DefenseGrade vs. Buccaneers: CComment: After Sundays too-close-for-comfort 24-22 victory in Tampa, a number of defensive players said they saw progress. After all, the team yielded 32, 31 and 38 points, respectively, in the first games of the season. Those same players, though, acknowledged that the unit's second half letdown at Raymond James Stadium left much to be desired.Indeed, the Madieu Williams-led defense limited the Buccaneers to a meager 132 yards in the first half, six first downs and a total of six points. Ryan Kerrigan and the rest of the Redskins front seven applied consistent pressure to Josh Freeman and, as a result, the quarterback never looked comfortable as he completed only 13 of 22 pass attempts for 88 yards. Freeman was also sacked once and picked off by DeAngelo Hall.The second half, however, was another story as the Redskins secondary struggled once again, proving particularly susceptible to the big play. Part of the problem, linebacker Rob Jackson said, was that Freeman was not subjected the same level of pressure he faced in the first two quarters.The rest of problem, however, was a familiar one: poor execution on the backend.The game, in fact, turned on a pair of long completions.On the first a 65-yard catch and run by Mike Williams in the third quarter the Buccaneers receiver raced past Josh Wilson down the sideline, then juked Wilson and Madieu Williams to gain another 30 yards after the catch. On the second a 54-yard yard reception by Vincent Jackson in the fourth quarter Jackson used his seven-inch height advantage to make an outstanding diving catch over Hall in the middle of the field.Both receptions set up pivotal scores for the Buccaneers as they overcame a 15-point deficit second half deficit. In all, the Redskins yielded 293 passing yards after permitting 326, 301 and 385, respectively, in Weeks 1-3. The unit allowed more than 293 yards passing only twice in 2011 and now ranks 31stwith an average of 326 passing yards against per game.You take a look at everything, Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. Why do they make those plays? Thats what we do when we look at film. We talk about the things that we did to give up those big plays. Is it scheme? Is it personnel? Doesnt matter what it is. You have to take a look at what players do best and you have to adjust your scheme to fit your personnel.Potentially complicating matters will be overcoming the loss of safety of veteran Brandon Meriweather, who will miss a fifth game of the season after reinjuring his left knee in a pregame collision with teammate Aldrick Robinson.
Is it crazy to give a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season the same MVP odds as a guy who went 0-3 in three starts and tossed just four scores in 2015?
According to the sportsbook Bovada.lv, no, it's not crazy at all. So that's why, when looking at their opening odds for the 2016/17 NFL MVP, you'll find Kirk Cousins right next to Mark Sanchez, with both signal callers listed at a long 150/1.
Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, David Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Le'Veon Bell and Sam Bradford also check in at 150/1. Some of those names, like Jeffrey and Bell, should makes Redskins fans feel good, since they're both premier players at their position. But others, such as Sanchez and Bradford? Yeah, not so much.
The top five guys most likely to win the award are Aaron Rodgers (4/1), Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1). Meanwhile, if you squint hard enough, you can see Robert Griffin III near the bottom of the list at 250/1.
Not that this reminder is necessary, but here's a reminder anyway: Anything can happen in this league, so these rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Last year, for instance, Newton had 50/1 odds of being named MVP, and then he went out and did it anyway.
So, with that in mind, while Cousins is no favorite, perhaps his loaded arsenal of targets can help him claim the valuable piece of hardware. The NFL is a wild place, after all — but still probably not wild enough for Sanchez to rise to the top of the sport, which is why him landing next to Cousins hurts more than a little bit.
Longtime Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green died on Friday morning from complications stemming from a cardiac arrest.
He was 67.
Green spent ten seasons as the Vikings head coach, amassing a 97-62 record which included four NFC North titles, eight playoff appearances and one NFC Champuionship game appearance.
After taking a break from coaching, he returned in 2003 to coach the Cardinals, spending three years at the helm, finishing with a 16-32 record.
Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was lined up across from Smith-coached offenses throughout much of his career.
As a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Arrington had much respect for Green, a Harrisburg, Penn. native and former coach at Northwestern, a fellow Big Ten school.
Green was one of the NFL's great people and great characters.
While he will always be remembered for his most-game meltdown after the Cardinals blew a 20-point lead to the Bears in a Monday Night Football game in 2006, Green's lasting memory will be his commitment to respecting the game and teaching it the right way.
For a franchise that's known for assembling some incredibly stout defenses throughout its history, the Steelers have recently constructed an offense with a surplus of talent all over the depth chart.
But that offense was dealt a major blow Friday morning.
Le'Veon Bell, the team's star running back who in just three seasons has become one of the league's most feared players, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy, according to ESPN. The reason for the penalty, though, isn't because he failed a test, it's because he missed one.
The appeal process is reportedly still going on, but if Bell doesn't win that process, he'll miss the first quarter of the 2016 schedule.
While the news obviously hurts the Steelers, it benefits the Redskins.
Washington is hosting Pittsburgh in the season opener on Sept. 12, and its run defense wouldn't mind seeing No. 26 on the sidelines in a sweatshirt during the matchup. The Black and Gold do still have the very capable DeAngelo Williams — who rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015 while filling in for an injured Bell — plus the always dangerous Antonio Brown, but their unit will of course be less threatening without its top tailback.
ESPN reports that Bell's appeal date hasn't been determined yet, but it should be heard before any meaningful football starts. He was also suspended for the first two contests last year following an arrest for a DUI and marijuana possession that occurred in August 2014.