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?
It seems likely the Redskins stand to lose one or both of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. That could mean more than 2,000 yards receiving exiting the offense, a significant blow.
Could Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery come to Washington and cushion the blow?
Multiple reports say that Chicago will not put the franchise tag on Jeffery, which means the 6-foot-4 receiver will hit the open market when free agency opens in a little more than a week. Coming off consectuive injury-marred seasons, still expect the market to be ripe for the former South Carolina star.
A five-year veteran that will turn 28 in August, Jeffery posted more than 2,500 receiving yards in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to go with 17 touchdowns. An extremely gifted red zone receiver, Jeffery is one of the best in the league at high-pointing the football and coming down with circus catches. His last two seasons, however, the Bears wideout only played in 21 of 32 games and his numbers dipped dramatically: just over 1,600 yards and six TDs combined.
Though Washington will likely lose at least one of Garçon or Jackson, and very possibly both, that does not necessarily make Jeffery a prime target.
Expect cost to be a major factor as the Chicago receiver will likely command the top free agent payout at the position. And his recent injury history could be a factor as well.
Further, the Redskins must believe they have a No. 1 receiver already in house in Josh Doctson. The No. 22 overall pick in 2016, Doctson hardly played as a rookie due to an Achilles injury but appears to be progressing well in his rehab. At 6-foot-2 and extremely athletic, Doctson was drafted to be a prime red zone target with the ability to go up and get TDs.
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Many Redskins fans have been keeping a close eye on the Chiefs all offseason. Kansas City has two pending free agents in positions that are of great need to Washington. Fans have been watching since January to see what the Chiefs would do with safety Eric Berry and defensive lineman Dontari Poe. They may have their answer.
The organization’s hope was that they could sign one and use the franchise tag on the other. But with the deadline for the tag two days from now and with free agency starting in 10 days, it appears that plan is not going to happen. They are forced to decide and per Ed Werder of ESPN they are going to tag Berry and let Poe test free agency.
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Poe is a load at 6-3, 348. His impact is hard to measure in numbers; he has just 13 sacks in his five NFL seasons including two in the last two years. The Chiefs first-round pick out of Memphis in the 2012 draft has forced two fumbles and recovered one. But he is exactly what a defense like the Redskins’ 4-3 scheme needs in the middle to eat up double teams and keep blockers off the linebackers. They would go from having had no credible nose tackle in the seven seasons they have been in the 3-4 base defense to having one who at age 26 is of the very best in the league.
The problem with acquiring the best in the business is that you must pay top dollar. The contracts signed by Marcell Dareus of the Bills, a six-year deal with an average annual value of $15.8 million and Fletcher Cox of the Eagles, who signed a six-year extension with an AAV of $17.1, will be used as guidelines for a Poe free agent deal.
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The Redskins possibly could make that work but it would be a stretch. They already have a top-heavy salary structure with their top three players taking up 35 percent of the salary cap. Another cap hit in the $15 million range would put them in a precarious spot.
It seems unlikely that the Redskins will be real players in the Poe sweepstakes but given that he would be a perfect solution to a long-standing problem area it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.