November 22, 2019

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 2 Analysis: Takeaways for the Defense

The Washington Redskins were able to defeat the Cleveland Browns Monday night in a sloppy game that ultimately resulted in a 24-23 victory for Washington. Here are some key takeaways for the Redskins defense:

AREAS OF CONCERN

Penalties: The yellow flags were a problem for the team all night as they accrued 11 penalties for 100 yards as a whole. The defense was responsible for five of them. The worst of which occurred in the second quarter with the Browns facing 3rd-and-18. Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel could not complete a short pass (which was highly unlikely to get a first down even if completed) but Redskins cornerback E.J. Biggers was flagged on the play for defensive holding. Only a five-yard infraction, but one that also results in an automatic first down.

As the official announced the call, the Redskins sideline voiced their frustration. There’s no telling what was said but the uproar produced another flag, unsportsmanlike conduct charged to the Redskins bench, immediately following the initial announcement.

While the second penalty can’t be blamed on the defense, the first one absolutely cannot happen especially in a third-and-long situation. Granted, calls like this one have been in vogue this preseason and it’s possible they’ll tone down the frequency of such calls once the regular season arrives, but it prolonged a drive that should’ve been over and in the regular season, the team can’t afford to give opposing teams those kinds of extra opportunities.

[Read more…]

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 2 Analysis: Takeaways for the Offense

The Washington Redskins were able to defeat the Cleveland Browns last night in a sloppy game that ultimately resulted in a 24-23 victory for Washington. Here are some key takeaways for the Redskins offense:

AREAS OF CONCERN

Turnovers: The Redskins first team offense Monday Night much resembled the team last year that turned the ball over 33 times (good for 30th worst in the league). On the team’s opening drive, Alfred Morris was not able to catch a pitch to the left from Robert Griffin III resulting in a lost fumble which set the opposition up with great field position.

On the offense’s next possession, on third and long from Cleveland’s 27-yard line, Griffin made a terrible decision under duress, floating the ball towards a very well covered DeSean Jackson along the right sideline. It was easy pickings for Browns cornerback Joe Haden who returned it 37 yards. It was a throw Griffin just can’t make, especially in scoring position.

The team’s backup quarterbacks didn’t fare much better, as Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy both threw interceptions later on. Turnovers were a major reason why the team struggled last year, often putting the defense in bad situations. This area must improve for the Redskins to be successful in the regular season.

RGIII scrambles: After an offseason where there was much talk of Griffin needing to develop as a traditional “pocket passer” to avoid taking so many hits, the quarterback took his fair share of punishment Monday night. On his first scramble, Griffin struggled to slide after bouncing out wide to the right. He came into contact with Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby four yards downfield, and it resulted in an ugly tangling of his legs as he went down awkwardly.

Later on the same drive, Griffin scrambled again, this time to his left. Instead of ducking out of bounds unharmed after a modest eight-to-ten yard gain, he cut upfield eventually colliding with three successive Browns defenders as he got knocked out of bounds. Not exactly what you want to see in a preseason game that means nothing.

If Griffin wants to stay healthy, he’ll need to better avoid contact going forward. For the record, he vowed to the fans after the game that he’d work on his sliding. We’ll see.

Poor run game: The Redskins first team unit wasn’t very good on the ground, with Morris running the ball 11 times for only 29 yards (a 2.6 average yards per carry). The struggles were epitomized early in the second quarter when the team ran the ball four straight times on the goal line and could not score, resulting in a turnover on downs.

The stretch-zone running game will need to be the backbone of this offense as the Redskins install a new passing scheme under first year head coach Jay Gruden, so they can ill-afford nights like tonight on the ground once the regular season hits.

BRIGHT SPOTS

DeSean Jackson: The team’s prized free agent acquisition had a strong showing in his Redskins debut with two catches for 34 yards. On both receptions, Jackson was able to get yards after the catch using every bit of the quickness and elusiveness we’ve seen throughout his career.

In addition, on the Haden interception, Jackson was ultimately the one to run him down from behind to make the tackle. Great hustle and effort, especially in a meaningless preseason game with nothing to prove. Expect him to be a big part of the offense this season, and not just on deep routes.

Moving the ball: Despite the offense’s turnover struggles, the team was actually able to move the ball pretty well through the air, as Griffin went 6-for-8 for 112 yards. A big highlight was a long 49-yard pass from Griffin to receiver Andre Roberts. On this play, Griffin initially looked right and pump faked before bombing the ball down the field left to Roberts who had the Browns’ Haden beat by a step.

The initial pump from Griffin gave him enough time to squeeze the pass into Roberts before the safety could get back over top to make a play on the ball. A beautiful throw and catch. Jackson clearly isn’t the only one who can beat defenders deep. Expect to see Griffin take some shots down the field to Roberts this year as well.

Kicking: After an opening game in which the rookie Zach Hocker appeared to best incumbent Kai Forbath, neither could distance himself Monday Night. Hocker was a perfect 2-for-2 on both his elongated extra point attempts, while Forbath hit the only Redskins field goal attempt of the game, a 26-yarder, as well as an extra point himself.

Both performed pretty well on kickoffs, although Hocker outdrove Forbath on average and even had a touchback on the game’s opening kickoff. Solid nights for both. The decision on who wins the starting job didn’t get any easier.

Other notables: Rookie receiver Ryan Grant had another strong showing catching four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. It appears he’s a lock to make the team at this point.

Fellow receiver Rashad Ross had another strong night, showing off that same speed he showed in the preseason opener. He again had a long kick return, this time for 42 yards, and again had a long catch on a go route down the sideline, hauling in a 43-yard pass from Colt McCoy. He’s still got to be considered a long shot but his showing so far certainly has helped.

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 2 Review: McCoy’s late TD difference-maker in win over Browns

If you watch the NFL preseason at all, you should expect sloppy and disjointed play, penalties and turnovers. But Monday night, before a national audience on ESPN, the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns combined to play a spectacularly sloppy, disjointed, penalty-filled preseason game, with Washington ending on top 24-23.

The teams combined for 21 penalties for 154 yards.

In what was billed as a marquee matchup between media darlings Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel, the outcome was more affected by bottom of the depth-chart signal callers, as is usual for the second preseason game.

The first quarter, when both teams played with their starter, suffered flag after flag and three turnovers — and no scoring.

On the last play of the first quarter, Griffin hit a streaking Andre Roberts on a fly for 49 yards to put the first team offense into scoring position.

New head coach Jay Gruden stuck with his starters at the start of the second quarter in an effort to put a score on the board. Gruden called for three straight dive plays, challenging his offensive line to win the line of scrimmage and the one yard needed for the touchdown.

But on three straight attempts, the Browns line was up to the task. On fourth-and-one, Gruden called for an off-tackle left with Alfred Morris and the call on the field was ruled a touchdown. After review, however, it was ruled Morris’ hip had hit the ground before he crossed the goal line and the score was disallowed.

In three series, Griffin finished his night 6-for-9 for 112 yards and interception.

On the subsequent possession, the defense was able to hold the Johnny Manziel-led Browns and forced a punt. On the resulting drive, Kirk Cousins was able to move the second unit offense for a first down, but on a play-action pass as the series continued, he overthrew his receiver and it was picked off by T Gipson, who returned it to the Redskins 15-yard line.

Manziel went three-and-out, and Cleveland settled for Billy Cundiff nailing a 29-yard kick for to give the Browns a 3-0 lead.

As time was expiring in the half, Cousins found Santana Moss on a screen on third and long and the veteran   gained 24 yards for the first down. Later, Cousins hit Even Royster on a circle route out of the backfield for 24 yards down to the Browns’ two-yard line, then two plays later he bullied his way into the end zone to make it 7-3 at the half.

Washington outgained Cleveland 241-84 in the first half.

On the first drive of the second half, the Redskins drove down the field on the legs of Silas Redd, then Cousins hit the impressive Ryan Grant on a fade from 15 yards out to make it 14-3.

The Browns got into the endzone early in the fourth quarter. A 16-play, 68 yard drive culminated with Manziel’s middle screen taken by Dion Lewis eight yards for the score.

On the ensuing possession, Jim Leonhard intercepted Colt McCoy’s first pass and took it 21 yards for a touchdown. After the kickoff, McCoy found Rashad Ross on a go route for 43 yards, but the drive stalled and the Redskins had to settle for a Kai Forbath 26-yard field goal to tie the game at 17.

McCoy then led the Redskins on a six-play, 56-yard drive, capped by his 30-yard touchdown pass to Nick Williams to break the tie.

Unfortunately, Browns fourth-string QB Connor Shaw heaved a 45-yard Hail Mary to Emmanuel Ogbuehi as time expired to draw Cleveland within one point, but the two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Redskins walked away with a 24-23 decision, mercifully avoiding overtime.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins victory over the Browns

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ Monday night 24-23 preseason victory over the Cleveland Browns.

  1. An up-and-down performance from Robert Griffin III. The interception RGIII threw was an ugly one, where he should have thrown the ball away and didn’t plant his back foot and throw with good form. This will be something the third-year pro will surely go back and correct on film. However, the interception wasn’t helped by poor pass protection by both the offensive line and running back (Roy Helu). However, on the second play of the game Griffin did a fantastic job of standing tall in the pocket, progressing through his reads and finding the open man down field. Griffin also threw a pretty ball to Andre Roberts at the end of the first quarter. Griffin’s transition into more of a pocket passer will take time, but he has shown promise on plays like these.
  2. The defensive pass rush may be the biggest strength on the Redskins entire team. Even without Jason Hatcher the front seven has played very well. The pass coverage has to improve though. The Redskins were bailed out by poor passes from the both the Browns quarterbacks, in addition to some drops from the wide receivers.
  3. The running back position is wide open. Roy Helu still has the inside track on the third-down back job, however, he struggled both in pass protection and in catching the ball against the browns. Evan Royster, Helu’s main competitor for playing time, played very well including an impressive catch-and-run on a circle route and a solid run to finish off a two-minute drive with a touchdown.
  4. Ryan Grant is making a push to be the fourth receiver on the Redskins depth chart. After Aldrick Robinson had a solid performance in the first pre-season game, Grant continues to show rare polished routes for a rookie and consistently good play, including a beautiful touchdown strike from Kirk Cousins.
  5. Turnovers need to stop, especially the sloppy avoidable ones. The starting offensive unit played well, and moved the ball well, but when you fumble a ball that is directly in your hands and throw an easy interception you won’t win many games. Turnover margin was one of the biggest reason for the Redskins success in 2012 (+17) and failure in 2013 (-8). The Redskins simply have to take care of the ball better.

Washington Redskins Preseason Game 2 Preview: Cleveland Browns

by Joe Miller, Staff Writer

Robert Griffin III will play up to a quarter in the Washington Redskins second preseason game Monday night against the Browns (photo by Brian Murphy)

Here’s what to look for in the Monday night showdown between Washington and Cleveland:

Normally, Johnny Manziel coming to town for his second ever NFL game would be excitement enough, especially for a preseason game. But Kyle Shanahan will also make his first trip back to FedEx field since he and his father were shown the door following the 2013 season.

While both provide their fair share of drama to an otherwise mundane preseason game between two of 2013’s bottom-dwellers, there are an abundance of other intriguing storylines that have greater implications for the Redskins upcoming season.

Here are a few things to watch for: [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Game 14 Review: Led by Cousins, Redskins Enter Tie for First with 38-21 Win over Browns

Filling in for an injured Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins led the Washington Redskins (8-6) to their fifth straight win and a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East after stunning the Cleveland Browns (5-9) 38-21.

Cousins finished 26-for-37 for 329 yards, two touchdowns and only one turnover on the night.

It wasn’t smooth sailing from start to finish for the fourth-round rookie quarterback, though. On the first drive of the game, the Redskins managed a false start and on third and 5, Cousins botched an easy pass to Evan Royster.

On their next possession, Cousins threw an incomplete pass to Pierre Garcon, pitched to Alfred Morris for no gain and then lobbed a huge interception to T.J. Ward. Ward scrambled 37 yards to bring it to Washington’s six-yard line and, on the next play, Trent Richardson ran the ball for the touchdown to put the Browns on the board 7-0.

The Redskins’ offense showed no signs of revival on the next two drives – the first of which resulted in a net loss of five yards, and the second of which produced no gain.

However, with one long toss, Cousins changed the momentum of the game.

From Washington’s own 46-yard line, Cousins fired downfield to Leonard Hankerson for a 54-yard touchdown to tie things up.

In the second quarter, Cousins showed his speed with a 17-yard run to help set up a 44-yard field goal for Kai Forbath who extended his perfect streak to make it 10-7 Redskins.

However, it took the Browns little time to answer. On their next drive, they chipped away at the Redskins’ defense. On third and 5, Lorenzo Alexander went down with an injury to his shoulder. Brandon Weeden then connected with Greg Little for a 30-yard pass before Richardson managed his second touchdown to make it 14-10 Browns.

The Redskins hit the ground running in the second half, this time on the celebratory side of an interception. Looking to connect with Little, Weeden’s pass instead landed in the arms of Rob Jackson. Then, Cousins tossed to Josh Morgan for 12 yards before pitching to Alfred Morris for the three-yard touchdown to allow the Redskins to retake the lead, 17-14.

The Cousins-Hankerson dynamic duo held its own on the Redskins’ next possession as Washington tacked on another seven points to give the Redskins a 24-14 cushion.

The Redskins may have had another shot to pile on more points right away had it not been for a hapless taunting penalty issued to none other than Pierre Garcon. After Cousins found Garcon for a 17-yard toss, Garcon carried out his traditional football spin maneuver, only to earn the Redskins a 15-yard penalty.

In the end, it didn’t matter much. Cousins tossed to Evan Royster for a four-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter up 31-14.

Weeden launched a 69-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin on the Browns’ next drive, but yet again, Kirk Cousins provided an immediate answer in the form of a touchdown pass to Alfred Morris.

With five minutes left, the Browns showed no ability to threaten and the Redskins solidified their 38-21 win.

By day’s end, Leonard Hankerson had two receptions for two touchdowns and 56 yards, and Alfred Morris added another two touchdowns and 87 rushing yards over 27 carries.

Forbath extended his perfect streak to 15 consecutive field goals. Should Forbath complete his next field goal attempt, he will tie the NFL record for a career start.

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