This is a list of things about the Skins' 2012 season that I want to remember when we get to free agency, draft, and beyond.
1. RG3's Spectacular Season. The whys and hows of his injury will dominate the offseason discussion but let's not let it totally overshadow the greatest rookie season in franchise history. His debut game in New Orleans was stunning. The final drive in Tampa, the 76-yard game-clinching run against Minnesota, and the go-ahead touchdown drive late in the 4th quarter in East Rutherford were breath-taking early-season moments. The 7-game season-ending win streak featured 8 touchdown passes in back to back wins over Philly and Dallas, a clutch go-ahead touchdown pass against the Giants in a huge Monday night win, and two clutch throws on the final drive against Baltimore on one leg. He threw 20 touchdowns against just 5 picks with a 102.4 QB rating.....as a rookie! Oh and by the way, he rushed for 815 yards while leading the league in yards per carry at 6.8. The list of eye-popping plays he made during the course of the season are too numerous to mention but how's the 88-yarder to Garcon in the opener, the 4th and 10 to Paulson the first Giant game, the 76-yard TD run against Minnesota, the 30-yard go-ahead TD pass to Moss in the first Giant game, and the TD pass to Moss just before the half on Thanksgiving in Dallas for starters.
2. Pierre Garcon's Impact on W's and L's. With Garcon the Redskins were 9-2, without him they were 1-5. He was a difference-maker for sure.
3. Alfred Morris. He was the perfect zone-stretch and zone-read runner. He set the franchise record with 1,613 yards with the perfect combination of vision and power. His 33 carries for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns in the NFC East title game against Dallas in the season-finale is one of the franchise's all-time great individual performances.
4. Santana Moss Wasn't Done. The 33-year old led the team with 8 touchdown catches and was third on the squad with 41 catches.
5. The Offense Was Top 5 and Could've Been Better. They finished 5th overall, 1st in rushing averaging 169.3 per game, 4th overall in scoring at 27.3 points per game, and it could've been better if their defense didn't rank towards the bottom. Imagine that offense with a defense that gave them the ball back quicker.
6. Offensive Innovation. Mike and Kyle Shanahan introduced the NFL to the "Pistol". The "Pistol" was nothing more than a formation that allowed them to more effectively run their traditional zone-stretch offense while also threatening defenses occasionally with the lethal "Read-Option". Once the Shanahans introduced RG3 as a run-threat out of the "Pistol", the offense became nearly unstoppable. The most overrated talk during the season was how many times RG3 ran from the "Pistol" while underrated was what the threat of him running did to defenses. Separating truth from fiction, the "Read-Option" was not only the most effective passing offense the Redskins ran, it was the safest and cleanest pocket for RG3. He barely got hit on throws on the "Read-Option" and his primary receiver was almost always open. By midseason, San Francisco and Seattle were among the teams copying what the Redskins were doing.
7. Turnover Margin. The Skins ranked 3rd in the league at +17 and led the league with just 14 giveaways. A big reason for their 7-game season-ending win streak was 15 takeaways and a plus-10 margin.
8. Defense Got Better. 28th overall isn't good and leaves a ton of room for improvement but after the bye at 3-6, a defense that couldn't stop anybody started to and a team that couldn't generate any pass rush got some. Jim Haslett deserves a lot of credit for figuring out how to take a defense decimated by injuries and suspension early (see Carriker, Orakpo, Merriweather, Jackson) and turning into a competitive group by the final month of the season.
9. Penalties' Good and Bad. The Redskins were penalized an average of 7 times a game (5th most in the league) but just 2.7 times per game in their last 3 games (best in the league).
10. Danny Smith's Comeback. From two blocked punts in the first two games to a very good rest of the year. Fans wanted him fired early but his punt coverage team finished 8th while his kickoff coverage team finished 12th. Brandon Banks was ineffective but the move to Richard Crawford on punt returns worked.
11. Kai Forbath. Nobody can explain the move to Cundiff at the end of the preseason but the final outcome was a good one after Cundiff predictably failed. Forbath set an NFL record by making 17 straight field goals to start his career....he finished 17-18, missing his final attempt of the season into the wind and on the sand at Fed Ex.
12. Fed Ex Turf. A total disaster late in the season and a total embarrassment in the playoff loss to Seattle.
13. Biggest Offseason Needs. Safeties, corners, and another playmaker on offense are my top 3 priorities. Big decisions regarding Fred Davis and Brian Orakpo.
It was a disappointing end to an exciting season and the game that ended the season is already generating a ton of questions and discussion that will last weeks. There's time for that but first, the good, bad, and more from the loss to Seattle.
1. The start. No doubt that the Redskins were ready at the start in all phases for this game. For a quarter, they dominated. Their first two offensive drives of the game were perfection. The defense was very good at the start as well. It looked very good at 14-zip but Seattle got a few huge breaks on their 2nd and 3rd possessions of the game that probably saved them from being blown out. More on that below.
2. RG3's competitiveness. I think there are reasonable differences of opinion on whether or not he should have been pulled from the game but I don't agree with the view that the decision to keep him in the game was dumb, selfish, or irresponsible on anyone's part. RG3's big-time competitiveness and his associated confidence makes it a tough in-the-moment call to bench him if he says he's good and ready to roll. Many ripped Cutler for pulling himself in the NFC Championship a few years ago....that wasn't going to happen with RG3.
3. Reed Doughty. He has played very well recently but he was spectacular today. He had 12 tackles, 2 sacks, and a few more QB hits to go with a near-pick in the end zone. It was a memorable game for him.
4. Jim Haslett's defense. Even though ultimately the defense gave up 224 yards rushing in this game, I thought Jim Haslett's defense did everything it could to give the team a chance to win the game. Over the last month, the defense has been able to generate legitimate pass rush pressure and force key turnovers and today was no different. Five sacks, plenty of hurries, and a huge early third-quarter forced fumble at the goal line. Sometimes a coach does his best job when it's not obvious based on the numbers. Haslett got the most out of limited resources over the last month of the season.
5. Sav Rocca and kick/punt coverage. Rocca had some huge punts including a 53-yard net punt late in the 3rd qtr that finally flipped the field in the Skins' favor. Punt and kickoff coverage were solid all day too.
1. The turf. It was perfectly fit for a playoff game in the 20th century....not in 2013. Field turf should be considered if they can't keep a grass field in decent shape In December and January.
2. Not enough Morris. Whether RG3 was hurting or not, I thought Morris should've gotten more than five second half carries. To be fair, the Redskins only had a few possessions in the 2nd half in total and several of those started in horrific field position where they were trying to make a play through the air with Seattle showing 8 in the box. Still, on 7 2nd-half first-down plays before they fell behind 24-14, Morris only carried the ball on one of them.
3. Drop-back pass game. This has been a problem all season long for the Redskins. They just aren't very good when they have to throw. RG3 wasn't healthy for sure so part of their failure to throw was on his inability to step into passes and/or extend plays with his feet. It was even more apparent when Cousins came in. He had no time in pure pass situations down by 10. This is why the read-option was their most effective pass offense this year because it kept the pass rush in flux.
4. The play that may have changed the game. Down 14-zip, Seattle faced 3rd and 12 from their own 18 after Wilson was sacked by Perry Riley for a 6-yard loss. With the crowd in full throat, Wilson underthrew Zach Miller short of the sticks but instead of an incompletion and a subsequent punt, Miller made a shoestring catch and somehow was able to get the necessary first down yardage through would-be tacklers Hall and Wilson. It was just one play early in the game but if he doesn't make that catch and a first down, the Redskins would've gotten the ball back in great field position with a chance to add to the 14-nothing lead. Instead, the Miller first-down catch was the key play on a drive that ended in a Seattle field goal.
5. Leonard Hankerson hears footsteps. He's had an up and down year but one thing has been consistent....if he's going over the middle and a defender is close, he's going to short-arm it.
1. Shanahan's decision to stick with RG3. Truth is, I never felt strongly during the game that RG3 should be benched for Kirk Cousins. I thought about it but it wasn't obvious to me until he was laying on the ground after the fumble down 21-14. In hindsight, it's easy to say their chances would've been better with Cousins at some point before the 4th quarter but with that said, I never gave up on the possibility that RG3 would make enough plays to win the game. My view on this whole thing is that RG is a competitor, he's the main reason you're in this game, he's telling you he can do it, you let him go, especially considering that your team still had the lead. How much better would Cousins have made out with the awful 2nd half field position? Maybe better or maybe worse. Keep in mind, as limited as he was, RG3 still had a 3rd and 7 throw to Leonard Hankerson early in the 4th quarter that Hankerson should've caught for a first down. It would've given the Skins a first down in Seattle territory up 14-13. I understand and believe Shanahan's postgame explanation that he felt Robert had earned the right to keep playing as long as Robert felt he was up for it and the doctors weren't pleading for him to sit. I think this was a much tougher call in the heat of the game than it seems now.
2. A key play that bounced Seattle's way. Russell Wilson fumbles and instead of Madieu Williams or Rob Jackson picking it up, Lynch picks it up and rumbles for a 20-yard gain. It was a key play on their first touchdown drive.
3. Haushka was hurt. The Lynch go-ahead touchdown run on 3rd and 5 was obviously a big-time run. If the Skins had gotten a stop, I wonder if Seattle would've sent an injured Haushka out for a 45 yard FG on bad turf.
4. Seattle had some missed opportunites. A dropped pass by McCoy near the end of the first half could've been a touchdown....the fumble at the Skins 2 by Lynch on the opening drive of the 3rd quarter....Wilson missed a wide-open Baldwin in the end zone in the 3rd quarter.
5. Near-disaster on a punt return. Skins got lucky they didn't turn it over on a punt return in the 3rd qtr when the ball nearly hit Cedric Griffin and Richard Crawford.
LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. – The National Football League announced today that Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 17. His selection marks the first time a rookie running back and rookie quarterback (Robert Griffin III – Weeks 1 and 11) from the same team have won the award in the same season.
Morris (5-10, 218) is the first Redskins rookie running back to receive the honor, and the team’s first running back since Clinton Portis in Week 5 of the 2008 season to win the award.
In Week 17, Morris rushed 33 times for 200 rushing yards with three touchdowns, all career highs, helping the Redskins defeat Dallas, 28-18, for the team’s first division title since 1999. With 200 yards last Sunday, Morris finished the season with 1,613 yards, second-most in the NFL, breaking Portis’ team record for rushing yards in a season (1,516 in 2005). In addition, he became the fourth rookie in NFL history to reach the 1,600-yard mark rushing, joining Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983), George Rogers (1,674 in 1981) and Ottis Anderson (1,605 in 1979).
Morris’ 200-yard rushing performance is a Redskins rookie record and is the first by a Redskin of any experience level since Gerald Riggs’ team-record 221 yards on Sept. 17, 1989, vs. Philadelphia. The 33 carries were the most since Portis had 36 rushing attempts on Nov. 4, 2007.
For the season, Morris, 24, finished first in the NFL in broken tackles (22) and first in the NFC with 13 rushing touchdowns. He also led all NFL rookies in rushing attempts (335), total first downs (86), rushing first downs (83) and rushes of 10 or more yards (55). Morris and Griffin III became the first rookie running back/quarterback tandem to post 1,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards passing.
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) "R-G-3!" was all Redskins fans needed to chant when they wanted to express their love for Robert Griffin III. For the lesser-known rookie, they opted for his whole name: "Alf-red Mor-ris!"
It's a new generation that has Washington atop the NFC East for the first time this millennium. There's Griffin - the vocal leader, the first-round draft pick, the Heisman Trophy winner, the team captain. And there's Morris - the out-of-nowhere sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic who merely ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the division-clincher and broke the franchise single-season rushing record.
"These," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said, "aren't ordinary rookies."
The Redskins claimed their first division title since 1999, beating the archrival Dallas Cowboys 28-18 Sunday night in a winner-take-all finale to end the NFL's regular season.
"I was 9 years old in 1999," said Griffin, sporting a black baseball cap commemorating the title. "So I stand before you at 22, and the Redskins are the NFC East champions. To me, talking to Alfred after the game, it's the first time the Redskins have been champs since `99 and we came in and we did it in one year. The sky's the limit for this team."
Griffin, gradually regaining his explosiveness after spraining his right knee four weeks ago, ran for 63 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins (10-6), who finished with seven straight wins after their bye week. They became the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 and make the playoffs since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.
With the running game working so well, Griffin didn't have to throw much. He completed nine of 18 passes for 100 yards.
Washington will host Seattle next Sunday, the Redskins' third consecutive playoff game against the Seahawks. They lost at Seattle as a wild-card team in the 2005 and 2007 seasons.
"I've been here for the 4-12, the bad times, almost being the joke of the NFL," veteran defensive lineman Kedric Golston said. "But to do this with this group of guys - the old and the new - it's good to be here."
Certainly, Sunday night was mostly about the new. Morris had touchdown runs of 1, 17 and 32 yards and was so dominant that the Cowboys - missing their five best run defenders due to injuries - fell hook, line and sinker nearly every time the Redskins faked the ball to him. He finished with 1,613 yards for the year, topping Clinton Portis' 1,516 in 2005.
"I'll tell you what: Alfred Morris became a star tonight," Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said. "He deserved it. He's a phenomenal football player."
To which Morris answered: "I'm never a star. I'll never be a star. Other people might think I'm a star, but I'm just Alfred."
He won't have much choice if he keeps this up. On the Redskins' go-ahead drive in the third quarter, six plays were runs by Morris and the other three involved fakes to him. The touchdown came when Griffin faked to Morris - one of several times linebacker DeMarcus Ware was totally fooled by deception in the backfield - and ran 10 yards around left end to put Washington ahead 14-7.
The Cowboys (8-8), meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the third straight season, having stumbled in a make-or-break end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.
Tony Romo threw three interceptions - matching his total from the last eight games combined. A poor throw was picked by Rob Jackson when the Cowboys had a chance to drive for a winning score in the final minutes.
"I feel as though I let our team down," Romo said.
Romo completed 20 of 31 passes for 218 yards, and his career is now further tainted by post-Christmas disappointments, including Week 17 losses to the Philadelphia Eagles (44-6) in 2008 and the New York Giants (31-14) last year. He's also 1-3 in playoff games.
"Your legacy will be written when you're done playing the game," Romo said. "And when it's over with, you'll look back. ... It's disappointing not being able to get over that hump."
The Cowboys played catch-up after Morris' 32-yard scamper gave the Redskins a 21-10 cushion with 10:32 to play, pulling within three on a 10-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree and a 2-point conversion with 5:50 left. But Morris' third touchdown sealed the win with 1:09 remaining.
The Cowboys also dealt with in-game injuries to receivers Miles Austin (left ankle), Dez Bryant (back) and Dwayne Harris (lower leg). Bryant, who had a torrid second half of the season despite breaking his left index finger, had four catches for 71 yards.
Washington's slow start this season prompted coach Mike Shanahan to dismiss playoff hopes and declare the remaining seven games would determine which players would be on his team "for years to come."
Griffin and his teammates had other plans, and the coach quickly changed his tune. Now the Redskins will be playing in January.
"All odds were against us," Morris said. "But we believed in each other."
Notes: Griffin set two more NFL rookie records. His 102.4 passer rating topped Ben Roethlisberger's 98.1 in 2004, and his 1.3 percentage of passes intercepted is better than Charlie Batch's 1.98 in 1998. Griffin had already set the league mark for rushing yards by a rookie QB (815). ... The Redskins also set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season with 14, fewer even than the 1982 team that played only nine regular-season games because of a players strike.
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There is no game that has any less significance than the annual Pro Bowl. There is perhaps no individual honor that means more in a given season than a Pro Bowl nod, especially when selected to the original AFC or NFC roster.
For the Washington Redskins, nine wins and a possible NFC East Championship brought with it three Pro Bowl selections to the original roster and two more alternate selections. A possibility of 5 Redskins players could be in Honolulu, a week before the Super Bowl -- unless they are in New Orleans, preparing to play the biggest game of their lives.
Robert Griffin III, Lorenzo Alexander, and Trent Williams all earned Pro Bowl selections for the first time in their career. London Fletcher and Alfred Morris were selected as alternates.
For Griffin III, he joins Dan Marino as the only two rookie quarterbacks to be named to the original Pro Bowl rosters in year number one, according to Randall Liu of the NFL.
Alexander became the first Redskins player as a special teamer to make the Pro Bowl, since the red snapper - Ethan Albright in 2007. Alexander leads the NFL according to STATS, LLC with 19 special teams tackles, but the Redskins coaching staff has him credited with 29. Either way, you get the point. He's a stud.
Williams, who was suspended for the final four games last year, due to a violation of the NFL substance-abuse program was the team's # 4 overall pick in 2010 and the first selection of the Mike Shanahan era.
Only Ryan Kerrigan of the three first round picks the club has made in the Shanahan-Allen regime has not made a Pro Bowl yet, and he just set a career high for sacks with 8.5, and was simply dominant on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Griffin and Williams were chosen by management, but Alexander was retained. He was undrafted and bounced around before finding a home in Washington, and could have been discarded by a new staff that had no allegiance to him, except for one key guy who was retained in special teams coordinator, Danny Smith.
Instead, Alexander, became a part of the foundation poured down by Mike Shanahan when he arrived in Washington. Alexander was an unrestricted free agent in 2010, when the current regime inked him to a three year deal.
"I'm very humbled by everybody voting me in." Alexander thanked Smith, and several of his teammates for helping him get the nod, pointing out "obviously it's not a one man show."
For the "One Man Gang," he understands what it could mean moving forward. Alexander said via tele-conference on Wednesday night, "even more so than Pro Bowls, you want to be able to make it to the playoffs and go deep into the playoffs, and that's our main goal."
As mentioned, Alexander is a free agent once again this year, "hopefully that works out for me. Ultimately, I want to be here. I love this community, and the organization has always supported me."
Williams, is an athletic freak, who plays perhaps the most important position on the field (outside of quarterback) at the left tackle spot. He's the first Redskins offensive lineman to be selected since Chris Samuels was chosen in 2008.
Williams was voted a co-captain this year, despite his suspension to end the 2011 campaign which fortified his value. He is the kingpin to an offensive line group that has helped the Redskins lead the NFL in rushing for much of the year, as they are still number one at 162.3 yards per game and a group that has yielded 32 sacks in 15 games.
"Those guys make me better and likewise. This award that I'm receiving is a unit award, because I couldn't do it without them," Williams said via tele-conference on Wednesday night.
Griffin, was not available to comment via phone to reporters, but tweeted "Players, Coaches, Fans and most of all My Teammates, I could say so much more but will keep it simple & say Thank You."
Griffin becomes the sixth rookie quarterback in NFL history to be named to the Pro Bowl overall, but shares the distinction above with Dan Marino. He's also the first offensive rookie from the Redskins to be selected since Larry Brown in 1969.
The only snubs that you can really make a gripe about are Morris, who has only rushed for 1,413 yards and 10 touchdowns as opposed to San Francisco's Frank Gore who has a combined 1,359 yards and 8 touchdowns. Morris is an alternate selection and might get to play if Adrian Peterson bypasses the event.
Will Montgomery got a hard snub as Jeff Saturday of the Green Bay Packers made it over the Redskins rugged center. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Montgomery grades out as a + 21.0 overall on the year, including a + 2.8 in Philly on Sunday with a grade 2 MCL.
Saturday, who was benched recently, has a negative 5.0 cumulative grade on the season. He led the fan voting, which counts for 33.3% of the vote for the initial rosters. The other offensive center named? Seattle's Max Unger, who graded out just below Montgomery.
According to (@PFF), John Sullivan of the Vikings was an even bigger snub at a +28.0 to lead all centers. Of course, it helps to have Adrian Peterson as your running back.
As for right guard Chris Chester, he fell behind the three offensive guard selections for the NFC (Jahri Evans, Chris Snee, Mike Iupati) according to Pro Football Focus.
Just for the record, I have no issue with London Fletcher only being named an alternate. He clearly did not deserve to be in the same group as Patrick Willis and especially NaVorro Bowman.
Some have tried to make a case for Kai Forbath. Please people - he didn't even play in the first 5 games of the season. No offense, he's been terrific but you can't even make a reasonable argument.
The resurgent(7-6) Washington Redskins visit the suddenly reborn Cleveland Browns (5-8) this Sunday afternoon at 1 PM at Cleveland Browns Stadium, on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, www.espn980.com and the Washington Redskins Radio Network.
Our pregame coverage begins at 9 AM ET, from Cleveland with Larry Michael, John Keim (@John_Keim) and me (@RussellMania980). Kevin Sheehan hosts the official Redskins pregame show at 10 A, featuring live reports from Browns Stadium with Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell), Rick "Doc" Walker (@RickDocWalker), Sonny Jurgensen and me.
Let's go "Inside the Numbers" for this important tilt, that will absolutely be riveting to watch, no matter who is at Quarterback for the Redskins.
***As we write this, we have no idea who the starting QB is for the Redskins because of Robert Griffin III's knee injury. With that being said, Alfred Morris is more important than ever.
Morris has 1,228 yards in his 13 games as a Redskins RB. He averages 4.9 yards per carry, with 7 touchdowns, and a robust 94.46 yards per game. He has six 100-plus yard games, including three in a row in the division. Based on his 94.46 per game average, if he at least keeps that average up, Morris is on pace to finish at 1,511 yards and 8 touchdowns.
An interesting note that may mean absolutely nothing, but might be more glaring if Griffin III can not play - is that Morris is averaging nearly 86.3 yards per game against AFC North opponents, but two of those games were somewhat subpar. Against the Bengals, Morris was (17-78, 4.6, TD) and against Pittsburgh, (13-59, 4.5). Again not bad, but the 122 spot against the Ravens certainly boosted the numbers.
In his only rushing attempts without Griffin as the Quarterback, he had three total rushes for six net yards rushing against Atlanta and had three total rushes for five yards, in the overtime period against Baltimore. In case you are math-challenged - (6 rushes-11 net yards, 1.83). I included (for sample size purposes) the first play of overtime, a two yard rush which technically was not a play, because of Ed Reed's penalty.
So much of the talk this week has been can Morris and the Redskins play-action game be as effective if Robert Griffin III is not playing. The brief compilation of numbers would indicate no, but clearly it is not a large sample. I do not believe the Redskins will be able to run a lot of zone-read fakes out of the pistol formation if/when Kirk Cousins is the QB.
In the Baltimore game, Cousins was under center in the I-formation for the brief overtime period. Clearly, the Redskins were just trying to get a few extra yards, and playing conservatively. On the two point conversion, Cousins was in a modified pistol with Evan Royster less than a full yard behind him and off-set. On the touchdown to Pierre Garcon - Cousins was in shotgun, with Royster off-set to his left.
****The Redskins have scored 343 points, while the Browns have racked up only 259 points. A fast start will be a key, for whoever is the quarterback. Washington has scored 72 points in the first quarter of games (5.53/game) while the Browns have only scored 40. Cleveland has yielded 70 first quarter points, and 76 in the 2nd quarter.
The Redskins have 840 more yards from scrimmage than Cleveland has (386.5 - 321.8/game average) and average 1.1 more yards per play than the Browns do (6.2 - 5.1). It's hard to be worse on third-downs than the Redskins have been this year (33.12%) but not surprisingly, the Browns have been. They've only converted (30.98%).
It's also hard to be in the Redskins neighborhood in terms of penalties, but Cleveland has not been much better. Washington has 105/896 (penalties/yards) and the Browns are at a less than impressive 89/827.
Turnovers could also be and really need to be a huge factor. The Redskins have lost 12 (6 fumbles (22 overall), 6 interceptions), while the Browns have only lost 4 fumbles but have thrown 15 interceptions. The Redskins have generated 82 points directly via turnover or forced turnovers (4 TD, 54 on possessions after), which ranks 9th in the NFL. The Redskins are tied for 5th in turnover margin at + 12, while the Browns, mostly because of their eight forced turnover win against Pittsburgh are tied for 8th at + 8.
***The Redskins have allowed only ten points combined in the last two 2nd halves of football (NYG, BALT) plus the one series in overtime. That's 4 + quarters of football, but of course broken up over two games and separated by not so good first halves. The Redskins best stretch by my warped math this year? The 2nd half of the Carolina game, yielded seven points followed by a six point effort against Philadelphia and then three points allowed in the first half to Dallas. Essentially in 8 consecutive quarters (2 full games) of football - the Redskins defense allowed 16 total points, or an average of 2 points per quarter. Just to match that, the Redskins would have to hold the Browns and Eagles (until halftime @ Philadelphia) to a total of 9 points.
***The Redskins have been in the red zone 42 times this year, and have scored touchdowns on 23 of those possessions (54.7%), and have also kicked 11 field goals for a total of 34/42 red zone opportunites (80.9%). The Redskins defense has allowed 25 touchdowns on 44 red zone opportunities (56.8%), and opponents have also kicked 14 field goals for a total of scores on 39/44 red zone opportunities (88.6 %).
***The Redskins are 2nd in the NFC and 5th in the NFL in yards after catch average (6.0) but 20th in total yards after the catch in the league, at 1,446. The Raiders are first at 1,966. They're 9th in the 16-team NFC behind both Philadelphia and Dallas, who are the Redskins next two opponents. The Browns are 7th in the NFL in total yards-after-catch http://bit.ly/UtZKnB at 1,701 yards.
***The Browns have talent. Make no mistake about it. Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson leads the team with 97 tackles , 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles. He's also pretty good in coverage as well. Defensive back T.J. Ward 45 solo tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and three passes defensed. Another safety, Buster Skrine has 56 solo tackles and 11 passes defensed. Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Sheldon Brown are tied for the team lead in interceptions with three each.
Cleveland, like Baltimore last week appears loaded on special teams, with Josh Cribbs isa duel threat returner with 33 punt returns for 424 yards, and has gained 885 yards on 32 returns (27.7 avg.). Travis Benjamin, a young speedster has a punt return for a TD. Placekicker Phil Dawson has made 26 of 27 field goals on the year.
Robert Griffin III was the # 2 overall pick, but Trent Richardson was # 3 and has piled up a cumulative 1,217 yards (247-869-3.5 AVG, 9 TD rushing). He leads the Browns in receptions (45-348-1 TD). Just as a point of comparison, 6th round pick Alfred Morris has 1,228 RUSHING ONLY yards in his 13 games.
One of the most dramatic wins in recent Skins' history. The good, bad, and more.
1. 2nd-half defense. What a turnaround after a dismal first half. Seven 2nd-half/OT possessions....3 punts, 2 turnovers, 7 total points. They got better pressure on Flacco and did a better job against the run. The two forced-turnovers were really big. Baltimore was moving on both drives. Jackson got the forced fumble with the Ravens at midfield on their first drive of the 3rd quarter. Kerrigan's pressure led to the Fletcher INT with the Ravens at the Skins' 11. After a lights-out first half, Flacco was forced into mistakes in the 2nd half that really impacted the final result. The Kerrigan/Fletcher play in particular was all on Flacco for holding the ball on what was obviously a 5 blocking 6 situation.
2. Kai Forbath's Field Goals. 14-14 for the season, 9 of them over 43 yards and a huge game-winner in OT. Now, with that said, his kickoffs aren't very good and the kick after the game-tying touchdown/2-pt conversion was so close to being a play that cost them the game. Barely into the end zone even though Jacoby Jones protested.
3. Richard Crawford. Not a bad debut. 3 punt returns for an average of 33 per. Still not sure why he didn't outrun the punter for the touchdown but what a huge play.
4. Kirk Cousins. He comes on a 3rd and 6 with the game on the line and makes a throw that draws a P.I. Then, his 2nd entrance into the game comes on a 2nd and 20 with the game on the line and he goes 2 for 2 with a touchdown to Garcon, then ties the game on a 2-pt conversion QB draw. He was a clutch quarterback at Michigan State and what a job he did under pressure today. No panic, totally under control, and a great 3rd and 5 touchdown pass to Garcon. That's why they picked him. You need at least two in the NFL, they got em in the draft.
5. RG3. It wasn't his best game but I thought he was very effective early especially with the read-option (which sliced/diced Baltimore's defense on the first two drives en route to setting an NFL first-quarter best this year with 186 total yards) but he missed a few things too. An early 3rd and 7 to a wide-open Garcon was thrown poorly. The 3rd and short option pitch to Morris was a bad pitch. Morris would've easily gotten the first down. I know this will sound nuts after the injury but I thought he could've run more on the read-option and the same from the pocket. Still, on one leg, he made two big-time throws that got them to within striking range. The 15-yarder to Moss and the 22-yarder to Garcon were monster plays on the final drive and he couldn't step into either throw. Both throws were all arm.
6. Punt team. Sav Rocca had a very good day and the punt coverage team did a very good job on Jones.
1. RG3's injury. Can't wait to hear those complaining about him running the ball blame this one on the Shanahans but as was the case in the Atlanta game, it happened on a pass-play scramble, not a called run.
2. 1st-half defense. It was bad and they were lucky it wasn't worse. They couldn't stop the run, they couldn't rush the passer, they couldn't cover. D-Hall was beaten like a drum and it looked like Madieu Williams was constantly out of position. Flacco was 10-13 and 2 of the misses were his fault. He underthrew an open Torrey Smith that could've been a touchdown. Rice and company rushed 14 times for 91 yards. They only had the ball for 12:32 yet rolled up 218 yards. Not a good half for the Skins at all but not all that unusual either.
3. Drive-killing mistakes on offense. Penalties in the first half hurt. Morris' fumble cost them 7 pts. There were key dropped passes including Moss' catchable deep ball and Garcon's dropped 3rd and 3 in the 4th quarter.
4. Skins drop-back pass protection. We've seen it all season-long but they really struggle when they're in obvious pass situations. They throw it effectively out of the read-option look and first-down play-action, not when pass is obvious and expected.
1. The Garcon spot on that 2nd qtr catch/run was correct. His knee was down short of the marker.
2. Niles Paul's fumble was correctly reviewed and overturned.
3. RG3 took a helmet-to-helmet hit on a scramble run in the 4th qtr that was missed.
4. The 3rd and short option call by Kyle was a good call, bad execution.
5. I was surprised that Baltimore didn't take a shot with 26 seconds left and one timeout in regulation and at the same time didn't understand what they were doing at the end of the first half throwing the ball with clearly no intention of trying to get into FG range.
Their biggest win in several years. The good, bad, and more.
1. The offense. The debate about the type of offense their running is over. It's smart, it works, it's a step ahead of the defense most of the time, and it leverages the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of the players that are running it. The Redskins didn't have the ball much but still managed a very impressive 370 yards on 51 plays. I loved Kyle's aggresive play-calling in the final 3:51. He knew giving the ball back to Eli with any meaningful amount of time left would likely mean loss. The throw to Garcon on 2nd and 8 for 17 yards was the perfect aggressive call.
2. RG3. No explanation necessary.
3. Alfred Morris. What a bounce-back after the 3rd quarter fumble. 10 carries for 54 yards including the final 12 to ice the game post-fumble.
4. Pierre Garcon. He's the 3rd difference-maker on offense.They would be better than 6-6 if he hadn't missed time.
5. 2nd half 3rd-down defense. After allowing the Giants 8-10 on 3rd-down, they held NY to 1 for 7 in the 2nd half. Giant penalties helped but the most important penalty of the game, Will Beatty's hold on Rob Jackson, was forced by Jackson's great jump on the snap.
6. Sav Rocca. He punted effectively but more importantly, he did a nice job on a bad snap on the game-winning PAT.
7. Darrell Young. He's so underrated. He blocks, catches, and runs for first downs.
8. Few penalties for 2nd straight week. Just 4 for 56 yards and the Paulson offensive P.I. was awful. With that said, I thought they got away with a few defensive holds.
1. Pass rush and coverage. It's obviously not good enough but fortuneately tonight, Giant self-destructive penalties and a few Eli misses on deep balls in the first half made the final result look better than it really was. Fletcher on a tight end in coverage just doesn't work.
2. Banks' return yardage. He's just not producing on returns. Is it all him or is it a combo of him and blocking? Not sure but Niles Paul had a decent kickoff return in the first half.
1. I thought Coughlan might consider going for 4th and 11 from his own 43 after Kehl's running into the punter penalty. He must have given some thought about not giving the ball up to an offense that had proven they could move the sticks. The odds were probably no better than 50-50 that the Giants would get the ball back.
2. The Paulson offensive pass interference penalty was awful and could've cost them the game.
3. Shanahan time out on offense with 1:01 left in the first half cost his team 3 pts. The goal should be to score while simultaneously leaving the Giants with the least amount of time possible. He didn't achieve the latter and could have easily.
4. Gruden was smitten with the Shanahans all night long and did a great job of illustrating why their offense is smart and working.
5. How important did Mike Shanahan think getting the first score of the game was?? He challenged a seemingly 50-50 at best ball-spot on Paulson's 3rd and long on the first 3rd down of the game.
One of the biggest wins in recent memory for the Skins. The good, bad, and more.
1. RG3. He was brilliant in the first half in particular. Everything they tried worked and everything they asked of him was executed to near-perfection. There was a drop by Logan Paulson and a missed block by Paulson that led to a sack on the first two drives of the game but the first-half otherwise was a gem. He ran it well, threw it well, avoided pressure well. He's damn good and getting better.
2. The offensive scheme and Kyle Shanahan's playcalling. I've said this before and I'll keep saying it until all of the people I care about are worshiping at the same altar. The Shanahans know what they're doing with their scheme. RG3 as a run-threat out of the pistol and/or spread isn't a "college offense" about to be figured out , it's a "pro offense" that leverages the unique skills of its quarterback which might be easy to figure out but will never be easy to stop as long as RG3 is running it. I loved the playcalling today and it stayed aggressive even at the end of the half when last week they played for a field goal. I loved the aggressiveness on the drive after Dallas got it to within 28-13 when they took it down the field and scored on a gutsy 3rd and 1 TD pass to Niles Paul. Even better was the drive after the Cowboys closed to 35-28. 12 plays, great mix, field goal range, nothing stupid, field goal attempted, field goal made, game over.
3. Pierre Garcon. He IS a difference-maker.
4. Alfred Morris. He is also a difference-maker. He benefits greatly by the scheme that features RG3 as a consitent run-threat but he'd be good in any system.
5. The defensive scheme. For the 2nd straight week, Haslett had them ready to play. Yes a lot of yards and points given up by the time we got to the end of the game but the first half was a gem. Dallas had it five times in the first half and scored 3 points. The Skins were in position to make plays and made them more often than not.
6. Kai Forbath. A huge field goal to ice the game. He is 10 for 10 on the season.
7. Penalty improvement. After double-digit penalties the last few weeks, just 5 for 41 yards today.
1. 2nd half defensive execution. Too many people open althought the Cowboys made some very good plays after the catch.
2. Brandon Banks as a returner. I actually think Banks is helping offensively but his decision to field that punt in the end zone cost them significant yards.
1. I thought Cedric Griffin was pretty good in the first half.
2. The Skins' clock-management at the end of the first half was exceptional. The play call when they were down to no timeouts to roll RG# and throw to Moss where it's either a TD or an incomplete with no chance for sack was perfect.
3. Why they picked up the flag on the late hit on RG3 out of bounds I'll never know. He was clearly out of bounds when he got pushed to the turf.
1. Kai Forbath. He's 8 for 8 with 6 of the 8 from 43 or longer although his onsides kick attempt sucked.
2. Alfred Morris. Excellent runner.
3. No turnovers. Amazing that the Redskins haven't committed a turnover in 2 weeks. Even more impressive on day like today when they dominated time of possession running 76 plays with a ton of passes in obvious passing situations in the 4th quarter.
1. Defense. It's awful. It is totally incapable of making plays to get off the field and totally reliant on the other team to self-destruct. Carolina was only stopped by its own dropped passes and penalties until the 4th quarter when their urgency to work clock instead of score became a factor. The Panthers rolled up 330 yards on just 50 plays. Can't decide which is worse, pass rush or coverage. Today, it was coverage and throw in the inability to stop the run as well. Can't decide who is worse, D-Hall or Wilson. I'd say Wilson today.
2. The 4th and goal play-call. I mentioned after the Saints game that the QB sweep with no pass or pitch option is just a bad play. It's a play more than the other run-oriented looks that really could get RG3 hurt.
3. Penalties. In a game that the head coach called "must-win", 13 penalties for 97 yards is unacceptable and on him. A team that is disciplined and playing a so-called "must-win" game can't commit false start and illegal formation penalties.
4. Urgency. Where was the desperation in a "must-win" game? It wasn't obvious to see, especially on defense, but the penalties and dropped passes on offense didn't look very desperate either.
5. Pass protection. Too much drop-back passing for this offensive line. RG3 took big shots in the pocket. Surprised he wasn't hurt on an early shot he took.
6. No playmaking pass receivers without Davis and Garcon. The lack of playmakers has killed them the last two weeks. Morgan and Paulson made a few plays but there's nobody on the field that can stretch it. Aldrick Robinson short-armed the first throw of the game and was targeted two more times the rest of the way managing 1 catch for 6 yards.
7. Shanahan's clock mgt. Calling a timeout on offense on the drive that cut the lead to 21-13 cost them 30-35 seconds when they got the ball back. Instead of getting it back with 18 seconds left, they would've had close to a full minute to try and tie the game. Coaches that know how to manage the clock don't use their timeouts on offense in that situation when they have the ability to snap the ball quickly. They use them on defense to prevent the other team from running the clock out. Pretty much anybody that watches a few games a week understands this. Apparently the Shanahans don't.
8. Officiating. The inadvertent whistle was bad, the 15-yarder on Fletcher was awful, but the delay of game penalty called on the Panthers when the ref was standing under center preventing Carolina from snapping the ball was worst of all. The replacement refs weren't any worse than the crew working the game today.
1. RG3's accuracy was off today even though he had some balls dropped. I also thought that he hung on to the ball in the pocket too long on occasion instead of tucking it and making a play with his feet outside of the pocket.
2. Fletcher just isn't good enough in coverage. Teams are throwing to tight ends as quickly as they can when he drops in coverage.
3. The Redskins were effective moving the ball but not effective scoring points. They took 30 snaps on their only two drives of the first half, rolled up 146 yards, but scored just 3 points. They took 44 snaps on 3 of their first 4 real drives of the game, rolled up 227 yards, but managed just 6 points. I hated the 4th and goal call but I'm not sure playcalling was as much the issue for not completing drives as much as mistakes and execution were. The holding penalty on Trent Williams on their first drive of the game derailed that opportunity. The 4th and goal wasn't my favorite playcall but the execution of it wasn't very good either. On the 3rd quarter drive that ended in field goal, Josh Morgan was open on the slant inside the 5 for a first down but the ball was a bit behind him and he couldn't pull it in. Down 14-6 with a little momentum after the only good defensive play made all day on the 3rd and 1 stop on Tolbert, a drive that appeared to be on the move was hurt by the illegal man downfield penalty on Lichtensteiger and a 3rd down drop by Morgan which was the difference between a punt and a potential field goal attempt.
4. The Redskins only had the ball for 9 real drives in the game because they held it when they had it and Carolina held it when they had it. Also, for the 2nd straight week they played in a game that didn't have one turnover.
5. I hate the idea of labeling a pro game a "Homecoming" game. It would seem that the other team could use it as motivation.