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Redskins-Rams instant analysis

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Redskins-Rams instant analysis

Two games into the Robert Griffin III Era, this much is clear: the dynamic rookie makes the Redskins infinitely more watchable, but he does not guarantee a victory.Punter Sav Rocca had a punt blocked for the second consecutive week, wide receiver Josh Morgan lost his cool late and the injury depleted Redskins defense got torched by the Rams Sam Bradford-led offense in a momentum-halting 31-28 loss at Edward Jones Dome. The Rams victory ended an eight-game losing streak dating to last season.
The Redskins were on the move late in the fourth quarter when Morgan snagged a Griffin pass at the Rams 29-yard line. But the wide receiver drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for flipping the ball at Cortland Finnegan, moving Washington back to the 44. Instead of a first down, Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff was forced to attempt a 62-yard field goal attempt that came up well short with 1:18 left to play.
Griffin filled up the box score, passing for 209 yards and a touchdown and running for 82 yards and two more scores. But he also tossed his first career interception and suffered his first defeat.

Adding injury to insult, the Redskins also suffered some key injuries that bear watching. Defensive end Adam Carriker (right knee), linebacker Brian Orakpo (left shoulder) and cornerback Josh Wilson (undisclosed) all left the game.
Carriker suffered what appeared to be a serious-looking right knee injury on Rams second possession. Orakpo attempted to return after appearing to reinjure his problematic left shoulder. Wilson, meantime, was hurt while tackling running back Darryl Richardson with a head-first tackle in the third quarter.
The extent of the injuries was not immediately known. But if any of them misses significant time, it could prove to be a serious blow to a defense that can ill-afford it after yielding 63 points in two games.
Griffin appeared to steady the Redskins late in the third quarter when scored from seven yards out on a keeper. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game and it restored the visitors advantage, 28-23.
On the Rams next possession, linebacker London Fletcher bailed out the Redskins when he picked off Bradford in the end zone.
But it proved to only be a temporary reprieve.
Matthew Mulligan blocked Roccas punt deep in Washingtons end. Four plays later, Mulligan was on the receiving end of Bradfords third touchdown pass, a one-yarder that put St. Louis ahead 31-28 after a two-point conversion by Richardson.
Rocca has now had punts blocked on consecutive Sundays and it did not appear to involve any chemistry issues between Rocca and new long snapper Justin Snow.
The result would have been hard to imagine after the Redskins fast start.
On the Ramss first play from scrimmage, Perry Riley stripped Danny Amendola on the Rams first play from scrimmage, and cornerback Josh Wilson returned the ball 30 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the first half, Griffin would extend the visitors lead to 14-3 with a five-yard run and then 21-6 with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson. It was the first scoring reception of Hankersons career.
The rest of the half belonged to Amendola, who shredded the Redskins shaky seconday en route to tying an NFL record for receptions in a half with 12. In only two quarters, Amendola racked up 133 yards and a touchdown.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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