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.
The Redskins lost 27-26 in Atlanta on Sunday, but is it possible to lose a sixth straight game and win at the same time?? Hypothetically, yes. In reality, no but in the overall short and long term view - it is pretty clear they did.
Let's take a look. We will start with the cold harsh reality first.
**The Redskins dropped their sixth straight game and dropped to (3-11). Clearly, that's the bottom line.
**Washington turned the ball over SEVEN (7) times in the contest. According to ESPN stats and Information, they had not turned the ball over that many times since Week 2 of the 2004 season against the Giants.
**The Redskins seven turnovers on Sunday, were the most by any team in any one game this season. They had five lost fumbles, a stat that is best illustrated by the fact that no team in any game had lost more than three fumbles in a game all year.
According to ourpal, John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN980- "They've turned the ball over 29 times, leading to 88 points -- the offense has scored just 74 points off turnovers. Last year, the Redskins turned it over 14 times and allowed just 51 points -- while scoring 113 points off opponent turnovers. That margin was third best in the NFL. In the past two seasons there have been 30 teams that have scored more points off turnovers than they've allowed; 22 have had winning records."
***Another game, another special teams debacle. I thought Santana Moss was interfered with after he called for the fair catch, the gunner for the Falcons contacted Moss in a leg-whip type motion but clearly the Redskins lost that argument.
**The Redskins special teams coverage was very good (for them) allowing four kickoff returns for 78 yards (4-78, 19.5) and three punt returns for 25 yards (3-25,8.3). The averages are a little deceiving, but again - you will take it. The number that continues to stand out to me is this. Washington had no kick returns because of six touchbacks. Kai Forbath, while connecting on (2-2) field goals in the 2nd quarter, had only one touchback in five opportunities. That's only second touchback on a kickoff since the Redskins were in Denver on October 27th. YIKES.
***The Redskins defense had a poor start. They yielded a touchdown on the Falcons opening drive, because they could not get off the field on third down. Atlanta had a 14 play, 83 yard drive capped off by a Steven Jackson 3-yard touchdown. He completely trucked Josh Wilson at the goal-line for the score. Jim Haslett's defense allowed conversions of 3rd/6, 3rd/10 and 3rd/3. Twice on the drive, the Redskins had a chance to sack Matt Ryan and missed.
***Washington's first offensive drive was just as shaky as their defensive counterpart, as Cousins was blasted on two stretch play-action fakes and then sacked by Osi Umenyiora who beat Trent Williams on a 3rd/10 for a sack and forced fumble.
***The Redskins third-quarter wasn't much to see, as they had 13 net yards of offense on ten offensive plays. Alfred Morris was (2-6) and Kirk Cousins was (3-8, 7, INT) and the offense was (0-3) on third down.
***As good as Cousins was overall, he had two bad interceptions. He took the blame, both were in-cut dig routes and he led both of his targets too far. Kirk sees something and rips it. Coaches will live with those mistakes. One coach told me Sunday that they have no problems with those mistakes and this is what they love about Cousins. "He'll see it and rip it" which is what they prefer over a more conservative approach.
Now the good side.
***Nobody suffered any major injuries, which is of extreme importance especially when playing out the schedule. Trent Williams and Darrel Young battled injuries with Williams leaving and returning. Young had a setback, and sat out the entire 2nd half plus the end of the 2nd quarter.
***The Redskins defense could not get off the field early, but was terrific afterwards from Brian Orakpo to Chris Baker to Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan. The loudly booed DeAngelo Hall continued his very good year and I thought David Amerson was pretty active.
***While the Redskins loss solidified their # 2 pick status which is heading to St. Louis - it is important to recognize that they are also in position to have the # 34 overall pick in the second round and subsequently high picks in every round, which makes it a lot easier to jump into the bottom part of the preceding round.
***What I am trying to get at is this: If a player the Redskins really like is still on the board at say for example # 30 ...It's very possible the Redskins could get a first round pick after-all and move up a couple of spots while surrendering their high 2nd round pick and another late round pick.
**The Redskins moved the football very well against a young secondary and a bad defense. Sure, this is all true. However, to say that is the main factor in success is preposterous. They had their third highest net yards total all year, and their highest passing output of the season. Imagine if they actually had any success in the third quarter??
Without being overly critical here, the Redskins offense as a whole struggled mightily against Philadelphia in both games for long stretches, and was largely invisible against a putrid Dallas defense in the 2nd half. Not to mention, a Denver defense that was in the bottom three in the league against the pass. In Minnesota, they had some really good drives and first half success, but left 10-14 points dangling at the one-yard line. The Giants offense looked like the '85 Bears in the last 2 + quarters and Kansas City which had been torched in three consecutive weeks by Peyton Manning (twice) and Phillip Rivers looked like the Ravens in the early part of this century. Sorry this is the reality of the situation, and not some kind of hateful agenda as I have been accused many times of.
***Let's get one thing straight. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan certainly have an agenda. There is no doubt about that. However, and this pains me to say - the decision was warranted in my opinion (based on performance) and justified largely by Kirk Cousins success. Sure, he was far from perfect - but one has to wonder how Robert Griffin III would have fared Sunday. Robert probably would have put up big numbers as well, but I just can't say that for sure because of the stunning lack of success throughout the year against bad defensive groups.
***The Redskins offensive line which was allegedly so putrid all year long, did have a very poor start but rebounded strongly after the first series. They only allowed one sack and three quarterback hits according to the NFL generated game statistics.
By my count, that occurred all on the first drive. When you pass the ball 45 times and run 67 plays, you take that production any day of the week.
***Despite the turnovers (two purely on Cousins), "Captain" Kirk made the decision at least defensible, if not completely justified. Again, Robert Griffin III was benched for protection according to the public record, but privately it was all about the lack of performance and Cousins did what the Redskins staff asked him to do. As one team source said to me late last week "You'll see what we see every day" and certainly Cousins ability to move the offense and get rid of the football quickly was on display. Redskins coaches felt very confident the hits and sacks that Mike Shanahan gave as a public reasoning would not happen to Cousins, and they were proven right. We'll see what happens Sunday against Dallas.
**The final reason why the Redskins won on Sunday is what Mike Shanahan strongly alluded to many times on Monday. He wanted to send a message to Robert Griffin III and Dan Snyder that Kirk Cousins is for real and Griffin has to work his butt off to get better. He has no excuses, none at all. A super motivated Griffin III will be determined to prove everyone wrong.
"The thing that you want on your football team is you want competition – legitimate competition. The better players you have, the more people compete. When you look behind your shoulder and you know that guy is pretty good, that makes you work a little bit harder in the offseason," Shanahan said.
You can read that any way you want, but the way any reasonable mind has to clearly interpret that is Griffin III did a great job rehabbing himself last year BUT now he has to rehab his inconsistent play. Benching Griffin was and is a multi-layered and very involved message. It's not JUST about protection. It's about motivation.
I have no doubt that Robert will get much better. I do worry about having to learn a new system, if that is indeed what happens.
Regardless of who the coach is, Shanahan is saying Griffin III has to stay away from everything but football.
Before you hate, I would also point out that Shanahan has to stop the implosions on his end. Enough already, for the love of humanity.Just zip it. If both sides would have been more reasonable, the Redskins would not be in divorce court.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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.
The Atlanta Falcons are (3-10) and yet barely a peep. Does anybody even know they exist to be honest? The Washington Redskins are (3-10) and they make so much noise you'd swear they have a military jet strapped to their decaying carcass.
By now you know that it has been a extremely grueling season for many reasons, and has been a complete nightmare from head to toe for the coaching staff, players and even most of us in the media. Some revel in dysfunction, I abhor it. Just can't deal with it properly. Five years of this nonsense has taken a toll and then some on my personal life for sure.
It got even crazier on Wednesday as Robert Griffin III was benched for the rest of the year with Kirk Cousins set to start on Sunday against those very quiet and calm Falcons. Naturally, reaction poured in along with analysis and opinions. It always does. Nothing like a good old quarterback controversy.
The most interesting comments came from ESPN's Steve Young who played for Mike Shanahan and often credits Shanahan for a large part of his success
Very interesting comments indeed, and certainly indicates that either Young has been watching a lot of Redskins tape or Young's opinion and thoughts were garnered via conversations he's had, presumably with Shanahan. My take? Young is saying Griffin III did not play well enough to keep playing.
Young on ESPN's NFL Live described some of the challenges of young quarterbacks and NFL offenses, with a partial focus on Shanahan. "They have five receivers go out, but they're only throwing to two, or one even, and that's a lot easier for young players," Young said. "Mike asks a lot and if he doesn't get it, he's the kind of guy who says, ‘Well, let's bring the next guy. I want to take a look,' even with what that means on the team, the city, the organization, everything. It doesn't matter. 'I want quarterbacks who are performing and performing well.' "
Young added "I know him (Shanahan) well," Young said. "He gives very little tolerance for quarterbacks -- including me, John Elway, whoever else is playing -- if you're not playing well and you're not preparing to throw to five receivers every play. He puts quarterbacks in position to have to read sideline to sideline. That's a huge task for young players, and he wants guys that are willing to go work that out and play well. If you're not going to play well he's going to find someone else."
OK then. Sounds like Mr. Young is still very much in support of Mr. Shanahan in this matter.
Then there's John Madden who said, "I mean, you know it's baloney" , on SIRIUSXMRadio Wednesday. “I like Mike Shanahan, and I’m not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that’s not right — you’re not going to sacrifice regular season games. There’s only 16 of them a year. You’re not going to sacrifice regular season games for an offseason program. I know that part of it was he wasn’t healthy last offseason and that really hurt him, so it would be good if he were healthy this offseason. I believe that. There’s some truth to that."
ESPN's Adam Schefter weighed in on ESPN 980 on his thoughts "He wants to go see Kirk Cousins play. In my dealing with him this week, I did not get the sense at all that this was some sort of message over, veiled, however you want to categorize it at Dan Snyder. I think it's pretty clear how the two feel about each other. I don't think they need to do anything more. I think everybody agrees the Redskins are not keeping Mike Shanahan. Correct? So why does he have to do that? I think we're past that. To me this is something that I think he feels this is something in the best interests of the team moving forward. That's my sense of having spoken to him this week," Schefter said on Wednesday.
Kevin Sheehan then asked if it was possible that Shanahan is directing the message at Robert Griffin III? Schefter hesitated and paused noticeably, before answering "Again, I'm not telling you it can't be. In this case, there is so much going on. there are so many different dynamics, I don't think it's directed at the quarterback so much as this is just what he wants to do right now. For everybody's sake. Period."
You can listen to the entire interview here, but listen closely as Schefter delves into the 'real reasons' for Mike Shahanan's decision. Again, this is a decision about poor performance as much if not significantly more than protection.
McNabb continued, “Mike and Kyle Shanahan trying to show why they feel like Kirk Cousins gives them the best chance of winning. So many things have leaked out, and I’ve always kept my ear on things that are happening with the Washington Redskins, teams that I’ve played with. And when you hear reporters that I know are linked to Mike Shanahan talk about [RGIII’s] preparation, you talk about he’s missing some reads, you know, he’s not reading some things. And I knew that he was big on having Kirk Cousins to get out there and run the offense.”
So you see, it's business as usual here at Redskins Park. Feel free to move on with your daily lives. Only Kyle Shanahan speaks on Thursday for the first time - so things should be much more ummm calm?
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
1. Run defense. One of the best run-stopping games of the year for the defense. Niners never got anything going on the ground. Then again, they didn't have to with the success they had throwing the ball. With that said, only allowing the opposition to score on 5 of its 11 drives is reason to celebrate one of the better defensive games of the season.
2. Santana Moss as a punt returner. Major improvement. His 13-yard return was the most impressive punt return of the year (not sarcasm) and the ball never hit the ground except when it hit in the end zone. A bad decision not to have him back there earlier in the season.
1. The offense. A bad night all-around for the offense. It started with sub-par quarterback play, got brought down even further by zero pass protection, mix in a few drops including Morgan's drop after the team got a short field off a turnover, throw in what looked like a bad route by either Paulson or Garcon when they were both in the same area on a play that may have been a touchdown, add a missed potential touchdown when Aldrick Robinson slowed down on a deep ball where he had a step on his defender and in summary....it was a pitiful night for the offense.
2. O-line. The 49er defense is really good but the O-line didn't put up much of a fight. Polumbus was a turnstile and Trent Williams was abused on a few occasions.
3. Robert Griffin III. 2nd straight rough performance. He played with no confidence and made no plays of note. The interception was brutally bad. He threw poorly on several other occasions. Some of his completions were bad throws. He didn't feel pressure well. He held the ball too long. It also looked like he didn't get a play call correct that led to an unnecessary timeout which hurt the team's chances to score a touchdown at the end of the half (may be wrong on that but Shanahan seemed angry with Griffin). With that said, Aldrick Robinson didn't do him any favors when he slowed down on a deep ball that may have been a touchdown.
4. Josh Wilson & pass defense. Colin Kapernick hadn't thrown well for 2 months but got healthy tonight. The Skins did a very nice job of making the 49er offense one-dimensional by stopping the run but they weren't good enough to stop the Niner air attack. Kapernick had his highest QB rating of the season. The 49ers hadn't had a pass play over 17 yards in 3 games; they had 5 tonight, 3 of them were for 30+ yards. Wilson seemed to be the target for the Niners and he didn't disappoint. Receivers were wide open in his area all night long.
5. Special Teams. Nothing on kickoff returns. Kickoff and punt coverage were lousy. Kickoffs were too short.
6. End of first-half use of timeouts. The use of timeouts killed their touchdown chances. They did a nice job however getting the field goal team on the field to get the 3 pts before the end of half. Garcon had the first-down with forward progress that would've allowed a spike to stop the clock and a few shots at the end zone.
1. Perry Riley had a huge Pick 6 opportunity but didn't pull it in.
2. The Vernon Davis fumble gave the Skins starting field position in opponents' territory for just the 2nd time in 7 games. It wasn't deep in SF territory but just barely at their 49.
3. RG3 got hit close to late on a couple of plays including the INT play but didn't get calls other QBs have been getting all year.
4. The new field was slippery.
5. They should go to the "turbo"/hurry-up more often.
6. Merriweather still leads with helmet on tackles.
7. Kyle called a 3rd and 3 RO run and a 4th and long-1 run. Neither worked so for all of those who say run it on 3rd and 3 and 4th and 1, he did. You happy now?
8. Skins real chance came after the Davis fumble early in the 3rd quarter. Offense didn't deliver. Morgan's drop killed the drive.
9. I wonder if Shanahan would've made a QB change if the Skins didn't get those two drives at the end of the first half.
The Redskins were manhandled at Lambeau. The limited good, lots of bad, and more.
1. Ryan Kerrigan. He's been the Skins' best player through two games. Two sacks on the Packers' opening drive of the day would've been much more meaningful had the offense and secondary shown up.
2. Pierre Garcon. He's the 2nd-best player on the team through two games. He gets open and if Robert had been more accurate, he would've had an even bigger day statistically.
3. Alfred Morris. He looked more like he did last year. Too bad many of those yards came when the game was out of hand.
1. The offense. It's obviously not anywhere near what it was last year. You could point towards RG3's rust, the offensive line's inconsistent pass protection, penalties, but the #1 reason for this team being 0-2 through two games is that RG3 doesn't look like the run-threat he was last year. And by the way, it's not just Robert being a run-threat from the "Pistol" through plays like read-option; it's the lack of him extending plays outside of the pocket where the possibility of him taking off as a runner needs to be a possibility. He's got to be an extend-the-play quarterback on 3rd downs especially. We haven't seen much of that. Him actually running the ball is so much less important than the clear and obvious perception that he might. Even if teams are taking away the read-option QB keeper, he still needs to be more of a threat to run on pass plays whether it's bootleg or dropback.
As far as Shanahan focusing on poor 3rd-conversion percentage, well no kidding. But they've been poor on third-downs because the quarterback isn't making good throws and he's not moving the chains occasionally with his feet or creating easier throws with his feet outside the pocket.
One more thing. The Redskins would've had more short-term success if a healthy Kirk Cousins had played in the first two games instead of Robert. Maybe the long-term would've been impacted by Robert not getting the work but Philly's defense is bad and Robert wasn't ready to take advantage of it. Additionally, Green Bay's defense isn't that great and the offense wasn't ready to pounce on that opportunity today.
2. The secondary. It was awful. They couldn't cover and couldn't tackle. I can't think of one DB that had anything other than a pitiful game. The catch and run by Finley down the near sideline in the 3rd quarter was as bad a tackling display as you'll ever see. Doughty, Wilson, and Rambo all showed the youngsters how not to do it. BTW, I didn't think the front 7 was that terrible. They got worn down and run on after the game was out of hand. They started strong but no offense and a secondary that couldn't cover made them look worse.
3. The penalties. It all started with the Brandon Jenkins' offsides on the Packers first 3rd-down of the day and it was downhill after that. The #s don't look terrible (7-78 yds) but there were at least 3 declined including one of the two penalties called on Nick Sundberg on one play.
4. Special teams. Sav Rocca has been bad through two games, their field goal kickers are 0-2 on the season, and Chris Thompson is giving them nothing on returns. Kick and punt coverage is decent as it has been for several years now.
1. Cobb's catch and run down the sideline on the game's opening drive should've been an offensive P.I. on Jones.
2. As much as I advocate more of what we saw last year with RG3 as a run threat, I do like when they spread the field with 4 and 5 wides and let him throw it quickly. The first completion to Hankerson on the Skins' first play from scrimmage is an example of that. I would be surprised if we don't see more of that in the coming weeks.
3. Brandon Merriweather concussed two people by leading with his helmet.....Lacy and himself.
4. Morgan dropped a 4th & 5 pass in the first half. Dropping balls is a bit of a problem with him.
5. The Moss TD that was ruled no TD and then challenged by Shanahan....that overturn was a shocker to me.
6. Aaron Rogers is the best quarterback in the league.
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.
The good, bad, and more from the preseason win over Pittsburgh.
1. Ryan Kerrigan. He plays with incredible athletic anticipation. He knows what you're going to do before you know it and it allows him to anticipate where the ball is going. The plays he usually makes involve taking the football from the other team. He has 3 interception returns for scores (2 in regular season; 1 preseason) since being drafted and I think all of them were picked off behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a strip/forced fumble tonight which he's done a few times in the regular season as well. He was a playmaker in college and he's already a proven playmaker in the pros. If Orakpo can become a consistent pass-rush threat, Kerrigan will thrive more this year than he did last year.
2. Barry Cofield. Unfortunately he got hurt but before the injury he played very well. He was dominant against one of the best young centers (Pouncey) in the league.
3. Leonard Hankerson. Same as with Cofield, he played well before leaving with a strained knee. His one-handed touchdown catch was his second TD catch in two preseason games.
4. Reed Doughty. He's a necessity on this team even if he never sees the field on defense. His special teams production will be big this year particularly in lieu of the loss of Lorenzo Alexander to free agency.
5. Rex Grossman. Rex played well and moved the team. The interception was not his fault. Jordan Reed didn't run the run rout well.
6. Defensive urgency. The defense gave up plays but they came out flying around the field as if it were a regular season game. In addition to guys already mentioned (Kerrigan & Cofield), Fletcher, Tapp, Biggers, and Riley were among several defensive players that played with huge energy.
1. Injuries. Cousins, Cofield, Hankerson, and Robinson for starters. Cousins was on crutches after the game so his injury appears to be the one to watch. Cofield told Doc Walker after the game that he would be ready for the opener.
2. Penalties. A second straight week of some stupid 15-yd penalties. Gomes' first 15-yarder was awful.
3. Turnovers. 4 of them including an ugly-looking missed block on Pittsburgh LB Jarvis Jones who showed up simultaneously with a pitch to Keiland Williams in the backfield.
4. Early offense. In rhythm against Tennesee, the starting offense never got into the same rhythm tonight. Before Cousins got hurt, just 23 yards and one first down.
5. DeJon Gomes. Two 15-yd penalties including a bad one on the sideline. He took a few bad angles in space that resulted in lost yardage as well.
1. Why was Josh Morgan returning 2nd-half kickoffs against players looking to make Pittsburgh's team with big hits?
2. In case you haven't been paying attention, the read-option component of the Redskins' offense isn't going anywhere. Helu scored on a beautiful read-option run after White had made big yards on QB read-option keepers.
3. An early 3rd and 4 highlighted the problem the Redskins have with pass protection in fairly obvious pass situations. Cousins had no time and was sacked. If it had been a regular season game, my guess is that they would have gone pistol and made the opposing defense think read-option was a possibility. That was the key to reducing pass-rush pressure last year.
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).
CLEVELAND (AP) The Redskins were unwilling to risk their future.
Kirk Cousins took care of their present.
With star quarterback Robert Griffin III sidelined with a sprained right knee, Cousins threw two touchdown passes in his first NFL start and led Washington to its fifth straight win, 38-21 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
An unheralded fourth-round pick, Cousins has spent his first season as Griffin's understudy.
For one day, he relished a chance to be the star.
"It's a game I will remember for a long time," said Cousins, who passed for 329 yards and kept the Redskins' playoff push from losing any speed. "If I die tomorrow, I can say I started a game in the NFL and we won. It's a good feeling."
Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start, Alfred Morris ran for two TDs and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented RG3, who was told Saturday night he would not play or be active for the crucial game.
Almost 24 hours after learning of the Redskins' decision, one coach Mike Shanahan based on the recommendation of doctors, Griffin was still upset.
"Players play, so I was not happy with the decision," Griffin said. "But at the end of the day, that's the decision they went with. I respect that, but it doesn't mean I necessarily have to like it. They said they were just protecting me from myself, not allowing me to put myself in harm's way."
Cousins finished 27 of 36, rushed three times for 22 yards and ran Washington's offense with RG3-like precision.
A week ago, he came off the bench to rescue the Redskins after Griffin sustained a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament. Cousins was on the field from the opening kickoff against the Browns and showed he can lead Washington just as effectively as his more hyped teammate.
"Kirk did an excellent job of executing everything we asked him to do," Shanahan said.
With their longest winning streak since 2007, the Redskins moved into a three-way tie with New York and Dallas atop the NFC East.
Afterward, Griffin conceded Washington's win took out some of the sting out of having to stand on the sideline in a burgundy-colored warmup suit and stocking cap.
"It was a great business trip for us," Griffin said. "I got healthier by not playing, we won the game and put ourselves in position to control our own destiny."
For the Browns (5-9), this December is on its way to ending like so many others.
Cleveland had its three-game winning streak stopped, its playoff hopes dashed.
There doesn't appear to be much of a chance that coach Pat Shurmur will keep his job. In fact, the Browns may undergo another massive overhaul once new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner get done. They must have cringed at the mass exodus by Cleveland fans from the home finale after the Redskins pulled away in the fourth quarter.
"We let ourselves down and we let the whole city of Cleveland down," said rookie running back Trent Richardson, who had two rushing TDs. "We're supposed to go out with a blast. It was a big ballgame and we didn't do what we were supposed to do."
Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and threw two interceptions in the third quarter, both leading to Washington TDs. Weeden had several passes batted down and he did nothing to quiet debate over whether he should be Cleveland's QB going forward.
Shurmur refused to call Weeden's performance a "setback" but that's exactly what it appeared to be.
"Obviously I didn't play well enough for us to win," Weeden said. "I didn't play well for the most part throughout. I'm not losing any confidence over it, because I felt like I'm still going in the right direction. I just didn't play well enough to put this team in position to win. I put our defense in a tough spot. You just can't turn it over."
Griffin practiced all week and assumed he would start after displaying his mobility. But the Redskins were concerned he could further injure his knee and decided to sit him.
"He tried to show us everything that he could possibly do to get himself ready to play," said Shanahan, now one win behind Mike Holmgren for 11th place on the career list. "I was so impressed with how he worked. But at the end of the day, the doctors did not feel he was ready. That LCL was just not in position for him to play a live game."
Cousins might not be RG3, but he was efficient, accurate and only made one major mistake - an early interception to set up Cleveland's first TD.
If the Browns thought they were getting a break with Cousins, he proved to be as challenging to stop as Griffin.
"This isn't my first rodeo," Cousins said. "I did play a lot of football in the Big Ten. We started slow, but you've got to have character to dig deep. We didn't get spooked by a slow start."
Cousins' second TD pass to Hankerson gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead. As Cousins came to the sideline, Griffin gave him a fist bump and then sat on the bench with his backup, who for the past two weeks has shown he too can lead the Redskins.
Before the game, Griffin gave Cousins some advice.
"I talked to him about being cool, calm and collected and not to freak out," Griffin said. "He did a good job of staying poised and staying confident in there."
NOTES: With his two rushing TDs, Richardson broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 55-year-old team rookie record. Brown had nine in 1957. ... Redskins K Kai Forbath made a 44-yard field goal and is 15 of 15, one shy of the NFL record to start a career set by Garrett Hartley. ... Morris has nine TDs rushing, passing Skip Hicks (1998) for the most by a Redskins rookie. ... Shanahan said OT Tyler Polumbus has a concussion. ... Shanahan did not have any updates on injuries to LB Lorenzo Alexander (shoulder) or OL Will Montgomery (knee). ... Browns S T.J. Ward injured his knee.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL