July 31, 2015

Washington Redskins Minicamp, Day 2 Practice Observations

For the last time in a while, the Redskins completed offseason practice on a gloomy day in Ashburn, VA. Minicamp was originally suppose to last three days, but it was decided to wrap it up earlier after just two days, joining the trend of calling minicamp. With the upcoming six-week gap before training camp, much of what follows will be the last taste we have of the Redskins for an extended period of time before the season eventually sneaks up on us.

Although many fans might be hesitant to think that the team is improving after much promise over the past decades, Jay Gruden stated that he is starting to see results with the team. Not so much with the on field performance, but Gruden stated that the Redskins are “physically in better condition”. He thinks, as well as the rest of the DMV hopes, that will have a positive counter impact on game day. The head coach singled out Trent Murphy and Jason Hatcher for proactively getting their bodies in better shapes. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Minicamp, Day 1 Practice Observations

Today marked the first mandatory offseason practice of the 2015 season and all healthy Washington Redskins players took part including DeSean Jackson, who was excused from portions of the voluntary OTAs. As a reminder, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) prohibits live contact during minicamp practices as well as the use of equipment pads. Minicamp is a three day set of practices before a six week layoff that build up to the start of training camp starting in the end of July.

Coach Jay Gruden has been nothing of complimentary to his coaching staff and has reiterated that he loves all of their enthusiasm, much of that was on display today. To start the practice, special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica, a holdover from last year, had his unit working on punt and kickoff coverage while the other starters were still stretching out.

New defensive backs coach Perry Fewell was described as a great person that has been productive in all situations according to Gruden. The head coach laughingly conveyed that coming from the Giants, the Redskins might have an edge against the division foe in the coming season. Gruden also spoke about Fewell’s boss’s energy, new defensive coordinator Joe Barry, which he described as “a consistent upbeat, positive influence on our team and he’s always coaching”. Although contact is not allowed, Barry installed a tackling drill that featured shedding a blocker, hitting a tackling dummy, and landing on a large pad. In a lesser known addition to the coaching staff, Assistant Strength & Conditioning/Skill Development Coach Joe Kim was given praise by Coach Gruden because of his past experience in developing the pass rush of the likes of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.

As Gruden had stated during OTAs, Bill Callahan, new offensive line coach, is effective in his hands-on style of teaching. The lineman guru, who turned the Cowboys line into arguably the best unit in football last year, was under center taking snaps during positional drills to get a perfect view of his unit’s progress. In case you missed it, the current starting offensive line with Trent Williams currently sidelined is (from left to right): Tom Compton, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, and Brandon Scherff.

Per usual, starting quarterback Robert Griffin III headlined talks both on and off the practice field. Griffin has shown noticeable improvement in his reads since a miserable performance throughout the season last year. When given the time, Griffin surveyed all of his options and make the right reads and accurate throws to his receivers. During 11-on-11 scrimmage, he hit Pierre Garcon for a 15-yard gain, while hitting DeSean Jackson along the sidelines during 7-on-7 drills to beat newly acquired corner Chris Culliver. Griffin later had a 70-yard touchdown bomb to Andre Roberts during the one minute drill; granted Baushad Breeland fell down in coverage, but the former offensive rookie of the year may have missed that read last season.

Coach Gruden continued the same tune that Griffin has been getting a little better each and every day and that is exactly what they ask from him. Griffin was described as starting to have confidence in the pocket by “doing a great job of exhausting all of his progressions, playing the quarterback position with good fundamentals”. Gruden did admit that it is likely that Griffin’s second go-round in a more complex system has helped his development. The second-year head coach went so far to call Griffin a “very gifted quarterback” and chuckled when explaining that “Robert’s going to be Robert” when the pocket breaks down insinuating the use of the former track star’s mobility.

There was little to talk about in the battle for the backup quarterback job. Kirk Cousins was given the opportunity to start with the second unit in 11-on-11 drills, but it seems to be alternating from back in OTAs so do not read too much into it. Cousins did a solid job when practicing as he repeatedly put the ball where it needed to be. The Michigan State product also showed his fleet of foot by avoiding a miscommunicated blitz and completing the play. Cousins’s lone miscue was missing rookie receiver Colin Lockett, who tipped a pass into the bread basket rookie corner Tajh Hasson for an interception.

Colt McCoy was also efficient in dissecting many of the undrafted free agents the Redskins brought into camp. Both backup signal callers received help from their receivers, Ryan Grant and Roberts, who made tremendous grabs to make their QBs look good.

One of the hardest things to watch with the Redskins last year was the self-inflicted wounds that just made the game so heart breaking. Gruden is having it none of that this year because he knows you cannot go from the bottom to the top without perfecting what is in your control. If a defensive back dropped a potential interception during a positional drill, they did push-ups. If an offensive lineman had a false start, they ran a lap around the field and were replaced on the ensuing play.

Injury Updates:

  • Those players who are already rehabbing from injury will NOT practice during minicamp, but home to be back by the start of training camp at 100 percent.
  • DeAngelo Hall went through positional drills with comfort. The veteran was held out of the scrimmages for precautionary reasons. During the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drives, Hall worked on the side simulating dropping into coverage, cutting and then catching passes.
  • Silas Redd has started to turn a few heads during practice; on one instance he had an excellent cut to get to open field. However, the Penn State product tweaked his ankle and will be held out of the rest of minicamp. That could open the door for Chris Thompson to secure a position as the third string running back behind Alfred Morris and rookie Matt Jones.
  • Trent Williams (left ankle), Jordan Reed (knee procedure), and Ryan Kerrigan (knee scope) were all non-participants during practice but are all expected to return for training camp.

Important Dates:

  • Minicamp runs through Thursday, June 18.
  • Training camps starts on Thursday, July 30 in 44 days.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 58 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 89 days.

Washington Redskins First Day of 2015 OTAs Observations

After the first day of organized team activities, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and current starting quarterback Robert Griffin III addressed the media to provide insight on the upcoming NFL season.

Gruden expressed that coaching is a learning process and one of the biggest things he is getting used to is what buttons to push with the players at his disposal to get the most out of them.

After naming Griffin the preliminary starter early in the offseason, Gruden had Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy split the second team reps today. Both threw interceptions in their limited playing time, while Griffin had no turnovers. Gruden expects both to “push Robert and themselves”.

That being said, Gruden wants Griffin has to put together multiple strong practices to show the consistency that is desired because the work ethic is there ready to pay off. [Read more…]

Current State of the Washington Redskins at Quarterback Going into the 2015 Offseason

Robert Griffin III's future with the Washington Redskins is up in the air. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Robert Griffin III’s future with the Washington Redskins is up in the air. (photo by Brian Murphy)

The Washington Redskins just completed another dreadful season, which continues a streak of terrible play on the field and dysfunction off. The biggest question going into the offseason is obvious — who will be the signal caller going into training camp, preseason, and eventually week one of the regular season?

That individual might be Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, or a dark horse that is not even on the team yet. It is unlikely that the Redskins will use their No. 5 overall pick in the upcoming draft on Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota should they be available, but the team could pick a quarterback with one of their mid- or late-round selections.

Going into 2014, Robert Griffin III was the starter without a question, with Kirk Cousins playing the role of a serviceable backup, and Colt McCoy sporting a headset and being inactive. That is hardly how the season turned out as Griffin started seven of the nine games he appeared in, Cousins five of six, and McCoy four of five.

Controversy began before the season started as many believed Kirk Cousins was a better option under center than Griffin. Not only that, but many believed new head coach Jay Gruden thought it as well.

After a shaky performance at Houston week one, fuel was added to the fire. However, Griffin got the start against Jacksonville the next week, where he began a solid drive before suffering the dislocated ankle injury. As a result, Cousins was given the chance he was hoping for but did not take advantage of it. Cousins finished with eleven turnovers against ten touchdowns, with an 86.4 QB rating, before being benched against Tennessee in week seven.

With Griffin still on the shelf with his ankle injury, McCoy was given the reigns and he successfully completed the comeback against Tennessee. Those heroics gave McCoy the opportunity to return to his home state and start against the rival Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

In the Redskins most complete and best game of the season, McCoy restored hope to a lacking franchise and led the team to victory. Unfortunately for McCoy, and quite possibly the rest of the Redskins season, Griffin returned from injury was given back his job as the starting quarterback.

Griffin came back to start against Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and San Francisco and, quite frankly, stunk it up and looked like a complete joke. Griffin had a total QB rating of less than 80 and was sacked a whopping 16 times, a direct correlation to his lack of reading defenses and quickly going through his progressions.

This led to Colt McCoy being given an opportunity to continue his strong play from earlier in the season. McCoy continued his impressive performance against Indianapolis but was rewarded with one of the worst defensive showings of the year and a loss.

McCoy had a poor performance against St. Louis the following week and suffered a neck injury, and Griffin stepped back in midway through the game against New York after McCoy could not continue physically. Griffin was given the majority of the final three weeks to state his case and although he showed some improvement, he has not guaranteed himself the job heading into the offseason.

Gruden, who is likely — but not certain at this point — to be retained as head coach next season, has stated that “all three quarterbacks have shown the ability that they can play quarterback in the NFL, but all three quarterbacks have shown that they need some work”.

Moreover, as it is difficult to have three in competition because of the limited amount of quality reps available, Gruden would like to narrow it down to two and then one “to work and grind on him and develop him.”

The one thing we know for sure at this time is Colt McCoy will become a free agent on March 10 if he is not re-signed before then. With limited cap space available and the possibility of McCoy wanting more than the veteran minimum, money could play a role in determining those who will be competing for the lead signal caller job in DC.

We can speculate that Griffin has the current edge in the competition because of the speculative backing from Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder. This most likely stems from the stubbornness of upper management to admit a mistake for giving up so much for a possible bust at the position. However, this next season may be the last straw for Griffin regardless.

Adding to the intrigue is Cousins’ status, as reports surfaced Monday that he would prefer to be traded if not given a fair shot to win the starting job. Cousin spoke on a conference call to clear the air that he did not “demand” a trade. But preferring to play somewhere else is different than “demanding” a trade.

Still, it’s hard to see the Redskins trading Cousins, or receiving what they think might be fair market value for him.

The best guess going into training camp is that all three quarterbacks — Griffin, Cousins, and McCoy — will be in competition for the starting job, with the obvious undertones from the front office leaning toward Griffin.

After training camp evaluations, as well as evaluations of the film from all three from the past season, Gruden will quickly narrow the search down to two with a front runner. Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay will most likely put all their efforts into shaping that one front runner into their starter as long as everything goes well.

However, as this fan base has sadly grown accustomed to, this may be far from the case.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 11 loss against the San Francisco 49ers

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 17-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

1. Robert Griffin III bad early, shows a small glimmer of hope, but in the end does not come through.

Griffin came into the game today with a reported short leash and it looked like he could have been benched at half time. He completed just one of his first four attempts for seven yards and took two sacks resulting in four consecutive punts. Then Griffin showed some life with a good ball fake to Alfred Morris and hit Pierre Garcon on a crossing pattern over the linebackers for a classic 2012 play. The drive finished off with a touchdown and the Redskins (3-8) were back in the thick of things with the game tied. Griffin completed another 2012 like pass to DeSean Jackson during the third quarter that led to a Kai Forbath field goal.

That was the good of Griffin. However, he still continued to hold onto the ball too long resulting in sacks. Although he did not make any fatal mistakes with turnovers — until the strip sack at the end of the game — he still needs to work on making reads faster and execute better and quicker. Though I believe Griffin showed growth in Gruden’s system, which was acknowledged by Gruden himself, the clock is still ticking on Griffin for the year and moving forward into next season.

2. Defense plays well overall, but not during beginning, middle, and end.

After a three-and-out from the offense and a couple big passing plays from Colin Kaepernick, this game looked like it was heading for the mercy rule to be implemented. E.J. Biggers got beat by Anquan Boldin on a deep corner route, an assignment that David Amerson would probably have drawn if he was not deactivated for violating a team rule.

At the very end of the first half, John Harbaugh showed guts as he decided to go for a fourth and two just on the plus side of the field. Bashaud Breeland got caught watching the great catch made by Michael Crabtree instead of pushing him out of bounds and ending the half. Instead the 49ers stole three points heading into halftime.

Then at the end of the game, the defense gave up the eventual game winning touchdown. That came after allowing the 49ers to convert a fourth-and-one at their own 34-yard line and then gave up a big play to Boldin preceding a personal foul penalty.

3. The effort from the defense was there.

Even though the defense made their share of mistakes, they played well enough to win this game with an extremely beaten up secondary. The defense caused three turnovers against a team that rarely surrenders the ball and it was not their fault that those opportunities were only cashed in for three points. Moreover, they kept the offense in check nearly all day giving up a mere 66 yards on the ground.

It is shocking that all of this was accomplished while Amerson, Biggers, and Tracy Porter did not play for the duration of the game and Breeland and Ryan Clark also missed plays before returning. This led to Greg Ducre and Phillip Thomas stepping into playing roles, while Merriweather moved to corner. Ducre picked Kaepernick off while San Francisico was trying to pick on him, while Thomas helped stop Vernon Davis short of the first down marker to start the fourth quarter and later recovered a Frank Gore fumble. This loss certainly cannot be put on the defense.

4. Alfred Morris continues to play better with RG3 at the helm.

Alfred Morris again played hard behind a devastated offensive line. Morris finished with 125 yards on 21 carriers. This again is a noticeable improvement over the running game with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy under center because of defenses leaving one man to account for Griffin’s legs.

Unfortunately for the Redskins, they could not lean on Morris towards the end of the game when time was a factor. However, I question Gruden for not running the ball on the penultimate drive to try and mount momentum when time was not a problem.

5. Another tough task next week against the guy taken before Griffin in 2012.

Next week the Redskins are forced to travel to the house that Andrew Luck is rebuilding. Again more injuries could play a role for the Redskins defensively in the secondary that cannot afford to get torched by the likes of T.Y. Hilton. Moreover, Trent Williams cannot return soon enough as Morgan Moses was beaten up badly all game even, though it was against once of the premier pass rushers in the NFL in Aldon Smith.

If Griffin is given the ball for the duration of the game, he will have to show clear cut strides and production against a lesser defense. This team cannot wait for the off-season to come soon enough, although quarterback controversies will be popping up all over then too.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 9 loss against the Minnesota Vikings

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 29-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings:

1. The Return of Robert Griffin III: not bad, but certainly not good either.

Robert Griffin finished the game completing about 65% of his passes for 251 yards, but threw a game changing interception and took five sacks. Griffin also added 24 on the ground, while allowing Morris to rush for 4.8 yards a pop, a full yard improvement over rushes with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy under center.

As expected there were some bad decisions by Griffin which in the end came back to cost the Redskins the game even though he was not the only reason why. That being said, with a few better plays here or there he could have won this game for his team.

Before the half, Griffin threw an off-balanced flutter ball intended for Andre Roberts but it was picked off, though the review replay couldn’t conclusively say if it hit the ground or not. This led the momentum to change as the Vikings marched through and over the Redskins defense. Griffin also was guilty of holding the ball way too long throughout the game especially when he has an extremely weak offensive line protection him. This led to getting behind in the down and distance constantly and during the last drive costing scoring opportunities.

Finally, on Griffin’s last throw before the failed Hail Mary, he felt rushed even though no one was around him, did not have his feet set, and delivered a fastball in the dirt and feet of Pierre Garcon, effectively ending the game.

2. Defense struggles in all phases against untalented offense.

The defense played well for the first 29 minutes of the game, and then the wheels came off. After Griffin’s interception late in the first half, the defense could not erase the miscue and then the bleeding did not stop. After escaping blown coverages by Teddy Bridgewater misfires earlier, the defense gave up two 20+ yard passes to receivers without a defender in sight.

In the second half, miscues mounted with a roughing the passer penalty called against Keenan Robinson for spearing Bridgewater to the ground. Then the physical domination by a weak Minnesota offensive line started as there was no pass rush and red zone rushing touchdowns became child’s play. Although Griffin had the opportunity to extend and win the game, the defense is the biggest culprit for this loss.

3. Special teams being special, but only one phase of the team playing well does not win games.

After the air was taken out of the Redskins sidelines when they were in the hole 14-10 early in the third quarter, the special teams delivered. Andre Roberts fielded the ensuing kickoff one yard deep in the end zone and returned it for 45 yards giving the Redskins great field position and a boost. The Redskins turned this into a touchdown drive and recapturing the lead.

Then on the ensuing kickoff again Kai Forbath was able to boot the ball deep in the end zone but the over anxious Cordarrelle Patterson unwisely decides to bring it out from seven yards deep just to get tattooed by Adam Hayward at the 10 yard line. Unfortunately they did not have any other opportunities to make an impact with a possible game tying field goal awaiting.

4. I will continue to say it as long as it is true: Desean Jackson for MVP! But then, the dagger.

Desean Jackson continues to leave his mark on games whether it be with the 45-yard catch early in the game to set up the Redskins first touchdown, his own 13-yard touchdown grab, or a 56-yard catch and run on a seam pattern up the sidelines. All of this is great and exactly what we expected from him this season.

However, the play that many are not talking about the offensive pass interference call against Jackson that played a major role in stalling their penultimate drive. The foul was completely unnecessary as the defender’s own momentum would have done the job instead of the extension of the arm. It set up a first down and 20 yards to go which proved to be too much for the Redskins to pick up in the biggest stage of the game.

All in all, Jackson continues to be this team’s best player and hopefully will continue his output for the rest of his time in Washington.

5. Developments into the bye week.

Although this is a disappointing loss and should sit poorly with the team and fans for the next two weeks, there is hope that Griffin will return to the electrifying RG3 after getting more experience in this system. Additionally, players that will see their roles increase include Leonard Hankerson, who may be activated off of the PUP list, Barry Cofield who may be activated off the short term IR list, and Phillip Thomas who has returned to the team after showing promise at the safety position pre-injury.

Moreover, it will be interesting to see if Jay Gruden decides to make any changes to the starting lineup specifically with Josh LeRibeus, Spencer Long, and/or Morgan Moses somewhere on the offensive line, which is currently much maligned.

This team has the slightest sliver of hope that Griffin will continue to grow. Additionally, they were in the same position after nine weeks in 2012, maybe Gruden will “pretend” to throw in the towel too.

Washington Redskins Game 7 Review: McCoy and Forbath lift Redskins to first win in five weeks

“I just told the guys, I looked them in the eyes and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to do my job, you do yours and we’re going to win this game.'” –Third-string QB Colt McCoy

Jay Gruden saw enough of Kirk Cousins’ latest effort and decided it was time for Colt McCoy to take the reins of the Washington Redskins offense.

McCoy relieved Cousins at halftime and threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon in his first attempt of the game, and Kai Forbath completed the comeback with a 22-yard field goal as time expired to lift Washington to its second win of the year, beating the Tennessee Titans 19-17 on Sunday at FedEx Field.

Cousins had a bad interception and fumble in the first half, prompting Gruden to make the switch at intermission.

“I just through Colt has earned the right to get an opportunity if Kirk struggled in the first half [and] turned the ball over,” Gruden explained. “That’s the basic reason. Had I not thought Colt would’ve been ready, I would’ve stuck with Kirk, but I just thought Colt was ready to go. I know he felt ready. He’s been chomping at the bit to play, but he’s always been a supportive backup. And this time, when his number was called, he produced.”

Life of a third-string quarterback in the NFL can be tough, but McCoy showed preparedness when called upon. “All I know is my responsibility on this team is to always be ready to play,” McCoy said. “I was just thankful for the opportunity and I just wanted to go out there and play to the best of my ability and lead my team – this team – to a victory and we were able to accomplish that.”

In a first half that shared the entertainment value of grass growing, the Redskins (2-5) turned the ball over on two of their six first half drives — Cousins fumbled with 5:20 to go in the first quarter and was intercepted by Wesley Woodyard with less than three minutes to go in the second.

A half-ending intentional grounding by Cousins sent the Redskins off the field to a mild chorus of boos — jeers that might have been greater in number and volume if those in attendance hadn’t grown so accustomed to that degree of ineptitude.

Two Forbath field goals were the Redskins’ first half tallies, while Kendall Wright’s touchdown catch from Charlie Whitehurst helped provide the Titans’ 10-6 advantage.

The long touchdown from McCoy to Garcon early in the second half sparked life into both the Redskins’ players and fans. Garcon stayed in bounds by only a couple of inches sprinting down the left sideline, gathering a short hook pattern, shaking a defender, then outracing two Titans defensive backs on the way to the end zone.

“That was a great play by Pierre and I would love to get him some more touches,” Gruden said. “He is a good receiver, tough guy after the catch. Just hasn’t happened for some reason. We have to do a better job of game planning and getting him some balls where he can get more involved in the game because he is really good after the catch.”

The play even surprised the man that threw the ball. “Yeah, I didn’t know Pierre [Garçon] was that fast, first of all,” McCoy said. “I told him that in the locker room, too. But Pierre is such a good, easy target to throw it to. He has great body control. I threw a little back shoulder hitch to him and he made the play to put us up, so hats off to him.”

Forbath kicked another field goal early in the fourth quarter to make it 16-10, but Derek Hagan made just his third catch of the season, for a touchdown, with 7:41 to play. Forbath’s game-winning kick came after a 10-play, 76-yard drive — including a key pass interference penalty drawn by wide-out Desean Jackson — that gave Gruden a chance to display his clock management skills, and Tennessee’s attempt to ice Forbath was unsuccessful.

Gruden liked how McCoy directed the two-minute offense to get into field goal range.

“Colt had some freedom to check out and we called something in the huddle for us. Overall, we were trying to get some looks that Colt would understand, plays that we want to get to, being very specific with him and he did a very good job.”

McCoy finished the day 11-for-12 with 128 yards and no interceptions.

Asked if he’d made any decisions about next week’s starter against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night football, Gruden replied, “No, not yet. No, but it’s a good sign the way that Colt finished the game, ran the offense – very smart and very efficient, did some good things.”

Five takeaways from Washington Redskins Game 7 win against the Tennessee Titans

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 19-17 win to the Tennessee Titans:

1. Kirk Cousins struggles to inconceivable levels.

 Kirk Cousins has taken a lot of heat this week leading up the game and many thought he would have a chance at redemption against a weak Tennessee Titans team. After an amazing lofted pass with air underneath to Niles Paul for a big 50 yard gain, things took a turn for the worse. The drive stalled in the red zone and the offense had to settle for a field goal.

On the next drive, Cousins held the ball way to long and the pressure stripped him of the ball giving Tennessee great field position. Again Cousins was able to move the ball down the field and again fall short in the red zone by settling for another field goal. The last straw was after the defense came up with an interception where Cousins returned the favor right back by throwing the ball right at Wesley Woodyard in the middle of the field.

2. Colt McCoy takes over at the half, provides an immediate spark.

The move was needed and somewhat obvious. On McCoy’s first pass attempt to start the second half he hit Pierre Garcon on a seven yard curl route. Garcon did the rest by making the initial defensive back miss and speeding away from the safety for a 70 yard house call.

On the next drive McCoy was again able to march the team down the field on an eight minute drive, but again the drive stalled for the team in the red zone. After a three and out, McCoy came back and orchestrated a nearly flawless game winning drive. He was quick and strong on his decisions against heavy blitzing pressure from the Titans, he took what he was given and moved the team down the field for the eventual game winning field goal.

3. Defense and special teams play better than we are accustomed to, but still make mistakes.

There were mistakes made by the defense and special teams by extending the Titans drives but there was only one major lapse in coverage and not many missed tackles that lead to yards after contact. The one blown coverage can be credited to by E.J. Biggers who let Derek Hagan get behind him and Charlie Whitehurst did make him pay by delivering a strike for a touchdown. On the only other touchdown given up by the defense, they were clearly fatigued. They had forced a punt and gotten an interception but after a penalty by special teams and interception by Cousins, the Titans were able to eventually score on their third try.

As a whole the defensive unit played quite well by making solid tackles and breaking up some passes at the same time; however even though they created some pressure they need to start completing the play with a sack. Special teams played well today by turning a poor Tress Way punt into a recovered muff to set up the Redskins’ player of the game Kai Forbath. Forbath was perfect on four field goal attempts including the game winner, he was also better on kickoffs.

4. Penalties galore.

The Redskins had seven penalties for 50 yards, many of which came at key moments of the game to extend drives for the Titans. Trent Murphy offside on punt to give the Titans a first down. Ryan Kerrigan’s sack negated by illegal contact on Baushad Breeland. Jason Hatcher sack’s negated by illegal contact on Will Compton. Tom Compton illegal hands to the face negates Desean Jackson’s potential second amazing catch of the game.

However, in playing an equal bad franchise in the Titans they did their part by returning the favor in bad penalties. Tennessee racked up 96 penalty yards on 11 infractions. The most key foul was a pass interference call against Jason McCourty who grabbed a hold of Desean Jackson’s arm on a deep ball that set up Kai Forbath’s eventual game winning chip shot.

5. We now turn the page onto Dallas week.

The only major injury going into next Monday is to Brian Orakpo who has a possible torn right pectoral muscle, not the same side as in 2011 and 2012. He will receive a MRI tomorrow to figure out the true injury.

Gruden and the coaching staff will now turn their attention to the ever hot Dallas Cowboys. The defense will have to try and contain Demarco Murray who is having a career year thus far. The quarterback situation seems to shape up as if Griffin looks sharp during practice on Wednesday he could get the start; otherwise McCoy has the edge over Cousins.

Washington Redskins Week 7 Preview: Tennessee Titans

If there’s a week that the Washington Redskins need to and can get back on track, it is week seven against the struggling 2-4 Tennessee Titans.  Both teams have issues for different reasons, and it appears that the Redskins woes are self-inflicted at times, or just due to lack of overall talent.  Tennessee, like Washington, has suffered injuries to the quarterback position and will look to get their season back on track once Jake Locker is fully ready to go.  If trends continue, a Jake Locker return to the lineup can only spell disaster for the Redskins defense.

Washington finds themselves in quite a predicament in 2014.  Their rookie head coach has piloted the team to a 1-5 record.  Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been efficient enough, until he makes that first mistake.  That’s when “good Kirk” quickly becomes “bad Kirk”, and the mistakes start to mount.  For those that are comparing Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, regardless of where you stand on that issue, the numbers do not lie.  Griffin, through 30 career games, has amassed 17 interceptions.  Cousins through 13? 18 picks.

Say what you want to about Griffin’s pocket awareness, decision making in said pocket, and overall off field “antics,” but he takes care of the ball.  He does not fold under the pressure of the game.  Robert Griffin III does not hang his head on the sideline.  He is a project, to be sure, as Griffin has a long way to go to keep himself healthy and on the field and performing like 2012 RG3 on a regular basis.  But the potential is still there.  Cousins, meanwhile, is what he is at this point.  He is an outstanding backup that most teams in the league would be lucky to have, but that is about it.

Cousins will need to secure his first ever win as a starter this weekend against Tennessee if the Redskins have any hope of posting a respectable record in 2014.  Jake Locker will be returning to the lineup, and the Redskins linebackers will have a tall task of containing Tennessee’s solid wide receiver corps and breakout fantasy tight end Delanie Walker.  The positive to all of this, though painful to watch now, is that Washington is getting plenty of experience in for their two young but promising corners, David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland.  Young linebacker Will Compton, in place of the injured Perry Riley, will look to get plenty of experience against the talented Tennessee tight end Walker.  These players are not only intriguing to watch for this game, but for the remainder of the season as well.

Keys to the game

Contain Delanie Walker

Walker has had a solid start to his season, amassing over 400 yards and three touchdowns in the first six weeks.  Inconsistent starting and play at quarterback is the only reason why these numbers aren’t even higher.  The Redskins have struggled mightily against the tight end this year, and some of that is due to the wildly inconsistent coverage skills of linebacker Perry Riley.  Last week, in place of the injured Riley, Will Compton stepped in and impressed in this area.  He will need to do it again against the versatile Walker.

Get the ball to Jackson

My goodness.  That’s all you can say about the deep ball connection between Cousins and wide receiver DeSean Jackson over the past two weeks.  Cousins has gone over the top of defenders to Jackson and zipped the ball on the slant route which Jackson took to the house.  This connection needs to continue.  This is why the Redskins brought him here.  Jackson isn’t the presence in the locker room you need.  He isn’t a great blocker (he’s actually pretty terrible).  Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden, and yes, especially Dan Snyder, brought DeSean Jackson here for this.

ESPN 980 personality and former player Chris Cooley was critical of Jackson this week for his lack of blocking, but how is this shocking to anyone?  The Redskins knew what they were signing up for when they quickly snatched up Jackson after he was inexplicably released from Philadelphia.  The good outweighs the bad.  There’s plenty of both, to be sure, but Jackson is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL.  One can only hope that once Griffin returns, they are still able to utilize him.

More Alfred, and even more Helu

The Redskins need to get going on the ground if they want to have any hope of winning another game.  Weapons like Jackson, Garcon, Reed, and Roberts are rendered useless without an effective running game.  As many have suggested since Gruden arrived, the Redskins will eventually move away from the zone blocking scheme.  It is complicated, and without utilizing plays like the read option, it hurts in the pass protection area because linemen that are required for zone blocking are typically smaller and more athletic, which describes the current state of the Redskins offensive line.

When the zone blocking scheme does go away, Alfred Morris will have to adapt or die.  He has largely relied on the scheme and the threat of his quarterback as a runner.  Helu, on the other hand, seems to fit the mold of running backs that made Gruden as successful offensive coordinator in Cincinnati.  He is quick and elusive; the Redskins would be better served to get Helu more touches on Sunday.  This isn’t a knock on Morris, but most successful NFL teams are employing a two back system these days. It’s imperative that the Redskins strive for the same.

Our Predictions

Joe Ziegengeist

Redskins will finally get a win in this one, but the defense will still have us shaking our heads.  What’s the over/under number of weeks until Haslett gets fired?  Redskins 27, Titans 24

Dave Nichols

I think the Redskins could win this game, but it’s going to be up to Kirk Cousins to take care of the ball. Some of his interceptions have simply been inexcusable and he has to protect the ball better. You’d think that Jay Gruden would utilize the running game to a better extent to allow Cousins to get into better passing situations. The Titans aren’t very good either and they’re on the road, so I’ll very tentatively say… Redskins 20, Titans 17.

Joe Miller

This is a game the Redskins should win. Washington, despite being 1-5, still has the 7th best offense in yards/game and 10th best defense in yards allowed/game whereas 2-4 Tennessee ranks 22nd and 20th respectively in those categories. But can anyone really trust the Redskins and their -9 turnover differential (worst in the league)? If they lose this one, somehow an ugly season would become distinctly uglier.  Redskins 24, Titans 20

Neil Dalal

To put it bluntly, Tennessee has little talent on their roster. They struggle to run the ball with their rookie and struggle to execute in the red zone with a veteran QB with less experience than Kirk Cousins. The defense should be able to hold off a team that barely put up enough points to beat the Jaguars last week and Cousins should be able to orchestrate enough drives without mistakes to bring home the victory.  Redskins 20, Titans 13

Washington Redskins Game 6 Review: Cardinals dump Redskins in desert

Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, including one which was returned for a touchdown with 29 seconds left in the game, and the Washington Redskins lost to the Arizona Cardinals 30-20 on Sunday.

The Redskins (1-5) committed four turnovers, all in the fourth quarter.

It was the Redskins’ fourth straight loss and 13th in 14 games.

[Read more…]

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