Washington Redskins: Analysis and Observations from Sunday's Game
I would like to the sum the Redskins up in one sentence: the Redskins are an entertaining team—not a good one.
By all means, yesterday’s game between the Bengals and Redskins was very entertaining. There were big plays, turnovers, star players and controversy (again).
As of now, the Bengals are the better team and that’s to be expected. They were a playoff team last year and with the likes of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, they are a tough team to beat.
That being considered—could the Redskins have won yesterday? I would say yes.
The Redskins are not a good team, but they aren’t a bad one. They aren’t getting blown out. However, they have suffered many injuries and simply have inferior personnel—especially in the secondary and offensive line, which I’ll get to later.
While I’m trying to avoid going into my annual Redskins depression, we have to remind ourselves that this may be a blessing in disguise.
Three out of the past four years, the Skins have started off hot and ultimately failed down the stretch. Perhaps it's a good thing to get those ugly, early losses out of the way and adjust to those mistakes.
I will however, have to be critical of the coaching staff for that matter. Mike Shanahan is not a “player’s coach." He’s not going to rile up his club and have them run through a wall. He’s a strategist and a planner—an x’s and o’s type of football man who has a tremendous resume.
Over the past three years, I have many issues with his coaching style.
One is his lack of a “plan B” if you will. What I mean is that Mike Shanahan always seems to have a great “plan A”, but what happens if “plan A” doesn’t work? Because his “plan B’s” have been horrible.
Look at yesterday’s game and Jordan Black becoming the team’s left tackle—arguably the most important position other than quarterback.
No disrespect to Jordan Black, but did Mike Shanahan really think that someone who was out of football last year and previously 30 pounds underweight was going to come in and produce?
Trent Williams is a potential Pro Bowler, but he has struggled with injuries and his suspension. It’s unrealistic to believe that he can last a full season and Jordan Black as the answer is unacceptable.
Again, that’s Shanahan’s fault.
Now onto Jim Haslett. Last year, Haslett made up for it. Overall, I thought the defense played well, considering the talent base and injuries.
This year, Haslett is reverting to his 2010 ways. It’s his lack of adjustments that have killed this defense so far.
Today’s NFL is a game-long adjustment, where coordinators are essentially playing chess against each other. Haslett doesn’t do that. He sticks to the plan—which by the way hasn’t been working at all.
That can’t happen anymore. Below are my observations of yesterday’s game.
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I can’t even explain how important Trent Williams is to this organization and the development of RGIII. Griffin couldn’t throw a ball past 10 yards when Williams went down.
The first half was miserable, the play-calling seemed vanilla and urgency was minimal. I’ll give it to Kyle Shanahan though, he made the halftime adjustment and looked great in the second half.
Now onto Robert Griffin getting mauled yesterday and making Michael Johnson look like Reggie White. That wasn’t good. Robert Griffin is clearly tough as nails, but no one that size can take a beating for a 16-game season.
He’s the most important player on the roster, he needs to be better protected and that includes the play-calling.
After the selection of the former Heisman Trophy winner, it became evident that the Redskins are building long-term.
Allowing him to get hit like that won’t help that cause.
The problem with that is his physicality is actually working. The option came out of nowhere in the second half and it worked more often than not. The Redskins coaching staff was able to find a way to utilize Brandon Banks other than as a returner.
This was the first game in a long time that Banks shut me up. He had a good return and appeared comfortable in that option role.
I thought Leonard Hankerson had a solid game. Nothing spectacular, but he did his job. I’ve stated in the past that Hankerson needs the reps to develop. If he’s doing the same as Josh Morgan, than why not give Hankerson continued reps.
As many of you know by now, I am a big Santana Moss supporter. While I’ll be the first admit that he doesn’t have the same burst that he once had. I still think there is some production out of him. Especially with the injury to Garcon, Moss could provide a lot more than just one catch for three yards.
Aldrick Robinson was a great story in week one, since then his production has slipped as well as his reps. Consistency is an issue for Robinson and it’s going to be even harder for him to see the field when Garcon eventually comes back.
Fred Davis finally arrived as he was team’s leading receiver yesterday. While a lot of that was piled up during the Bengals prevent defense, I still want to see added chemistry between the talented tight end and RGIII.
Other than Garcon, Davis is the most talented. I thought this was going to be a breakout year for him, but his production has shown otherwise until yesterday.
Fred Davis is more productive going downfield, where he can utilize his size and speed versus linebackers.
Alfred Morris continues to be a workhorse. He’s going to get you positive yardage nearly every time and he’s best used in the red zone. My one knock on Morris is his inability to create longer rushes. While his speed isn’t superior, I still would like to see him break one loose.
Here is my weekly request asking for more plays for Roy Helu, Jr., please and thank you.
Onto the offensive line.
I obviously wasn’t impressed with Jordan Black. Please get better Trent. On the other hand, I’ve been complimentary of Tyler Polumbus recently. He did not play well at all. Polumbus is a big guy, but struggles against nifty pass rushers and putting your arms out won’t stop a professional defensive lineman.
RGIII notes: he was rather unimpressive in the first half. A lot of it wasn’t his fault. I thought Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling was getting too “cute” and the offensive line woes definitely hurt.
However, he passed another test and that was rallying a team that was down 14 points. He was comfortable playing from behind, which was something I’m sure he was used to while at Baylor.
If I can critique one thing about him, is that his pocket presence remains suspect. I noticed when the pocket would collapse, Griffin would remain in it, which typically leads to disaster.
That said, it’s not his fault the pocket collapses in the first place.
All in all, of course the offense missed a few plays here and there, but they are putting up points, which is all you can ask for. You can’t blame the two losses on the offense because they’ve done their job in the grand scheme of things.
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Ok I’ll try not to be entirely negative about the defense. Also, is it just me or am I seeing a lot of holding calls that aren’t being noticed by the refs?
It’s not the rush defense that’s the problem. Two out of three games, they’ve been great. BenJarvus Green-Ellis essentially had nothing the entire game. Give credit to the front seven in that regard.
On the Rob Jackson touchdown, Ryan Kerrigan made that happen. Putting pressure on Dalton forced the errant throw.
That’s consecutive defensive touchdowns, that hasn’t happened in almost 20 years so that’s good.
Perry Riley seems to be improving on a game to game basis. Stephen Bowen is the team’s best defensive linemen, but wasn’t able to pressure Dalton yesterday.
You don’t need a stellar defense to win anymore. The three most recent Super Bowl winners (Saints, Packers and Giants) didn’t have great defenses. They had opportunistic ones that took care of business when it mattered.
That’s where I thought the Redskins were going into the season. That’s not the case.
In a passing dominated league, the Skins have been embarrassing at stopping it. Danny Amendola and A.J. Green both had career days.
I know the secondary was going to be an issue, but they are a downright liability. Who do I blame for that?
No disrespect to Madieu Williams, Brandon Meriweather and DeJon Gomes, but Mike Shanahan felt he had a starting caliber safety tandem with those players.
Madieu Williams and Merriweather both were reserves last year and are in the latter part of their career. Tanard Jackson is a joke at this point and DeJon Gomes has completely regressed.
If anyone deserves an excuse it’s Gomes. He’s still inexperienced and hasn’t played a full season yet, and the Redskins can’t afford to get into a shootout every single game.
While that’s certainly entertaining, something needs to be changed because they still have an incredibly difficult schedule.
DeAngelo Hall continues to disappoint in coverage, I’d really like to see him transition to free safety at some point. He’s not the same cover corner he once was. Freelancing him as a safety could be more conducive to Hall’s skills.
Josh Wilson probably had the worst play of his career—at least as a Redskin during the Binns 48-yard touchdown. He’s been the team’s best cover corner since he arrived in Washington, I don’t expect that to happen again.
I've been lobbying for Richard Crawford. I thought he had an impressive preseason and played his way onto the roster.
Since the secondary is so poor right now, why not give Crawford a shot?
Cedric Griffin hasn't really done much, so I would like to see increased reps for him.
And I have to credit Andy Dalton’s accuracy—he’s dangerous and I admit that I underestimated that going into the game.
Special Teams Evaluations
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Billy Cundiff made his field goals—check.
We didn’t have a punt blocked—check.
Brandon Banks had a good return—check.
Kick and punt return coverage remained fine. Lorenzo Alexander makes that job look easy. They were much improved after the first two games, coach Danny Smith can breathe easy for now.