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Grading the Redskins at the bye: Offense

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Grading the Redskins at the bye: Offense

How have the Redskins done this year going into the bye? Over the next three days Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir grade the team’s performance unit by unit. Today, we look at the offense.

Tandler’s grade: B+

For the first time since 2005, the Redskins have an offense that can consistently put points on the board. The main reason is, of course, the play of Robert Griffin III, who has given Redskins fans something to cheer for at the position for the first time in  years. He has been operating without his top receiver, Pierre Garçon, for most of the season and yet he continues to produce and give the Redskins a chance to win week after week.

RG3 isn’t the only bright spot on offense. Alfred Morris is among the league’s leading rushers and runs with a style that is fun to watch. Trent Williams is having a Pro
Bowl type season at left tackle and Will Montgomery is putting in a solid season at center.

And you have to give Mike and Kyle Shanahan some credit here. After many said they wouldn’t (looking at you, McNabb!), they have tailored their offense to suit Griffin’s unique skill set. The result is a scheme that has confounded opponents and it has been interesting to watch it unfold.

El-Bashir’s grade: B-

Two weeks ago, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense would have earned an ‘A.’ Because, let’s be honest here, no one anticipated this unit leaping from 18 points per game in 2011 to an average of 29.7 points per outing through this season’s first six games – even with Griffin under center.

But the offense hasn’t been so effective the past two weeks as the team produced 12 and 13 points, respectively. Some of the drop off can be blamed on poor execution (coaches aren’t to blame for the 10 dropped passes in Pittsburgh or, to a certain extent, the rash of drive-halting penalties against the Panthers). A bit of the problem seems to be injuries to key playmakers (top receivers Pierre Garçon and Fred Davis missed both games). But there’s also the sneaking suspicion that opposing defensive coordinators have caught up to Mike and Kyle Shanahan’s innovative offense.

In the long term, the unit is in good shape with Griffin, Alfred Morris, Garçon (assuming he gets healthy) and other emerging players. The short term, however, remains a concern on the back half of the season and the Shanahans can’t figure out how to resuscitate a once prolific attack. 

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Redskins use fantastic second quarter to beat Bills, 21-16

Redskins use fantastic second quarter to beat Bills, 21-16

The Redskins’ starting offense, playing as a unit for the first rime this preseason, got off to a slow start but Kirk Cousins and company got rolling in the second quarter and posted 21 points. It was enough for the Redskins to outlast the Bills and leave FedEx Field with a 21-16 win in preseason game No. 3.

Buffalo had a chance to take the lead late but an apparent touchdown pass was negated by a pass interference call and Kendall Fuller interception a final, desperation pass.   

In the first quarter, Cousins completed three of nine passes for 17 yards with an interception. That added up to a passer rating of 2.8. To be fair, Cousins was victimized by a number of drops by his receivers.

But he got rolling in the second quarter, throwing touchdown passes to Jordan Reed, Ryan Grant, and Pierre Garçon. By the time the half was over he was 12 for 23 for 188 yards and had a passer rating of 101.3.

Rookie running back Robert Kelley may have locked up a roster spot with a strong performance. He had some tough yards, blocked well, and gained 51 yards on 12 carries in just over a half of work.

The starting defense was solid throughout although Bills starting QB Tyrod Taylor played just two series and completed five passes.

One goal in the preseason is to get out without injury concerns and the Redskins didn’t fare well in that department, although no injuries appear to be serious. The worst appears to be rookie running back Keith Marshall’s sprained elbow. He was supposed to compete with Kelley for carries but he went out after just one carry.

RELATED: RECAP OF KIRK COUSINS' NIGHT

Injury Updates:

Ryan Kerrigan left the game with a groin injury in the first quarter. He did not return.

RB Keith Marshall left the game in the first quarter to get X-rays on his left elbow. Was ruled out with elbow sprain.

OT Morgan Moses left the game in the second quarter with an a left ankle injury. He did not return.

CB Quinton Dunbar left in the second quarter to get his left shin X-rayed. He did not return.  

C Spencer Long left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return.

Scoring drives:

First quarter

FG Carpenter 28

Drive: 6 plays, 21 yards, 2:50

Drive summary: The Bills got a short field after Kirk Cousins looked left and then threw to the right. Corey White made the interception from his back after the ball was tipped. A Tyrod Taylor pass to tight end Jim Dray got a first down at the 25 but they couldn’t keep the drive going and Dan Carpenter came in a booted the field goal.

Bills 3, Redskins 0        

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Second quarter

FG Carpenter 52

Drive: 8 plays, 50 yards, 3:56

Drive summary: The Bills got a scoring drive going with E.J. Manuel at quarterback. He got things going on the first play with a 21-yard completion to Chris Gragg. An roughness penalty on DeAngelo Hall turned a third and long into a first and 10 in Redskins territory. Dan Herron ran around right end for 12 yards, getting the Bills into position for the Carpenter field goal.

Bills 6, Redskins 0        

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Grant 38 yard pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 4 plays, 70 yards, 2:39

Drive summary: The Redskins put together a quick drive to take the lead. First Cousins threw a short pass to DeSean Jackson, who zigged and zagged his way down the field for 39 yards to the Buffalo 34. A couple of plays later Cousins threw to Ryan Grant a benefitted from some more YAC as the receiver spun away from a would-be tackler and dashed to the end zone.

Redskins 7, Bills 6        

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Reed 20 yard pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 9 plays, 69 yards, 4:21

Drive summary: The Redskins got some help in the form of Buffalo penalties in the course of this scoring drive. A defensive holding call negated an interception and a third-down sack turned into a first down when the Bills were called for roughing the passer. The Redskins earned some yards when Cousins threw to Pierre Garçon, who dodged a tackler and scampered 15 yards for a first down. A few plays later Cousins threw to Reed, who had gotten past the defense and easily made it across the goal line.

Redskins 14, Bills 6      

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Garçon 9 yard pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 5 plays, 40 yards, 0:48

Drive summary: The Bills were trying to get a two-minute drill going but after a completion Will Blackmon stripped TE Nick O’Leary and Greg Toler made the recovery at the Buffalo 40. They got close on a 22-yard connection between Cousins and Vernon Davis. Then on third and goal at the nine Cousins threw a nice fade to Garçon, who got both feet in in the left corner of the end zone.

Redskins 21, Bills 6      

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FG Carpenter 52

Drive: 5 plays 41 yards, 0:29

Drive Summary: The Bills got that two-minute drive on their second try. Manuel scrambled for 18 yards and then Manuel threw to Boom Herron for 18 to the Washington 34. Then Carpenter booted the long field goal to let the Bills steal some points with two seconds left in the half.

Redskins 21, Bills 9

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Third quarter

Williams 37 yard run (Carpenter kick)

Drive: 3 plays, 46 yards, 1:19

Drive summary: This was a quick one for the Bills thanks to a 36-yard punt return by Walter Powell. Three plays later Jonathan Williams went up the middle on third and one, broke some tackles, and dashed in for the score.

Redskins 21, Bills 16   

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Fourth quarter

No scoring

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Kirk Cousins recovers from sloppy first quarter, throws three TD's against Bills

Kirk Cousins recovers from sloppy first quarter, throws three TD's against Bills

FEDEX FIELD - Kirk Cousins' night is likely over and the Redskins quarterback experienced a tale of two quarters. He struggled early, but recovered well, going 12 of 23 for 188 yards and three touchdowns to go with one interception. 

One week after a surprise healthy scratch against the Jets, Cousins looked rusty early in the game against Buffalo. The Redskins first drive ended when Cousins threw a ball late to the outside and the result was an interception. In fact, in the first quarter, Cousins completed just three of nine passes for 17 yards to go with the pick.

In the second quarter, Cousins and the 'Skins offense started clicking. The Redskins QB connected on a deep ball to DeSean Jackson, who made a few nifty moves to add yards after the catch. A few plays later, Cousins found Ryan Grant and the receiver also made a nice move, veering in towards the goal post from the sideline, en route to the end zone.

On their next possession, Cousins and the Redskins offense did not look great, but the Bills defense handed the Skins opportunity after opportunity with repeated penalties. Eventually, Cousins made them pay, hooking up on a 20-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Reed.

After a late fumble recovery by Greg Toler, Cousins got one more possession with less than two minutes in the second quarter. Despite a few more penalties marring the pace of the game, Cousins found Pierre Garçon in the corner of the end zone for a TD with 31 seconds left in the half. 

Not a bad night for Kirk - three TDs in one quarter, thrown to three different receivers. At the half, the Redskins lead the Bills 21-6.

RELATED: MORGAN MOSES EXITS BILLS MATCHUP BECAUSE OF INJURY

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Morgan Moses is third key Redskin to exit game vs. Bills due to injury

Morgan Moses is third key Redskin to exit game vs. Bills due to injury

FEDEX FIELD — The hits keep coming for the Redskins in their third preseason game. After losing linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and running back Keith Marshall earlier in the contest, the team's PR announced right tackle Morgan Moses will miss the remainder of the game with a left ankle injury.

Moses seemed to be struggling while he was in the game, getting beat off the line of scrimmage by former Redskins and current Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander.

When Moses left the game, Ty Nsekhe replaced him at right tackle. The last two weeks Nsekhe played left tackle with Trent Williams on the shelf. 

Moses, a third-year tackle out of Virginia, started all 16 games last season as the right bookend. 

RELATED: KEITH MARSHALL ALSO LEAVES BILLS GAME WITH INJURY