Redskins Final Thoughts: Week 8

Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim


  1. Right to London Fletcher. If I had to guess, I’d say he plays Sunday at Pittsburgh. If he’s dealt with this balance issue for a couple weeks and it’s now just about the hamstring, then I can’t see the leg keeping him out. When we talked to him Friday, he seemed relaxed and even laughed a time or two. He didn’t seem like a guy about to miss a game for the first time in his career (he also was a full-go in practice).
  2. However, would a slick field alter those plans? As of now there’s a 50-percent chance of rain Sunday – and Pitt plays Temple there on Saturday. It might not be the best surface for a guy with a hamstring injury.
  3. Fletcher hasn’t played like his old self the past few weeks. Did the balance issues impact his play? Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he hasn’t noticed a difference. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by Fletcher’s play, but he has missed more tackles than usual.
  4. I also remember him not having a great start last season, then playing very well over the final 11 games.  He missed tackles during that initial stretch as well. He’s also the sort of player you need on the field for everything else that he brings. Nobody can replace that and they hope they have his eventual replacement on the roster, but that’s still unknown, too.
  5. I’m tired of writing about coverage issues. But I’m also tired of hearing about how it’s just one or two plays a game – and if they could just … fix … those… plays. Well, those one or two plays have bothered them since last season. I remember Norv Turner talking about one or two plays a game. Eventually I figured it wasn’t one or two plays they needed to make, it was finding one or two players to make them.
  6. OK, so I watched the Steelers a few games thanks to the coaches film on the NFL Rewind and noticed that their safeties were often 14-16 yards deep. And last week the Redskins’ safeties were often 12-13 yards. For two safeties who aren’t considered great athletes (by NFL standards), that’s rather close. So I checked some more and found….for the most part their safeties are around 14-15 yards deep, depending on the coverage of course. The difference, though, is that Washington lacks the ability to disguise coverages for any length of time because of the lack of speed. But the depth? It’s been there.
  7. One thing I didn’t put in this week’s email report, talking about the safeties, was the play last week in which Martellus Bennett caught a deep out in which Madieu Williams hit him, but couldn’t knock the ball free. Talked to one longtime NFL guy, a former player who has been in the league for a while, who said that sort of play told him that Williams did not want to make a play on the ball. Why? Because, he didn’t try to stick his hand inside Bennett’s to try and prevent the coach. Could he have? This ex-player certainly thought so.
  8. I’ll be curious to see how Ryan Kerrigan fares against rookie right tackle Mike Adams. Kerrigan has no sacks or pressures in the last three games (144 pass attempts) and, yes, he’s been doubled at times. But he’s also lost too many one-on-one battles. Adams has been OK, but if Kerrigan can get his hands into Adams early, he’ll win the battle. But Adams has long arms and if he gets them on Kerrigan then he’ll have some issues. Oh, by the way, Kerrigan had a huge day vs. him two years ago when he was at Purdue and Adams was the starting left tackle for Ohio State.
  9. Yes, as a Buckeyes fan I’m still bitter about that game. But I do remember Kerrigan having a dominant performance because he was relentless and Adams was not. He led the upset. I’ve gotten to know Kerrigan well enough since then and he’s a nice young man. I did not like him two years ago. For obvious reasons, as Shanahan says. Often.
  10. Pittsburgh has speed at receiver and a quarterback who can extend plays. That could be troublesome for the Redskins’ secondary. Mike Wallace dropped four passes last week – he’s never had issues with his hands in the past.  Antonio Brown is very fast. But, while the Steelers still throw a lot (81 more pass attempts than runs), they aren’t going downfield as much as in the past. It’s not the 20-plus yards plays – they rank 12th with 22, but six teams ahead of them have played one more game; a year ago they ranked 10th. But it’s the 40-plus plays. They have two this season compared to 10 in 2011. Wallace and Brown both averaged more than 16.0 yards per catch in 2011; both are under 13.7 this year.
  11. Look for the trick plays. Last week the Steelers should have scored on a beauty. Ben Roethlisberger threw a lateral to Brown on the right side. As Brown started to run back to his left, he threw a ball to running back Chris Rainey, running down the left side wide open. He dropped the ball. The key: know that Brown is left-handed. He’s also super quick; saw him against the Bengals leave three defenders in his dust with a quick catch-and-turn to get about 12 more yards.
  12. The Steelers also ran two end arounds in that game last week (vs. Cincinnati).
  13. In the games I watched, outside linebacker James Harrison had better success rushing inside than off the edge. They will move Harrison around inside, too, and have him fake a blitz through an A gap while Lawrence Timmons hits the other one.
  14. Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark – remember him? – plays decisively vs. the run. Can the Redskins exploit that with their play-action game? If nothing else I wonder if he’ll react as decisively as he did in the games I watched. Clark is a sure tackler.
  15. Tight end Heath Miller is a pain in the butt for defenses. Yes, they can line him out wide and run a fade route (caught a two-point conversion on that vs. Cincinnati).
  16. Each game it seems that Griffin’s hesitancy on some throws leads to missed opportunities. Part of that is knowing in the back of his mind that he can run the ball. So if a play isn’t wide open he knows he can make something else happen – and not turn it over. Griffin will learn over time when he can make certain throws. Two of those times occurred in the red zone.
  17. Griffin clearly has become a leader on the Redskins. He was reluctant to flex those leadership muscles early because he had to earn his way into that role. And it really happened a few weeks ago, but there’s no doubt he’s in charge now.
  18. We’ve reached the point where Alfred Morris is no longer just the guy carrying the ball for Washington when Griffin doesn’t. He’s a legitimate back and will start getting more credit. Talked to a defensive coach Friday for another team (that has faced the Redskins) who liked Morris a lot. Likes his balance quite a bit.
  19. Not looking forward to driving home from Pittsburgh after Sunday’s game, but fortunately it appears the bad stuff in terms of weather won’t hit us hard until Monday.
  20. Fridays in the fall are the best.
  21. That’s enough. My only thought now is to eat dinner.





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