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 Redskins certainly got bigger this offseason. That much was obvious on Wednesday as the team invited media to watch an OTA session. The increased size stood out, but plenty of other things did too. Three takeawys from Tuesday's OTA:
- Does bigger mean better? The Redskins receiving group was noticeably bigger, something that happens when the team adds two free agents at least 6-foot-4 in Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick and drafts another 6-foot-3 receiver in Robert Davis. The increased size might help, but it's the play of Pryor that turned heads on Wednesday. With long powerful strides and impressive hands, Pryor looked like a dangerous weapon for Kirk Cousins this fall. Second-year pro Josh Doctson also impressed, catching a long touchdown pass towards the end of the session. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are gone, but if things break right and the duo stay healthy, Pryor and Doctson could form a devastating pair.
- Attendance is (not) mandatory - Jordan Reed and Trent Williams did not attend the OTA session. Both are Pro Bowl players that Jay Gruden trusts to be working out on their own, and it's important to point out the workouts are voluntary for players. Third-year running back Matt Jones also missed the OTA session. Gruden did not have much to say about his absence, but he added, "This is a voluntary deal, as we all know, and I can’t force the issue on anybody. So if he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me. I imagine like Jordan Reed and Trent Williams, I’m sure Matt is working out and staying in good shape." With the fourth round draft pick of Samaje Perine, the running back position is getting crowded. Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson are roster locks, and Perine seems like he has a very good chance. If the 'Skins keep four runners, Mack Brown has the inside track on that spot. Jones seems to be on the outside looking in, which might be the root cause of his absence.
- Deadlines do deals - The elephant in the room at every turn for the Redskins is the looming contract situation with Kirk Cousins. The QB talked Wednesday, and while he didn't clarify much, it seems clear the franchise and Cousins' representatives are at least staying in touch, which wasn't the case this time last summer. Cousins made one thing obvious: Don't expect a contract until near the July 15th. "Deadlines do deals."
Bonus: Cool Twitter video of the running backs going through drills - including 2016 draft pick Keith Marshall - and some Instragram pics.
RBs working out. Weird to see Rob Kelley wearing 20. And yes that is Keith Marshall pic.twitter.com/tM0tNxX62H— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) May 24, 2017
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Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 25, 19 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.
It’s been 144 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 108 days.
—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 19
—Training camp starts (7/27) 63
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 77
Quotes and notes from the podium
Here are some quotes from Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden from their post-OTA press conference on Wednesday and my comments on what they said.
Gruden on RB Matt Jones’ absence:
“That’s a good question, something that Matt Jones will have to answer. This is a voluntary deal, as we all know, and I can’t force the issue on anybody. So if he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me.”
Tandler's take: A year ago Jones was the unquestioned No. 1 running back. After fumbling and then being reluctant to play special teams when the regular season started, he was glued to the bench. The workouts are voluntary and it will be interesting to see if Jones shows up for mandatory minicamp next month if he’s still on the roster. It appears that he does not want to fight to get his job back from Rob Kelley and rookie Samaje Perine. That speaks for itself.
Cousins on adjusting to new receivers:
“Obviously there is a little bit of an adjustment, but we spread the ball around so much. Chris Thompson catches quite a few balls, even Rob Kelley gets involved, we get the tight ends involved. I remember two years ago we lost DeSean [Jackson] for half the season. Derek Carrier played a bigger role when Jordan Reed was out. So you kind of expect a revolving door on offense at a lot of the skill positions and you just start to run plays, and regardless who is out there, you just go where your reads take you.”
Tandler's take: This is a good mindset on the part of Cousins. The Redskins lost two 1000-yard receivers, Pierre Garçon and Josh Doctson, to free agency. Cousins barely practiced with Josh Doctson last year, Terrelle Pryor and Brain Quick signed as free agents, and Robert Davis was a sixth-round pick. These players likely will account for well over 50 percent of Cousins’ targets to wide receivers. But they will not get a sympathy card from the rest of the league. Change happens, both in between seasons and, as Cousins points out, during seasons. Adjustments need to be made on the fly.
Gruden on the NFL shortening overtime to 10 minutes:
“Who cares? [Laughter]”
On changes to the celebration rules:
“You know what, whatever rules they send down, we just try to coach them up. The celebration thing, if it is fun for the fans and the fans really want it, this is a fan league and that’s great just as long as it doesn’t become so much about the player as it is about the team.”
Tandler's take: I think that if most coaches were being honest they would answer these questions just like Gruden did. Overtime is an infrequent occurrence and how to handle the clock on OT probably will not enter most coaches’ thinking before the clock hits 0:00 in a tie game. And as long as the celebration rules are clear and they can teach them to the players I doubt many coaches care if the ball is used as a prop or if players can go to the ground.
Cousins on playing with Pryor, who was a college and NFL quarterback prior to converting to receiver last year:
“I love that you asked that question because it’s even caught me by surprise. I worked with a receiver, Keith Nichol, in college who was a former quarterback, but Terrelle having been a college quarterback and a pro quarterback takes it to even another level. He’s going to hold me accountable because he knows where the ball should go. If it’s Cover 2 and he on Cover 2, if the read is over here, ‘I played quarterback, I know that.’”
Tandler's take: This is an interesting dynamic at work here. Not many quarterbacks have former NFL quarterbacks as their No. 1 receivers. They will be able to communicate on another level compared to the usual QB-WR dynamic. You have to think that it will help Cousins making adjustments in games, with Pryor, who has the eyes of a quarterback, running downfield on every play. Although Pryor is not an accomplished NFL quarterback he could be a big asset as Cousins looks to take his next steps as an NFL quarterback.
Tandler on Twitter
In case you missed it
- Scouting the Redskins' 2017 opponents
- Redskins practice observations—Injured players back on track
- Despite solidified role, Chris Thompson nervous for cut day
- Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?
- 'Deadlines do deals': Cousins optimistic about contract
- Report: Matt Jones not part of Redskins' 2017 plans