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.
1. Robert plays well. Yes, it's everybody as everyone told us this past week but RG3 erased subpar performances last year by "everybody". He played his best game of the season against Chicago and the offense followed his lead to 500 yards and 38 points. He played his worst game against Denver and the offense was bad. He's the difference-maker. When he plays well, the Skins can compete with almost anybody. When he doesn't, they usually lose.
2. they don't forget Alfred Morris. The play calling last week in Denver was ravaged by many fans and media members. I didn't think it was that bad. Morris got the ball on 6 of 8 third quarter snaps which set up perfectly the play-action they ran on 1st and 10 with the score tied at 21-21 in the 4th quarter. Morgan and Robinson didn't make catches that could've and should've been caught so Morris didn't get the ball on a drive where he should've gotten it. The play calling was good, the execution wasn't. With that said, I thought Morris could've gotten more opportunties when the Skins fell behind by 10 with still 11+ minutes left in the game. He's averaging 5.2 yards per carry....best in the league right now. He seems to get better with more carries. I'd like to see him a part of every drive.
3. the defense stops 3rd-downs. The Skins are 3rd in the NFC in 3rd down defense; the Chargers are 2nd in the league in 3rd down offense. If Rivers and Co. convert third downs consistently, it could be a long day.
Up 21-7, the Skins gave up 38 unanswered in a 45-21 loss. The good, bad, and more.
1. D'Angelo Hall. He's making more good plays than bad plays this year. Clearly, this is the best year he's had since becoming a Redskin. He had two more picks and another touchdown today...his 3rd TD of the season.His 2nd interception was a spectacular play.
2. Alfred Morris. He should've gotten the ball more today....more on that below.
3. 1st-half defense. Holding Denver to 7 pts in a half deserves high praise. The D was great early in the 3rd quarter as well forcing two key turnovers and scoring its 5th touchdown of the season.
4. Sav Rocca's 1st-half punting. 4 punts in the first half was supposed to mean an early death for the Skins but it didn't happen in part because Rocca's punting was really good in that first half. With that said, it didn't last. His 15-yard punt with the score tied at 21 was awful.
5.Pierre Garcon.His one-handed catch was incredible.He may have gotten a bad spot on that play.I thought it was a first-down and worth a challenge.
1. The offense. 7 punts and 5 turnovers. After rolling up 500 yards and 38 points against the Bears, the offense generated one drive of note. That drive was a good one but it also got a gift in the form of a 12-men on the field penalty that led to a touchdown instead of a field goal. So why was the offense bad? In order....1) Robert wasn't much of a run-threat in the run-game and that we know is trouble, 2) Robert didn't play well, 3) key drops on a key series at 21-21 in particular, 4) Kyle got away from the run with the game still in the balance & didn't find ways to get Robert outside the pocket as a passer first, runner 2nd, 5) O-line pass protection is bad, especially in the interior, and 6) the Skins still don't have enough playmakers.
2. RG3. One of the worst games of his young career. This loss wasn't ONLY ON HIM (see above and below) but he missed big opportunities in the passing game during both halves and appeared to make a couple of bad decisions on read-option plays. This was a game that required him to make plays but he didn't make any. He wasn't much of a read-option run-threat and he didn't make any plays with his feet on pass plays whether it be by stepping up into the pocket and making a throw or extending a play outside the pocket and making a throw. One thing we've seen now too often over two seasons is his inability and/or unwillingness to step up and create more time with his feet "in-the-pocket". He tends to keep backing up when there's pressure rather than stepping up.
3. Drops. Several drops but none more important than the two on first and third down on the drive at 21-21. The first down pass to Morgan was a bit behind him but he needs to make that play. That's a 25+ yard gain on a play-action pass with the box stacked looking for Morris. The 3rd-down drop by Robinson is THE PLAY more than any other in the game that hurt. Everyone will want to point to play calling in the 4th quarter but Kyle didn't drop those passes at 21-21 when they had to throw against a stacked line of scrimmage looking for Morris. Those drops were drive-killers and they eliminate the chance to get back to Morris after they drop their safety out of the box.
4. Some of the play calling. Just to get the facts out, they didn't totally abandon the run in the 2nd-half as some may think. They ran Morris on 6 of their 8 third-quarter offensive plays. Their first drive of the 4th quarter they faced a Denver defense with the line of scrimmage stacked to stop the run and Morgan and Robinson dropped big-gain passes. Just one catch on either of those two passes and Morris would've likely gotten carries on that drive and the game may have stayed competitive the rest of the way. With that said, down 28-21 on their next offensive drive, Morris carried it just once before the RG3 fumble....and then down 31-21 after the RG3 fumble with still 11:14 left in the game, they went with 3 straight passes.
Additionally, I'm surprised that when they did throw, they didn't either get Robert out of the pocket or go with more empty/5-wide quick throw plays. It seemed like there weren't many adjustments to the interior pass protection issues. Also, the Skins don't seem to have a traditional screen game that can sometimes help against pressure.
5. Interior offensive line. A rough game for Lichtensteiger and Chester in particular. They've struggled at times this year.
6. RG3's pocket hits. He took a beating in the pocket today. Maybe the worst he's taken.
1. The 3rd and 7 neutral zone penalty on Kerrigan was one of those potential difference-making mistakes.If the Skins get a stop there, it’s 21-10, not 21-14.The Skins had a chance if they had gotten a 4th and 2 stop after that but Moreno ran for 5 yards.
2.Josh Morgan's 34-yard punt return was the biggest of the year but he made a mistake by fielding it at the 6.
3. Robert had a triple-option keeper opportunity on their long 2nd-quarter touchdown drive with Hankerson as a pitch option that may have scored if he kept the ball.
4. Also on that 2nd-qtr touchdown drive, Robert threw to Reed when Morgan was open in the flat after faking reverse in the opposite direction and Garcon was open in the end zone.Robert doesn’t see the whole field consistently enough.
5.Peyton Manning went 45 minutes between legit snaps from midway through the 2nd quarter until the first drive of the 3rd quarter.
6.Vickerson’s 15-yard late hit on Robert was a stupid penalty committed by the same guy who did the same thing to Andrew Luck last week.
7.Denver’s “natural” pick plays in the passing game are so precise and make pass coverage difficult.
8.Ryan Kerrigan with another forced fumble….his 3rd this year, the 9th of his career.
9.Peyton Manning got called for holding when he tried to keep Orakpo from recovering the fumble forced by Kerrigan.
10.Robert got cleared to play after getting hurt….Shanahan did the correct thing and kept him out.Game was over.
11.Kirk Cousins threw two picks in relief.
12.Some thought Kirk should’ve been given a chance when Robert was struggling early in the game…I never considered it.
A season-saving win....lots of good, bad, and more.
1. RG3. His best overall game since pre-injury last year. I know that many don't like it but the offense is obviously a much better unit when he's a part of the run game. He had more read-option keepers than he's ever had in a game. He took some unnecessary risks and corresponding hits on some of those runs but he played the game like it was do or die. I'm sure there are many different opinions on that. He's still struggling at times as a passer but he makes up for some of those mistakes with his ability to make "off-schedule" plays as a runner or passer. He was clutch all day. When they had to have a drive to answer Chicago, he led several including the game-winning drive where he went 5-7 for 58 yards (1 drop by Moss) and two huge 3rd-down throws to Garcon (on the run towards the sideline) and Reed.
2. Jordan Reed. We've seen his potential in glimpses through the first five games but today was his breakout moment. He's a big target and he gets open. His hands are solid and he makes yards after the catch. Nine catches on nine targets for 134 yards including four on third-downs was a huge difference in the game.
3. Morris and Helu. Both backs made plays and the mixture of both in the game plan makes the Skins harder to defend. Still amazing how many yards Morris gets when it appears there's nothing there. Helu did the same on a few carries. Helu is a nice red-zone option because of his versatility as a runner or pass receiver.
4. 1st-half defense. They held the Bears to 46 yards on six drives and scored another touchdown on the Orakpo pick 6. By the way, nice play by Reed Doughty on that play. The D's performance in the first half should've led to a bigger lead at halftime but bad Special Teams and an RG3 pick helped Chicago to 17 points.
5. Trent Williams. I thought he was clearly the best of the offensive lineman on a day when the rest of the O-line allowed a ton of penetration.
6. Hurry-up. They used it several times and were effective each time. It really helped the running game in particular and seemed to set up big bootleg plays.
7. Luck. They got lucky for the first time this year. Let's count....1) Reed may have fumbled on the early catch where he got hurt....Skins did a nice job of going hurry-up and snapping the ball before the Bears could challenge. 2) Morgan's fumbled kickoff was thankfully recovered by Niles Paul. 3) The TD pass to Robinson should've never been thrown and should've been picked off by Tillman 4) The Gould missed FG was a close-call that went Skins' way. 5) Bears' onsides kick penalty could've gone either way, it went Skins' way. 6) Matt Forte seemed to get out-of-bounds on the next-to-last play of the game but the ref rolled the clock forcing the Bears to call their final timeout. The next play was sack/end of game.
1. Special Teams. Another bad performance overall. There were a few good plays including the Gumbs hit on kickoff coverage but there were a ton of rough ones. In addition to Hester's 81-yard punt return (which was punted well), Josh Morgan's decision not to field a punt at the 12 cost them 11 yards and ultimately 3 points. On the flip side, he fielded another punt at his own 5...wrong decision on that one too. Additionally, he fumbled a kickoff return. Bad day for Morgan on Sp Teams. They almost got caught on a surprise onsides kick but a questionable penalty bailed them out. The Redskins currently rank in the bottom 3 in the league on kickoff coverage, punt coverage, kickoff returns, and punt returns. The good news, no missed field goals and no blocked punts.
2. RG3 took too many unnecessary hits on runs. This was a guy playing like he did last year and not worrying about things like sliding or getting out-of-bounds. I love him in the run-game because it makes this offense so much better but he didn't need to take as many hits as he did today.
3. Drops. At least 4 drops by my count including 2 by Moss, 1 by Hankerson, and 1 by Garcon. May have been more.
4. 2nd-half defense. It allowed 313 yards, 21 first downs, and 24 points in 30 minutes. McCown's running ability against man-coverage in particular led to some big plays that Cutler may or may not have given them. The Bears have a ton of weapons and guys like Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, and Bennett made a ton of plays.
5. Some of the play calling. It's hard to criticize the play calling when the offense scored 38 pts and rolled up 499 yards but I didn't like the 3rd and 3 QB rollout to Robert's left....a play that resulted in a big loss. Additionally, I hated the 2nd and 12 reverse call to Robinson that lost another 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. That was a drive where they had decent field position and a 17-10 lead and they came out with that play. That drive should've been a spot to take control of the game early and they tricked their way out of that opportunity. Additionally, I hated the 2nd and 12 reverse call to Robinson that lost another 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. That was a drive where they had decent field position and a 17-10 lead and they came out with that play. That drive should've been a spot to take control of the game early and they tricked their way out of that opportunity.
6. Clock management....again. A terrible timeout by Mike Shanahan with 1:03 left in the game could've easily cost them the game. It's really troubling to watch because the goal for the Redskins during that final drive should've been touchdown and as little time left for the Bears when they got the ball back. That timeout on a 1st and 10 at the Chicago 19 resulted in the Bears having more time on the clock after the Skins touchdown and an additional timeout that they wouldn't have otherwise had. It made no sense especially when you consider that the Skins were in hurry-up mode already and they had plenty of time. More than a minute left is plenty. Less than 40 is when you start thinking timeout in that situation. The other thing is that if for some reason they had missed a game-tying FG, they wouldn't have been able to get the ball back with two timeouts. With 3, they could've forced a punt and had time to try and tie it again.
1. Merriweather on the verge of a fine and possible suspension after two 15-yard penalties.
2. Skins ran more read-option QB keepers than ever before. RG3 took a lot of risks on runs attempting to get extra yards which led to some hits.
3. Skins ran one triple-option play in the 2nd quarter. It's the first one of those since the Cincinnati game last year.
4. I was surprised that Bears took a knee at the end of the first half. The ball was at the 35 with 20 seconds left. That's 2 completions for FG range. Gould has great range even though he would've been kicking into the wind.
5. The 15-yard late hit on Orakpo was questionable.
6. The Replay-review of Hankerson catch and run on the sideline was correct call.
A bad loss in so many ways. We'll count them below in the good, bad, and more.
1. RG3's mobility improved. Easily the most mobile and active as a runner he's been all season. Still not at pre-injury speed but faster and more willing tonight than at any point this season. Also showed elusiveness in the pocket at times, especially in the first half. I actually thought he had more opportunities to run from the pocket, especially in the first half.
2. Defense. Won't get much credit but they held Dallas to 309 fewer yards than they had against Denver last week. The Cowboys really only had one impressive drive of the night (their first drive). of Dallas' 4 touchdowns, Special teams scored one and set up another, and a turnover set up their third. Skins' D played well enough when they were out there to keep them in the game.
3. Pierre Garcon. It may not show in his #'s (6 catches for 69) but it always shows in his effort and toughness. He was doubled much of the night and still got open on a few plays that could've been big had Griffin made better throws.
3. D'Angelo Hall. Had a couple of very nice plays in coverage and a huge hit on Witten.
4. Jordan Reed. Impressive as a pass receiver and runner after the catch.
1. Special Teams. The Redskins have the worst Special Teams in the league right now. That unit cost them a chance to win the game tonight. Two big returns allowed, no return yardage themselves, lots of penalties including one on the Special Teams coach, and a momentum-changing missed field goal makes for an atrocious night. I wouldn't be surprised if Keith Burns gets fired this week. They can go back to the schemes they ran last year under Danny Smith.
2. Outcoached (Penalties/Clock Mgt.). They are poorly coached on Special Teams for starters and the game was essentially lost there. Beyond that, this was a bad night for Mike Shanahan. Specifically, his team committed 12 penalties for 104 lost yards after a bye week. The decision to punt it to Harris after a penalty with potentially tired players after running down to cover the punt the first time was a bad move. Harris hurt them last year so they should've known he was capable.
Overall though, the penalty fiasco pales in comparison to the amateur handling of the clock at the end of the first half and in the 4th quarter as well. Not taking the timeout after Jordan Reed's catch and run for a first down to the Dallas 17 with 37 seconds left was a major gaffe. Shanahan's explanation after the game made no sense. I won't even transcribe it because it's so muddled and incorrect. Bottom line, at the end of a half or game when you're trying to score a touchdown first, FG second, the goal should be more plays versus less plays. The more plays you have, the better chance of scoring a touchdown. Shanahan's strategy of wasting 18 seconds by not calling a timeout with 37 seconds left ensured that he would have no less than 3 fewer offensive snaps. Then, amazingly, with 9 seconds left from the 17, they ran a QB draw. The risk was that if RG3 got close to scoring but didn't, the play could've lasted 9 seconds and run out without a FG attempt.
In the 4th quarter down 31-16 with less than 8 minutes left in the game, huddling and wasting 25-30 seconds of the clock in between snaps is puzzling. No team in the league would've been huddling in that situation. The score math clearly says scoring faster is better than scoring slower. It's the AT&T commercial...."when losing 31-16 in the 4th quarter, is it better to score fast or score slow?" Any of those adorable children in those ads can answer that question.
One more debatable coaching call was whether or not Shanahan should've challenged the very early 3rd and 1 run by Murray....it looked short on the replay. It may have been worth it.
3. RG3's arm. He had a bad night throwing the football. It's not that there were receivers open all night long but he missed badly on several throws and the ball wobbled worse than a Billy Kilmer pass at times.
4. Offensive line. It's not very good this year. Part of that has been on Robert's reduced mobility through the first five games but it's gotten pushed back a lot more this year than last. 3rd and more than 6 is typically a problem.
1. Despite some bad football on Sp Teams in particular, I still really thought they were on the verge of taking control of the game when they were on the move down 21-16 late 3rd/early 4th. The missed FG was a big momentum swing and it left Dallas with great field position. To that point in the 2nd half, the Cowboys had only run 8 offensive snaps and just 33 for the game. The defense was fresh and the pressure was turning back on the Cowboys until the missed FG.
2. Did the Sundberg injury cost them a better shot at the 48-yd FG? The snap was a bit off.
3. The punt that hit the Cowboy in the butt didn't seem to be a "blocked into the ball" situation. Murphy was engaged but not intentionally pushing or blocking the player into the ball.
4. Losing a game when Dallas was clearly undermanned due to injuries makes the loss even more painful.
5. The two unnecessary roughness penalties on Barry Church were bad calls.
6. Romo's TD throw to Williams was an incredible play.
7. Moss' slip was the reason for the RG3 INT into the end zone.
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.
What many of us didn't think about when he came up with the slogan "Operation Patience" is that it wasn't a rehab motto for him; it was a warning to us. Maybe he knew all along this would be a slow go when the games finally began. Maybe "Operation Patience" was a heads up that we'd have to wait a few games and deal with Robert while RG3 worked his way back into a groove.
It's just that we never thought we'd have to wait. Why would we have thought it when we were brainwashed for eight months with his "All In For Week One" inculcation.
But now we have to deal with reality even though current reality has a wide range of possibilities. Those possibilities range from not completely healthy to refusing to run last year's offense. In the middle of that reality range are things like rust, the brace, lack of confidence, and any other "lack of" you can think of.
I think it's a mix of everything.
He doesn't look totally football healthy. I know Doc Andrews cleared him and medically I'm sure the knee is healed and ready for certain types of football activity. It just doesn't seem like it's ready for the type of football activity he engaged in last year. Remember that activity? The kind that included using his legs to carry the ball for lots of yards, first downs, and points.
Rust is definitely part of this and it should be. He didn't participate in mini-camps, OTAs, or preseason games. Additionally, for the majority of training camp, he didn't take a snap during meaningful 11 on 11 work.
The brace is restrictive. In fact, that's what it's supposed to be, restrictive. Pierre Garcon told me today, "Robert obviously can't run as fast as he did last year because of his knee brace."
Then there's the question of whether or not he's willing to run last year's offense. More specifically, the 50-series part of the offense. The 50-series, as Chris Cooley explained to me, is the "read-option" series. It gives RG3 the option of keeping the ball and running into open green fields after sticking the ball into Alfred Morris' gut and removing it. Could it really be that he said no to the thing that propelled the offense, the team, and him to great heights?
The irony of the read-option is that people read too much into it. It wasn't used as much as people think and when it was used, Robert didn't usually keep the ball and run with it. The threat of it however was without debate anymore, the single biggest reason for the success of the offense and hence, the success of the team. I don't like to think about him not wanting to run this part of the offense. It would be the ugliest of all the potential realities. It would reflect delusion at best, insubordination at worst. It would also speak to a coach who has less power than I thought.
More than anything else though, he lacks confidence. He's playing tentatively. Last year's RG3 made plays. So far this year, Robert hasn't made any. With or without him being a threat to run, he's just not making plays. Not once during the competitive portions of the first two games has he extended a pass play by escaping the pocket and throwing to an open receiver. Not once have we seen him maneuver in the pocket to create more time and make a throw that matters. He looks like he's thinking more than playing. He looks unsure of himself.
Confidence can be such a tenuous thing when trying to get it back. He looked so sure in July and August but September has brought doubt. Sometimes confidence is distantly elusive and other times it can be a play away from snowballing into major swag. That one play could be a 3rd and 10 scramble for 15 yards that leads to a play-action throw to Garcon for a touchdown and a 7-zip first quarter lead. One play may be all that's needed. One play could spark Robert back into RG3.
While I wasn't thrilled with his self-promotional spring and summer, it didn't overshadow what he's capable of during the fall and winter. And what he's capable of is being the best player on the field on Sundays. No other player on the roster this year or for the last 30 years can claim that.
No matter what the reality is right now, I'm willing to wait for great. For how long? I'll let you know after Sunday's game against Detroit.
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.
This is a list of things about the Skins' 2012 season that I want to remember when we get to free agency, draft, and beyond.
1. RG3's Spectacular Season. The whys and hows of his injury will dominate the offseason discussion but let's not let it totally overshadow the greatest rookie season in franchise history. His debut game in New Orleans was stunning. The final drive in Tampa, the 76-yard game-clinching run against Minnesota, and the go-ahead touchdown drive late in the 4th quarter in East Rutherford were breath-taking early-season moments. The 7-game season-ending win streak featured 8 touchdown passes in back to back wins over Philly and Dallas, a clutch go-ahead touchdown pass against the Giants in a huge Monday night win, and two clutch throws on the final drive against Baltimore on one leg. He threw 20 touchdowns against just 5 picks with a 102.4 QB rating.....as a rookie! Oh and by the way, he rushed for 815 yards while leading the league in yards per carry at 6.8. The list of eye-popping plays he made during the course of the season are too numerous to mention but how's the 88-yarder to Garcon in the opener, the 4th and 10 to Paulson the first Giant game, the 76-yard TD run against Minnesota, the 30-yard go-ahead TD pass to Moss in the first Giant game, and the TD pass to Moss just before the half on Thanksgiving in Dallas for starters.
2. Pierre Garcon's Impact on W's and L's. With Garcon the Redskins were 9-2, without him they were 1-5. He was a difference-maker for sure.
3. Alfred Morris. He was the perfect zone-stretch and zone-read runner. He set the franchise record with 1,613 yards with the perfect combination of vision and power. His 33 carries for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns in the NFC East title game against Dallas in the season-finale is one of the franchise's all-time great individual performances.
4. Santana Moss Wasn't Done. The 33-year old led the team with 8 touchdown catches and was third on the squad with 41 catches.
5. The Offense Was Top 5 and Could've Been Better. They finished 5th overall, 1st in rushing averaging 169.3 per game, 4th overall in scoring at 27.3 points per game, and it could've been better if their defense didn't rank towards the bottom. Imagine that offense with a defense that gave them the ball back quicker.
6. Offensive Innovation. Mike and Kyle Shanahan introduced the NFL to the "Pistol". The "Pistol" was nothing more than a formation that allowed them to more effectively run their traditional zone-stretch offense while also threatening defenses occasionally with the lethal "Read-Option". Once the Shanahans introduced RG3 as a run-threat out of the "Pistol", the offense became nearly unstoppable. The most overrated talk during the season was how many times RG3 ran from the "Pistol" while underrated was what the threat of him running did to defenses. Separating truth from fiction, the "Read-Option" was not only the most effective passing offense the Redskins ran, it was the safest and cleanest pocket for RG3. He barely got hit on throws on the "Read-Option" and his primary receiver was almost always open. By midseason, San Francisco and Seattle were among the teams copying what the Redskins were doing.
7. Turnover Margin. The Skins ranked 3rd in the league at +17 and led the league with just 14 giveaways. A big reason for their 7-game season-ending win streak was 15 takeaways and a plus-10 margin.
8. Defense Got Better. 28th overall isn't good and leaves a ton of room for improvement but after the bye at 3-6, a defense that couldn't stop anybody started to and a team that couldn't generate any pass rush got some. Jim Haslett deserves a lot of credit for figuring out how to take a defense decimated by injuries and suspension early (see Carriker, Orakpo, Merriweather, Jackson) and turning into a competitive group by the final month of the season.
9. Penalties' Good and Bad. The Redskins were penalized an average of 7 times a game (5th most in the league) but just 2.7 times per game in their last 3 games (best in the league).
10. Danny Smith's Comeback. From two blocked punts in the first two games to a very good rest of the year. Fans wanted him fired early but his punt coverage team finished 8th while his kickoff coverage team finished 12th. Brandon Banks was ineffective but the move to Richard Crawford on punt returns worked.
11. Kai Forbath. Nobody can explain the move to Cundiff at the end of the preseason but the final outcome was a good one after Cundiff predictably failed. Forbath set an NFL record by making 17 straight field goals to start his career....he finished 17-18, missing his final attempt of the season into the wind and on the sand at Fed Ex.
12. Fed Ex Turf. A total disaster late in the season and a total embarrassment in the playoff loss to Seattle.
13. Biggest Offseason Needs. Safeties, corners, and another playmaker on offense are my top 3 priorities. Big decisions regarding Fred Davis and Brian Orakpo.
A nice win with a quarterback not completely healthy and against an Eagle team that came to play. The good, bad, and more. Also, their updated playoff situation is listed below.
1. The Defense. Jim Haslett schemed up more pressure on the quarterback than in any game this year. The players also won more matchups than they have in any game this year. Five total sacks with several more hurries. Pressure was a factor all day but most importantly on three key plays. First--the Ryan Kerrigan sack/forced fumble on the final play of the 1st quarter. They were down 7-zip and on the verge of going down more. Second-the 4th and 2 sack at midfield up 20-13 in the 3rd quarter. Again, it was a Kerrigan play pushing the tackle back into Foles for the sack. Third-the final play of the game. Pressure forced the intentional grounding and the 10-second run-off...game over. The two turnovers forced in the first half were huge. I say forced because Kerrigan forced one with the sack and Cofield tipped the ball that Fletcher picked off. By the way, Cofield was very good all day as was Fletcher and Riley.
2. Offensive Playmakers. The Redskins have guys making plays after catches, during catches, and after getting hit. It's as important as anything we've seen during the 6-game win streak. Pierre Garcon makes plays. Joshua Morgan makes plays and was especially effective today. He had an incredible run on a reverse that should've been a loss. His touchdown catch and run was typical of the kinds of plays their receivers are making. Moss's touchdown catch was spectacular. Morris makes plays especially after contact. Royster had a good move on 3rd and short. Niles Paul had a nice catch and run. Attribute it to the scheme, the return of Garcon, or anything you want but the Skins have guys making plays with the ball.
3. Kai Forbath. He's money. 17 for 17 and the new record for most kicks made without a miss to start a career. His two early field goals today were important and gave the Skins some momentum.
4. Kyle Shanahan. He had a quarterback that was clearly less than 100% yet he was able to come up with a gameplan that kept the threat of RG3 as a runner in place without actually running him much. All season long I've felt the talk of him as a runner has been so overrated compared to the biggest benefit which has been the "threat of RG3 running" even when he didn't. There was plenty of pistol and even several read-option plays but he only ran on one read-option. The others were Morris runs or the read-option was used to set up passes. Kyle threw in several wrinkles....two plays stood out. On a completion to Garcon in the first half off the read-option look, Joshua Morgan was in motion than moved into the backfield prior to the snap. They've used that alot on plays where the WR ends up being a decoy on a run play or is used as the pitch back on the option but never on a quick throw off the read-option. The more interesting play was the touchdown run by Morris. That play appeared to be a fake read-option to one side with an old-school counter trey with Trent Williams pulling to the other side. The play broke wide-open for the touchdown.
1. RG3's mobility. It was obvious he wasn't 100% and we saw it early. He seemed uncomfortable on an early read-option run and later on a 4th and 2 bootleg miss.
2. A near-disaster in pass coverage at the end. Madieu Williams did a nice job on a safety blitz but was seemingly out of position (which isn't a first) and very lucky on a pass into the end zone for a wide open Maclin on the final drive.
1. Skins got lucky at the end when #86 dropped a wide-open slant for a touchdown.
2. I think Andy Reid may have gone for 2 and the win if they had scored at the end. He was in a risk-taking mode all day with nothing to lose.
3. The challenge by Shanahan on the RG3 lateral to Moss that lost 17 yards was a bit of a waste.
4. Eagle fans have complained about Reid's clock managment for years and it's easy to see why. He called quick timeouts with still over a minute left in the first half potentially leaving plenty of time for the Skins to score before the end of the half. It didn't hurt him this time but the strategy was wrong.
Skins' Playoff situation:
To Win the NFC East- Beat Dallas. They could also win the NFC East with a tie against Dallas if the Giants lose once. The Skins CAN'T win the NFC East with a loss to Dallas. A 9-7 final record would lose out to either a 10-6 Giants or a 9-7 Cowboys (common opponents).
Wildcard- If they lose to Dallas, they could still qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard but would need 3 of the following 4 things to happen. 1-the Giants to lose once (vs Balt or Philly); 2-the Vikings to lose to the Packers; 3-the Bears to lose once (vs Cards or Lions); 4-Seattle to lose twice (vs SF and STL).