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Grading the Redskins: Good start, rocky finish for defense

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Grading the Redskins: Good start, rocky finish for defense

DefenseGrade vs. Falcons:CComment:Its tough to assign a passing grade when the end result was surrendering 24 points and suffering an eighth straight loss at FedEx Field. But we will this week and here are three reasons why:-- The Redskins front did a good job stuffing the Falcons ground game. The unit, led by Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, limited running back Michael Turner to 67 yards on 18 carries (3.7 yard average). Atlantas longest run, in fact, was for 13 yards. In all, Atlantas pass-first offense amassed only 83 yards on the ground after back-to-back weeks of rushing for 121 and 119 yards.-- The unit continued to capitalize on the scoreboard, as well. Kerrigan doesnt possess the vertical leap of a NBA player, but the linebacker used timing and anticipation to jump and pick off a Matt Ryan screen pass in the second quarter. Once Kerrigan had the ball secured, he raced 28 yards for the games first touchdown and the defenses third touchdown of the season. The last time the unit scored three times in a season was 1999, when it scored four.-- Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes 345 yards and two touchdowns and tight end Tony Gonzalez hauled in 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. But the Redskins battered secondary did not yield a long, backbreaking pass play (they gave had given up nine passes of 30 or more yards in the previous four games). Ryans longest completion was for 29 yards and only two others went for more than 20. Additionally, the go-ahead touchdown reception by Julio Jones in the fourth quarter required a near perfect throw and catch over Josh Wilson.Overall, the Redskins' defense held an undefeated Atlanta team a touchdown below their season average. But its no reason to celebrate. Much work remains for Jim Hasletts beleaguered unit, which still ranks dead last against the pass in yards (328.6 per game) and touchdowns (13) and struggled to get the Falcons off the field (Atlanta converted 9 of 17 third downs).

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Kouandjio likely to start at left guard for Redskins on Sunday

Kouandjio likely to start at left guard for Redskins on Sunday

The Redskins will be testing their depth on the offensive line over the next few weeks at least as both starting left guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and starting center Kory Lichtensteiger (calf) are dealing with injuries.

When both players went out early in the second half against the Giants the solution was to put Spencer Long in at center and, since the team only keeps one interior lineman active on game days, move Trent Williams from left tackle to left guard.

Long had put in plenty of practice time as the backup center but Williams had not lined up as guard during any kind of practice at any time. He managed to fake his way through the game and the Redskins scored enough points to win but that’s not something that the Redskins want to do except in a dire emergency. They want their Pro Bowl left tackle at the most important spot on the offensive line.

The next man up is Arie Kouandjio, a fourth-round pick in 2015 who has played a total of one snap. Although the Redskins likely will look to add some interior line help this week assuming that both Lauvao and Lichtensteiger are out, it looks likely that Kouandjio’s second NFL snap will be as the starting left guard this Sunday against the Browns.

The Alabama product has the mental toughness and nasty attitude that the coaching staff loves. But he has issues with his technique and his ability to block at the second level or pull effectively is very questionable. There was a competition for the starting left guard position this offseason but Kouandjio was never a serious contender for the job. Some were speculating that Kouandjio could be a surprise roster cut at the end of training camp but apparently the coaching staff thought that it was worthwhile to keep him around and continue his development.

It looks like the time for development is over and it’s time for Kouandjio to show what he has learned. We will see how it turns out.

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Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.

—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”

—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”

—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”

—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”

—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”

—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.

—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate clich√© is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”