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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!!!



Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Cleveland Browns

December 13, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

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By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Here are the five biggest factors for the Redskins to defeat the Cleveland Browns this Sunday:

1.  First question is obvious, what should be the determination on if Robert Griffin III plays Sunday.

Monday I would have given little chance that he would be out there by then came practice on Wednesday and that Griffin was doing much better.  Right now no one is going to say any percentage chance he is at until Friday's injury report.  And I am fine with that move by Shanahan.

That being said, my guess is that the doctors will OK him to play and the Griffin will want to play.  It's going to come down to Mike Shanahan's call after he weighs the chances to win with Kirk Cousins versus the potential long term injury risk.  These are the big decisions that Shanahan is paid megabucks by Dan Snyder for.  I don't think anyone knows the answer yet.

2. If Griffin goes it most likely means he will be able to do what we have seen all season.

Big Ben would be out there Sunday in the same situation but his playing style would allow it.  If Griffin goes he will slash the Browns Defense like he has all defenses.  It will continue the Skins ability to run the ball down the throats of the Browns even though they have a solid front as of late with Phil Taylor back.

The Browns have been playing better but it’s very low impressive wins versus teams like the Chiefs and Raiders.  I am convinced at this point that an 80% Griffin can move the ball against any NFL defense.

3. If Kirk Cousins is under center it is a big change.

Who will play this Sunday in Cleveland...Griffin or Cousins?

Who will play this Sunday in Cleveland…Griffin or Cousins?

I do think the Redskins can win this game with Cousins, although we have seen very little.  I think the coaching staff and Rex Grossman will have Cousins ready to play.  Cousins having Pierre Garcon out there will be a huge assist as well.  I have been amazed with the offensive game plans this season and especially most recently.  So I would expect the same if they have to prepare for a Cousins start.

The big difference could be protecting the football.  Griffin has been Brady-like all season throwing only four picks.  Cousins threw two in short work versus Atlanta so that would be the team’s biggest concern going with Cousins.

4. The Cleveland Browns offense is very young even though the quarterback is almost 30.

Sounds weird but it is what it is.  Brandon Weeden has played better than most expected and recently has found a big play connection with fellow rookie Josh Gordon.  Gordon has to be licking his chops to get against the Washington secondary like any wideout in the NFL, CFL, BCS, High School, or college intermurals.

For the defense it has to start up front stopping another rookie in Trent Richardson.  Richardson has been solid this season and is due for a monster game.  Both Rice and Pierce ran at 6 yard clips last week which is scary since the run defense has been decent.  Although that could be misleading since any good passing team should just pick the Skins apart and put the running game on the back burner.

Richardson scares me a lot more than Weeden in this game.  I can't see Weeden picking the Skins D apart as easily as Flacco, Manning and Romo did for a half of each game.

5. I am going to add this until they do something about it.  The Redskins must add a kickoff specialist this week.

I know roster spots are valuable but one long kickoff return can cost them any of these three final games.  Josh Cribbs or Travis Benjamin can easily burn us bad this week.  The Brandon Banks roster is useless now with Richard Crawford returning punts.  Make the move now.

I would even take Billy Cundiff back for kickoffs only at this point.  Cobra Kai Forbath is money on field goals but the Skins can't risk a big return even if their coverage teams are solid.  Goodell is giving teams a touchback with the 35 yard line rule so we need to take it.

As for my predictions.  Plural, because RG3 playing or not may be bigger than the game prediction itself.  I think Griffin goes Sunday and leads them to another win but it will be tough.  I'm thinking 20-17 win for this game.



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!



5 Observations So Far of 2012 Washington Redskins

September 25, 2012 in NFL

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Here are my five observations so far of the 2012 Washington Redskins:

1- Robert Griffin III is as good as advertised.

RG3 has shown he was worth the big trade with St. Louis already after only three games.  The next step will be how he will react when teams have more film on him and can better prepare, but for now that doesn't seem to be an issue.

I do have some concerns as many do with all the hits he has taken the past two games.  Unlike Michael Vick, I believe Griffin will learn to better prepare himself against risk of injury.  And the coaches will be able to get him into better position although the triple option worked very well versus the Bengals and got them back into the game.  All in all, no matter how this season ends record wise, the trade was worth it.

2- The offensive line is more of a disaster than I would have ever expected.

Even with Trent Williams on the field, there were major issues but now with him possibly out, it could get ugly quick.  I had much more hope for the group than what we have seen the past two weeks.  Maybe I just was looking at the best case scenario and not one where Williams was not on the field.  Jordan Black struggled badly on Sunday showing the importance of having solid depth at key positions.

The combination of lack of draft picks and salary-cap gate can be blamed but Shanahan and Allen have to be looked at here.  With the only hope that Trent Williams has a speedy recovery, either the current line will have to step up or the Shanahan's will have to explore better schemes to help protect Griffin.

3- Only unit struggling more than the offensive line so far is obviously the defense as a whole.

After a solid effort against the now 0-3 New Orleans Saints, the defense has been scorched on back to back weeks.  And going back to the end of last season it hasn't been pretty.  The front seven even with the loss of Orakpo and Carriker has been fine, but the secondary has been worked in back to back weeks.  Against St Louis, they couldn't cover underneath and against Cincy, they couldn't stop the big plays.  As much as the offensive line was a preseason concern so was the secondary and our worst case scenario has played out.

A lot will be put on the return of Brandon Merriweather to help this unit, but he is far from a Ronnie Lott or Ed Reed, so their overall play will have to improve.  Ryan Kerrigan has been able to pressure the quarterback but they will need even more pressure to help out the new "Pearl Harbor Crew."

4- Back to the positives.  Alfred Morris has been a major surprise and the right call by Mike Shanahan.

He has shown an ability to gain 2-3 extra yards after contact to help put the offense in better spots.  I really like what Morris has done and see no signs of this letting up.  I do expect Shanahan to work in Royster and Helu more once they are healthier but you have to think it’s clearly Morris' job for the long run.

Plus, the ability to grind Morris should help with the long term health of RG3 and also keeping the struggling defense on the sidelines.  Love what Morris has brought and should continue to bring.  In a draft that has seen two offensive line picks inactive each week, Morris was a solid steal.

5- Mike Shanahan’s job security

I have been a solid supporter of Mike Shanahan the past three seasons and will continue to believe he is the right person for the job.  But, for the first time I have major questions in some the decision makings he has made as VP and as head coach.  As mentioned before, the poor choices on the offensive line and secondary are really showing.  I know he came into a bad situation after Zorn and Cerrato but some of his moves have been just as bad.  There are some I like and some I don't like.

As for on the field, I think it would take a 2011 Tampa like situation for Shanny not to be here next season.  Too much would be lost with a regime change at this point of Griffin's career so I at least expect Shanahan to be around for next season.  One can only hope that Shanahan and Allen can learn from their recent errors in personnel judgment.



Couple Days Post Victory & Still a Lot to Love About Washington Redskins Win

September 11, 2012 in NFL

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Feel free to look back right after the NFL schedule was released, when I called that the Redskins would go to New Orleans week one and leave victorious.  A lot had to go right and the five keys I outlined last week had to happen for the Skins to take down Drew Brees and the Saints.  That happened and Robert Griffin III is the talk of the NFL.

RG3 showed us from the first series he is a NFL ready starter and a leader.  Many questioned Mike Shanahan's decision to limit Griffin in the preseason, but it didn't show. As for the Shanahans, I really hope that fans will understand what Kyle brings to this team.  I loved the game plan especially the first two series of the game.  Kyle showed what he is capable of once he had players to work with.  I have to give my friend Kingston credit, when he said last spring the offense would change completely with the addition of a Griffin, Luck or Manning.  Sunday looked like a completely different team from the past 10-15 years. I know it’s only one game but every fan should be giddy about where this is going.

We'll probably be seeing a lot of this photo, and that's fine by us!

Griffin is an obvious choice for offensive MVP, but who brought in the defense? London Fletcher was a man like always and Ryan Kerrigan made plays all day.  But I am going with Cedric Griffin.  He was everywhere against a potent offensive passing game.  The Skins will need this all season with the shaky play of DeAngelo Hall and the “always getting nicked up” Josh Wilson. I was thrilled that the defense was able to fluster Brees most of the day.  And great for a guy like Chris Wilson to contribute with Orakpo just getting back from injury.

Back to Griffin now. His character and physical ability is what made us feel confident he could be a good one, but how impressive was his poise?  RG3 was able to drop back in control, avoid any pressure, and then make plays. I didn't expect to see the accuracy he showed right off the bat either.  Much will be said about the 88 yard pass to Garcon (which was more great catch than toss), but I was most impressed with another play.  The play that made me know we have something special was when Griffin avoided the rush and threw across the field to Fred Davis via rocket arm.  That was the best toss by a Skins QB since Jeff George hit Irving Fryer on a long TD on Monday Night in St. Louis.  I hope I just didn't jinx RG3 since that was George's only solid play.

As for other solid play, I did like what we got from new kicker Billy Cundiff on field goals and kickoffs.  Gano would have been 3 of 4 in that game for sure.  And Cundiff limited Darren Sproles to nothing in the return game.  Disappointed by the block punt since I thought Sav Rocca may have been our best player last season.  So I am not concerned as for now.

Finally, one of my keys was that Mike Shanahan and his staff had to work the Saints undermanned staff, and they did.  The Shanahans had the Saints guessing all day and after starting pass heavy early moved to a ground and pound with Morris that was Riggo-esque in the second half.  Love what I saw out of Morris all day as he continued to push defenders back for extra yards against a beaten Saints D.

So it’s on the road again to St Louis to play the Rams who almost shocked Detroit on their home field Sunday.  The Rams already seem to be a different team with Jeff Fisher.  We will look at that one later in the week once I stop my shaking from this week’s performance.