Washington Redskins: Analysis and Observations Against the Bucs

Tom NataliCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2012

Washington Redskins: Analysis and Observations Against the Bucs

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    It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it. I know it’s early in the season, but Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay was a must-win.

    This was an old-school Redskins type of win. It could have easily been a blowout, sloppy play on both teams and a nerve-wrecking field goal that gives me heart palpitations.

    Don’t worry, I’ll get to Billy Cundiff later.

    The Redskins face a daunting schedule the rest of the way, and they needed a win to complete their first quarter of the year with a .500 record.

    I have mentioned on numerous occasions that football is a game of adjustments. By all accounts, the Redskins dominated the first half of the game.

    Come the second half, it was a different story. Josh Freeman looked like a career backup to perennial Pro Bowler in just an hour span.

    So for one half of football, the defense finally had an effective game plan. On the other hand, Jim Haslett has yet to devise a scheme that lasts for four quarters, which is a major concern.

    Onto the good part, Robert Griffin is amazing, incredible, fantastic, etc. It appears that it’s going to take more than one defender to tackle Alfred Morris every single time. Leonard Hankerson has the potential to be the quintessential possession-type receiver whom the Redskins have lacked since Art Monk and Trent Williams proved something to me.

    Here’s a few things that I want to touch on: Everyone is crediting the 49ers with their offensive approach against the Jets last Sunday in which quarterback Colin Kaepernick was used in a Wildcat offense.

    That didn’t look like the Wildcat offense to me. That was the Redskins offense. The NFL is taking notice of Kyle Shanahan’s approach with the athletic Robert Griffin, and Kaepernick was put in the same position to utilize both his arm strength and rushing ability.

    Anyway, here’s my analysis of the Redskins' 24-22 victory over the Buccaneers.

Offensive Evaluations

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    Let me start with the offensive line. I have been critical in the past about Trent Williams, mostly because I know he’s capable of becoming a premier left tackle.

    The former fourth overall pick sucked it up after spending the week with a lingering injury and played in obvious pain. Just goes to show you that a 50 percent Trent Williams is better than a 100 percent Jordan Black any day of the week.

    Tyler Polumbus had a better game, not great, but was able to use his 6’8" frame to prevent pressures on RGIII.

    Alfred Morris does it again. The Tampa Buccaneers had the best rush defense in the NFL going into the game, and Morris grinded his way to another 100-yard game.

    What was even more impressive was that he was able to break one loose for a touchdown. I’ve been concerned with his inability to do so. That quickly changed on his 39-yard touchdown run.

    With another impressive performance, I have to give props to Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan for their downfield blocking.

    Little things like that make coaches giddy. There’s been a few plays this season where Josh Morgan and Hankerson both created big plays for their teammates due to their blocking.

    To expand on Josh Morgan, he had his best game as a Redskin. He’s clearly out of the “doghouse” after his penalty against the Rams.

    He was effective running slant routes, which is a pass Griffin is very comfortable throwing.

    I’m a big Hankerson fan. A lot has to do with the fact that we really don’t know what he’s capable of.

    I love his potential and size. He’s never going to flash with big highlight plays, but Hankerson does the dirty work as a wide receiver. With that said, Hankerson is best used underneath. I know that he had a long touchdown reception against St. Louis, but he’s struggled to create separation on deep routes since then.

    To me, that’s fine. That is not conducive to his skill set. Leave the downfield routes to Garcon.

    He’ll take underneath routes with ease, he’s been gaining yards after the catch, and his drops seem to be in the past.

    On the other hand, Pierre Garcon struggled, which I guess is OK, considering he’s been out for 2.5 games. What bothered me wasn’t his lack of involvement in the offense, it was his two penalties. One was the offensive pass interference in which he blatantly ripped Ronde Barber to the ground and his unnecessary roughness, which was inexcusable.

    Fred Davis had a good game, not great, but has been getting the job done. Again, I know he is Pro Bowl material if given the opportunity. I will compliment him on his much-improved blocking, however.

    Glad to see Niles Paul finally getting involved in the offense. He’s obviously going to need a year to develop to play a new position. Considering we are aware of Shanahan’s infatuation with Paul, I’d like to see more of him.

    Logan Paulsen has blocked his way onto the roster three years in a row. Paulsen is your old-school, traditional tight end. He’s a good complement to the pass catches of Davis and Paul.

    Don’t worry, I didn’t forget to write about RGIII. You know what I thought were the two most impressive throws? His two checkdowns to fullback Darrel Young.

    Both were off play-action passes. Griffin had time to throw, examined the field and took what the defense gave him.

    To me, that is what separates good quarterbacks from great ones. The great ones always know the right decision to make and remain cerebral in an adrenaline-fueled game.

    I know Young should be given credit for his run after the catch on both plays, however, I’m still incredibly impressed with Griffin’s maturation. He wouldn’t have made that throw in week one.

    Of course, I have to talk about his two-minute drill. Have you ever seen a Redskin quarterback execute it with such ease?

    I’m not even exaggerating, it looked so natural to him; he was intelligent, urgent and fearless. That game would have been lost if Rex Grossman was behind center.

    Now, onto Kyle Shanahan. He continues to impress me this season until the fourth quarter. Let’s start with the good. Despite Tampa’s stout run defense, Shanahan had an excellent combination of rushing and passing attempts.

    He kept Griffin out of harm’s way and didn’t go into the dangerous option formation one time. Excluding a couple hard hits, it was a definite improvement from the Bengals game.

    So with all that being said, the Redskins had the lead in the fourth quarter. The time management was awful. The play-calling was terrible, and the execution too.

    Don’t get me wrong, Shanahan is a bright football mind. At times, he gets a little too “cute." What I mean by that is that he’s overanalyzing. He needs to stick to the game plan and bleed the clock out. Alfred Morris was running all over the Bucs. Keep giving him the ball. Every incompletion is at least 35 seconds wasted off the clock.

Defensive Evaluations

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    In the first half of the game, the defense looked as I expected going into the season. Josh Freeman looked terrible, Doug Martin wasn’t going anywhere and Vincent Jackson was nonexistent.

    In the second half, the Bucs outcoached the Redskins. Josh Freeman looked unreal, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams looked like Pro Bowlers and the Skins surrendered their second 21-6 lead this season.

    I know that today’s receivers are very good, and it’s extremely difficult for cornerbacks to stick to them on every single play. To me, opposing receivers have been wide-open all season. They won’t win many games if that continues.

    Let’s not forget that they still have to play the NFC East six times.

    Josh Wilson had his worst game; Mike Williams made him look silly at times as he effectively used his height against the shorter Wilson.

    DeAngelo Hall had a great first half but reverted back to his old ways in the second half. Granted, Jackson is a great wide receiver, but he was dominated for an entire half of football.

    Madieu Williams was very active in this game. He’s obviously not the most talented free safety in the league, but I thought he was much improved in this game.

    Reed Doughty is the safest choice to fill the strong safety void while Brandon Meriweather remains injured.

    He’s not spectacular, but he’s always in the right position and is a reliable tackler, which is a clear upgrade from the inconsistent DeJon Gomes.

    Richard Crawford is going to have his hands full. Rookie cornerbacks often get targeted by opposing quarterbacks. Considering he’s a seventh-round draft pick out of SMU, Crawford is going to have his ups and downs. It's expected.

    At this point, the secondary is clearly a major issue, so why not give the rookie additional reps to see how he can develop? That would be quite a steal if the defense is able to get effective production out of a late-round pick like Crawford.

    Ryan Kerrigan had a great game. He’s continuing to record a sack in just about every game and is a significant force against the run. He also potentially saved the game with his tackle on D.J. Ware’s swing pass.

    Yes, Kerrigan recorded another sack, but he’s been inconsistent with his pressure. With Brian Orakpo alongside him, that’s OK, one of the two will probably produce. Without Orakpo, it’s another story.

    Kerrigan is going to need to be a boss if the Redskins want to improve defensively.

    As bad as the defense is, it’s strictly the pass defense. The run defense continues to impress. Doug Martin didn’t have any room on Sunday.

    Stephen Bowen is the team’s best defensive linemen, but you can tell that he’s missing Adam Carriker opposite of him.

    He hasn’t been able to pressure the quarterback like he has, second-year lineman Jarvis Jenkins has a lot of work ahead of him.

    Glad to see Chris Baker get some reps to replace Barry Cofield. While he wasn’t entirely productive, Baker has the opportunity to solidify himself a role on the line.

    Perry Riley continues to fly to the ball. I think he’s getting better every single game.

    Rob Jackson had another up-and-down game. The missed tackle on the reverse sticks out the most. It would have been a huge loss.

Special Teams Evaluations

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    Oh, Billy Cundiff. Thankfully, you made the game-winning kick.Because if not, you probably wouldn’t have been allowed back on the plane.

    He was playing for his job on that kick. Go ahead and laugh Ravens fans. Now, we know.

    Will the Redskins ever have the day where we don’t have to worry about a field goal past an extra-point attempt? Will this ever end? Or are we going to be haunted by every single one since Chip Lohmiller?

    I can’t knock him for missing the 57-yarder, but the two other missed attempts are unacceptable. As predicted, the Redskins will be playing in close games all season. Having an inferior kicker will have us lose a few games due to that.

    Brandon Banks did his best impression on Antwaan Randle El on one of his punt returns. Please stop running sideways. It doesn’t work.

    Niles Paul returning kickoffs? Interesting. I think he learned his lesson taking the ball out of the end zone when he returned it to the 11-yard line.

    Lastly, I believe it’s safe to say that Lorenzo Alexander is the best special teams player in the NFL. All agree?