Hail Redskins Nation, sorry for the delay in posting after that disappointing loss to the one win Minnesota Vikings. Normally I have a 24 hour rule about posting after a loss but after that debacle I needed 72 hours to get my thoughts and observations together. As you noticed this will be a observations of the game.Also has some of my opinions about this team. Please feel free to comment about your observations and if you agree or disagree with my thoughts. As for the grades I'm giving the whole team top to bottom an incomplete. That includes the players, coaches, the second half gameplan. The inconsistency of this team is baffling me week to week. One of the pleasant things that came out of the game was the first half of Robert Griffin III but unfortunately it's two halfs in football. In the first half the offense looked unstoppable scoring on 5 of 5 possessions but in the second half it looked like the offense couldn't get out of it's own way. It wasn't just RGIII that looked totally different in the second half, it was the whole team. The coaching staff was in the same boat,once Minnesota made adjustments after halftime the game went in a whole different direction. The most disappointing part of it all is that the week before Kyle Shanahan, in my opinion called his best game of the season. By mixing up the playcalls, sticking with the run and adding some new wrinkles to the offense I felt that this team was on its way to getting on track to repeat as Division Champs. One of the wrinkles the team added was the triple option last week which opened up holes for the team to gash the Chargers but didn't see it once this week. Why is that Kyle?
My first observations of course are going to focus on RGIII and the offense. When this season started I was very optimistic that this team would pick up right where it left off in 2012. I failed to take into account the importance of of the offseason for a rookie QB going into his second year in the NFL. The most important fact of the missed offseason is the signal callers ability to learn how to read defenses. If u recall in 2012 this offense was dynamic, could score from anywhere and when the time came for some on the field magic....they produced almost flawlessly. One of the biggest contributors was Santana Moss, who was seemingly in the right place at the right time whenever RGIII called his number and would make the big catch but that is NOT the case this year. Either the two miss each other, Moss doesn't make the tough catch, or a dumb penalty negates the play when they do make it. I say that to say this, I believe with Griffin missing the offseason and only getting reps with other injured players has slowed his progression as a NFL quarterback. We all see the chemistry that has been formed with Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed (both players that were injured during offseason) during the season making Garcon look like the #1 WR I knew he could be and Reed looking like a true draft steal.. The rest of the WR's and TE's either haven't gotten open, have dropped catch-able passes, and sometimes have been missed by the 2nd yr QB when they've been wide open. At this point in the season its time for this open to get clicking and stay clicking but in order to do that you must have time that is provided by the offensive line.
The offensive line, which was one of the best run blocking units and so so pass blocking team I feel has taken a step back. With the whole offseason, defenses have been learning to counter the Redskins unique offense of zone read, zone blocking with the occasional bootleg action. The way they're doing this is by going man coverage and blitzing the A gap (between the center and guard) to keep pressure in the QB's face and make him rush his reads and throws. Kory L, Chris Chester and Will Montgomery are all under contract until 2015 but the way they're playing it looks like they don't wanna be here past 2013.Kory and Chris gets manhandled most of the time, and with Montgomery you have bad snaps, bad blocks when getting to the second level and sometimes just bone headed plays. I'm not saying replace the whole interior of the line but you have Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis inactive every week without giving the youngsters a shot to see if they could outperform the vets and improve the inconsistency. I still can't understand how they can be so good at run blocking and sometimes so porous against the pass. Now Kyle's playcalling has something to do with it but I will address that a little later. With the team getting a little over 20 million in cap space next year, I feel the needs and wants will be addressed via free agency and offensive line is a priority.
Now to talk about the so called skill positions of WR's and TE's. I've already mentioned the good with Reed and Garcon and some of the bad with Moss but the others aren't producing either. Hankerson disappears sometimes for whole games and Robinson shows flashes but just can't get over the hump of consistency. As I stated earlier in the article teams are going man coverage and blitzing up the midddle to help slow down and stop the Redskins sometimes potent offense. When this happens the WR's have the advantage, as long as the line gives him the time to throw(which isn't always the case) but when they do have the time they aren't winning the 1 on 1 battles. With a young QB learning to the NFL game by trial and error he needs his WRs to step up and make plays when the plays present itself. If the players on the roster can't make the plays maybe it's time to promote one of the practice squad players and see what happens. Nothing like competition.
When talking about the defense I am not as critical, just for the fact that the unit is still in flux with injuries, suspensions, and lack of playmakers. Don't get me wrong the D doesn't get a free pass at all after this game. Most fans and critics are calling for the firing of Jim Haslett (which I don't agree with) but coaches coach and players play. I'm still wondering how they made Christian Ponder look like a Pro Bowl QB. With the defense having no true FS, an aging leader (London Fletcher) and the declining play of Josh Wilson in my opinion the defense is doing a decent job making teams work to score. The D may give up yards but haven't been giving up as many points as it had at the beginning of the season. The defense has faced plenty of top tier QBs and offenses, with that being said the rankings of the defense isn't a true barometer for the unit. There needs to be more consistency with getting to the QB, they have improved on the pass rush but have to complete the mission and sack the QB. Those are momentum plays and help change or keep up the momentum of the game.
The front seven has improved with the return of Brian Orakpo and the emergence of Ryan Kerrigan, they have improved the pass rush that was seriously lacking last year. The rushing stats has suffered this season, but I attribute that to the team playing from behind and the other team running the ball to try and run the clock out. Not to mention the absence of Adam Carriker and the step back that Stephen Bowen took this season (in part due to injured PCL ) has also added to the raised rushing stats. The assumption that this would be the strongest unit on the team at the start of the season had to wait until midseason, but they're coming into their own now but has to get more sacks not just pressures. The only issue In have with the aging London Fletcher is his ability to go out and cover TE's and RB's but with Nick Barnett getting some reps in relief of Perry Riley Jr. I see better coverage but still needs to improve. From what I've seen Nick Barnett maybe the replacement for Fletcher since Keenan Robinson can't seem to stay healthy.
To me the secondary has been the most improved unit and for the last 4 weeks has been the most consistent. I've mentioned the declining play of Josh Wilson but I also have to mention the improved play of the rookie David Amerson. He's had a typical rookie season with its ups and downs but there certainly has been more ups then downs. With DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, and E.J Biggers all being unrestricted free agents next season I believe Amerson's play has made one of them expendable. To me it seems like Wilson will be the odd man out and with Chase Minnefield on practice squad chomping at the bit to get some playing time I don't see Wilson being here next year. DeAngelo Hall is having one the best season of his career, not stats wise but play on the field wise. The safeties haven't been a issue since Hasllet has started Brandon Meriweather at FS and Reed Doughty at the SS. Both have been steady since they've been playing beside each other. Meriweather has received a suspension for helmet to helmet contact but other then that he's been lights out....no pun intended. It will be interesting to see how things fall out during the offseason, I'm sure a FS will be a priority since there isn't a true experienced FS on the team. Bacarri Rambo has had his ups and downs but as the teams only true FS it's apparent that he's not fully NFL ready.
My biggest disappointments of the game was the playcalling, coaching and lack of adjustments once the Vikings made their adjustments in the second half. Going into the third quarter the Redskins had a 10 point lead, great first half execution and the chance to kill Minnesota's will with a touchdown drive. Once the Vikings stopped running zone coverages and started playing man coverage the game changed dramatically. The receivers couldn't get open and they blanketed Garcon with safety help over the top. They also started blitzing straight up the middle and getting pressure right in the face of the QB. Now what Kyle failed to do was adjust his playcalling since they were doing these things to stop what was working in the first half. In my experience when a team starts blitzing and playing man coverage the way you counter that is to throw running back screens, run draws and delays draws to use the defenses aggressiveness against them. This did not happen and the results were 3 and outs for the whole second half which allowed the Vikings to get back in the game. Kyle has to stay focused on what's working and what's not and when the defense finds ways to stop What's working you must have a back up plan to counter the adjustments. Also seems to me he gets impatient and sometimes tries to force plays that goes totally against what was working and throws off the rhythm of the offense. The 3rd down conversion rate had gone up drastically over the last three games (was converting 55% of 3rd down) but due to Kyle's lack of adjustments the second half was filled with 3 and outs.
I'm so tired of talking about special teams that all I'm going to say is atleast the team didn't give up another TD by punt or kick return. Upcoming game with the Philadelphia Eagles on the 17th is a huge game for this team, only because the weak state of the division. If the Redskins can follow there trend of playing a good game then bad game, we should be in for a great game. With enough tape on the Eagles now the Redskins should have a better idea to stop them so it wont be a repeat of the Week 1 blowout loss. Nick Foles is looking lights out, with a 15:0 touchdown to interception ratio the defense can't afford to take this young QB lightly. After Christian Ponder looked great last week against this defense with limited weapons, if they underestimate Foles with the Eagles weapons it will be a long day .As always #HTTR. You can follow me for all your Redskins and football news on Twitter @TattooedScorpio and can follow the editor for this blog, writer for @SonofWashington and good friend @IIWIISOWSkins and don't forget to subscribe to the blog for a email whenever a new article is posted. #BeatDaEagles