Redskins watch Bengals run away with a win

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Redskins watch Bengals run away with a win

In summary: Earlier this week, Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett lamented his units propensity for surrendering big plays, particularly in the passing game.

On Sunday, the Redskins defensive secondary struggled again in a 38-31 loss to Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the Bengals.

The defeat, Washingtons second in a row, had veteran cornerback Josh Wilson searching for answers after the unit yielded 300 or more passing yards for the third time in three games this season. In 16 games last season, the unit yielded 300 or more yards only twice.

It was apparent from the opening play of the game that the Bengals planned to exploit Washingtons defensive backs. The visitors struck on passing touchdowns of 73, 59 and 48 yards, the first coming on a trick play to open that game that seemed to catch the Redskins defensive backs unawares.

We have to make plays, Wilson said. They game-plan, too. We have to be able to think. Its very surprising. Were a way better unit than this. We have to step up and take responsibility.

Giving up 38 point is not our M.O., he continued We have to put up some stops and make plays. If I knew the problems, we wouldnt be giving up 38 points.

Wilson got beat in one-on-one coverage when he gambled and missed the ball and Armon Binns in the first quarter. Binns took Daltons pass 48 yards for a touchdown that put the Bengals ahead 14-7.

In the fourth quarter, rookie Richard Crawford bit on a double move and got beat on a 59 hookup between Dalton and Andrew Hawkins that gave Cincinnati the winning margin.

When you get double move, you cant it was a learning experience, said Crawford, who was playing for Cedric Griffin, who left the game with strained hamstring. I apologize to my teammates. That game was kind of on me. It was my fault.

In addition to the scoring passes, the Redskins secondary surrendered plays of 38, 27, 25 and 22, as well.

Injury update: Big plays are a growing concern. So are injuries.

With Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker already done for the season and Brandon Meriweather not yet ready to return, the Redskins will be monitoring injuries to Trent Williams (knee), Evan Royster (knee), Roy Helu (foot or ankle), Griffin and Crezdon Butler(hamstring).

Williams, the starting left tackle and likely the most important player on offense behind Robert Griffin III, was injured in the first quarter. After a stint in the locker room, he played four plays in the third before leaving the game again.

After the game, Williams said he planned to have an MRI on Sunday night. He walked with a limp and sported a heavy brace on his right leg as he exited the stadium.

I dont what it is as of now, Williams said. I havent even looked at the replays. I just felt it give out on me.

I could go left, just had trouble going right, he added. Didnt really want to risk giving up a big quarterback hit.

For updates on the others, click here.

Griffin feeling the heat: Griffin completed 21 of 34 passes for 221 yards and accounted for two scores, one running and another passing. He also led the team in rushing with 85 yards.
And, once again, there were questions about how he is being used and whether all the designed runs will eventually lead to an injury. In addition to being sacked six times and hit 13 times on passing plays, Griffin also rushed the ball a career-high 12 times. In all, he has 32 carries in three games.

One play in particular seemed troubling. On an option in the second quarter, Griffin was hit hard by defensive end Carlos Dunlap, causing Griffin to fumble. Griffin was slow to get off the turf.

Coach Mike Shanahan does not agree.

I think we had 20 designed runs, relative to the option, over the first two games and I think he was contacted four times, Shanahan said. Even though its a designed run, he doesnt always get contacted. Now, if he had those designed runs and he was getting hit quite a bit, obviously you couldnt do that.

Take it to the Banks: One of the few bright spots was the creativity the coaching staff used in deploying Brandon Banks on offense. The pint-sized wide receiver carried the ball three times for 29 yards, including a 21-yarder on an option pitch in the third quarter.

Hes very good at that and thats one of the reasons why we kept him, Shanahan said.

By the numbers: Through the first three games, the Redskins defense has yielded 1,288 total yards.

The 213 yards on the ground Alfred Morris had 78 to go along with Griffins total were the most in a single game since Shanahan took over in 2010.

The 99 points the offense has scored the past three games is the most during a three-game stretch since 2005.

Rob Jacksons interception in the end zone marked only the fifth time in NFL history there has been an interception returned for zero yards for a score.

Quotable: Griffin on getting knocked down early and often. Cincinnatis ends were trying to run at me and get quarterback hits on me. Some teams think if you hit the quarterback enough, theyll stop coming after you. I just want to let everybody know that will never happen.

Kirk Cousins is excited about Jamison Crowder's growth, Josh Doctson's potential

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Kirk Cousins is excited about Jamison Crowder's growth, Josh Doctson's potential

Kirk Cousins says he's excited about up-and-coming receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson and what they'll add to the Redskins’ offense in 2016.

Cousins expects Crowder, who turns 23 next month, to make a significant jump in his second NFL offseason following a breakout rookie campaign.

“It’s a little bit of confidence and common sense, but when it’s your second year and you caught [that] many passes in your first year, you come in a little more confident and sure of yourself and you know what it means to be a pro now,” Cousins said.

A year ago at this time, Crowder was competing with veteran Andre Roberts for the slot receiver role. This offseason, all of those reps will belong to Crowder, who finished third on the team in catches (59) and receiving yards (604) in 2015.

The chemistry between Cousins and Crowder was apparent during Wednesday's practice, the first session of the spring open to media. On multiple occassions, Cousins completed tough passes to the shifty, 5 foot 8 playmaker as he was in full stride.

“All of that lends itself to taking another step forward,” Cousins added. “He’s a great teammate, smart player, has a natural sense of how to get open, how to run different option routes and choice routes, great natural hands and is really good after the catch pulling away from people. So, just add him of guys who we are excited about being able to throw to.”

The newest addition to that list, of course, is Doctson. Although Doctson, 23, was limited a bit this week due to a sore Achilles’ tendon, Cousins is already well aware of what the TCU product will bring to the Redskins’ offense.

Last season, tight end Jordan Reed was Washington’s biggest red zone threat. Now, Cousins will have Doctson, who is 6 foot 2, 206-pounds with a 41-inch vertical, as an option, as well.

“I went back and watched some of his highlights from TCU, and he is a special player,” Cousins said. “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size …having a guy like Josh could also be a great weapon in the red zone.”

The challenge for Docston over the remaining seven OTA practices will be getting more comfortable with the playbook so he can hit the ground running in Richmond. The challenge for Cousins will be identifying Doctson’s strengths and weaknesses, so he can develop the type of connection he already has with the other pass-catchers on the roster. 

“We’ll try to build that chemistry as he’s here and as we can work together and just learn what he does well and what fits him, what he is natural at and try to get him the football,” Cousins said. “We certainly can spread it around with all the talent at the outside positions.”

Which, obviously, is another challenge for Cousins, who now must find a way to keep Crowder, Doctson, Reed, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon happy. That, however, is an issue for another blog post. 

Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

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Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

It all happened for Jordan Reed in 2015. He mostly stayed healthy - able to start 14 of 16 games - and played every game with the same quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The results broke Redskins records, as Reed hauled in 87 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Reed put up elite numbers for the tight end position, and in early May, the team paid Reed like an elite tight end. He signed a five-year, $46.5 million extension that will run through 2021, numbers that place Reed with the third-highest annual salary in the NFL.

His Redskins teammates noticed. It's common practice around the NFL for players to congratulate a new contract, and then promptly go into razz mode. It's part of the deal with getting a large contract extension, and Reed was no exception.

Asked if he had heard about his new contract during the Redskins OTA sessions this week, Reed smiled and confessed (full video above).

"I fell down yesterday and they were talking junk, ‘We ain't pay you 50 to fall down’ and things like that," Reed said on Wednesday. "They all over me man but it’s all fun."

The "50" in reference would be $50 million, so looks like the Redskins players are rounding up on Reed's deal. Plus, saying 50 is a lot easier than 46.5. More importantly, Reed knows the extra attention is meant in a fun way, and as other players have been asked about Reed's deal, all say the young tight end deserves it all.

"With Jordan Reed, you know he was so talented last year I mean how do you build on a season where you were as successful as he was?" Cousins said. "We would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people."

Cousins' statement echoed the voices of many at Redskins Park. This team wants to prove that the success of 2015 was not a fluke, from GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden all the way down to the bottom of the roster.

And Reed is no different. On Wednesday Reed went deep on a wheel route, at least 30 or 40 yards downfield, and Cousins threw to him. The ball was slightly out of reach, yet Reed still fully extended and dove for the ball. In May. In OTAs.

"I can’t help it," Reed said when asked if the coaches and front office would want their new highly compensated tight end laying out for a ball in the offseason.

"I see the ball in the air and my instincts take over," he said. "I'm gonna go hard in practice."

Certainly Reed's size and skill were key to his new contract, but that attitude played a large role as well. 

 

 

Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

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Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

Safety David Bruton Jr. had options on the free agent market, but he ultimately chose Washington for one big reason: with the Redskins, he'd get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

“We definitely have some competition back there, but I am blessed enough to have the first crack at it,” Bruton said this week. “Being in my eighth year, I was definitely looking to be more than just special teams ace and defensive role player. I felt like this was the best opportunity [to start], and I’m happy to be here.“

“I’m here to make this a new home,” he added, “and make my name known here.”

Well, so far, so good.

During Wednesday’s OTA practice, DeAngelo Hall occupied one safety position with the first-team defense and Bruton lined up at the other. The other player in the mix, Duke Ihenacho, worked with the second team.

Coach Jay Gruden hinted that Hall has been penciled in as one starter and that Bruton and Ihenacho are in competition at the other spot. Gruden, though, also made it clear that it’s awfully early in the offseason and that a lot can change.

“I always say that’s the beauty of a pencil—you got an eraser,” Gruden said. “We had to start somewhere.”

Listed at 6 foot 2, 225-pounds, Bruton, who spent the past seven seasons as a backup/special teams standout in Denver, is biggest defensive back on the roster. In 104 games with the Broncos, he made eight starts, including a career-high three last season. Ihenacho, meantime, won the starting job in Washington last offseason but suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener. Interestingly, Bruton and Ihenacho were teammates in Denver from 2012-13.   

“Bruton is doing a good job and Duke is in that mention,” Gruden added. “We [also] moved [cornerback] Will Blackmon back to safety; he’s learning, feeling his way through there. [Deshazor] Everett is doing a good job. Geno [Matias] Smith from Alabama, he’s learning it. So we’re going to have some people out there to compete. But right now, as a starting point, Bruton/Nacho are doing fine.”

For now, Bruton's got the first crack at it. But as Gruden said, there’s a lot of offseason left. This, indeed, could be a position to monitor throughout the spring and summer.