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GameBlog vs. Patriots Final

GameBlog vs. Patriots Final


Pregame

Playing the role of the Master of the Obvious here (OK, so what else is new), but I think that it’s critical for the Redskins offense to move the ball. So much so, I would say, that Al Saunders might crack out a little bit more of his playbook, although I don’t think there will be much radical like, say, motion before the snap.

The defense needs to work on the fact that teams have been taking advantage of its aggressive nature. The flea flicker burned them against Cincinnati and the reverse got them against the Jets. Marcus Washington told me after the Jets game that it was more a matter of individual breakdowns than of problems with the nature of the defense itself. Both Washington and Andre Carter assured me that the defense will continue to take it to the other teams’ offenses.

First Quarter

It looks like David Lonie will get his make or break chance tonight. He’s kicking off so that would indicate that he’ll get the punting chores in the early going. If the offense does well, though, he might not have much of a shot.

Not much shown either in the way of aggressiveness or effectiveness on the Redskins’ initial defensive series. Brady had time to make phone calls while he was in the pocket against Washington’s four-man rush and he converts a couple of third downs. The Skins stiffen as Brady runs out of room deep in the red zone and the Pats settle for three.

Brunell displayed a good arm on a deep incompletion to Brandon Lloyd. Although it was overthrown he stepped in and zipped about 30 yards downfield on a rope.

Betts is running a little harder tonight than the rather casual style he displayed against the Jets. Nothing like a little competition to light the fire.

A little too booming a punt by Lonie on his first effort, into the end zone from near midfield.

A wham, bam, thank you ma’am drive for the Patriots. That screen to Dillon that got it going was kind of funny looking, it almost looked like he was surprised to get the ball. The Redskins sure didn’t think he was the receiver and before they knew what happened Dillon was into Redskins territory, turning a second and 10 at the 20 into the start of a quick scoring drive.

It’s kind of surprising that Gregg Williams is starting to do some liberal substitution on defense. Golston, Montgomery, Prioleau, among others, are in for the third series. You’d think that Williams would want to have his defense at least stop the other guys once.

Second Quarter

A good fourth-down conversion for Brunell there. He can fire the ball in there when he needs to. The fact that they went for it on fourth and four in an indication of how badly Gibbs and Saunders want to get the offense rolling.

Now, as far as I know there is no such thing as a “vanilla” field goal attempt. It is what it is and that one by Hall was just flat out ugly. It didn’t appear that the Patriots got exceptional penetration; Hall just kicked it too low.

It’s obvious that Williams wants to see how the defense can play without blitzing. He’s sent a linebacker maybe once or twice and he’s not sent a back yet. So far, the answer to the question is “not too well”.

A couple of all-out blitzes lead to a third-down conversion and a touchdown. Maybe it’s not the schemes, maybe the Redskins are just getting whipped.

Feel free to cover Ben Watson, someone, anyone. It is permitted under the rules, I do believe.

Joe Gibbs looks like he could appear on one of those “want to get away?” commercials. If he was angry last week in a press conference that lasted less than three minutes, I can’t wait to see how tense and short tonight’s will be.

Even though this is no more than a glorified practice, it would be disturbing to see the Redskins practice like this. I’m not doubting their effort but the focus seems to be off. It’s as though they are playing the role of the scout team while the Patriots just run through their paces.

Third Quarter

Duckett is in the game. The quick scouting report based on his first couple of runs is that he needs to travel North and not East-West. He got five yards up the gut and then went nowhere trying to get outside.

Whatever Gibbs and/or anyone else said at halftime didn’t have much effect as a lackluster three and out was the effort out of the gate.

The contributing writers to the print edition of Warpath were asked to give their projections for the NFL Most Valuable Player, among a few other categories. I picked Peyton Manning as the MVP. After watching him tonight, I think I want to change my pick to Tom Brady. He won’t put up as many yards or have numbers as flashy because the New England offense isn’t built like Indy’s and the Patriots play outdoors in the North, but he orchestrates that offense to perfection, makes all of the throws with zip and accuracy, and knows how to deal with anything and everything that’s thrown at him.

Fourth Quarter

Finally, after 11 quarters of play, the Redskins get a takeaway. That and the insertion of Jason Campbell into the game have given the Redskins something of a spark.

They just showed a clip of Al Saunders talking about Campbell and he was very guarded in his praise for the young quarterback. In fact, it wasn’t praise at all really, just a wait-and-see attitude. That’s consistent with the few times that I’ve talked to Saunders about him. The coach apparently wants to be careful not to put too much pressure on him or make him think that the coach is satisfied with where he is.

I’ve touched on this before in other articles, but it’s obvious that the light schedule that Gibbs has in training camp has a lot to do with the way that they have looked in the preseason. The late start, the paucity of two-a-days, the scarcity of hitting, have the Redskins ill-prepared to be competing from scrimmage against teams that are more battle tested. Of course, the object is to win in December, not in August and you can’t question Gibbs’ record when it comes to late in the season. But it sure makes nights like this miserable ones.

A positive note is that Reid Doughty, the rookie safety, has played much better tonight than he has in the previous two games. He stripped the ball causing the fumble that the Redskins recovered and has generally been in the right place.

The Redskins can bounce back from this, no question. They bounced back after the debacle in the Meadowlands and that was a game that counted. However, they had done some good things that year before that and they had the memory of that to fall back on. They haven’t played a solid, complete game since Christmas Eve. That will make it tougher to get any momentum generated.

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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