ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Washington Redskins linebackers London Fletcher and Ryan Kerrigan will head to the Pro Bowl as replacements for Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers linebackers Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith.
The 37-year-old Fletcher is going to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. Kerrigan, a second-year player, gets his first trip to the exhibition game.
Their additions give the Redskins five Pro Bowl selections for the first time since 1996. They join rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who will miss the Pro Bowl after knee surgery; left tackle Trent Williams and special teamer Lorenzo Alexander.
Williams and Smith helped the 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC championship game Sunday.
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).
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.
Another loss that could've easily been a win. Today's loss was at least partly self-inflicted. The good, bad,and more.
1. Alfred Morris. The real deal. If the Skins could've made some third downs, he would've had a lot more than 115 yards.
2. Ryan Kerrigan. His feel, vision, and anticipation are so good and the reasons he's such a great playmaker. However, he needs to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback.
3. Run defense. They held the Falcons to 2.9 yards per carry. Falcons pretty much abandoned the run because it became clear they couldn't.
1. RG3's injury. It happened on a pass play/scramble. The hit by Witherspoon was clean. He told Shanahan he was "alright" on the way off the field, he wasn't. Let's hope he's ready for next week.
2. Not enough RG3 runs. This may seem counter-intuitive considering he got knocked out of the game with a concussion but there were opportunities on the zone-read where it looked like if he kept the ball he'd still be running. Atlanta was prepared after getting burned repeatedly last week by Newton but there were at least two plays, one on the missed FG drive and the other on the made FG drive where it looked like he could've kept it on the zone-read for big yardage. Another thing. If they weren't going to use their designed runs, how bout some more bootleg where he's outside the pocket with the option to throw or run. I think they ran one boot the whole day.
3. Third down conversions & stops. Offensively they couldn't make any, defensively they couldn't get off the field enough. Some catchable passes weren't caught in the first half by Davis and Moss in particular. It was the difference between moving the sticks and getting more carries for Morris versus giving up the ball. The Skins ran 46 total plays on offense, just 22 in the first half. That's not enough. Atlanta was 9 for 17 on third down.
4. Billy Cundiff. Just awful! There's no excuse for keeping him another week. He cost them major momentum in this game, a game the Skins may have taken control of before halftime. You just can't miss inside 40 yards in the NFL. It's not acceptable. In fact, you really can't miss inside 50. He's a godawful kicker who shouldn't have been signed in the first place and better be gone by Wednesday.
5. Pass pressure. Just not enough of it. When a quarterback drops back 52 times, you should get more than one sack. Carolina had 7 last week. One is pathetic.
6. Dropped passes. The Falcons had several, the Redskins had a few themselves. For the Skins, it cost them on third downs, especially in the first half when they managed just 22 plays in 30 minutes.
7. End of first-half. Why would you call back to back timeouts and then run the clock out on a third straight run from your own 36? Totally ridiculous to get yourself into position to complete a pass or two to get into FG range and instead choose to run the clock out. If you were going to run the clock out, why call the 2 timeouts in the first place? You just can't afford to throw away scoring opportunities in games you know will be close. It made no sense unless of course, Shanahan knows what we all know....that Cundiff would've missed a long FG anyway.
1. Skins' DBs are just too short. Fletcher in coverage is also. Teams with bigger receivers are going to eat them up. Last week it was Williams and Jackson, this week Jones and Gonzalez. Some of those catches were well-covered but it's too hard to stop guys like Jones and Gonzalez from going up and taking it away when they have a half-foot height advantage.
2. Cousins' 77-yd TD pass to Moss was clearly a blown coverage but good job taking advantage of it.
3. If RG3 can't go, first guess is that Rex gets the start next week against Minnesota. Just a guess.
4. Banks had the big kickoff return against Cincinnati but has been contained for the most part this year. Would like to see more of him on offense.
Four games, four nailbiters, this one shouldn't have been. The good, bad, and more.
RG3. I know it's only four games but it's official....he's the real deal. His two runs in the redzone in the first half are a perfect example of why the Redskins are so different offensively this year. They can score touchdowns. I know he fumbled on the first QB draw but did you see his acceleration and toughness! It's his arm, legs, smarts, toughness, it's everything. He's already the best player they've had here since....?? Now, was that penalty on Mark Barron in the first half for unnecessary roughness a BS call...for sure. It was almost like he was getting NBA superstar treatment on that play. His command and confidence are growing. The hardcount cadence drew at least one offsides penalty, may have been two. The final drive was poised and flawless...seemed that it was never in doubt. Finally, after a long wait, the Redskins have a quarterback and leader.
The offense. 474 total yards. Not nearly the total points they could've or should've had but that was a result of missed field goals and penalties. They are so hard to defend right now. RG3 threatens a defense in so many ways that preparation for the Redskins must be a bitch. Alfred Morris is a perfect fit and then some. He's a perfect zone-stretch runner. He's a perfect spread/zone-read runner. He's a perfect triple option fullback. Not bad for a 6th rounder. Thank goodness Skins' brass didn't succomb to the "do the right thing and let Donovan go" crowd. That 6th rounder back from Minnesota for McNabb is Alfred Morris. Additionally, the Skins finally have receivers who draw P.I. penalties and run after the catch. It's nice to see additional yards after a catch instead of the "catch and immediately fall down" move of recent vintage. BTW, it helped today that Trent Williams was back. He's easily a top 3-4 must-have player on this team and he led the offensive line to a very good day against a pretty good front 4.
The fullback and tight ends. Darrell Young has been and is currently a very underrated player on this team. He's a very good blocker. He can catch passes and make yards after the catch. He can run it too even though we haven't seen much of that this year. The tight ends (Davis and Paulson) have been very good the last two weeks. Paulson is a big-time blocker and Davis is catching everything and making big plays after the catch.
Ryan Kerrigan. Multiple pass deflections and a sack. Plus, a huge third-down stop on a screen late in the game with the Skins holding a 21-19 lead. He's very good, getting better, and has become a fixture on this list.
Billy Cundiff. He missed three kicks before barely making the game-winner. He looked like he was either going to cry or vomit on that final drive and actually looked terrified right before the final kick yet somehow he managed to get it through that left upright. I'd cut him and re-sign Rackers or Gano tomorrow. He can lead the league in touchbacks till the cows come home but his field goal kicking is going to cost them a game or two. The missed 57-yarder at the end of the first half really makes wonder what Shanahan was thinking in St. Louis. I know it's indoors versus outdoors but he was 3-5 yards short on that one today. His missed 31-yarder was brutal, the 41-yarder wasn't close, and I still can't for the life of me figure out why they signed him and cut Rackers and Gano.
Penalties. Too many big ones that resulted in drive killers. The clip on Montgomery killed the first drive of the 2nd half. The 15-yarder on Garcon killed the 2nd drive of the 2nd half. They got bailed out by some big calls against Tampa so things were evened out a bit but still, an offense that was humming stopped itself a few times in the 2nd half and missed opportunities to make this a no-sweat win.
3rd down conversions. They made 2 of 11and one of the two was the razzle-dazzle Banks-to RG3-to Niles Paul play. What's interesting is that it didn't really hurt them. They rolled up 27 more first downs for the game and are now near the conference lead with 98 first downs in 4 games.
1. Good clock mgt/questionable clock mgt. They did a nice job at the end of the first half being aggressive and using their last timeout to get the ball back. It gave them a chance on a long field goal attempt. With that said, they looked confused on the final play before the game-winning Cundiff kick. After the spike stopped the clock with 18 seconds left, Shanahan carried on a conversation with RG3 on the sideline as if he was in timeout mode. It cost them a frantic false start penalty and five yards. That five yards could've been the difference between win and loss. The next play was a 7-yard completion to Moss after which there seemed to be some confusion on the Skins sideline as to what to do next. They should've let the clock tick down to 3 seconds and made the field goal the final play of the game. Instead, they kicked it with 7 seconds leaving time for a potential miracle kickoff return.
2. The five yard penalty against Tampa on their 2-pt conversion was huge. It was the difference between a Skins' win and overtime.
3. It seems obvious to say that the pass coverage was bad in the 2nd half because of the numbers but I didn't think it was as bad as the last two weeks. Unlike the last two weeks, Skins' defenders were closer to making plays with the exception of that first long one to Williams that got Freeman going. I thought Freeman and Jackson in particular made some really good throws and catches.
4. Sav Rocca and the punt coverage team had a pretty good day.
5. The Redskins got bailed out of that horrible field position on their 2nd drive of the 2nd half by two huge plays. The first was the play that nearly ended in safety and the second was the next play which resulted in a late-hit on RG3 in the back of the end zone.
6. The 3rd and 9 stop before the go-ahead Bucs field goal by Wilson on Underwood was huge. Without it, the Bucs go-ahead field goal would've been a game-winning field goal.
7. RG3 needed to stick that ball out in front of the first-down marker on that key 3rd down with 3:45 left. Shanahan's challenge on that play was questionable.
8. Merriweather and Robinson getting hurt before the game....are you kidding me!
9. The Skins have won the turnover battle in all four games. They have just 2 turnovers on the season, tied for the best in the NFL.
Brian Orakpo may be a bit of a disappointment to some fans and media that watch the Burgundy and Gold on a regular basis. However, his importance should not be understated.
The outside linebacker who is in his fourth year has started 47 games, all that he has played, and has 28.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and is a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
No matter what the numbers say, and the perception is -- here's the bottom line, the Redskins have to have a healthy Orakpo if their defense is going to take a big step forward.
Orakpo and the Skins received very good news on Sunday, which confirmed their original thoughts on Saturday night (as ESPN 980 first reported) that the veteran's pectoral injury was not believed to be serious.
“There’s no tear. That was good news. They felt like [there was] a little scar tissue but nothing that serious. So he should be okay. I think everybody is relieved,” Mike Shanahan said on Monday.
Orakpo was relieved as you would expect. He told reporters the injury -- suffered on Saturday night in Chicago was a nerve wracking feeling.
"It popped on me on the field, so I was scared. I thought I re-tore it. It had the same reaction as when I tore it in Philly. That's what scared me the most."
Orakpo is moving forward in his recovery, while being ruled out by Mike Shanahan to play again in the preseason. "I'm very optimistic about it. The injury wasn't as significant as we originally thought. I'm very thankful for that."
Now the concern has to be - will this be a continuous issue for Orakpo and the Redskins? In two of the last three games the team has played, Orakpo has done some sort of damage (partial tear in Philadelphia).
The injury on Saturday was easy to see. Orakpo was slightly out of position on a quick pass to the ultra speedy Devin Hester in the left flat and Hester made one move, forcing Orakpo to counter with his left arm which bent and twisted awkwardly.
The original injury in Philadelphia came on a sack, his 2nd of the day. He also had a forced fumble on the play, and three tackles. It was not as easy to see, and in a essentially meaningless game - but what impact will it have moving forward?
That's the big question, will it prevent him from staying healthy and being 100%, and what impact will that have on the next phase of his career?
The Redskins hope that Orakpo can really break out and have monster production. Despite good numbers, the total truth is Orakpo has not made enough impact plays.
Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett, is expecting a lot more. He told the media that he felt Orakpo could have that kind of season, if he works to take the next step.
"To me, he is the kind of guy that when he wants to, when he puts his mind to it, he is going to be one of those that is going to get you 15, 16, 17 sacks. He has the ability to do that," Haslett said.
It's unknown exactly when Orakpo will be able to practice fully. The hope is he will be good to go, to begin preparations for the September 9th regular season opener in New Orleans, two weeks from today (Monday).
In order for the Redskins to win eight or nine games this year, it's very simple. They are going to have to be much better on defense. If you don't believe that, you don't understand football.
A big key in that, will Brian Orakpo be able to go from 9 sacks to 13 or 14, and instead of 3 forced fumbles -- will he have 5? There's no reason for him not too, with Ryan Kerrigan in year-two and presumably improving on his stellar rookie season (70 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a interception return for a touchdown).
There's more reason to believe this scenario. Perry Riley is much more explosive than his predecessor, Rocky McIntosh, and London Fletcher returns to anchor the defense.
Adam Carriker was re-signed. Jarvis Jenkins is like getting a big free agent acquisition. Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, should be even better and more comfortable. I can go on and on.
Orakpo has to put more consistent heat on the opposing quarterbacks, like defenses will to the Redskins offensive line and their talented but in-experienced rookie QB.
Even though Orakpo wound up with more sacks than Kerrigan -- Kerrigan had 7 more (42-35) quarterback pressures, along with the extra forced fumble and the go-ahead interception and touchdown in Week 1.
Robert Griffin III is going to struggle and show moments of brilliance, but the Redskins defense has to carry the load, at a more efficient clip. The notion that the Redskins defense has been asked to do too much is preposterous in my eyes.
For instance, with several new parts but overall very limited injuries, the defensive unit in 2011 was only on the field for a possession average of 29:51. That's with a very inconsistent offense.
That was actually down over two full minutes on average per game in 2010. You would think that would increase performance, and while it certainly did in several key areas - one hugely critical area that did not translate well was third down percentage.
In 2010, the Redskins allowed opponents to convert 35.0% of the time. In 2011, the number jumped to 37.4%. That doesn't seem like a huge jump in pure numbers, but I can think of three games (at least) the Redskins lost because of conversions on third-and-long situation. Both Dallas games, and the Miami game are three disastrous examples.
This is with the sack totals rising from 29 (2010) to 41 (2011) with the infusion of Kerrigan, Bowen and Cofield.
The total yards allowed went down significantly, a drop of over 700 total net yards. The Redskins generated only 13 interceptions in 2011, compared to the 14 in 2010 -- and they also saw a drop in fumble recoveries, year-over-year, from 13 in 2010, to only 8 in 2011.
In other words, their total forced turnovers dropped by six, despite an increased talent base, pressure and a second year (for most) of familiarity with the 3-4 scheme.
That HAS TO CHANGE this year, and it starts with Orakpo. It starts with him being healthy and ramping up his efforts with more pass rush moves (well documented) and getting home on third down.
Will it happen? Only time and Orakpo's health will tell.
The Redskins won yesterday at MetLife Stadium. They got a lot of help from the offense and special teams but the game was truly won on defense. Brian Orakpo has struggled significantly against the NFC East foes that he and the Redskins see twice per year.
Sunday was no different until the 4th Quarter, when Orakpo drew a holding call on a 4th down touchdown by the Giants, so the score was nullified. Orakpo almost surely would have had a sack of Eli Manning if not for the penalty. Ryan Kerrigan finished the Giants and Manning off a play later.
Orakpo FINALLY got his first full sack in 17 career games against NFC East foes, with just over 3 minutes left in the one-sided win. After the game, Orakpo said he got "the monkey off his back" but the cynical and honest part of me, feels he has a long way to go before that truly happens.
Below, is a year-by-year, breakdown of Orakpo's history against the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys, with some notes spliced in for extra flavor.
Take a look and you can decide for yourself. Is this the start of something or just a throw-in at the end of a lopsided game?
Brian Orakpo - NFC East Career - Based on NFL.com Player Statistics - KEY: PD = Pass Defensed
2009 - 4 tackles - 2 games (Missed sack of Romo on touchdown late w/ arms around him.
2010 - 4 tackles, 1 PD - 2 games (Did draw holding call on final play of game, wiping out a TD)
2011 - 7 Tackles - 2 games
Totals vs Dallas (6 games) 15 tackles, 1 pass defensed.
2009 - 3 tackles - 2 games
2010 - 8 tackles - 2 games
2011 - 5 tackles, 1 sack, PD - 2 games. (Draws holding penalty to wipe out TD)
Totals vs New York - (6 games) 16 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass defensed
2009 - 5 tackles, PD - 2 games
2010 - 10 tackles, 1/2 sack - 2 games
2011 - 5 tackles, PD - 1 game (1/1 @ Philly)
Totals vs Philadelphia (5 games) 20 tackles, 1/2 sack, 2 pass defensed.
Watching the Redskins’ 19-11 loss to San Francisco was just slightly less painful than last week’s loss in Buffalo. They played with more competitiveness than they had the last two weeks but there are a ton of issues obviously. Let’s start with this--John Beck is in over his head right now. Mike Shanahan said after the game that he was going to “stick with John” as the starter. I think his answer is an indication that the rest of this season has officially become a rebuilding season. Beck, Hankerson, Helu, Hurt....he’s made the decision to play the young guys. Personally, I don't think there's much of a future in Beck.
The good, bad, and more.
1. Graham Gano. Franchise-record 59 yd. field goal.
2. Darrell Young. A solid blocker and a threat catching the ball.
3. Ryan Kerrigan. He, Fletcher, and Rocca have been the most consistent Skins all season long.
4. 3rd-down defense. Held the 49ers to 3 for 12 on third down.
1. John Beck. Just so inexperienced and it shows. Beyond that, he’s inaccurate, throws to the wrong guys, and he’s jumpy in the pocket. His interception was a terrible throw. He should’ve been picked off in his own end zone for a touchdown. His 4th and 2 throw to Davis was the wrong target. Gaffney was wide open. He looks lost out there. Rex WOULD be better but I get it, he's not a silver-bullet answer either.
2. Turnovers. You can’t turn it over 3 times and have a chance against a good team. They were actually lucky it was only 3 turnovers. Beck nearly threw an early pick in his own end zone and Brandon Banks was lucky to get a fumble back. The Helu fumble before the end of the half was damaging to say the least.
3. Lack of discipline. Examples--Landry woofing in pregame with Vernon Davis. Trent Williams with another 15-yard penalty after the play had resulted in a first down. Brandon Banks fielding a punt at his own 3.
4. Run defense. Better than last two weeks but still not consistent enough. Gore had 107 yards on just 19 carries. 5.6 yards per carry are too many.
5. Clock management at the end of the first half. Skins should have called their last timeout after Helu’s catch got the Skins to the San Fran 41 with 18 seconds left . Instead, they burned 10 seconds and spiked it. They were lucky they got the Gano attempt.
1. Officiating is bad this season league-wide. The 49ers got absolutely hosed in the first half on a 3rd and 1 where the referee took nearly 10 seconds to announce a tackle-eligible which led directly to a delay of game on the Niners. The play-clock should have been reset to 25.
2. Two franchise records for the Skins in one game. Gano’s 59-yd field goal is the longest and Helu’s 14 catches the most ever in a game.