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GameBlog Redskins vs. Ravens

GameBlog Redskins vs. Ravens

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Cornelius Griffin is a monster. He completely blew up a running play by shaking off his blocker as though he was a statue and nailing Jamal Lewis in the backfield. At age 28, he should just be hitting his prime.

On the first play from scrimmage, the entire line blocked down to the right and Clinton Portis took the handoff and slid that way, looking for a hole and he found one for three yards. On the next snap, they ran a similar play to the other side. A bigger space opened up and Portis zipped through it and picked his way for 13. That was Portis’ last play

The second-team defense is in the game for the Redskins on the second series. That unit still includes #56 LaVar Arrington, who is still getting his game legs under him. He made a nice play knifing in from the right side and dropping Lewis for a loss on third and one.

I think I’ve said this every week, but the execution on the screen pass has been excellent. The line and the quarterback are selling it well and it appears that the defense has to guard against the speed at receiver, giving the linemen and the pass catcher a chance to do something with the ball.

The special teams have been sloppy, but they did get their second field goal block of the preseason. It would be a major improvement if they could get a couple this season. According to the press guide, the Redskins blocked a field goal last September in New York against the Giants. That was their first since October 10, 1993, when Lamont Hollinquest blocked one, also against the Giants.

Patrick Ramsey’s day is done with 3:36 left in the first quarter and although you don’t want to read too much into a few series, his performance was certainly not what he wanted. He took a couple of sacks, never took a shot downfield and generally looked jittery and unsure.

Mark Brunell led a three and out on his first series, but it wasn’t his fault. He zipped two passes to Antonio Brown, who clearly dropped the first one and had a chance at the second one but it flew through his hands. All of a sudden, he’s not looking so good as an option as the third receiver should it take Taylor Jacobs a game or two to recover from his toe injury.

Second Quarter

On the next series, Brown made a nice double move to get wide open but he flat-out dropped Brunell’s perfect pass at the five. Is Brown’s grip on a roster spot not quite as firm as we thought a week or so ago?

Rufus Brown is fighting for a roster spot and so far, early in the second quarter, the results are mixed. On the play before the blocked field goal, he made a nice strip of the receiver to prevent what might have been a first down (actually, it looked as though the receiver had the ball and Brown should have received credit for a forced fumble that the Redskins recovered). Later he was flagged for holding on a punt, but he got a nice tackle on a kickoff return later on. He’s still on the bubble.

Back to the other Brown, Antonio, yet another drop, this time on a third down pass over the middle. Perhaps he heard footsteps but, as he knows full well, you’re going to get hit anyway so you might as well catch the ball

LaVar Arrington is showing some of the discipline in his play that he has lacked at times over the course of his career. He blitzed on a third-down play and Ravens QB Anthony Wright was rushed up the middle. The old LaVar would have kept blowing in towards the quarterback, getting either a killer sack or drawing air as the quarterback eluded him or knocking a teammate out of a sack. This time, when he saw the pressure up the middle he held his ground, making sure that Wright could not get outside of the pocket and getting into Wright’s line of vision to his receiver. Of course, the player who deserves the most credit for the incompletion was the linebacker on the other side, Brandon Barnes, who scored the knockdown on Wright as he released the ball. Still, a good sign by LaVar, letting someone else make the play.

Great throw on the run by Brunell. Where was this guy last year? He zipped it in to Mike Sellers about 12 yards downfield. The tight end left some bodies strewn on the field as he fought for some additional yardage. Two plays later Brunell converted a third down by rolling left and then, under pressure, reversing his field and throwing on the run to Brian Kozlowski, who made a nice catch for the first down.

Great throw by Brunell on a fade to Jimmy Farris, who made a great catch over his shoulder for the touchdown.

With five seconds left and the Ravens on their own 43, the Redskins blitzed Wright rather than drop everyone back in deep zone coverage. You have to like that philosophy, rather than the one that rushes three and gives the quarterback all the time he needs to throw up a Hail Mary.

Third Quarter

Two people aren’t going to want to look at the film of the interception that ended the Redskins’ first possession of the second half. One is Jason Campbell, who threw late and poorly. The other is Ray Brown, who stood there unaware that the ball was dancing on the ground just a few feet away from him after the interceptor fumbled. The only one who will get some satisfaction from reviewing the play is tight end Robert Johnson, who hustled over and forced the fumble.

Back to my favorite subject, the screen. Campbell doesn’t execute it as well as Brunell and Ramsey do. You can read “screen” from the moment that he starts to drop back and the defense doesn’t bite to create any room.

It’s not often that you see a triple dose of penalties on the same team on one play, but that’s what happened to the Ravens. The Redskins couldn’t get pressure up the middle on one side because a Ravens lineman had Aki Jones in a bear hug for one flag. Ryan Boeschetti broke through and got to Wright, who intentionally grounded the ball into the back of his center. The Redskins declined the holding and the illegal touch and accepted the intentional grounding. It’s stuff like this that makes second-half preseason football almost unwatchable at times.

I think that Nic Clemons has this team made. He nearly had an interception as he got within a couple of feet of Wright and batted the ball, nearly catching it in the process. He’s not eligible for the practice squad, having spent the last two seasons there and I think that he’s one that the coaches do not want to let go.

Rich Parson, a rookie free agent out of Maryland, made a nice return to set up a touchdown drive. Actually, the whole unit deserved credit as the blockers in the wedge were patient and timed their blocks right, leaving Parson with just one tackler to beat at the 20. He bounced off of that attempt and had nothing but green grass in front of him when he got tripped up just before reaching midfield. Perhaps the best thing about the play was that there was no laundry on the field after it was over.

Campbell proves that he can hit players in the same-colored jersey as his, throwing a beautiful arching spiral to Farris for a 37-yard touchdown. Great accuracy and touch by Campbell, who is playing like the talented rookie QB that he is.

Fourth Quarter

R. Brown’s primary competition for a roster spot is with Garnell Wilds. On consecutive passes, Wilds outshined Brown. On third and goal at the two, Wright threw a fade that Wilds defended perfectly, getting up to get a hand on the ball to nudge the receiver’s second foot out of bounds. On fourth down, they ran virtually the same play to the other side, Brown’s side. Brown was called for interference and the Ravens scored on the next play. Not a good side-by-side comparison for Brown there.

A few series later, Brown forced a fumble that took a good bounce for the Ravens and they wound up getting a few more yards into Redskins territory. Zak Keasey also deserves some ownership of the forced fumble as he slammed into Patrick Johnson after the reception, bouncing him into Brown, who did a nice job with the strip.

Later on, Brown turned the wrong way and got toasted for the Ravens’ go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. His stock keeps rising and falling as the game goes on.

It was Wilds who was beaten on the game-winning touchdown pass, but the fault for the score lies with Siddeeq Shabazz, who missed the tackle allowing Hymes to run free into the end zone.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.