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Miscue-riddled Redskins fall to Steelers, 27-12

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Miscue-riddled Redskins fall to Steelers, 27-12

In summary: Although Chris Cooley hadn’t played in an NFL game for more than a year, the veteran had little trouble summing up Sunday’s 27-12 loss in Pittsburgh.

“This is our worst performance as a team,” the tight end said. “It’s frustrating to come back and watch that happen."

The 15-point margin of defeat, indeed, was the largest of the Redskins' five losses this season. In a lot of ways, it also might have been the most disheartening.

Not necessarily because of the score but rather the sloppy manner in which the afternoon unfolded. Ten dropped passes by Coach Mike Shanahan’s count. Missed tackles everywhere. A blocked point after attempt and a shanked punt. DeAngelo Hall’s meltdown and subsequent ejection.

“When your playmakers don’t make plays for you, you can’t win football games,” Cooley said. “We had too many letdowns. We had too many drops.”

It all added up to an all around miserable performance on a raw, drizzly day at Heinz Field that Cooley and his teammates will no doubt be eager to put behind them.

“We’re better than what we showed today,” said Cooley, who was targeted only once.           

Here are 10 more notes, quotes and observations from Sunday’s unsightly defeat:

Turning point: Steelers’ running back Chris Rainey rushed for 26 yards all afternoon, but 19 of them came on a play that erased any chance the Redskins had of rallying.

In the third quarter, the Steelers were leading 20-9 when Rainey took a direct snap and Ben Roethlisberger feigned as though the ball had been snapped over his head. Rainey broke free and rambled to Washington’s 2-yard line. Two plays later, Roethlisberger’s one-yard pass to Will Johnson had given the Steelers a 27-9 edge. 

Offensive play of the game: It didn’t work, and it could have got the Redskins’ most important player injured, but wide receiver Josh Morgan’s pass attempt to Griffin was the most exciting play on an otherwise ho-hum day.

Morgan, a quarterback at H.D. Woodson High, took a reverse from Griffin and then launched a long pass back across the field to Griffin, who had raced down the sideline. The pass fell incomplete and Griffin was whistled for offensive pass interference. Griffin also took a hard shot from safety Ryan Clark but emerged uninjured.

Asked if he put Griffin in a dangerous situation as a receiver, Shanahan said: “It sure looked like it with that hit. We weren’t counting on that hit. I’ve run that play a lot of times and quarterbacks have walked [into the end zone]. We got the wrong coverage to throw it.”

Griffin added: “It was successful in practice. It just didn’t work out in the game.”

Defensive play of the game: There weren’t many candidates for this one. But, in terms of timing, Larry Foote’s tackle on Alfred Morris on the Redskins’ opening drive was huge.

Foote (team-high five solo tackles and a sack) dropped Morris three-yard loss at the Washington 25-yard line. Five plays later, the Steelers had an early 10-0 lead from which the Redskins did not recover.

Special teams play of the game: It’s a lowlight rather than a highlight, but Sav Rocca’s 12-yard punt in the second quarter edges Kai Forbath’s blocked point after attempt. Although the punter is nursing a sore right knee, his short kick put the Steelers on their own 45-yard line. Six plays later, Pittsburgh had a 20-6 lead.

Quote of the day: Shanahan on the rash of drops: “I don’t care where the placement is. As long as it hits your hand, you better catch it or else you won’t be in the National Football League for very long.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Shanahan on Hall getting ejected in the fourth quarter for cursing head linesman Dana Mckenzie. “I’m very disappointed. We talk all the time about keeping your composure regardless of what happens, regardless of what the situation is. You never put your team in that type of situation.”

Hall was upset after being wrestled to the ground by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was run blocking downfield. When no flag was thrown, Hall removed his helmet and began berating Mckenzie.

Hall, who assessed two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, said he hopes to speak to the league about the incident.

Injury report: Linebacker Perry Riley left the game in the fourth quarter with a left hamstring injury. He said he attempted to return, but deciding against aggravating the strain and ending up with a pull. Riley said he expects to play next week. …London Fletcher, who missed two practices this week because of hamstring and balance issues, declined to put a percentage on how he felt today, saying, “I was well enough to play. I don’t know if anybody is 100-percent at this point in time.” Fletcher extended his NFL best streak of consecutive appearances to 232 games.

Game ball: Roethlisberger gets it. The veteran finished the game 24 of 33 for 222 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He is now 15-1 at home vs. NFC teams during the regular season.

By the numbers: Dick LeBeau, the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, improved to 15-1 all time against starting rookie quarterbacks since 2004. 

By the numbers, Part II: Griffin’s completion percentage of 47.1 marked the worst of his career. His previous low was 61.8-percent against the Bengals. 

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Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199

Free agent moves—Offense

Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.

Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.

Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.

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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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If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.

<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>

Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.

That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.  

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem

It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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