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.
1. they stop the run. The Cowboys averaged 67.5 yards per game on the ground in the two meetings last year against the Skins.....Washington won both. The Cowboys have tried to be more balanced this year even though they threw it for 506 last week against Denver. Stopping Murray and making Romo have to make a living on 3rd and long is the only way the Skins have a chance of forcing a few punts and keeping Dallas under 28.
2. the offense dictates the context of the game. Last year, the Redskins put early and constant pressure on their opponents with its offense. The offense was even money to move the ball and score points on most of its drives. That threat of scoring on every possession put a lot of pressure on not only their opponents' defense but their opponents' offense to match the Skins' O. Let's not let the bye week allow us to forget that this year's Skins' offense has 1 touchdown in the first half of its first four games. If that continues tonight, they have no chance.
3. they get some subtle breaks. The Redskins need a few questionable calls to go their way and maybe a few bounces of the ball too. A Griffin fumble deep in his own territory recovered by Montgomery or a Morris fumble that bounces out of bounds are subtle plays that impact significantly the probability of winning. Add to that, a couple of offensive holding penalties on a Dallas first and 10 play that goes for 15 yards but gets called back is the difference between 1st and 20 and an eventual punt or a defense that is on its heels and in trouble. These calls are often the difference between having a chance to win a game on the road versus getting blown out.
Gut feel that the Redskins come off the bye ready to roll while Dallas feels the after-affects of last week's epic 51-48 loss to Denver.
According to every statistical measurement, if Alfred Morris carries the ball a lot on Sunday night, the Skins will win. The "run Morris" theme has come from every nook and cranny of Redskin Nation all week long. That's always the default in this town when the team isn't doing well. Get back to the basics; run the ball dammit!
Whether it's been Portis or Morris in recent years, run it down their throats has always been the Redskin way. Going back to the days of Riggo and the Hogs and before that Brown and after that Byner, when in doubt it's back to our roots......NFC East slobber knocker football. Nostalgia is great but bringing it back in the present can be dangerous.
The slobber knocker approach doesn't work anymore. If you can't throw the ball, you can't win in today's NFL. It's not just today's NFL, it's been this way for a long time. Teams throw to get a lead and run to protect it. Nobody lines up and just runs it on every play anymore. Trying to run the ball "down their throats" on first, second, and third downs is a formula for punts, not points. It doesn't work for most teams. Okay, maybe, maybe the 49ers can run it down someone's throat with their o-line and Frank Gore but most teams can't. A balanced offense where run or pass is a legit possibility on any down, particularly first down, is what works for the masses.
Specific to Kyle Shanahan's offense in Washington, play calling that keeps the other team guessing has always been the key to a successful day. They just aren't good enough up front to line it up and play smash mouth football. Smash mouth comes in the 2nd half with a lead and the other team wilting. Getting that lead for this team has required balance and deception in recent years. Yes, the Shanahans love to run the ball and they've been good at it but to do it well requires doing both (running and passing) well.
So for those hoping the game plan on Sunday night should start, continue, and end with Morris, Morris, and more Morris, I would be surprised if you get your wish.
The Redskins got their first win of the year, 24-14 in Oakland. The good, bad, and more.
1. Game's biggest plays made by Skins. This game wasn't a gem by NFL standards....these 3 big plays were the difference between win and potential loss. In order they were....1) David Amerson's pick 6. Down 14-3 with the Raiders on the move again, David Amerson stepped in front of Moore and made a monster play. Who knows if the Redskins would've generated enough offense today to win. I thought at the time that it was a game-saver and given that they won today, it could prove to be a season-saver. 2) Janikowski's missed 52 yd FG midway through the 3rd quarter was a big play in the game. It easily gave the Skins their best field position of the game and they took advantage of it by marching 58 yards for their first offensive TD of the day and their first lead in the 2nd half this year. 3) Kerrigan's sack/forced fumble on Flynn in the 4th quarter. Oakland had made a first down for the first time in the 2nd half and had great field position. It set up the Skins 2nd offensive TD and their first 2-score lead of the season.
2. Defense. After a shaky start, it shut the Raiders out on Oakland's final 12 drives covering nearly 3.5 quarters. The D generated 7 sacks, scored a touchdown, and had a sack/forced fumble.
3. Pass rush. A lot of the credit for the 7 sacks and the many pressures goes to the Redskins' D but a lot of it was that Matt Flynn is incapable. Flynn stunk. I'm not sure how the Skins would've fared against Pryor but they wouldn't have sacked him 7 times.
3. Brian Orakpo. He had his best day of the season. Not only did he get to Flynn twice, he had a near-pick early in the game and a wicked stop on 3rd and 1 on Jennings in the 3rd quarter.
4. Ryan Kerrigan. He makes plays that help win games and he does it a lot.
5. Up-tempo offense. Down 14-zip and looking like the season was teetering on the brink of disaster, the Skins' O went up-tempo and it caught Oakland by surprise. It didn't produce a touchdown but it did produce a meaningful field goal and it started the process of changing momentum after getting behind 14.
6. Raiders stink. The Oakland defense is legit but with Flynn, they just weren't capable on offense. Add to that, the Raiders committed a couple of potential game-changing penalties including the offsides on Helu's catch and maybe fumble. Their clock/game management was amateur. How come they didn't take a timeout at the end of the half with the ball at midfield and take a shot. They just let the clock run out. Then, down 10 points, they went for it on 4th and 1 when the field goal was the right choice. I knew they'd go for it when they went for the play-action on 3rd and 1 but getting it to 24-17 with 3:23 left and two timeouts out left was the right strategy.
7. Morris YAC. Morris always gets more yards than it appears he should.
1. Special teams. The Redskins had some bad plays on special teams today and several near-misses. There was the blocked punt and the fake punt. There were a couple of bad punts. There was consistent lost punt yardage because Thompson let the balls bounce and roll rather than getting up and fielding them. Thompson almost didn't get out of the way of one of the punts inside the 10. Murphy nearly got knocked into a punt that was still rolling on the ground....a punt that Thompson should've fielded. Skins need a new punt returner. If for nothing else then to save them field position by catching the kicks.
2. Pass protection. Is it Robert's responsibility to recognize pressure more consistently or is it that the O-line that isn't doing its job. Only the coaches know for sure but it would seem that 3rd and more than 6 can be a problem if Robert is going to stay in the pocket. Too much pressure today and some bad throws either because of it or at least influenced by it.
3. No timeout on fake punt. We've seen the Skins through the years call timeouts for less serious situations, why not a timeout when the Raiders shifted into an offensive formation on 4th and less than 1.
4. Did Robert look like he got nicked up on the 11 yard read-option keeper? Garcon's holding penalty nullified the play but it looked briefly like Robert hurt himself.
1. Rg3's game was mixed. He missed throws including a potential deep TD pass to Moss. He made some curious decisions including throwing to Fred Davis deep when Garcon was open on the bootleg and the intentional grounding throw on 2nd and goal in the 2nd quarter. His mobility still doesn't look anything like last year however; he did make several "off-schedule" pass plays by extending them with his feet. The 3rd and 10 to Helu in the 2nd quarter was a great play. He made a nice play to find Paulson on one of the only solid 3rd and long plays of the day although Paulson fumbled. The 3rd down TD throw to Garcon was perfect and the escape and throw to Helu for 28 yards after the Kerrigan sack/fumble was the kind of play he must make for this team to have a chance.
2. Lots of injuries. Both teams lost several players during the game.
3. Was Fred Davis dressed? That's an exaggeration but if not for that deep "uncatchable" ball in the end zone I wouldn't have thought he played.
4. I liked the 3rd and 8 draw call to Helu right with 2:30 left. The Raiders were guessing run as they should've but the play made them hesitate and Helu went for 9 and a first down that iced the game.
5. Did Robert look like he got nicked up on the 11- yard read-option keeper? Garcon's holding penalty nullified the play but it looked briefly like Robert hurt himself.
The Redskins fall 27-20 to the Lions. The good, bad, and more.
1. Best effort of the year. They didn't play great but the overall performance was much improved compared to the first two games. I know that's not saying much but the offense finally got into some rhythm with an attack/scheme that looked similar to last year's while the defense gave the team a shot with several stops in the 2nd half. RG3 was back making plays even though some of those plays ended poorly like the 4th quarter run/fumble. The defense wasn't great but it was much better than at any time in the first two games and it gave the team a chance to win in the 2nd half.
2. RG3 played. We hadn't seen anything resembling the RG3 of last year during the first two games but we did today. Even though his performance was far from perfect, he looked much more like the playmaking quarterback we saw last year. The read-option QB keeper was back in the game plan and just the threat of Griffin as a runner made play-action work and led to more room for Morris on runs out of the Pistol. He just looked like a capable playmaker making plays as a passer and a runner. Late in the first quarter he made a throw to Paulson after escaping pressure in the pocket. He hadn't made one play in the first half of any of the first two games that resembled that one. Making a few plays with his feet seemed to make normal throws from the pocket more relaxed. He completed 3 of 4 third-down throws in the first-half alone. They had been 0-9 on third downs in the first half coming into this game, they were 4 for 6 today. His 21-yard 4th quarter run and subsequent fumble was his best playmaking play of the season until of course, the end of the play.
3. Offensive scheme. The true read-option component was back and that meant the defense had to account for the QB in the run game. We saw more of Griffin on the move with several bootlegs called in addition to a few sprint-out throws. The offense only generated 13 points but obviously the two turnovers inside the Detroit 21 and the Robinson touchdown drop cost them 3 more scores. The 420 yards generated today were much more meaningful than the bogus 422 a week ago in Green Bay. Today's offense gave them a chance to win the game. Last week's was garbage offense after falling behind by 31.
4. Pierre Garcon. Arguably the Skins best offensive player although Trent Williams is close. He catches everything and he's a true YAC threat.
5. 3rd-quarter defense. The defense is really struggling but forcing Detroit to punt on all three of its possessions in the 3rd quarter could've turned into the deciding stretch of the game.....but of course, it didn't.
1. RG3 erred. Two turnovers deep in Detroit territory cost them dearly. The first interception was a horrible decision. The 2nd turnover, the fumble, was as uncomfortable to watch as it was for him to execute. He just doesn't seem to be comfortable getting down and avoiding contact in the open field. He also missed some throws and seemed to throw to the wrong guy a few times. On their first drive of the game, he threw to a covered Paulson when he could've run for the first or dumped it off to Morgan. On the next play, he chose to throw the slant to a covered Robinson when Reed was wide open at the sticks over the middle. On a key third-down on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, he threw behind an open Hankerson at the 18. A good throw would've been a new set of downs and a chance to get 7 instead of 3.
2. Robinson's drop. He has to make that catch. It's a chance for a 24-20 lead in the 4th quarter with major momentum.
3. First-half defense. The tackling in the first half was some of the worst of the season and that's hard to believe because it was god awful in the first two games. The 3rd and 10 to Bell early in the game that went for 37 yards included multiple missed tackles. The Bell touchdown run later in that drive was a tackling disaster. Another run by Bell on the Lions' 2nd touchdown drive was aided by bad tackling. And the most crucial missed tackle of the day was Orakpo's miss on Bell at 20-17 in the 4th quarter on a first and 10 at the Skins 21. That would've been a 2nd and 11 on a drive where you had to hold them to a FG, instead, 2nd and 1. Horrible.
4. End of first-half clock mgt. I liked that Shanahan came out aggressively instead of trying to run the clock out after Detroit took the lead 17-14 with :44 sec left. But instead of stopping the clock by using one of their remaining 2 timeouts with :31 seconds left after a 9-yard completion over the middle to Reed to the 35, he didn't use a timeout until after the next play with :13 seconds left. That was a mishandling of the clock and reduced significantly the chances for a FG attempt.
5. Punt and kick returns. I can't imagine there's a team in the league with worse results though the first 3 weeks. They've gotten nothing on returns this year.
1. The play after the Robinson drop/overturn was a disaster but it could've been worse. Even after the replay overturn they had a 2nd and 10 at midfield in a 3-pt game but the Pistol snap hit Paulson and deflected away from Griffin. Griffin actually tried to scoop it up and run. He was lucky he didn't lose it.
2. Say what you want about D-Hall but he does make big plays occasionally. He's now one of just two players in league history to have 4 INT and 4 Fumble returns for touchdowns. I thought he played pretty well considering who he was matched against for most of the day.
3. Merriweather played the whole game! AND, he nearly knocked out his 3rd player in two weeks when he went head first into Orakpo.
4. I wonder if Shanahan considered going for it on 4th and 5 in a tie game in the 3rd quarter in a tie game.
5. There were two booming punts in the game....Rocca had a 63 yarder; Martin had a 72 yarder. Both with the wind I think.
6. Calvin Johnson is incredible but the sideline catch on the first play after Griffin's fumble in the 4th quarter was exceptional.
7. The Lions got a terrible spot on Bell's 3rd and 1 run with just over 4 minutes left. Schwartz would've won a challenge on that spot.
8. The 15-yard penalty for a "defense-less" hit on Garcon late in the game was an awful call.
9. Did Rambo play at all at safety in this game or was it exclusively 3 corners with Wilson playing in the box as a safety on several plays.
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.
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.
1. they pressure Aaron Rogers. They have little chance on the road at Lambeau if Rogers has time to pick the Skins' secondary apart. The Packers had some injuries along their offensive line in training camp but they protected Rogers with some success in San Francisco last week and that was without much of a running game to help out. This could be a moment for Brian Orakpo. He had a big game in the Skins' 2010 win over the Packers at Fed Ex with 2 sacks. He and Kerrigan must be a factor today as pass rushers.
2. they get into rhythm offensively from the start. They need to make a few first downs on their first drive. I firmly believe that this offense is built around the threat of RG3 as a potential runner out of the Pistol. He doesn't have to run much but the threat of him as a runner made last year's offense roll. I think it's the key to this year's offense. Now, I wouldn't discount the possibility that the Shanahans could come up with something new that could work just as well and I do like RG3 as a quick thrower with the field spread with 4 and 5 wides. However, it just seems finishing as the #1 rush offense is more likely than finishing as the #1 pass offense.
3. they win the turnover battle. Can't win today turning the ball over like they did on Monday night. Plus-1 at least today or it could be a long day.
The Redskins opened up with the wrong opponent tonight in Chip Kelly's Eagles. They weren't ready for them on defense, offense, or special teams. Not a good combo. The good, bad, and more.
1. The comeback. Say what you will about soft coverages or Philly resting on a big lead, the Redskins didn't throw in the towel and were legitimately in the game over the final 12.5 minutes.
2. 2nd-half passing offense. They shortened up routes allowing Robert to get rid of the ball quickly. It's the only chance the Skins had when they went almost exclusively to their drop back pass offense. They just don't protect well enough in any other situation. While they can be productive at times in pure drop back with Robert throwing the ball from the pocket, I really don't think this is their best formula for winning. RG3 must be a legitimate and consistent run-threat for the offense to reach its potential.
3. It could've been worse on defense. Despite Philly's huge numbers, especially in the first half when the Redskins were turning it over every time they touched it on offense, I thought the defense hung in there enough to keep the game from getting out of hand. Philly helped with a few throws that were off from Vick and a few drive-killing penalties but the defense got the Eagles off the field more than it seemed they could or would. It looked early like they were more Washington State than the Washington Redskins and Oregon was the opponent. While the coaches might tell you that nobody graded out well, I thought Kerrigan and Riley among others made plays to keep the score within reach.
1. RG3 in the first half. Just awful. RG3 didn't appear to be ready. Call it rust or anything else you'd like but he was totally off and overwhelmed in the first half. Sure they didn't have the ball much and yes, their field position stunk, but he didn't look anything like the RG3 we saw before he injured his knee in the Baltimore game last year. If not for a few of his scrambles in the 2nd half that showed glimpses of his escapability and acceleration, I would've been convinced he wasn't 100% healthy. He clearly didn't want to keep the ball on the read-options they ran. If his ability to make the defense play him as a run threat is minimized by him or the play calling, they're in for a long season.
2. Alfred Morris. He may have been the one that didn't get enough preseason action. He fumbled the first time he touched it and he lost a pitch in the end zone that resulted in a safety. He really struggled.
3. O-line in pass protection. Just not good enough. The Skins went to shorter routes to allow RG3 the ability to unload the ball early. The line was overwhelmed by the Eagle pass rush even when they rushed no more than 3.
3. Special teams. They killed field position with some bad kickoff and punt return decisions (see Chris Thompson). Penalties didn't help either,Add to that, Kai Forbath missed a short field goal.
4. Turnovers and penalties. They turned it over 3 times, botched a pitch in the end zone that resulted in a safety, but made up for both of those things by committing 10 penalties.
5.Missed tackles.It’s really hard to get McCoy down on the ground but they missed him in the open field completely several times and when they did get hands on him, they couldn’t bring him down often enough.
1. Robert's entrance during the introductions made it seem that he and he alone was facing the Eagles. It was too individual vs. team for my taste.
2. Chip Kelly's offense is a perfect match with Philly's personnel. When you think about the Foles-Vick competition over the summer you have to laugh. After what we saw tonight, was there ever really a chance Foles could win the job? It was mind-boggling to watch in the first half. 53 plays for 325 yards and could've been more if not for the dropped passes and penalties.
3. Was that Vick pass deflected by Kerrigan really a lateral? I thought it looked like a forward pass. Smart reaction and play by D-Hall.
4.Let’s hope Kerrigan isn’t out for too long with concussion symptoms.They would really miss him.
1. they are aggressive on offense. I'm hearing all the talk about ground and pound with Alfred Morris in an effort to keep the Eagles' offense off the field.....I want 5 wides, spread Philly out, and let Robert throw it and throw it quickly from empty-backfield at times. That may be an exaggeration but I want to see the same aggressive/innovative approach this year. Philly's new 3-4 set with less than average defensive talent should be a mismatch for the Skins if they go after it.
2. they don't give up the big play on defense. Philly has speed and playmaking ability all over the field and the Skins have been there/done that on watching Vick, Jackson, and company light em up on Monday night. Rambo and Doughty will be targeted in this game....they have to keep everything underneath and not give up the 1-2 play scoring drives.
3. they avoid the momentum-changing turnover on special teams. If it's the rookie Thompson on punt returns, he needs to catch and protect.