Here are my observations after taking a second look at the game. First half is here, second half will be posted at 5:00 p.m.First quarter--Griffins cadence drew the Bucs offside on the very first offensive play. You couldnt hear the snap count but you can see Griffins head bobbing. The linebacker on the right side jumped on the first hut, the ball was snapped on the second one.--Rob Jackson was not quite as stellar in this game as he was in his starting debut against the Bengals. Wide receiver Arrelious Benn literally faked Jackson onto the ground on an end around. Jackson could have had him after a short gain but Benn picked up 10 yards and a first down. By the way, the Redskins need to do a better job of defending that play. The Bengals got at least three first downs off of it last week.--On the second play of their first touchdown drive, Griffin pitched the ball back to Alfred Morris, who was in an I formation. He caught the pitch about five yards behind the line of scrimmage and he could immediately turn his attention upfield. That allowed him to identify the gaping hole on the right side and he bolted through it and wasnt taken down until he had picked up 17 yards.--On the next play, Fred Davis did a heck of a job pass blocking against defensive lineman Daniel Teo-Nesheim, who lined up at right end in a three-point stance. Davis engaged the lineman and stuck to him. Teo-Nesheim broke loose eventually but Davis pushed him to the ground. That allowed Griffin to step up into the pocket and flip a pass to fullback Darrel Young, who broke a tackle and rumbled for 30 yards. None of that happens without Davis pass blocking.--First and 20? Years past, a big problem. On this play, no problem. After a holding penalty, Griffin waited until just the right moment and flipped to Davis just behind the line. Linebacker David Lavonte was able to avoid Chris Chesters block a few yards downfield but the linebacker was late getting to Davis and the tight end dismissed him with a stiffarm to the face. Further downfield he skirted an attempted tackle by Ronde Barber and was finally pushed out of bounds at the 14 after a gain of 20.--Griffin needs to be careful with the ball. Its great that he wanted to score as he approached the goal line on a third and five play from the Bucs nine. But he waited a step or two too long to protect the ball as two defenders converged on him near the goal line. He already had the first down but the ball got knocked out as he went for the end zone. Fortunately Pierre Garon caught the ball bouncing in the end zone out of the corner of his eye and pounced on it for the touchdown.Second quarter--Im not much for symbolic gestures on the field, I dont think they matter all that much. But in the first quarter, DeAngelo Hall put a legal shoulder into Josh Freeman to tackle the quarterback after a sort gain. A Bucs offensive lineman went up to Hall and barked in his face, apparently telling Hall to lay off of his quarterback. In the second quarter, rookie Mark Barron drew a (borderline) flag for picking up Griffin on an option plan and dumping him to the ground. There was no response from anyone on the offensive line. Again, its nothing major but you would like to see a message being sent.--They could have doubled the width of the goal posts and Billy Cundiffs first field goal try from 41 yards still would have been wide right.--It looked like Barry Cofield got a fingertip or two on the Freeman pass that Hall intercepted. Give some credit to Ryan Kerrigan on the play as well for relentlessly driving towards Freeman despite the tackle being engaged and forcing him to step up towards the line.--Gerald McCoy is a third-year player and he should know better than to jump offside on a hard count on fourth and a long one. The Redskins ran the play and got a first down anyway as Alfred Morris ran right through the hole created by McCoys premature movement.--Last week, RG3 scooted outside for a touchdown in a goal to go situation. This week the Bucs spread out their defense to try to stop that and he scoots right up the middle for five yards and a score. Too easy, no wonder he was laughing while looking at pictures on the bench with Kyle Shanahan after the score.--Morris made a good, quick decision that got him a 39-yard touchdown run. He cut through the left side of the line, planted his foot and took off back to the right. Eric Wright was the only Buc to touch him and he just barely nipped his ankles. Leonard Hankerson stuck with his block downfield and that was all Morris needed to dash into the end zone.--I dont understand getting conservative in the last two minutes. After getting a first down at their own 35, the Redskins went with a pass behind the line to Morris that lost four yards and two draw plays. Youd think that Mike and Kyle would be more aggressive here with their quarterback who seems to be capable of just about anything and at least try to get back the field goal they just gave up. Yes, they were getting the second-half kickoff but they could have treated it like an opportunity to score 10 straight points without the Bucs getting the ball. That would have put the game away.--Then, after a short Bucs punt, they get aggressive with 14 second left. Passes to wide receivers Hankerson and Morgan picked up about 18 yards and getting the Redskins into position to at least try a long field goal. Where was that approach a minute and a half earlier?
The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?
Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.
For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016.
In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it.
Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.
I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.
To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.
Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will.
More offseason questions:
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!
There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans.
Doctson looks ready pic.twitter.com/opUrNtdInQ— ceroy (@ceroy16) February 23, 2017
Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.
His rookie year, however, was a different matter.
The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.
A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!