October 21, 2014

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 a spark immediately.

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 Week 5 Analysis: Defensive Notes

The Washington Redskins defense had an up-and-down night against the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks Monday Night in the Redskins’ 27-17 loss at home. At times, they looked absolutely porous, allowing the Seahawks offense to move the ball at will, while at other times showing flashes of dominance.

The Redskins were certainly aided by a total of 13 penalties for 90 yards against the Seahawks (the majority of which on the offense), but I don’t quite buy into the notion that this is what kept the Redskins in the game.

More than likely, you’ve heard by now that the Seahawks were ‘robbed of three touchdowns’ negated by penalties. But if you actually examine each instance, you’ll see that two of those cancelled touchdowns occurred on the same drive which ultimately resulted in a successful field goal. The third occurred on a drive where they went on to score a touchdown anyways. So in essence, all in all, instead of scoring a possible 14 points on those two drives, they ended up scoring 10 points. A four-point difference is a lot different than ‘three touchdowns’.

Additionally, penalties are always an issue for the Seahawks. In their Super Bowl winning season last year, they had the most penalties in football.  To imply that if Seattle limited its penalties, Washington would’ve been blown out is an exercise in futility because it ignores reality. It’s part of who they are.

Sorry, rant over. Let’s get to the notes:

[Read more...]

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Week Five loss to the Seattle Seahawks

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 27-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks:

1. That great mobile quarterback, just not ours.
Russell Wilson is the epitome of what all Redskins fans hope Robert Griffin III will become again. He burned the Redskins defense early when contain was not maintained, gashing them for big play runs on the first drive that ended in a touchdown. The read option always had the defense questioning their positioning. Wilson ran for 122 yards, a Monday Night Football record, where many yards were after contact and missed tackles. The Redskins at time did a great job with their base defense but having to account for a quarterback that can extend plays was too tough. [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.”

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Week Three loss to the Philadelphia Eagles

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 37-34 division opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles: [Read more...]

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses Kirk Cousins as starter

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked if the team’s game plan will change with Kirk Cousins behind center instead of Robert Griffin III, out indefinitely with a dislocated ankle.

“No, no. Our game plan will be our game plan,” Gruden said. “Nothing is going to change really whatsoever. If we see that we can run the ball, you’re going to try to run the ball every week, no question about it. There’s nothing that’ll change with Kirk at quarterback and these guys have practiced all our plays from Day 1 like I said when I first got here. They’ve both handled it very well – Colt [McCoy] included – all three of them. There’s not going to be a lot of change moving forward with Kirk.”

Gruden spoke about what the team needs to do around Cousins, “Yeah, we’ve got to help him. People around him have got to step up, not just Kirk. Our running game has got to step up, our linemen have got to do a better job in pass protection and opening up holes for our backs. Our receivers have got to do great things after the catch. And then of course, our defense needs to continue to play well and get the ball for us in good field position.

If we think we’re going to play from behind, it’s going to be hard on any quarterback, but I think we all realized what a team game this is yesterday. Our special teams was pretty good, our defense was outstanding and our offense was good in the running and the passing game. We put those three phases together, we’re going to be a tough team to beat. As we learned in Houston, when we don’t do that, it’s very tough to win whoever the quarterback is.

I think it’s just important moving forward that we try not to make this about Robert when Robert was the quarterback. We’re going to try not to make this about Kirk now that Kirk is the quarterback. We’ve got to make it about the Redskins moving forward, and everybody needs to get involved and help us through this.”

Gruden spoke of Cousins’s assets as a quarterback. “Well, he’s a smart quarterback, and I think he can make every throw,” Gruden started. “He’s got a very strong arm, he can throw the deep balls as we saw yesterday, and he’s got good medium accuracy and touch and obviously he has got short accuracy and touch. The big thing for him is playing – handling the pass rush, handling the blitzes and the protections, which he hasn’t had a whole lot of reps at. And that will be the difference in him being a very, very effective quarterback in the coming week.

So, we’ve got to just get him ready from a mental standpoint, but from a physical standpoint, he’s got the tools to make all the throws. I know the team has confidence in all our quarterbacks and moving forward and he’s got a chance to be very successful.”

Gruden rated Cousins’s performance on Sunday: “Very impressed, I thought he had an outstanding game. He worked the tight ends, he got the receivers involved, he got the backs involved, made good sound decisions with the football, quick decisions and kept us in positive down and distances and moving the ball. Our running game was outstanding, also. I think we had 190 yards rushing which also helps.

Then of course the field position the defense got us and special teams was also outstanding. So we were able to keep Jacksonville on their heels with the run, the play pass and the drop-back pass. It was a great day and both quarterbacks did well when they were in there.”

On whether the Redskins will bring in a new third-string quarterback, Gruden said, “We may. We haven’t decided that yet. And, you know, Colt is a very capable backup, as we know. He started some in the NFL, so we’ll address that at a later time, whether or not we bring a third guy in for practice squad.”

Asked what would have happened if Cousins also got injured Sunday with McCoy designated as inactive, Gruden answered, “Andre Roberts was going to go back there in the shotgun and hand it off or run it.”

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses Robert Griffin III ankle injury

Kirk Cousins takes over as Washington Redskins starting quarterback. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Kirk Cousins takes over as Washington Redskins starting quarterback. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden briefed reporters Monday about the severity of quarterback Robert Griffin III’s injury.

“Robert has a dislocated ankle. It is not a fracture. We’ll know in a few more weeks as far as how long he’ll be out. We’re going to send his results of the MRI to Dr. [Robert] Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist and get it casted up and we’ll just go from there.”

There was no ligament damage to Griffin’s ankle, and the injury will not require surgery. There was no consideration to putting Griffin on season-ending IR. [Read more...]

Washington Redskins Week 2 Analysis: Offensive Notes

The Washington Redskins offense thoroughly dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday en route to the team’s first victory since Nov. 3 of last year. The 41 points scored by the offense was their highest output since their 45-point showing against the Bears in late October last season.

However, in spite of their success, the story of this game will be the ankle injury quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered while making a throw on the run early in the first quarter. Griffin said Monday that the MRI showed no ankle fracture but the timetable for his return is still inconclusive, and he very well could miss a significant amount of time if not the rest of the season.

The injury could not only have a huge impact on the Redskins this season but may even alter the entire future of the franchise for years to come. The biggest question for this season now becomes how well can backup and fellow 2012 draft pick, Kirk Cousins, play as the starter in Griffin’s absence.

If RG3 doesn’t return this year, and Cousins is able to lead the team to a successful winning season, there’ll be a lot of tough questions for the front office in the offseason. The offense under Cousins got off to a good start Sunday. [Read more...]

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