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Grading the Redskins: Offense drops the ball, literally


Grading the Redskins: Offense drops the ball, literally


Grade vs. Steelers: C-

Comment: One of the league’s most productive and electric offenses turned out to be neither Sunday.

Quarterback Robert Griffin III had his worst passing performance as a pro, completing only 47.1 percent of his 34 pass attempts. He arrived in Pittsburgh leading the league with a 70.4-percent completion rate.

Much of Griffin’s troubles, though, were the result of 10 dropped passes by his receivers, not off-target passes. On one drive in the second quarter, in fact, Griffin tossed catchable passes to Evan Royster, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss on consecutive plays. All three ended up on the turf. With the Steelers leading 20-6, that was the time for the Redskins to answer.

“Everybody can count on having a bad day,” Shanahan said Monday, asked if there was a common theme to the drops. “But not everybody together. That was unusual. If you want to beat a team like Pittsburgh in their backyard, you can’t make those mistakes.”

In all, the Redskins amassed a season-low 169 passing yards. 

They couldn't get much going on the ground, either.

Griffin was credited with only eight yards on six rushing attempts, while Alfred Morris was limited to 59 yards on a season-low 13 carries. As a team, the Redskins entered the game leading the NFL with 177.7 yards per game on the ground but mustered a season-low 86 against Larry Foote and the Steelers.

It was an all around ugly performance by the Redskins’ only consistently reliable unit. When that happens, they’ve got virtually no chance of winning. 

“When you have a day like [Sunday] where almost nothing worked for you,” Griffin said, “it’s very frustrating.”

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Bigger workloads for Redskins' Thompson, Kelley easier said than done

Bigger workloads for Redskins' Thompson, Kelley easier said than done

There is plenty of talk about the possibility of Redskins running backs Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson getting more carries as Matt Jones sorts out his ball handling issues. But there may be some real obstacles to giving either alternative to Jones a lot more game action than they have been getting.

Thompson is the third-down back. During training camp, when there could have been competition for the starting job, Thompson seemed to be reluctant to throw his hat in the ring.

“You know every guy always dreams of being the starter but for me, since I’ve been here, I’ve understood what my role is,” he said in August. “Even though I’m labeled as a third-down back my role still can continue to expand. I could possibly be that No. 2 to Matt if he gets tired I can be the one that’s spelling him here and there.”

That’s not a guy telling the coaches “give me the damn ball”. He is a tough guy but the laws of physics say that a player who is 5-8, 195 won’t last forever getting 25 touches a game, week in and week out.

Not that Jay Gruden is particularly anxious to have him handle the ball more than he did against the Lions (12 carries, 7 receptions).

“I think that’s a great number for him,” said Gruden. “We don’t want to overdo it with him—he’s still not a very big guy.”

As for Kelley, Gruden said, “Rob is doing a nice job with the limited time that he gets. Maybe it’s just expand Rob’s role a little bit.”

Kelley has done a pretty good job running the ball, although his average of 6.1 yards per carry is inflated by his 45-yard run against the Eagles. Outside of that run he has averaged a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry.

But it’s not really that; it seems that he will be productive if he gets the carries. The problem with Kelley may be that a running back is expected to do more than just run the ball and the rookie may not be ready to take on the expanded duties that being a running back who takes forty snaps in a game has to handle.

Per Pro Football Focus Kelley has 31 snaps, 17 rushing attempts and he has gone out on passes seven times. He has been asked to pass block just three times. Blitz pickups are a critical part of the position and it seems that the coaches don’t yet trust Kelley to execute those.

The running back situation is a complex puzzle and the pieces are moving. What seems almost certain is that all three back, including Jones, will get a crack at the Bengals’ rushing defense, which is ranked 24th in the league in terms of yards allowed and 25th in yards per attempt.

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Stephen A. Smith mocks Redskins again after loss to Lions

Stephen A. Smith mocks Redskins again after loss to Lions

By Jason Dobkin (@jasondobkin)

Stephen A. Smith mocked the Redskins on ESPN First Take on Monday after their loss to the Lions Sunday, continuing the back-and-forth between the team and the television personality.

He told the Redskins "bravo again" for losing the close game that apparently was enough to prove the point he made last week on the show that the Redskins had a loser's mentality and were "inept" and "nonexistent." Smith loudly took issue with Chris Baker's and Ricky-Jean Francois' declaration that the Redskins "run the East," saying they need to be focusing on the big picture.

Baker tweeted at him the next day, demanding respect, and Smith stuck to his guns the next day on First Take. 

On Monday, Smith mocked Jay Gruden for defending his team at a press conference, where he said Smith was "out of line" for his comments and that he didn't know anything about who the Redskins were or the work they put in.

"And of course there’s the great Jay Gruden, because we know he’s great just by his name alone," Smith said. "Let’s be clear about that. We know that he’s great, [because he] takes time out of his busy schedule to comment about me."

"Who gives a damn about hard work?" he went on to say. "It's about results."

Baker held back from engaging with Smith on Twitter this time.

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