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Washington Redskins Postgame Review & Celebration

December 31, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Postgame thoughts on Victory Monday, NFC Champs edition:

1. I have to look at the season as a whole first.

No one had the Washington Redskins winning the NFC East last summer and that is what just happened.  Not only winning it, but winning it by winning 7 straight games, including a 5-0 run in the division.

They were supposed to be at least a year away from contention but Mike Shanahan and his staff was able to get this team from 3-6 to 10-6, and I am as shocked as anyone that it happened.  Shanahan deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround but having a young leader in Robert Griffin and a true veteran leader in London Fletcher cannot be overlooked.

2.  As for the game, the story was Alfred Morris.

Morris will end his rookie regular season only behind the great Adrian Peterson in rushing yards and as the Redskins single season record holder.  And he saved his best performance for last night.  Morris gashed the Cowboys Defense for four quarters and three touchdowns.  He probably stole some offensive rookie of the year votes from RG3 but who cares about that now.

The offensive line took care of a depleted Dallas front seven.  What was a concern back in August, the Skins o-line has been very productive all season and an obvious bright spot giving the Skins their best team rushing season in team history.  Staying a mostly healthy intact unit cannot be overlooked.

3.  As for the defense on Sunday night there were many stars on the field and one major one on the sidelines.

Jim Haslett was once a goner in DC and now deserves much credit for the d's turnaround.  His unit saved its best performance for last night in the biggest game.

And the struggling secondary led the way.  DeAngelo Hall (yes, D Hall) and Josh Wilson were all over the Dallas receivers all night making it tough for Tony Romo.  The defense was able to get pressure on Romo and force him into three huge picks including the 4th quarter game changer by Rob Jackson.

Finally, once again London Fletcher was London Fletcher.  Forgot the Pro Bowl snub talk after every season, it is time to discuss Fletcher as a Hall of Fame candidate once his great career is over.  Hopefully after a bunch more playoff games.

4. We can talk big plays from Griffin or Morris, Shanahan, the defense but what made this team NFC East champs is the turnover margin the Redskins had.

Once again Robert Griffin didn't turn the ball over while the defense forced three picks from Tony Romo.  Romo will be feeling the heat in Dallas today so they can have fun with that.  Our QB is a big game quarterback and no rookie QB has protected the ball like RG3 has in 2012.  No one could have predicted that before the season.  We knew it was going to be a key going into the Dallas game and it was.

5. Now the NFC East Champs have to get ready for the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.

The two hottest teams in the NFC face off and should be a big game.  Two solid rookie quarterbacks, two beast running backs and two Adderall suspension returners as well.  Today is a day of celebration and we will look more into the Seattle game later in the week.

 

 

Dallas Week: Washington Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Cowboys

December 28, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Its Dallas Week.  Here are my keys to the game for the Redskins to beat the Cowboys in the Sunday Night Showdown at FedEx for the NFC East crown.

1 – I will get right into it with first and foremost we need to look at the opponent.  The Dallas Cowboys are an 8-7 football team not a 10-5 or even 9-6.  They are what their record is.  And honestly if Antonio Brown could have protected the football on a punt return this game could have been meaningless for them.  I do think they can be explosive and play like they did week one versus New York but that was week one, not seventeen.

Although the Redskins have not had any games of this magnitude in years, Dallas has had a few and when they have they failed.  The Cowboys have been up and down all season, eking out wins the past two months usually having to come from behind late in games.  The Redskins did the same versus Baltimore but took care of business against teams like Cleveland, in Dallas, New York and last week in Philadelphia over this six game win streak.  Yes, the games ended close but except versus Baltimore, Washington had the lead in all those games down the stretch of the fourth quarter.

2- I could almost copy the same thing I had on the quarterbacks before the Thanksgiving game in Dallas.  Tony Romo did have a big statistical game that day almost all in the second half after the Cowboys fell way behind.  The knock on Romo has been that he can't win these types of games and now to do it on the road gives me confidence he won't be able again.  Before the season I thought Dallas could be a disaster waiting to happen and that Romo could be the fall guy by seasons end.  I will admit that Romo has played very well but let’s see what he does Sunday night.

On the other hand we as Skins fans have full confidence that Robert Griffin III will show up and do what he has done all season.  Yes, the knee will have an effect but all Griffin does is move the ball, don't turn it over and put up 100+ passer rating performances.  And oh yeah, be a true leader as a rookie.  A captain.  That is what he does.

3- Everyone's main concern this week is dealing with Dez Bryant.  And by having to deal with Dez Bryant does that open it up for Jason Witten and Miles Austin.  Bryant last week was as good as anyone other than Calvin Johnson and clearly the weakness of the Redskins is in their secondary.  But will Dez Bryant show up?  Does Dallas add 2 or 3 more chaperones this week to make sure?  I still think that the Cowboys need to watch over a 24 year old is a joke by the way.  Though every time Dez Bryant looks to be on the right path, he does something stupid.  As for on the field, I do think he will be tough to handle.

The return of DeMarco Murray also will be a factor in the Washington defense being able to slow down the Dallas offense and force turnovers.  Washington's bend but don't break approach has worked in recent weeks but it has worked because of causing timely turnovers.  Ryan Kerrigan has to do what he did last week.  Rob Jackson has to get back to level of play versus the Ravens as well to help the struggling secondary face the likes of Bryant, Austin and Witten.

4- The first game showed a head to head coaching advantage for the Redskins.  This must happen again.  Mike Shanahan has obviously been in more big games than Jason Garrett and Shanny needs to win the coaching battle.

Can Shanahan win the coaching battle Sunday night?

Can Shanahan win the coaching battle Sunday night?

The obvious battle between the coaches will pit Kyle Shanahan and his offense against Rob Ryan and his defense.  Shanahan worked Ryan in Dallas on Thanksgiving and I would expect no change this week.  Rob Ryan like all the Ryans', is a clown.  Kyle has had his ups and downs but right now has it going and going good.  Ryan will not be helped by Demarcus Ware being far from 100% but Ware is tough and even at 70-80% will give Pro Bowler Trent Williams a handful like always.

On the other side it was turning into a long season for Jim Haslett until the win streak occurred.  His defense is still giving up yards but just holding opponents points down enough to win.  Just holding them down this week may not work so he will need to find holes in a suspect Dallas offensive line.

5- Maybe the most famous Redskins/Cowboys game for Washington fans is 1982 NFC Championship Game.  The game will be mostly remembered for Darryl Grant's touchdown and Dexter Manley knocking out Danny White but what can't be forgotten is how the Redskins were able to run the ball down Dallas' throat with John Riggins all day.  Washington must do the same Sunday night with Alfred Morris.

Morris has proven all season to be this team's Diesel.  And although I doubt Alfred Morris needs any motivation losing out on a Pro Bowl nod to Frank Gore makes for adding motivation.  I expect Griffin to be more of a run threat Sunday night which will open it up more for Morris as well as the receiving core.  Dallas has been torched like the Redskins many times this season so matching big plays with Dallas will be a key as well.  But I would love to see the 2012 Cowboys get pounded into the FedEx turf like 1982 Cowboys were at RFK.  Here is a link to that game.

As for what will happen.  It is crazy to say that we finally have a huge game at FedEx Field after so long.  It is actually embarrassing after the success the team had for many years under Gibbs' first coaching run.  But I have confidence in my quarterback and I have confidence in our leaders like London Fletcher.

Over the past six weeks these guys have yet to fail us on the field and I don't see it happening Sunday night.  I see a win and a division title but not as high scoring as Thanksgiving and more like the Giants Monday night game.  Redskins 23  Dallas 17

 

 

 

Dallas Week: Big Short Week as Redskins Prepare for Thanksgiving Match-up

November 21, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Now that the Redskins are back in the playoff race (well slightly) after beating a horrible Eagles team, the next two weeks will clearly determine where they end up this season.  Win both and they are sitting in great shape in the NFC East.  Lose both and they are done.

The Redskins vs. Cowboys rivalry heats up on Thanksgiving Day this year with 2nd place in the NFC East on the line.

The Redskins vs. Cowboys rivalry heats up on Thanksgiving Day this year with 2nd place in the NFC East on the line.

Last time we looked at a two game stretch it was New York and Pittsburgh and that didn't go well.  So let’s just start with Dallas for now and Thursday’s game.  Here are five things that must happen to win there.

1- Dallas seems to play everyone the same no matter how good or bad a team is.

Go to Atlanta and barely lose, home to Cleveland and barely win.  Each week their opponent is in the game so it comes down to things like turnovers and penalties.

As for penalties, we must worry because the Skins are the worst.  So this needs to change right away.  The Dallas crowd doesn't really concern me so hopefully false starts will be at a minimum.  We can't get 15 yarders either.

As for turnovers, Griffin has been amazing but they cannot have key fumbles like the second half of the Giants game.  Have to get to Romo also but we look at that next.

2- And here we go on Tony Romo.

Washington needs to get to Romo early and often.  Last week we said they need to take advantage of the Eagles poor offensive line and they did.  Time to do this again.  And if the ball bounces off Dez Bryant's hands they need to be there to snag it.  That's if Bryant doesn't break curfew Wednesday night, a traditional party night.

Romo like Griffin can buy time and our defensive backs really don't like sticking with receivers for long periods of time, so we have to run him down quickly.  I predicted before the season a beginning of the end of Romo's time in Dallas and this would be a good week to start that.

3- Make Jason Garrett coach.

The Redskins need to get up early and see if Jason Garrett is a true NFL coach.  He was able to bring them back against the Browns last week but that was against a horrible coach in Pat Shurmur.  So it’s time to call out the $7 million tan man Mike Shanahan and see if he can out-coach Garrett.  Shanahan proved me right week one against the Saints but many times has killed me.  A good sign will be Jerry Jones on the sidelines by the mid third quarter if things are going well.

4- Is Brandon Banks still on the roster?

I think so but he is now really only known for being part of shaky offensive play calls.  Do something Banks in the return game and do it this week.  As I have said many times I wouldn't mind giving Santana a chance on a punt return or two because we need something.

Really think Shanahan blew it not adding Shawne Merriman and dropping someone like Banks or Grossman.  Merriman is older and worn down but he looked pretty good for Buffalo last week.  Key again is that they need something from Banks.  Special teams have covered fine and Kai Forbath has been perfect on kicks, so it’s time for the return game to step up.

5- Finally I think Robert Griffin plays big in a nationally televised game back in his home state.

This season has shown for him not to fold at all under pressure in these types of situations.  RG3 and Luck have gone back and forth all season as the better rookie quarterback and last week Griffin proved better and I think it will continue this week.  The Skins have to attack downfield like last week and look for big plays.

I think they can run the ball against Dallas without a guy like Lee in there but Griffin has to be able to do more than slants and screens.  Garcon although hurt does make the defense have to watch for him, and hopefully he can go.  I could easily see Griffin putting on a show in Big D on Thanksgiving.