Let’s be honest. The 2016 Washington Redskins opened the season like a six win team. Maybe. 55 yards rushing. No passing touchdowns and two interceptions with that group of receivers some were calling the best in the league. Nine penalties. 30% 3rd down conversion rate. Zero for two on 4th down conversion attempts. Minus 5 minutes in time of possession.
This week’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, opened the season with a division game against the New York Giants. With a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back against a revamped Giants defensive line some were calling the best in the league, Dallas ran for 100+ yards, threw for 200+ yards with no interceptions, did not allow a sack, did not turn the ball over, committed six penalties, converted 10 of 17 third down attempts, well over 50%, and were plus 13 minutes in time of possession.
To say that Dallas outperformed Washington in week one is a gross understatement. Yes, Pittsburgh is probably a tougher opponent than New York but a team can only win the games it plays. Fortunately for the Redskins, or perhaps unfortunately as the Giants are considered the primary competition for the division title, Dallas lost their opener. The difference is they were in theirs with a chance to win right up until the end. The Redskins were in no such position.
|Net Pass Yards||290||329|
|Third Down Conv.||9-14||3-10|
|Fourth Down Conv.||2-2||0-2|
|Time of Possession||33:18||26:42|
|Net Pass Yards||203||227|
|Third Down Conv.||5-10||10-17|
|Fourth Down Conv.||0-0||0-0|
|Time of Possession||23:17||36:43|
Keys to victory, you ask? Don’t play like the dog’s unwashed bollocks. Everything has to be markedly better this week. If Jones can’t find openings on his first few carries, either give him more carries than the seven he got last week or get Robert Kelley in the game. If Cousins can’t get the ball to the midget patrol in the end zone, get the taller receivers and tight ends in the game and get Josh Doctson in the game. What the hell did you draft him for if you’re not going to use him in those situations? Scoring 16 points with this offense is a steaming pile of horse dung. It’s absolutely inexcusable, regardless of the opponent. If the team can’t post at least 24 points offensively they will lose more games than they will win. That falls on $20MM man Kirk Cousins. You gambled on yourself. You’re no longer playing with house money, Sporto.
Defensively, the Redskins obviously have to stop the run more often than never. Part of that blame can be given to the offense that couldn’t keep the defense off the field but even so, stop someone before they get into the secondary. Also, Deangelo Hall seems to be confused as to where he should be. He’s a step late virtually every play. I realize he’s learning the position on the fly but he’d better learn it quickly. Dez Bryant had a bad week last week and he’s undoubtedly looking to make up for it this week. Complicating issues, Sua Cravens reportedly has a hip flexor and may not play this week. Expect Duke Ihenacho to be active. Also, expect Jason Witten to have a field day with someone less mobile than Cravens shadowing him.
If I were to pull some numbers out of thin air, I would venture the following would result in a Redskins victory:
250+ yards passing with 0 interceptions. 300+ is a reasonable expectation against a weak Dallas secondary.
100+ yards rushing. That’s almost double last week’s output.
Control time of possession. Keep the defense fresh.
Allow under 100 yards rushing.
Cover Jason Witten on 3rd downs.
Be error free on special teams.
|National Football Conference – 2016 Regular Season|
|NFC East Team||W||L||T||Pct||PF||PA||Net Pts||TD||Home||Road||Div||Pct||Conf||Pct||Non-Conf||Streak||Last 5|
|New York Giants||1||0||0||1.000||20||19||1||3||0-0||1-0||1-0||1.000||1-0||1.000||0-0||1W||1-0|
|Rk||Team||G||Pts/G||TotPts||Scrm Plys||Yds/G||Yds/P||1st/G||3rd Md||3rd Att||3rd Pct||4th Md||4th Att||4th Pct||Pen||Pen Yds||ToP/G||FUM||Lost||TO|
|1||New Orleans Saints||1||34||34||65||507.0||7.8||27.0||4||11||36||1||1||100||7||53||29:35||2||1||-1|
|6||Kansas City Chiefs||1||33||33||70||413.0||5.9||26.0||5||14||36||2||2||100||6||46||31:06||0||0||-1|
|8||San Diego Chargers||1||27||27||69||388.0||5.6||25.0||7||15||47||0||0||0||5||30||34:01||0||0||+1|
|Rk||Team||G||Pts/G||TotPts||Scrm Plys||Yds/G||Yds/P||1st/G||3rd Md||3rd Att||3rd Pct||4th Md||4th Att||4th Pct||Pen||Pen Yds||ToP/G||FUM||Lost|
|2||New Orleans Saints||1||35||35||64||486.0||7.6||25.0||4||11||36||0||0||0||14||141||30:25||1||0|
On this day, September 16th waaaaay back in 1937, the Washington Redskins defeated the New York Giants 13-3 at Griffith Stadium.
This game could quickly and concisely be described as a “Riley Smith” game. After all, the Redskins opened the scoring when Riley Smith kicked a field goal in the first quarter. The Giants tied it at three with their own field goal in the second quarter and it stayed that way until the 4th quarter when Riley Smith intercepted a pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. Which Riley Smith then converted to make the score 10-3 Redskins. Riley Smith added a field goal late in the fourth to make it 13-3 and put the game out of reach.
Despite the great game by Smith, this game has more historical significance.
First of all, it was the very first time that the WASHINGTON Redskins beat the New York Giants. While they had beaten the Giants three times before in the franchise’s five year tenure, it was while they were in Boston – once as the Boston Braves (14-6, October 9, 1932) and twice as the Boston Redskins (21-20, October 8, 1933; 14-0, December 6, 1936).
But most significantly, this game marked the debut of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh – the rookie tailback sensation from Texas Christian University – and the Redskins first round draft pick.
He played a full sixty minutes, and completed 11 of 16 passes for 115 yards. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it WAS the beginning.
The Redskins finished the season 8-3, and went on to win their first World Championship by beating the Bears 28-21.
Flashback Friday is a great excuse to slide in this fantastic vintage Sammy Baugh advertisement!
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The Preseason is over.
I say again, the preseason is over. While this may seem like an obvious statement, it bears repeating as I hope to make it clear that reality has now set in with regard to who we are and how we’ll fare this season. Sure we looked good in the second halves of every preseason and we had a nice outing during Week 3. We had positive energy, good team building activities, and all the make-up of a Disney story of friendship. Heck, we even go positive predictions from ESPN and FOX during the past few weeks. A quality practice squad doesn’t suit up on game day though, and coaches don’t tip their playbooks during meaningless games. The preseason doesn’t prepare you for 60 minutes of elite offensive and defensive linemen slamming into you with reckless abandon. The preseason doesn’t have coaches pinpoint your weaknesses and exploit them repeatedly for massive gain and momentum. What unfortunately is the worst part, the preseason doesn’t hand out losses that impact how other teams will prepare for you. So make no mistake about it, the pre-season is over and our Skins reminded us all of that fact on national television.
The Redskins last season were near historically bad at stopping the run last season, at 4.7 yards per attempt (YPA) they were second only to 1959 when we allowed 5.48 YPA. How did we address this fact? We let our biggest lineman walk, replaced him with aged veterans, and moved our oldest and longest tenured skin into a more robust role. While we had one of the deepest drafts at defensive line available this year, we instead chose to focus on luxury picks and wait till the back end of the draft to take a total of one (1) new defensive lineman. I know this is heresy to question a McCloughan draft but after last night it’s warranted because where is all that talented lineman at? Why improving the quality of our practice squad, that’s where. Ziggy Hood, with all considerable and earned respect due to the man, starting at defensive end is a wonderful example of why the Skins, regardless of how nice we did last year, are still a far cry from being a contender in the NFL. Ziggy Hood, a former first round pick, played tremendous ball for Pittsburgh when they drafted him. He played an amazing 5 years for them and then was released. Why? Because teams that are contenders are always getting stronger, faster, and younger in the trenches while teams like the Skins are sifting through the discount bin hoping like hell to find something worthwhile. You can’t preach getting bigger (looking at you Scot) and then ignore the gaping holes in your defensive line as well as the talent available to you in the draft. If you truly thought that all that was available to you were projects that need time to develop then take them and start developing. I don’t mind getting gashed in the name of learning and growth, but instead we decided to roll the dice on vets. What did that get us? 4.9 YPA when defending the run against the Steelers. Congratulations! We got a head start at breaking records!
This is the part where I’d mention our running game, but seeing as all they could muster is 55 yards. I’ll cover the subject in its entirety in 55 words:
Five million was the cost to keep our best rusher since Clinton Portis. We added no new offensive linemen and somehow expected better results when adding several did wonders last season. You can’t force a team to stop playing zone coverage when they don’t have to respect the run. The offense was dead on arrival.
And on the offense note, Kirk…. I don’t need to spend $20 million on a quarterback who can’t make throws to open receivers or floats balls to middle linebackers. Everyone gets a bad game and in truth the defensive tactics to stay in zone coverage were phenomenal at ensuring that we had nothing deep and no yards after catch (YAC). Great quarterbacks don’t care about that though, great quarterbacks aren’t beaten without ever even countering the defensive coordinator’s game plan. In the game between Kirk’s Long Term Deal vs Management’s wait and see approach, Management is up 1- 0.
In case you’re wondering, there’s seven (7) ways/route trees to beat zone coverage – Four Verticals, Double Smash, All Post, Double Out, Levels, Corner/Deep Out, and Man Beater. What did we do? Check down to the middle of the field or sideline out where in both cases our receivers were immediately swarmed and stopped. The goal of Cover defense is to allow JUST THAT, small dinks and dunks to midfield or 5 yard sideline mark stopped for minimal YAC. Don’t you just love it when the opposing team’s plan comes together?
Which brings me to my final point in this rant of tough love and sober reality check. Coaching.
We got beat the most not on the field but on the sideline. Joe Barry could NOT get his squad off the field. Third and Fourth down conversions were a dime a dozen and we couldn’t respond to anything they threw at us. The Fourth down conversions are the best example of this seeing as they ran THE SAME PLAY multiple times and punished us with conversions and points on the board. I understand losing a jump ball, I understand losing a tough push in short yardage situations, but when the offensive coordinator can keep churning out the same formation and leaves your players looking like they need a few more weeks at training camp, that’s on YOU. We made NO second half adjustments, and we had ONE three and out…. On the first drive of the game. Do you know why? Because good coaches identify what doesn’t work and they adjust, bad ones leave you watching the same play on repeat with worse results each time. Offensively, we had early opportunities to get up 14-0 with turnovers and a bit of luck. Instead we settle for 0-6 and then regressed as the same play calls got less and less yards each time. Contenders punish teams that allow turnovers, contenders counter everything thrown at them, and losers kick field goals. … Guess which category we fall into?
The preseason is over Redskins, we’ve begun a new one where it’s supposed to no longer be good enough to try our best and take home moral victories. We claimed to be contenders, we claimed to be up to the challenge that our schedule will be this year; from the practice squad to the GM… it’s time to start acting like it.
Monday, September 12th, 2016 7:10PM EST
Online: Game Pass
Tickets: Ticketmaster (3,548 available of as this entry)
Kickoff Temperature: 75 degrees, 5 mph winds
Line: Pittsburgh -3
Over / Under: 50
DE Kendall Reyes (groin)—The story here is not so much about Reyes but what the Redskins will do on the defensive line. There are only six defensive linemen on the 53-man roster. Twice this week Jay Gruden said that there was no concern if Reyes is out because they might go with only five active defensive linemen even if Reyes is able to go. This would be a departure from previous seasons when the Redskins would normally go with six active on the D-line. This would create another spot for perhaps a defensive back or a special teams player.
DE Kedric Golston(back)—This injury just popped up today. Golston was held out of practice due to the injury. We did not get any details from Jay Gruden as he did not talk to the media after practice. In the locker room, however, Golston said that he would have been “probable” under the old injury designation. He also said, “I’m playing”.
WR Josh Doctson (Achilles)—He was on the PUP list from the start of training camp up until a week ago and he has just five practices under his belt and he was limited in those. It would not be surprising if it is another week or two until he makes his NFL debut.
RB Matt Jones (shoulder)—He declared himself to be 95 percent yesterday and vowed he would be a full go on Monday. It will be interesting to see how he holds up if he lands on that left shoulder again.
G Spencer Long (ankle)—It’s possible that the injury cost him his last shot at holding on to the starting job at left guard. The best guess is that he will be active and the first player off the bench if they need a guard or a center.
All of these players except Golston were full participants in practice on Saturday. Golston did not practice. OT Ty Nsekhe, who is listed as
The Steelers are starting out somewhat banged, with OLB Bud Dupree on injured reserve and TE Lararius Green on the PUP list.
WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder)—The fourth-year receiver would be the choice start opposite Antonio Brown if he was healthy but the shoulder has been a concern throughout the preseason. This leaves Sammie Coates s the likely starter.
FB Roosevelt Nix (back)—He is the only fullback on the roster but the Steelers will work around his absence.
CB Senquez Golson (foot)—The fifth of five cornerbacks on the depth chart, Golson perhaps would have been inactive even if he’s healthy enough to play.
C/G Cody Wallace (knee)—Wallace is listed as the top backup at all three interior line positions so the Steelers will have to hope that the starters can make it through the game.
On the practice participation report this week but not listed on the injury report: Starters DE Cameron Heyward (ankle), DT Javon Hargrave (Quad), and reserves RT Marcus Gilbert (elbow), and DT Daniel McCullers (knee).
I was going to do a writeup here but since it’s already a hot topic of discussion there’s little to add. Therefore, I invite you to hear what Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has to say about the Redskins matchup (The good stuff begins around 03:55):
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Tale Of The Tape: Monday, September 12th 2016 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins – 7:10PMEST
The Washington Redskins first 2016 opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who finished the 2015 season with a 10-6 record, good for 2nd in the AFC North. The Steelers averaged 26.4 points per game scored, 4th best in the league, and gave up 19.9 points per game allowed, 11th in the league. The Steelers won their wild card playoff game versus the Cincinnati Bengals 18-16 and lost their AFC divisional championship game 23-16 to eventual Super Bowl winners the Denver Broncos.
The Steelers are coached by Mike Tomlin, 44, of Hampton, VA, a William And Mary graduate, who is in his 11th season as head coach. He enters the season with a career record of 92-52, with a career 6-5 playoff record, a 2008 Super Bowl champonship, and a 2010 AFC Conference championship to his credit. The Steelers have never had a losing season record under Tomlin.
The Steelers are led offensively by 34 year old Ben Roethlisberger, who is entering his 13th NFL season with a career record of 113-56. Roethlisberger comes off a season in which he only started 11 games and only played in 12, going 7-4, completing 68.0% of his pass attempts for 3,938 yards and 21 TDs. His passing offense averaged 328.2 yards per game and his season QBRating was 94.5.
The Steelers rushing attack is led by 33 year old Deangelo Williams, entering his 11th NFL season, who finished the 2015 season with 200 attempts for 907 yards with 11TDs and 40 receptions for 367 yards, and the currently suspended Le’veon Bell, who finished the 2015 season with 113 attempts for 556 yards and 3TDs.
Antonio Brown, entering his 7th NFL season, led all NFL receivers with 136 receptions for 1,834 yards with 10TDs.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward led the Steelers with 7.0 sacks last season. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons led the Steelers with 77 tackles and was 2nd with 5.0 sacks.
As for the 2015 Redskins, it is doubtful anyone needs a recap but here one is, if only for comparison:
The Redskins finished the 2015 season 9-7, good for 1st in the NFC East, with a first round 35-18 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Redskins socred 388 points, good for 10th in the league, and allowed 379 points, good for 17th.
The Redskins are led by Jay Gruden, entering his 3rd season as head coach, with a 13-19 career record, 0-1 in playoff games.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins enters his 5th NFL season on the franchise tag. His career record is 11-14. Last season he posted a 69.8 completion percentage with 4,166 yards passing, 29TDs, and most importantly, only 11 INTs. Cousins averaged 260.4 passing yards per game and finished the 2015 season with a 101.6 QB Rating.
Presumed starter Matt Jones was the backup to the departed Alfred Morris. Jones has 144 career rushing attempts for 490 yards with 3TDs in his lone NFL season. Jones is backed up by thrid down back Chris Thompson, who is entering his 4th NFL season. Thompson has 38 career rushing attempts for 228 yards. He also has 41 career receptions for 267 yards with 3TDs. Undrafted free agent rookie Robert Kelley is expected to see double digit carries per game in a primary backup role. Kelley is both a rushing and a receiving threat and Gruden has stated he anticipates Kelley filling the role Matt Jones filled last season behind Morris.
The receiving corps is led by Desean Jackson, who is entering his 9th NFL season. Jackson had a rough 2015 campaign, playing just 10 games. He finished the season with 30 receptions for 528 yards and 4TDs. He is accompanied by Pierre Garcon, also entering his 9th NFL season, who finished the 2015 year with 72 receptions for 777 yards with 6TDs. Joining the two in the slot is 2nd year receiver Jamison Crowder, who finished the 2015 season with 59 receptions for 604 yards with 2TDs. Jordan Reed, entering his 4th NFL season, is perhaps the most dangerous receiving tight end in football, when healthy. He finished the 2015 season with 87 receptions for 852 yards with 11TDs. This formidable starting group is backed up by rookie Josh Doctson, who was recently cleared from the PUP list and off-season acquisition Vernon Davis, who enters his 11th NFL season looking for a career resurgence.
Defensively, the Redskins are led by the secondary. 2015 leading tackler Dashon Goldson is no longer with the team. He has been replaced with cornerback-turned safety Deangelo Hall who could excel in that role. 2nd leading tackler Bashaud Breeland finished the 2015 season with 59 tackles, 2 INTs, and 2 FFs. He is flanked by free agent Josh Norman, who finished the 2015 seasons with 48 tackles, 4 INTs, 3FFs, and 2TDs.
The pass rush is expected to come primarily from linebackers Ryan Kerrigan, who finished the 2015 season with 9.5 sacks, and Preston Smith, who replaces the (again) injured Junior Galette. Smith finished the 2015 NFL season with 8.0 sacks in ONE game started. Backing them up will be linebacker-turned-lineman-turned-linebacker Trent Murphy, who unfortunately gained weight for the purpose of playing defensive end, and 2016 NFL draft selection Sua Cravens, who will be used in both a WLB linebacker and a safety role according to defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who has requested Cravens be officially listed as “H” on the roster, meaning hybrid.
The defensive line is anchored by 7th year defensive tackle / end Chris Baker, who finished the 2015 with 6.0 sacks. Joining Baker will be some combination of Kedric Golston, Kendall Reyes, Rick-Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier, and Ziggy Hood. Quite frankly, no one knows what to expect from this group. It could be the weak link in the defense or a top 15 unit.
On this day, September 9th in 1969, the Washington Redskins lost the top pass catcher in the NFL when Bobby Mitchell decided to retire at the age of 34.
“I couldn’t stand being on the team and being on the bench,” Mitchell offered at a news conference at the time.
Despite being the top active receiver in the NFL in 1969 with 521 catches (7053 yards), he had been reduced to a reserve role (Washington had a fleet of young receivers), and was already planning on retiring at season’s end.
When he retired, Mitchell sat behind only Raymond Berry in passes caught, and only Jim Brown in total yardage (14,078).
Twenty-two starters will not be with the team tonight as they travel to Tampa Bay ahead of Tropical Depression Nine for a rare Wednesday Night game. Twenty-two cuts will be made following the conclusion of the final preseason game next week. Robert Kelley, #22, will be the starting running back for tonight’s contest.
In reality, very few positions are up for grabs. It has been widely reported Cullen Jenkins was signed for the veteran minimum, leaving us to ponder if the Steven Paea cut was financial, performance-based, or more likely, both. The Perry Riley cut was undoubtedly both financial and performance-based.
If the team acquires a starting center with any combination of size and experience between now and “53 day”, look for Shaun Lauvao to be the next salary cap victim.
It seems painfully obvious at this point the team would prefer to start Spencer Long at left guard and not have him at center under any circumstances.
They are clearly less than impressed with Lichtensteiger’s performance thus far and LeRibeus and Reiter are non-starters as replacements.
Keith Marshall has been placed on injured reserve and will not play this season. Derek Carrier has been placed on PUP but it’s hard to see enough roster spaces for him to be active at any point this season.