A painful loss against a team that was hurting, down several starters, and lost its starting quarterback during the game. The good, bad, and more.
1. 1st-half offense. Amazing first half which included 24 points on 4 drives, 288 yards, 18 first downs, 7-8 on 3rd down, and 20:40 of time of possession. Robert went 16-21 for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns. He completed 6 of 7 for first downs on third down. Morris, Garcon, and Reed were outstanding in that first half.
1. Defense. A regression to the first two weeks and this time they can't blame being out there too much because of an ineffective offense. Minnesota scored 34 pts on just 50 plays (not counting kneel downs) and had the ball for just 23:59. The defense didn’t stop Minnesota once on its own. The Vikings scored on 6 of 8 drives and the only two times the Skins' D got off the field was because a receiver fell down on a third down throw and Ponder threw a terrible pass on the first drive of the game. Other than those two drives, the defense got torched.
Now, did Minnesota have some good field position in the 2nd half courtesy of a bad punt and a penalty….yes. And overall, the D did an okay job on Peterson relatively-speaking. But play-action passes off of Peterson's run-threat killed them all night long. Kerrigan was a non-factor as a pass rusher. In fact, other than the sack on the 2nd play of the game by Orakpo, the pass rush overall was non-existent. Just 3 QB hits the entire night. Pathetic. Ponder and Cassel combined to go 21-27. I can barely remember an incompletion.
2. 2nd-half offense. The offense had to be perfect all night long to win with the defense getting zero stops and it wasn’t. They really needed a touchdown on that opening drive of the 2nd half to extend the lead to 2+ scores but didn't get it. The 1st and 10 read-option run by Robert at the Minnesota 22 on that drive should've gone for big yardage but Reed didn't stay on his block thinking Griffin had passed him already.
Drops hurt them too, particularly the Garcon drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 in the 3rd quarter. Robert also missed Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 throw with Minnesota leading 31-27. It should’ve been a fairly easy throw if he had some touch to it. It was a 15-20 yard play that didn’t happen.
There's talk already of Kyle getting away from the run after they took a 27-14 lead but that’s not accurate per usual. There were 19 offensive plays run between the time they took a 27-14 lead and first and goal with no timeouts left with 38 seconds left. Those 19 plays included 11 runs and 8 passes.
For those that want Morris on every play with a one-score lead, why? They built a 27-14 lead with balance, there was no reason to get away from that balance up 27-21 when they got the ball back.
3. Drops. Paulson’s on the first drive was catchable even though it was thrown quickly and hard. Garcon’s drop on 3rd and 3 up 27-21 was one of those turning-point plays. The Skins had scored on every drive of the game up until that point and had gone 9-11 on third downs. The play call was a good one, the execution wasn’t. Garcon doesn’t drop many but that was a big one. Also, Reed could’ve had the touchdown catch at the end even though he was held before it got there.
4. Pass protection. The interior of the O-line really struggled in the 2nd half.
5. Clock Mgt. It was very good at the end of the game but they got lucky at the end of the first half when they wasted a down by spiking the ball on first and goal at the Minnesota 8. The spike came with 24 seconds left. They should’ve called their last timeout with 36 seconds left after Moss’ catch got them to the 8. 36 seconds is plenty of time to run 3 pass plays into the end zone and then kick the field goal if you don’t get in. Just another example of how poorly they handle these situations even though they overcame the loss of a wasted down with a touchdown anyway.
6. Penalties. The Riley 15-yarder in the first half may have been the difference between 7 pts and 3 and the Young 15-yard penalty on Sp teams gave Minnesota great field position which led to another score.
7. Officiating. No sour grapes intended but the officiating seemed one-sided tonight. The late hit on Chris Baker in the first half was a brutal call. There were at least two hits on Robert that were later than the Baker hit and neither one got called. Josh Morgan was clearly interfered with on the punt return that he fumbled and it wasn’t called. There was a fairly obvious false start that wasn’t called on Minnesota on a key third down. And Jordan Reed was held by Erin Henderson on the 2nd and goal at the end and it wasn’t called.
8. Special Teams. Morgan’s decision not to fair catch a first-half punt was a bad decision. Rocca’s 2nd shanked punt in last 3 weeks hurt. The fake punt attempt was obviously badly executed.
9. Final Play. It looked like Robert should've thrown to Reed. He was open.
1. Saw some screen passes in the game…perhaps not enough.
2. Niles Paul did a nice job on kick returns.
3. Griffin’s inability to slide makes him reluctant to turn some of those read-option runs up field when it looks like there’s a ton of room.
4. Kerrigan’s near-pick would’ve been huge.
5. RG3 was near-perfect in the first half but he missed a wide-open Jordan Reed on a 1st and 10 play down 31-27 and he had an opportunity to avoid lost yardage on one of the sacks if he had just thrown it away.
1. Robert plays well. In my view, this is a given every week. They don't have a defense that can carry them, their Sp Teams can't carry anything, and the offense needs Griffin to be good to have a chance. He played arguably his worst game of his career in Denver and the team lost; last week was one of his better games and the team won. You can say this about a lot of quarterbacks but Robert makes everyone around him better when he plays well.
2. they slow down Adrian Peterson. This is a given when you play Minnesota and the Skins have done a decent job on him the last two years. Last year they held him to 79 yards on 17 rushes and 32 of those yards were on one carry....they held him to 38 yards on 12 carries in 2011 before he tore his ACL at Fed Ex. Slowing him down and making Ponder beat them is the biggest priority for the defense.
3. they avoid big errors. Win the turnover battle and don't give up something big on SP Teams.
Another season-saving win. Avoiding 0-4 with a win in Oakland was big; avoiding 1-5 with the big win over Chicago was absolutely necessary; today's 30-24 OT win over the Chargers gives them a chance to get back into things over the next few weeks. The good, bad, and more.
1. Goal-line stand. Let's start there because without it, they would've lost the game 28-24. It was a tough situation because the Chargers had 1st and goal at the 6-inch line with 2 timeouts left meaning that they had the option of throwing or running. They chose to throw it twice which seems surprising until you realize that they barely ran it all day long.
2. Offensive game plan and play calling. A great game called by Kyle Shanahan who didn't seem to let any of the criticism about the lack of Morris runs last week deter him from calling the right game for the team rather than for his critics. Six of the first 8 plays of the game were passes when the whole town has been screaming to run Morris on every play. The Shanahans believe in taking what the defense gives you and the Chargers came out with the intent of stopping the run and Kyle called a game that early on used the pass and a couple of triple-option plays to set up easier running lanes for Morris.
Their first 4 first downs of the game included 2 passes and a triple option pitch to Jordan Reed. The Chargers were kept off-balance all day long thanks to excellent play calling and some seldom-used twists like Darrell Young carrying the ball, more triple option, and a few empty backfield sets.
Two specific play calls show that despite recent mishaps in similar situations, Kyle stuck to his aggressive guns. When they got the ball back up 21-14, he went read-option throw to a wide-open Moss over the middle. The ball was poorly thrown and fell incomplete but this was similar to last week when everyone thought he should run Morris over and over. The play was open and should've worked. The other play was the first play after San Diego had cut the lead to 24-21. I'm sure everyone including San Diego was thinking here comes Morris yet he goes play-action and a perfect throw to Garcon for 26.
3. Read-Option. The Redskins ran a ton of it today and Morris, Young, and the passing game totally benefited from it. Robert didn't keep it much except on the triple-option plays but the threat that he would keep it set up the other stuff. The new twists to the read-option game will keep teams guessing in the coming weeks. The blocking scheme looked different and Moss, Morgan, Reed, and Hankerson have all been pitch options on triple-option plays this year. Young as a full-back run-threat in the backfield as part of the "Pistol" formation with Griffin and Morris is a new twist as well. The Skins ran 21 read-option style plays for 180 yards. Morris was 8-55 yds on read-option style runs while RG3 went 7-8 for 84 yards on read-option/play action passes.
4. Offensive execution, especially on 3rd-down. Last week in Denver at 21-21 in the 4th quarter, Josh Morgan and Aldrick Robinson had opportunities to make catches that could've changed the game but they dropped the ball. Today, Garcon made at least 3 brilliant catches while Griffin made very good throws at key moments, especially on 3rd-down. The Redskins went 12 for 17 on 3rd downs for the game. RG3 was 8 for 9 on 3rd-down throws, 7 of them for first downs. He also ran 10 yards for a 1st down on 3rd and 9.
5. Pierre Garcon. Money game for the guy who said last week "we suck at passing". 7 catches for 172 yards and at least 3 of them were incredible grabs. The deep ball on 3rd and 12 early in the 3rd quarter that he caught was amazing. There was P.I. on the play but he didn't need it with an incredible catch.
6. Alfred Morris. He was great today and really benefitted from the read-option success.
7. RG3. For starters, he made great decisions most of the day on read-option plays. I remember just one read that should've stayed with Morris and it would've been a big run but other than that play, he was very good in the read-option game. He missed a few throws but made a ton of good ones including clutch throws on 3rd down. Among the missed throws....1) overthrowing a wide-open Santana Moss early in the 4th quarter and 2) a throw behind Pierre Garcon on 2nd and 19 late in the 4th quarter on a drive that could've ended the game. Garcon made the catch for a 16-yard gain but a good throw would've been a first down.
With that said, Robert made big throws and perhaps the biggest run of the game. He went 8 for 9 on 3rd down, 7 of those for first downs. His 10-yard run on 3rd and 9 with the score tied at 14 was a monster play....he paid for it with a big hit. Some would prefer he run it out of bounds short of the sticks and punt....he's just not wired that way. It was a big drive, a big play, he knew it, he went and made a play even though he took a big hit.
8. Darrell Young. 3 touchdowns and a new option out of the read-option that other teams must now prepare for.
9. Jordan Reed. Big catch and move-the-sticks run in OT on 3rd and 8.
1. Special Teams. 2 blocked field goals in one game are really hard to do but they managed to do it. Josh Morgan on punt and kick returns is a total disaster and if he's back there next week I'd question who he has pictures of. He makes horrible decisions as a punt returner when he doesn't catch punts he should catch. He let two hit the ground and one of them nearly bounced back and hit one of his teammates. Also, on the kickoff at the end of regulation after San Diego tied it, I don't think he knew that he had to go back and down the ball in the end zone. It was laying there and could've been recovered by San Diego until someone yelled at him to go down it.
2. Pass rush. I heard a lot of complaints after the game about Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan getting held all day long but that sounds like excuse-making to me. Both looked like they were handled most of the day. You can tell they play with high energy but they don't get consistent results. Obviously Kerrigan is a major play maker for this team but he needs more consistent pressure. Orakpo just isn't consistent enough. In fact, Rob Jackson still looks like a better play-maker than Orakpo. Jackson had the team's only sack. Bottom line, 1 sack and 4 QB hits aren't enough. They got close a few times but this team doesn't get enough pass rush....period.
1. The Biggers INT was huge. He benefited from a clear mix-up between Rivers and Brown but that play kept the Skins from falling behind by two scores early.
2. Refs were bad all day long...until the end, thankfully. There was on offensive P.I. called on San Diego's Keenan Allen in the first half without any contact. Chris Chester got called for holding on a play early in the 3rd quarter that wasn't close to being correct. The defenseless hit on Garcon in overtime was a bad call. I thought Woodhead fumbled on the play in the 4th quarter that Shanahan challenged. In overtime, Morris had a run that appeared to spotted poorly. It looked like he got 10, they gave him 9. At least they got the Woodhead play at the goal line at the end right.
3. Chargers' DE Lawrence Guy created a 10-point swing by himself. He blocked a short field goal and tipped an RG3 pass that was picked off in the end zone for the first score of the game.
4. Too many close calls on delay of game for Skins' offense. Cooley talks about tempo all the time and it looked like their tempo was too slow at times. They had one delary of game penalty on a big 3rd and 1 late in the 3rd qtr.
5. Niles Paul's 24-yard kickoff return looked better than anything Morgan has had all season long.
6. The 2 early San Diego Scifres punts to the Skins' 1...an example of great special teams play and it led to a 7-nothing Chargers' lead.
7. No "Turbo" offense today.
8. David Amerson can make plays, good and bad. He had a great pick and he got beat on occasion. Typical for a rookie corner with talent.
9. Hankerson stepped up and had a nice game. No drops, that's encouraging.
10. Skins ran 38 snaps from Pistol for 233 yards, 180 of those yards coming on read-option style plays. 2 of those snaps were no plays because of penalties.
1. Robert plays well. Yes, it's everybody as everyone told us this past week but RG3 erased subpar performances last year by "everybody". He played his best game of the season against Chicago and the offense followed his lead to 500 yards and 38 points. He played his worst game against Denver and the offense was bad. He's the difference-maker. When he plays well, the Skins can compete with almost anybody. When he doesn't, they usually lose.
2. they don't forget Alfred Morris. The play calling last week in Denver was ravaged by many fans and media members. I didn't think it was that bad. Morris got the ball on 6 of 8 third quarter snaps which set up perfectly the play-action they ran on 1st and 10 with the score tied at 21-21 in the 4th quarter. Morgan and Robinson didn't make catches that could've and should've been caught so Morris didn't get the ball on a drive where he should've gotten it. The play calling was good, the execution wasn't. With that said, I thought Morris could've gotten more opportunties when the Skins fell behind by 10 with still 11+ minutes left in the game. He's averaging 5.2 yards per carry....best in the league right now. He seems to get better with more carries. I'd like to see him a part of every drive.
3. the defense stops 3rd-downs. The Skins are 3rd in the NFC in 3rd down defense; the Chargers are 2nd in the league in 3rd down offense. If Rivers and Co. convert third downs consistently, it could be a long day.
Up 21-7, the Skins gave up 38 unanswered in a 45-21 loss. The good, bad, and more.
1. D'Angelo Hall. He's making more good plays than bad plays this year. Clearly, this is the best year he's had since becoming a Redskin. He had two more picks and another touchdown today...his 3rd TD of the season.His 2nd interception was a spectacular play.
2. Alfred Morris. He should've gotten the ball more today....more on that below.
3. 1st-half defense. Holding Denver to 7 pts in a half deserves high praise. The D was great early in the 3rd quarter as well forcing two key turnovers and scoring its 5th touchdown of the season.
4. Sav Rocca's 1st-half punting. 4 punts in the first half was supposed to mean an early death for the Skins but it didn't happen in part because Rocca's punting was really good in that first half. With that said, it didn't last. His 15-yard punt with the score tied at 21 was awful.
5.Pierre Garcon.His one-handed catch was incredible.He may have gotten a bad spot on that play.I thought it was a first-down and worth a challenge.
1. The offense. 7 punts and 5 turnovers. After rolling up 500 yards and 38 points against the Bears, the offense generated one drive of note. That drive was a good one but it also got a gift in the form of a 12-men on the field penalty that led to a touchdown instead of a field goal. So why was the offense bad? In order....1) Robert wasn't much of a run-threat in the run-game and that we know is trouble, 2) Robert didn't play well, 3) key drops on a key series at 21-21 in particular, 4) Kyle got away from the run with the game still in the balance & didn't find ways to get Robert outside the pocket as a passer first, runner 2nd, 5) O-line pass protection is bad, especially in the interior, and 6) the Skins still don't have enough playmakers.
2. RG3. One of the worst games of his young career. This loss wasn't ONLY ON HIM (see above and below) but he missed big opportunities in the passing game during both halves and appeared to make a couple of bad decisions on read-option plays. This was a game that required him to make plays but he didn't make any. He wasn't much of a read-option run-threat and he didn't make any plays with his feet on pass plays whether it be by stepping up into the pocket and making a throw or extending a play outside the pocket and making a throw. One thing we've seen now too often over two seasons is his inability and/or unwillingness to step up and create more time with his feet "in-the-pocket". He tends to keep backing up when there's pressure rather than stepping up.
3. Drops. Several drops but none more important than the two on first and third down on the drive at 21-21. The first down pass to Morgan was a bit behind him but he needs to make that play. That's a 25+ yard gain on a play-action pass with the box stacked looking for Morris. The 3rd-down drop by Robinson is THE PLAY more than any other in the game that hurt. Everyone will want to point to play calling in the 4th quarter but Kyle didn't drop those passes at 21-21 when they had to throw against a stacked line of scrimmage looking for Morris. Those drops were drive-killers and they eliminate the chance to get back to Morris after they drop their safety out of the box.
4. Some of the play calling. Just to get the facts out, they didn't totally abandon the run in the 2nd-half as some may think. They ran Morris on 6 of their 8 third-quarter offensive plays. Their first drive of the 4th quarter they faced a Denver defense with the line of scrimmage stacked to stop the run and Morgan and Robinson dropped big-gain passes. Just one catch on either of those two passes and Morris would've likely gotten carries on that drive and the game may have stayed competitive the rest of the way. With that said, down 28-21 on their next offensive drive, Morris carried it just once before the RG3 fumble....and then down 31-21 after the RG3 fumble with still 11:14 left in the game, they went with 3 straight passes.
Additionally, I'm surprised that when they did throw, they didn't either get Robert out of the pocket or go with more empty/5-wide quick throw plays. It seemed like there weren't many adjustments to the interior pass protection issues. Also, the Skins don't seem to have a traditional screen game that can sometimes help against pressure.
5. Interior offensive line. A rough game for Lichtensteiger and Chester in particular. They've struggled at times this year.
6. RG3's pocket hits. He took a beating in the pocket today. Maybe the worst he's taken.
1. The 3rd and 7 neutral zone penalty on Kerrigan was one of those potential difference-making mistakes.If the Skins get a stop there, it’s 21-10, not 21-14.The Skins had a chance if they had gotten a 4th and 2 stop after that but Moreno ran for 5 yards.
2.Josh Morgan's 34-yard punt return was the biggest of the year but he made a mistake by fielding it at the 6.
3. Robert had a triple-option keeper opportunity on their long 2nd-quarter touchdown drive with Hankerson as a pitch option that may have scored if he kept the ball.
4. Also on that 2nd-qtr touchdown drive, Robert threw to Reed when Morgan was open in the flat after faking reverse in the opposite direction and Garcon was open in the end zone.Robert doesn’t see the whole field consistently enough.
5.Peyton Manning went 45 minutes between legit snaps from midway through the 2nd quarter until the first drive of the 3rd quarter.
6.Vickerson’s 15-yard late hit on Robert was a stupid penalty committed by the same guy who did the same thing to Andrew Luck last week.
7.Denver’s “natural” pick plays in the passing game are so precise and make pass coverage difficult.
8.Ryan Kerrigan with another forced fumble….his 3rd this year, the 9th of his career.
9.Peyton Manning got called for holding when he tried to keep Orakpo from recovering the fumble forced by Kerrigan.
10.Robert got cleared to play after getting hurt….Shanahan did the correct thing and kept him out.Game was over.
11.Kirk Cousins threw two picks in relief.
12.Some thought Kirk should’ve been given a chance when Robert was struggling early in the game…I never considered it.
A season-saving win....lots of good, bad, and more.
1. RG3. His best overall game since pre-injury last year. I know that many don't like it but the offense is obviously a much better unit when he's a part of the run game. He had more read-option keepers than he's ever had in a game. He took some unnecessary risks and corresponding hits on some of those runs but he played the game like it was do or die. I'm sure there are many different opinions on that. He's still struggling at times as a passer but he makes up for some of those mistakes with his ability to make "off-schedule" plays as a runner or passer. He was clutch all day. When they had to have a drive to answer Chicago, he led several including the game-winning drive where he went 5-7 for 58 yards (1 drop by Moss) and two huge 3rd-down throws to Garcon (on the run towards the sideline) and Reed.
2. Jordan Reed. We've seen his potential in glimpses through the first five games but today was his breakout moment. He's a big target and he gets open. His hands are solid and he makes yards after the catch. Nine catches on nine targets for 134 yards including four on third-downs was a huge difference in the game.
3. Morris and Helu. Both backs made plays and the mixture of both in the game plan makes the Skins harder to defend. Still amazing how many yards Morris gets when it appears there's nothing there. Helu did the same on a few carries. Helu is a nice red-zone option because of his versatility as a runner or pass receiver.
4. 1st-half defense. They held the Bears to 46 yards on six drives and scored another touchdown on the Orakpo pick 6. By the way, nice play by Reed Doughty on that play. The D's performance in the first half should've led to a bigger lead at halftime but bad Special Teams and an RG3 pick helped Chicago to 17 points.
5. Trent Williams. I thought he was clearly the best of the offensive lineman on a day when the rest of the O-line allowed a ton of penetration.
6. Hurry-up. They used it several times and were effective each time. It really helped the running game in particular and seemed to set up big bootleg plays.
7. Luck. They got lucky for the first time this year. Let's count....1) Reed may have fumbled on the early catch where he got hurt....Skins did a nice job of going hurry-up and snapping the ball before the Bears could challenge. 2) Morgan's fumbled kickoff was thankfully recovered by Niles Paul. 3) The TD pass to Robinson should've never been thrown and should've been picked off by Tillman 4) The Gould missed FG was a close-call that went Skins' way. 5) Bears' onsides kick penalty could've gone either way, it went Skins' way. 6) Matt Forte seemed to get out-of-bounds on the next-to-last play of the game but the ref rolled the clock forcing the Bears to call their final timeout. The next play was sack/end of game.
1. Special Teams. Another bad performance overall. There were a few good plays including the Gumbs hit on kickoff coverage but there were a ton of rough ones. In addition to Hester's 81-yard punt return (which was punted well), Josh Morgan's decision not to field a punt at the 12 cost them 11 yards and ultimately 3 points. On the flip side, he fielded another punt at his own 5...wrong decision on that one too. Additionally, he fumbled a kickoff return. Bad day for Morgan on Sp Teams. They almost got caught on a surprise onsides kick but a questionable penalty bailed them out. The Redskins currently rank in the bottom 3 in the league on kickoff coverage, punt coverage, kickoff returns, and punt returns. The good news, no missed field goals and no blocked punts.
2. RG3 took too many unnecessary hits on runs. This was a guy playing like he did last year and not worrying about things like sliding or getting out-of-bounds. I love him in the run-game because it makes this offense so much better but he didn't need to take as many hits as he did today.
3. Drops. At least 4 drops by my count including 2 by Moss, 1 by Hankerson, and 1 by Garcon. May have been more.
4. 2nd-half defense. It allowed 313 yards, 21 first downs, and 24 points in 30 minutes. McCown's running ability against man-coverage in particular led to some big plays that Cutler may or may not have given them. The Bears have a ton of weapons and guys like Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, and Bennett made a ton of plays.
5. Some of the play calling. It's hard to criticize the play calling when the offense scored 38 pts and rolled up 499 yards but I didn't like the 3rd and 3 QB rollout to Robert's left....a play that resulted in a big loss. Additionally, I hated the 2nd and 12 reverse call to Robinson that lost another 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. That was a drive where they had decent field position and a 17-10 lead and they came out with that play. That drive should've been a spot to take control of the game early and they tricked their way out of that opportunity. Additionally, I hated the 2nd and 12 reverse call to Robinson that lost another 11 yards in the 2nd quarter. That was a drive where they had decent field position and a 17-10 lead and they came out with that play. That drive should've been a spot to take control of the game early and they tricked their way out of that opportunity.
6. Clock management....again. A terrible timeout by Mike Shanahan with 1:03 left in the game could've easily cost them the game. It's really troubling to watch because the goal for the Redskins during that final drive should've been touchdown and as little time left for the Bears when they got the ball back. That timeout on a 1st and 10 at the Chicago 19 resulted in the Bears having more time on the clock after the Skins touchdown and an additional timeout that they wouldn't have otherwise had. It made no sense especially when you consider that the Skins were in hurry-up mode already and they had plenty of time. More than a minute left is plenty. Less than 40 is when you start thinking timeout in that situation. The other thing is that if for some reason they had missed a game-tying FG, they wouldn't have been able to get the ball back with two timeouts. With 3, they could've forced a punt and had time to try and tie it again.
1. Merriweather on the verge of a fine and possible suspension after two 15-yard penalties.
2. Skins ran more read-option QB keepers than ever before. RG3 took a lot of risks on runs attempting to get extra yards which led to some hits.
3. Skins ran one triple-option play in the 2nd quarter. It's the first one of those since the Cincinnati game last year.
4. I was surprised that Bears took a knee at the end of the first half. The ball was at the 35 with 20 seconds left. That's 2 completions for FG range. Gould has great range even though he would've been kicking into the wind.
5. The 15-yard late hit on Orakpo was questionable.
6. The Replay-review of Hankerson catch and run on the sideline was correct call.
1. they don't lose the game on Special Teams. They didn't re-sign John Potter to ensure a 20-yard line start for the other team after kickoffs so Devin Hester is a live dog so to speak on kickoff returns. Punt return coverage has been a disaster as well.....Rocca has to kick away from Hester. Any big game-changing plays on Sp Teams by Chicago could bury the Skins.
2. the offense dictates early. The Redskins haven't led a game start to finish in their last 12 games including the playoff game against Seattle.....they need to score early and stay ahead. This means the offense has to continue the trend of the last few games of being able to move the ball but finishing drives with points.
3. they make Cutler one-dimensional Stopping the run and making Cutler beat you is the best route for the Skins on defense today. Cutler can beat you and his receivers are big and capable of torching the Skins' DBs but 3rd and 7 or longer would make it tougher on him.
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.