A good win, especially considering the poor start. The good, bad, and more.
1. The offense of the first 4 weeks was back. It appeared that Kyle decided to take last week and the first two drives of today's game to rest RG3's legs. Bad idea. The threat of RG3 as a runner, especially out of the spread and pistol with option as a possibility makes everything easier. It's like a point guard who can also score in basketball. When the guy with the ball can score, the focus of the defense is on him which makes life easier for everyone else. Same idea with RG3. Everyone benefits when the defense honestly believes he might run. First two drives today, no spread, no pistol, no option potential, they got nothing. Then Kyle went to the spread and pistol with option looks and they became near-unstoppable. They scored on their next four drives and were only stopped by their own penalties. Those that think using him that way makes him more vulnerable to injury, you might be right. Those that think it doesn't work, you're wrong.
2. RG3. Brilliant. Against a good team, they can't win without him. He made plays with his arm, legs, and brain all day long. His 76-yard run for a touchdown on a key 3rd-down late will be talked about all week long but don't forget the other 10+ spectacular plays he made before that run. He was perfect on a 4th and 3 to Moss. His 3rd and 5 throw to a covered Moss kept their first TD drive alive. How 'bout the sales job on the late hit call that wasn't. His 15-yd run on 3rd and 11 early in the 3rd qtr followed by his 1st and goal check to a QB draw for a touchdown was off the charts. His decision-making was much less-risky today. After a holding penalty on Davis late in the 3rd qtr, he scrambled to the sideline and instead of taking a risk by staying in bounds and taking a big hit, he got out of bounds and avoided a hit. It was a play he couldn't make a first down on anyway. Two more things. His accuracy today throwing the ball was near-perfect. Of his five incompletions, a few of them were throw-aways and the one interception should've been reviewed. Also, his ball-handling on fakes out of the option formations, regular playaction, and bootleg are an underrated part of his game.
3. Lorenzo Alexander. Why hasn't he played more on defense over the years? He makes plays. His pass rush was tenacious and made an impact.
4. Kai Forbath. That 50-yard FG was huge. A miss and the Skins are down 9-nothing and Minnesota has great field position.
5. Madieu Williams. It's hard to give the defense much credit today but Williams made plays early that led to Minnesota field goals and his return on the interception was great.
6. Punt team/coverage. After the two blocked punts in weeks 1 & 2, this has become a strength on the team. Great hit by Niles Paul on one punt return and a nice Rocca punt downed inside the Viking 5 on another.
1. The defense. Yes they held the Vikes to field goals on Minnesota's first three drives but it's just not a good defense right now. They got more pressure than they have recently and their rush defense is solid but they just can't get off the field enough. Eli Manning is licking his chops.
2. Ability to protect/hold a lead. The Redskins led the Rams 21-6 and lost...led the Bucs 21-3 and nearly lost...and led the Vikes 31-12 today and needed a 3rd and 6 TD run from RG3 to ice the game. I thought Kyle got a little conservative on the Skins' first drive up 31-20. That 3rd and 1 pitch to Morris with RG3 under center was a play that hadn't worked all day. They were much more effective running the ball out of the spread/pistol option looks. They were on the ropes up 31-26 on 3rd and 6 before RG3 made the 76-yd TD run.
3. Officiating. I thought the unnecessary roughness call on Minnesota's Erin Henderson in the 2nd quarter was nothing more than a nice acting job by RG3. The P.I. on Josh Wilson late in the game in the end zone was just awful. The non-P.I. call on Perry Riley on the ensuing 2-pt conversion was a big miss. I also thought that the inteception of RG3 by Antoine Winfield should've been looked at longer. He didn't seem to have full possession of the ball with both feet in.
1. Skins' blocking by non-offensive linemen (see Josh Morgan, Logan Paulson, Niles Paul, Darrell Young, and Alfred Morris in pass pro) has been very good.
2. A new wrinkle for the Skins this week was the QB draw with RG3 under center that they scored on early in the 3rd qtr.
3. They won the turnover battle again but 2 of their 3 takeaways were Minnesota unforced errors. The Williams pick-6 was a horrible throw. The Hall INT at the end was Ponder desperation because of score/time. The Alexander fumble recovery was the one that may have been forced by Riley pushing Peterson into Ponder's arm. Still, no complaints about their turnover margin which is now +9 on the season.
4. Stopping Eli and the Giant offense next week starts and ends with RG3 and the Skins' offense dominating time of possession and scoring a ton of points. I have no confidence that the Skins' defense can slow Eli and company down.
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.
1. They run the football like Carolina did last week against the Falcons. Carolina rushed for 199 yards and had 11 rushes that went for 6 or more yards, not counting Newton's scrambles on passing plays. It's the Skins' NFC-best rushing attack against the Falcons' 2nd-worst rush defense in the NFC....should be a huge advantage for Washington.
2. Pressure Matt Ryan without a ton of blitzing. Carolina sacked Ryan 7 times last week. Falcons' right tackle Tyson Clabo struggled last week which could mean a big day today for Ryan Kerrigan. The Skins' secondary can't cover, we know that. Pressure without a ton of blitzing against what will likely be some short drop/quick throws means the pressure must come from up the middle. Jenkins and Bowen need big days.
3. No turnovers. Atlanta is 2nd in the NFC in takeaways with 12 and it's made the difference in their games. They're 4-0 but probably would be closer to 2-2 with fewer takeaways. The Skins have been very good at protecting the ball this year with just two turnovers in four games. It must continue today.
Upset alert. Skins 33-24.
What a great college football Saturday. South Carolina's defense makes the 'Cocks a legit national championship contender under Spurrier. Florida has been in trouble at halftime in 3 of their games and won all of them (at Texas A&M, at Tenn, vs. LSU). Oregon's defense is improved which is scary considering how good their offense is. How thrilled must West Virginia fans be to play a game at Texas as a member of the Big 12 instead of what would've been a home game against Syracuse. Florida State put the breaks on their offense up 16-nothing thinking NC State couldn't and wouldn't score. It cost them a shot at the national championship. Notre Dame's defense is legit but what a schedule left with Stanford, BYU, Oklahoma, and USC still remaining. Duke is 5-1 and one game short of bowl eligibility. This may be Virginia Tech's worst defense in recent memory. Maryland's Stefon Diggs has been worth 3 wins to the Terps this year. Without him, they could be 0-5, no better than 1-4. What was Edsall thinking when he opted to kick the PAT up 19-14 with 5:30 left? Just amazing that so many coaches can't compute simple math. With that said, the Terps are night & day better on defense compared to last year. They go to Virginia next week and the Cavs aren't very good. 4-2 is a possibility.
1. The notion that the Redskins ditched the option for the week is wrong. While they didn't run very much "triple option" like they did last week, they ran plenty of "zone-read" option. But unlike previous weeks, RG3's read resulted in the ball going to the lead back Morris on all but two occasions. Those plays, like previous weeks, were very effective. One more note on this. In the redzone, the "zone-read" is a staple for them. It's typically what they like to do between the 20 and 10 with the QB draw being more preferable inside the 10. Bottom line, it's working as the Skins lead the NFC in touchdowns and are 3rd in the NFL in red zone offense scoring touchdowns 67% of the time.
2. Will Montgomery is doing a very good job snapping the ball. This seems trivial but the significant majority of their offensive plays are in shotgun whether it be "Pistol", "Spread" or other. They haven't really had any mishaps in four games.
3. Cundiff's two short misses weren't close. Not that you didn't know that already but at least Gano's misses were close.
4. Skins' pass defense WAS better. This was obvious after watching it again. D-Hall was damn close on almost every catch made against him as was Wilson. The safeties, Williams in particular, played better. With that said, comparing it to the St. Louis and Cincy games it didn't take much to show improvement.
5. The sideline was confused in the final 18 seconds. Little doubt that after the spike with 18 seconds, they lost track of playclock time. And then after the last completion to Moss, they looked stumped on the sideline. Thank god they had one timeout left even if they did call it too early with 7 seconds left.
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.
The concern about the defense has risen to panic levels. It's just too hard to win games if you can't cover receivers in this era of pass-happy rules and results. Old-school thinking says if you pressure the quarterback it doesn't matter much who you have covering but teams and quarterbacks are just smarter and better. Bradford and Dalton took short drops and threw the ball before the pressure got there knowing that the likes of Hall, Wilson, Williams, and Gomes couldn't stay close for more than a half second. Until I see something different from that defense, my gut is they'll make every offense they face look like the '80 Chargers.
The Redskins beat the Bucs if they...
1. Hold the Bucs to field goals. I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Haslett changes his scheme from aggressive pressure to bend-don't-break. They've given up too many big plays and too many touchdowns because they've left too many corners and safeties in man coverage. I think we'll see much more cover-2 with the hope of keeping everything underneath forcing offenses to go the distance in several plays versus a few. When they get inside the 20, the field is condensed, and guys like Hall, Wilson, Gomes, etc can be in a fair fight.
2. Throw to set up the run. The Bucs are #1 in the league against the run, last against the pass. I think the attack we saw in Week 1 at New Orleans is the gameplan today. A ton of bubble screens instead of runs to move the sticks until they get into the red zone where QB draws and option is part of the mix.
3. Mike, go with your first instinct. Mike Shanahan changed his mind on 4th and 16 in St. Louis before opting for a ridiculous 62-yard FG attempt. He changed his mind last week on a huge 4th and 1 early in the 4th quarter opting for a punt. Neither worked out for him. There's gut feel and then there's statistical probability. Both of his decisions reduced his team's chance of winning.
I don't have a good feeling about this one....I hope I'm wrong.
A few things upon further review of the Skins-Bengals game.
1. RG3 took 14 legitimate hits in the game but most of them were on "called passing plays" rather than "called running plays". Here are the #'s and I'm counting only the plays where he got legitimately hit, not brushed or lightly pushed.
Hits Taken By RG3 on Called Passing Plays--11
Hits Taken By RG3 on Called Running Plays-- 3
Note- Just 2 of the 11 hits on called passing plays were outside the pocket on scramble plays. 9 of the 11 were inside the pocket where he took the significant majority of big hits on the day. It's also important to note that just 2 of the 14 hits taken by RG3 on the day were on "option" style plays. The other running play where he got hit was a QB draw. With that said, arguably the biggest hit he took all day was on an option pitch to Banks where he got nailed by Lawson after the pitch. Banks picked up 8 yards on the play.
2. The "option" style plays worked. They ran 16 "option" plays either in pistol/triple option form or spread/zone-read form. These plays were much less-risk than most thought (at least in this game) with 14 of the 16 resulting in no hit to RG3. Additionally, they worked. The 16 "option" plays produced 96 yards or 6.0 per play and were the key to their two second half touchdown drives that tied the game. It's also important to note that they didn't go exclusively to these plays. They were mixed in with their typical zone-stretch running plays, bootlegs, drop-backs, screens and QB draws/sweeps.
3. The biggest risk with "option" plays is fumbling. They put the ball on the ground twice, losing one of them. If you watch Navy, Air Force, Ga Tech among others, they fumble it a lot running the triple option.
4. Santana Moss should've been penalized 15 yards for a post-play slap to PacMan Jones' head. After getting nailed by Jones on a quick bubble screen, Moss got up and slapped Jones in the head. The ref was right there and didn't call it. Jones went ballistic. It would've knocked the Skins out of field goal range right before the half if it had been called.
5. Richard Crawford had a tough day. The entire secondary was riddled but nobody looked as lost in key moments than the rookie. He got beat on the Hawkins touchdown in the 4th quarter badly and he appeared to be completely lost on a couple of plays that Dalton didn't take advantage of including a potential TD pass before the Bengals kicked a FG in the first half. Additionally, he was lucky he wasn't flagged for a late hit out of bounds in the first half.
6. The Bengals clock management was pretty bad too. For some odd reason, they let the Skins run the clock down to 36 seconds before kicking a the field goal that made it 24-10 at the end of the first half. They could've easily called a timeout and gotten the ball back with roughly 1:10 or so with still one timeout left before halftime. Instead, they took a knee after the kickoff. Additionally, on their final drive of the game, they could've burned another 10 seconds of the clock on 2nd and third down before they punted. The Skins would've had 1:37 when they started from their own 2 instead of 1:47.
7. The Bengals were on the ropes at the end and were bailed out by Carlos Dunlap. The Skins had first and 10 at the Cincy 19 with 29 seconds left. They had scored on their previous drive and were in the midst of a potential game-tying drive that started at their own 2. RG3 was brilliant on the final two drives completing 11 of 13 while scrambling for another 34 yards. They were on the verge of tying the game and forcing overtime (or maybe Shanahan would've gone for 2) when Dunlap made the play of the game forcing Rg3 from the pocket and sacking him for a loss of 15. The play wasn't easy as he first flushed RG3 from the pocket and then reached out and got him to stumble to the ground. It was a great play and for all intents and purposes, ended the game.
8. The 4th and 1 decision to punt still bothers me especially after seeing what Pittsburgh and Kansas City did. The Steelers went for 4th and 1 from their own 29 in a tie game with 3+ minutes left. The Chiefs went for 4th and 1 at the Saint 43 in OT with the game tied. Both teams converted and in Kansas City's case, it led to a winning field goal. Also, while not the same situation, Shanahan said he would've gone for the 4th and 1 in St. Louis on the Josh Morgan penalty play but didn't yesterday.
The Redskins deserved to lose the game, period. The entire game was an illustration in lack of discipline....both sides. The good, bad, and more.
1. RG3. The Rams clearly came out with the intent to rattle and rookie-ize him. They didn't. Without him, the Skins would've lost the game by three touchdowns. He made a few throws he'll want back but he made plays all day long with his arm and legs. If there's one nitpick, I wish he would've run more.
2. London Fletcher. It's tough to give anyone on the defense credit after it was torched to the tune of 452 yards and 31 points but Fletcher's forced fumble late was as bad-ass as it gets. It came on the play after he was drilled post-whistle without a penalty. Unlike Morgan who got emotional and did something stupid, Fletcher got emotional and made a play to give his team a chance to win.
3. Alfred Morris. He had a much better day running the ball than last week.
1. Defense. Not sure why they played so much zone coverage but it didn't work. Amendola is no Calvin Johnson but the Skins made him look like Megatron today. 452 yards for the Rams and 7 of their first 10 third-down conversions. Bradford was great but they made it easy for him. Unlike last week when everyone was covered, nobody seemed covered today. The Rams ran it well too and they did so without Jackson for most of the game. They lost Carriker early, Orakpo a bit later, and their absences hurt. Still, bottom line, a big step backwards for the defense today.
2. Special Teams. Two punts blocked in two games is a problem.
3. Discipline. Not much of it when it mattered the most. Josh Morgan's play will go down with Westbrook's 15-yarder against the Giants back in '97. No matter what happened to provoke it, the response cost his team a chance to win the game.
4. Officiating. They must have gotten the worst of the replacements to work this game. It was a crew that was lost from the beginning and because of it, the game was out of control. The Rams provoked early and often and got away with it. Here's a short list of the worst of the blown calls. A) Fisher should've been flagged for an illegal challenge on the Jackson non-fumble. B) On the next play, Jackson was ruled short of the goal line (very close call) and because of it, Jackson lost his cool, got penalized incorrectly, and got benched by Fisher. C) Fred Davis was defenseless and defender led to the head-no flag. D) Offsides call on Bowen late in the game was clearly a false start. E) Fletcher was drilled post-whistle, no call. In addition to the blown calls, the officials seemed confused on things like resetting the playclock in certain appropriate situations. And even more than all of the already-mentioned, they just couldn't minimize all of the post-play woofing, chirping, pushing, shoving. It seemed to happen on nearly every play with no ramifications and it led to a feeling of on-the-verge-of-mayhem all game long.
1. So many big plays before the Morgan penalty down the stretch. Here's the list. A) The dropped Aldrick Robinson deep ball could've set them up for a late lead. B) The 66-yard punt by Hekker with a minus-3 return was huge. It totally flipped the field. Instead of potentially starting near midfield or closer, the Skins started that drive from their own 21. C) The hit on Fred Davis would've been flagged by the real refs and given the Skins a big first down. Instead, they punted the ball 2 plays later. D) Fletcher's hit and forced-fumble on Richardson gave them a chance to win the game. Too bad Morgan's play flushed it down the toilet.
2. It was nice to see them score a defensive touchdown. I think it was the first since last year's opener against the Giants.
3. 62-yd field goal decision. I know it was 4th and 16 but Cundiff just hasn't been good from 50+ in his career. He's made just 1 of this last 8 from 50+ and has made just one 50+ yarder in the last six years. The odds of making 4th and 16 may have been better.
4. Despite the FOX announcing team of Myers/Ryan pleading for Fisher to use the challenge flag early on, I think Fisher was for the most part correct. #11 didn't get both feet in on a play ruled out of the end zone. It didn't seem as clear to me that Jackson made a first down on a 3rd and 2 that was marked short. The Jackson 3rd and 1 run that could've been a touchdown wasn't obvious on replay.
5. Garcon was missed but so was Steven Jackson.
6. Who was Orakpo yelling at after getting injured?
7. Bowen was a beast for the 2nd straight game.
8. Shanahan's icing the kicker move backfired. He missed the first kick, made the 2nd.
Upon further review of Sunday's win over the Saints...
1. Alfred Morris was good but could've been slightly better. He ran hard and was physical at the point of attack. His 2nd touchdown in particular was impressive. He had great vision on most of his runs. With that said, he missed a few cutbacks that would've resulted in more yards. Not many, but a few. His 3.4 yards per carry isn't quite what Shanahan wants out of his running game. He's looking for something closer to 4.5 to 5. I'm surprised that Shanahan made it a point during his Monday press conference to say Morris was the starter moving forward. I'm suspicious and think he might give Royster and/or Helu more carries in St. Louis.
2. Kory Lichtensteiger's holding penalties were questionable. He had two of them and neither was obvious. Additionally, his mobility and dare I say it speed, are why the Shanahans love him. He was very good.
3. RG3's decision-making was interesting in a few cases. I wonder what the Shanahans think of some of the decisions he made. His across-the-field pass to Fred Davis on the first play of the 2nd quarter wasn't as easy as the wide-open bootleg dump-off in the flat to Darrell Young. A pass to Santana Moss later in the 2nd quarter for a first down looked like a play where running the ball or throwing a pass to Helu would've been easier and resulted in a first-down as well.
4. Their intention at the end of the first half WAS to score. Some have questioned why they weren't more aggressive on the drive that ended with the blocked punt. I think their intention was aggressive but with 1:46 left and the ball at their own 22, their first-down draw was bungled between RG3 and Royster resulting in a 2-yard loss. The Skins' 2-minute offense the past two years has almost always started with a draw or screen. I think the draw was the first play in their 2-minute drill but after the 2-yard loss, they turned conservative and decided to run clock, force the Saints to burn timeouts, and give it back to them if they couldn't make a first down running the ball. I AM surprised that after an 8-yd run from Royster to set up 3rd and 4 that they didn't throw the ball for the first down. At that point, there were still :52 seconds left and the Saints had two timeouts. Running the 3rd and 4 draw seemed a bit too conservative in that spot.
5. Jimmy Graham is the best tight end in football. He might be one of the best 5 to10 players in the game. At 6-7, 265, with incredible athleticsm, strength, and more importantly soft hands, Graham is the best at his position. He must be doubled and even then it's nearly impossible to stop him if Brees puts the ball up high. An amazing athlete and football player.
Where do you start with a game that had 135 plays and lasted 3 hours 45 minutes....incredible. The good, bad, and more.
1. RG3. He was better than advertised. Everything we didn't see in the preseason we saw today, and finally, a quarterback who can make plays. The stats speak for themselves but it was so much more. 19 of 26 for 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no picks is better than anyone hoped. He made key throws but none bigger than the 22-yarder to Logan Paulson with just over 2 minutes left. The 88-yard TD pass to Garcon was under pressure. The 3rd and goal TD pass to Aldrick Robinson was perfect. He consistently made plays by extending the play with his feet. He even made a few decisions that resulted in a bigger play than the play he could've and maybe should've taken. The deep bootleg throw to Moss is an example. Darrell Young was open in the flat for a first down but he got an even bigger play. Believe it or not, he missed a lot of opportunities. On a deep corner throw to Moss on 3rd and 3 in the 4th quarter, Robinson was wide open. Still, I can't believe how good he was in his first game. Now we can watch all of his commericals and smile.
2. Offensive Game Plan and Playcalling. Brilliant. Bubble screens on the perimeter to start with a little option. Bootlegs a little later. Playaction out of the spread with slants to wide open receivers. Mike and Kyle had New Orleans guessing most of the day. They used everyone in the passing game. Eight different receivers caught balls on just 19 completions. Time of possession advantage was nearly 2:1.
3. Offensive Line. Some penalties aside, they did a pretty solid job pass blocking all day.
4. Receivers. Garcon was spectacular before the injury. Moss was solid. Davis had a drop but drew atttention. Robinson is a big-time speed threat, caught everything, and drew a key pass inteference penalty.
5. Defensive Game Plan. Brees looked confused at times...didn't know where the pressure was coming from and where the coverage was rolling to.
6. Pass Rush. With and without blitz pressure it was great all day. Kerrigan is a beast. Orakpo was very good too. Bowen was very good and the 2 blocked passes were nice.
7. Secondary. Brees ended with 339 passing yards but he completed less than 50% of his passes. There were a few offensive drops but Griffin, Hall, Gomes, and Wilson were pretty good all day against one of the best offenses in recent years.
8. Cundiff. 4 for 4 with most of his kickoffs resulting in touchbacks.
9. Nick Sundberg. Broke his arm on the blocked punt yet snapped the rest of the game.
1. Penalties. 12 for 127 yards and some of them were stupid. The early Gomes late hit led to the Saints' first touchdown. The hands to the face on Jenkins cost the Skins 3 pts. The personal foul on Madieu Williams late in the game was stupid and it'll cost him money.
2. Blocked punt. A monster momentum-changing play. Not sure if it was Sundberg or Jackson who let the middle open up. They won the game despite a play that very often costs you bigtime, especially on the road.
3. Dropped INT's. Orakpo had one right in his hands. Next play was a 4th and 10 Saints TD.
4. PlayClock-Forced Timeouts. 2 of them...I'm nitpicking.
1. The J. Graham fumble that was called "forward progress stopped" was wrong.
2. The Ced Griffin forced fumble on Colsten was a nice play...Gomes hustling after the ball forced the touchback.
3. I love the way they used D-Hall. Lined up almost everywhere and using him as a pass rusher will wreak havoc.
4. Jimmy Graham is one of the best players in the league.
5. Skins are 1 and oh for the 3rd straight year. It doesn't mean much because it's early but it feels different.