First of all, for all the people shocked at the chippyness of this game, and how these two teams could possibly be rivals, I’ll say to you that you can look no further than any other game we’ve played against the Seahawks. They’ve all been chippy, and they’ve all been tough. While Trent Williams was the key guy in a lot of the video getting into it, and while it’s documented that the Seahawks may have started it by taking offense to a Redskins huddle at midfield, I wouldn’t count out veterans like Mike Sellers and Santana Moss having a lot to do with it before the game on our side.
On to the game, the opening drive was refreshing. It’s been a long time since this team has started a game with a long drive, and even longer since scoring (a touchdown at that) on the opening drive. It was a bit disappointing following up that drive with drives that just fell short, or ended early due to penalties in this chippy game, but my biggest praise goes to Kyle Shanahan for sticking with the run. There were definitely times we didn’t run enough still, but the early influx of the run definitely kept the Seahawks honest enough.
It was also refreshing to see after Grossman’s second INT and being down, the team kept battling. Seattle’s defense is very stingy, and had they had an offense which could legitimately threaten every team, they’d be one of the better teams in the league. That actually sounds familiar……… anyways, my point is that the offense never got down, never showed us they felt like they just couldn’t get it done, and they went out and made plays.
Rex Grossman; I think it’s a given that Grossman is just going to make horrible plays. 2 interceptions on the day, but I counted at least 4 others throws which should have been picked off. But at the same time, when Rex is comfortable in the pocket with more than 2 guys running down the field, he’s very decisive and has what it takes to play in this league. His touchdown pass to Armstrong sailed all of 60 yards through the air, and it was put on point. His passes to Fred Davis in the first drive (even the negated play) were as beautiful as you could ask for. And if it weren’t for his blind trust in everything Gaffney, that combination is usually really solid.
Roy Helu is a machine. He finally got his extensive play on both the ground and passing game, and he performed wonderfully. For all the 1 or 2 yard runs he had, he found a way to make plays when they mattered the most. And to the idiot whose name escapes my memory that said Helu runs too upright and is just a straight-forward runner, I say look no further than his screens and a couple of his longer runs. The other day, I saw Helu anticipate holes before they were there (a trait I pointed out in draft and preseason on Don’t Laugh, People), and make cuts & jukes with fluidity. I said a few weeks ago that Helu reminds me a lot of LeSean McCoy, except he’s got attributes McCoy doesn’t seem to have (power, better ball-protection, better vision). If Helu can become the full-time starter on this team and avoid injury, I truly believe we’ve got a guy who can contest for the all-purpose yards title each year.
Santana Moss came back from a broken finger and snagged 4 catches. But Moss’s role was typical in terms of moving around, blocking, and running routes. Moss commanded double coverage, even after weeks off, and a couple early targets helped to keep the Seahawks honed in on 89. It’s no coincidence that Armstrong finally saw 1-on-1 on his touchdown reception… the safety bit over to assist on Moss who was also running a go route on the other side of the field, and Armstrong was allowed to use his speed to get open. The honesty defenses have towards Moss will open this passing game up, and I think it’s extremely evident his absence was one of the factors in the losing streak.
Anthony Armstrong… I doubt he’s out of Shanahan’s doghouse… but I think he’ll benefit from more 1-on-1 coverage now that Moss is back, and Shanahan will be more likely to use him. When he’s on the field, a lot opens up underneath because teams clearly respect his speed, and when he’s not being bumped at the line, he’s as good a threat as any. Loved the way he located the ball and brought it in on the TD with interference.
Fred Davis kicked ass. Nevermind the penalty, he responded on the same exact play just a few snaps later, and then came up big in the red zone. And once again, I think he benefits from having Moss back in the lineup, because now he’s not the primary focus of defenses. And with that, comes Davis being the safety blanket who can find holes in zones and doesn’t have defenders shadowing him all over the field.
Trent Williams and Jammal Brown played their asses off, and both came into the game questionable due to injury. Just last week, Mike Shanahan thought Trent was done for a couple weeks with a knee injury, but the Silverback is tougher than we all gave him credit for. And this game was more what I expect to see out of Trent than any other… he was trash talking at a high rate, things were chippy, but he showed poise and didn’t draw stupid penalties, and protected cleanly all game long. Brown on the other side didn’t give up much, and was solid enough blocking downfield to help spring some big plays. The line all together seemed to be in sync and playing as solid as they have since Lichtensteiger went down earlier this year, and it started with the Tackles being solid all game long against a talented front for Seattle.
Couple last notes I want to make about the Redskins offense, is that the run game was particularly solid with 3 receivers. No knock to Darrell Young when he’s in the game (there’s a lot of success there too) but it’s apparent that spreading defenses out and running is the way to go, and it’s no coincidence Helu had a lot of success in spread formations. Speaking of 3+ receivers, it’s nice seeing over the last two weeks, that Kyle isn’t running bunch formations, so guys are able to have space to run off of the line in order to get open, and you’re taking some defenders out wide so you have room if you’re trying to run and keeping superficial defenders out of the box.
Defensively, this was yet another solid game. This group is real good, and one score came on a 20 yard play which any team would have given up following Grossman’s INT. And late in the game when they could apply pressure, they were successful. Marshawn Lynch ran for 100+, but no yards were easy, and it’s not like Lynch hasn’t done these things to good defenses.
DeAngelo Hall had a very solid game. He was good in run support, and good enough in coverage. The long pass he broke up from behind Mike Williams worried me a little bit because had Williams gone and got the ball at the highest point, the game would have been a lot different, but that’s just it… Hall made the play he could make when he had to make it. He was very good at taking a few things away and batting some passes instead of being aggressive and trying to make plays that weren’t there. The TD he gave up… well, it happens to everyone. He also came up with the big INT at the end to help put the game away.
Perry Riley is a savage! Look, I wanted him starting last year, but I can respect Shanahan’s thinking in grooming these guys. But it seems like Haslett is free to do more with this defense solely because of Riley’s speed and outstanding knack for recognizing the play. He’s a sure tackler as well, which is good because he’s usually making contact at or near the line of scrimmage, which means he’s not allowing yards. He recognizes gaps well, which is something I think McIntosh struggled with a bit, especially against the run. I think it’s safe to say we’ve found one of our two long-term ILB’s.
Kerrigan and Orakpo had a good day. Neither put up crazy stats, but both were extremely sound, and Haslett experimented more with flipping the two, as well as playing them both on one side, which has been extremely successful for us so far this season. One thing I want to bring up with Orakpo is how people hate on the way he plays the run. Orakpo gives up 2 or 3 plays in the run game, which is right on par with some of the premier 3-4 OLB’s in the NFL. Fact of the matter is, while people remember those 2 or 3 plays, Orakpo is making all the other ones… setting the edge and/or getting penetration to apply the first hit in the backfield. The only game Orakpo struggled significantly in was against Philly when they ran the extended draw, which gives fits to all the other premier guys. Regardless of what these preposterous fans on Twitter want to believe, Orakpo is not expendable, and he IS a mainstay at OLB in this defense, and he’s doing an incredible job if you ask me.
LaRon Landry also played a solid game. Solid. There were a couple plays I had to wonder about, and the groin injury worried me… but he came back and played full speed and made some very good plays late in the game (especially his sack). I think the entire situation has hurt him a bit in terms of getting the contract he may have wanted, but I don’t believe Landry doesn’t get a contract extension here in Washington.
Anyways, that’s my breakdown of the individuals who mattered against the Seahawks. It’s good to get a win, and there’s no telling how the rest of the year turns out. I’ve seen crazier things happen this decade to propel this organization to a playoff berth, so I won’t ever rule it out, no matter how unlikely I know it is. We’re not in control of our destiny here this season, but the teams ahead of us sure do look poised to help us out.
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Tags: Anthony Armstrong, Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall, fred davis, Jim Haslett, Kyle Shanahan, laron landry, Mike Shanahan, Perry Riley, Rex Grossman, Roy Helu, Ryan Kerrigan, santana moss, Trent Williams, Washington Redskins