One year ago to the day, the Redskins were getting ready for their first home playoff game in 13 years. They were fresh off the franchise's biggest win and best regular season in recent memory. They were the "hot" team entering the playoffs and were considered a legitimate threat to go deep.
Even better, all signs pointed to a very bright future. They had finally found their "franchise" quarterback. Robert Griffin III's rookie season was one of the most exciting in NFL history. The front office looked shrewd for pulling off the deal to get him while the coaching staff looked innovative for the way they leveraged his unique skills during his first season. Optimism reached a 20-year high. What followed was the Skins' version of October 1929. Their market crashed.
One year after the franchise was stretching to a 20-year optimistic high, it’s back in the gutter again. How they got here for the most part comes down to what happened on one day in one game, one year ago--The Seattle game.
No single event over the last year changed the fortunes of the franchise like the Seattle game on January 6, 2013. The optimism heading into that early January playoff matchup was genuine and justified and it grew during the early portions of the game.
Up 14-zip in the first quarter, the hottest team in the NFL was on the verge of becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick. The 7-game winning streak to end the season was nice but a playoff beat-down of the bully Seahawks would’ve legitimized them as one of the teams to beat.
Then came the crash. It started with an injury. Then came the decision to keep the injured player in the game. A few hours later, the game was lost, the season was over, and the franchise and its fan base were heading into a deep depression that nobody saw coming.
The circumstances of what happened on that January evening caused the collapse. It started with the injury to Griffin. It continued with the decision to keep him in the game. After the game, things began to get ugly. First, the diagnosis of torn ACL/LCL. Then, the mean-spirited criticism from everywhere of a coach for not saving his quarterback from himself even though the doctors and trainers assured him he was okay and Griffin himself would’ve forced Shanahan to come onto the field and fight him before he would leave the game.
The playoff game produced the physical damage that started the crash. The psychological damage came over the next eight months courtesy of immaturity, selfishness, and vanity.
There was a rehab that came with its own marketing campaign. Griffin was “All In For Week 1” before he was able to walk.
There were passive-aggressive shots from all the key figures. Shanahan talked about Griffin needing to learn to slide. Griffin couldn’t keep his mouth shut and even when he did, he texted and tweeted out alternating vague and direct shots at his head coach that began to turn an idolizing fan base against him.
And then there was Mr. Griffin. There was no reason for him to become a key figure but that didn’t stop him. I can only imagine the Ashburn head-shaking over a parent going public with his own offensive playbook.
With training camp came threats from RG3. "Play me if the doctors clear me" or else.
Chris Cooley said last week on his show that Griffin told him that he didn’t think Mike liked him and couldn’t understand why. Delusionville is a nice place to be when the reasons are obvious and unflattering.
Shanahan missed his opportunity to spare everyone including himself from the carnage that unfolded during a dreadful 3 and 13 season. He was the adult with the authority and he didn’t act like it or use it.
He wimped out. He should’ve rounded up the owner, the GM, and the quarterback and let em all know who the hell was in charge. Beating the Eagles in the opener was the goal; validating the Adidas campaign wasn’t. If Griffin wasn’t interested or able to run the offense they asked him to run, so be it. Start Kirk. If the owner didn’t like it, Mike should’ve told him to fire him.
Instead, Shanahan allowed himself to get run over and then defended himself in a cowardly way. Armed with a phone, he leaked his quarterback and owner under a bus instead of manning up and solving the problem by addressing them eye to eye...man to still-growing men.
January 6, 2013 was a day that began so bright and bullish. Amazingly, one year later, things are bleak and bearish....once again.
Here we go again. Another new beginning with a splashy offseason to hype all that is shiny and new. Gruden, Cowher, the RG3-Briles reunion….it’ll be a show I’m sure. More on that in a moment.
So much for the owner’s declaration last year….”we’re in good hands with Mike and Bruce”. As it turns out, at least two of those hands weren’t used for much good. Mike Shanahan should’ve used one of his hands to massage and stroke his star quarterback into feeling good about his commanding officer. The other one should’ve been used to yank the owner away from his star quarterback. Instead, he used one hand to wave a white flag and the other to call Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano. What an utter S-show this place is.
Back to the shiny and new. It won’t be an easy hire. For starters, this organization is perceived and justifiably so as toxic. It’s not the job most quality NFL men have as #1 on their list. With that said, the money is good and the overall football situation isn’t as bad as many have made it out to be.
It was much worse four years ago. Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato’s final 2009 roster included an incredible 55 players who are no longer in the NFL. That includes players who were on IR and the Practice Squad at the end of that season but still, 55 players on one team no longer playing professional football a mere 4 years later. Wow, that was a true "cupboard is bare" situation. Throw in the miserable cap situation at the end of that year and if it wasn’t clear then, it should be now….they left the place in shambles.
While Shanahan isn’t leaving a roster full of superstars, there is an attractive young nucleus of Griffin, Morris, Garcon, Reed and Williams on offense with at least a couple of legit players/intriguing prospects on defense (see Kerrigan, Cofield, Amerson and Jenkins). There are others like Thomas, Crawford, and Thompson that may prove to be impactful but haven’t had the chance because of injuries and a few more like Hankerson, Riley, Baker, and Bowen that have showed occasional promise.
As far as draft picks, after one more RG3 first-rounder goes to St. Louis this year, they’ve got all of them after that. In terms of cap space, they’ll have more room under the cap than every team in the NFC except Chicago with roughly $28 million to spend if they choose to. Add to that, Shanahan will leave a roster full of team-friendly contracts. Don't underestimate the importance of that to a prosepective new coach. It's a major plus that there won't be any Albert Haynesworth or D-Hall 400-pound contracts sitting on the chest of the new coach when he gets here. For those that have written and spoken about how Shanahan has left the “football” situation in worse shape than Zorn, it’s not even remotely close to true. The toxicity of the place aside, the “football” situation should be viewed as a potential quick fix with just a few solid moves.
It gets old trying to figure out the best course of action for this group but assuming Bruce Allen is staying, I’d like to see him be given the authority to hire a new personnel director and new coach. It would be nice if both were good, got along, and had compatible philosophies on the type of players they desire. Allen could continue to handle contract and cap management along with Eric Schaffer.
As far as the new coach goes, Allen’s top priority should be to find someone capable of molding Griffin into a top-flight NFL quarterback on the field while also nimble enough to deal with everything that comes with a still-maturing Griffin off it. I'd also prefer someone who understands how to manage the clock. This is the one area you could compare Shanahan to Zorn. Both seemed confused on how to do it and apparently too insecure to admit they needed help.
After the seedy drama of the last few weeks, answers to the coach question are around the corner. After that, their typical splashy offseason marketing machine will motor through the months of March, April, and May at warp speed. And then after all of that, the answer to the most important question will have to wait. Maybe it takes a year, perhaps 2 to 3. The most important question when all of the BS smoke of the last month clears is this....do they have a franchise quarterback or not?
An ugly finish to the Shanahan era. The good, bad, and more from the Giant game.
1. The defense. It came to play. Just on the field too much courtesy of a terrible offensive day.
2. Chris Baker & Perry Riley. Both stood out. Baker had 3 tackles-for-loss. They should try and keep him. Riley had 2 TFLs, a sack, and was pretty good in coverage.
3. Pierre Garcon. Best player on the team and the only player on offense that played at a pro level today.
1. The offense. Easily the worst offensive day of the season. How 'bout 66 yards on 30 plays and zero for 9 on 3rd downs in the first half. Inept.
2. Kirk Cousins. There wasn't much there to be had and there were plenty of drops but he was awful at times throwing the football. 1st-round pick.....don't think so.
3. Clock Mgt. Shanahan's inability to manage the most important relationship in the organization, the one with his quarterback, is in my view the single biggest reason for his demise this year. On the field, his lack of understanding how to manage the clock at the end of halves and games was his biggest weakness. After a 14-yd completion to Garcon with 42 seconds left in the half and holding 2 timeouts in his pocket, he chose not to use one. Big mistake. The next snap came with 23 seconds left. Yes they got a field goal but not using that timeout killed any chance of getting more than that. He just doesn't understand the concept of more plays being better than less plays at the end of halves and how to work the clock with spikes and timeouts to create additional snaps. He's been absolutely terrible at this aspect of the game.
4. Punt returns. I've never seen a team let more punts hit the ground than the Redskins. They lost a ton of field position yardage all season long because of it. Also, some of the Giant punts were short with no hang time and the Skins still couldn't get a decent return. Was there one good punt return in 16 games? I can't think of any.
1. Alfred Morris' fumbling towards the end of the season is something to watch next year.
2. Chris Chester was owned by Justin Tuck for a 2nd straight game this year.
3. I want Merriweather back next year. He's easily the most capable safety on the roster if he can stay healthy. I also think he did a good job of changing his play to fit within the rules over the last half of the season.
5. Kai Forbath had a decent finish to the season. He made his last 14 kicks....some of them in terrible weather.
6. Worst season I can ever remember. 3 wins and all 3 of those were nail-biters and could've been losses.
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.
Here we go again. We've been here, done this before.
There were Norv Turner's final few hours in December of 2000 which included the absurdity of Eddie Murray attempting a field goal from a distance he told the coach he couldn't make in a 9-7 loss to the Giants. Hours later, Norv was fired and Terry Robiske (aka Robinski according to Deion) took over with a little help from Pepper Rogers.
The next year ended with no "gleam men". Marty Schottenheimer had changed the entire culture of the organization in less than a year but despite an 8-3 finish with Tony Banks and Kent Graham at quarterback, he knew his final hours in a monsoon at Fed Ex against the Cardinals were numbered. His team won that game but he was fired the next day because at least one person in the ownership group didn't like him. Like that should’ve mattered. His 2001 team was as well-coached as any Skins' team in the last 20 years and he was on the verge of turning the Skins into winners again.
Then you had the 2003 snap shot of Steve Spurrier bundled up in the sleet and rain at Fed Ex Field during a late-season 27-0 loss to Dallas. He looked so unhappy and cold. Coaching any team north of Myrtle Beach was never going to be an option for him again even though he had two years left on his contract...."5 and 11, not too good."
The debacle of Jim Zorn and "swinging gate" against the Giants on a Monday night in 2009 with a former Bingo Caller in the booth calling plays was pure comedy.
And then there was today. A 2-time Super Bowl-winning coach seemingly positioning himself to get out of town with a planted story about wanting to leave a year ago because of the quarterback's relationship with the owner. Whether true or not and it's hard to believe that it is true doesn't really matter. He's gone. Add the embarrassment of a borderline unprofessional performance from his team on a snowy Fed Ex Field in front of hearty few; this day fits perfectly with those mentioned above.
This organization has been a freak show for a while now. Sure there have been a few moments here and there. Joe Gibbs 2.0 included two thrilling late-season runs to the playoffs. Last year's first division title since 1999 felt like an organization that had reached a good place. I was convinced the franchise had finally found solid ground. Good culture, franchise QB, division champs....it's still hard to fathom that a franchise could fall apart so quickly in less than 12 months. I mean seriously. How the hell did we get from division title and the feel-good of the win over Dallas to where we are now in less than a year? Even the Shanahai haters didn't predict this.
On another note, I don’t believe that Mike Shanahan had made up his mind that he was going to leave before the playoff game against Seattle. That story makes no sense. His personal popularity among the fans had just reached its highest point. It's ridiculous if he thinks anyone would believe that he had decided to quit after beating Dallas to win the division. There is a perfectly reasonable motive for the story if it came from the coach. He wants the "not my fault" narrative to reign. But that's not fair. He was given a lot of autonomy to do the job and if he got persuaded to do things like play a quarterback that wasn't ready or trade for Donovan McNabb, that's on him.
I certainly buy that at some point since that playoff game against Seattle he’s thought about leaving. For eight months he had to deal with a marketing campaign that pushed for his starting quarterback to come back earlier than he should have. He had to deal public and private suggestions from the QB’s family about his offense and his son’s play calling. Then he was pressured and perhaps even manipulated into playing Griffin in the opener against his better judgment. But he had the power to stop all that and didn't.
He wasn't leaving last January. But it's obvious now that this season and the future of this coaching staff was compromised the second Griffin took the field unready to play in the opener against Philadelphia. And that decision and everything that came after it lays at the feet of the head coach. He's a good coach and he'll coach somewhere else, maybe even next year, but it certainly appears to be over here.
One of the worst days in franchise history. The good, bad, and more from the game.
1. The fans that showed up at the game. On one of the worst weather days in team history, props to the diehards that showed up.
1. Overall effort. A no-show by the team.
2. Coaching. I disagree that the team wasn't ready in recent weeks but today, they weren't ready and that's on the head coach. Additionally, some of the worst Sp Teams coaching decisions you'll ever see. To continue to punt the ball to Dexter McCluster was outrageous.
3. Tackling. Laughable.
4. Running game. Non-existant.
5. Quarterbacks. Both were bad.
1. Franchise is at rock-bottom again. This week should be interesting to say the least. Shanahan, Snyder, who starts at QB....total S-show.
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.
1. Jordan Reed and Darrell Young play. Reed is the more important of the two but both are important to an offense that has gone missing the last two weeks. Reed is a difference-maker and gets open for a quarterback who is always looking for him. Not having him for most of the day in Philly and the entire night against the Niners impacted offensive productivity. Young is so much better than Paul as a blocker it's not even worth discussing. Without him, the run game will suffer.
2. Griffin is established as a legit run threat. If it's more important to develop him as a more comfortable pocket passer than to win the game than go for it. But they won't win if he's not a legit run-threat both out of the Pistol in the read-option game and as a drop-back passer.
3. the defense plays at least as effectively as they did vs the Niners. The defense didn't play that well on Monday night despite popular opinion. Yes, it stopped the run very effectively but no, it didn't stop anything else. It allowed 5 scores on 9 real drives. That's not good under any definition of good defense. However, for THIS defense, it wasn't as horrific as other games so it looked great by comparison. If the D can stop the run like they did Monday night, it at least forces an inconsistent Giant offense to be one-dimensional.
Neither team is very good....I'll take the home team. Skins 28-25.
1. Run defense. One of the best run-stopping games of the year for the defense. Niners never got anything going on the ground. Then again, they didn't have to with the success they had throwing the ball. With that said, only allowing the opposition to score on 5 of its 11 drives is reason to celebrate one of the better defensive games of the season.
2. Santana Moss as a punt returner. Major improvement. His 13-yard return was the most impressive punt return of the year (not sarcasm) and the ball never hit the ground except when it hit in the end zone. A bad decision not to have him back there earlier in the season.
1. The offense. A bad night all-around for the offense. It started with sub-par quarterback play, got brought down even further by zero pass protection, mix in a few drops including Morgan's drop after the team got a short field off a turnover, throw in what looked like a bad route by either Paulson or Garcon when they were both in the same area on a play that may have been a touchdown, add a missed potential touchdown when Aldrick Robinson slowed down on a deep ball where he had a step on his defender and in summary....it was a pitiful night for the offense.
2. O-line. The 49er defense is really good but the O-line didn't put up much of a fight. Polumbus was a turnstile and Trent Williams was abused on a few occasions.
3. Robert Griffin III. 2nd straight rough performance. He played with no confidence and made no plays of note. The interception was brutally bad. He threw poorly on several other occasions. Some of his completions were bad throws. He didn't feel pressure well. He held the ball too long. It also looked like he didn't get a play call correct that led to an unnecessary timeout which hurt the team's chances to score a touchdown at the end of the half (may be wrong on that but Shanahan seemed angry with Griffin). With that said, Aldrick Robinson didn't do him any favors when he slowed down on a deep ball that may have been a touchdown.
4. Josh Wilson & pass defense. Colin Kapernick hadn't thrown well for 2 months but got healthy tonight. The Skins did a very nice job of making the 49er offense one-dimensional by stopping the run but they weren't good enough to stop the Niner air attack. Kapernick had his highest QB rating of the season. The 49ers hadn't had a pass play over 17 yards in 3 games; they had 5 tonight, 3 of them were for 30+ yards. Wilson seemed to be the target for the Niners and he didn't disappoint. Receivers were wide open in his area all night long.
5. Special Teams. Nothing on kickoff returns. Kickoff and punt coverage were lousy. Kickoffs were too short.
6. End of first-half use of timeouts. The use of timeouts killed their touchdown chances. They did a nice job however getting the field goal team on the field to get the 3 pts before the end of half. Garcon had the first-down with forward progress that would've allowed a spike to stop the clock and a few shots at the end zone.
1. Perry Riley had a huge Pick 6 opportunity but didn't pull it in.
2. The Vernon Davis fumble gave the Skins starting field position in opponents' territory for just the 2nd time in 7 games. It wasn't deep in SF territory but just barely at their 49.
3. RG3 got hit close to late on a couple of plays including the INT play but didn't get calls other QBs have been getting all year.
4. The new field was slippery.
5. They should go to the "turbo"/hurry-up more often.
6. Merriweather still leads with helmet on tackles.
7. Kyle called a 3rd and 3 RO run and a 4th and long-1 run. Neither worked so for all of those who say run it on 3rd and 3 and 4th and 1, he did. You happy now?
8. Skins real chance came after the Davis fumble early in the 3rd quarter. Offense didn't deliver. Morgan's drop killed the drive.
9. I wonder if Shanahan would've made a QB change if the Skins didn't get those two drives at the end of the first half.