You have to say this about Robert Griffin IIIhe makes it interesting.After getting knocked around by the Cincinnati Bengals for most of the first half and looking at a 17-point deficit, Griffin brought the Redskins back. The Redskins ultimately lost but Griffin made it close.How close? Possession in the red zone with time enough to run a few plays, thats how close.The rookies ended up going 21 of 34 for 221 yards and one touchdown. For the second time in his three career games, he did not throw an interception. Griffin also ran 12 times for a team-leading 85 yards.But the numbers dont tell the story.Trailing 24-7 with halftime approaching, Griffin got his team going. He got a drive jump started with an 11-yard run on third and 10. That set up a field goal to cut it to 24-10 at intermission.In the second half, Griffin and the offense got on a roll. Back to back drives that covered 80 and 86 yards resulted in touchdowns that tied the game up at 24 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.During those two drives, Griffin was 4-4 passing for 52 yards and a three-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss that capped the second drive. He also ran four times for 19 yards.But when the offense slowed down, the Redskins defense let Cincinnati take control of the game. After forcing two three and outs and a fumble, the defense turned back into the sieve it was in the first half of the game. Back to back Bengals touchdown drives of 80 and 72 yards put the game out of reach.Almost.After a penalty pushed the Redskins back to their own 10, Griffin accounted for 100 yards of offense during a 12-play drive (a 10-yard holding penalty let him pick up an additional 10 yards of stats). He was 8-10 passing for 93 yards and he ran twice for seven yards including a two-yard quarterback sneak that brought the Redskins within a touchdown with 3:35 to go.Niles Paul touched an onside kick attempt just before it passed the required 10 yards and Cincinnati got the ball at the Washington 44. The Redskins were out of timeouts. Three plays later the Bengals punted and the ball rolled dead at the Redskins two. Griffin came in with 98 yards to go, not timeouts, and needing a touchdown to tie the game.He did manage to get them into the red zone. Griffen passed to Josh Morgan for 11 yards, to Leonard Hankerson for 12 and they he scrambled for 10. A 15-yard personal foul was tacked onto the end of that run when Griffin was hit out of bounds (the defender went sprawling to the ground after the hit, RG3 stayed on his feet). Two plays later Griffin ran for 19 yards and all of a sudden the Redskins were in the red zone at the 19 with 29 seconds left. Could he do it?No. Griffin averted a couple of sack attempts as he scrambled to make a play but he was finally corralled by Geno Atkins for a loss of 15. He spiked the ball to kill the clock but after a false start and a confusing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Hal Mary came from the Washington 41. It was short and incomplete and that was that.
Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.
- Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy.
- Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
- Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.
Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.
See you Tuesday fam pic.twitter.com/NINvMBljUT— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) May 26, 2017
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Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 27, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on June 13.
It’s been 146 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 106 days.
—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 61
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 75
The Redskins week that was
How well will the Redskins' defense adjust to six new starters? The Redskins unquestionably got an infusion of defensive talent but as we have seen in the past that does not guarantee better results. Throw a new defensive coordinator into the mix and it could take some time for this unit to reach its full potential. I think that there will be struggles early in the season and a better (but not dominant) unit by the time November rolls around.
Which Redskins will surprise in 2017? Every player carries expectations into the season. Some will be better than we believe right now (think of what many thought Vernon Davis would do last year) and some will play worse (Josh Doctson). I take out the crystal ball to figure out who will exceed expectations and who will fall below them.
Don't count out 3rd straight franchise tag for Cousins—Yes, Bruce Allen said that he is willing to franchise tag Kirk Cousins for a third time next year, a move that would cost $34 million for one season. But I think that’s a total bluff; the Redskins’ salary cap situation for 2018 would make such a move very difficult for them to pull off. The best hope for Cousins being a Redskin in 2018 is getting him signed to a long-term contract by July 15 of this year. The tone of the conversation regarding a new deal has been positive lately but the team must come up with a serious offer for a deal to happen.
For Redskins, finding a nose tackle needs to be a priority—Well, it’s up to Jim Tomsula to “make” a nose tackle. Phil Taylor is a true NT and he will get a shot. But he hasn’t played a snap since 2014. Undrafted free agent Ondre Pipkins also has nose tackle size at 6-3, 325. But he is a long shot, as are the Redskins’ chances of being significantly better against the run if they don’t find someone, anyone to be an adequate solution as the nose tackle.
Did Vernon Davis make the NFL change celebration rules? Although I prefer the John Riggins way of celebrating a touchdown—hand the ball to the referee because you’ve been in the end zone before and you expect to be back again soon—elaborate celebrations don’t bother me. After a TD in a game I’m covering I’m focused on writing about the scoring drive. When I’m watching at home, my attention goes to Twitter or to the refrigerator. I do think that it was dumb for the Redskins to lose 15 yards of field position because Vernon Davis put a jump shot over the crossbar so that’s why I’m glad that the NFL changed the celebration rules.