December 22, 2014

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…]

Washington Redskins Game 5 Review: Wilson runs rampant as Seahawks win 27-17

Russell Wilson ran for 122 yards and a touchdown, and threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns and the Seattle Seahawks knocked off the Washington Redskins 27-17 Monday night at FedEx Field.

The Redskins defense just had no answer for Wilson. Seemingly on every play, Wilson was escaping a rush, or outrunning a linebacker, or buying time and finding a wide-open receiver.

He led Seattle on a 6-play, 65-yard drive on its opening possession which ended on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Week 5 Preview: Seattle Seahawks

It doesn’t get any easier for the 1-3 Washington Redskins this week as the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks make the trip to FedEx Field for Monday Night Football.  This will be the Redskins’ second consecutive primetime game, the first of which was an absolute debacle against the division foe New York Giants.  The Seahawks are coming off of a bye week and find themselves at 2-1 heading into this matchup.

“Debacle” is the only way to describe the last time these two teams met.  The Redskins, after coming off a thrilling seven game winning streak, won the 2012 NFC East division championship in a decisive fashion against the Dallas Cowboys and were hosting their first home playoff game since 1999.  Robert Griffin III, though still feeling the ill-effects from a LCL injury, was flying high and started the game off well against the wild card Seahawks.

Then, disaster struck.  Griffin appeared to re-injure the knee early on in the game, and after the Redskins secured a 14-0 lead, the offense sputtered due to Griffin’s obvious injury aggravation.  Despite this, head coach Mike Shanahan stuck with Griffin until he no longer could.  Griffin would go on to tear his ACL and the Redskins have not recovered since.  While Seattle would ultimately win the Super Bowl the following season, the Redskins have posted a combined 4-16 regular season record since that game.

While the 2014 version of the Seattle Seahawks has lost a game, they do not appear to be showing ill-effects of the infamous “Super Bowl hangover”.  Richard Sherman and the vaunted Seattle defense are still highly physical, Russell Wilson is still making clutch plays at the right time, and Head Coach Pete Carroll seems to never lose the fire to win.  This team is still considered a perennial Super Bowl favorite, and why not?  They have built the team the right way and could quite possibly be better than they were last year.

The Redskins are in turmoil and need a good game and victory against a tough Seattle opponent on Monday night.  Kirk Cousins is coming off a five turnover game and needs to shake it off against the most talented defense in the league.  Our keys to the game will focus on what the Redskins will need to do better in order to secure the upset of the season thus far.  Seattle is favored by seven points and the difference there could come down to the simple things that allow a football team to succeed.

Keys to the game

Limit mistakes 

Penalties and special teams gaffs have plagued Washington so far this season.  In order for the Redskins to secure a victory, the little intricacies that don’t even factor into an overall game plan need to be executed perfectly or this team will continue to struggle.  Mental errors have easily taken what could be a 2-1 or even 3-0 team to 1-3.  For what it’s worth, mistakes can be overcome with sound play.  But that isn’t happening either, and Seattle is a team that will take advantage of mental errors and quickly bury a team.

Have a short memory

Kirk Cousins was clearly rattled in last Thursday’s game against the Giants.  The lasting images of this game will be Kirk with his head hanging down on the sidelines.  This cannot happen again.  The Redskins need a confident Cousins, one who can manage a game and make the throws necessary to move the ball down the field.  He can’t be scared or tentative; Seattle will crush him if he is.  If Cousins wants any chance of starting for Washington or anywhere else, his performance in the next two games is crucial.  It’s the difference between a five or six year multi-million dollar deal or spending his career as a backup.  (and time could be running out.)

Cousins will make mistakes against this defense.  They’re too good and he’s still too green not to.  The key is to shake off the errors and treat each drive as a new opportunity.  Learning from mistakes but also maintaining a forward perception of things is imperative for an NFL Quarterback.  Seattle’s offense is certainly nothing to scoff at, but the performance of the Redskins offense and the utilization of the many weapons it has is the major factor in the outcome of this matchup.

Out-physical the Hawks

Seattle is the most physical team in the NFL, on both sides of the ball.  The Redskins must match this hit for hit and pound for pound.  If Washington comes out on the field as soft as they did Thursday night against New York, it will be a long night.  Percy Harvin will be looking to put up huge numbers in this game so throwing the timing off there is important, though that would mean Haslett would need to bring the corners up closer to the line of scrimmage and that rarely happens.

Our Predictions

Joe Ziegengeist

I expect the Redskins to play better than most think, but will ultimately lose this one.  Seattle has a reputation for being a bad road team, but they will have half the FedEx Field crowd behind them and will win this one in a route.  Seahawks 35, Redskins 13.

Dave Nichols

I don’t envision the Redskins having any easier a time with the best defense in the NFL that they did last week with the Giants. In fact, I expect the Seahawks to have a field day both on offense and defense. The Redskins just seem incapable of getting out of their own way with penalties, making a tough job even more difficult. You just wish the league would stop scheduling the team for national TV games at this point. Seahawks 31, Redskins 10.

Neil Dalal

Cousins completely fell apart when faced with a little adversity against a mediocre defense and the teams problems snowballed. Now they have to face the defending champs. They might be a little healthier and more prepared but I don’t think there is anything that will significantly help this team against an opponent of such a magnitude. The Redskins will be lucky to get out of the first half without the boo birds coming out.  Seahawks 30, Redskins 13.

Eric Hobeck

Seahawks as both teams set new records.  Seahawks 70, Redskins 0.

Joe Miller

Kirk Cousins doesn’t throw as many interceptions this week but the offense still struggles to move the ball against the highly touted Seahawks defense. Coversely, the Redskins defense again struggles to get pressure, as Russell Wilson is able to get the ball out of his hands quickly (like Eli Manning last week) and put up points.  Seahawks 35, Redskins 17.

Joe Mercer

If there was ever a season-saving game, this would be it. After being embarrassed on their home field against division rival New York Giants, the Redskins host the defending champs with hopes of at least putting an end to a mini two-game slide. With backup Kirk Cousins seemingly forgetting how to play quarterback last week, throwing four picks over a span of eight pass attempts, the Redskins are going to need a Monday Night Miracle to keep this week’s match-up remotely competitive.   Seahawks 35, Redskins 17.

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses quarterback situation

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed how much effort he put into scouting quarterbacks Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson when he was the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals: “I looked at it a little bit, but obviously we had a quarterback in Andy [Dalton]. We weren’t looking at the quarterback market the second and third year.

But all three of them are very talented. You know, Russell has been given a great situation with a great team around him also and took advantage of his reps.

And Kirk and Robert, Robert’s obviously had some issues with his injuries and so much, and Kirk’s been stuck behind him.

But, they’re all three good quarterbacks, they’re all three young quarterbacks, and I think all three of their futures are very bright in the NFL. One has done a little bit more, accomplished more obviously to this point, but that doesn’t mean the other two won’t accomplish great things in their career moving forward.

So, all three of them have a lot to be proud of for what they’ve accomplished so far, but I know that Kirk and Robert both have their sights set higher for what they want to accomplish later on.”

Gruden talked about Wilson’s reputation as a game manager: “Just because he manages the game doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the talent to do whatever – he could throw the ball deep. He can hurt you in a lot of ways.

If they need to score 35 or 40, then he can open it up and they can throw it 50 times. He just hasn’t had to do that because their defense has played so well.

When I say ‘great game manager,’ it means I think he’s not turning the ball over and he’s making great decisions. If it’s time to punt, it’s time to punt. He’ll let his defense get the ball back for him. He does a great job in that regard.

If they ever get in a situation where they’re down, he has the ability to throw the ball in bunches and do a good job.

So I think as a total package quarterback, his numbers may not speak for it, but I think his production does. When it’s all said and done, it’s about production in this league with wins and losses, not so much about stats.

You know, preparing for him, there’s a lot of pass concepts that they have. They have a great running game, obviously, so you’re preparing for him like you prepare for any other quarterback in the NFL, but you have to also add in the fact that he’s unbelievable as far as getting out of the pocket, avoiding the rush and buying time. He’s like Houdini back there avoiding the rushes and the sacks and keeping plays alive.

So that’s the biggest concern is trying to keep him in the pocket as opposed to letting him get out and make big plays with his legs.”

Washington Redskins Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins discuss matchup with Seahawks

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked if anything worried him the most about the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense: “No – that’s what concerns you the most is that they’re very good everywhere.

They’re averaging giving up 2.8 yards a carry, I think. You’d think with such a great pass defense, ‘Heck, let’s run the ball.’ But, teams are only averaging 2.8 yards a clip. We had a 500-play cutup on them on their run game, and 350 of them were two yards or less. So they do a great job in the run game.

And then obviously when you have to throw it, their corners are excellent, their safeties are excellent and then their pass rush is outstanding.

So, they don’t have a weak player, a weak link on their defense. We just have to go out and run our offense, try to be more physical and do what we do. Our guys are just going to have to play a little better and a lot better for us to have a chance.”

Gruden discussed how to stop running back Marshawn Lynch: “You have to go about it by bringing your whole body of work with you. Your pads – you’ve got to lower your pad level with him, you’ve got to bring your arms with you. If you try to tackle him on the side, he’ll run right through you.

But he is an angry runner and he is a violent runner and he loves contact. On the Monday night stage, he’s got a lot of energy – he’s got a week off, so he’s going to be fresh-legged – so it’s going to be important for us to gang tackle, wrap up and get him on the ground.

But he is a dynamic running back and he is an angry running back and a forced to be reckoned with, and to me, obviously Russell is very good with managing the game, but he [Lynch] is the heartbeat of that offense.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about what he has to do to be successful against the Seahawks defense: “Well, I think it’s a lot of the same themes that happen in every game – whether you’re playing an outstanding defense like Seattle or a defense that’s middle-of-the-road, you’re going to have to do the same things, which is protect the football, stay ahead of the chains, stay out of third-and-long. All the things that affect a normal game are going to affect it when you play a top opponent like Seattle.”

Seahawks secondary

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed playcalling to avoid Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: “They’ve got two very good corners. I think [Byron] Maxwell is playing excellent, too. And then the safeties are doing a good job.

They have good underneath help, sometimes, so [Richard] Sherman can slough back a little bit and play the deep ball. Sometimes when they want to play bump and run, man-to-man, he can get up and jam people and go a great job.

He’s obviously a great corner, but we feel like we have good receivers and we have to go out and challenge whoever the corner is. That’s why we went out and got DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon and Andre Roberts. So hopefully those guys will be up to the challenge.

They definitely have to step up their routes, their route discipline coming in and out of breaks, and the quarterback has to do a great job with the accuracy and anticipation for us to have a chance. We’re not going to shy away from anybody, but obviously we know both corners are very good.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about his decision-making process surveying the field being aware of Sherman’s presence: “We have our rules, we have our coverages that are kind of ignoring personnel. You’re just going to play by your rules, ‘All things being equal, here is how you play the game.’

Certainly personnel then is another element that factors into your decision-making as a quarterback, your play calling as a coach, where you’re going to put guys on the field and try to give guys a chance to be successful – understanding the personnel that we have and the personnel that they have in different spots. That’s the chess match, that’s the game.

He [Richard Sherman] is a great corner. We have a lot of respect for him.  There’s a reason he signed a great contract and has a lot of success and a Super Bowl ring.  So, he’s a guy to be aware of on the field, but at the same time you don’t want to be letting it affect you too much. That’s a balance you have got to find.”

Cousins stressed the need to avoid leading the Redskins receivers into big hits by the Seahawks’ safeties: “I think putting a receiver in a bad spot, period, whether you’re a hard hitter or not, you’re putting a guy in a tough spot.

This week these guys have certainly done a great job of reading quarterbacks’ eyes and breaking on the ball very, very quickly and playing at a high tempo.

I’m definitely going to want to be smart, throw to the open guy, and make good decisions. If I do that we’ll have much of a better chance of winning the game.”

Russell Wilson

Washington Redskins head coach was full of praise for Seattle Seahawks quareterback Russell Wilson: “He’s a very good decision maker, you can see that. Even when plays breakdown and he’s out of the pocket, he’s very protective with the ball.

He manages the game like a pro, like a veteran. He doesn’t make many mistakes, he’s accurate with the ball when he has to be and he plays their offense the way it’s supposed to be.

He doesn’t turn the ball over and their defense gets turnovers, and that’s the big difference in their team. That’s why they’re 2-1, they’re Super Bowl champs. They create turnovers on defense and they don’t turn the ball over on offense.

That starts with the quarterback making good, sound decisions, and he plays like a 10-year vet, that’s for sure.”

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recalled facing off against Wilson in his college and NFL career: “I actually went against him three times. Played him twice my senior year – the game that ended in the Hail Mary, which we were fortunate to come out with the win, and then the Big Ten Championship game, which actually they got the better of us in that one. And if I could, I’d do it over again and I’d rather switch it and be able to go to the Rose Bowl and win that championship game. And then the playoff game, yeah.

So played him three times, at least first person, and he is very talented, just a special player. And he is one of those guys – I told him when I saw him in the offseason after our rookie year, I said, ‘You make me nervous. When I am standing on the sideline and the ball is in your hand you make me nervous because I never know what the next play is going to be.’”

Cousins’s first matchup against Wilson was the famous Hail Mary replay game between Michigan State and Wisconsin: “The Hail Mary game I just remember a back and forth game. They got the lead early then we came back, stormed back with some good plays and then they came back late in the game, Russell made a bunch of plays. Then we got the ball with a couple minutes left and went down the field, got it to midfield, then had to throw that Hail Mary. So it was a back and forth battle of two really good football teams. It showed itself again in the Big Ten Championship game, two really good football teams.

In the playoff game I just remember we got ahead early, had a great start. FedExField was rocking and then they just kind of steadily kept marching back and stayed in it and then took the lead. It is one of those games that didn’t sit well with it because of how close we felt like we were to winning a playoff game.

But they are a great football team and they have shown why ever since then with all the success that they have had.”

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