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A Look at the 3-4 Defense Moving Forward

March 18, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

By: Justin Partlow


Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen the Redskins prioritize the defense and how it needed to be fixed after last year. So far we’ve seen the Redskins franchise Brian Orakpo, re-sign Perry Riley, Chris Baker and DeAngelo Hall and add veterans such as Daryl Sharpton, Adam Hayward, Tracy Porter, and Jason Hatcher. With all of that being said what could we expect for the 3-4 defense to look like moving forward? Well let’s take a look at what can happen.

The natural logic shows from the signings that Redskins are going to looking to get away from the natural Pittsburgh 3-4 model defense and move more to a 1-gap system that will allow for the defense to pin their ears back and be more aggressive. With this philosophy shift, we can expect for the Redskins to take more chances up front with that 1 gap scheme, but also give up those big plays as well. The 1 gap system can lead to a feast/famine style, but with adding Hatcher next to Cofield, and having guys like Kerrigan and Orakpo coming off of the edge, the 3-4 defense should be able to generate more pressure and be able to get after the quarterback more than they did last year.

The under the radar signing of the offseason though, was the signing of Tracy Porter to be the #3 slot CB for the Redskins. Porter is a playmaker, and a bit of a gambler but also has the ability to play well in the slot. With Porter moving to the slot CB position, that will allow for David Amerson to be the starting CB for the Redskins alongside of DeAngelo Hall. The trio of Amerson, Hall, and Porter will allow for negative big plays to be given up, but also will allow for the fair share of INT’s and game changing plays as well.

Daryl Sharpton’s signing also signified the lessening of the need of an ILB in the draft compared to the few days before free agency started. Having Riley back on a good deal and having Sharpton on the inside as well will allow for a solid tandem. Sharpton though struggles in coverage, so look for the Redskins to still look for an ILB who can provide good coverage abilities. A dark horse player who could make the 3-4 transition and would provide very good coverage abilities would be Ryan Shazier out of Ohio State. Shazier isn’t the biggest LB coming out, but what he provides is someone who will be able to play in space, make plays on passing downs. Shazier next to someone like Riley would be a very good tandem and allow for a complete LB group moving forward.

With all of that being said, it’s easy to see so far the Redskins have made some moves to attack and fix the defense. The biggest upgrade that still needs to happen is an upgrade to the safety position. If the Redskins can add a veteran such as Ryan Clark and develop the players they have in the secondary then there could be a noticeable improvement. Look for Allen and company to attack the Safety market the next week or so and then identify if there is a need to go for a safety in the draft. Washington has done a very good job so far with attacking FA and handing out smart and team friendly contracts, now comes the finishing of FA and then adding more talented players on both sides of the ball in the draft.

Redskins Defense Comes Up Big In Win

September 30, 2013 in Redskins Personnel

The Redskins Defense was much maligned during the first 3 weeks of the season, but they came up with their best game of the year (maybe best game in years) as the Redskins beat the Raiders 24-14 to improve to 1-3 on the season. While the offense will get credited with two TD drives to give the Redskins the lead in the 2nd half, it was the defense that clearly won this football game, and got the Redskins their first win.

Early on it didn't necessarily look like the defense was going to give much of an advantage. On the Raiders first drive Darren McFadden had 20 yards on two carries, and the team was missing tackles left and right. The Defense came up with the stop on an Orakpo sack, but it looked like an ominous sign. Things looked worst the next drive with the Raiders already up 7 on a blocked punt, Oakland drove down 81 yards for the touchdown and a 14 point lead. That drive the Raiders marched right down the field, and did so for the most part without McFadden. Missed tackles and blown coverages plagued the Redskins, and it looked like it was going to be a long day for the Redskins Defense even without QB Terrelle Pryor and RB Darren McFadden playing.    NFL: AUG 12 Preseason - Steelers at Redskins

The Redskins Defense tightened up after that and didn't allow a single point the rest of the game. Time and time again the defense came up with the big play and they kept the Redskins alive in the game. Their first real big play came early in the 2nd quarter after the Redskins had cut the lead to 14-3. The Raiders had picked up a first down and were near midfield, but on 3rd and 5, the defense got good pressure and Matt Flynn had to dump it off, and cornerback David Amerson jumped the route and returned it 43 yards for the touchdown.

The Redskins were now back in the game and in a position to take the lead. Amerson's TD was the Redskins 3rd defensive TD of the season. With the special teams giving up one of the Raiders touchdowns, it meant that the defense finished the game tied 7-7. Giving up one score, but scoring on their own as well. You really can't ask for a better defensive performance.

The Redskins Defense wasn't done yet as there was plenty of time left in the game, and the Raiders kept getting the ball in good field position. On the Raiders next drive the defense stopped them for what looked like a 3 and out as the Raiders were looking at 4th and 1 from their own 28 yard line. A fake punt though not only got them the first down, but 19 yards putting them at the Oakland 47. The defense held again forcing them to punt 4 downs later on the Redskins 45. After the Redskins went for it on 4th and 3 and Griffin was sacked, the Raiders had the ball on their own 49 yard line with just under three minutes remaining. It would have been easy to understand the defense giving up a touchdown or at least a field goal with that short field, but they held firm forcing a 3 and out and a punt. After the Redskins went 3 and out, the Raiders got the ball on their own 32 with 1:04 remaining and two timeouts. They had a great opportunity to get into field goal range, but again the defense held firm.

The Redskins Defense continued to play lights out, forcing three 3 and outs to start the third quarter. The last one of those was the most impressive, as the Raiders recovered a fumble on the Redskins 42 yard line, and weren't able to get a single first down. That forced the Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski to not only attempt a 52 yarder, but to kick it off the dirt which is never easy. The Redskins Defense only allowed two first downs until the final 6:30 of the game, at which point the Redskins were up by two scores.

The defense still wasn't done though, as they set up the 2nd touchdown after Ryan Kerrigan sacked Matt Flynn, and stripped the ball away. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield recovered at the Raiders 42 yard line and the offense was able to score their 2nd TD two plays later to give the Redskins a 24-14 lead. On the ensuing drive the Raiders finally found a little success moving the ball down the field. They had the ball 3rd and 1 from the Redskins 17 yard line with 3:38 to go. If the Raiders could score there, they would only need a stop, and likely a handful of yards to get in Janikowski's field goal range for a chance to tie. The Redskins held them on 3rd down, and with the Raiders unsure if they could get the ball that far down the field again, they opted to go for it on 4th and 1. Brian Orakpo dove over the pile and stopped the attempt giving the Redskins the ball back.

While there were some defensive issues (particularly on the second drive) and the Redskins did beat a Raiders team that was without Pryor, McFadden and FB Marcel Reece, it was a great game by the defense. The defense came up with big stop after big stop, and two crucial turnovers which led to 14 points. The Redskins punished Flynn and the Raiders offensive line with 7 sacks and numerous pressures and hits. The defensive backfield held up and didn't have really any major blown assignments after the Raiders offensive touchdown. The tackling was still a question mark, but it was far better than it was in the first three weeks.

One of the biggest keys was the Redskins Defense played penalty free football. Key defensive penalties have kept drives alive in previous weeks, but here the Redskins didn't commit a single defensive penalty. Though you can't make too much out of this game, especially with the Raiders injuries, what can be said is that the defense won this football game and has given the Redskins a chance to contend for the division.



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




Observations on Victory Tuesday from Redskins Huge MNF Win

December 4, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

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By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Here are my five observations from the Washington Redskins huge win over division rival New York Giants. What better way to enjoy your Victory Tuesday:

1.  RG3 – you heard the chants.

Sorry but he has to be number one again.  Actually not sorry, and maybe this is going to sound as a homer, but he is just that special.  Robert Griffin III once again showed he is a superstar in the making, if not already one.  The kid is never frazzled and even though the numbers were not spectacular, he always looked in control and gives everyone full confidence when he is under center.

If he stays healthy Griffin is they type of player that guarantees at least one championship.  Not just in football, but all sports special players like him always at least get one.  Dan Marino is probably the only superstar quarterback not to win a championship, so the odds are in Washington's favor.  Even though he was killed for years, you knew that LeBron was not going to get shut out also.  RG3 is that type of star and I am very confident in what the Redskins have in him.

2. I love how the Redskins ran once again last night.

The league's best running team pounded the Giants all night and especially on the final drive.  It is getting to the norm that Alfred Morris will not go down on first contact and is always going to get 2-3 more yards than most backs per run.  Morris should at least be in the Rookie of the Year discussion as well, although the play of Griffin, Luck and Martin will overshadow the consistent solid year he has had.  The Shanahans know they have a workhorse who is showing no signs of letting up.

Who else knows?  Other teams now and the Redskins and RG3 are able to pummel teams with play action out of the read option.  The Giants never could stop it from the first drive to the last.  I hope that Darrel Young gets a Pro Bowl nod as the fullback.  He is the fullback on the #1 rush attack and when he does get the ball positive things happen.  I expect he won't because everyone in Wisconsin will vote like 10x for John Kuhn, but Young deserves the honor.

3. Defense Stepped Up.

The much maligned defense had a long first half but when it mattered down the stretch stepped up.  Holding the Giants to only 16 points and one touchdown was the difference on Monday night.  Everyone felt the frustration of the first half as the defense failed to get off the field 3rd down after 3rd down.

But Haslett's crew adjusted and adjusted well and were able to in the second half.  Helped by poor Giants starting points all second half, the defense came up with enough key stops to hold the Giants to just a second half field goal.  The yards allowed may not look pretty but I think the defense which has been criticized all season should be given credit today.

4. What a difference Pierre Garcon makes to this team.

Garcon showed how valuable he is to the surging Redskins.

Garcon showed how valuable he is to the surging Redskins.

I am sure his foot is bothering him but you would never know based on how he has played the past couple weeks.  Garcon's ability to catch the ball in open field and go for big gains is something we haven't seen on a consistent basis in years.  Santana did some but not as the threat that Garcon is.  The Giants could not stop that play action post all night.

I also should give credit to a huge grab by Leonard Hankerson on a bad toss by Griffin.  Ball was clearly behind him and Hankerson adjusted to make a huge grab.

And if I needed mention it would just be wrong but the offensive line deserves big credit.  Obvious we ran the ball once again but Griffin was given time to throw against the Giants "Nascar" pass rush we heard about all night.  Just like Young, Trent Williams deserves the Pro Bowl trip especially going out there hurting last night.

5. Finally maybe the lone bad.  Brandon Banks has to go and go now.

Niles Paul can handle kickoffs just fine and I still think Santana Moss should be back on punts.  I think the Redskins would be smart to cut Banks and add a kickoff specialist.  Forbath cannot get touchbacks and when the NFL is giving you that by moving kickoffs to the 35 you must not allow teams to get returns.  I am afraid one of these times the Redskins will get burned.  I think that roster spot would be much better utilized in that manner now that Banks isn't even used to scare defenses as well.

As for Forbath, I don't like the kickoffs but once again he comes through on field goals.  Not only is Forbath making kicks but they seem to go right down the middle each time.

Now the Baltimore Ravens come down 95 to FedEx on Sunday.  I have a lot of friends who are Ravens fans so this should be an interesting one.  We will look at that game later in week as we celebrate Victory Tuesday today!



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.



Washington Redskins Week 11 Post Game Thoughts

November 19, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

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1. Defense Shows Up:

The Redskins much maligned defense showed up yesterday in a big way. They forced three turnovers, had four sacks, and kept the opponent out of the endzone for the first time since 2008. The biggest difference today was the pressure, as in edition to the sacks, the Redskins were able to keep pressure on quarterback Nick Foles throughout the game. Jim Haslett who has been on the hot seat all year, dialed up a great defensive game plan, with a number of exotic blitzes. One of the better parts of the game for the defense was the fact they weren't committing as many penalties as they had been prior to the bye. Though it was a really strong performance of the defense and the best so far of the season, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that the Eagles didn't help themselves at all. Not only was it a rookie quarterback behind a banged up offensive line, but Philly continuously shot themselves in the foot with penalties, missed assignments and dropped passes.

2. Robert Griffin III Saves the Day:

For as good as the defense was the offense was overall pretty ordinary, but they were still able to put up 31 points due to some big plays by Robert Griffin III. Much will be made of his 14-15 passing including four touchdowns, but the most impressive part of his game was what he did with his legs. Griffin scrambled a number of times to extend drives and pick up big chunks of yards on the ground. In fact he ended up running nearly as many times (11 to 15) as he attempted a pass. Griffin did made some big plays through the air as well that obviously resulted into points, but much of those wouldn't be possible if not for him setting them up with plays on the ground.

3. Offensive Line Woes Continue to Plague the Redskins:

The reason why Griffin was so key, was because the Offensive line was so bad. They allowed a number of runs to be stopped for little or no gain, and gave up just a ton of pressure. If not for Griffin's ability to scramble, the line may have given up 6 or 7 sacks. On top of that the line was once again the main culprit in giving up penalties, which helped stall multiple drives. The Eagles lost contain on Griffin, but a more discipline team would be able to capitalize on the offensive line issues to the point of stopping the Redskins, on a short week the Redskins need to get this fixed fast.

Quick Thoughts:

Santana Moss: It might have just been one play, but what a tremendous catch and effort by Moss to get that touchdown. That play rivaled Robert Griffin III's run against the Minnesota Vikings to seal that game. It also once again brings to mind the question, why is Moss not getting more snaps and targets. He's been so productive this year when given the opportunity, why are the Redskins limiting him?

Penalties: The Redskins came into the game averaging 8.3 penalties (accepted penalties) a game, which was the highest in the NFL, so how do they come out at home after the bye? They commit 13 penalties, about 5 more than their average. The offense was the biggest culprit, which is unacceptable as multiple of the penalties were false starts. How you commit multiple false starts at home is beyond me.

Play-calling: Once again there were a number of questionable play calling decisions by the offense. Going for ti on 4th and 1, inside the red zone when a field goal would essentially ice the game made little sense. Yes a first down and eventual TD would have been better, but a field goal made it a three TD game. It would have been one thing if the Skins were inside the 5 forcing them to drive 95+ yards, but from near the 20, that gave Philly solid field position. Their play calling on the drive after the fumble recovery before half was also problematic, and something that better teams would have exploited. Finally, why the Redskins were continuing to run Griffin, late in the game when it was already out of reach is beyond me. Look what happened on the side when LeSean McCoy gets injured on a meaningless play at the end of the game, and that was with the team being down. At least there you can make the case that they are trying for the miracle comeback, or working on plays for the rest of the year. The Redskins need to be smarter and either pull Griffin in those situations or don't put him in a position to take hits. .

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Washington Redskins 5 Keys to the Game: Week 11

November 17, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

1. Run The Football:

I know they will be tempted to pass the football on the Eagles and their disappointing passing defense, but it is a mistake to try to rely on the passing game. It looks tempting given that the Eagles pass rush hasn't been potent, and their safeties have been a huge liability. The problem with that thinking is it ignores how poor the Redskins pass blocking has been. If the Eagles can get some pressure, those Philly defensive backs can be very opportunistic. Running is the safer game plan for the Redskins as it has been the most consistent part of their offense. The Eagles Wide-9 defense can also be more susceptible to the run than the pass, allowing the Redskins strength to attack the Eagles weakness.

2. Attack Nick Foles:

Nick Foles is a rookie quarterback behind a line that is missing four starters. it doesn't matter whom the Redskins are missing, they have to be able to get pressure. There is no excuse to not be able to make the rookie uncomfortable at home. They have to force Foles into some errant throws and some turnovers. Ryan Kerrigan and Stephen Bowen are the two players that need to step up the most in this game, as they are the top remaining rushers for Washington.

3. Protect Robert Griffin:

The offensive line has started to get more exposed these couple of weeks, and it is starting to affect Robert Griffin III's play. Part of the Redskins problem is they have been utilizing shot gun formations and quick passing less and less (in part due to the opponents score). That is forcing Griffin in the pocket for over 2.5, a timeframe that this line is incapable of blocking for. The Redskins have to use their backs and TE's to chip defensive ends on their way out for routes (or actually stay in to block). Also the Redskins need to limit their passes that will take longer than 2.5 seconds ensuring that Griffin will have the time to complete his passes.

4. Limit the Penalties:

The Redskins are the most penalized team in the NFL and it is costing them games. They can't keep averaging 8.3 penalties a game if they want to be a legitimate contender going forward. The Redskins biggest problem has been on offense were they have committed over 50% of their penalties. The increased penalties in recent weeks is one of the reasons why the Redskins offense has started to stall out, and the scoring has slowed down

5. Get Creative:

Look the Redskins are 3-6 and their playoff hopes are all but lost, but that doesn't mean you give up. What it does mean is everything should be on the table. While the Redskins have run some tick plays on offense, for the most part they have been telegraphed (having Banks on the field) and unimaginative. The Redskins need to get more creative on offense and defense, hopefully coming up with some much needed big plays. On Special Teams the Redskins could use a trick play or two to shake things up.

Washington Redskins Week 9: Post-game Thoughts

November 5, 2012 in NFL

Washington Redskins Week 9 Thoughts and Observations:

1. Mike Shanahan Needs to Take Responsibility:

Look the Redskins playoff hopes are extremely small right now, but you don't say that as a head coach. Making statements about now being an evaluation process, is offensive to both the players and the fans. This entire season and Mike Shanahan's three years with the Redskins should be a time where you are evaluating players, and perhaps that is the problem. If Mike Shanahan had been properly evaluating players, perhaps he'd know that Brandon Banks is awful as an offensive weapon, so perhaps he shouldn't be out there in goalline situations (also he's not a good return man, so perhaps we should fix that as well). If he had been evaluating personnel perhaps he'd notice that Alfred Morris has been the Redskins most consistent offensive weapon, and that he should probably have more than 13 carries. Maybe he'd notice that many of the gimmick plays (WR and TE end arounds, Banks formations etc.) are not fooling anyone. Perhaps evaluation could have told Mike Shanahan that the offensive line is a huge mess, and actually really hasn't improved as much as people try to say.

In addition to his post game comments, the buck also stops with Mike Shanahan. He hand-picked this coaching staff and almost this entire roster. He helps with the game planning on offense, and at the end of the day he's the one who decided to ignore (or go cheap) on the offensive line and secondary. Shanahan also is responsible for why this is the most penalized team in the NFL, as well as continued poor clock and game management. Mike Shanahan has to bear responsibility for being outplayed and out coached by a 1-6 team, despite being at home and winning time of possession.

2. Brandon Banks needs to Go:

This Brandon Banks experiment has to end, and it has to end ASAP. He is awful as an offensive weapon and just can't make plays when given the opportunity. And why are you even attempting to use him in to-goal -to go situations. The only chance for Banks to be effective at all is if he can get the ball in space, which is pretty impossible to get when the defense is only three yards away from the goalline. That final play of the game was just horrendous as well, that was almost as awful as "Swinging Gate". Who thought that would be effective? And Why was Banks running around killing the clock? If whatever you were trying to do didn't work, either go to the ground for one more play or go out of bounds.

3. Offensive Play Calling Hurt The Team:

Throughout this game the play-calling was just really poor. In addition to the awful use of Brandon Banks, Mike and Kyle Shanahan have a lot to explain about what they were thinking in this game. Going for it on 4th down, instead of kicking the field goal to make it 7-6, was inexcusable. As was the play call to try and run Griffin to the sideline, with little apparent help. Continuing to try to attempt passes throwing down the field as opposed to the quick passing attack that worked so well the first month of the year, exposed Robert Griffin III to a lot of pressure. Not running Alfred Morris more in the 2nd half, regardless of the score. Not keeping in more backs and tight ends to max protect for Robert Griffin III, when it was clear the offensive line was not up to the task.

4. Robert Griffin III Had  Rough Game:

Yes I know he didn't have a turnover, and no it wasn't a downright awful game, but there is no doubt that he struggled. Griffin was 23-39 for 215 yards, while being sacked 4 times for the loss of 29 yards. That is just a 58.9% completion rating and just a 5.15 yards per attempt average. If you include net yards per attempt, which includes sacks the Redskins passing offense had just 4.3 net yards per attempt. Those numbers are all poor (especially the ypa and nypa). Tough one can point to Griffin having to suffer a few drops, and that he threw some nice strikes, many of his passes were well off the mark, including multiple ones that were complete. Now the pass rush did impact a number of those off target throws, but Griffin bears some of that responsibility as well. Though the failure was mainly with the offensive line and the coaching schemes, Griffin also held on to the ball too long on a number of occasions. Sometimes he was able to make positive plays occur, but other times it led to sacks or errant passes.Griffin was also for the most part contained in the running game. He did have 11 carries for 53 yards, but going beyond the box score they were pretty ineffective scrambles. 21 of those yards came on the final two drives when the game was pretty much out of reach. Early in the game, Griffin was contained, especially on designed runs where the Panthers got him for a loss or no gain multiple times.

5. The Defensive Struggles Continued:

Now there play was perhaps the best of the season (though the Panthers helped out greatly by blowing some opportunities), but it was still very poor overall. They might have limited the Panthers to just 330 yards (which for the Redskins is a positive) and 50 plays, but they still managed to give up some big plays, and allow Carolina to score three touchdowns (including going 2-2 in the Red Zone). The Redskins Defense also failed to force any turnovers, or get any sacks. They managed maybe a couple of pressures, but by in large their pass rush failed them again.

6. The Offensive LIne Matters:

The Redskins ignored the offensive line in free agency, and took project players in the draft (including 3rd rounder Josh LeRibeus), and it is costing them. While the thought has been that the line is better this year, even heading into this game there were some serious concerns. Penalties were up among the offensive line. Sack percentage was up (overall sacks were down, but the Redskins were throwing far less). While the rushing numbers were impressive, Alfred Morris had dealt with a lot of contact, at or behind the line of scrimmage. Also, much of the rushing numbers came from Robert Griffin scrambling after the offensive line broke down in pass protection. Yesterday the line had their worst game, committing three penalties, allowing 4 sacks, numerous pressures and allowing multiple runs to be stopped for no gain or a loss. The Panthers for the most part were able to rush four and get that level of penetration which is very problematic going forward. Though much of the blame will be on RT Tyler Polumbus, the reality is all five linemen struggled, including LT Trent Williams who the team has been suggesting as a Pro Bowl candidate.

Washington Redskins Quick Thoughts From Week 6

October 15, 2012 in NFL, Uncategorized

1. Robert Griffin III is electric:

-One week after having a game to forget, Griffin came back with a very strong all-around game. Even before he broke a 76 yard touchdown run to seal the game late in the 4th quarter, Griffin was having a strong game both running and passing, and had done enough to get the Washington Redskins their first home victory in over a year. Robert Griffin III over came an early interception, to go 17-22 for 182 and a touchdown. The Redskins utilized a quicker passing game to neutralize Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, and to help protect Griffin. Griffin picked Minnesota apart on some key drives, and when things broke down picked up some yards with his legs (while avoiding many unnecessary hits). All-around it was one of Griffin's strongest games this season, and by far his best game at home.

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2. New Kicker Comes Through:

-The Washington Redskins didn't get a chance to ease their new kicker, Kai Forbath into his duties with an easy kick, as Forbath's first NFL kick was a 50 yard attempt with the Vikings already up 9-0. The extra distance and pressure of the situation didn't matter as Forbath drilled the kick, and probably would have made it from another 5-7 yards. Forbath now gives the Washington Redskins a chance to at least attempt long field goals, something they didn't have with Billy Cundiff, and more confidence with total accuracy. His kickoffs weren't as good as Billy Cundiff's, but they weren't awful by any means.

3. What a difference Pressure Makes:

-Last week the Washington Redskins Defense barely came close to Matt Ryan, and he was able to pick apart the Redskins secondary at will, This week Christian Ponder was able to put up big numbers against the Redskins Defense, but it came at a cost. Pressure forced four sacks including a fumble that set up the 2nd touchdown. Pressure also forced some off target throws, including the Vikings final pass of the game which was intercepted by DeAngelo Hall in the end zone. The Washington Redskins Defense isn't that good, so they need to generate pressure to come up with big plays which can be the difference between a win or a loss.

4. 3rd down No Problem:

-The Washington Redskins came into the game with the worst 3rd down conversion percentage in the game, but were 6-12 on Sunday (including Griffin's 76 yard scamper).  The Redskins started off poorly (2-6 in the first half), but did much better in the 2nd half of the game, which helped extend drives, and keep the Vikings off the field. No bigger conversion was the one of Griffin's scamper, as the Vikings were set to get the ball back with over 2 minutes and 1-2 timeouts (they likely would have called their second timeout had they held on third down), and would have taken the lead with a touchdown. Griffin's run picked up the first down (and then eventually a touchdown), and was a major deciding point in the game. Even if he hadn't have scored on the play, the first down, would have helped in the field position department, and forced the Vikings to burn their timeouts and the two minute warning.

5. Why is Brandon Banks touching the ball late in the 4th Quarter?:

-I know everyone thinks he's a "weapon", but let's look at the numbers. Zero kickoff return yardage, because the Vikings kicked it through the end zone on just about every kickoff. One punt return yard, on his single return. In the Redskins option style attack, Banks managed negative 2 yards on two attempts. Receiving Banks was a bit more effective,with 3 yards on two catches. The worst though was his final catch, where he caught the ball out in the flat after the Vikings scored to make it an 11 point game, and fumbled the ball (after gaining zero yards). Luckily for both Banks and the Redskins the fumble bounced out of bounds. Had a Vikings player recovered it it would have given Minnesota excellent field position, with about 8 minutes remaining and the momentum (also easily could have been a scoop and score type of play). When you are trying to run out the clock, why would you rely on a guy with chronic ball security problems? That was a horrible play call by the Redskins and one they need to avoid going forward.

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Washington Redskins Keys to the Game: Week 6

October 12, 2012 in 2012 NFL Draft, NFL

The Top 5 Keys to the Game For the Washington Redskins to Win on Sunday:

1. Protect Robert Griffin III:

-This is an important key every week, but is absolutely critical with the Washington Redskins star rookie returning from a concussion. The Redskins need to do whatever it takes to ensure that Robert Griffin III doesn't take any unnecessary hits. This can be done in multiple ways. First they need to keep the running back in to block on all plays, as the Minnesota Vikings are a team that loves to blitz. Next they need to use their tight ends to at least chip, if not double team Jared Allen, to ensure he is not 1-on-1 versus Trent Williamsall day. Third, the Washington Redskins need to have a game plan where they throw short, quick passes, hopefully before the pass rush can make an impact. Finally, Robert Griffin III has to not take any risks, if there is nothing open and the defense is bearing down, throw the ball away, it is not worth taking an unnecessary hit.

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2. Establish the Run:

-The Minnesota Vikings are 2nd in rushing defense, based on yards allowed per attempt, and have only allowed one team to run for over 100 yards, but this is where the Washington Redskins need to attack them. The Redskins rushing attack, even with Alfred Morris alone has been the most consistent part of this offense, and for the Redskins to win they need it to show up on Sunday. Relying on Alfred Morris, will also take pressure off of Robert Griffin III, and can help minimize the hits on Robert Griffin. The Redskins should look to carry the ball at least 30 times this game, with Morris getting at least 20 carries.

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3. Slow Down Percy Harvin:

-The Vikings receiver has done a great job this year being an all-around weapon and has scored via a run, kick return, and reception. The Vikings are going to find ways to get him the ball, and the Washington Redskins need to find a way to contain him. Don't let him pick up big gains, and hopefully keep him out of the end zone. It's not easy, especially given the number of big plays this secondary has given up. Harvin could also have an impact like a Danny Amendola did against the Redskins Defense in week two, so DeAngelo Hallwill need to come up big to slow him down.

4. Beware of the 2nd year Stars:

-Going into this year the threat from the Vikings would appear to be limited to Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, but 2nd year quarterback Christian Ponder and tight end Kyle Rudolphhave been a huge part of the Vikings success this year. Ponder has really taken his game to another level, as he has been extremely efficient with the football. He has a 69% completion rating and a 6-2 TD to interception ratio. He's killing teams with underneath throws as he marches the Vikings down the field. One of his favorite targets for those types of throws is TE Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph has 19 receptions for 169 yards, and has been a favorite red zone target with four touchdowns. Given how much the Redskins Defense has struggled to stop good tight ends this year, this is a match-up that will have a huge impact on the game.

5. Get Creative:

-The Washington Redskins are 2-3 and facing a Vikings team that looks to be among the better teams in the NFC. The Redskins also have the longest home losing streak. This is not the time for the Redskins to be conservative with their approach. They need to get creative and do whatever they can to get the victory. Whether that is trick plays on offense, exotic blitzes on defense, or going for it on 4th down instead of punting/kicking it. Obviously the Redskins need to pick their spots, but if they can catch the Vikings unprepared they could get some game breaking plays. The one caveat is that offensively they can't afford any trick plays that put Robert Griffin III at risk for any additional hits. Other than that though the playbook should be wide open, as the Washington Redskins try to break their home losing streak.

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