Monday, September 26, 2011

Initial Thoughts: Redskins Cowboys

- Graham Gano has been excellent is this game. 3/4 on FGs and the lone block again had nothing to do with him.

- We've seen "Good Rex" and "Bad Rex" already.

- O-line, in particular Trent Williams, has played well for the most part.

- LaRon Landry, we missed you. 1 FF and knocking the hell out of everybody.

- Josh Wilson making some good tackles and a nice recovery.

- London Fletcher is still a beast and the defense has played extremely well.

- Dear ESPN, please shut the **** up about Vick's bruised hand. Unless they're cutting it off, I don't need to hear about it every 5 minutes.

- Anthony Armstrong is hurt. I blame this slip and slide of a field. Hopefully. the trainers will fix the Skins cleats at halftime.

It's Dallas Monday

So with the Skins and the Cowboys on Monday night, here is a special take on tonight's game with some video, some thoughts and some links.

Thoughts on the game

What the 'Skins need to do:

- Run the ball. Dallas will be keying on the Skins pass. They want to sack Grossman and force fumbles. DeMarcus Ware is licking his chops. The Skins need to run to keep players like him on their toes. Also, to set up the bootlegs and play action passes.

- 3rd and short. The Skins must try to be at 3rd and 5 or less. Again this forces the Cowboys to limit blitzes and gives the 'Skins more options in the passing game.

- Limit mistakes. Limit the fumbles, missed FGs, INTs, dropped balls.

- Get the ball to Cooley and Moss. I know Cooley has not been healthy but both he and Moss have their best games against the Cowboys.

- Stop the Dallas run game. Cowboys have been averaging 2.9 yards/carry. Their O-line is banged up (especially the interior). Make the Cowboys 1 dimensional, which leads to my next point.

- Hit Romo early and often. Tony Romo is playing tonight but he's banged up. Romo will also be wearing padding to protect his ribs which will make him slower and may hinder his throwing motion. More pressure on Romo will lead to him making mistakes.

- Score in the Red Zone. The Skins have shown in two games that they can get into the Red Zone. The key tonight will be to score when they get there.

What the 'Skins need to avoid:

- DeMarcus Ware. Leads the league in sacks and can do about everything. The Skins need to shut him down or limit his impact in the game. Easier said than done, I know.

- Stop giving up big plays. In two games, the Redskins have given up a huge touchdown pass in each game. They wree able to get away with this at FedEx, but it probably won't happen in Dallas.

- Stop being outscored in the 1st quarter.  The Skins have been outscored 14-0 by opponents in the 1st quarter through two games.

- Underestimating Jesse Holley. Holley has amazing speed and can be a be threat if the Skins let him.

- Give Tony Romo time. He has weapons and can pick a team apart if you let him. Like above, hit him early and often.


Player to Watch: Offense 
Rex Grossman- Can he make the plays and throw the touchdowns without making the turnovers? If "Good Rex" shows up, the Skins could walk away with a win tonight.

Player to Watch: Defense
Stephen Bowen- This could be his game to shine. Plus, he knows this team well and it would be a fair statement that he will use that knowledge to help his current team win.

Player to Watch: Special Teams
Graham Gano- Can he have a game where he doesn't miss a FG or have on blocked? Every point in this game will be critical and the Skins need him to convert.

Here's some links talking about tonight's game:

- Mr. Irrelevant offered up some predictions from Skins media. Fans also welcome to participate.

- BGO is throwing out their member predictions as well.

- So is ExtremeSkins with member predictions.

- Redskins/Cowboys  final injury report. Notable: Landry and Young are questionable.

- Jaws talks Redskins/Cowboys matchup.

- A look at the key matchups for tonight's game.

Final Thoughts

- The Skins are a horrible 4-12 in the last 16 Monday Night Football games. Granted the Skins overall have been horrible over the last decade.

- If the Skins win tonight, they will go 3-0. Since 1990 teams going 3-0 have gone to the playoffs 76% of the time. Not only that but the Skins would have eclipsed predictions that they were only going 2-14 this year (looking at you Sporting News).

If the Skins win tonight, they are in sole place of the NFCE and would have a 2-0 lead in the division.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

NFL Week 3 Picks

Last Week I failed to get out my picks as I was in a rush to get to FedEx......but I made my picks on BGO and went 13-3. Not bad if I do say so myself. In two weeks I've gone 24-8. Here's this weeks picks:

*Point spread based on home team, for entertainment purposes only.

1 PM Games
Jaguars @ Panthers (-3.5) Gabbert vs. Newton possibly. If Cam Newton plays like he did the last two week, I think the Panthers win their first game of the year.
Pick: Panthers

Broncos @ Titans (-7.0) Maybe this is a letdown game for the Titans after the big win against Baltimore. I doubt it. Expect Chris Johnson to start to get back to his true form today.
Pick: Titans

Texans @ Saints (-4.0) I just don't see the Texans winning in the Superdome today. But I could be wrong the Texans do have the #1 D in the NFL through two weeks.
Pick: Saints

Lions @ Vikings (+3.5) The Lions are the real deal and the Vikings.......aren't. I feel bad for McNabb having to deal with Suh twice a year.
Pick: Lions

Giants @ Eagles (-7.5) Mike Vick is playing and the Giants are still really beat up and playing on the road. Eagles WRs smokes the G-Men.
Pick: Eagles

Patriots @ Bills (+9.0) If the Bills are really this good they'll find a way to win today. The Patriots can't go undefeated again this year, right? My upset special......taking the Bills at home.
Pick: Bills

Dolphins @ Browns (-3.0) Dolphins play better on the road than at home. The Browns find ways to lose at home frequently. Hard game to pick, but I'm going with the Dolphins here.
Pick: Dolphins

49ers @ Bengals (-2.5) The Bengals are a better team than I thought they were. The 49ers are worse than I thought they were. I like the Bengals at home.
Pick: Bengals

4 PM Games
Jets @ Raiders (+3.0) The Jets find ways to win in close games, the Raiders find ways to lose in close games.
Pick: Jets

Ravens @ Rams (+4.5) The Ravens fell for a trap game last week. This week they're angry and want to hit somebody. Sam Bradford is in trouble.
Pick: Ravens

Chiefs @ Chargers (-14.5) This game could get ugly really quick.
Pick: Chargers

Falcons @ Buccaneers (-1.5)
Had Mike Vick not been knocked out of the game (by his own player mind you), the Falcons would be 0-2. Don't believe the point spread here folks. I think the Bucs are a much better team.
Pick: Bucs

Game of the Week
Packers @ Bears (+3.5) A re-match of the NFC Championship game and the NFL's longest rivalry. Should be a good game but I think the Bears pull this one out if Jay Cutler can actually stay on his feet long enough to get a pass off.
Pick: Bears

Cardinals @ Seahawks (-3.0) Who's the worst team in the NFL 'Hawks or Chiefs? It's hard to tell right now.
Pick: Cardinals

Steelers @ Colts (+10.5) You almost wish that flex scheduling could happen earlier in the year to prevent games like this.
Pick: Steelers

Redskins @ Cowboys (-6.5) I hate when the Skins play on MNF. They are 4-12 in the last 16 and generally find ways to stink it up. That said, the Cowboys are banged up and ripe for the picking. A Redskins win here and they're 3-0 and 2-0 in the NFCE. Something tells me they can win today despite most of this week I planned on picking them to lose.
Pick: Redskins 27-21

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game Recap: Cardinals/ Redskins Week 2

I think the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals watched the Giants @ Redskins game from last week and determined that the Redskins struggled the most when they were blitzed. While I don't have a stat. for every time the Cardinals decided to blitz in this game, it must have been well over 50%. As poorly as the O-line struggled in week 1, they did a good job picking up the blitzers in week 2. The lone sack on Rex Grossman was more on Tim Hightower not being able to get to FS, Kerry Rhodes than the O-line failing to block a lineman or linebacker. The run game was also much improved as the Redskins accumulated 172 total yards on the ground.

Want to know something interesting?

They can be even better. One of the things that I noticed while at FedEx and it drove me crazy so much that during my Initial Thoughts I gave a little grief to ESPN 980's post-game show about their praise of the O-line was that had one more block been made or if one block had been finished just a bit longer, the Skins RBs would have scored a few TDs. Perfect example was in the 4th quarter on the Cardinals 37. The Skins ran a play to Roy Helu up the middle. Kory Lichtensteiger had gotten ahead of Helu to block, but failed to get to LB O'Brien Schofield who made the tackle. Mind you, Helu had already gained 9 yards, but you see what I mean. With Helu's speed and a clear lane maybe he scores on the play. It was little things like this throughout the game that hurt the Redskins or at least cost them larger gains.

The Skins opened the game with two very strong, time consuming drives. They moved the ball with ease each time until Rex Grossman was intercepted. The first interception was a classic bad decision as Grossman tried to force a ball to Santana Moss in double coverage. No one was open, but Moss did get some separation from his man coverage and Grossman tried to get it to him. Unfortunately, the ball was wide and the safety (Wilson) read the play perfectly for an INT. The second interception was due towards a tipped ball on Anthony Armstrong. What the refs missed was that Armstrong's left arm was being held by corner A.J. Jefferson. Armstrong tried to make a one handed catch and instead the ball deflected for the INT.

The thing that seems to stand out about Rex Grossman so far is that he shrugs off the good and the bad and continues to make better decisions. After throwing the first pick, Grossman faced a similar situation later in the game where everybody was covered and yet it was 3rd down. Grossman threw the ball away instead of forcing a pass and possibly throwing another INT. Sadly, a few Redskins fans didn't get what Grossman was trying to do and booed him. It's this type of smart play that will give the Skins at least an opportunity to score a FG and not shift momentum to the opposing team. Grossman also did do a good job of making sure that if his pass was batted at the O-line, the ball went incomplete. Grossman saw the deflected pass and spiked the ball like a volleyball. This happened twice and it possibly saved the Skins two interceptions. Grossman also did a good job leading the team late in the game and getting them to score 9 points in the final 10 or so minutes to take the lead.

The defense had another good game but at times struggled. At times (especially in the 3rd quarter) they struggled against the run. 2 TDs were from a missed or blown coverage. Overall, this defense is just so much better than the team that played this scheme last year.

Time for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Cowboys Week!!!! Updates, Blogger's Block etc.

(Recent but classic Redskins/Cowboys moment: Photo Credit (?))

Quick update: Still working on the Cardinals/Skins Game Recap. It's been a hard one to write. Not that there's a ton of info. to write about. It's just trying to get the details right and sharing the most important parts have been hard to get down on the page. Call it blogger's block but it's been hard to write/type. The good news is that I'm on the last part of the article and hopefully it will be up before the weekend (real job permitting).

What's on Tap This Weekend on IIWII: With no game to attend on Sunday, I'm hoping to get a bunch of things done on the blog this weekend. Don't worry, I haven't forgot that the 2-0 Redskins are headed to Dallas on Monday to face the Cowboys. There will be a special look at the Cowboys and what the Skins (and the Cowboys) need to do in order to win on MNF. I'm also hoping to do a special Friday Night Videos dedicated to Dallas week.

There may be more, but for me that's plenty of writing already that I'll need to get done.

With the game being on Monday, I may do an Initial Thoughts during the game instead of after because of the limited amount of time to breakdown the game and get a game recap out. Hopefully, I'll have the Skins/Cowboys game recap out by next Wednesday (says the guy who hasn't finished the Cardinals game recap yet).

Stay Tuned........

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fred Smoot Says.......

“That’s championship football. Anybody want to ask me what championship football is, it’s winning up front, offense and defense. The last time the Redskins had a dominating offensive line and defensive line, they won the championship, [with] the big Hogs and Charles Mann and the rest of those guys. Right now, they’re putting together a group that can win ballgames. See, we’ve always had the flashy names, the Fred Smoots, the Clinton Portises. But right now we’ve got old-fashioned football players, and right now, they’re playing Redskins football.”
-Fred Smoot 9/18/11
On The Redskins Victory over the Cardinals

This quote comes from a great article by Dan Steinberg over at DC Sports Bog on why the current players think they are winning. Even former Redskins are noticing the changes and that's a good thing. Fred Smoot saw much of the rare good and frequent bad times of the last decade plus of the Snyder owned Redskins. If he thinks the Skins are a better team now than when he was a's a pretty good sign don't you think?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Initial Thoughts: Redemption? Cards @ Skins Week 2

(Graham Gano hits one of 3 FGs to give the Redskins the lead in the 22-21 victory)

 Some quick thoughts before I sit down and re-watch the game on my DVR.

- Last week Graham Gano and Reed Doughty were the biggest goats despite a Redskins win over the Giants. This week, they made critical plays. Gano was 3/4 on FGs (the miss was actually blocked). Doughty made a key fumble recovery at the end of the game and again made a bunch of tackles.

- I'm not sure Rex Grossman deserves as much blame that he's getting for this week. Grossman is credited (blamed is a better word) for 2 INTs. Looking forward to checking this out. Maybe the decisions weren't the best but both INTs look like they happened more because of what happened to the WR than the pass choice. The 1st INT looked like the WR slipped. The 2nd was on a tip by Anthony Armstrong (note: Armstrong was being held during this and didn't get a pass interference call).

- I'm not convinced about this great performance by the O-line that some of the analysts on ESPN 980 were touting on the post game show. The run game was better, but there was still many times where blocks could of been made to turn a minimal gain to a back breaker. More on that when I do the breakdown. I also thought that the pass blocking was inconsistent. Even if the Cardinals didn't get to Grossman, they got enough push to get their hands up to deflect Rex Grossman's passes.

- Roy Helu reminds me of Clinton Portis from his Denver days. That said, I think Helu may have a higher up-side than Portis based on what I've read about the player's work ethic and character.

- Skins played a much sloppier game than they did against the Giants. They failed to score when in the Red Zone. They gave up really big runs and one big pass. I just have a feeling that we're going to see this up and down trend throughout the season. This is despite my belief that the Redskins are on the right track and are getting better. This game was a classic letdown game or trap game. If you noticed today, the Ravens had the same type of game against the Titans........The Titans won. Give credit to the Skins for not losing today. They wouldn't have won this game last year.

- I still don't get why the Eagles let go of P, Sav Rocca. He has been a major upgrade for the Skins since coming to DC.

- Ryan Kerrigan is showing the world that he was the right choice for the Redskins at #16. Love his attitude and his non-stop effort. Made another couple of big plays today.

- Fred Davis may have become the starting TE after least as a pass catcher. Has really improved on finding ways to get open and has been a pretty good Red Zone target. Of course, this is a contract year for Davis. Many players have career seasons in contract years.

- If the Eagles lose tonight against the Falcons, the Redskins are in sole possession of 1st place in the NFCE. Hey, at least we would have done it sometime this year.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Skins are 2 for 2 on Ticket Returns

Last week the Redskins had tickets to sell that were returned. This week? Same deal......I got this email a few days ago:

Not sure if any tickets are left, but if you were thinking about coming to a game this year. This might be the one. It's going to get loud on Sunday!!!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Game Recap: Giants/Redskins Week 1

(Remembering 9/11 and celebrating the return of football)
A solemn day in DC as the NFL and its fan bases of both the Redskins and Giants remember the events of 9/11/2001. After the opening ceremonies, including a coin toss with honorary Redskins captain Colin Powell, the Redskins began a game that surprised many who haven't watched the Redskins this pre-season or have known the recent history between the Giants and the Skins (Giants winning last 6 in a row). The game started with the Skins being rather flat (first 2 series) but later started moving the ball in both on the ground and in the air resulting in another Graham Gano missed FG. On the Redskins 4th offensive series, they score on Tim Hightower 1 yard run. Late in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins scored on a fade from Grossman to Anthony Armstrong while running a two minute drill. This was very impressive for a team that has been notorious for not being able to score when they need a score. The half ended with both teams in a dead heat tied 14-14.

The play of the game took place in the 3rd quarter, when Ryan Kerrigan tips an Eli Manning pass, catches it and runs for a score.

Of course the touchdown was cool and a game breaker for the Giants but what I personally enjoyed was how Kerrigan got to the point of being able to tip the ball.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tony Romo's at it Again

A few years ago, Dallas was playing the Skins in Dallas. Tony Romo, not ready to take a snap gets the ball drilled right into his face.

Flash forward to last this deja vu?

And to think I always thought Andre Gurode was just lousy at doing shotgun snaps. Sorry, Andre for thinking you were a bad snapper.

(Hat tip to Deadspin for the Jets gif. and to ESer Hitman21ST for the Dallas, game- I had that but lost the file when I had to close a photobucket account).

Initial Thoughts: Victory! Giants @ Skins Week 1

(Rex Grossman looks for a receiver down field on their way to victory. Photo: FedEx Al)

First, a quick apology to the readers. I was hoping that last night I could get up an Initial Thoughts column, watch (re-watch) the game and then write up a Game Recap today. Didn't happen obviously. I got home from FedEx in time to finish watching the Cowboys @ Jets and before I knew it, I was asleep on my couch. The combination of heat/sunburn/tailgating/screaming my head off/driving did me in. So, I'll do  this article, get to watching the game and try to get the full game recap out sometime today.

Time for some Initial Thoughts........

Rex Grossman- He said something on Football Night in America about having a lot of "haters" and that he has to play his best to prove them wrong. Well, they were proven wrong. Grossman had a great game in many aspects. When he had time to look down field and throw the ball, he found his targets. He didn't make many mistakes and he put the ball in places where it wouldn't be intercepted. There are things in his game that he still needs to improve. His receivers bailed him out on some plays by making some amazing catches (Armstrong, Davis) and the tendency to fumble is still there. Without a doubt, Grossman had his best day as a Redskin.

Offensive Line- Here's where the problems start. The O-line looked shoddy. Trent Williams really struggled with Jason Pierre-Paul. I saw Jammal Brown get shoved back a few times. Fellow tailgater SaberAce noted to me that Lichtensteiger looked horrible. Al Galdi of ESPN 980 noted that Will Montgomery's snaps were off. Lot's of things to look at later. Grossman was sacked four times yesterday.

Rookies Shined- Fan wondered why the Skins cut Anthony Bryant and kept rookie NT Chris Neild. Now we know why. Neild had 2 sacks and had a great deal of penetration in both the run and pass game. Ryan Kerrigan already has showed why the Redskins drafted him in the first round. His touchdown was an amazing play that started with him reading a chop block and blocking it. Then, Kerrigan was able to get his hands up, deflect the ball and find it to catch it.

FedEx Rocked- I'm curious to hear how it sounded on TV. It was loud in the lower bowl despite a good 30-40% of the crowd were Giant fans.

Another D'Oh Gano Moment- Y'know I like Graham Gano. But how can he keep missing FGs less than 40 yards in his home stadium? Beats me.......

More coming with the Game Recap, stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NFL Picks Week 1

Football is back. As I write this I am trying to get ready of the Giants/Redskins game, traffic and delays (security reason for a 9/11 event) will probably cause a great deal of waiting. Anyway, onto the picks. Not going into a great deal of explanation for them this week because of the time issues.

Game of the Week: Pittsburgh at Baltimore
SHD will hate me for this but I just think the Steelers are going to give the Ravens fits. Ravens starting O-line will be playing together for the first time. The Redskins had a good game against the Ravens and their defense is very similar to Pittsburgh's. Another close, hard hitting game but Pittsburgh pulls it out. This is the best divisional game (rivalry if you will) currently in the league. Pit 13, Bal. 10

Giants at Redskins
Redskins have lost 9 of the last 10 against the Giants. That said the last win was highly emotional as the Skins were trying to make the playoffs in honor of fallen teammate Sean Taylor. They succeeded in a crazy game, led by a system QB (Todd Collins). The Skins coming into this very emotional game are led by a system QB (Rex Grossman) and are vastly improved compared to the 2010 team. The Giants are limping into FedEx with injuries. I think the Skins open with a win here. Skins 24, NYG 21

Rest of the Week:
Falcons @ Bears: Falcons (Keep an eye on the run game. Bear's O-line is still horrible)
Colts @ Texans: Texans (No Manning, no win)
Bills @ Chiefs: Chiefs
Titans @ Jaguars: Titans (I picked the Jags on BGO for some stupid reason and now the picks are locked)
Bengals @ Browns: Browns  (Are the Bengals the NFL's worst team?)
Eagles @ Rams: Eagles
Lions @ Bucs: Lions
Vikings @ Chargers: Chargers
Panthers @ Cardinals: Panthers
Seahawks @ 49ers: 49ers
Cowboys @ Jets: Jets
Patriots @ Dolphins: Patriots
Radiers @ Broncos: Broncos

Thursday, September 8, 2011

TNF: Saints at Packers

Quick prediction. I have Packers over Saints 34-28. I just think Aaron Rogers will find holes in Gregg Williams scheme.

Here's to the season!!!!

Let's Look At....Your 2011 Tickets

Meant to post this sooner but I've been busy with lockouts, free agency, training camp and pre-season posts.
Anyway, for the past few years, the Redskins have been sending out tickets that usually have current players featured on tickets. Sometimes they put the player on a ticket that has meaning (ex. Barry Cofield would be on a Giants ticket * because he was a Giant!*, Santana Moss would be on a Cowboys ticket * because he owns the 'boys*) sometimes they just like to feature a popular player. This year, with a young and somewhat unknown group, the Redskins decided to go with Hall of Fame players and coaches to feature on the tickets.

Here they are:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tickets Still Available for Redskins Season Opener

I've gotten two emails in the past few days from the Redskins about tickets still being available for Sunday's game against the Giants. Don't believe me? Well see for yourself.

Kind of weird that the Season Ticket Holders (STHers for the rest of the post) are getting this notice. You'd think that the STHers would already have their tickets. I wonder if people on the season ticket waiting list are getting this. Before I got my tickets, I did get this notice and scored some sweet tickets at face (of course back in 2002 I thought it was hard to get tickets to a Skins game).

Anyway, this takes you to a ticketmaster page. I did a couple of searches and did find that you could get some good seats in the 200 level (Note: not obstructed view tickets). What I also found interesting was that this isn't just Giant player return tickets. Looking at the upper right hand corner it says "Player and Sponsor returns".

I still find it strange that there are tickets available for a season opener against a NFC East rival. Yes, the Skins have lost something like 9 of the last 10 to the Giants, but with the optimism on 2011 and a banged up Giants team, I'd figured tickets would be more difficult to get at face value.

One last thing......who is the Redskins player in the advertisement/notice? It looks like former C, Casey Rabach to me. What do you think?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Final Thoughts on Redskins and 2011 Pre-Season

With practice starting later today, it's time to look at some final things that I noticed about the 2011 pre-season. Most of this deals with the Redskins but I did get a chance to watch a few of the other pre-season games and I'll throw a few comments out there about the Giants and the Ravens. This will be in bullet points, so it should be a quick read.

- Proof the Skins have better WR depth. Flashback to 2010. Let's put Donte' Stallworth on that roster. Where would he be on the depth chart at the start of week 1? Probably the #2 WR. Flash forward to today. Where do you think Stallworth is on the depth chart? At best 4th. He almost didn't even make the 2011 roster. Goes to show that the Redskins emphasized the position and found a few players to fill those spots.

- Why I didn't do a Ravens game recap. The moment Jarvis Jenkins went down in that game, it didn't matter how much the Skins beat up Baltimore, I was just to bummed to write about the game. Jenkins was looking really good. I mean really good. Numbers really don't say much for OL and DL (unless you're a 4-3 DE), but Jenkins was doing some really good, veteran things out on the field. He was taking double teams and getting through them. I hope he can recover from the ACL tear and come back even better in 2012. Good news is that the surgery was successful, Jenkins has reported that there was no cartilage damage and that he will work harder to get ready for 2012. Can a year of meetings/film study, OTAs and 2 training camps make him better? You bet.

- Steelers, Colts and Ravens games were important games. I keep hearing from people that the Steelers could care less about the game with the Skins, same with the Colts and same with the Ravens. I call BS on two of those games. I'll give you the Colts because historically they play like crap in the pre-season. Also with Manning out, the Colts are a top 20 team at best. The Steelers tend to come into FedEx, dominate, waive way too many terrible towels and go home. Didn't happen this year. Matter of fact Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was pretty unhappy with his team's performance and admitted they were outplayed at every level by the Skins. The Ravens for some reason really want to win pre-season games and they really want to beat the Redskins in pre-season games. Last year John Harbaugh ran trick plays to do it. This year, the Ravens went down right crazy as they scored the winning TD to beat the Skins in the final moments. Just remember at halftime the Skins were leading 21-14 and outplaying the starters; a probable playoff team in Baltimore.

- Speaking of the Ravens. I think they are going to have a rough year against Pittsburgh. The Ravens really struggled against a Washington 3-4 that employs similar philosophy and scheme to that of Pittsburgh. If Flacco got sacked 3 times against a team getting into to the groove of this scheme, how will they do against a team that has been running the same scheme for decades?

- Beck vs. Grossman. Do I think the QB play will be better in 2011 than in 2010. Actually, yes overall. McNabb did have the ability to throw game changing passes (see GB 2010) but, he lacked the rhythm and tempo that the coaches wanted. He also struggled with the system. Grossman has been in the system for 3 years, Beck for 2 and it shows. They seem to play within the scheme and find the players open when they should be open. So who should be the starter? Let me first say that I think we'll see both get a start at some point this season. I also think that both will struggle at times. I like Beck. I like his "take charge" attitude, I like that he'll tell you when he made a mistake and how he'd go about fixing it. I like his comeback story. I love his mobility and his ability to hit guys in stride on bootlegs. I think though based on only what I've seen it probably will be Grossman starting against the Giants. Maybe the Skins will go with Beck because of his mobility and that he tends to feel the pressure better than Grossman, but I think Grossman has looked better in the pre-season games.

- Skins are the masters of small name trades. Jarmon for Gaffney. Holiday/2012 6th round pick for Hightower. Skins get 2 starters for a player later to be cut (Jarmon), an aging backup and a late round pick. Not bad. Not bad at all.

- Skins are having a change of philosophy in offense. Last year there seemed to be much more of an emphasis in the pass game than in the run game. Maybe it was because the best offensive players (Moss, Cooley, McNabb) were part of the pass game. Maybe it was because the Skins fell behind. Maybe Kyle Shanahan is more of a pass first OC than a run first OC. Not sure. If you look at the pre-season, there is much more emphasis on the run game. This is good because Mike Shanahan's offense much like Joe Gibbs offenses work best when a run game is in place. That sets up play action and bootlegs. If the Redskins can have a strong run game in 2011, the pass game should also be better.

- Thoughts on the Giants. Brandon Jacobs looks like Brandon Jacobs of old and that has never been a good thing for the Skins. I'm not sold on their pass game though. D looks about the same to me.

- I'm expecting more Redskins fans to show up the first few weeks. Everybody has seen the changes and I think that it has motivated fans. Take the Tampa game for example. I didn't think that many would show for a meaningless 4th game. But they did. A good portion of the lower bowl was full and I even saw a surprising amount of fans at the club level and in the upper bowl.

- This is going to be an interesting season. I think the Skins are better and are on the right track. But I'm sticking with my 8-8 prediction. It could be better than this based on the schedule but two games better should be something to build upon for 2012 and beyond.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Braves on the Warpath: Your 2011 Redskins (For Now)

(Donte' Stallworth (front) made the team, find out the other 52 players here. Photo: FedEx Al)
So as of right now (8:00AM EST, 09/04/2011) here is your 53 man roster. I say right now for multiple reasons. One is that there is a significant lack of depth in a few areas and a glut of depth in others. Looks like the Skins are currently scoping out the waiver wires and talking to other teams about possible trades to fill holes.

Here's the 53 man roster as of now and my thoughts (here was my final prediction for the 53):

QB (2)
John Beck, Rex Grossman
Thoughts: I'm not used to seeing only 2 QBs on a roster, but Mike Shanahan has done it before so this shouldn't be that much of a surprise. The Skins believe they have 2 starting QBs on the roster. Why waste another roster spot for a backup?

RB/HB (3)
Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu
Thoughts: No surprise here really. Torain's health was the only factor on whether he would make the team. Evan Royster looked good but needs to develop and will be put on the practice squad. In a year or two, he could be better than Torain.

RB/FB (2)
Darrel Young, Mike Sellers
Thoughts: Sellers is the controversial pick. Many thought he blocked poorly the last few seasons as a FB and just isn't much of an offensive weapon at the position. The Skins are hoping to use him as a utility player this year. As fans we have no idea if Chris Cooley is healthy. Sellers can be an emergency TE. He also looked better blocking at FB in the pre-season. Either way, the Skins have a player that can play teams well. If Cooley turns out to be healthy, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sellers cut or traded at some point.

TE (3)
Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
Thoughts: Easiest unit to determine on the entire team.....Next!

WR (8*)
Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Terrence Austin, Donte' Stallworth, Niles Paul, Brandon Banks
Thoughts: We like 'em all so we'll keep them all (except Aldrick Robinson). Look, if you think the Redskins are going to keep 8 WRs throughout the season (possibly into week 1), you're probably 99% wrong. What is more likely is that the Skins are hoping to trade at least one player, possibly two to get value for their depth and hopefully a good player or pick in return.
* If Brandon Banks touches the ball for anything other than KR/PRs, I'd be very surprised. With this depth and his injury issues, there really is 7 WRs on the roster and 1 KR/PR.

OL (8)
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Sean Locklear, Erik Cook, Willie SmithThoughts: Congratulations to Willie Smith for making the roster. He was the most consistent back up OL that I noticed during the pre-season. Nice thing about Smith is that he could play 4 spots on the roster (LT, RT, LG, RG) if needed. I am surprised about Erik Cook. He seemed to get blown off the ball way too many times for my liking and is listed as only a C. My guess is that the Skins will look to sign at least one more OL before too long.

DL (6)
Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Adam Carriker, Chris Neild, Kedric Golston, Darrion Scott
Thoughts: Skins like to rotate their DL frequently throughout games to keep them fresh, so I don't think that 6 DL (one being strictly a NT) will be enough. I expect at least another DE to be signed (most likely cut from a 3-4 team or possibly a trade). I was surprised to see Neild make the roster over Anthony Bryant but I think the reasoning is that Neild can penetrate the pocket and has more upside. Bryant is a classic run clogging NT but doesn't provide much pass rush. Based on keeping Neild and signing a Barry Cofield, it looks like the Skins are looking for more pocket collapsing and pass rush from their NT (much like Dallas' NT Jay Ratliff). Now you know why the Skins wanted Haynesworth at NT last year........

LB (9)
Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Rob Jackson, Perry Riley, Keyaron Fox, Lorenzo Alexander, Markus White
Thoughts: Not in the least bit surprised of this. The LB corp was pretty deep and Markus White earned the roster spot. Alexander will be the emergency ILB/OLB while continuing to dominate on special teams.

CB (5)
DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson, Byron Westbrook
Thoughts: 4 of the 5 were locks. Thompson made the squad based on his improving performances in the pre-season. I think the Skins were going to at least put him on the Practice Squad. With the Buchanon suspension, the Skins put him on the active roster and use him as a emergency reserve. Expect Thompson to be inactive on game days. 2012 and beyond will be interesting to see if Thompson can take Barnes' spot on the roster.

S (4)
LaRon Landry, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes
Thoughts: No real surprises here. Gomes played well, is a Shanahan pick, doesn't have the injury history like Horton and is younger. Youth movement.

K (1)
Graham Gano

P (1)
Sav Rocca

LS (1)
Nick Sundberg

Practice squad to be announced sometime today......

Here are the official cuts from

Player Position Status
Isaac Anderson WR Waived; Undrafted Rookie
Horatio Blades LB 2007 6th-Round Draft Pick
Anthony Bryant NT 5-Year Veteran; Signed in 2010
Selvish Capers OT Waived; 2010 7th-Round Draft Pick
Kellen Clemens QB 6-Year Vet; Signed in July
Tony Curtis TE 4-Year Vet; Signed in August
Shaun Draughn RB Waived; Undrafted Rookie
Thaddeus Gibson LB Waived; Joined Team in August
Matt Gutierrez QB Waived; Signed in August
Artis Hicks OL 10-Year Vet; Signed in 2010
Chris Horton S Waived; 2008 7th-Round Draft Pick
Maurice Hurt OL Waived; 2011 7th-Round Draft Pick
Edgar Jones LB 5-Year Vet; Signed last January
Reggie Jones CB Waived; Signed in 2010
Clint Oldenburg OT Waived; Signed in 2009
Donovan Raiola C Waived; Signed in August
Aldrick Robinson WR Waived; 2011 6th-Round Draft Pick
Evan Royster RB Waived; 2011 6th-Round Draft Pick
Anderson Russell S Waived; Signed in 2010
Derek Schouman TE 5-Year Vet; Signed in August
Davonte Shannon DB Waived; Undrafted Rookie
Jeff Stehle DL Waived; Signed in August
Doug Worthington DL Waived; Signed in August
Keiland Williams RB Waived; Signed in 2010

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Quest for 53: Final Prediction

With cuts looming at 6PM here is my final guesses about who will make the 53 man roster.

QB (3)
John Beck, Kellen Clemens, Rex Grossman
Thoughts: Nothing changes here in my opinion. Clemens has looked good against backups and is a decent #2 QB. Grossman and Beck are battling for the starting spot.

RB (5)
Tim Hightower, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu, Darrel Young, Mike Sellers
Thoughts: Sellers is the better FB. He beats out Williams, who probably would be available if the Redskins needed him. Evan Royster goes on the practice squad. What would be still possible is that the Skins just stick with 1 FB, opening another roster spot.

TE (3)
Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen
Thoughts: No changes here

WR (6)
Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Terrence Austin, Donte' Stallworth
Thoughts: I know I'm probably wrong here and that the Skins will probably take Paul over Stallworth. That said I think Stallworth had a better pre-season and could easily play the 4th WR on the team and could start if needed. I don't see that from Hankerson or Paul just yet.

OL (8)
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Sean Locklear, Artis Hicks, Willie Smith
Thoughts: I really don't like the depth here and I think that the Skins aren't done with moves. Expect some movement after cuts take place.

DL (7)
Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Adam Carriker, Anthony Bryant, Doug Worthington, Kedric Golston, Darrion Scott
Thoughts: Much like the O-line, I wouldn't be surprised to see some changes taking place after final cuts.

LB (8)
Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Rob Jackson, Perry Riley, Keyaron Fox, Lorenzo Alexander
Thoughts: Don't be surprised if Markus White makes this team, but the Skins may keep the LB corp. to 8 to have a roster spot open for a Brandon Banks or another player.

CB (5)
DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson, Byron Westbrook
Thoughts: Thompson has looked pretty good and could serve as a reserve on the 53 man roster until Phillip Buchanon returns from his suspension.

S (4)
LaRon Landry, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes
Thoughts:  Gomes has just been swarming around the ball. I don't think the Skins can stow him away on the practice squad without losing him. Chris Horton get cut or traded in my opinion.

K (1)
Graham Gano

P (1)
Sav Rocca

LS (1)
Nick Sundberg

KR/PR (1)
Brandon Banks
Thoughts: Barring a trip to the IR, I can't see the Skins cutting him. They'll make room for the playmaker.

Practice Squad (8) (Neild, Hurt, Paul, Royster, Russell, White, Shannon, Robinson)
PUP: Kareem Moore
Suspension: Phillip Buchanon
IR: Jarvis Jenkins

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Night Videos: David Bowie

It's a busy time at IIWII. Went to the 'Skins game last night, took some notes, pictures and cuurently in the process of sharing a few of them in a game recap. I also would like to get out another 53 man roster prediction  Saturday and do a breakdown on the Beck vs. Grossman competition. While I'm working on that, here's some Friday Night Videos.

I'm in the mood for some David Bowie, how about you?

And here's Bowie with Pink Floyd performing Comfortably Numb

Can you feel football coming? I sure can. I'm going to leave FNV with a classic I've played here before but it's always worth playing again.

Initial Thoughts: Tampa/Redskins Pre-Season Week 4

(It looks empty now but by game time the lower bowl of FedEx was packed)

Obviously, I'll start with the rumors that I heard from a "Redskins source" on the way home last night that was reported by Al Galdi on the Redskins' flagship (and Dan Snyder owned) station ESPN 980. First, was that the Skins were going to keep 7 WRs on the final 53 man roster and the 7th spot was up for grabs between Donte' Stallworth and Brandon Banks. Second, was that Evan Royster heading into the game was more likely to make the 53 and was ahead of Ryan Torain. Third, was that TE/FB Mike Sellers and DE Kedric Golston were seriously on the bubble to make the roster prior to last night. Knowing this after the game made me think back to those players performances and here's my thinking on the subjects.

- If Banks' knee doesn't swell up on Friday or Saturday, he wins the roster spot. If it swells up, he goes IR and Stallworth gets the spot. That would make Terrence Austin the primary KR/PR. The Skins aren't going to cut Banks. He's too exciting and explosive for the Skins to let go even if he just plays special teams. The crowd roared ever time he had a chance to returned and boo furiously when the punter kicked the ball out of bounds.

- Not that surprised about the Torain story. Torain is a great RB when healthy. Problem is that he's the "Glass Joe" of RBs. Not being mean here. Fans know this, the team knows this (why do you think they drafted 2 RBs and traded for Hightower?) and so does Torain. Wonder why you give your starter from last year 17 carries in the 4th and really meaningless final pre-season? To see if he can take the pounding now or cut/IR the player if he gets hurt and keep the younger player that played well in the pre-season.

- Sellers is a given, Darrel Young is the better blocking FB in this scheme (and much younger and cheaper). Golston isn't a true 3-4 DE in my opinion, he's a nice DT in a 4-3 but lacks the girth to be a great 3-4 DE. That said, with Jarvis Jenkins on IR, I was a bit surprised that Golston is on the bubble. Maybe the Skins are looking at the waiver wire for a DE cut from the Pats, Steelers or Packers. I really like Golston as a player. He works hard and was there helping Jenkins and Neild learn the system. It will be interesting to see what the Skins do when cut time approaches.

- John Beck Watch. Not his best game for sure. In fact he looked rather lousy at times. Had a few guys wide open and missed them. Didn't have much help from his starting O-line and most of his top skill position players sat out this one. I still love Beck's bootlegs and he really confuses the defense. This game would have to be considered a set back for him though. Not sure if he's "the guy" but I can see why Mike Shanahan has faith in his abilities.

- Defense. Could the Redskins D again be the biggest strength of this team? With mostly backups (sans Adam Carriker and Josh Wilson) and players that may be cut, the Skins D shut down the Bucs O. Yes, I know the Bucs didn't start any of their starters. That said, when our 2nd string guys are beating and holding Tampa's 2nd string guys.......that's a very good thing.

- O-line Concerns. The O-line again struggled. Maybe they didn't prepare. Maybe they didn't take this game seriously. Either way they looked bad. John Beck got hammered any time he even thought about going deep. Run blocking was up and down. Royster and Torain had to work hard to get yards.

- This will be a fun/surprising cut day on Saturday. Cuts to the 53 man roster must be made by Saturday at 6PM.