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).
Last practice before the Browns come to town, and while the Redskins are still locking down their O-line plans, another subplot has emerged on defense. Jay Gruden's crew will most likely hit the bubble for practice at noon, and here's what we're watching:
- No fluke - In Last Sunday's win over the Giants, it became obvious that the Redskins were rotating outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy and Preston Smith. That idea would have seemed crazy during the summer, but with Murphy's improved play, it's working. "I think the nice thing is we got three guys that are playing well. So, if we can get a nice rotation and keep them and set a plan, 60 or 70 plays, if we can all keep them around 40 plays, it’s going to benefit them obviously during the game, but also as we get going all through the season," defensive coordinator Joe Barry said of the three-man OLB group.
- More help at safety? - With D-Hall done for the year with a torn ACL the easy move for Washington is Will Blackmon starting in Hall's spot. That's obvious: Blackmon has played well in his time with the 'Skins and knows the defense well. Down the road, however, it will be interesting to see what happens with rookie Su'a Cravens. He's a player that could move alongside Blackmon and potentially replace or supplement David Bruton at the strong safety spot. Here's Barry on that possibility, "I think that is potentially something that could happen down the road with the more comfortable he gets but we got quite a bit on his plate right now and he’s handling it well."
- Crowder's emergence - Through three games this season it isn't DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon that leads the Redskins recievers in catches, it's slot man Jamison Crowder. He also leads all Redskins pass catchers in touchdowns with two. Last week in New York, Crowder had an impressive TD taken the distance off a wideout screen, not to mention a remarkable punt return that flipped field position. Gruden on Crowder, "He’s all about business. He’s got great football intelligence, great instincts for the position. He can play inside/outside. Shown he’s a great returner. Just tough as nails. You know, he’s got every quality you want as far as checking the box, as far as intangibles. He’s got them all."
For live updates from practice check out @JPFinlayCSN. Aslo newest episode of #RedskinsTalk podcast below.
Redskins linebacker Martrell Spaight went to Arkansas and loves his school. Redskins safety Deshazor Everett went to Texas A&M and loves his school. Their schools played each other, and the players bet on the outcome.
For the loser it meant wearing the gear of the other squad. For Spaight, it meant wearing a Texas A&M sweatshirt all week.
It's funny to notice different captions from the same picture. Spaight clearly didn't like wearing the Aggie gear. Everett thought it was fantastic.
For Spaight's sake, he might want to skip the bet next season. A&M won this year's game 45-24 and has won five straight over Arkansas.