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
Another impressive win for the Skins....5 straight, good for first place in the NFC East with 2 left. The good, bad, and more.
1. Organizational win. There used to be organizational losses after losses but now there are organziational wins. Today may have been Mike Shanahan's best moment in Washington. His personnel decisions of the past few years were all over this one. As many as 11 of his draft choices from the last 3 years contributed....most in a major way. Trent Williams and Perry Riley from 2011. Kerrigan, Jenkins, Hankerson, Paul, and Royster from 2011. And none more than the one that drew the most scrutiny, Kirk Cousins, the 4th-rounder from this past draft who most thought was unnecessary. His two biggest offseason free agent acquistions (Garcon and Morgan) were major contributors and have been. His coordinators (Kyle and Haslett) were superior to the competition today. They're on a roll with a chance to do something big this year and they're young....really young.
2. Kyle's playcalling. After going 0 for their first 4 drives, Kyle realized that they had to throw it and throw it on first and 2nd down. The bootleg must have been run 15 times in this game with the quick-strike play-action throw called another 10-12 times. An amazing adjustment when he figured out that the run-game would not produce per usual and incredible that it was so effective without the running game working. After the dismal start, he got aggressive and stayed that way to the tune of 38 points. It was also interesting that they ran last year's offense much more than this year's offense. The "Pistol" formation was absent except on one play and they ran only one, maybe two read-options. Why? Not sure, but two things were clear. One, they didn't run the ball very well without it and two, they clearly thought Cousins was more comfortable running their base offense primarily.
3. Kirk Cousins. Those that didn't like the Redskins spending a 4th-round pick on another quarterback....sit down. After a shaky start 1 for 6 start, Cousins when 25 of 31 the rest of the way. His play-action throws, especially the bootlegs, loosened up a Cleveland defense that stopped the run and got good pass rush early. Cousins, like RG3, is talented. He can make all the throws, can run it a little too. But like RG3, he definitely benefits from a coaching staff that knows quarterbacks and knows offense.
4. The Defense. Cleveland is the weakest offensive opponent they've played in a while but still, the defense did a solid job all day long. There were a few plays that they'd like back (the Benjamin TD pass in particular) but it's a defense that's getting better. They stopped the run, got good pass-rush pressure, deflected multiple passes, and picked off two passes. The Jackson pick set the tone in what would become a dominant 2nd half. The Skins played everyone on defense and their freshness paid off.
5. D'Angelo Hall. I'm going to single him out because he takes so much heat from so many but he played well. He was all over the field as a tackler, as a cover-corner, as a cover-safety, and as a special-teamer on kick coverage.
6. Special teams. Rocca and Forbath solid. Kick and punt coverage very good with the exception of one kickoff return. Big hits by Alexander on Sp. teams is a given each week.
1. Another long touchdown pass allowed. DJ Johnson burned in man coverage on 3rd and 7 by Benjamin. Bad play for the Skins because they went from being in total control up 17 with 10 to go to a game that was once again in play.
2. Garcon 15-yard penalty. It wasn't the spin but the taunting with the spin that drew the flag. It'd be nice if they could make the catch, toss the ball to the ref, and get back to the huddle to get ready for the next play.
1. Casserly said that the Skins can perhaps pull in two 2nd-round choices if they choose to trade Cousins in the offseason. I don't think there's a chance they'll trade him so soon especially without another back-up they're comfortable with.
2. Martz said the decision on RG3 was made Wednesday.
2. Redskins fumbled twice and didn't lose any of them continuing a trend of now recovering 18 of their 24 fumbles.
3. I thought the challenge on the Garcon play was worthwhile. It looked like a catch.
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.
QB--Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
RB--Evan Royster, Tim Hightower, Alfred Morris-- Helu Jr to IR? Just a guess but I'm still not 100% sure on Hightower's health either. I think it's overly optimistic to think Morris would make it through waivers and be available for practice squad.
TE--Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Niles Paul, Logan Paulson-- Cooley or Briscoe? My gut says Cooley for now.
WR--Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Brandon Banks, Aldrick Robinson-- still convinced there's no chance Banks gets cut. Still not ruling out Briscoe as a 7th receiver over a 4th tight end.
OL--Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Wil Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Willie Smith, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus--I think Black has a chance but I've got him out for now. Compton to the practice squad.
NT--Barry Cofield, Chris Baker
DE--Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Darrion Scott-- a hunch on Scott over Golsten.
OLB--Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Chris Wilson-- Wilson or White?? White's injury couldn't have come at a worse time...edge to Wilson for now.
ILB--London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Keenan Robinson-- Robinson over Kehl but it's close.
CB--DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford, Kevin Barnes-- I know Griffin has looked shaky but he's a vet and there's not enough pushing him.
S--Brandon Merriweather, Madieu Williams, DeJon Gomes, Tanard Jackson, Reed Doughty-- Doughty survives again. Bernstein to the practice squad.
K-Graham Gano-- gut says they stick with Gano although a couple of missed kicks in the final 2 preseason games would be lethal.