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?
1. Pierre Garcon. The catch on his back was incredible as was his game and his record-setting season. He set the single-season reception record for the franchise; a record that stood for 29 years.
2. Forced turnovers. A nice play by Wilson to force the fumble on Clutts and a nice interception by D-Hall.
3. Kai Forbath. He made 3 kicks and 2 of the snaps were a little off. Nice job by Rocca to get both of the snaps down. Forbath has quietly made 12 straight kicks.
1. Ineffective pass rush when they had to have it. Tony Romo converted two crucial 4th-down plays in the 4th quarter including the game-winning touchdown pass with little pressure from Skins' pass rushers. Bottom line, the guy (Orakpo) that thinks he's a game-changer didn't change anything. Few if any impact plays from Brian Orakpo who appeared to be dominated at times by Tyron Smith.
2. Penalties and offensive miscommunication. The Skins' final offensive play where Moss seemed to lineup on the wrong side of the field forcing a hurried snap and a frenetic Cousins reflected too much of what went wrong today. Receivers not knowing where to line up or lining up illegally was an issue and shouldn't be in week 16. Penalties were killers all day but none more ridiculous than the back to back penalties on 3rd and goal at the 2 (2nd qtr) when the Skins followed up a false start with an illegal shift. The next play was a Skins' timeout. A possible 7 pts. became a self-inflicted 3.
3. Not enough offense. Bottom line, Dallas was allowing 427 yards per game coming in and the Skins didn't even get 300. Other than Garcon & Morris who consistently moved the pile for extra yards, nothing else was that impressive. There were drops by Morris on the first play of the game and Darrell Young in the 3rd qtr and there was the big miss from Cousins to Moss late in the first half that resulted in an interception. They made Dallas' defense look professional for the first time in several weeks.
4. Punt coverage. The worst the league has seen in a long time at 17.2 yards per allowed coming in. They gave up a 62-yarder on the first punt of the day. It would be less painful and maybe more productive if they just went for every 4th-down. With that said, their kickoff coverage was pretty good in this game.
5. Clock mgt. The Redskins took a crushing timeout on defense with 2:16 left, the clock stopped, and the playclock winding down to 3 seconds. First, it was possible Dallas would've been called for delay-of-game....secondly, the Redskins needed that timeout to stop the clock when it was running. It cost them 40 potential seconds of clock when they got the ball back. Shanahan said it was called on the field by a player....who cares. The timeout used on the 4th and 2 earlier in the 4th quarter because of 10-men on the field would've been helpful at the end also. Not saying they shouldn't of called it in that particular situation, but having 10 men on the field for a play that crucial is embarrassing.
1. Cousins' day was average. His miss to Moss that ended in INT was points off the board and he had an opportunity with 1:08 left to get the team in FG range and he didn't get them close. With that said, for the 2nd straight week, it was clear that he is a much better pocket passer right now than RG3.
2. The field was torn up and players were slipping all day long.
3. It was far too early for the Skins to go for 2 when they scored in the 3rd qtr to take the lead.
4. Ryan Kerrigan is better lined up inside than outside.
5. Tony Romo's 2 touchdown passes were all because of his extend-the-play ability. As good as anyone in the league buying time to make a throw.
An up and down game for all three phases of the team. The good, bad, and more.
1. Chance to win despite 7 turnovers. It’s almost impossible to win a game with 7 turnovers but the Redskins nearly did it. The defense forced 6 punts and had 2 solid goal-line stands. One of them ended with a forced-field goal; the other was on 4th down. The offense was responsible for 6 of the 7 turnovers but when they weren’t giving the ball to the other team, they were rolling up big yards and pts. The SP Teams lost a fumble, gave up a 25-yard punt return, but Rocca had one of the best days he’s had this year.
2. 1st-half quarterbacking. One of the best halves of quarterback play for any Skins’ QB this year. Cousins was decisive, confident, and got the ball out to the right receiver on time. The one fumble WAS his fault despite the poor pass protection on that play. He must protect the ball under pressure in the pocket. He completed 65% of his passes for 248 yards, 2 touchdowns, with no picks in the first half. Despite 4 turnovers in the half, he led the team to 20 pts on 320 yards. The Redskins had 9 total plays of 10+ yards and 5 of 20+ including their longest play of the year (62 yarder to Robinson).
3. Brian Orakpo. He’s been playing some of the best ball of his career. Another 1.5 sacks and several hurries. He covered well and tackled well also.
4. Perry Riley. Not sure how he’ll be graded out overall by coaches but he was high-energy and around the ball all day. His 4th and goal stop on Jackson was nice.
5. Pierre Garcon. 7 catches for 129 yards. Could’ve been a bigger day if not for 1-2 throws that were behind him a bit including the 3rd and 10 on the drive that ended with a FG to tie the game at 17-17 in the 2nd qtr. He’s the best player on the team.
1. 7 Turnovers. 6 of the 7 were more careless than defensive-forced. Both of Moss’ fumbles were on Moss. Same for the first Morris fumble. His 2nd was a strip but he was carrying the ball loosely in traffic. Both of Cousins’ picks were bad throws without much pressure in the pocket. Cousins’ fumble was the only one of the 7 turnovers that could be described as defensive-forced.
2. Decision to go for 2 and the win. I guess you could say who cares when you're 3-10. However, it seemed to me to be the wrong decision in terms of win probability. The odds of making that 2 pt. conversion was likely in the 40% range while the odds of winning in OT seemed to me to be at worst, 50-50. The defense was playing well and the offense had moved the ball on its last 2 possessions. The Skins had nearly doubled the Falcons in yards to that point so barring an 8th turnover, it seemed like OT was no-worse than an even-money proposition.
3. 3rd-quarter quarterbacking. Kirk looked like Joe T. in the first half but Rex G. in the 3rd quarter. He knows the offense, he’s decisive, and gets the ball out on time to the right place most of the time but his accuracy in the 3rd quarter was bad. Both interceptions were badly thrown balls.
4. End of first-half clock mgt. An inexcusable handling of the clock at the end of the first half and it cost them a legit shot to get 7 instead of 3. This has been a major problem with this coaching staff. Today you could argue, it cost them a chance to win the game. The goal is more plays at the end of a half if you have the ball, not less. The Skins' actions cost them a potential 3-4 offensive snaps. After the Gumbs INT, they ran a play that ended with :31 seconds on the clock. They didn’t call the timeout until there were :21 seconds left. 10 seconds is no less than 2 snaps they could’ve run. After the next play that netted 7 yards, they wasted time spiking the ball instead of calling a quick timeout. The difference was roughly 8 seconds or another play, maybe 2. Then they took a huge risk by running a play with 7 seconds left to get 5 rather meaningless field-goal range yards. While a long shot, there was some risk that play could’ve eaten up the remaining time on the clock. Everything they did after the Gumbs play from a clock mgt. perspective was wrong. The potential 4 points they didn’t get (3 vs. 7) could’ve been the difference in the game.
5. Losing Darrell Young. Just 23 yards for Morris in the 2nd half without him. He’s so valuable to the run game.
1. Barry Cofield (I think it was him) was offsides on the 4th and goal stop on Steven Jackson but it wasn’t called.
2. The defense gave them a chance to win the game.
3. 9 penalties for 66 yards and 7 turnovers are signs of a bad team.
4. Ryan Kerrigan had his10th forced-fumble of his career.
5. Morris’ first fumble was Tom Compton’s first play. Compton’s contact with Morris caused the fumble.
6. I hate when Skins go with soft zone coverages, especially on 3rd down and makeable yardage.
7. I’m not sure what Chris Baker’s responsibilities are on every play but he gets penetration more than most of the other guys on the D-line.
8. Skins’ punt coverage team rarely is near the punt returner when the punt returner catches the ball.
A good start, bad finish. The good, bad, and more.
1. Brian Orakpo. As active as he's been this year as a run-stopper and pass rusher.
2. Barry Cofield. He's their only legit defensive linemen although Chris Baker is growing on me.
3. Reed Doughty. Despite getting hurt, when he was in there he was what he always seems to be....a solid run-stopping safety and a very good special teamer.
4. Santana Moss as a punt returner. He catches what he's supposed to catch and when he doesn't fair-catch it, he's decisive as a runner. So much better than Thompson, Morgan, and Williams that it just angers me that they didn't put him back there in mid-September.
1. Offense after taking 14-zip lead. After taking a 14-nothing lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins had 9 drives the rest of the game with the following results--184 total yards, 4 dropped passes, 4 penalties, 5 sacks, one fumble, 3 points. As for why the offense fell apart, it's not because Alfred Morris didn't get enough carries. He had 9 carries in the first half for 11 yards. How much more did you want him to get the ball? To whom was it obvious that he was on the verge of a monster 2nd half? Until they proved that they could make plays down-field in the passing game, their conventional inside-zone/outside zone run-game was going to be a tough go. The offense's lack of productivity over the final 3 quarters had more to do with drops, penalties, sacks, and lack of passing game execution.
2. Game-changing Special Teams gaffe. The Redskins had a 17-14 lead with a dominant field position advantage when Kyle Nelson rolled the snap back to Rocca and Rocca had his punt blocked. The net yardage with a holding penalty added on was 8 yards. Giants started at the Skins 46 instead of deep in their own territory and they took the lead on that drive. Not that it was game-over but it was a game-changer for sure.
3. Drops and penalties. As mentioned above, one of the reasons the offense didn't produce more in the final 3 quarters. Garcon, Davis, and Paulson all had at least one. Davis' drop on the final drive was huge. It would've given the Skins a chance late.
4. The field. Too slippery. Cost the Skins a first-down in the 2nd quarter when Morris slipped after a catch and came up a yard short. Next play, Royster stopped on 3rd and 1.
5. Aldrick Robinson. His effort and ball skills on the one deep ball weren’t very good. He also appeared to have had a big opportunity on a reverse but got less than he should've.
1. Collinsworth is one of my favorites but he went overboard with his praise of everything Redskins-related. He said the following about Mike Shanahan and staff....."if they stick with this group, they'll win the division next year".
2. Why did RG3 run rather than throw a "Hail-Mary" on the final play of the first half?
3. Griffin went to his check-down receiver several times, especially in the first half. It seemed to be an emphasis for him. It almost looked like the coaches made it a point to let him know it was okay if that's where he ended up. It worked for the most part. He was an impressive 16-17 in the first half for 149 yards.
4. The refs blew it on the "1st-down" indication on the Skins' final drive. Bottom line, even if Triplett himself indicated third-down, other officials including at least one that authorized the chains to be moved were handling the result of the play differently. There was crew confusion so he should've stopped the clock and measured the 2nd-down spot. That was the appropriate course of action. They obviously blew it and while it DID cost them a chance to continue their final drive, I've seen enough in recent weeks to believe that their chances of tying the game even if they got the correct call were less than 50-50. We were probably headed for another Minnesota/Philly ending.
A bad loss that for all intents and purposes ends the competitive portion of this year's schedule. The good, bad, and more.
1. The comeback. The defense gave them a chance by stopping Philly on their final 5 drives and the offense made a few plays. I respect the fight till the end but the way they played the first 3 quarters made it too big of a hill to climb.
2. Alfred Morris. He's the best draft choice of the Shanahan/Allen era.
1. The final play. A bad play with the game on the line. He said that he didn't want to take a sack on that play with no timeouts left and I get that but the play he made was both a bad decision and badly executed.
2. RG3. It started with a throw that was 20 yards off the mark to a wide-open Logan Paulson on the opening drive and it didn't get much better from there until the 4th quarter. That miss to Paulson was one of the worst throws you'll see from an NFL quarterback and it killed a potential tone-setting opening drive. Overall, he threw high, he threw short, and he had several balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. After the 3rd and 1 incomplete pass to Paulson early in the 4th quarter that was badly underthrown I thought he should be benched for performance. One more, Aldrick Robinson was open on that 1st down throw to the end zone on that final drive.
3. The offensive play calling. It's LOL funny to hear people complain today about the play calling in the first half saying there was "no balance" when the same people have been begging for exactly that, "no balance". Today however, those complaints were valid. Kyle seemed intent on proving to a certain part of this fan base and media group that you can't run the ball over and over again and win. If that was his point, he proved it. 28 runs and 7 throws in the first half would've been fine if they had scored but it's too hard to score up here as Coach Joe would say without making plays in the passing game. Yes, there were some early opportunities with the miss to Paulson and a drop by Moss but there should've been more play action throws on early downs. After the first-drive miss to Paulson on a first-down play action throw, the Redskins ran the ball on 10 of their next 12 first downs in the first half.
4. Defense until late 3rd and 4th quarters. It was as bad as it's been in the first half and the first drive of the 3rd quarter. Players wide open, screens were a problem, and tackling was an issue even though most teams in the league have a challenge tackling McCoy.
5. Special Teams. Nick Williams' decision-making wasn't any better than Josh Morgan's. He cost them 15 yards of field position on the Eagles' last punt. He also fumbled another but was able to recover it.
6. Injuries. No Jordan Reed hurt a ton more than no Leonard Hankerson but not having both no doubt limited the offense.
7. Turnovers. The first one was clearly a result of a confused/botched pass protection with Jordan Reed but Robert should've called timeout or thrown the ball away. The last INT....head scratcher.
1. RG3's height/stature in the pocket is a problem. Teams are batting a ton of balls. This is just another reason the drop-back game doesn't work for Skins.
2. McCoy on Kerrigan is a mismatch. Skins need a ton more speed on defense.
3. Santana Moss had the big 3rd and 25 catch but his early drop was costly.
4. Interesting to hear Robert say that the Eagles schemed them up well and that they seemed to know what was coming....shot at Kyle?? He also said that they've been very good on offense the last few games but today nothing seemed to work.
5. Shanahan's challenge of the spot on the Eagle 3rd down late in the game was obvious.
A painful loss against a team that was hurting, down several starters, and lost its starting quarterback during the game. The good, bad, and more.
1. 1st-half offense. Amazing first half which included 24 points on 4 drives, 288 yards, 18 first downs, 7-8 on 3rd down, and 20:40 of time of possession. Robert went 16-21 for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns. He completed 6 of 7 for first downs on third down. Morris, Garcon, and Reed were outstanding in that first half.
1. Defense. A regression to the first two weeks and this time they can't blame being out there too much because of an ineffective offense. Minnesota scored 34 pts on just 50 plays (not counting kneel downs) and had the ball for just 23:59. The defense didn’t stop Minnesota once on its own. The Vikings scored on 6 of 8 drives and the only two times the Skins' D got off the field was because a receiver fell down on a third down throw and Ponder threw a terrible pass on the first drive of the game. Other than those two drives, the defense got torched.
Now, did Minnesota have some good field position in the 2nd half courtesy of a bad punt and a penalty….yes. And overall, the D did an okay job on Peterson relatively-speaking. But play-action passes off of Peterson's run-threat killed them all night long. Kerrigan was a non-factor as a pass rusher. In fact, other than the sack on the 2nd play of the game by Orakpo, the pass rush overall was non-existent. Just 3 QB hits the entire night. Pathetic. Ponder and Cassel combined to go 21-27. I can barely remember an incompletion.
2. 2nd-half offense. The offense had to be perfect all night long to win with the defense getting zero stops and it wasn’t. They really needed a touchdown on that opening drive of the 2nd half to extend the lead to 2+ scores but didn't get it. The 1st and 10 read-option run by Robert at the Minnesota 22 on that drive should've gone for big yardage but Reed didn't stay on his block thinking Griffin had passed him already.
Drops hurt them too, particularly the Garcon drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 in the 3rd quarter. Robert also missed Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 throw with Minnesota leading 31-27. It should’ve been a fairly easy throw if he had some touch to it. It was a 15-20 yard play that didn’t happen.
There's talk already of Kyle getting away from the run after they took a 27-14 lead but that’s not accurate per usual. There were 19 offensive plays run between the time they took a 27-14 lead and first and goal with no timeouts left with 38 seconds left. Those 19 plays included 11 runs and 8 passes.
For those that want Morris on every play with a one-score lead, why? They built a 27-14 lead with balance, there was no reason to get away from that balance up 27-21 when they got the ball back.
3. Drops. Paulson’s on the first drive was catchable even though it was thrown quickly and hard. Garcon’s drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 was one of those turning-point plays. The Skins had scored on every drive of the game up until that point and had gone 9-11 on third downs. The play call was a good one, the execution wasn’t. Garcon doesn’t drop many but that was a big one. Also, Reed could’ve had the touchdown catch at the end even though he was held before it got there.
4. Pass protection. The interior of the O-line really struggled in the 2nd half.
5. Clock Mgt. It was very good at the end of the game but they got lucky at the end of the first half when they wasted a down by spiking the ball on first and goal at the Minnesota 8. The spike came with 24 seconds left. They should’ve called their last timeout with 36 seconds left after Moss’ catch got them to the 8. 36 seconds is plenty of time to run 3 pass plays into the end zone and then kick the field goal if you don’t get in. Just another example of how poorly they handle these situations even though they overcame the loss of a wasted down with a touchdown anyway.
6. Penalties. The Riley 15-yarder in the first half may have been the difference between 7 pts and 3 and the Young 15-yard penalty on Sp teams gave Minnesota great field position which led to another score.
7. Officiating. No sour grapes intended but the officiating seemed one-sided tonight. The late hit on Chris Baker in the first half was a brutal call. There were at least two hits on Robert that were later than the Baker hit and neither one got called. Josh Morgan was clearly interfered with on the punt return that he fumbled and it wasn’t called. There was a fairly obvious false start that wasn’t called on Minnesota on a key third down. And Jordan Reed was held by Erin Henderson on the 2nd and goal at the end and it wasn’t called.
8. Special Teams. Morgan’s decision not to fair catch a first-half punt was a bad decision. Rocca’s 2nd shanked punt in last 3 weeks hurt. The fake punt attempt was obviously badly executed.
9. Final Play. It looked like Robert should've thrown to Reed. He was open.
1. Saw some screen passes in the game…perhaps not enough.
2. Niles Paul did a nice job on kick returns.
3. Griffin’s inability to slide makes him reluctant to turn some of those read-option runs up field when it looks like there’s a ton of room.
4. Kerrigan’s near-pick would’ve been huge.
5. RG3 was near-perfect in the first half but he missed a wide-open Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 play down 31-27 and he had an opportunity to avoid lost yardage on one of the sacks if he had just thrown it away.
Another season-saving win. Avoiding 0-4 with a win in Oakland was big; avoiding 1-5 with the big win over Chicago was absolutely necessary; today's 30-24 OT win over the Chargers gives them a chance to get back into things over the next few weeks. The good, bad, and more.
1. Goal-line stand. Let's start there because without it, they would've lost the game 28-24. It was a tough situation because the Chargers had 1st and goal at the 6-inch line with 2 timeouts left meaning that they had the option of throwing or running. They chose to throw it twice which seems surprising until you realize that they barely ran it all day long.
2. Offensive game plan and play calling. A great game called by Kyle Shanahan who didn't seem to let any of the criticism about the lack of Morris runs last week deter him from calling the right game for the team rather than for his critics. Six of the first 8 plays of the game were passes when the whole town has been screaming to run Morris on every play. The Shanahans believe in taking what the defense gives you and the Chargers came out with the intent of stopping the run and Kyle called a game that early on used the pass and a couple of triple-option plays to set up easier running lanes for Morris.
Their first 4 first downs of the game included 2 passes and a triple option pitch to Jordan Reed. The Chargers were kept off-balance all day long thanks to excellent play calling and some seldom-used twists like Darrell Young carrying the ball, more triple option, and a few empty backfield sets.
Two specific play calls show that despite recent mishaps in similar situations, Kyle stuck to his aggressive guns. When they got the ball back up 21-14, he went read-option throw to a wide-open Moss over the middle. The ball was poorly thrown and fell incomplete but this was similar to last week when everyone thought he should run Morris over and over. The play was open and should've worked. The other play was the first play after San Diego had cut the lead to 24-21. I'm sure everyone including San Diego was thinking here comes Morris yet he goes play-action and a perfect throw to Garcon for 26.
3. Read-Option. The Redskins ran a ton of it today and Morris, Young, and the passing game totally benefited from it. Robert didn't keep it much except on the triple-option plays but the threat that he would keep it set up the other stuff. The new twists to the read-option game will keep teams guessing in the coming weeks. The blocking scheme looked different and Moss, Morgan, Reed, and Hankerson have all been pitch options on triple-option plays this year. Young as a full-back run-threat in the backfield as part of the "Pistol" formation with Griffin and Morris is a new twist as well. The Skins ran 21 read-option style plays for 180 yards. Morris was 8-55 yds on read-option style runs while RG3 went 7-8 for 84 yards on read-option/play action passes.
4. Offensive execution, especially on 3rd-down. Last week in Denver at 21-21 in the 4th quarter, Josh Morgan and Aldrick Robinson had opportunities to make catches that could've changed the game but they dropped the ball. Today, Garcon made at least 3 brilliant catches while Griffin made very good throws at key moments, especially on 3rd-down. The Redskins went 12 for 17 on 3rd downs for the game. RG3 was 8 for 9 on 3rd-down throws, 7 of them for first downs. He also ran 10 yards for a 1st down on 3rd and 9.
5. Pierre Garcon. Money game for the guy who said last week "we suck at passing". 7 catches for 172 yards and at least 3 of them were incredible grabs. The deep ball on 3rd and 12 early in the 3rd quarter that he caught was amazing. There was P.I. on the play but he didn't need it with an incredible catch.
6. Alfred Morris. He was great today and really benefitted from the read-option success.
7. RG3. For starters, he made great decisions most of the day on read-option plays. I remember just one read that should've stayed with Morris and it would've been a big run but other than that play, he was very good in the read-option game. He missed a few throws but made a ton of good ones including clutch throws on 3rd down. Among the missed throws....1) overthrowing a wide-open Santana Moss early in the 4th quarter and 2) a throw behind Pierre Garcon on 2nd and 19 late in the 4th quarter on a drive that could've ended the game. Garcon made the catch for a 16-yard gain but a good throw would've been a first down.
With that said, Robert made big throws and perhaps the biggest run of the game. He went 8 for 9 on 3rd down, 7 of those for first downs. His 10-yard run on 3rd and 9 with the score tied at 14 was a monster play....he paid for it with a big hit. Some would prefer he run it out of bounds short of the sticks and punt....he's just not wired that way. It was a big drive, a big play, he knew it, he went and made a play even though he took a big hit.
8. Darrell Young. 3 touchdowns and a new option out of the read-option that other teams must now prepare for.
9. Jordan Reed. Big catch and move-the-sticks run in OT on 3rd and 8.
1. Special Teams. 2 blocked field goals in one game are really hard to do but they managed to do it. Josh Morgan on punt and kick returns is a total disaster and if he's back there next week I'd question who he has pictures of. He makes horrible decisions as a punt returner when he doesn't catch punts he should catch. He let two hit the ground and one of them nearly bounced back and hit one of his teammates. Also, on the kickoff at the end of regulation after San Diego tied it, I don't think he knew that he had to go back and down the ball in the end zone. It was laying there and could've been recovered by San Diego until someone yelled at him to go down it.
2. Pass rush. I heard a lot of complaints after the game about Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan getting held all day long but that sounds like excuse-making to me. Both looked like they were handled most of the day. You can tell they play with high energy but they don't get consistent results. Obviously Kerrigan is a major play maker for this team but he needs more consistent pressure. Orakpo just isn't consistent enough. In fact, Rob Jackson still looks like a better play-maker than Orakpo. Jackson had the team's only sack. Bottom line, 1 sack and 4 QB hits aren't enough. They got close a few times but this team doesn't get enough pass rush....period.
1. The Biggers INT was huge. He benefited from a clear mix-up between Rivers and Brown but that play kept the Skins from falling behind by two scores early.
2. Refs were bad all day long...until the end, thankfully. There was on offensive P.I. called on San Diego's Keenan Allen in the first half without any contact. Chris Chester got called for holding on a play early in the 3rd quarter that wasn't close to being correct. The defenseless hit on Garcon in overtime was a bad call. I thought Woodhead fumbled on the play in the 4th quarter that Shanahan challenged. In overtime, Morris had a run that appeared to spotted poorly. It looked like he got 10, they gave him 9. At least they got the Woodhead play at the goal line at the end right.
3. Chargers' DE Lawrence Guy created a 10-point swing by himself. He blocked a short field goal and tipped an RG3 pass that was picked off in the end zone for the first score of the game.
4. Too many close calls on delay of game for Skins' offense. Cooley talks about tempo all the time and it looked like their tempo was too slow at times. They had one delary of game penalty on a big 3rd and 1 late in the 3rd qtr.
5. Niles Paul's 24-yard kickoff return looked better than anything Morgan has had all season long.
6. The 2 early San Diego Scifres punts to the Skins' 1...an example of great special teams play and it led to a 7-nothing Chargers' lead.
7. No "Turbo" offense today.
8. David Amerson can make plays, good and bad. He had a great pick and he got beat on occasion. Typical for a rookie corner with talent.
9. Hankerson stepped up and had a nice game. No drops, that's encouraging.
10. Skins ran 38 snaps from Pistol for 233 yards, 180 of those yards coming on read-option style plays. 2 of those snaps were no plays because of penalties.
Up 21-7, the Skins gave up 38 unanswered in a 45-21 loss. The good, bad, and more.
1. D'Angelo Hall. He's making more good plays than bad plays this year. Clearly, this is the best year he's had since becoming a Redskin. He had two more picks and another touchdown today...his 3rd TD of the season.His 2nd interception was a spectacular play.
2. Alfred Morris. He should've gotten the ball more today....more on that below.
3. 1st-half defense. Holding Denver to 7 pts in a half deserves high praise. The D was great early in the 3rd quarter as well forcing two key turnovers and scoring its 5th touchdown of the season.
4. Sav Rocca's 1st-half punting. 4 punts in the first half was supposed to mean an early death for the Skins but it didn't happen in part because Rocca's punting was really good in that first half. With that said, it didn't last. His 15-yard punt with the score tied at 21 was awful.
5.Pierre Garcon.His one-handed catch was incredible.He may have gotten a bad spot on that play.I thought it was a first-down and worth a challenge.
1. The offense. 7 punts and 5 turnovers. After rolling up 500 yards and 38 points against the Bears, the offense generated one drive of note. That drive was a good one but it also got a gift in the form of a 12-men on the field penalty that led to a touchdown instead of a field goal. So why was the offense bad? In order....1) Robert wasn't much of a run-threat in the run-game and that we know is trouble, 2) Robert didn't play well, 3) key drops on a key series at 21-21 in particular, 4) Kyle got away from the run with the game still in the balance & didn't find ways to get Robert outside the pocket as a passer first, runner 2nd, 5) O-line pass protection is bad, especially in the interior, and 6) the Skins still don't have enough playmakers.
2. RG3. One of the worst games of his young career. This loss wasn't ONLY ON HIM (see above and below) but he missed big opportunities in the passing game during both halves and appeared to make a couple of bad decisions on read-option plays. This was a game that required him to make plays but he didn't make any. He wasn't much of a read-option run-threat and he didn't make any plays with his feet on pass plays whether it be by stepping up into the pocket and making a throw or extending a play outside the pocket and making a throw. One thing we've seen now too often over two seasons is his inability and/or unwillingness to step up and create more time with his feet "in-the-pocket". He tends to keep backing up when there's pressure rather than stepping up.
3. Drops. Several drops but none more important than the two on first and third down on the drive at 21-21. The first down pass to Morgan was a bit behind him but he needs to make that play. That's a 25+ yard gain on a play-action pass with the box stacked looking for Morris. The 3rd-down drop by Robinson is THE PLAY more than any other in the game that hurt. Everyone will want to point to play calling in the 4th quarter but Kyle didn't drop those passes at 21-21 when they had to throw against a stacked line of scrimmage looking for Morris. Those drops were drive-killers and they eliminate the chance to get back to Morris after they drop their safety out of the box.
4. Some of the play calling. Just to get the facts out, they didn't totally abandon the run in the 2nd-half as some may think. They ran Morris on 6 of their 8 third-quarter offensive plays. Their first drive of the 4th quarter they faced a Denver defense with the line of scrimmage stacked to stop the run and Morgan and Robinson dropped big-gain passes. Just one catch on either of those two passes and Morris would've likely gotten carries on that drive and the game may have stayed competitive the rest of the way. With that said, down 28-21 on their next offensive drive, Morris carried it just once before the RG3 fumble....and then down 31-21 after the RG3 fumble with still 11:14 left in the game, they went with 3 straight passes.
Additionally, I'm surprised that when they did throw, they didn't either get Robert out of the pocket or go with more empty/5-wide quick throw plays. It seemed like there weren't many adjustments to the interior pass protection issues. Also, the Skins don't seem to have a traditional screen game that can sometimes help against pressure.
5. Interior offensive line. A rough game for Lichtensteiger and Chester in particular. They've struggled at times this year.
6. RG3's pocket hits. He took a beating in the pocket today. Maybe the worst he's taken.
1. The 3rd and 7 neutral zone penalty on Kerrigan was one of those potential difference-making mistakes.If the Skins get a stop there, it’s 21-10, not 21-14.The Skins had a chance if they had gotten a 4th and 2 stop after that but Moreno ran for 5 yards.
2.Josh Morgan's 34-yard punt return was the biggest of the year but he made a mistake by fielding it at the 6.
3. Robert had a triple-option keeper opportunity on their long 2nd-quarter touchdown drive with Hankerson as a pitch option that may have scored if he kept the ball.
4. Also on that 2nd-qtr touchdown drive, Robert threw to Reed when Morgan was open in the flat after faking reverse in the opposite direction and Garcon was open in the end zone.Robert doesn’t see the whole field consistently enough.
5.Peyton Manning went 45 minutes between legit snaps from midway through the 2nd quarter until the first drive of the 3rd quarter.
6.Vickerson’s 15-yard late hit on Robert was a stupid penalty committed by the same guy who did the same thing to Andrew Luck last week.
7.Denver’s “natural” pick plays in the passing game are so precise and make pass coverage difficult.
8.Ryan Kerrigan with another forced fumble….his 3rd this year, the 9th of his career.
9.Peyton Manning got called for holding when he tried to keep Orakpo from recovering the fumble forced by Kerrigan.
10.Robert got cleared to play after getting hurt….Shanahan did the correct thing and kept him out.Game was over.
11.Kirk Cousins threw two picks in relief.
12.Some thought Kirk should’ve been given a chance when Robert was struggling early in the game…I never considered it.
A season-saving win....lots of good, bad, and more.
1. RG3. His best overall game since pre-injury last year. I know that many don't like it but the offense is obviously a much better unit when he's a part of the run game. He had more read-option keepers than he's ever had in a game. He took some unnecessary risks and corresponding hits on some of those runs but he played the game like it was do or die. I'm sure there are many different opinions on that. He's still struggling at times as a passer but he makes up for some of those mistakes with his ability to make "off-schedule" plays as a runner or passer. He was clutch all day. When they had to have a drive to answer Chicago, he led several including the game-winning drive where he went 5-7 for 58 yards (1 drop by Moss) and two huge 3rd-down throws to Garcon (on the run towards the sideline) and Reed.
2. Jordan Reed. We've seen his potential in glimpses through the first five games but today was his breakout moment. He's a big target and he gets open. His hands are solid and he makes yards after the catch. Nine catches on nine targets for 134 yards including four on third-downs was a huge difference in the game.
3. Morris and Helu. Both backs made plays and the mixture of both in the game plan makes the Skins harder to defend. Still amazing how many yards Morris gets when it appears there's nothing there. Helu did the same on a few carries. Helu is a nice red-zone option because of his versatility as a runner or pass receiver.
4. 1st-half defense. They held the Bears to 46 yards on six drives and scored another touchdown on the Orakpo pick 6. By the way, nice play by Reed Doughty on that play. The D's performance in the first half should've led to a bigger lead at halftime but bad Special Teams and an RG3 pick helped Chicago to 17 points.
5. Trent Williams. I thought he was clearly the best of the offensive lineman on a day when the rest of the O-line allowed a ton of penetration.
6. Hurry-up. They used it several times and were effective each time. It really helped the running game in particular and seemed to set up big bootleg plays.
7. Luck. They got lucky for the first time this year. Let's count....1) Reed may have fumbled on the early catch where he got hurt....Skins did a nice job of going hurry-up and snapping the ball before the Bears could challenge. 2) Morgan's fumbled kickoff was thankfully recovered by Niles Paul. 3) The TD pass to Robinson should've never been thrown and should've been picked off by Tillman 4) The Gould missed FG was a close-call that went Skins' way. 5) Bears' onsides kick penalty could've gone either way, it went Skins' way. 6) Matt Forte seemed to get out-of-bounds on the next-to-last play of the game but the ref rolled the clock forcing the Bears to call their final timeout. The next play was sack/end of game.
1. Special Teams. Another bad performance overall. There were a few good plays including the Gumbs hit on kickoff coverage but there were a ton of rough ones. In addition to Hester's 81-yard punt return (which was punted well), Josh Morgan's decision not to field a punt at the 12 cost them 11 yards and ultimately 3 points. On the flip side, he fielded another punt at his own 5...wrong decision on that one too. Additionally, he fumbled a kickoff return. Bad day for Morgan on Sp Teams. They almost got caught on a surprise onsides kick but a questionable penalty bailed them out. The Redskins currently rank in the bottom 3 in the league on kickoff coverage, punt coverage, kickoff returns, and punt returns. The good news, no missed field goals and no blocked punts.
2. RG3 took too many unnecessary hits on runs. This was a guy playing like he did last year and not worrying about things like sliding or getting out-of-bounds. I love him in the run-game because it makes this offense so much better but he didn't need to take as many hits as he did today.
3. Drops. At least 4 drops by my count including 2 by Moss, 1 by Hankerson, and 1 by Garcon. May have been more.
4. 2nd-half defense. It allowed 313 yards, 21 first downs, and 24 points in 30 minutes. McCown's running ability against man-coverage in particular led to some big plays that Cutler may or may not have given them. The Bears have a ton of weapons and guys like Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, and Bennett made a ton of plays.
5. Some of the play calling. It's hard to criticize the play calling when the offense scored 38 pts and rolled up 499 yards but I didn't like the 3rd and 3 QB rollout to Robert's left....a play that resulted in a big loss. Additionally, I hated the 2nd and 12 reverse call to Robinson that lost another 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. That was a drive where they had decent field position and a 17-10 lead and they came out with that play. That drive should've been a spot to take control of the game early and they tricked their way out of that opportunity. Additionally, I hated the 2nd and 12 reverse call to Robinson that lost another 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. That was a drive where they had decent field position and a 17-10 lead and they came out with that play. That drive should've been a spot to take control of the game early and they tricked their way out of that opportunity.
6. Clock management....again. A terrible timeout by Mike Shanahan with 1:03 left in the game could've easily cost them the game. It's really troubling to watch because the goal for the Redskins during that final drive should've been touchdown and as little time left for the Bears when they got the ball back. That timeout on a 1st and 10 at the Chicago 19 resulted in the Bears having more time on the clock after the Skins touchdown and an additional timeout that they wouldn't have otherwise had. It made no sense especially when you consider that the Skins were in hurry-up mode already and they had plenty of time. More than a minute left is plenty. Less than 40 is when you start thinking timeout in that situation. The other thing is that if for some reason they had missed a game-tying FG, they wouldn't have been able to get the ball back with two timeouts. With 3, they could've forced a punt and had time to try and tie it again.
1. Merriweather on the verge of a fine and possible suspension after two 15-yard penalties.
2. Skins ran more read-option QB keepers than ever before. RG3 took a lot of risks on runs attempting to get extra yards which led to some hits.
3. Skins ran one triple-option play in the 2nd quarter. It's the first one of those since the Cincinnati game last year.
4. I was surprised that Bears took a knee at the end of the first half. The ball was at the 35 with 20 seconds left. That's 2 completions for FG range. Gould has great range even though he would've been kicking into the wind.
5. The 15-yard late hit on Orakpo was questionable.
6. The Replay-review of Hankerson catch and run on the sideline was correct call.
1. they stop the run. The Cowboys averaged 67.5 yards per game on the ground in the two meetings last year against the Skins.....Washington won both. The Cowboys have tried to be more balanced this year even though they threw it for 506 last week against Denver. Stopping Murray and making Romo have to make a living on 3rd and long is the only way the Skins have a chance of forcing a few punts and keeping Dallas under 28.
2. the offense dictates the context of the game. Last year, the Redskins put early and constant pressure on their opponents with its offense. The offense was even money to move the ball and score points on most of its drives. That threat of scoring on every possession put a lot of pressure on not only their opponents' defense but their opponents' offense to match the Skins' O. Let's not let the bye week allow us to forget that this year's Skins' offense has 1 touchdown in the first half of its first four games. If that continues tonight, they have no chance.
3. they get some subtle breaks. The Redskins need a few questionable calls to go their way and maybe a few bounces of the ball too. A Griffin fumble deep in his own territory recovered by Montgomery or a Morris fumble that bounces out of bounds are subtle plays that impact significantly the probability of winning. Add to that, a couple of offensive holding penalties on a Dallas first and 10 play that goes for 15 yards but gets called back is the difference between 1st and 20 and an eventual punt or a defense that is on its heels and in trouble. These calls are often the difference between having a chance to win a game on the road versus getting blown out.
Gut feel that the Redskins come off the bye ready to roll while Dallas feels the after-affects of last week's epic 51-48 loss to Denver.