On Wednesday night, the Redskins-Bengals game was one of the matchups featured on NBC Sports Networks fine show Turning Point. The segment on the Redskins ran about 10 minutes and it was interesting even though there not much new that was uncovered.However, there was one comment that was pulled from one of the audio of one of the broadcast feeds that caught my ear. I cant quite identify who said itit may have been Solomon Wilcots, a former Bengal who was doing the color commentary for CBS or perhaps a member of the Cincinnati radio broadcast team, or maybe someone elsebut the words are very blunt.I like what Cincinnatis doing. You show no guts and dont go for it on fourth and one, you deserve it.Harsh, but you really cant argue with it. In each of the last two games, the Redskins have faced crucial fourth-down situations in the fourth quarter. Each time, Mike Shanahan has elected to kick. In St. Louis, it was a virtually impossible 62-yard field goal and against the Bengals it was a punt that ended up netting 24 yards. The Redskins lost both games due in no small part to the failure of the fourth-down calls.It is always easy to criticize a decision with hindsight when it doesnt work out. But going for it on fourth and one against the Bengals should have been an easy call. They were running the ball well. The Cincinnati defense had no idea what was coming at them next. They gave up a boatload of high draft picks to get their playmaking quarterback. The Redskins defense had made a couple of stops but looking at the game through the first three quarters the faith Shanahan placed in them was not warranted.The odd thing is that the Redskins had gone for it on fourth and one twice against the Saints in the opener and got a first down both times. In all, the Redskins are six for eight on fourth and one since Shanahan arrived in 2010.And it also should have been easy to decide to go for it on fourth and 16 against the Rams. Even though the odds of converting for a first down were slim, they were much better than the chances of Billy Cundiff (career long field goal of 56 yards in 2005) hitting a 62-yard field goal.In both cases, Shanahan went with his gut feeling and its hard to argue with the instincts of a coach with his track record. But given that they have been successful when being aggressive and that the whole discretion being the better part of valor thing hasnt worked out too well, he should perhaps take the path of being bold the next time a key fourth-down situation comes up.
Even when things are going well in Dallas it seems like controversy is never too far away. The latest stems from wide receiver Dez Bryant injuring his right knee during last Sunday's victory over the Bears.
News of the severity of the injury did not emerge until Wednesday, when Cowboys coach Jason Garrett revealed Bryant suffered a hairline fracture where his tibia bone hits the knee.
Why the wait? Reports from Dallas show that Bryant missed his scheduled MRI on Tuesday and the tests could not be held until Wednesday. Bryant also missed team meetings on Tuesday.
Due to missing the meetings and MRI Tuesday, Bryant has been fined an undisclosed amount, per the reports.
The injury comes at a tough time for the Cowboys as the offense has moved the ball well with rookie QB Dak Prescott.
Dallas has won two games in a row after a narrow loss to the Giants to open the year. In three games, Bryant has 150 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Against Washington in Week 2, Bryant went for more than 100 yards receiving. Late in that game, the Redskins began to shadow Bryant with Josh Norman.
After making a late call to put Josh Doctson on the inactive list last week against the Giants, the Redskins are preparing to play without the rookie receiver on Sunday unless his Achilles injury dramatically improves. The team is practicing with Rashad Ross as the fifth wideout for Cleveland, a source told CSN.
"It was actually last minute. It was 11:30 a.m.," Gruden said of taking Doctson off the active list in New York and replacing him with Ross.
"He just didn’t feel comfortable, couldn’t push off the way he wanted to so we had to make that last minute switch."
Gruden explained the team has lingering concerns about Doctson's availability as he continues to battle an Achilles injury. The rookie did not practice Wednesday, and the coach said he will not practice again Thursday, though he added the injury could stretch much longer.
"It could be a possibility or a time that we put him down for a couple more weeks or a couple more days like we’re taking him off today, probably set him down tomorrow, see if that helps him a little bit," Gruden said. "This is new to everybody I think and the key is to get him healthy like you say. We are not trying to rush him."
Doctson has been active for two of the Redskins three games, and has two catches for 66 yards. He did show some of his ability on a long completion from Kirk Cousins against Dallas, though largely, Doctson and the Redskins have been frustrated by the injury.
"I am concerned. We’ve had all of the tests and there is really nothing there that we should be concerned about from a long-term problem, it’s just he is dealing with some pain," Gruden said. "We don’t know why it is but we have to try and figure out what it is and get it fixed."
For Washington, Ross likely will return kicks against Cleveland if Doctson is down. Active for the first time in New York, Ross had not practiced in that role throughout the week, and Chris Thompson and Will Blackmon shared the kick returning duties. With the Redskins preparing to play Ross, it means he can get the work returning kicks this week in advance of the Browns game. It also helps alleviate some of the workload from Blackmon, who will now be starting at free safety after DeAngelo Hall tore his ACL in New York.