Shanahan talks RG3 injury, play calling in Denver
Six thoughts and observations on the Redskins 45-21 loss to the Broncos:
1. We might as well start with topic one here. Robert Griffin III did not have a good game. At all. There isn’t a whole lot to add to what I wrote about it last night, what Tarik posted on the topic this morning and what Pierre Garçon had to say about the state of the passing game. I’ll just say here that what I am finding most stunning about his play is his lack of accuracy. Perhaps Josh Morgan should have caught that pass deep down the middle when the score was tied at 21 but there’s no question that the 2012 version of RG3, the one who completed over 65 percent of his passes, zips that ball in to a spot that gives Morgan, who was wide open, no choice but to make the catch. In 2013, the Griffin who is completing 59 percent of his passes put it behind Morgan, making it a difficult catch.
2. Was the play calling an issue? From the time the Redskins took a 21-7 lead in the third quarter to the time that the Broncos took a 10-point lead early in the fourth, the Redskins ran just 10 plays; seven of them were pass plays, just three of them were runs. Considering the fact that the Redskins had 103 yards rushing when they had that 21-7 lead, it seems to be a no-brainer that they should have run the ball more. But I have to say that I don’t have a huge problem with the sequence that is drawing the most fire, the three straight passes with the score tied at 21. The series before that they had run the ball without getting much from it. In a series that lasted five plays Alfred Morris carried three times for six yards. Certainly the Broncos were keying on the run. The next series was three straight passes and two of them were dropped. I didn’t see Kyle Shanahan drop a single one of them.
3. Morris is on his way to another solid year but he seems to be a long shot to match his 1,613-yard performance from last year. He is on pace to gain just shy of 1,300 yards, not bad for an “off” year. Morris ran well against the Colts, almost never letting the first defender bring him down and frequently making something out of nothing. The play calling may or may not have taken him out of the game prematurely but 93 yards on 17 carries is a good performance.
4. The Broncos scored 45 points so it clearly was not a great day for the defense. But it wasn’t as bad as the point total made it look. The Broncos scored seven points on an interception return. They also gave up a total of 17 points on drives that started in Redskins territory at the 35, 24 and 25 yard lines. And they scored one touchdown on a DeAngelo Hall pick six and they set up a short field by forcing a Manning fumble that Brian Orakpo recovered at the Denver 19. In all they forced Manning into four turnovers. Yes, they could have turned some short fields into field goal attempts. But it was not an embarrassing performance, certainly not to the degree that the score suggested.
5. A lot of fans were glad when Hall was released in a salary cap move in the spring and disappointed when he was brought back a few weeks later at a much lower salary. But he has proven to be a key member of the defense. Set aside the fact that he very much held his own against Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, and Calvin Johnson. He has scored three touchdowns on two interceptions and a fumble return. The Redskins are struggling at 2-5 as it is, things could be worse if Hall had decided to take a job elsewhere last spring.
6. There was a huge special teams issue but it wasn’t a unit breakdown, it was one player not hitting the ball right. Perhaps the pass-pass-pass three and out wouldn’t have been a big an issue if Rocca had nailed the ensuing punt as he had all day. But, according to Rocca, he tried to get the ball out of bounds but, in an understatement, he said that his 15-yard effort “was a little bit too much” out of bounds. Starting at the Redskins’ 35, the Broncos scored on the next play to take the lead for good. Prior to that, Rocca had booted four punts inside the 20 and thanks to that and kicker Kai Forbath, the dangerous Trindon Holliday was held to a total of 40 return yards. On top of that, Josh Morgan had a 34-yard punt return, by far the longest of the year for the Redskins Still, special teams are just expected to get the job done and make no mistakes. They couldn’t quite get that done.