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Redskins Final Thoughts: Week 13

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim
  1. I talked to one person this week who is very familiar with both the Giants and the Redskins and someone I greatly respect. His take? If the Redskins don’t turn the ball over, they will blow the Giants out. Why? Because of how well the Redskins handle Giants QB Eli Manning (and because of QB Robert Griffin III). We’ll see what happens, but thought you might like to know.
  2. If the Redskins had not turned the ball over four times in the opener, they would have won. Maybe if Pierre Garcon had played, they would have won. Or if Fred Davis hadn’t gotten hurt (though Logan Paulsen played well; remember on his first catch that not one Giant paid attention to him off the snap). There are reasons to like the Redskins in this game. Plenty of them.
  3. My fear for the Redskins in this game? I still don’t trust the defense. The one game this season where they actually fared well came vs. a rookie quarterback (Nick Foles) making his first start behind a makeshift line. Had the D handled the second half better vs. Dallas, I’d feel a little more confident in what they can do in this game. London Fletcher is hurting enough to wonder whether or not he could finish the game if he’s able to start. But you can’t discount what Griffin has done in the so-called big games (13 touchdowns, two interceptions in NFC East games/season opener/home opener). Seems like his mind and his heart rate slows down the more the pressure increases.
  4. Yeah, Victor Cruz said the Redskins were a few pieces short of being a contender. You should also know that he called the Redskins a team on the rise. Is there anything he said that was incorrect? The Redskins are 5-6 – does anyone think they’re not a few pieces shy of being a contender? I like when players give honest assessments and Cruz’s echoes what many, including myself, think.
  5. Mike Shanahan is clearly putting Brandon Banks on notice.  The fear with him is that one of these mistakes – fumbles, decisions, etc., — will hurt them when the game matters most. It’s tough to keep Banks around if he’s not making plays. It’s great to have speed, but at some point you have to prove you can do something with it. Been a while for him.
  6. The Giants’ ends have to be more consistent vs. the zone read option if they want a chance at stopping Griffin. They were aggressive crashing down on Alfred Morris – yes, Griffin helps him, but that help is reciprocated – and left Griffin free to run around the end.
  7. I talked to quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur about this for my email report, but in the first Giants’ game he saw maturation in Griffin as a passer. On the TD pass to Santana Moss, the play should have gone to the receiver outside of Moss as the safety was in the middle. But Griffin noticed that the safety stayed shallow so he went to Moss. Great read. Great throw.
  8. In the Redskins win at New York in 2011, they fooled Jason Pierre-Paul with a Darrel Young run for a touchdown. JPP went right at Young, then turned away because he didn’t think he had the ball. That happened again in the first game as JPP waited for Alfred Morris or Griffin only to have Young run right past him. Will they do it again?
  9. Though Griffin was 20-for-28 on the day, there were some missed opportunities vs. the Giants’ defense (there was one time he became too hurried in the pocket in the red zone and did not see Joshua Morgan wide open in the back of the end zone). Griffin still misses chances – every quarterback does – but in the past two games he cut down on how many he’s not converting.
  10. I know Griffin needs to mature as a passer and he’s still learning to throw with anticipation (improving, though). But while he’s learning the Redskins have scored 30 or more points five times under him. I know eventually it’s wise to not have him run a lot of the zone read, but I’ve seen no reason to believe as that time comes he’ll somehow diminish as a player. Eventually he’ll become an even more dangerous passer. He’s too smart and talented and works too hard for that not to happen.
  11. One or two more things on Sean Taylor, who died five years ago this week. For pure Xs and Os I miss seeing how the Redskins used him, though some of what he did was on his own. Like, for example, the times when he’d show blitz only to drop to a deep half in cover-2 and defend a post route. The Redskins didn’t care (to a degree) where he lined up initially as long as he got to where he needed to be in time. His speed allowed him to do things others could not.
  12. When he arrived, Taylor was not one to participate in meetings. In fact, he was quiet. But the so-called light switch went off for him before the 2007 season and he started to study more. The secondary would gather to go over the weekly game plan (doing so in the form of a game show) and Taylor once stunned everyone in the room when a difficult question was posted on the board. Taylor went to the board, wrote the correct answer in terms of their coverage and sat back down. A little thing, but an example of his growth. Yes, it’s a shame.
  13. By the way, on Niles Paul’s touchdown vs. Dallas, the Redskins sold that play by showing a similar alignment about six times. Paul blocked down every time, which is why he was angled inside at the snap. The linebacker never paid attention to him; credit the play design and set-up as to why that play worked so well.
  14. DeAngelo Hall didn’t want to comment on the two fines from the Dallas game. Can’t blame him; that’s a lot of cash ($37,500) to lose after a $30,000 fine. Nobody officially said Hall would appeal, but there’s little doubt that will happen.
  15. Every young player in the league should pay attention to how Lorenzo Alexander conducts himself. Always professional. (Though, I have to say, the players they’ve drafted the past two years have been good to deal with).
  16. Yeah, it’ll be fun to cover a meaningful game in December. Said it before, but sportswriters get into this business because they love being at big games and witnessing big moments. You can’t do that covering teams that finish 6-10 every year.

 

 

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