Matthew Jones (@89MJones96) - the teams with the least amount of three-and-outs on offense are the Carolina Panthers at six. The Philadelphia Eagles are next with eight, and then perhaps surprisingly the Redskins and Houston Texans are next with nine.
H. According to Rob Carlin of CSNWashington - Robert Griffin III has the worst first half passer rating in the NFL at 60.3. Chad Henne is next, and Joe Flacco is at 66.5.
I. Per Evan Silva of Rotoworld & ProFootballTalk.com - Jay Cutler has been dialing it up to the tune of 64 completions in his last 89 passing attempts, for a 71.9% completion percentage, and has passed in that span for 759 yards (8.53 YPA), six touchdowns, no picks and two throwing 2-point conversions.
J. Also according to Silva, the Bears defense has allowed the 3rd most receptions and fourth most yards in the league to tight ends. Jordan Reed, Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen are on the docket for Chicago, with rookie Jon Bostic starting his first game at middle linebacker.
Chris Russell -- SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Washington Redskins (1-3) are fresh off the bye and visit the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) on Sunday Night Football right here on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3 and 92.7 FM, ESPN980.com and SIRIUSXM Radio.
You've heard the terms "Dallas Week" and "We Want Dallas," and hopefully for the Redskins sake and the realistic hopes of a season, they give the fans something to be happy about on a short night of sleep into Monday morning.
The Redskins beat the Cowboys twice last year after getting swept in somewhat heartbreaking fashion in 2011. In order to win the division this year, I would argue a second straight sweep of the Cowboys is almost mandatory.
With all of that as a backdrop, we go Inside the Numbers for some of the key stats and matchups and things we might be able to see unfold on Sunday night.
I. The Redskins offense must use more deception and stay on the field.
The Redskins offense is based off the premise of deception. It's very simple, yet very essential. Deception works in many ways from read option gives and pulls, along with zone read play action pop passes to wide receiver reverse motion, bootlegs and full house backfields.
Expect to see plenty of it on Sunday night, as the Cowboys secondary (every time I see it) is just awful when defending some sort of play fake or deception. Another way the Redskins can attack the Cowboys defensive backs is on double moves and back shoulder throws. I saw Morris Claiborne get beat badly on both last week, one for a long gain and one for a touchdown. Brandon Carr was in coverage on Santana Moss' back shoulder fade in Dallas last Thanksgiving.
One area Robert Griffin III and the Redskins offense absolutely needs to improve on is third downs. Overall, they are (16-50, 32 %) but as our friend John Keim (@John_Keim) wrote for ESPN.com - Griffin has been sporadic at best on these key down situations. According to Keim, he is only (23- 44) for 252 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Every teams struggles in third-and-long but just to illustrate, the Redskins lead the league in 3rd-and-9 conversion attempts, of which they were shut out on in the four games. They have 26 attempts on 3rd & 7 + according to Redskins PR statistics. They're (5-26) in those situations. They have less attempts on third down and six or less (24) than third and seven plus (26), as I wrote about here http://bit.ly/1bON8FA.
There are many ways to get better. The addition of Jordan Reed will help, after he missed Oakland. He was really coming on strong. Leonard Hankerson is second on the team with 12.3 yards per catch. According to ESPN stats & Info and via Redskins.com; http://bit.ly/18SdB0Y, 10 of Hankerson's 15 receptions have resulted in a first down.
A part of third down success is what you do on first down. The Redskins according to NFL GSIS have run the ball on first-and-ten only 41.67% of the time. That means they have passed it 58.33% of the time. I think they need a little more balance. Of course, part of the issue is that they have passed so much more than ideally they would like because of game situations.
Just to back that up, the Redskins have run 266 offensive plays and Robert Griffin III has attempted 170 passes. That's 63.9 % of their offensive plays that they have attempted to pass. If you add in the seven times that Griffin has been sacked, the percentage jumps to 66.5%.
While I would strongly favor a commitment to run by the Redskins, I also am torn by the fact that I just love the passing matchups in this game for Washington. Morris Claiborne got beat on a long double move by Eric Decker of the Broncos, a move he seems susceptible too. He also got beat for a touchdown on a back shoulder fade.
Remember how the Redskins attacked the Cowboys on Thanksgiving? Plenty of read option, a long bomb to Aldrick Robinson out of a dual split backfield because the safety Danny McCray was caught cheating with his eyes into the backfield. Santana Moss also had a back shoulder fade touchdown to cap off the second quarter onslaught. Not to mention, Pierre Garcon's huge post crosser and run for a long score and Niles Paul tumbling touchdown catch and run on 3rd-and-1 when the Cowboys were selling out for a run.
II. The Cowboys have a ton of weapons and get another one back to add to the party.
Miles Austin has missed the Cowboys last two games but has 15 catches for 125 yards in three games this season. Rookie Terrance Williams caught 11 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown in Austin's absence. Cole Beasley caught seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. (Per Todd Archer, ESPN.com Dallas) http://es.pn/1aiBsnQ.
Austin has (32-429-3) in his career against the Redskins.
III. One way for the Redskins to lose the game (or win it) is by allowing/not allowing Tony Romo to dance around the pocket and break down coverage.
Romo had a simply insane 3rd/10 conversion to one of his favorite targets, Jason Witten. The passing play was only good for 13 yards and the first down, but Romo from the time the ball was snapped until the time that he released his pass, had a unofficial time of 9.1 seconds on my first timing and 9.42 on my 2nd timing of the play.
IV. Don't expect this one to be 13-10.
Through 5 weeks of the NFL season, teams have combined to score 3,566 points. That's tied for the most points scored through 5 weeks (2011). That's 713.2 points per week, which based on a full 16-game schedule is 45.57 points per game between the two teams on average. Two weeks ago, the NFL began the bye calender which means their were only 15 games in Week 4 and 14 games in Week 5. If you take away those three games because of byes, you get a per game average of 46.31.
V. One way to level the playing field is of course by creating turnovers.
The Cowboys and Redskins have both been prone at times this year to key turnovers at the worst times. It levels anyone's margin for error and Dallas felt the wrath of the turnover parade against Jim Haslett's guys in the worst way last year. The Cowboys threw three interceptions in the division clincher, leading to seven Redskins points.They had three turnovers in the game at what is now AT & T Stadium. Those three turnover (London Fletcher INT, DeAngelo Hall INT and Josh Wilson/DJ Gomes fumble & recovery) led to 14 points off of Dallas mistakes.
The point is if you can create turnovers, that's awesome. Converting them into points is even better. The Redskins next opponent (Chicago) is really good at this, as according to ESPN Stats & Info, they've recorded 207 points off turnovers since the start of last year. The next closest team is New Orleans at 53 less points (154).
The Redskins this year have created seven turnovers, but have also scored three touchdowns on those plays directly. The defense has generated 21 points on the very same play as the turnover (DeAngelo Hall fumble return, Hall INT, Amerson INT).
Overall, they've scored 34 points off of turnovers this year and 113 last year for a 20 game total of 147. I am not exactly sure where that lands overall in the NFL since last year (various websites list different numbers), but clearly they are not far behind 2nd place, since the start of the 2012 season.
VI. Some Cowboys facts and figures. The Good, The Bad and The ???
Tony Romo is (57-41) as a Cowboys starting quarterback, with a (30-20) record at home. He is 18-17 in his career against the NFC East. His record is (26-14) when he throws one interception in a game. On the flip side, if the Redskins can get him to throw more than one pick, he's (4-14). His record in games that were played in the month of October? (8-13).
The Cowboys overall since moving into AT&T Stadium in 2009 are (2-7) in October games there, and (4-5) in prime time. The stadium should be fully closed by the time kickoff comes because of a high probability of thunderstorms. If that's the case they are (10-8) in this palace.
The Cowboys have played in 15 games since the start of the 2012 season that have been decided by seven points-or-less. That is the most in the NFL during that span. They are (8-7) in that span during that time. Of course last week was one of these games, a 51-48 home defeat to the Denver Broncos.
Since 2005 - the Cowboys and Redskins have played 16 games and have split them, each team winning eight times each.
Final Score Prediction - Washington Redskins - 34 Dallas Cowboys - 31 (Washington + 5)
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980