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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.

 

 

Washington Redskins Postgame Thoughts Week 16

December 24, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

My postgame thoughts on Washington Redskins must-win over the Eagles:

1- My first thought after the game was that was too close of a win against a bad Eagles team.

But then I thought about it and a win is a win and that makes six in a row.  Now the Redskins have a week to get ready for the Dallas Cowboys and a chance to win the NFC East.  I didn't expect the Eagles to lay down especially in Andy Reid's last home game.  It wasn't spectacular on either offense or defense like we have seen in recent weeks but it was a win and that is what Washington needed.

2- Robert Griffin's return was solid as expected.  By the stats he put up another 100+ QB rating which is what he does every week.

The early one run to the right didn't look like the RG3 we are used to seeing but everyone knows by now that RG3 is a complete quarterback.  We love that he can take off and go for 20, 30, 40 or more at a time but he can also stand in the pocket and make all the throws.  Griffin moved the ball down the field all game and especially in the first half before Alfred Morris got going.  I would expect RG3 to be ready for next Sunday and put on another show.

One coaching call I didn't like.  I think that Shanahan or Shanatan according to Rob Riggle, should have gone 4th and 1 late in the game.  Morris could have gotten that yard.

3- Everyone knows what Pierre Garcon has brought to this team since his return by now Josh Morgan is making a difference also.

Unlike Garcon, Morgan is not putting up bigger numbers but he is becoming a threat to get into the endzone.  A receiving core that looked very shaky after Fred Davis went down has stepped up during the winning streak.  Passes are being caught and I would not put the Griffin interception on Morgan.

I love what Leonard Hankerson is adding in the blocking game.  Actually I like what a lot of the receivers are doing in the blocking game.  And it would be wrong to not mention Santana Moss and what he has done.  I have lost track on how many big touchdowns he has pulled in.

4- I wasn't thrilled with what the defense did today.

The return of LeSean McCoy made it a much tougher day for Haslett's crew.  Madieu Williams always seems to be a second late, especially in the red zone.  We are seeing that way too much and probably why DeAngelo was playing a lot of deep safety today.

Big ups to Ryan Kerrigan today.  Kerrigan has been good, but not great all season, which he needs to be with the injuries.  Today he was great getting after Foles and hopefully he can do the same versus Dallas.  I love the effort by Barry Cofield getting to the outside in stopping screens and quick passes.  I wish the last two drives the Redskins went after Foles like they did earlier in the game.

5- Finally, an easy one.  IT's freakin' DALLAS WEEK!!!

 

 

Preview & Keys to the Game for Redskins vs. the Eagles

December 21, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Previewing the Redskins @ the Eagles this Sunday with keys to the game and what to watch for.

1 – First Meeting vs. This Game:

Based on the first meeting between the Redskins and Eagles, as well as the Eagles losses at home versus the Bengals and Panthers, I would normally not be that concerned with this game.  The only thing that concerns me is that this will be Andy Reid's final home game as coach of the Eagles.

How will his players react?  I would hope they would show respect and come to play if I was an Eagles fan.  A lot of the Reid mainstays like Michael Vick are either gone or injured, but you have to think Reid is popular still with most of his players and they don't want to send him off with another embarrassing loss.

The Eagles fans have given up on the team and Reid, but could step up this week and give them a home field advantage they haven't had in over a month.  I have been in Philly a lot lately though and listened to WIP and not so sure that will happen.

2- Leadership:

I think last week’s game showed major strides for this team coached by Mike Shanahan.  Even though it was against an opponent that was overall not that good, it was still the kind of game the Redskins teams of the recent past would have no problem dropping.  The Redskins coming back in Cleveland from some early issues to dominate the second half reassured me that this team is not the same we saw in October.

I think the coaching staff deserves a lot credit as do the veteran team leaders like London Fletcher for the fast turnaround.  Fletcher in the end may not rank up there with former Skins like Green, Jurgenson, Riggins, and Monk, but what he meant the past five years to a franchise with little success until now should put him in the conversation.

3- Defense & Adjustments:

I have made it to #3 and have yet to mention Robert Griffin or Kirk Cousins.  I think I have one more important point before I get to them.  The offense has been there all season with the ability to run the ball and turn that into big plays in the passing game.

The defense has not been there all season.  I find it very weird that the defense led by Jim Haslett has quickly transformed from playing two bad halves down to one bad half which has allowed the Redskins to win games in the second half.

A lot was made in the glory days of Joe Gibbs and his staff's ability to access what was going on in the game and make adjustments at the half.  We are seeing that once again.  Add to that the ability to force turnovers in key points in the game and we now have a defense we can have some confidence in.

4- Griffin's Return:

As for who is behind center Sunday I expect it to be Robert Griffin III.  Griffin looks to be on his way to returning to action of missing last week.  If he is cleared to play I completely agree if the team decides for him to be out there.

Kirk Cousins was great last week but RG3 is the one who needs to be out there in another must win.  Griffin had a solid effort on the field in the first meeting and a spectacular one in the stat book.  I would expect him and the offense to be able to move the ball on the Eagles Defense.

Injuries to both Will Montgomery and Tyler Polumbus up front worry me even though both should be able to go.  Jordan Black is suspended and is a major blow if Polumbus can't go.  The Eagles even without Jason Babin have guys who can get to the quarterback and that should be the Redskins biggest concern Sunday.

5- Prediction:

Sunday's game could go down as a battle with the worst collection of safeties on one field in NFL history.  Both teams have been marred by horrible play at safety all season and it could be a main factor.

Nick Foles was unimpressive a few weeks back at FedEx but I have to believe he will be better this time around.  Although I feel he is way overrated as a wide receiver not having DeSean Jackson will help the Skins.  I still have bad memories of him flying by Dirty 30 on the first play of that Monday night game after Dirty did his share of talking pregame.  Unlike my buddy Kingston, who still is mad that Laron Landry is gone and even though our secondary has struggled, I still agree with the decision to let him walk.

As for the game.  The Philadelphia Eagles should be up for Andy Reid's final home game but I think this is a different Washington team than year's past.  I am confident that the better team will win and that the Redskins can not only move the ball as normal, but also force Foles and company into turnovers just like the Bengals did last week.  I see this game as a Redskins victory, 30-17.

 

 

Washington Redskins: Thoughts and Observations Heading into Week 16

December 18, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

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By John Manuel:

Here are my biggest observations after the Washington Redskins win in Cleveland:

1- First place!  Once again, first place!  

No one could expect the Redskins to be sitting in first place with only two games, especially after the Carolina loss.  But the team holds full control on winning the NFC East by beating the Eagles and Cowboys.  Not only that, but a win over the Eagles this week and lots of help and they could clinch at least a wild card spot.  Winning the final two games would most likely set up a match-up at home, yes at home with the Seattle Seahawks.  Pitting two of the NFL's hottest teams both led by rookie quarterbacks having stellar seasons.  There is a lot of work to be done but today is a good day to be a Redskins fan.

2- Have to give a big hand to Kirk Cousins after yesterdays performance.  

Cousins struggled the first few possessions but then got it going much like Robert Griffin has all season.  You couldn't ask for more from Cousins and how me moved the offense Sunday.  The Shanahans deserve a lot of credit as well for the way they prepared Cousins for the Browns.  Both the Shanahans and Cousins stayed the course even after the early interception.  Usually it has been the defense adjusting at the half in past weeks, but yesterday a lot of credit should go to the offensive staff.  No need to discuss Kirk Cousin's trade value yet, he is here and we may still need him.

3- When Brian Orakpo went down in week two it looked awful for the foreseeable future at the outside linebacker position opposite Ryan Kerrigan.  But no player has stepped up in recent weeks like Rob Jackson.  

Jackson continues to make big plays when big plays are needed like yesterday's interception.  Obviously I want Orakpo back in his normal position but Jackson and also Lorenzo Alexander have made the loss of Orakpo less of a major hit.  I really hope Alexander, like Darrel Young get Pro Bowl nods this season.  Both are very deserving to represent the NFC for special teams and fullback.  The overall defense has shown improvement each week and Jim Haslett should be off the hot seat as well.  

4- Before the season I was stilled worried that we didn't have the pass catchers a rookie QB would need to be successful early on.  

Then Pierre Garcon went down followed by Fred Davis but others have stepped up.  The team just doesn't lose when Garcon plays and his big play ability has rubbed off on others.  Aldrick Robinson has been quiet as of late, but Leonard Hankerson made both his catches count with 2 touchdowns including the perfect toss by Cousins.  I am very thrilled that Shanahan held onto Santana Moss as well.  I am guessing Shanahan is also.  Santana has been consistently taking advantage of his opportunities all season.  As for the loss of Davis, Logan Paulson is not the pass catcher Davis is, but the run stats do not lie and he has to be a factor in that.

5- I mentioned that I hope both Darrel Young and Lorenzo Alexander make the Pro Bowl this season but here are a few others who should get consideration as well.  

Obviously Robert Griffin III should be in contention.  I would figure that Aaron Rodgers is a lock to return.  It probably comes down to four guys battling for two spots.  Griffin, Brees, Ryan and Wilson all deserve to be there based on their play and what RG3, Wilson and Ryan have done with their teams.  Its a tough call but you have to figure Griffin will do well with both fans and players.  

As for running back Alfred Morris should be close.  After Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin it will come down to Morris and Marshawn Lynch.  Morris will most likely get the first alternate spot.  I think its almost a lock now that Trent Williams will be going.  His play has been superb and he has been getting talked up a lot.  Kai Forbath came on too late to make the team but has been great too.

 

 

POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Assessing Redskins at the Half Way Point

November 2, 2012 in NFL

By John Manuel & Steve Shoup:

JOHN – POINT:

Not only have we reached the halfway point of the 2012 Redskins season but last week’s game marked the halfway point of Vice President and Coach Mike Shanahan's five year contract.  So let’s debate where the team and coach Shanny stand at this point.  Two weeks ago we looked at a possible split between the Giants and Steelers games, but that didn't happen.

The good news is that NFC playoff spots are still up for grabs.  Is this team a legit playoff contender or are the St. Louis Rams on their way to getting a very nice first round pick?

Let’s start with the status of the team this year.  At 3-5, how do you see the second half going?  Will it be another 2-6 run like we have gotten used to?

STEVE – COUNTERPOINT:

Great question and topic! Well at the beginning of the year I predicted 5-11 so a 2-6 run would make me look smart, but I'm going to say it is most likely that we match our first half record and go 3-5 again. I know that will disappoint the people who think we are playoff bound, but currently 13 of the 15 other teams in the NFC are ahead of us in the playoff race. One of the teams that are behind us is our opponent this week the Carolina Panthers. For the Redskins to not finish in the bottom 5 in the league I believe this is a must win for us this week.

If we do finish 6-10 can we really consider this season progress and what does that mean for the Redskins going forward?

JOHN:

I don't see this team as a playoff team either but I have them getting to 7-9 and not falling into the second half swoons of the past as bad.  My feeling is the defense can't be any worse and the offense should at worst stay the same.  Would 7-9 be progress?  At quarterback, yes but everywhere else would be a no.  Saying that progress at quarterback was a given based on who was under center last season and before.

But the colossal defensive drop from middle of the road to complete joke outweighs the quick development of a young quarterback.  What really makes me think that there is going to be no progress at seasons end is all the holes the team will have come off season.  We know that there are holes when it comes to who lines up on the field but now it gets fun for us.

Does it stop at the players?  Do we look at coaches?  Do we look at Shanahan and Allen?  Most say no but they are nowhere close to even .500 so far.

STEVE:

I'll take it a step further and say we'll see progress both at quarterback and running back, but agree that we've regressed quite a bit, primarily on defense. The Redskins are facing a year without much in the way of cap room (even after releasing the dead weight), and without their first round pick.

As for the coaches I think we will see significant turnover on the defensive staff and with Special Teams Coach Danny Smith, but the question is should it stop there? While I love the offense that is playing up to Robert Griffin's strengths, Mike Shanahan currently has a 14-26 record (a .350 winning percentage). That is a worse winning percentage than Jim Zorn, Steve Spurrier or Norv Turner.  Even if we went 6-2 down the stretch, Mike Shanahan will have a 20-28 record in three years (a .417 winning percentage). That is not what you'd expect from one of the highest paid coaches in the league.

Though Vinny's demons still haunt the Redskins, much of this team was signed or drafted by Mike Shanahan, and it is many of his failures that have the Redskins losing. How much blame should be on Mike Shanahan, and should the Redskins move to bring in a better personnel guy to take some of those responsibilities from him?

JOHN:

Vinny the Demon would be a solid Halloween costume although I still have last year’s Sgt. Antonelli in the closet.  I have been one to put a lot of Shanahan's problems onto the personnel moves of the past but do agree that the current roster does have his mark all over it.  I don't blame him for the penalty because those contracts would be hurting us still anyway unless I am wrong.

If it stays the same, the defensive staff will have to be overhauled led by a dismissal of Jim Haslett.  Raheem Morris has done nothing to show he could be the man even with a bunch of backup-types and as you said before he comes as a 4-3 guy anyway.

We really missed out on Wade Phillips to run this 3-4.  Rex Ryan could be available though I think he runs his mouth worse than D Hall.  Shanahan and Allen won't be going anywhere and I don't think Snyder would remove either.  And if he went to Shanahan and said bring in a new personnel guy then it could get interesting.  Possible Marty situation but doubt it.  RG3 is making Snyder money and I doubt he wants to hurt that by removing the Shanahans as well.  I do think Kyle and Mike have done very well with Griffin and I was afraid to break that up in the past weeks.  Now I am thinking there are a lot of coaches that could do well with Griffin.  Where do you stand on this?

STEVE:

The Capgate would still be affecting the Skins, but the cost would have been spread out over more years, so it would have maybe meant that Shanahan couldn't have re-signed Jammal Brown.

Wade Phillips definitely turned it around in Houston, though it is clear they gave him some tools to work with (is it time we start to regret the Kerrigan trade that we took instead of drafting J.J. Watt?). I don't want to see Rex Ryan either as I think he's too much of a distraction, though would be happy for a more aggressive defense.

I do think Robert Griffin would make it easy for a lot of coaches to be successful with, but I do give Shanahan credit for completely basing his system around his QB's strengths and eliminating a lot of the low percentage throws that get most rookies in trouble. Maybe the Redskins could bring in Chip Kelly to run the offense. That could be scary for other opponents (esp. if we add speed around him).

JOHN:

Chip Kelly, wow.  If he flirted with Tampa I think he would jump at the Redskins job especially if he takes home the crystal football this year.  But that is getting way ahead of ourselves.

As for Kerrigan I have been disappointed in his play this season and losing Orakpo is no excuse.  JJ Watt is rolling towards defensive player of the year and it seemed the Skins liked him a lot.  If Kerrigan can turn it around it would be the makings of third consecutive good first round picks for Shanny since Trent Williams seems to be playing at that level.  I am sure we will be running back this same question in nine weeks, or hopefully eleven or twelve from now.

STEVE:

At the time I was happy with the Kerrigan deal and taking Jarvis Jenkins in the 2nd round, because I thought a rush linebacker was a bigger need and the Skins needed the picks. But now it seems pretty clear that J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed are far superior to Kerrigan and Jenkins. And the fact that the Redskins got Leonard Hankerson, Roy Helu, Aldrick Robinson and Maurice Hurt doesn't seem so special anymore. Hopefully Kerrigan will figure it out and get back on the path of being a dominant player. Still not sure I'm ready to claim Trent Williams a success yet (still pretty up and down), but he's at least improving which is good.

Unfortunately I fear we will continue to have some of these questions about replacing coaches and poor personnel decisions before either the 9-12 week window you are hoping. Hopefully the Redskins can improve on their second half failures from the last couple of years and at least go .500 down the stretch.