1. Losing Pierre Garcon for another week won’t help the Redskins. However, even without him last week the offense moved the ball and was in position for another 30-point plus game. Had they scored on that last drive, or had Aldrick Robinson held onto a deep ball inside the 15, they would have had a huge day. There were two other plays in which a receiver breaks free just as pressure arrives for Robert Griffin III (could he have unloaded the ball? It was a close call and he opted not to force it either time). Point is, they were in good shape even minus Garcon. However… his run blocking was missed, at least when Robinson was on the field instead of Leonard Hankerson. Robinson does not block nearly as well as some of the other wideouts.
2. Hankerson should, and will, play more. I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts, simply because he presents a better all-around option. He’s mostly been a Z receiver in Washington, but the Redskins want their wideouts to know both that spot and the X.
3. By the way, Hankerson started to break wide open vs. the Rams last week on the intentional grounding penalty by Robert Griffin III. What messed the play up? The end, Robert Quinn, started inside going with the action of the line (Trent Williams blocked down). Running back Alfred Morris was going to that side to pick up linebacker Jo-Lunn Dunbar, but when Quinn saw it was a pass he started at Griffin, forcing Morris to reach out to block him. That left Dunbar free. About two steps before he gets to Griffin, Hankerson is starting to cross the safety’s face, but it appears Griffin already had decided to get out of the pocket. He might have had another receiver underneath, but the Rams right defensive tackle on the play, slid over and into that passing lane, forcing Griffin to throw the ball away. Yep, I like the All-22 film.
4. OK, I’m tired of talking about the Rams’ game too. But a couple more things. One reason rookie corner Richard Crawford had success vs. Danny Amendola on the two times he faced him? He’s covered him already. As Crawford prepared at SMU for an all-star game last year, Amendola happened to be on campus and was working out. Crawford was asked to cover him.
“I shadowed him for an hour,” Crawford said. “I don’t think he recognized me [Sunday]. But I knew what he was going to do. I remember one thing when he goes out wide, he comes back in or he comes out hard one way and he goes back the other way. He’s fast, but he’s not a speed guy so I knew when he was going to pivot.”
5. There, I finally got that one on the blog. Have been wanting to do so for a couple days. Don’t ask; long week.
6. Sunday’s game is tough to gauge. The Bengals’ defense, I think, is better than they’ve played. They were ranked seventh last year and returned everyone, so this rough start doesn’t make sense. Last week the Browns hurt them with play-action passes, a specialty of the Redskins. Robert Griffin III is excellent off play-action looks; it gives him a cleaner pocket. When he’s under duress it’s more of a struggle, as it is for all quarterbacks of course. But he’s still learning how to operate in those situations. If the protection keeps him clean, he’ll be fine Sunday. Curious to see how the Bengals try to defend him. Keeping him in the pocket is a must, but accomplishing that feat is difficult.
7. It’s also tough to predict games when you have players such as Griffin. Guys like that often play to the moment (as in the opener). This is his first home game in Washington, so it qualifies as a big moment.
8. Do not underestimate the loss of Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo. Jarvis Jenkins is still transitioning to a 3-4 end, in which his job is to occupy not get upfield. That’s why he’s played mostly nickel in the first two games. He’s talented so he can develop, but there will be growing pains – and the linebackers will feel it on occasion. As for Chris Wilson and Rob Jackson, both can rush the passer; both have big flaws that can be exposed. Stay tuned.
9. So I finally asked Brandon Banks about why he slaps the ball after every return. He can’t possibly think every one was one block or one cut away, can he? Well, yeah.
“I only get so many opportunities and it’s hard to return a kick back for a touchdown,” he said. “When I do that I think it’s one block away or it’s one cut that I should have made.”
Yes, he slapped the ball after the 65-yard punt followed by a three-yard return in Sunday’s loss to St. Louis.
When he watched that return again on film he had the same reaction.
“I could have stuck my foot in the ground and got north,” he said. “If I make a wrong cut I feel so bad, like why did I do that or it was one block away or I read a block wrong.”
On that block, the Rams covered it well though Cedric Griffin did not get a block on a Rams defender. Had he been able to get a block on him at all, Banks would have been able to immediately cut up and to the left for a long gain. Instead the Rams strung him out.
10. Fines for the Redskins-Rams game, according to multiple reports: Josh Morgan ($7,875), Lorenzo Alexander ($15,750). The Rams drew three fines: Robert Quinn ($7,875), Quinn Ojinnaka ($7,875) and Janoris Jenkins ($15,750). Somewhere, Cortland Finnegan is having a good chuckle and counting the cash he kept in his pocket.
11. Here’s an easy guy to root for: Bengals slot receiver Andrew Hawkins.
12. The Bengals have allowed 5.5 yards per carry through two games, a stat that must trouble the coaches. They’ve also faced Ray Rice (10 carries, 68 yards) and Trent Richardson (19 carries, 109 yards), who made two special runs last week. The Redskins don’t need to average that many yards to be effective.
13. The more I see Andy Dalton the more I like him, though I don’t know that he’ll ever be a guy who will hurt really good defenses. In fact, thus far, he hasn’t. In four games against Baltimore (twice), Pittsburgh and Houston, Dalton has thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions and lost each game.
But Dalton has some moxie, will look for the big play and is an accurate passer. So he can be dangerous and he’s shifty in the pocket. He’ll make big plays, for both teams, in these situations.
14. And here’s a little story on Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins.
15. Wasn’t sure on this game as to what my pick would be so I consulted writer buddies in Ohio who have seen the Bengals in person. They’re picking the Redskins.
16. The Redskins’ defense is on pace to allow 72 pass plays for 20 yards or more (14 more than last season and only one team allowed more in 2011). The Bengals like to take shots downfield, but only have six 20-plus plays this season, though they played one great defense (Baltimore) and another solid one (Cleveland).
17. I added this Saturday morning because, well, I had to with Steve Sabol dying this past week. One reason I loved football growing up was because of the NFL Films highlight shows they put on once a week; there was no ESPN or NFL Network. Loved the music they used with the highlights. Once, in third grade, I got in trouble because I was humming music from NFL Films and drove the girl next to me nuts. I have a feeling she had no idea what I was humming. But I loved watching those shows, the way they made the players larger than life. It helped develop a lifelong love affair.
18. This would be a good week for the special teams to make a big play, don’t you think?
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