A good start, bad finish. The good, bad, and more.
1. Brian Orakpo. As active as he's been this year as a run-stopper and pass rusher.
2. Barry Cofield. He's their only legit defensive linemen although Chris Baker is growing on me.
3. Reed Doughty. Despite getting hurt, when he was in there he was what he always seems to be....a solid run-stopping safety and a very good special teamer.
4. Santana Moss as a punt returner. He catches what he's supposed to catch and when he doesn't fair-catch it, he's decisive as a runner. So much better than Thompson, Morgan, and Williams that it just angers me that they didn't put him back there in mid-September.
1. Offense after taking 14-zip lead. After taking a 14-nothing lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins had 9 drives the rest of the game with the following results--184 total yards, 4 dropped passes, 4 penalties, 5 sacks, one fumble, 3 points. As for why the offense fell apart, it's not because Alfred Morris didn't get enough carries. He had 9 carries in the first half for 11 yards. How much more did you want him to get the ball? To whom was it obvious that he was on the verge of a monster 2nd half? Until they proved that they could make plays down-field in the passing game, their conventional inside-zone/outside zone run-game was going to be a tough go. The offense's lack of productivity over the final 3 quarters had more to do with drops, penalties, sacks, and lack of passing game execution.
2. Game-changing Special Teams gaffe. The Redskins had a 17-14 lead with a dominant field position advantage when Kyle Nelson rolled the snap back to Rocca and Rocca had his punt blocked. The net yardage with a holding penalty added on was 8 yards. Giants started at the Skins 46 instead of deep in their own territory and they took the lead on that drive. Not that it was game-over but it was a game-changer for sure.
3. Drops and penalties. As mentioned above, one of the reasons the offense didn't produce more in the final 3 quarters. Garcon, Davis, and Paulson all had at least one. Davis' drop on the final drive was huge. It would've given the Skins a chance late.
4. The field. Too slippery. Cost the Skins a first-down in the 2nd quarter when Morris slipped after a catch and came up a yard short. Next play, Royster stopped on 3rd and 1.
5. Aldrick Robinson. His effort and ball skills on the one deep ball weren’t very good. He also appeared to have had a big opportunity on a reverse but got less than he should've.
1. Collinsworth is one of my favorites but he went overboard with his praise of everything Redskins-related. He said the following about Mike Shanahan and staff....."if they stick with this group, they'll win the division next year".
2. Why did RG3 run rather than throw a "Hail-Mary" on the final play of the first half?
3. Griffin went to his check-down receiver several times, especially in the first half. It seemed to be an emphasis for him. It almost looked like the coaches made it a point to let him know it was okay if that's where he ended up. It worked for the most part. He was an impressive 16-17 in the first half for 149 yards.
4. The refs blew it on the "1st-down" indication on the Skins' final drive. Bottom line, even if Triplett himself indicated third-down, other officials including at least one that authorized the chains to be moved were handling the result of the play differently. There was crew confusion so he should've stopped the clock and measured the 2nd-down spot. That was the appropriate course of action. They obviously blew it and while it DID cost them a chance to continue their final drive, I've seen enough in recent weeks to believe that their chances of tying the game even if they got the correct call were less than 50-50. We were probably headed for another Minnesota/Philly ending.
A painful loss against a team that was hurting, down several starters, and lost its starting quarterback during the game. The good, bad, and more.
1. 1st-half offense. Amazing first half which included 24 points on 4 drives, 288 yards, 18 first downs, 7-8 on 3rd down, and 20:40 of time of possession. Robert went 16-21 for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns. He completed 6 of 7 for first downs on third down. Morris, Garcon, and Reed were outstanding in that first half.
1. Defense. A regression to the first two weeks and this time they can't blame being out there too much because of an ineffective offense. Minnesota scored 34 pts on just 50 plays (not counting kneel downs) and had the ball for just 23:59. The defense didn’t stop Minnesota once on its own. The Vikings scored on 6 of 8 drives and the only two times the Skins' D got off the field was because a receiver fell down on a third down throw and Ponder threw a terrible pass on the first drive of the game. Other than those two drives, the defense got torched.
Now, did Minnesota have some good field position in the 2nd half courtesy of a bad punt and a penalty….yes. And overall, the D did an okay job on Peterson relatively-speaking. But play-action passes off of Peterson's run-threat killed them all night long. Kerrigan was a non-factor as a pass rusher. In fact, other than the sack on the 2nd play of the game by Orakpo, the pass rush overall was non-existent. Just 3 QB hits the entire night. Pathetic. Ponder and Cassel combined to go 21-27. I can barely remember an incompletion.
2. 2nd-half offense. The offense had to be perfect all night long to win with the defense getting zero stops and it wasn’t. They really needed a touchdown on that opening drive of the 2nd half to extend the lead to 2+ scores but didn't get it. The 1st and 10 read-option run by Robert at the Minnesota 22 on that drive should've gone for big yardage but Reed didn't stay on his block thinking Griffin had passed him already.
Drops hurt them too, particularly the Garcon drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 in the 3rd quarter. Robert also missed Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 throw with Minnesota leading 31-27. It should’ve been a fairly easy throw if he had some touch to it. It was a 15-20 yard play that didn’t happen.
There's talk already of Kyle getting away from the run after they took a 27-14 lead but that’s not accurate per usual. There were 19 offensive plays run between the time they took a 27-14 lead and first and goal with no timeouts left with 38 seconds left. Those 19 plays included 11 runs and 8 passes.
For those that want Morris on every play with a one-score lead, why? They built a 27-14 lead with balance, there was no reason to get away from that balance up 27-21 when they got the ball back.
3. Drops. Paulson’s on the first drive was catchable even though it was thrown quickly and hard. Garcon’s drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 was one of those turning-point plays. The Skins had scored on every drive of the game up until that point and had gone 9-11 on third downs. The play call was a good one, the execution wasn’t. Garcon doesn’t drop many but that was a big one. Also, Reed could’ve had the touchdown catch at the end even though he was held before it got there.
4. Pass protection. The interior of the O-line really struggled in the 2nd half.
5. Clock Mgt. It was very good at the end of the game but they got lucky at the end of the first half when they wasted a down by spiking the ball on first and goal at the Minnesota 8. The spike came with 24 seconds left. They should’ve called their last timeout with 36 seconds left after Moss’ catch got them to the 8. 36 seconds is plenty of time to run 3 pass plays into the end zone and then kick the field goal if you don’t get in. Just another example of how poorly they handle these situations even though they overcame the loss of a wasted down with a touchdown anyway.
6. Penalties. The Riley 15-yarder in the first half may have been the difference between 7 pts and 3 and the Young 15-yard penalty on Sp teams gave Minnesota great field position which led to another score.
7. Officiating. No sour grapes intended but the officiating seemed one-sided tonight. The late hit on Chris Baker in the first half was a brutal call. There were at least two hits on Robert that were later than the Baker hit and neither one got called. Josh Morgan was clearly interfered with on the punt return that he fumbled and it wasn’t called. There was a fairly obvious false start that wasn’t called on Minnesota on a key third down. And Jordan Reed was held by Erin Henderson on the 2nd and goal at the end and it wasn’t called.
8. Special Teams. Morgan’s decision not to fair catch a first-half punt was a bad decision. Rocca’s 2nd shanked punt in last 3 weeks hurt. The fake punt attempt was obviously badly executed.
9. Final Play. It looked like Robert should've thrown to Reed. He was open.
1. Saw some screen passes in the game…perhaps not enough.
2. Niles Paul did a nice job on kick returns.
3. Griffin’s inability to slide makes him reluctant to turn some of those read-option runs up field when it looks like there’s a ton of room.
4. Kerrigan’s near-pick would’ve been huge.
5. RG3 was near-perfect in the first half but he missed a wide-open Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 play down 31-27 and he had an opportunity to avoid lost yardage on one of the sacks if he had just thrown it away.
Another season-saving win. Avoiding 0-4 with a win in Oakland was big; avoiding 1-5 with the big win over Chicago was absolutely necessary; today's 30-24 OT win over the Chargers gives them a chance to get back into things over the next few weeks. The good, bad, and more.
1. Goal-line stand. Let's start there because without it, they would've lost the game 28-24. It was a tough situation because the Chargers had 1st and goal at the 6-inch line with 2 timeouts left meaning that they had the option of throwing or running. They chose to throw it twice which seems surprising until you realize that they barely ran it all day long.
2. Offensive game plan and play calling. A great game called by Kyle Shanahan who didn't seem to let any of the criticism about the lack of Morris runs last week deter him from calling the right game for the team rather than for his critics. Six of the first 8 plays of the game were passes when the whole town has been screaming to run Morris on every play. The Shanahans believe in taking what the defense gives you and the Chargers came out with the intent of stopping the run and Kyle called a game that early on used the pass and a couple of triple-option plays to set up easier running lanes for Morris.
Their first 4 first downs of the game included 2 passes and a triple option pitch to Jordan Reed. The Chargers were kept off-balance all day long thanks to excellent play calling and some seldom-used twists like Darrell Young carrying the ball, more triple option, and a few empty backfield sets.
Two specific play calls show that despite recent mishaps in similar situations, Kyle stuck to his aggressive guns. When they got the ball back up 21-14, he went read-option throw to a wide-open Moss over the middle. The ball was poorly thrown and fell incomplete but this was similar to last week when everyone thought he should run Morris over and over. The play was open and should've worked. The other play was the first play after San Diego had cut the lead to 24-21. I'm sure everyone including San Diego was thinking here comes Morris yet he goes play-action and a perfect throw to Garcon for 26.
3. Read-Option. The Redskins ran a ton of it today and Morris, Young, and the passing game totally benefited from it. Robert didn't keep it much except on the triple-option plays but the threat that he would keep it set up the other stuff. The new twists to the read-option game will keep teams guessing in the coming weeks. The blocking scheme looked different and Moss, Morgan, Reed, and Hankerson have all been pitch options on triple-option plays this year. Young as a full-back run-threat in the backfield as part of the "Pistol" formation with Griffin and Morris is a new twist as well. The Skins ran 21 read-option style plays for 180 yards. Morris was 8-55 yds on read-option style runs while RG3 went 7-8 for 84 yards on read-option/play action passes.
4. Offensive execution, especially on 3rd-down. Last week in Denver at 21-21 in the 4th quarter, Josh Morgan and Aldrick Robinson had opportunities to make catches that could've changed the game but they dropped the ball. Today, Garcon made at least 3 brilliant catches while Griffin made very good throws at key moments, especially on 3rd-down. The Redskins went 12 for 17 on 3rd downs for the game. RG3 was 8 for 9 on 3rd-down throws, 7 of them for first downs. He also ran 10 yards for a 1st down on 3rd and 9.
5. Pierre Garcon. Money game for the guy who said last week "we suck at passing". 7 catches for 172 yards and at least 3 of them were incredible grabs. The deep ball on 3rd and 12 early in the 3rd quarter that he caught was amazing. There was P.I. on the play but he didn't need it with an incredible catch.
6. Alfred Morris. He was great today and really benefitted from the read-option success.
7. RG3. For starters, he made great decisions most of the day on read-option plays. I remember just one read that should've stayed with Morris and it would've been a big run but other than that play, he was very good in the read-option game. He missed a few throws but made a ton of good ones including clutch throws on 3rd down. Among the missed throws....1) overthrowing a wide-open Santana Moss early in the 4th quarter and 2) a throw behind Pierre Garcon on 2nd and 19 late in the 4th quarter on a drive that could've ended the game. Garcon made the catch for a 16-yard gain but a good throw would've been a first down.
With that said, Robert made big throws and perhaps the biggest run of the game. He went 8 for 9 on 3rd down, 7 of those for first downs. His 10-yard run on 3rd and 9 with the score tied at 14 was a monster play....he paid for it with a big hit. Some would prefer he run it out of bounds short of the sticks and punt....he's just not wired that way. It was a big drive, a big play, he knew it, he went and made a play even though he took a big hit.
8. Darrell Young. 3 touchdowns and a new option out of the read-option that other teams must now prepare for.
9. Jordan Reed. Big catch and move-the-sticks run in OT on 3rd and 8.
1. Special Teams. 2 blocked field goals in one game are really hard to do but they managed to do it. Josh Morgan on punt and kick returns is a total disaster and if he's back there next week I'd question who he has pictures of. He makes horrible decisions as a punt returner when he doesn't catch punts he should catch. He let two hit the ground and one of them nearly bounced back and hit one of his teammates. Also, on the kickoff at the end of regulation after San Diego tied it, I don't think he knew that he had to go back and down the ball in the end zone. It was laying there and could've been recovered by San Diego until someone yelled at him to go down it.
2. Pass rush. I heard a lot of complaints after the game about Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan getting held all day long but that sounds like excuse-making to me. Both looked like they were handled most of the day. You can tell they play with high energy but they don't get consistent results. Obviously Kerrigan is a major play maker for this team but he needs more consistent pressure. Orakpo just isn't consistent enough. In fact, Rob Jackson still looks like a better play-maker than Orakpo. Jackson had the team's only sack. Bottom line, 1 sack and 4 QB hits aren't enough. They got close a few times but this team doesn't get enough pass rush....period.
1. The Biggers INT was huge. He benefited from a clear mix-up between Rivers and Brown but that play kept the Skins from falling behind by two scores early.
2. Refs were bad all day long...until the end, thankfully. There was on offensive P.I. called on San Diego's Keenan Allen in the first half without any contact. Chris Chester got called for holding on a play early in the 3rd quarter that wasn't close to being correct. The defenseless hit on Garcon in overtime was a bad call. I thought Woodhead fumbled on the play in the 4th quarter that Shanahan challenged. In overtime, Morris had a run that appeared to spotted poorly. It looked like he got 10, they gave him 9. At least they got the Woodhead play at the goal line at the end right.
3. Chargers' DE Lawrence Guy created a 10-point swing by himself. He blocked a short field goal and tipped an RG3 pass that was picked off in the end zone for the first score of the game.
4. Too many close calls on delay of game for Skins' offense. Cooley talks about tempo all the time and it looked like their tempo was too slow at times. They had one delary of game penalty on a big 3rd and 1 late in the 3rd qtr.
5. Niles Paul's 24-yard kickoff return looked better than anything Morgan has had all season long.
6. The 2 early San Diego Scifres punts to the Skins' 1...an example of great special teams play and it led to a 7-nothing Chargers' lead.
7. No "Turbo" offense today.
8. David Amerson can make plays, good and bad. He had a great pick and he got beat on occasion. Typical for a rookie corner with talent.
9. Hankerson stepped up and had a nice game. No drops, that's encouraging.
10. Skins ran 38 snaps from Pistol for 233 yards, 180 of those yards coming on read-option style plays. 2 of those snaps were no plays because of penalties.
The Redskins got their first win of the year, 24-14 in Oakland. The good, bad, and more.
1. Game's biggest plays made by Skins. This game wasn't a gem by NFL standards....these 3 big plays were the difference between win and potential loss. In order they were....1) David Amerson's pick 6. Down 14-3 with the Raiders on the move again, David Amerson stepped in front of Moore and made a monster play. Who knows if the Redskins would've generated enough offense today to win. I thought at the time that it was a game-saver and given that they won today, it could prove to be a season-saver. 2) Janikowski's missed 52 yd FG midway through the 3rd quarter was a big play in the game. It easily gave the Skins their best field position of the game and they took advantage of it by marching 58 yards for their first offensive TD of the day and their first lead in the 2nd half this year. 3) Kerrigan's sack/forced fumble on Flynn in the 4th quarter. Oakland had made a first down for the first time in the 2nd half and had great field position. It set up the Skins 2nd offensive TD and their first 2-score lead of the season.
2. Defense. After a shaky start, it shut the Raiders out on Oakland's final 12 drives covering nearly 3.5 quarters. The D generated 7 sacks, scored a touchdown, and had a sack/forced fumble.
3. Pass rush. A lot of the credit for the 7 sacks and the many pressures goes to the Redskins' D but a lot of it was that Matt Flynn is incapable. Flynn stunk. I'm not sure how the Skins would've fared against Pryor but they wouldn't have sacked him 7 times.
3. Brian Orakpo. He had his best day of the season. Not only did he get to Flynn twice, he had a near-pick early in the game and a wicked stop on 3rd and 1 on Jennings in the 3rd quarter.
4. Ryan Kerrigan. He makes plays that help win games and he does it a lot.
5. Up-tempo offense. Down 14-zip and looking like the season was teetering on the brink of disaster, the Skins' O went up-tempo and it caught Oakland by surprise. It didn't produce a touchdown but it did produce a meaningful field goal and it started the process of changing momentum after getting behind 14.
6. Raiders stink. The Oakland defense is legit but with Flynn, they just weren't capable on offense. Add to that, the Raiders committed a couple of potential game-changing penalties including the offsides on Helu's catch and maybe fumble. Their clock/game management was amateur. How come they didn't take a timeout at the end of the half with the ball at midfield and take a shot. They just let the clock run out. Then, down 10 points, they went for it on 4th and 1 when the field goal was the right choice. I knew they'd go for it when they went for the play-action on 3rd and 1 but getting it to 24-17 with 3:23 left and two timeouts out left was the right strategy.
7. Morris YAC. Morris always gets more yards than it appears he should.
1. Special teams. The Redskins had some bad plays on special teams today and several near-misses. There was the blocked punt and the fake punt. There were a couple of bad punts. There was consistent lost punt yardage because Thompson let the balls bounce and roll rather than getting up and fielding them. Thompson almost didn't get out of the way of one of the punts inside the 10. Murphy nearly got knocked into a punt that was still rolling on the ground....a punt that Thompson should've fielded. Skins need a new punt returner. If for nothing else then to save them field position by catching the kicks.
2. Pass protection. Is it Robert's responsibility to recognize pressure more consistently or is it that the O-line that isn't doing its job. Only the coaches know for sure but it would seem that 3rd and more than 6 can be a problem if Robert is going to stay in the pocket. Too much pressure today and some bad throws either because of it or at least influenced by it.
3. No timeout on fake punt. We've seen the Skins through the years call timeouts for less serious situations, why not a timeout when the Raiders shifted into an offensive formation on 4th and less than 1.
4. Did Robert look like he got nicked up on the 11 yard read-option keeper? Garcon's holding penalty nullified the play but it looked briefly like Robert hurt himself.
1. Rg3's game was mixed. He missed throws including a potential deep TD pass to Moss. He made some curious decisions including throwing to Fred Davis deep when Garcon was open on the bootleg and the intentional grounding throw on 2nd and goal in the 2nd quarter. His mobility still doesn't look anything like last year however; he did make several "off-schedule" pass plays by extending them with his feet. The 3rd and 10 to Helu in the 2nd quarter was a great play. He made a nice play to find Paulson on one of the only solid 3rd and long plays of the day although Paulson fumbled. The 3rd down TD throw to Garcon was perfect and the escape and throw to Helu for 28 yards after the Kerrigan sack/fumble was the kind of play he must make for this team to have a chance.
2. Lots of injuries. Both teams lost several players during the game.
3. Was Fred Davis dressed? That's an exaggeration but if not for that deep "uncatchable" ball in the end zone I wouldn't have thought he played.
4. I liked the 3rd and 8 draw call to Helu right with 2:30 left. The Raiders were guessing run as they should've but the play made them hesitate and Helu went for 9 and a first down that iced the game.
5. Did Robert look like he got nicked up on the 11- yard read-option keeper? Garcon's holding penalty nullified the play but it looked briefly like Robert hurt himself.
The Redskins fall 27-20 to the Lions. The good, bad, and more.
1. Best effort of the year. They didn't play great but the overall performance was much improved compared to the first two games. I know that's not saying much but the offense finally got into some rhythm with an attack/scheme that looked similar to last year's while the defense gave the team a shot with several stops in the 2nd half. RG3 was back making plays even though some of those plays ended poorly like the 4th quarter run/fumble. The defense wasn't great but it was much better than at any time in the first two games and it gave the team a chance to win in the 2nd half.
2. RG3 played. We hadn't seen anything resembling the RG3 of last year during the first two games but we did today. Even though his performance was far from perfect, he looked much more like the playmaking quarterback we saw last year. The read-option QB keeper was back in the game plan and just the threat of Griffin as a runner made play-action work and led to more room for Morris on runs out of the Pistol. He just looked like a capable playmaker making plays as a passer and a runner. Late in the first quarter he made a throw to Paulson after escaping pressure in the pocket. He hadn't made one play in the first half of any of the first two games that resembled that one. Making a few plays with his feet seemed to make normal throws from the pocket more relaxed. He completed 3 of 4 third-down throws in the first-half alone. They had been 0-9 on third downs in the first half coming into this game, they were 4 for 6 today. His 21-yard 4th quarter run and subsequent fumble was his best playmaking play of the season until of course, the end of the play.
3. Offensive scheme. The true read-option component was back and that meant the defense had to account for the QB in the run game. We saw more of Griffin on the move with several bootlegs called in addition to a few sprint-out throws. The offense only generated 13 points but obviously the two turnovers inside the Detroit 21 and the Robinson touchdown drop cost them 3 more scores. The 420 yards generated today were much more meaningful than the bogus 422 a week ago in Green Bay. Today's offense gave them a chance to win the game. Last week's was garbage offense after falling behind by 31.
4. Pierre Garcon. Arguably the Skins best offensive player although Trent Williams is close. He catches everything and he's a true YAC threat.
5. 3rd-quarter defense. The defense is really struggling but forcing Detroit to punt on all three of its possessions in the 3rd quarter could've turned into the deciding stretch of the game.....but of course, it didn't.
1. RG3 erred. Two turnovers deep in Detroit territory cost them dearly. The first interception was a horrible decision. The 2nd turnover, the fumble, was as uncomfortable to watch as it was for him to execute. He just doesn't seem to be comfortable getting down and avoiding contact in the open field. He also missed some throws and seemed to throw to the wrong guy a few times. On their first drive of the game, he threw to a covered Paulson when he could've run for the first or dumped it off to Morgan. On the next play, he chose to throw the slant to a covered Robinson when Reed was wide open at the sticks over the middle. On a key third-down on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, he threw behind an open Hankerson at the 18. A good throw would've been a new set of downs and a chance to get 7 instead of 3.
2. Robinson's drop. He has to make that catch. It's a chance for a 24-20 lead in the 4th quarter with major momentum.
3. First-half defense. The tackling in the first half was some of the worst of the season and that's hard to believe because it was god awful in the first two games. The 3rd and 10 to Bell early in the game that went for 37 yards included multiple missed tackles. The Bell touchdown run later in that drive was a tackling disaster. Another run by Bell on the Lions' 2nd touchdown drive was aided by bad tackling. And the most crucial missed tackle of the day was Orakpo's miss on Bell at 20-17 in the 4th quarter on a first and 10 at the Skins 21. That would've been a 2nd and 11 on a drive where you had to hold them to a FG, instead, 2nd and 1. Horrible.
4. End of first-half clock mgt. I liked that Shanahan came out aggressively instead of trying to run the clock out after Detroit took the lead 17-14 with :44 sec left. But instead of stopping the clock by using one of their remaining 2 timeouts with :31 seconds left after a 9-yard completion over the middle to Reed to the 35, he didn't use a timeout until after the next play with :13 seconds left. That was a mishandling of the clock and reduced significantly the chances for a FG attempt.
5. Punt and kick returns. I can't imagine there's a team in the league with worse results though the first 3 weeks. They've gotten nothing on returns this year.
1. The play after the Robinson drop/overturn was a disaster but it could've been worse. Even after the replay overturn they had a 2nd and 10 at midfield in a 3-pt game but the Pistol snap hit Paulson and deflected away from Griffin. Griffin actually tried to scoop it up and run. He was lucky he didn't lose it.
2. Say what you want about D-Hall but he does make big plays occasionally. He's now one of just two players in league history to have 4 INT and 4 Fumble returns for touchdowns. I thought he played pretty well considering who he was matched against for most of the day.
3. Merriweather played the whole game! AND, he nearly knocked out his 3rd player in two weeks when he went head first into Orakpo.
4. I wonder if Shanahan considered going for it on 4th and 5 in a tie game in the 3rd quarter in a tie game.
5. There were two booming punts in the game....Rocca had a 63 yarder; Martin had a 72 yarder. Both with the wind I think.
6. Calvin Johnson is incredible but the sideline catch on the first play after Griffin's fumble in the 4th quarter was exceptional.
7. The Lions got a terrible spot on Bell's 3rd and 1 run with just over 4 minutes left. Schwartz would've won a challenge on that spot.
8. The 15-yard penalty for a "defense-less" hit on Garcon late in the game was an awful call.
9. Did Rambo play at all at safety in this game or was it exclusively 3 corners with Wilson playing in the box as a safety on several plays.
1. they pressure Aaron Rogers. They have little chance on the road at Lambeau if Rogers has time to pick the Skins' secondary apart. The Packers had some injuries along their offensive line in training camp but they protected Rogers with some success in San Francisco last week and that was without much of a running game to help out. This could be a moment for Brian Orakpo. He had a big game in the Skins' 2010 win over the Packers at Fed Ex with 2 sacks. He and Kerrigan must be a factor today as pass rushers.
2. they get into rhythm offensively from the start. They need to make a few first downs on their first drive. I firmly believe that this offense is built around the threat of RG3 as a potential runner out of the Pistol. He doesn't have to run much but the threat of him as a runner made last year's offense roll. I think it's the key to this year's offense. Now, I wouldn't discount the possibility that the Shanahans could come up with something new that could work just as well and I do like RG3 as a quick thrower with the field spread with 4 and 5 wides. However, it just seems finishing as the #1 rush offense is more likely than finishing as the #1 pass offense.
3. they win the turnover battle. Can't win today turning the ball over like they did on Monday night. Plus-1 at least today or it could be a long day.
QB (3)--Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman-- I still think the overwhelming odds favor 3 QBs vs. 4 with Pat White. Maybe White will conveniently hurt his shoulder tomorrow night against Tampa and find his way to the IR....#stash.
RB (4)--Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Chris Thompson--I guess Royster's injury could cost him a spot to the impressive Keiland Williams' preseason but I think they believe he's their most natural runner and is more capable as a 20+carry per game back if he had to do it. I think Thompson is too much of a practice squad risk.....his potential as a speedy playmaker and potential returner is too enticing.
FB (1)--Darrell Young
TE (4)--Fred Davis, Logan Paulson, Jordan Reed, Niles Paul-- 4 tight ends has been the # since before camp started....nothing we've seen changes that.
OL (8)--Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Wil Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus--LeRibeus reporting to camp in poor shape still puts him in some jeopardy. I don't think his draft status as a 3rd-rounder will make much difference in the decision so it won't shock me if they cut him. I think Pashos goes knowing they could probably get him back if needed.
NT (2)--Barry Cofield, Chris Neild
DE (4)--Stephen Bowen, Kedrick Golston, Chris Baker, Phillip Merling-- Jarvis Jenkins back after Week 5.
OLB (4)--Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Jenkins, Darryl Tapp-- Rob Jackson comes back Week 5.
ILB (4)--London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Nick Barnett, Brian Kehl-- Barnett gives them their only experienced back-up LB.
CB (6)--DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, David Amerson, EJ Biggers, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy-- Murphy makes it after the injury to Crawford. He may have made it anyway.
S (5)--Brandon Merriweather, Reed Doughty, Baccari Rambo, DJ Gomes, Jordan Pugh-- If Gomes goes then it's Gumbs.
As you know the Redskins opened up the preseason with a 22-21 win over the Titans on Thursday. You might also know by now, that I don't like writing about what I consider "master of the obvious" type content.
A couple of items stood out to me, without having the ability to watch the All -22 coaching tape and only part of the television copy so far.
**I was very surprised to see Jim Haslett and the Redskins defense unleash one of their new wrinkles and looks in a preseason game. We've seen it in practice quite a few times, but that is closed off to other teams getting video of it. Now the Eagles and others have tape and can better prepare. That being said, I also understand it's one thing to practice it and another to execute in a game situation.
What is it? Ryan Kerrigan who is normally the left outside linebacker in the 34 scheme, is in a down position in the Redskins nickel package. This allows Brandon Jenkins to stand up in space and rush the passer from Kerrigan's traditional spot and Brian Orakpo to rush from the right outside spot.
The Redskins got consistent pressure from this alignment, which is the goal and more importantly a great indication of where certain guys are at. It also is a tip of the cap to Jim Haslett and his staff that they are finding creative ways to get different packages on the field and best utilize their talent.
On the Titans first offensive series, a 3rd-and-8 quickly turned into a sack and punt for Jake Locker and his crew as Jenkins , Kerrigan and Stephen Bowen (the other down lineman used in nickel) converged on Locker and sacked the third year quarterback.
On the next series, Orakpo blew past and under Michael Roos one of the best offensive tackles in the game with that personnel package on the field (according to my notes) and lit up Locker for a clean sack. Jenkins had several pressures throughout his time in the game, which was long after Orakpo and Kerrigan were finished.
After the game, I asked Orakpo about unleashing this new look " I wasn't surprised, but I was a little happy that he called it. Normally you save it for Week 1 but hey 'forget it.' We'll let everybody know how we're going to do things, and we'll get after it. I think it's going to be a great package."
This jumped out to those of us who cover this team on a regular basis in camp here in Richmond, and it is something that will be used again and again. I think it makes sense from a talent deployment standpoint, but also because it shows that the staff continues to maximize their personnel.
What good is Brandon Jenkins if he can't be on the field to wreak havoc? Ryan Kerrigan, while very athletic has a frame that is much more conducive to overpowering an offensive lineman from a down spot than does Jenkins, as the coaching staff realized. Now -- where do they go from here? Does Orakpo copy Kerrigan in the regular season to essentially flip the formation? I would think that's likely. Don't forget about how Perry Riley works into the mix. Riley proved to be more than a factor in creating pressure off the edge last year.
***David Amerson, by all accounts had about as good of a professional debut as you could ask for. He finished with three tackles including a third down stop. That wasn't what stood out to me, instead it was a pass breakup on the Titans second offensive play of the game.
Amerson lined up against Kenny Britt, one of the most talented receivers in the league. It was a match-up that I know for a fact Raheem Morris really was looking forward to seeing, and Amerson hit a home run on his very first 'at bat.' He allowed Britt to have a clean release because as he noted after the game when I asked him that it was "kind of a Cover-2, and I was looking for number two (another receiver running a dig route) and once I seen him going vertical, I looked to squeeze on number one (Britt), so that's why I was kind of behind on the play."
Amerson recovered quickly enough that along with his athleticism and long reach, he was able to knock away the pass that could have been a long gainer. "I kind of knew the ball was going there, so I just tried to hurry up and recover and get there as quick as I can. Luckily I got a hand on it."
Perhaps the most impressive element of the play to me is that Amerson realized and smartly anticipated what was happening on the 2nd play of his professional career. A very good sign. "It's kind of instinct. I knew that's what the quarterback was probably looking for. Most likely, the vertical route was to clear everybody out and run a dig under it. So you just try to recognize a route combination."
If Amerson thinks and reacts like that on a regular basis, the Redskins will have truly hit a grand slam.
**The other item that jumped out to me was the amount of pass knockdowns and deflections for the Redskins. Phillip Merling had one and a sack. Rob Jackson smartly looped inside to the middle of the Titans offensive line and knocked down a pass, and even little known Chigbo Anunoby got his paw on a pass. Three times in a preseason game, the Redskins did not have to depend on their secondary to make a play.
It shows penetration, timing and athleticism. It also tells you how important it is to practice and do everything you can to disrupt the timing and the clear vision lane of a quarterback when you can't get close to him. Again, this is not done for no reason. Barry Cofield is probably the best at it, and I am pretty sure it is a focus of Jim Haslett and his staff.
***The Redskins did not have a 'takeaway' on Thursday night, but Chase Minnifield broke up a pass for a near interception and pick six. Richard Crawford, should have had a interception in the end zone, but there was not enough evidence to clearly overturn the initial call on the field. Here's the bottom line, you don't have to feast on turnovers (as the Redskins did late last year) if you are doing all of the little things right. Timing pass breakup's and anticipating what is happening, getting your hands up when you can't get to the target and smartly using/maximizing your personnel.
Still want Jim Haslett fired?? I was absolutely against it then, and much to your dismay - fought hard for him to stay. Aren't you glad Mike Shanahan realized that Haz was not the issue?
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The good, bad, and more from the preseason opener in Tennessee.
1. Offensive coaching. More proof tonight that the Shanahans know how to coach offense and quarterbacks in particular. The only absolute about this football team is how prepared they are on offense every time they take the field. The scheme, preparation, and play-calling is top-shelf and it has been since they got here. The running game was in mid-season zone-stretch form with Helu and Royster taking advantage of cut-back lanes all night long. The passing game was sharp from the start. Cousins was great, Rex caught fire after a slow start, and Pat White was impressive as well. The overall passing stats would've been even more impressive if not for several drops. Bottom line, generating 25 first downs, 360 total yards of offense, and 8-14 on third downs is impressive for week 8, let alone for the first preseason game.
2. Kirk Cousins. It would be hard to imagine Kirk Cousins looking any better than he did in two series of the first preseason game. He went 6 for 7 with a touchdown pass before handing it over to Rex. It appeared his reads were decisive and the ball came out quickly.
3. David Amerson. I have no idea how his coaches will grade his performance technically but they'll love how active and aggressive he played in his first pro game. He did a nice job on Kenny Britt and was close to an interception at least once. He played confidently and like he belonged. His length and playmaking ability will be evident this season.
4. Helu and Royster. Both, like Morris, have great athletic vision. The running game went for 164 yards and 4.8 per carry with a hodge-podge of o-linemen on the field. Not bad. The RB position is going to be a difficult when cuts come around. Helu looks like a given but I'd hate to see Royster go.
1. Run defense. The Chris Johnson 58-yard touchdown run was the start of a bad few minutes for the Skins' run defense. It gave up 90 yards on 6 straight carries with players out of position and taking bad angles. It would certainly appear that Brian Orakpo was the man out of position on the Johnson TD run.
2. Dropped passes. Lots of them including some potential big-yardage plays. Robinson dropped an easy 20+ yard pass from Rex while Pat White was on the money a few times but his receivers failed to hold onto the ball.
1. It looked like Orakpo lined up offsides on his sack.
2. Did you notice that Haslett went with Kerrigan as a down lineman on a 3rd and long in the first quarter? He had Orakpo and Brandon Jenkins lined up as outside linebackers with Kerrigan and Bowen up front.
3. At least 6 projected starters didn't play....(RG3, Garcon, Morris, T. Williams on offense.....Wilson, Hall, and Merriweather on defense).
I think it's really hard for fans to learn a lot about a team's regular season prospects during the preseason but with Skins' camp opening up this Thursday, here's a short wish list.
1. RG3 returns to form. His health is obviously the #1 storyline entering camp and it'll be dissected by all forms of media moment by moment. His rookie season was so spectacular before the injury against Baltimore that I'd love to see him progress without any physical limitations in his second season. His rehab has been described so optimistically by so many people that expectations are for a full recovery in time for the season opener. We'll find out how right they were in 6-7 weeks.
2. they can get through camp with no serious injuries. While many will try to figure out how well guys like RG3, Orakpo, Davis and Merriweather are performing coming off surgeries, chief among wish list items for the coaches is getting as much of the roster through 40+ practices and 4 preseason games without any new ones.
3. the rookies can play. Players will tell you that it doesn't take long to figure out if a new guy can play.....let's hope guys like Amerson, Reed, Thomas, Rambo, Jenkins, etc., prove they were worth drafting. The salary cap penalties of the last two years have made drafting well even more important than usual. Griffin III, Morris, and Cousins lessened the pain of an $18 million hit last year; this year's group needs to do the same.
4. Forbath is for real. He went 17-18 last year with little expected, expectations are much higher now. While you don't learn much about offense and defense in preseason games, you can learn a lot about a kicker. A good solid 4-4 on field goals with no missed PATs in the preseason would keep his confidence and momentum rolling.
5. for no more RG3-related extracurricular drama. It would be nice if we don't hear from people close to him about how they think RG3 should run less or hear from Dr. Andrews about how superhuman he is or hear, see, or read anything controversial from places like Twitter and Instagram.