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 take on the Browns Sunday at 1 p.m., but full coverage begins on CSN at noon. Can Washington climb back to an even record after a poor start? Weather at FedEx Field calls for overcast skies and the possibility of rain remains after a wet week in the DMV. Here is everything you need to know for the matchup:
- Time is now - For three weeks the Redskins have moved the ball well, until they get in the Red Zone. Looking at the numbers, there is little reason for the hiccups inside the 20. Kirk Cousins is the second leading passer in the NFL, and last season the Redskins offense proved they can be a scoring force. Eventually, the red zone levee will break, and odds are this will be the week. Cleveland's defense gave up 30 points to a middling Miami offense last week, and gave up 25 and 29 points in Weeks 1 and 2.
- Don't get confused - Much will be made of Terrelle Pryor's standout effort in a Week 3 loss to Miami. The Cleveland receiver and occasional QB had an impressive day, totalling 200 yards and a touchdown. But Pryor should not be the focus of the Redskins defense. That needs to be locked in on stopping Browns RB Isaiah Crowell, the NFL's second-leading rusher. Crowell is averaging more than 6 yards-per-carry, and Washington's defense has been gashed on the ground this year. The key to beating Cleveland comes in stopping the run.
- More, more, more - Running, that is. Matt Jones got 17 carries against the Giants and ran the Redskins to the game-winning field goal late in the game. Offensive coordinator Sean McVay on Jones late success in New York: "We got a few more opportunities and when they presented themselves in that crunch-time situation I thought he ran his best. A bigger, physical back – I thought that he got better as the game progressed and that’s what you want to see from him." More carries from Jones, especially late in the game, will mean good news for the 'Skins.
- 3-headed monster - Coming into the season, the Redskins plan on defense was to have Junior Galette, Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith attack quarterbacks off the edge of their defense. That plan came to a crashing halt when Galette blew out his Achilles. Surprisingly, Trent Murphy is succesfully stepping into Galette's role, leading the team with three sacks in three games. While Joe Barry's unit could use more from Smith, Murphy's results are encouraging, and this could be the week all three outside linebackers get going against a rookie QB in Cody Kessler.
- Stay special - In last week's win in New York, the Redskins special teams shined. Punt returner Jamison Crowder busted a long return and Tress Way completed a long pass to Quinton Dunbar on a well-timed but gutsy fake punt call. Oh yeah - Dustin Hopkins made all five of his field goal attempts and was named Special Teams Player of the Week and Month. It wasn't all smiles on specials, as the 'Skins had an early fumble on a return and a blocked punt called back late in the game. But if Washington's special teams can continue to deliver big plays, that could be a big boost for the team. And don't forget Rashad Ross will be back returning kicks this week.
Numbers & Notes
- The Redskins have forced 27 fumbles since the start of the 2015 season, most in the NFL. The Redskins also lead the league with 18 fumble recoveries in that span.
- Jamison Crowder already has two receiving TDs this year. His next will be a career high, after just two TDs as a rookie.
- Jordan Reed needs two catches to get to 200 career receptions.
- If Trent Murphy can force a fumble against Cleveland, he would become the first member of the Redskins to force a fumble in three consecutive games since LaVar Arrington in 2003.
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When LSU fired head coach Les Miles, a lot of big-time names were suggested for the job. But what about Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay?
Albert Breer of the MMQB listed McVay as a potential candidate, along with a host of other NFL names to go with obvious college options like Tom Herman or Lane Kiffin. From Breer on McVay:
His star has risen so quickly that the 30-year-old may be an NFL head coach before colleges even get the chance to call, but he’d make a lot of sense for a program looking for energy and buzz.
Watching McVay work it's obvious he has the passion and ability to connect with young players - as he currently runs the Redskins offense that includes some players older than him. But it's worth keeping in mind the Redskins coordinator was raised around the pro game, not the college one, and with his background and offensive acumen the guess here is that McVay will stay in the professional ranks.
Even while scoring is down for Washington through three games, the Redskins offense is moving the ball well. QB Kirk Cousins is second in the league in passing yards, and the team finished 2015 with the 10th highest scoring offense.
"I’m sure he’ll be a head coach a lot sooner than people think," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said of McVay in an early August MMQB article.
It's clear McVay will get a chance as a head coach, the only question is where. Apparently that list could now include Baton Rouge.
NOTE: Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also landed on Breer's list of LSU possibilities. From Breer, "Would Shanahan go? He’s 37 and he’s been an OC for nine years, so it’s possible he’d want to get his feet wet as a head coach. Remember, [Texans coach Bill] O’Brien went to Penn State after knocking on the door for NFL jobs, so it’s not hard to see another rising young guy doing it. Shanahan played at Texas and coached at UCLA, which means he’s not foreign to big college programs."