On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

Redskins vs 49ers Keys to the Game

November 23, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Keep it simple for Griffin:

-The reasons for Robert Griffin III's struggles and his future with the team are another debate, what is definitive is right now the Redskins need to take a step back and simplify things for Griffin. He's struggling with a lot of areas of being a QB and they can't hope to have a full game plan versus a good defense under those circumstances. The Redskins need to get back to basics and call a lot of simple concepts like they used when he was a rookie. Now that really limits what you can do offensively, and the 49ers Defense is not likely to be fooled, but they don't have many other options at this point.

2. Stick with the ground game:

-The 49ers are very tough to run against ranking top 10 in every major rush defense category, but the Redskins need to find a way. They simply can't hope to put the ball in Griffin's hands 30+ times in this game and win. He's struggling considerably right now and his job isn't going to be easier with the pass rush the 49ers can bring. Alfred Morris needs to carry the load this game, and the Redskins need to stick to it even if it is tough going initially.

3. Find some way to stop Aldon and Justin Smith:

-It's unlikely that Trent Williams plays this week (and even if he does he'll be well below 100%), and guard Shawn Lauvao is listed as questionable as well. That means the Redskins options are going to be rookie Morgan Moses at LT and either Lauvao or Josh LeRibeus at LG. Those will be the primary guys responsible for blocking All-pro's Aldon and Justin Smith from living in the Redskins backfield. This is a very difficult task and last year when Trent Williams was healthy he struggled immensely with blocking these guys. The Redskins are going to need to bring in some extra help on a lot of plays, or it could get ugly fast. This will limit what the Redskins can do offensively, but the alternative is letting these two run free in the backfield.

4. Limit turnovers and penalties:

-For as bad as the Redskins played as a whole last week one of the worst parts of their game was the number of offensive penalties. Coming off a bye, at home the Redskins had multiple false starts and illegal formation penalties, how does that happen? Those penalties were back-breakers versus a bad team like the Bucs and will be much worse versus the 49ers. The turnovers are even a bigger issue, the 49ers Defense is 3rd in the league in creating turnovers so they will definitely take advantage of any poor throws or runners not protecting the football. If the Redskins are going to upset the 49ers they have to protect the ball, plain and simple.

5. Blitz Colin Kaepernick:

-Like a lot of young, mobile QB's Colin Kaepernick has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long and will take some unnecessary sacks. Given that the 49ers are now without two of their starting 5 OL for this game the Redskins might have a window to disrupt Kaepernick and limit this offense. Three games ago against Dallas the blitz calls were working and it led to some big plays and a win, since then though the blitzes by in large haven't been effective and it has left the Redskins exposed. Given the fine line that the Redskins have to walk, I wouldn't look for too many all out blitzes, but I'd frequently bring an extra rusher or two. If Kaepernick has time he will pick the Redskins apart and one of the 49ers talented weapons will end up wide open. This has to be a game where the pass rush steps up and makes some big plays. Even if it's not always getting sacks, but forcing errant throws or maybe holding penalties.

6. Make them earn their drives:

-The 49ers are not a team that turns the ball over a lot and they play pretty smart football so they are capable of sustaining drives, but they've been up and down this year so they have had some issues with consistency in this area. Last week the Redskins continuously got torched for big gains and Touchdowns through the air and it put that game out of reach. This week the Redskins need to ensure they aren't giving up those 20 and 40 yard (or more) type of plays. Maybe the result will be the same with the 49ers scoring TD's, but maybe the Redskins can get them to stall out more drives or force them to settle for FG's. At this point the Redskins have to be a bend but don't break type of defense, because they simply aren't the type that will create turnovers or completely limit another team.

What is going on with the Redskins defense?

November 21, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Lost in the poor play of Robert Griffin and all the surrounding controversy with the press conferences, is how once again the defense was really bad in this game. While this is not to say that the defense "cost us" this football game as the Redskins offense committed 3 turnovers and managed just 7 total points, the defense didn't do them any favors. Most troubling about the defensive performance is just how many mental mistakes continue to happen to this unit.

Not only are the Redskins generally defensively deficient from a talent and physicality perspective (at least relative to quality defenses), but they are severely lacking in the mental side of it as well. Each and every week we can point to multiple plays where 1 or more guys just flat out blows their assignment. While every defense is going to have this happen, it is becoming far too frequent. The fact of the matter is the Redskins have been somewhat lucky based on who they have played so far that they haven't been exploited more.

Take their previous game versus the Vikings, the same sort of mental breakdowns that occurred versus Mike Evans happened multiple times against Minnesota, the Redskins were just lucky that the Vikings didn't connect on those plays enough to really turn that into a blowout. It goes back further than that though, as you can look at a number of games where the Redskins opponents had big play opportunities but they just missed them. One game where it could have made a difference was against the Titans. We saw multiple coverage breakdowns, but the Titans missed them for whatever reason (having Charlie Whitehurst as the starting QB was probably a big factor).

These breakdowns just can't be happening at this frequency at the NFL level. Especially when you consider that the Redskins really only have 3 young guys (Keenan Robinson, Bashaud Breeland, and Trent Murphy), who haven't had significant NFL experience before. Of those players only Breeland has really had major lapses in his assignments and he's far from the worse culprit. This by in large is a veteran defense many of whom have been in this defense for multiple years. There is no reason that these guys don't know what their assignments are or how to execute them.

Now some of the blame definitely falls on the coaching staff in particular defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and DB coach Raheem Morris. These are two coaches who were retained from Mike Shanahan's staff and were ideally supposed to bring stability to the unit. Yet somehow the defense keeps failing in their job. Morris in particular deserves scrutiny, because the secondary remains the weak link on this team. While there are definitely talent issues in this group, their level of play has been really bad this season. While both coaches definitely deserve their fair share of blame and should be on the way out next season, the buck doesn't completely stop with them. These players are blowing simple assignments that would be in any defensive game plan (and that these players should already know), I don't know if there is a defensive coach out there that can get them to do their job.

Another major area of concern for the defense is the absolute lack of a pass rush the past couple of weeks. Against the Cowboys 3 games ago, the Redskins were relentless with their blitzes and shut down a Pro Bowl caliber QB in Tony Romo behind arguably the best OL in football. Since then the pass rush has completely withered against rookie Teddy Bridgewater and journeyman Josh McCown behind two of the worst OL's in football. That is just unacceptable for this team.

The Redskins got two sacks this past Sunday and they came on a play where the offensive lineman forgot to block Trent Murphy and a rollout play late in the game where McCown gave himself up instead of throwing the ball away or forcing a throw. Barry Cofield played that play well, but it was hardly a sign of a good pass rush. Beyond the lack of sacks is the fact that the Redskins aren't hitting the QB and pressuring him on enough plays. When they have blitzed these past two weeks, for the most part they haven't worked. They have maybe caused a few rushed throws and gotten a sack or two, but by in large the blitzers aren't getting home and quarterbacks still have too much time in the pocket.

Again this is definitely partially on the coaching staff, but the players need to be held accountable as well. Big name guys like Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatcher just aren't having the same sort of impact that they did earlier in the year (or were projected to at the start of the season). They should be winning individual battles at a high level even when there aren't extra blitzers and they just aren't doing that nearly enough. The Redskins need their pass rush to step up because they have some better opponents these next couple of weeks and the only hope for this defense is to make some splash plays.

Redskins will have tough questions to answer this offseason

November 19, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

I don't know if many people really thought the Redskins were set and ready to contend in 2014, but I think the general consensus was this team was building for the future. Now after 10 weeks the Redskins sit at 3-7 and there are growing concerns about the future of this team going forward. There aren't many positions that one can point to that Redskins fans can feel comfortable with going forward. Let's quickly breakdown some of these offseason questions and what could happen:

Quarterback:

-This is obviously the biggest question mark heading into the offseason. While it once seemed like RGIII was a lock for not only picking up his 5th year option, but an even longer extension those plans are likely to be scrapped this offseason. Griffin has shown regression and dealt with multiple injuries since his hot start his rookie year, and there is a serious question if he can regain the title of QB of the future for this organization. The Redskins could entertain trade offers for Griffin, but that probably won't end up working out this year. Griffin will likely be back, but without the 5th year option or extension, which means he would be entering his last year under contract, with his future very much in doubt. Kirk Cousins may be moved on from given how he played this year and the idea that a change of scenery could be good for him. Colt McCoy will be a free agent, but it's likely the Redskins will work to retain him as the fallback option if Griffin struggles next year.

Running back:

-Alfred Morris is set as the top back and will be entering his final contract year. The Redskins would be wise to try to extend him this offseason to ensure they don't need to worry about the starter. Roy Helu Jr. is the team's number 2 back and 3rd down back and he's an impending free agent. The Redskins may let him walk and hope that rookie Silas Redd can fill his shoes. If that is the case a 3rd (and possibly 4th) back will be needed. If they don't feel Redd is ready then the Redskins need to have a solid plan for the number 2 back.

Wide Receiver:

-Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are all free agents and are likely to not be back (or in Moss's case retire). The Redskins top three guys DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts are all under control through at least 2016, but at this point it wouldn't be surprising if Garcon is not on the Redskins next year. It's unlikely they would cut him, but a trade for a mid round pick could happen. Garcon is expensive, and seems unhappy in the offense right now. If he isn't going to get 120+ targets, it is tough to justify paying him that money. The Redskins do have Ryan Grant to hopefully step up, but they will need some additional wide receivers as well (hopefully some guys with size). It probably won't be a major need even if Garcon is traded, but it will be something to look out for.

Tight End:

-Jordan Reed can't stay healthy, Niles Paul is a free agent, and Logan Paulsen is flat out overpaid. Obviously Reed will be back next year, but the Redskins can't be sure he will be able to give them a full season. If they let Paul walk, not only does he weaken the depth as a decent pass catching TE, but he's been a very good special teams player for the Redskins. If they bring Paul back on the cheap it will probably be a smart move, but he would fit best as a 2nd receiving TE and given Reed's health issues he'll probably be pressed into a greater role. Paulsen has really struggled this year and will almost certainly be cut. The Redskins need to find a 3rd TE who can block and play special teams. That isn't the toughest thing to find, so the strength of this position really boils down to the health of Reed.

Offensive Line:

-Assuming he doesn't rush back and further hurt his knee Trent Williams will be locked in as a stud LT on this line. Kory Lichtensteiger has played okay this year and probably could give the Redskins another decent year next season (though the team should look to upgrade for the future). Beyond that though there are serious question marks here. Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester have been awful at guard this season and while Chester is basically a lock to be cut, Lauvao's contract might force the team to at least keep him on the roster. The Redskins have young guys like Tom Compton, Morgan Moses, Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long waiting in the wings, but they are all unproven. Moses is the best of the bunch and may very well be the RT next year, but the team needs to get better guard play. Relying on unproven guys like LeRibeus and Long is probably not the answer, particularly if you are somewhat rolling the dice with Moses.

Defensive Line:

-Jason Hatcher and Chris Baker are locked in to be back next year, but beyond that there are some question marks here. Barry Cofield contract is pretty expensive and coming off an injury filled year it could be tough to bring him back. Jarvis Jenkins is a free agent and Kedric Golston and Stephen Bowen will likely be released as well. Though Hatcher and Baker are good and solid players respectively, the Redskins need more from their defensive line. They need to add an impact player and may look to either the draft or free agency to hopefully find one. Even if they don't get an impact guy, they need to completely improve their depth and talent of this unit.

Inside Linebacker:

-The Redskins look like they have found one good inside backer in Keenan Robinson, but the other spot is a big question mark. Perry Riley was signed for a short term deal in the hopes that he would develop into the promise he's always had. It's been a rough year on Riley, which is troubling given that the talent has improved beside him and in front of him. The Redskins don't have another starting caliber ILB on the roster and would ideally like to find a good player to pair with Robinson.

Outside Linebacker:

-The Redskins franchised Brian Orakpo and drafted Trent Murphy at this position and so far neither move has panned out as the Redskins have hopped. Orakpo wasn't playing well to start the year and got injured seriously in the 7th game of the season. Trent Murphy has flashed a few times, but by in large has been invisible on this defense. There is little to suggest that Murphy could replace Orakpo on the right side so the Redskins have to decide what to do at arguably the most important position on defense. Do the Redskins re-sign Orakpo on the cheap and hope he can stay healthy and rebuild his value? Do they role with the unproven Murphy and hope he drastically improves? Do they slide Ryan Kerrigan over to the tougher position and hope that he can handle it? Or do you spend another top pick or make another big FA signing (not clear there will be any legitimate options in FA) to fill the position? A lot of tough questions here for the Redskins at a key position.

Corner back:

-DeAngelo Hall is coming off two Achilles tears and at 30 it's going to be tough for him to be fully ready by the start of they year. He may need to start on the PUP list, and even if he doesn't his effectiveness could be compromised. Young corners David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland have flashed at times and may be decent starters, but the book is still being written on them. At the very least the Redskins need to add a veteran corner who can play the slot and replace Tracy Porter and E.J. Biggers. They might need to add two capable corners if they are really concerned about Hall's status.

Safety:

-This was a position where the Redskins basically knew they were punting on this year as their only additions were Ryan Clark and bringing back Brandon Meriweather for a year. Both starting safeties have struggled and the young safeties the Redskins have/had (Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas, Duke Ihenacho), haven't done much to prove they are worth starting long term. The Redskins reasonably need to add two capable starting safeties this offseason and hope that some young guys can man the back-up roles.

Thoughts and Observations: Redskins vs Buccaneers

November 17, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Boy I'm glad we had a bye to be ready for this game:

-Look this game shouldn't have been considered a guaranteed win despite the Buccaneers record coming in. Yes the Redskins were at home and coming off a bye, but they weren't exactly a good team themselves and the Bucs had played a number of average or worse teams tough this year. So while the Redskins losing this game stings given the situation, it's not completely unexpected. What is unexpected and frankly unacceptable is the fact that they didn't even show up in this game. The Redskins failed in just about every facet of this game, and that just can't happen coming out of a bye, especially at home. This was the type of game that you expect to have happen when you are coming off a short week, dealing with a number of major injuries. That's the exact opposite of what the situation was. The Redskins were the healthiest they've been since week 1, and had the most time to prepare since then as well.

2. There are serious questions surrounding the future of RGIII:

-I will delve more in to RGIII later, but this was a bad game by Griffin. He really couldn't do anything right and struggled in pretty much every facet of this game. While the first interception isn't all on Griffin, some of it definitely is as he threw a awful pass to Paul. It maybe was bad luck that it turned into an INT, but it was started with a poorly thrown ball. If you want to not fully hold Griffin accountable for the INT (which is fair), you also can't give him a lot of credit for the TD or yards in this game. The Redskins lone TD was a screen to Helu and the Bucs were basically in prevent mode. Griffin didn't do anything good on that pass (or that entire drive) that is really worthy of praise. The majority of Griffin's yardage was gained in YAC throughout the game. If guys like Jackson, Helu and Morris didn't turn short passes/screens into good gains, Griffin wouldn't have cracked 100 yards passing. And it's not a situation where Griffin threw a ball with anticipation and helped lead his receiver to get some big gains. These were simple passes that really any QB could throw. Griffin really didn't do anything beyond 10 yards in this game and he definitely missed some open receivers that he didn't even attempt to throw the ball to.

If Griffin's passing wasn't the only issue in this game, as his pocket awareness was horrible. Yes the offensive line deserves some major blame (see below), but Griffin could have avoided multiple sacks and multiple pressures. Considering how many passes were quick dump-offs/screens and quick hitters it is shocking that Griffin had so much pressure. A lot of that falls on him as he didn't read the defense correctly and get the ball out of there.

From a long term perspective the Redskins have to be concerned in Griffin's future. In now 31 starts (not counting the Jags game since he left on the 2nd drive), Griffin is just 12-19 and really hasn't played all that well since the ACL injury. While injuries are definitely part of the reason why Griffin hasn't developed faster, injuries don't help your case going forward. The Redskins still have a ways to go in their decision process with Griffin, but its very fair to suggest that there is a major concern here at QB for their future.

3. The offensive line is just atrocious:

-Look the offensive line was bad going in and we knew it would be worse when Trent Williams went down early with multiple leg injuries (though Morgan Moses didn't play bad), but this is getting laughable. Tom Compton nearly did the unthinkable for Redskins fans as he made them wish Tyler Polumbus was playing right tackle. Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester appeared to be having a contest to see who could miss the most blocks in this game (for those scoring at home Lauvao came out the "winner" despite having to leave the game early due to injury). Even Kory Lichtensteiger who has been the Redskins most consistent blocker of the year, struggled some in pass blocking (he did make a great block on the screen pass that went for a TD though). While much of the ineptitude was in the pass blocking, the run blocking wasn't much better. Multiple times Alfred Morris had to deal with defenders meeting him in the backfield and luckily some of those times he was still able to make plays.

The Redskins were facing one elite defender in Gerald McCoy, but the rest of the Bucs DL is considered below average as a group (not counting McCoy). Though McCoy definitely gave the Redskins headaches, they couldn't stop anyone in this game. This was just a pathetic performance from this unit.

4. Where was the pressure on defense?:

-The Buccaneers offensive line had given up a lot of sacks and pressures throughout the season and Josh McCown was hardly a guy known for limiting pressure. A week ago the Atlanta Falcons, who aren't exactly known for getting a lot of pressure on the QB, gave McCown all sorts of pressure throughout the game. The Redskins pressure was non-existent. They managed just 2 sacks (one of which McCown gave himself up instead of throwing it away) and 5 QB hits, despite the fact that the defense got the Buccaneers in a number of 2nd and 3rd and long situations, and brought extra rushers. When the Redskins blitzed, Josh McCown acted like he was Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers and stepped up or avoided the pressure and took advantage of 1-on-1 match-ups in the secondary. Rarely did he really seem rushed in his throws and the pressure was simply not effective in this game. This is supposed to be the area where the Redskins were still strong on defense, even after the loss of Brian Orakpo, yet it completely let them down.

5. Special teams miscues continue to haunt this team:

-The last couple weeks the Special teams really hadn't hurt the Redskins, but that ended on Sunday. They had muffed returns and returns that were short of the 20. Two missed FG's, poor punting and penalties. This was just a bad special teams game all-around and they were even gifted a muffed punt by the Bucs.

6. Why was Perry Riley assigned to cover Mike Evans 1-on-1 with no help?

-I'm seriously asking this question. Did Jim Haslett have Mike Evans in fantasy football this week? What other reason would there be to put Perry Riley on Evans 1-on-1? Perry Riley has been awful in coverage throughout his career, and that is just trying to cover backs and tight ends. There isn't a logical reason to think he could cover the 6'4" stud rookie receiver who was making plays on your corners and safeties. What's the game plan for next week, Barry Cofield covering Michael Crabtree? I understand that the play relies on the blitz to get to the QB and force the ball to come out quickly, but the problem is if it doesn't it is basically a guaranteed big play. If you want to bring an extra rusher why not bring Riley who has shown himself to be a capable blitzer in his career. The same result may have happened if Meriweather was on Evans, but at least there was a chance that Meriweather could cover Evans (not a great one mind you, but it would be there).

7. Final Thoughts:

-I would shut down Trent Williams for the rest of the year regardless of what the MRI says. His play hasn't been as good of late to begin with b/c he's already dealing with injuries, and now it would likely be even worse coming back at the end of the year from these injuries. Also if his MCL is injured, even when he's healthy enough to come back it would increase the likelihood of a more serious injury. It's just not worth the risk in a season like this.

-In Trent Williams place, Morgan Moses played pretty well at LT. It will be interesting to see if they move Moses to RT going forward since that figures to be his long term position, or if they let him play out this year on the left side.

-The Redskins shouldn't bench RGIII regardless of what happens the rest of this season. They have some tough decisions to make this offseason about his future, and they need these last 6 weeks to evaluate that fully. It may mean more performances like this, but playing Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins isn't going to give you the picture that you need.

-A game like this brings up serious questions throughout this organization. From the players on the field, the coaching and the personnel decisions, everyone is being called into question. There needs to be strong accountability after this season to fix these  issues, up-and-down the organization.

-Can the Redskins really point to any true "winnable" games throughout the rest of their schedule? 49ers and Colts are going to be very tough on the road. The Rams have just beaten the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos in 3 of their last 5 games and are clearly playing better. The Giants are struggling some, but they exploited the Redskins once this season and will be at home. The Redskins nearly beat the Eagles and upset the Cowboys on the road, but does this team really look like they are capable of sweeping either of those teams? It's likely the Redskins get a win or two, but it is tough to see any more than that.

Redskins Keys to the Game: Buccaneers

November 15, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Slow down Gerald McCoy-

-The Redskins offensive line is going to have their hands full in this game with the Buccaneers elite defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. McCoy is extremely disruptive in the interior and gives the best offensive linemen problems week-in-week-out. The Redskins offensive line (particularly in the interior) has had major issues this year allowing penetration, and McCoy is by far the best interior defensive lineman they've faced. To make matters worse RGIII has shown to struggle when facing interior pressure, so if the Redskins can't limit McCoy's impact in this game it could become a major swing in this game.

2. Establish the run early-

-The Buccaneers for all their defensive struggles aren't a push over on the ground allowing on average just 3.8 yards per carry. Despite that number the Redskins need to get their ground game going early if they want to win this game. The Redskins despite their weapons don't have a passing attack that has shown it can carry this team. The Redskins offense works best when the run is a central point of the offense, everything is easier for this team. They have to get the ground game working early and often in this game and not put Griffin in a lot of obvious passing situations.

3. Win the turnover battle-

-The Redskins haven't done a great job of winning the turnover battle this season and it has hurt them considerably. In the games they've won the turnover battle they are 2-0 (Jags and Cowboys), when they've tied the turnover battle they are 1-2 (Titans, Seahawks and Eagles), and when they have lost the turnover battle they are 0-4 (Texans, Giants, Cardinals, Vikings). The Redskins have to find away to protect the football on offense and not give a team like the Buccaneers any short fields or momentum shifting plays. Defensively the Redskins have to find a way to make some big plays can come up with ball.

4. Get after the QB-

-The Buccaneers have a very talented and physical group of pass catchers that would give any secondary in the NFL problems. Facing off versus a Redskins secondary that has routinely gotten beat this year it's a very favorable match-up for the Bucs. The best way the Redskins can combat this is to turn up the pressure on Josh McCown. If McCown can throw from a clean pocket it could be a long day on defense, but if the Redskins can exploit the Buccaneers weak offensive line they can negate the effectiveness of this passing attack. The Redskins struggled to get pressure against the Vikings and it cost them, so they need need to find a way to dial up the pressure this week. It could take going back to the Dallas gameplan where they blitzed more and brought the house on a number of plays.

5. Attack the Buccaneers vertically-

-Tampa Bay has some playmakers in the front 7, but their secondary is pretty weak overall and can be exploited deep. The Redskins have the best deep threat receiver in the league right now so this is an area where they need to take advantage of. In addition to exploiting DeSean Jackson's speed against this Buccaneers secondary, the Redskins should try to get some of their other receivers involved in the vertical passing game. Roberts and Garcon aren't as talented on deep balls as Jackson, but with him as a threat and getting the majority of the attention it is likely that there will be some opportunities to get the Redskins other playmakers involved.

6. Don't let you foot off the gas-

-A lot of times we see teams in the NFL jump out to an early lead and next thing you know the team that was trailing by a couple scores either has taken the lead or is in striking distance. Now for most good teams when that occurs they have the ability to come from behind and win or seal the victory. For a team like the Redskins they can't count on being able to do that so they can't afford to get complacent in this game. If they jump out to an early lead, they need to keep up the intensity for all 60 minutes of this game. The Redskins are the better team and they are at home so there is a good chance they can get up early, but the Buccneeers have shown themselves to hang around in games and typically have lost by a touchdown or less. Given their secondary the Redskins can't have confidence in winning a one score type of game, so they need to make sure they answer any Buccaneers points with their own.

Frustration with Redskins' PR Office Continues

November 14, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Will there be a day that the Redskins can go a week without being laughed at by the rest of the league?  And I am not talking about on field play either, which is debatable.  I just feel like this team is a continuous joke from the top down.  It's bad enough they can't win games on the field but every day we have a new story that comes from the pathetic locker room.      no-means-no

It all starts at the top with owner and his sidekick, not Bruce but Tony "no means no!" Wyllie.  We can't get rid of Snyder so how does Wyllie have a job?  Washington has the worst PR going in all of sports.  Do we need to go through all the leaks, the undermining or the embarrassing efforts to defend the team's name?  Fox wasn't stupid to get a Redskin to come on their pregame and I think DeSean was fine on there.  But now it has become a debate on the fragile QB again and if he can lead.  I am sick of this.

It seems likes everything this organization does is wrong at first and then they just make it worse.  When I hear the owner is frustrated with the team losing I just laugh.  If the team loses Sunday against the as pathetic Buccaneers I am sure that he and Wyllie will start another leak assault to eventually end the Gruden coaching run at one year.  Of course I have zero inside knowledge but we have seen it before.  All washed up former coaches calling bingo have your phones on Sunday night.

In the end, win or loss versus the Bucs, I wouldn't mind seeing the old Tampa crew we have now heading down South after the game also.

 

 

Redskins can't overlook the Buccaneers

November 13, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

It's easy to see why some in the media and much of the Redskins fanbase is already chalking this game on Sunday up as a win. The Redskins have played better over the last three games, beating the Titans and Cowboys and playing the Vikings close. The Redskins are also coming off a bye, playing at home where they've been much better this season (with the exception of the Giants game). Tampa Bay on the other hand has lost 5 straight games and are struggling both on offense and defense. It is easy to think that this game is "in the bag" and the Redskins will improve to 4-6 after Sunday, but the Redskins can't afford to get ahead of themselves and count this as a win just yet.

The Buccaneers may be 1-8 and rank in the 20's in just about every major offensive and defensive category, but they've been fairly competitive this season. With the exception of two blowout losses to the Falcons and Ravens, they have had a chance in every other game. even this past week versus the Falcons the Buccaneers took a 17-16 lead in the 4th quarter, but they weren't able to hang on. This is not a team that will just give up if they get down early or have some struggles. There are two areas on the Buccaneers where they could really give the Redskins trouble on Sunday, and if the Redskins allow those areas to be an issue this game could go poorly for the Redskins.

The first area of concern is the Buccaneers defensive front, most notably star DT Gerald McCoy. McCoy is one of the best interior pass rushers in the league and an absolute dominant force in the middle of that Buccaneers Defense. He has lived in opposing backfields this year and will disrupt a number of plays each game. He'll be facing G Shawn Lauvao who has struggled mightily in his first year in Washington. McCoy is a tough match-up for All-pro guards, so a weaker guard like Lauvao represents a massive mismatch. Even if the Redskins commit to double-teaming McCoy there is no guarantee that will stop him. Robert Griffin III has struggled the most throughout his career when he faces interior pressure on a consistent level. If McCoy can't be contained it could cause major headaches for the Redskins. McCoy is listed as questionable for this game, but he's fully expected to play.

Another key player on the Buccaneers defensive front that could cause the Redskins issues is DE Michael Johnson. Johnson was a major free agent signing from the Bengals this past offseason, and has been a disappointment so far for Tampa. He's missed some time due to injury and is listed as questionable this week. If he does play though he's someone the Redskins have to be aware of. Johnson is a talented pass rusher, and when he was on the Bengals in 2012 he had a monster game with 4 sacks. Now Trent Williams missed most of that game due to injury, but he's less than 100% right now so he could be exploitable. Johnson (and the Bengals in general) played the read option perfectly that game and ground the Redskins offense to a halt. If Johnson can go and is relatively healthy he could pose a significant problem if the Redskins are hoping to use more read option.

The other issue that the Redskins need to concern themselves with is how to match-up with the Buccaneers talented pass catchers. Rookie Mike Evans has really started to break out these past few weeks and he has teamed up with Vincent Jackson to give the Buccaneers a pair of big, physical, fast receivers that are match-up nightmares. Going against the Redskins secondary they have the potential to have a massive impact. Though rookie corner Bashaud Breeland has played much better over the past couple of weeks, he's still made some mistakes and if you make mistakes versus this pair of receivers they will make you pay. On the other side David Amerson has had an up and down season and has struggled to play consistently. He has the length to match-up with these receivers, but he hasn't shown he can be physical enough to slow them down. If Evans and Jackson weren't bad enough a third match-up nightmare is emerging in the Buccaneers passing game. Rookie TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins has started to become more involved in the Buccaneers passing offense, and at 6'6", 260 lbs, he's a mismatch regardless of who the Redskins try to cover him with.

The key to stopping the Buccaneers weapons is going to be the pass rush. If Josh McNown has time in the pocket those receivers/tight ends will get open and beat the Redskins weak secondary. The only hope for the Redskins is to try to get enough pressure on McNown that he will make some mistakes and not be able to connect with his receivers.

Just how "homegrown" is the Redskins roster?

November 10, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

If you watched the Sunday night game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears they talked about how the Packers are built primarily through the draft and the signing of college free agents. They mentioned that  the Packers just have 5 players on their roster that played with other teams. That was the lowest in the NFL, while their opponent the Bears had the most with 31 players from other teams. That got me thinking about the Redskins and their own roster construction. For the purpose of this I will look at all the players currently on the Redskins 53 man roster, plus their injured reserve list. Players that were either on another team's practice squad or played in a couple games (but not significant action) with another team won't count against the Redskins. Afterwards I will look deeper at the roster construction:

*Note Tanard Jackson won't count on either list

Players From other organizations:

Injured Reserve: 4 players

DL Barry Cofield, CB DeAngelo Hall, S Duke Inhenacho, LB Akeem Jordan

Offense: 9 players

QB Colt McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Pierre Garcon, WR Andre Roberts, WR Santana Moss, OL Shawn Lauvao, OL Kory LIchetenstieger, OL Chris Chester, OL Tyler Polumbus

Defense: 9 players

DL Jason Hatcher, DL Stephen Bowen, DL Frank Kearse, LB Adam Hayward, LB Everette Brown, CB Tracy Porter, CB E.J. Biggers, S Brandon Meriweather, S Ryan Clark

*Note: both Trenton Robinson and Chris Baker saw limited time with other organizations, but played in no more than 3 games with those teams and didn't really see a lot of work.

Players From the Redskins:

Injured Reserve: 2 players  (*note I'm only counting IR players who have played in the NFL)

OLB Brian Orakpo, DL Chris Neild

Offense:17 players

QB Robert Griffin III, QB Kirk Cousins, RB Alfred Morris, RB Roy Helu Jr., RB Silas Redd, FB Darrel Young, TE Jordan Reed, TE Niles Paul, TE Logan Paulsen, WR Ryan Grant, WR Leonard Hankerson, WR Aldrick Robinson, OL Trent Williams, OL Morgan Moses, OL Tom Compton, OL Josh LeRibeus, OL Spencer Long

Defense: 15 players

DL Jarvis Jenkins, DL Chris Baker, DL Kedric Golston, LB Ryan Kerrigan, LB Perry Riley, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Trent Murphy, LB Will Compton, LB Jackson Jeffcoat, S Akeem Davis, S Phillip Thomas, S Trenton Robinson, CB David Amerson, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Greg Ducre

Specialists: 3 players

K Kai Forbath, P Tress Way,LS Nick Sundberg

Notes:

Of a possible 59 players 22 were acquired from other organizations which is probably pretty good overall (note: players like Chris Baker might be counted differently according to the ESPN standards). The only troubling thing is just how many of these players were expected to play significant roles with this team to start the season. The Redskins top 3 receivers, 4 starting offensive linemen, top 2 defensive linemen, and four of the 5 top members of the secondary (Tracy Porter was expected to be the nickel corner) were from other teams. What makes it worse is the fact that few of those players have actually produced positive results for this team this year.

The team has relied on free agency to build the defense more than the offense. If everyone was healthy the breakdown would likely be 12 players from other organizations and 12 from the Redskins. Meaning there is a pretty significant reliance there from outside the organization.

Two issues that have forced the team to rely so much on free agency have been the lack of top draft picks and overall selections, as well as a poor job of retaining late round picks. The lack of top selections explains why so many free agents were placed in starting or key positions, while the missing on later round picks has hurt the depth and forced the team to target cheap free agents to fill out the roster. In the last 3 drafts the Redskins have had 13 selections from the 5th-7th rounds, of those just 3 players (Alfred Morris, Tom Compton and Ryan Grant) remain. That is a pretty low retention rate.

Five Questions the Redskins Need to Answer This Bye Week

November 8, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1.How can they protect RGIII better?

-It's no secret that Robert Griffin III doesn't have the best feel in the pocket and he holds on to the ball too long. It is a common trait with both young and mobile QB's, so with Griffin in both categories it's bound to be an issue. In just 9 quarters of play this season Griffin has been sacked 9 times, including 5 this past week versus the Vikings. In addition to the sacks Griffin is getting hit and pressured at a high rate as well. The Redskins need to have an elite line protecting Griffin in the future, but for now they will need to settle for just improved production. Some of it could be fixed with maybe some replacements among the starters (Chris Chester, Shawn Lauvao and Roy Helu Jr. are the biggest culprits), but the Redskins need to do more than that. Given Griffin's natural tendency to hold on to the ball the Redskins should scheme around it. Force more short quick throws to get the ball out of Griffin's hands before the pass rush can make enough of an impact. This is something the Redskins did somewhat effectively Griffin's rookie year, and was a big part of the reason why Griffin was able to have some success that year.

2. How can they get Pierre Garcon going?

-DeSean Jackson has been a major weapon this season, but unfortunately last year's NFL catch leader Pierre Garcon has all but disappeared. Garcon has just 4 games with 6 or more targets this season and just three of those games has he caught at least 5 balls. A year ago Garcon had just 4 games under 10 targets and none of those games were fewer than 7. Garcon lowest catch total a season ago was 5 and that only happened twice. For some reason they can't get Garcon going and it's really hurting the Redskins ability to sustain drives. DeSean Jackson has proven himself to be an incredible deep threat, but they need that chain moving receiver opposite him. That is a role Garcon is well suited for, but for some reason it is just not clicking this year. Part of it is probably on the fact that he's played with three different starting QB's, but there is more to it than that. Whatever the issue is that is limiting Garcon's production the Redskins need to fix it ASAP.

3. Can the pass rush be consistent?

-The Redskins pass rush has dominated at times this season and disappeared at other times. While some of that is going to happen over the course of a year, the Redskins need to get a more consistent pass rush if they want to improve their defense. Two weeks ago the Redskins saw just how much of an impact a quality pass rush can have when they went into Dallas on Monday night and upset the 6-1 Cowboys. The Redskins aggressive blitz campaign saw a rushed Tony Romo take some big sacks and rush some key throws. It directly led to the Redskins win and was the 2nd best defensive performance of the season. Last week again on the road the Redskins got two early sacks on rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater, but after that they weren't able to do much from a pass rush perspective. As a result Teddy Bridgewater picked apart the Redskins secondary in the 2nd half and led to the Redskins 6th loss of the season.

Ideally the Redskins could succeed and have a consistent pass rush with just 4 guys rushing the QB, but that hasn't been the case this year. The Redskins are going to have to blitz more in the final 7 games and they will also have to be better with their rushes. Last week versus the Vikings the Redskins didn't blitz as much as they did the week before versus the Cowboys, but they were also more ineffective when they did. On a number of occasions Teddy Bridgewater was able to step up in the pocket, buy some time and deliver a good throw. That can't happen going forward as the Redskins need to at least be forcing some rushed throws if they can't get home for the sack.

4. How can they fix their secondary/coverage woes?

-The Redskins continue to have breakdowns in the coverage with the main culprits being in their secondary. The troubling thing is there just isn't one weakness causing problems in their coverage, but everyone is pretty much to blame. There are issues with the linebackers, corners and safeties. The main culprits are corners David Amerson and E.J. Biggers, safeties Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather and linebacker Perry Riley. While other players have had some struggles these five have been the ones with the biggest and most consistent breakdowns.

Another problem facing the Redskins is that it doesn't seem to matter what coverage they try to run, offenses have found a way to crack it. This speaks to a lack of talent and ineffective coaching. There are breakdowns in every system and coaching staff has failed to correct any of them to produce at least average coverage.

There is no easy way to fix this for the Redskins, but the hope is that they can find a scheme that will work for them enough to have at least average coverage. Probably the best thing they can hope to do from a coverage aspect is not put themselves in a position where they need to rely on coverage. The Redskins best two games in terms of coverage have been the games where their pressure has dominated and the opposing QB didn't have time to wait for the inevitable coverage breakdown.

5. Can the Redskins play at a high level for a full game?

-The Redskins have been inconsistent throughout the season and it is a big reason why they are sitting at 3-6. With the exception of the Jaguars game (and arguably the Cowboys game) they haven't played a good full game. This past week versus the Vikings the Redskins controlled the first 28 minutes of the game and looked like they were going to notch their 4th win. Unfortunately the Redskins made a turnover at the end of the half and the defense started to fall apart. It's not the first time this season the Redskins had a good chance in a game, but couldn't finish the other team off. The Redskins have to stop having these breakdowns if they are going to become a contender. That's not going to happen this year, but the Redskins need to start playing full games in the hopes that they can get on the right track for next season.

Thoughts and Observations from Redskins loss to the Vikings

November 3, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. This game is not Robert Griffin III's fault:

-There is a lot of blame being thrown around for this loss and while RGIII deserves a share of it, he is not the reason why the Redskins lost. It was Griffin's first game back and he was going up against one of the better pass rushing units in the NFL on the road. This was not a game where it reasonably could have been expected that he would "carry" the team or lead a comeback. Griffin made some mistakes, and some were pretty costly, but he didn't lose this game and overall he played above average. The real culprits for this loss lie with the offensive line and secondary play (other facets contributed as well). Both will be talked about further below, but suffice to say that both areas struggled and as a result the Redskins lost a winnable game to fall to 3-6.

2. That being said there are still questions about where Griffin is in his health and development:

-While I don't think you can put this loss on Griffin's shoulders, there are some concerns starting to creep up in Griffin's development and long term future. Griffin's health also is in question as there were times where he simply didn't look fully healthy (which probably shouldn't be that surprising). Griffin started out the game strong and it looked like concerns about rust, health or his development were unfounded. As the game got into the mid-2nd quarter, Griffin started making some questionable throws with the worst one being the interception right before half. Griffin was more of mixed bag in the 2nd half as he didn't turn the ball over, but he was off on some throws (including a crucial one at the end of the game) and took far too many sacks.

As the game wore on Griffin was limping more and just didn't seem to be fully healthy. Hopefully with the bye week he can rest up and be relatively healthy, but it is something that bears watching.

The sacks are becoming an issue for Griffin because it was a major negative from his first game+ prior to the injury when he didn't respond well to pressure and took unneeded sacks. While young and/or running QB's are more known for taking sacks, you need to see some big plays created by the QB to really make it worth it and there just wasn't enough of that from Griffin yesterday. Now it is just one game back from a serious injury and he was on the road, but the Redskins need Griffin to pick-up his game coming out of the bye and be a bigger factor in the offense.

3. The offensive line and overall blocking are a major issue with this team:

-The Redskins offensive line hasn't been that good all season, but they really got exposed in this game as they went up against one of the better defensive fronts in the Vikings. Another factor in this game was Griffin's tendency to hold on to the ball for too long. It's a growing pain the Redskins have to live with, but this offensive line just isn't capable of protecting Griffin for that long. It's not just the offensive line that is at fault as running back Roy Helu Jr. looked particularly bad in blitz pick-up and it cost the Redskins dearly. Though Alfred Morris had his best game of the year, the line issues were also present in the running game as well as multiple times guys missed blocks leaving Morris to face defenders in the back-field, killing plays before they even had a chance. The most troubling thing for the Redskins is that everyone was really struggling. There wasn't a single offensive lineman who had a truly good day. Even star LT Trent Williams struggled in this game (and he has been struggling recently due to the knee injury). It's going to be extremely tough for the offense to get going if these line issues continue. With it being the bye week the coaching staff needs to take a long look at what they can possibly do to fix the line issues.

4. DeSean Jackson keeps making big plays:

-One real bright spot for the Redskins is the play of DeSean Jackson. He came up with two big deep catches and had another nice TD grab on a shorter route. Jackson has had issues with missed blocks and assignments, but he has been a very dangerous weapon for the Redskins. He has made teams pay for not double covering him and it remains one of the few things that is working for the Redskins offense this season.

5. Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed were non-existent:

-On the flip side of DeSean Jackson's good game is the question as to where were Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed? Garcon did catch a couple short passes and was targeted on a deep throw, but he just didn't make much of an impact in this game. As disappointing as Garcon's game was, it was better than what we saw from Jordan Reed. Reed just had one catch in this game and that was his only target on a play that counted (he did draw two other penalties). Six combined targets for Garcon and Reed is simply not enough for this offense to work. The Redskins have to get these two involved more going forward.

6. Pass Rush can't get home:

-One week after the Redskins pass rush came up big versus the Cowboys and helped secure the victory, their pass rush disappeared in this game. Early on it started out well with a couple of sacks an some nice pressures. As the game wore on it was less and less effective. Even when a guy did get free Bridgewater was easily able to avoid him and still make the play. The Redskins had just 2 sacks and 5 QB hits in this game, out of 44 dropbacks. That is just simply not enough times getting to the QB (note that doesn't count pressures). The Vikings on the other hand had 5 sacks and 9 other QB hits out of just 33 dropbacks. That means that the Redskins sacked or hit Bridgewater on less than 1/6 of his dropbacks, while the Vikings were able to sack or hit Griffin on more than 2/5 of every dropback.

7. The coverage in the secondary was a complete joke:

-For as ineffective as the pass rush was, they were world beaters compared to the level of coverage in this secondary. The Redskins looked to be in zone for much of the game and it was simply just too easy to pick it apart. Too many times a guy was wide open in the zone without a defender within 5 yards (sometimes more). There were just far too many breakdowns and mistakes by this group as a whole. Honestly this game could have been a blowout if the Vikings had a better QB and receivers. They had some opportunities that they didn't take advantage of that would have made this game out of reach fairly early on.

8. Final Thoughts:

-The Redskins head into the bye sitting at 3-6, but things don't look good for them to have a miraculous turnaround like they did in 2012. Not only is their competition stiffer this year, but the Redskins don't have the same dynamic offense they relied upon in 2012. What the Redskins can do with this bye week and the rest of the season is build towards the future. They need to start fixing the holes on this team and look to make some changes. Perhaps try some of the other young offensive linemen in the starting unit. Now that they signed Phillip Thomas to the active roster they can give him some looks on defense to see if he could reasonably be counted on for a starting role next season. The biggest test of all will be to see Robert Griffin III over these final 7 games. The Redskins have to make a major decision regarding his future this offseason and they need to see what exactly they have.