TE Logan Paulsen. I really like the way he’s developed since last season. He’s not going to wow anyone with his athleticism (best time in the 40 before the draft: 4.78 seconds; has been timed at 4.88). But in this offense you just have to be in the right spot at the right time to get the ball. That’s where he was most of the game. Should he have continued on the route in which Griffin was intercepted? Perhaps, but he was open right away on that route and Griffin hesitated. But Paulsen sat down well in the zone on his 23-yarder, getting 13 yards after the catch. He was open on the fourth-and-10 (even before the scramble). But he’s a blocker first and foremost and that’s an area in which he’s become more consistent. Paulsen had two blocks that stood out. On Santana Moss’ 26-yard touchdown catch and run, Paulsen took care of a defensive back downfield, the final piece to the TD puzzle. On Griffin’s 28-yard run around right end Paulsen took care of the corner in space. Also liked the way he blocked Pierre-Paul on occasion, one time driving him about six yards downfield – a good display of technique and strength.
QB Robert Griffin III. He threw a bad interception and lost a fumble off a zone read run (the end, Jason Pierre-Paul) played it perfectly; Griffin never had it tucked away and was immediately stripped of the ball). The interception occurred in Giants’ territory (the Redskins were at the 42 when it happened) so it could have cost them points. The fumble, thanks to Rob Jackson’s interception on the next play, merely cost them five yards of field position. And Griffin at times hesitated to hit open receivers (check out the RG3 Report). However, the Redskins have a chance to win the game because of his performance. He accounted for 347 total yards, including 89 rushing, and he made some fantastic plays. In some cases, if he didn’t have his legs to rely on, he’d probably be more decisive with his throws. Griffin is at his best in two-minute situations. Eventually teams will be wary of blitzing him at all in this situation – he’s gained a 100 yards on two runs the past two weeks when an opponent does that to him late. Instead, they’ll stick in a cover-2 and let him hit throws underneath for steady gains. I also like that a guy who turned it over on consecutive possessions shook it off and led a go-ahead drive late in the game. The fourth-down play… the scramble… the 30-yard touch pass for a score….showcased Griffin’s ability. One more thing: On the 14-yard end around by Aldrick Robinson, Griffin sold it well, tucking the ball in as if he were going to run and then flipping it without extending his arms. He gave nothing away and that’s a big reason it worked. More on his game here.
RG Chris Chester. Another player who has been more consistent this season. It really does take some time to get your bearings in the stretch zone as a blocker, knowing the spots you must hit and how. But, Sunday, he consistently did a solid job, working off his combo blocks and getting to the linebackers. Actually, the line did an excellent job overall. But I’m going with Chester for his consistency. There were a few plays that typified his day: pulling and sealing the end on a six-yard shovel pass to Darrel Young; he drove defensive tackle Linval Joseph to the ground on one block (not a pancake, but got him down nonetheless); on Moss’ screen pass for a touchdown, Chester got downfield and cut linebacker Keith Rivers enough to keep the lane free; on Alfred Morris’ 15-yard run called back by the leg whip Chester started on the tackle then headed to linebacker Chase Blackburn and drove him downfield.
WR Santana Moss. I know, the fumble. Here is what Moss didn’t do on the fumble: fight for extra yardage; hold the ball carelessly. Instead, he secured it with two hands and was in the process of being tackled, without fighting for more yards, and had it stripped by linebacker Chase Blackburn. I’m not minimizing this one because it ended the Redskins chances and it was huge. It was as much a case of Blackburn getting his hands in the right place and, as he swung Moss, stripping the ball free. Moss must protect it better, but he was far from careless on the play. Not that it matters; the result is all that does. However, Moss made big plays that put the Redskins in position to win the game. In fact, his second big play should have/could have won the game. One turnover with no touchdowns? A Dud. But two touchdowns and a turnover? Moss’ good trumped the bad. Moss didn’t even play until midway through the second quarter when he turned a screen pass into a 26-yard touchdown, helped by excellent blocking. Moss did what he was supposed to do on his 30-yard touchdown catch: beat man coverage. Moss’ weight loss has made a difference. During the spring you could see more quickness, but sometimes with Moss, because his conditioning in recent years wasn’t terrific, he would wear down. The fact that he’s in better shape and playing less, thereby staying fresh, is helping him remain productive.
None this week. Why? Because the players who messed up are the ones who made all the big plays, too. The offensive line did an excellent job against this front, both in the run and pass game. Think about this: The Redskins rolled up 480 yards of offense and held the ball for 32 minutes, 43 seconds with four turnovers. That’s rather impressive.
…No Stud for running back Alfred Morris, who gained 120 yards on 22 carries. A heck of a game. But the fumble occurred at the Giants’ 40-yard line on a first and 23 play. Even if they don’t get a first down on this series, they didn’t need to go far to set up a field goal attempt. It looked like Linval Joseph got inside right tackle Tyler Polumbus and poked the ball free. The others who turned the ball over made up for it with points. By the way, Morris’ last eight carries gained only 23 yards.
…Left tackle Trent Williams was solid, though it’s not as if he was one-on-one constantly with the ends. The play designs often limit the stress placed on him and that’s a good thing. He gave up one sack when Osi Umenyiora got inside of him, taking him upfield, getting him off-balance and then shooting inside. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger came off his block to provide help, but did not come all the way over and only got an arm on him. But what really hurt on the play is that linebacker Michael Bolley didn’t fall for the play fake and took away Griffin’s first option.
…On a first and 10 from the Redskins’ 35-yard line Williams’ drove Jason Pierre-Paul eight yards downfield then as the Giants’ end tried to get around him, Williams finished it by pancaking him. Williams kept his hands inside and just kept driving (it helped that he initially got Pierre-Paul’s side on a combo block, but he then got his feet around and took over).
…Williams drew a 15-yard penalty from Bolley on that same drive. Just as the play was stopping, Williams shoved him in the back towards the pile (it’s not just Cortland Finnegan who does this stuff, folks). Williams played to the whistle. Bolley took offense and rushed at William, who poked his finger in the linebacker’s facemask. I think Williams said, ‘Don’t be silly, little man.’ Regardless, Bolley took a swing at Williams and drew the flag.
…Placekicker Kai Forbath had another solid game, making all three field goals and showing more hang-time on his kickoffs. Well, on two of them at least. He twice had kicks that took 4.2 seconds from kick to catch, though the majority of his kicks were around 3.7. The opening kickoff shows the difference. The first one was in the air for 4.2 seconds and the Redskins tackled returner David Wilson at the 19-yard line. But thanks to Chris Wilson’s offsides penalty, Forbath had to re-kick. This time, a 3.7 hang-time, from five yards deeper, led to a 32-yard return.
…Did you notice the way Griffin stretched out the football on a first and 10 run around left end as he neared the first-down marker on the first play of the third quarter? Didn’t do so in a game earlier this season and it cost the Redskins a first down. Not this time.
…Shanahan said Polumbus’ leg whip was comparable to what he did on the fifth play of the game, when it wasn’t called. Shanahan is right – to a degree. Really, what it turned out to be was an ineffective cut block and Polumbus needs to make sure his legs don’t whip around. There was a difference, however. On the first one, as Polumbus cuts the defender (a good block), his left leg whips into the air. But it didn’t hit another defender or impact anyone’s ability to get to the ball. So there wouldn’t be a penalty since it didn’t hit anybody. He had gotten his man on the ground. The second time, however, when his leg whipped around, it did hit the defender in the legs (because Polumbus didn’t get him on the ground this time). Was it ticky-tack? Perhaps (the Redskins certainly think so). But the motion was made and it did strike a defender; perhaps it’s like getting caught for going 60 in a 55 mph zone.
…Favorite moment of deception occurred on Darrel Young’s 16-yard run early in the fourth quarter. As he took the handoff, Giants right end Jason Pierre-Paul comes upfield eyeing Griffin and seeing Joshua Morgan running an end around. Young runs less than a yard to Pierre-Paul’s left. But the end is about five yards deep in the backfield when he discovers nobody has the ball. He looks right at Morgan, then whips his head back to the left and then finally downfield.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. When Young scored on a six-yard touchdown run in New York last season, Pierre-Paul was completely duped that time, too (Thanks to Rich Campbell of the Washington Times for the reminder). Pierre-Paul actually has his hands on Young after he took the snap, then let him go and stepped upfield, looking for the ballcarrier.
…The Redskins blocked Griffin’s 28-yard run off an option keeper a little differently. Niles Paul lined up a yard over the left guard, a look they have shown in two other games. At the snap, Paul came over to the right as a sort of lead blocker for Griffin. Paul, serving as a lead blocker around the end, went outside defensive end Justin Tuck, who went right at the ball carrier. Griffin almost didn’t seem to look at Tuck, suggesting it was perhaps his run the whole way.
…It’s time for Paul to start making more of an impact at tight end in the pass game. I know right now that he’s a better blocker, but that’s typically when he’s in space – he took care of Bolley on an eight-yard Griffin keeper around right end, for example. He’s (admittedly) still adjusting to blocking at the line. He has good speed for a tight end (albeit a converted one), but that speed hasn’t been evident enough during games. Getting open is more than about speed.
…The Redskins converted six of their first nine third-down plays into first downs. One reason? Third and manageable. Of those first nine third downs, six were for four yards or less and all were for seven yards or less. Of the final four, none of which they converted, three were for 10 yards or more. However, what they did on two of those downs helped tremendously. On a third and 17, they picked up 15 yards on a pass play to set up a successful conversion on fourth and 2. Then they gained 13 yards on third and 14 to set up fourth and 1, which they also converted. Finally, they threw incomplete on third and 10 late in the game only to pick up 19 yards on the next play.
…They ran the ball three times when it was third and 2 or less, throwing once. They converted each run, including the 14-yard end around to Aldrick Robinson. They also used play-action to gain 14 yards on third and 4.
…The offensive line did an excellent job re-establishing the line of scrimmage on a number of occasions. It may have been their best overall job of doing so this season. Actually, they may have played their best overall game. I know, three sacks. But one came because Paul failed to block Pierre-Paul properly (yes, it’s his responsibility on some plays; tight ends everywhere are asked to perform such a role and with Fred Davis out, this is what Paul had to do. Paul had been cutting the ends all game, per instructions. But Pierre-Paul was ready and easily dodged this attempt. In hindsight, Paul said he should have just stayed in front of him). Another sack came on a designed QB draw that was immediately blown up through Polumbus’ side. The other sack came via the Williams’ breakdown. Even on Griffin’s scramble he had 3.6 seconds in the pocket before he fled (against a three-man rush) and no one was close to him.
…The best play that illustrates what the OL did? On first and 10 from the Redskins’ 48-yard line, Morris takes an inside handoff and gains 30 yards. It was a good run by him, but, really, the line did almost all of the work. When Morris makes his first cut, he’s two yards downfield. Why? That’s where the line was; the line had moved the Giants’ DL two yards back. No one was on the Redskins’ side of the line. That allowed Morris to run right behind them, then cut outside at the last moment. And that allowed Polumbus to finish a block inside on Tuck. It also allowed Chester to combo block on Joseph and then seal the linebacker inside (after he raced in there thinking that’s where Morris was headed).
…Oh, and that was against an eight-man front. Just an impressive display of blocking and cutting.
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