Here is my review after looking at the recording of the Redskins-Bengals game. The first half is here, the second half will be posted at 4:00 p.m.First quarterOn the first snap of the game, all 11 defensive players were within seven yards of the line of scrimmage. From the snap of the ball that was a touchdown, assuming that Sanu could throw a decent pass. He could.It was pitch right to Alfred Morris on the first play of the game, pitch left on the second. Ten yards on each play. Among others, Leonard Hankerson did a good job blocking on the first run, Josh Morgan did the same on the second one.Its hard to see how Trent Williams could have sustained a bone bruise on that second run. He stayed engaged with his man as Morris ran past him and then went to the ground. Many thought the injury could be somewhat serious as it looked like a classic scenario for ligament damage.There must have been some sort of a protection mixup on Rob Jacksons interception. Ryan Kerrigan just went through virtually untouched and hit Andy Dalton as he was throwing a little swing pass. Jackson saw the gift fluttering through the air and pounced on it, becoming just the fifth player in NFL history to get a zero-yard interception return for a touchdown.The Bengals had to overcome a second and 18 to start the drive that led to their second TD. They got most of it with a Dalton scramble. The score itself came on second and 20. Madieu Williams did hit Dalton on the blitz but he was a step and a half away when the QB released the ball. It didnt look like Josh Wilson, who had single coverage on receiver Armon Binns, misplayed the ball. He got caught flat-footed when Binns made his cut and he had no chance after Dalton threw the ball. Perhaps he could have taken a better angle and cut off the receiver after the throw but even that seems doubtful.After being sacked with 2:46 left, Griffin is in a pile that includes a few Bengals and tight end Logan Paulsen. The offensive linemen, all five of them, are standing and looking at the pile, all but Jordan Black at least five yards away. Although it was more of a coverage sackGriffin pumped, apparently looking to go deepthe optics here are not good.The next play was one of a few where Black looked truly awful. Carlos Dunlap made him look like a statue as he sped around him to RG3. Black wasnt perfect the rest of the way by any means but he did seem to realize that he had to do better.Second quarterTwice the Bengals caught the Redskins bunched up in the middle of the line on third and short and went to Andrew Hawkins on an end around. They easily got the first down both times.The Bengals fake field goala highly questionable call to begin withnever had a chance. Madieu Williams just stayed home and the holder turned runner ran right into him.On the fumbled pitch (which they still are calling a sack but its not as Griffin had no intent to pass) it looks like Griffin simply should have held on to the ball since Dunlap was on him so quickly. I am not sure why Morris didnt recover the ball. They had several replays, some of them from the right angle to see what happened but they stopped them before the recovery. The all-22 view comes out tomorrow, maybe we can see then.And, as the announcers pointed out, Griffin did grab Dunlaps facemask as the defender was on top of him in an apparent effort to keep him from going after the ball. Smart move or a dirty one? It didnt matter as Dunlap ultimately recovered the ball anyway.Niles Paul got off a nice block to spring Brandon Banks on that 55-yard return late in the first half. He didnt knock anyone to the ground but he got himself into position to get between the ballcarrier and the would-be tackler.
The Redskins got a boost Sunday when rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens returned to the field after missing two games with a concussion. Interestingly, however, Cravens did not provide the spark many expected as he played just 11 of 53 defensive snaps.
Certainly it's possible the 'Skins coaches decided to ease their rookie back in after suffering a head injury. But that logic seems flawed - Cravens was cleared by the NFL concussion protocol, and once a player is cleared, it's for full-game action.
Another thought might be that the Washington defense excelled while Cravens was out. He missed Redskins' wins in Baltimore and home against the Eagles, two games where Joe Barry's group shut down the opposing offenses. It's definitely possible coaches elected to stick with a combination of Will Compton and Mason Foster on the field at the inside linebacker positions.
Looking at snap counts from Compton and Foster, it appears that's what the coaches decided. Compton played every defensive snap, and Foster was on the field for 40 of the defenses 53 snaps.
What, if any, role change that means for Cravens will be interesting. Before his injury, Cravens' playing time was trending up, as he had 29 snaps against the Giants and 27 snaps against the Browns before being injured in the 3rd quarter. Cravens was on the field as the nickel and dime linebacker in most situations.
Sunday, that wasn't the case, as the team played a lot of nickel. Slot corner Kendall Fuller, another rookie, was on the field for 40 snaps.
Easing Cravens back in slowly was likely by design, and for a second-round pick with a mountain of promise, a prudent course for the Redskins coaches. That said, as CSN's Rich Tandler likes to point out, in the NFL, cleared is cleared.
Cravens has playmaking ability, he's displayed that already this young season. In fact, he nearly pulled down Lions QB Matt Stafford for a sack on Sunday despite what looked like an obvious hold.
Scot McCloughan drafted Cravens just for that - despite being a positional hyrbid, the rookie is a 'football player,' just like McCloughan wants. This Sunday against the Bengals, with two weeks of practice after the concussion, it will be interesting to see how many chances Cravens gets.
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JP Finlay catches up with Barstool Nate as he professes love for Kirk Cousins and preview the Redskins game in London. Bonus: JP debuts a terrible British accent.
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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates