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GameBlog vs. Seattle Final

GameBlog vs. Seattle Final



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

First Half

Seattle is wearing its all-dark uniforms. It’s only 78 degrees at game time, but they’ll be in direct sun for most of three quarters. Probably only a slight difference, but that has to take something out of you as the game goes on.

Well, my call was to go deep on the game’s first play. We’ll find out here shortly.

It was for Moss, but it was a short-to-intermediate route that bounced as Moss caught it.

They game Thrash a pretty good cushion on a 13-yard completion for a first down.

The offensive line is just blowing the Seahawk defense away here on virtually every snap so far. Brunell has had good protection, too, except on the first pass. Virtually anyone could run or pass behind this bunch today. Perhaps they’ve been reading some of the recent criticism of their play in the papers.

Fourth and inches at the Seattle 20, Gibbs leaving his rookie kicker and holder on the sidelines and going for it. Portis takes the low guided Cruise missile route to the first down.

Now they have to go on anyway after a third and seven sack. Disaster as the kick never got off the ground and was blocked. Not only that, but they smacked it back about 20 yards giving them the ball at midfield. Good drive, bad ending. They got done what they needed to do in terms of establishing some offensive rhythm (15 plays), but couldn’t finish it off.

Frost and Novak are discussing what happened on the sidelines. The snap was good, the hold seemed OK, but it only takes a little bit off for a kick to go astray.

It gets them a 52-yard field goal. That one by Josh Brown was also low, as many long kicks are, but it has enough distance and snuck in the lower left corner of the end zone.

James Thrash is becoming Mr. Clutch, moving the sticks with regularity. Two third-down conversions for him in the first 10 minutes of play.

As the first quarter moves on, the Seattle DL is getting quite a bit more active. They’re getting some penetration, although they don’t seem to be able to generate a pass rush without a blitz (as is the case with the Redskins). Still, another drive that was productive without any points being scored.

If I’m Danny Smith, I put into each punter’s contract that it’s a $1,000 fine if you punt it into the end zone from inside midfield and a $1,000 bonus for each time it’s downed inside the 20. A 20-yard net on a punt like Frost just got is pretty worthless, you might as well go for it.

Good play call by Holmgren on third and three, a play action right, leaving the TE with lots of running room.

Not sure why there wasn’t a holding call on Hasselbeck’s second and 20 pass attempt. Cornelius Griffin was right in front of him and the offensive lineman was behind him and hanging on for dear life. No matter as Philip Daniels just needed about two steps of penetration to bat down Hasselbeck’s third-down pass.

Often overlooked about Santana Moss because of his speed are his hands. He has a great ability to snatch the ball out of the air and put it away in one quick motion.

We’re starting to see Gibbs’ offense at work. Third and two, Cooley lined up at fullback, no TE’s lined up, three wides, a little pass to Cooley good for 11 yards.

It’s back to Brunell having all day to throw again. Robert Royal seemed to be his fourth option on a third and ten play. It seemed like he would have had time to go back to his first and second options if he wanted to, but Royal just got the first.

Moss’ hands on display again on the catch in the end zone that was reviewed. He got the ball into his body so quickly that he got possession before he hit the ground. It was close, but it was the correct call from the view here.

Finally, a first-half touchdown. Nice touch by Brunell on the little pass to Royal on third and goal. Sixteen play drive, 85 yard drive. Four third down conversions from as little as one yard and as long as ten, Brunell 7-9 for 71 yards. Seattle generally seemed to have no idea what the Redskins were going to do and, when they did, they were unable to stop it.

Still, when a game goes like this and you’re dominating on both sides of the ball and you look up at the scoreboard and you’re only up by four, you have to be somewhat concerned. Another score before halftime would make the breathing a bit easier.

Third and 11 for Seattle in Redskins territory, crowd roaring, false start. Seems like old times.

It may seem dumb to make a diving fair catch rather than just let the ball go, especially when time is running out in the half, but Thrash possible prevented the ball from bouncing off of a teammate, which could have been disaster. If he doesn’t field the punt on the dive, he certainly pushes it out of bounds. Smart football, smart football player.

 
Second Half
 
Halftime stats show Alexander with 12 yards rushing, showing that you can’t gain yardage while you’re on the sideline. Brunell has a triple-digit QB rating at 104.7, probably a first for him with the Redskins even for a half.
 
Some dumb football by Seattle on the second-half kickoff. On a high kick, the receiver called for a fair catch, sort of, but took off anyway. It cost Seattle five plus the few yards that the return was for.
 
Good drive going on by Seattle, they’re giving Hasselbeck time to throw, or, rather, they’re having him throw quickly. They’ll need to tighten up the coverage some if they’re going to stop the West Coast Offense death by a thousand paper cuts.
 
A sack was critical, as was a picked-up flag on Springs that would have resulted in a first down. For Seattle, it was death by a 47-yard FG try that was short. Without the sack yardage, it would have snuck through. They said that Springs made illegal contact with a receiver and he essentially admitted it, but it was after Hasselbeck was already underneath Lamar Marshall.
 
The offensive line is inconsistent so far, sometimes getting a good push, sometimes Seattle can blow up plays in the backfield.
 
Mike Sellers isn’t just an offensive tackle with an H-back’s number. He can actually catch passes and score touchdowns. That PI call to set up the score looked pretty shaky to me, but it’s not as though such flags haven’t been thrown against the Redskins over the past several years.
 
To show my East-Coast bias, I never realized what a good receiver Darrell Jackson is. He catches anything thrown in his ZIP Code.
 
A blitz—and a good blitz pickup—leaves Engram all alone on third and ten. Looks like Seattle may get closer here.
 
They do on an Alexander TD run up they middle. Not a good series by the Washington defense there. They paid for blitzing on a couple of occasions, the last one converting the third and 10. Credit Seattle with doing a good job of picking it up.
 
It’s OK to throw to a receiver who’s at a dead stop short of the first down if the receiver is Clinton Portis. Great move to pick up the first on third and nine.
 
We have had a big-time Chris Cooley sighting today. After being mostly silent after his TD in the Bears game was nullified, he’s picked up some nice yardage today. Gibbs is finding ways to work him open—usually wide open—and he’s catching the ball with all kinds of running room.
 
Nick Novak needed that one—a 40-yard field goal with plenty of distance and right down the middle.
 
That’s the second straight kickoff that’s been high and short. Seattle did make the fair catch on this one. Are they kicking off that way intentionally?
 
A Smart play by Cedric Killings. He slammed on the brakes when he recognized a second and 15 screen instead of shooting in on the quarterback. He turned and helped make the tackle after a short gain. Looks like all that NFL Europe playing time did him some good.
 
Another smart play sighting. Portis swept out on third and two and instead of stopping and cutting in an attempt to make a big run, he turned sideways, slid through a crack, and make the first down by plenty.
 
Sack specialist Demetric Evans in the game at left end. Let’s see if he can get something going as far as a pass rush from the front four.
 
Fourth and one at their own 34. Will Seattle actually go for it. Lots of time left, a stop ends the game. They’re almost certainly going to pass as Alexander has been hitting a brick wall for most of the day.
 
Good call—or maybe good play by Hasselbeck—to pick up the first on a scramble. Well, you can’t allow a 14-yard completion on third and 15.
 
Alexander is picking up some steam as this game goes on. You certainly can’t accuse Mike Holmgren of giving up on him.
 
First and ten at the 12 for Seattle. The Redskins didn’t take advantage of their early domination and they could end up paying for it.
 
They do as Seattle ties it up. Drove it 90 yards, 14 plays down the Redskins’ throat with the screaming crowd that grew quieter on each third-down as it seemed inevitable that Hasselbeck would convert. No hint of being a soft team on the road there, that’s for sure. And my dark uniform theory is pretty much out the window as well.
 
That’s the way the ball bounces. Seattle’s got a shot to steal the win.
 
Wide left. New life. Dodged a bullet, not time to go downstairs just yet.
 
A mini recreation of the last five minutes in Dallas in overtime with Brunell picking up key yards on a scramble and Moss making the catch and run that win it.

Post Game

It was a happy locker room, but under control. They realize that they’ve won nothing yet and there’s a long way to go. Still, there was a little more excitement there today. As Gibbs left the podium in the interview room and Moss was approaching the front of the room, the two exchanged enthusiastic congratulations. Later, I was passing by Brunell, who might recognize me from Redskins Park but we’ve never had a one-on-one conversation, and he gave be a big smile and slap on the back like I was an old college buddy.

I asked Novak about the short, high kickoffs and he confirmed that they were by design. He almost told me what they call that type of kick, but he caught himself, afraid of giving away company secrets.

Novak’s a good kid, easy to root for. When he was asked whether or not he watched John Brown’s potential game-winner at the end of regulation, he said that he did, but that he didn’t openly root for Brown to miss, not wanted to create “bad karma”. When a reporter followed up and asked what he meant by that, Novak looked puzzled that anyone wouldn’t get it. He asked back, “Don’t you understand what bad karma is?” A classic response to a dumb question.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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.

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In case you missed it