Amongthe more important matchups Sunday will be the Redskins pass rush vs. Falconsquarterback Matt Ryan.Ryanleads the NFL in passer rating (112.1), has tossed the second most touchdowns (11) and has three top-notch targets in Roddy White, Julio Jones and TonyGonzalez. The Redskins, meanwhile, have yielded the second most passing yards (1,305) and the most passing touchdowns (11).Those unsightly statistics are mostly result of big plays caused by blown coverage in the secondary and missed tackles downfield.The Redskins' pass rush, however, must shoulder some of the blame.TheRedskins linemen and linebackers a unit beset by season-ending injuries to starters BrianOrakpo and Adam Carriker has been solid against the run (10th) but has mustered a meager seven sacks (tied for 22nd).Lastweek in Tampa, Ryan Kerrigan recorded the Redskins' only sack in a 24-22 victory that saw Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman appear, at times, far too comfortable in the pocket, particularly in the second half. Freeman, in fact, was only hit one time while attempting a pass. And while the Buccaneers did employ max-protection and Freeman focused on getting the ball out of his hand quickly, defensive end Stephen Bowen said that's no an excuse.Peopleare starting to get the ball out quicker against us, Bowen said. Thats showing respect for us up front, but its frustrating. Allwe can do is affect what we canstopping the run and, when we get a one-on-onepass rush opportunity, we have to take advantage of it.Againstthe Falcons, there could be opportunities to get to Ryan. He's been sacked 11 times,which is tied for the ninth most in the league.Thisweek, Bowen said the Redskins linemen and linebackers worked on sharpening uptheir pass rush skills in practice.Sunday,obviously, would be a good time for some of that work to pay off.Thesecondary guys need to get tighter coverage to give us a little more time toget the quarterback, and we have to get there, beat the guy in front of us andmake a play, linebacker Rob Jackson said. If were not beating the guy infront of us, the quarterback can go anywhere with the ball. He has first,second and third read if were not getting any pressure on him.
The decision on the final 15-man roster for the Wizards represents yet another significant shift under coach Scott Brooks.
After the preseason finale Friday, he kept rookie free agents Daniel Ochefu, Sheldon McClellan and Danuel House as the team prepares for the Oct. 27 regular-season opener at the Atlanta Hawks.
Brooks has re-focused the Wizards on defense, revamped the offense and has cut down on practice time to keep his players fresh.
The latter is a major about-face of the Wizards’ philosophy under then-coach Randy Wittman, who ran longer and more frequent practices. The Wizards had the previous two days off before the 119-82 rout of the Toronto Raptors. They’re practicing Saturday and will be off Sunday.
"It's great," point guard John Wall, who had surgeries to clean up both knees on May 5, of having more recovery time. "Coach understands us as players, (we) come in with the mind-set of whatever we got to do, get it done. A lot more focused than we've (been) in the past. It's a new beginning for all of us."
By simply taking a look at the 15-man rosters to start the season in 2015-16 and 2016-17, the direction that Brooks is heading with personnel also is vastly different.
Last season, the Wizards began with seven players 30 and over (Nene, Jared Dudley, Kris Humphries, Marcin Gortat, Gary Neal, Alan Anderson and Drew Gooden). They had two who were 29 (Garrett Temple and Ramon Sessions). Only five players were 27 or younger.
Now, the roster has Gortat at 32, Jason Smith at 30 and Ian Mahinmi will be 30 next month. Marcus Thornton is 29. The other 11 on the roster are 27 or younger.
Wittman, who said on multiple occasions that he had input on makeup of his rosters, preferred more experienced players and had the freedom to use those pieces how he saw fit. Heavy practice time for an older roster might've backfired during a 41-41 season when there was an injury rash.
Brooks has gone with energy and potential upside. Even though this roster is younger, he was brought in by president Ernie Grunfeld, in part, to do a better job with development which is why sticking with Ochefu (22), McClellan (23) and House (23) follows the blueprint.
The defensive intensity of McClellan and House when they were on the floor together was noticeable. Ochefu earned more time when Mahinmi went down with a knee injury.
Brooks can’t play all 15 and someone has to be on the inactive list when the regular season begins, but House, McClellan and Ochefu will have opportunties that might not have been there previously.
The announcement that the Redskins are sending Josh Doctson to injured reserve wasn’t really a surprise to anyone, although perhaps the timing was. Jay Gruden has said earlier that he thought they would wait until after the bye to make a decision on whether or not to put Doctson on the shelf. But visits to a couple of specialists convinced them to make the move.
The team’s top draft pick ends the season with 31 snaps played and two receptions for 66 yards including a 57-yard reception against the Cowboys. Doctson wasn’t expected to contribute much this season but the plans were to let him get his feet wet, learn in practice, and be ready to take over a starting role next year.
Now, he can’t practice for eight games even if he overcomes his mysterious Achilles problems. He can go to meetings and be around the facility and there is some benefit in that.
Like any player put on injured reserve after the roster cut to 53, Doctson is eligible to return after eight games. The team has one move off of IR that it can use each season. The earliest that Doctson could return is Week 15, when the Redskins host the Panthers. There is a long way to go before that bridge needs to be crossed.
The other possibilities to be activated later are center Kory Lichtensteiger and safety David Bruton. But that is a decision that can be made later in the season. Who knows what the injury picture might look like when they do have to make a call.
To replace Doctson on the roster the Redskins signed rookie free agent wide receiver Maurice Harris to the roster. At 6-3 Harris immediately becomes the tallest receiver on the roster.
The move doesn’t have much of an effect on the wide receiver depth chart since Doctson has been inactive for four weeks. It remains to be seen when Harris will see the field on game days.