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Redskins Post-Game and Post-Season Recap

January 7, 2013 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

After the playoff loss to Seattle Seahawks, here's the top five postgame observations for Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin and their future:

1. I will get to the "should he have been taken out or not", but first the game itself.

Seattle dominated the Redskins after the first quarter and deserved to win Sunday.  They did to us what we did to Dallas the week before and ran Marshawn Lynch to control the game.  Add to that Russell Wilson's ability to be unfazed and make plays.

It is crazy to think that the Redskins somehow still had a lead in the 4th quarter and an obvious chance to win.  After the first two drives by Washington, the Seattle defense came together and limited what the Redskins could do.  Add to that starting twice inside the 10 in the second half and the Redskins were doomed.

Seattle has a very good chance now to go to Atlanta and knock off the Falcons next.  The Seattle team that the Redskins faced was much different than the Cowboys, Eagles or Browns wins during the streak although we all should be thrilled to win 7 in a row and to be NFC East Champs.

2- Now to the big debate.  Mike Shanahan is getting killed since the game ended Sunday in leaving Robert Griffin III in the game.

What's your feelings on Shanahan's decision to keep RG3 in the game?

What's your feelings on Shanahan's decision to keep RG3 in the game?

I think it’s a lot easier to criticize Shanahan knowing now the Redskins lost the game and RG3 is most likely hurt worse than when the game started.  But during the game he had to go with who he thought could win him the game.  Griffin has electrified DC all season and even at 60/70/80% if Shanahan felt he was the one to win the game, he should be out there.  Big Ben does this all the time and he has 2 rings.

Is it Shanny's or Griffin's fault that Hankerson short armed what would be a huge play?  That Will Montgomery suddenly started to struggle in shotgun and pistol snaps?  It is easy to say Kirk Cousins should have been in there since now we know the Redskins lost.  But I think Griffin seeing all types of defenses all season compared to Cousins was the better option versus a team like Seattle.

If RG3 has a torn ACL (and that may be the case by the time this is up) it is a very tough pill to swallow.  But he will be back and he will be Robert Griffin III still.

3- I think the biggest play of the game was the play when Brandon Browner got called for illegal contact versus Pierre Garcon.

It was 14-3 and Garcon got by Browner causing Browner to foul him and actually fall to the ground.  But as Garcon was going free, Griffin was unable to get the deep ball off because Seattle had pushed the o-line back into Griffin.  An easy touchdown turned into a five yard penalty and the game was never the same.

The other game changer was the two missed turnovers in the first half.  One was when Doug Baldwin was able to break up a would-be interception from Reed Doughty.  Doughty was great Sunday at making plays at the line of scrimmage but really needed to pull that one in.  The other was the mis-hand off between Wilson and Lynch.  The ball went free and Madieu Williams as we have seen all season was a second late in getting to the ball allowing Lynch to get to it eventually and run with it.  Two tough misses for a team that strived the past two months getting turnovers in key spots.

I also should add the huge 3rd down conversion in the first quarter down 14-0 when Wilson was able to avoid pressure and get the ball to Zach Miller who made a nice catch and run to convert.  Would have given the Skins a good chance to grab solid field position with a Crawford return.

4- My player of the game is simple.

Other than Barry Cofield's head knocking the ball out of Lynch's grasp at the goal line, no one protected the lead like Sav Rocca yesterday.  Rocca had his best day of the season and was able with two huge punts keep the Skins in the lead until midway through the fourth.  If Washington pulled this game out, Rocca would be a hero.

I also continue to be impressed with Niles Paul's ability to get down on punt coverage all day.  Leon Washington was someone I was very concerned with and the special teams did a great job controlling him on kickoffs and punts.  I still love what Alfred Morris brought especially in the first half.  And I feel Reed Doughty and London Fletcher came to play.  Other than that unfortunately not many others stood out Sunday.

5- Although losing a home playoff game is tough (crazy thing is I was at the last one versus the Bears in 1984) this success has to be looked at as a success.

No one predicted the team to win the NFC East and that is what they did.  I think the Redskins now are a year ahead of schedule but a lot will obvious hang on the health of their star quarterback.  But we do have a younger nucleus to go with into 2013 and that hasn't happened in years.  Griffin's rise to stardom should be a huge factor in Washington's ability to attract better talent to Washington in the coming seasons.

We also must not forget that this team was unfairly crushed with a huge cap penalty hours before free agency and that the battle over that is not over.

Finally, I hope that London Fletcher has not played his last game and that he will return next season.  Although he hasn't had the winning success of Redskins of the past, he should be up there with the Riggins, Monk, Theismann and Greens’ of Redskins history.



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




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.



Washington Redskins Thoughts and Observations:

December 11, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

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By Staff Writer John Manuel:

1. Four Game Win Streak:

Redskins fans have to be thrilled not only with the four game win streak, but who those four wins have come against.  They have beaten the four teams that the Redskins and their fans most want to see them beat.  Three division rivals in the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants followed by yesterday's win over the Ravens.  Playing the Browns will be a change but once again its a must win Sunday in the playoff race. The Giants and Seahawks didn't help but the Bears did and are suddenly in reach.

2. Tale of two halves for the defense.

The first half looked the same as the past as Joe Flacco and Ray Rice worked the Skins defense.  But then came the second half and much like against the Giants the defense stepped up and made huge plays once again led by Rob Jackson.  I don't know what goes on in the locker room at the half, but it is working.  Maybe the pregame game plan is horrible but then defensive staff is just amazing at half time adjustments.  Could it be the players reacting to a defensive leader like London Fletcher at he half?  I would love to know.

3.  The offense was once again moving the ball pretty easy at times.

Griffin wasn't great but he was still good until the injury.  You can't ask for any more from Kirk Cousins either.  Our average offensive line sure is opening up holes in the run game consistently   One concern is the fumbling of Alfred Morris and that needs to stop.  Morris has been a monster all season but the only thing that stops this offense are fumbles and penalties as long as RG3 is under center.

4. As for Robert Griffin under center Sunday in Cleveland we will have to see.

It did not look good but RG3 is tough, real tough.  And if he can go I am sure he will be out there.  But if he can't it will be interesting to see where the Shanahans go with Cousins under center.  I still think he can do some of what Griffin brings but Morris will be heavily counted on.  I am very happy that Shanahan used that 4th rounder on Cousins and not someone like Bobby Massie.  I liked the pick then and really do now.

5. It took weeks but finally Brandon Banks was gone from kick returns.

Obviously Richard Crawford was a hero from Sunday and should hold onto the punt return job.  I still think the Skins should stick with Niles Paul on kickoffs even with the fumble.  As for Banks, I hope he is released like I said last week so the team can bring in a kickoff specialist.  Kai Forbath once again was great on field goals but his kickoffs were bad.  Real bad if he would have put his 2nd one out of bounds after the game was tied.  Jacoby Jones didn't make us pay but Josh Cribbs may Sunday if it doesn't change.

Battle of the Beltway: Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Ravens

December 7, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

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By Staff Writer John Manuel:

1. Offensive System & Play Calling:

I think the one major advantage right now the Redskins have is with how their offensive system and play calling has been working compared to the Ravens.  The Redskins have constantly been able to run the ball to set up big plays in play-action.  I can see Washington continue to have success this week in the run game versus Baltimore going forward much like Monday versus the Giants.

With the Ravens you have not had that consistency with their offense led by Joe Flacco, and moving the ball on the road has been a major problem.   The Redskins need to do what kills the Baltimore fan base, which is to get Cam Cameron to forget that he has Ray Rice in the offensive huddle.  A player like Rice will give the Redskins more trouble than any back they have seen all season even though the Redskins have had success stopping the run.

 2. Pass Defense:

As for the defenses I think it comes down to one major question for each team.  First for the Redskins, they cannot get beat by the deep ball to Torrey Smith.  Flacco is not afraid to try it and the Redskins are a prime target.  Madieu Williams cannot be caught flat footed, side footed, or goofy footed with a threat like Torrey Smith.  And with Cedric Griffin done and DeAngelo Hall in a walking boot the secondary is in very bad shape as is.

As for the Ravens the question is can they be the first team to solve the read option of Robert Griffin III.  And it is going to start by being able to stop the run since the Ravens are also hurting at the corner position.  It will be interesting to see the battle between Griffin andHall of Famer Ed Reed.  RG3 has not faced a play making safety like Reed so far.

3. Turnover Margin:

Both teams have solid positive turnover margins coming into the game so I expect this to be a major factor.  The Redskins actually won a game versus the Giants where they lost the turnover battle Monday night.  They will not want to chance that again versus Baltimore.  Griffin protects the ball better than Flacco, which is surprising for a rookie versus someone who has played in many playoff games in his career.

As I say every week, the Washington defense has to force pressure on Flacco but I don't see that happening being that they are not facing a shaky line like Dallas or Philly.  The Skins got a huge sack from Rob Jackson versus the Giants but that was about it.  It’s time for Ryan Kerrigan to step up in one-on-one situations.

Griffin got lucky last week with his fumble and cannot risk plays like that.  Baltimore is always opportunistic as guys like Reed always find the ball and change games.  Ask Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis.  Reed has already single-handily beaten Washington twice in his career.

4. Home Field Advantage:

The Washington crowd has to continue what it started last week versus the Giants and have a home field advantage.  It is embarrassing that I have to make this point and that it’s not a given like the RFK days, but it is very important.  Baltimore has struggled on the road especially on offense and the crowd must be a factor.  I know that many Ravens fans will make the short trip down to FedEx but the Skins will have an advantage.  The one thing that can eliminate a home crowd is getting behind big early and the Redskins have to get off to a solid start.

5. Game Prediction:

As for the game.  The short series has been won by Baltimore 3 of 4 times with the Redskins only highlight being a Stephen Davis stiff arm to Rod Woodson.  Since the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, the more successful organization has easily been Baltimore.  This could easily be summed up by the Redskins former GM for most of that period is now out of the league and doing radio in Baltimore.  All the while the Ravens have Ozzie Newsome.

That being said and hopefully quickly forgotten, these teams are a lot closer than their 9-3 and 6-6 records.  I have a lot more confidence in Robert Griffin III than I would in Joe Flacco.  The Skins defense blows but has been better as of late while the Ravens Defense is better than Washington, it is not the same of years past.  And possibly once again without a monster like Terrell Suggs they are much closer than one would think.

It is hard to see a John Harbaugh coached Ravens team dropping two straight but based on the Ravens road struggles where they cannot put together a solid 4 quarters I have the Redskins winning 24-13.



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!



Where the Washington Redskins Stand After 12 Weeks

November 27, 2012 in Washington Redskins

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

How a few weeks have changed everything for the Washington Redskins.  A team that was just looking towards 2013 according to their head coach, is now right in the middle of a playoff race.  The Redskins are not only in the wild card race, but also in the division race if they can beat the Giants Monday night.

As for the wild card, wins over teams like Minnesota, New Orleans and Tampa Bay have them sitting in good shape.  Add to that a favorable closing schedule and the Skins have a chance to overtake the Seattle Seahawks for at least the second wild card.  Seattle's fate could be determined based on the status of the their two starting cornerbacks who face league suspensions for banned substances.  Unfortunately, the Skins know the feeling to lose key players so this could be crippling over the last month for Seattle.

Two weeks ago the biggest question facing the Redskins future was that of its head coach.  Mike Shanahan looked shaky to return in 2013 after a couple tough losses and even worse reactions to those loses.  Shanahan has been able to silent that talk with division wins over Philadelphia and Dallas and barring an unexpected collapse should be back.  I think the possibility of a Shanahan not returning next season now has to shift to Kyle.

With a high amount of NFL coaching turnover expected Kyle has to be in play for head coaching jobs come the offseason.  If will be interesting to see what happens here for Kyle and also the Redskins.  Would he be willing to leave Washington and lose the possibility of being the future head coach here?  Not many have turned down a chance to be a NFL head coach, but this may be one scenario where he wouldn't want to chance leaving a situation working with Robert Griffin III to go to a Carolina or Cleveland.  Would Dan Snyder pull a coach in waiting type situation here?  The Kyle Shanahan situation could be more interesting over the next season as well if Mack Brown retires or is forced out at Texas at some point.  You would have to think Texas would consider Kyle to come back there if they had an opening.  This is a real tricky situation where you have to weigh your father's future versus the opportunity to be a NFL head coach.  Kyle Shanahan leaving would be a big change for the Redskins organization.

Ten days ago I would have been open to the discussion of a regime change but then thought about it.  I am not thrilled with Mike Shanahan the personnel guy but if he was let go what would happen?  Bruce Allen would then have more say?  Which could mean the return of Dan Snyder the fantasy GM much like the Vinny days.  So lets hope Big Tan Mike can steer this team into the playoffs.

Although he has been even better than anticipated all season, Robert Griffin III has had a remarkable two week run since the Carolina loss.  Two weeks, 8 touchdown passes, 9 incompletions.  A stat line that is remarkable.  Griffin gives a team with a bad defense and average offensive talent a chance to win every week.  He has also limited the hits since the early season worries, which everyone can appreciate.

Griffin by the numbers should be considered a MVP candidate and the only thing holding him back is that he is on a 5-6 team.  But where would that team be without him?  0-11?  1-10?  2-9 maybe?  If the Skins can make a playoff run that RG3 has to be considered not only for rookie of the year but MVP as well.