The hope was this year that Special teams would finally be a positive for this team. Through the first three games that definitely wasn’t the case, and today it almost cost the Redskins what should have been an easy win. An early blocked punt, put the Redskins in a 7-0 hole. It was unacceptable for Perry Riley to miss his man and allow him to come through.
The Redskins had two punts blocked last year and yet it is still not fixed despite a new Special Teams’ coach. The blocked punt wasn’t the Redskins only issue, as the Raiders converted on 4th and 1 on a trick play off a converted punt formation. The Redskins opted to not call a time out or get contain and the Raiders ended up with a big 19 yard gain. Had the Raiders had their starters on offense, that could have easily ended up in points for Oakland.
Finally, Chris Thompson continues to be a risk as a punt returner. He fielded multiple punts that he shouldn’t have and did nothing after catching them. Sooner or later that is going to result in a crucial turnover, and it’s not as if he’s giving the Redskins any positive plays with his risky returns.
The Redskins ended the game with 32 rushes and 31 passes, which is roughly the type of ratio they had last year when they were winning. The run wasn’t always effective, but it did come up big at times and that helped put the Redskins in some more manageable situations and helped them move the football on their two real positive drives.
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Alfred Morris ran well and was able to turn a number of runs from short yardage to moderate gains, and that was with the Raiders playing the run. The offense still has a number of issues they need to work out, but there were some positives, especially the balance on offense.
The Defense won this game plain and simple. David Amerson‘s pick 6 gave the defense 7 points, which is as much as the defense allowed throughout the game. Even if the Redskins lost this game 14-10, it wouldn’t have been the defenses fault at that point. The defense wasn’t done with the Amerson interception as they had 7 sacks including a sack fumble that set up the Redskins 2nd offensive touchdown and put them up 10 points.
The Redskins might have been going up against back-ups, but we didn’t see near the missed tackles, coverage lapses or penalties (in fact none on defense) that we’d seen in weeks past.
The Redskins offense couldn’t do much in this game and really only had two productive drives. The biggest issue was how this team handled pressure. The Raiders blitzed quite often and most times it resulted in negative plays for the Redskins. Robert Griffin did get away from pressure late in the game to deliver a big gain to Roy Helu Jr. that set up the Redskins 2nd touchdown, but other than that he wasn’t handling the pressure well. In the first half on the Redskins first productive drive, Griffin committed a 14 yard intentional grounding penalty that killed any chance of TD.
Not only was the fact that there was pressure an issue, but also that Griffin didn’t deal with it well. In addition to the grounding penalty, Griffin threw multiple off target throws when under pressure, and on 4th and 3 didn’t feel the delayed blitz of Charles Woodson leading to a 10 yard sack and great field position for the Raiders.
This is a troubling area for the Redskins, because they will face far tougher defenses going forward. If they struggle to protect Griffin and respond to pressure here, other defenses will surely attack the same way.
A big issue for the Redskins so far this season was them shooting themselves in the foot by committing far too many penalties, including stupid ones that they had some control over. The Redskins committed only 3 penalties for 29 yards, and one of them the delay of game may have been intentional to give kicker John Potter a better angle.
Griffin’s intentional grounding penalty was poor as he had a chance to get out of the pocket or make a better throw in the vicinity of someone. That penalty cost the Redskins 14 yards and a down and pretty much killed any chance of getting a touchdown there.
The only other penalty was Pierre Garcon‘s holding penalty early in the 3rd quarter. Though you hate seeing that penalty it wasn’t nearly as bad as what we’ve seen from the Redskins in the first three weeks. The most promising thing was no defensive or special teams penalties. These had plagued the Redskins the last few weeks giving teams free first downs or major field position swings. In a close game like this a couple more penalties could have swung the game in the Raiders favor.
A penalty on the Raiders may have saved the game for the Redskins, as an offside penalty nullified a fumble that would have put the Raiders 1st and 10 on the Redskins 26 yard line with the score at 17-14 Redskins. The Raiders could have easily tied it if not taken the lead from there. Though there was some question as to whether or not Helu actually fumbled based on the replay. The Redskins avoided these type of back-breaking penalties and it got them the win.