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Redskins-Browns: After Further Review

Redskins-Browns: After Further Review

  • Leigh Torrence has Ade Jimoh's special teams prowess with better coverage skills. Despite the issues on the late deep pass that set up the game-winning field goal last week, one does not break into a cold sweat when Torrence is called upon to play nickel back. There was no such confidence with special teams ace "Uh-Oh" Jimoh lined up in coverage.
  • Not that I'm one to talk, but Ryan Plackemeier should either drop a few dozen pounds or wear a looser jersey. I know punters aren't real football players, but he looks like the guy at the mall who thinks he's ripped and wears too-tight shirts but the bulges are flab, not muscle. His punt was OK, just OK. He didn't shank one that let the other team score a field goal without needing a first down as his predecessor did last week, so I guess that represents an improvement.
  • On several occasions London Fletcher did exactly what you have to do to stop a big back. He got to Jamal Lewis in the backfield and hit him low. Lewis didn't always go down right away but he wasn't able to get any momentum and he was tackled quickly. Some of Lewis' best gains came on a toss sweep, away from the middle of the line and Fletcher.
  • There was some puzzling clock management at the end of the first half. The Redskins had the ball at their own 33 with 2:28 left in the half. Portis ran for seven and the team dawdled as the clock ran down to 2:00. Portis then broke loose for 20 to the Cleveland 40 and still there was no sense of urgency. The next snap came with 1:16 left. After a pass to Moss gained six, there was another leisurely huddle and then a snap with 41 seconds left. With 35 seconds left, the Redskins called their first timeout. They nearly ran out of time, but they were able to get a field goal attempt off on the last play of the half. Zorn said that he didn't want the Browns to have any time left to be able to score. Given that Cleveland hadn't even sniffed the Red Zone all half, I'm not sure why that was such an overriding concern.
  • As of halftime, Portis had outgained the entire Browns team, 75 yards to 59.
  • Shaun Alexander got a few touches in his debut. He told me that he was working off of a very limited package of running plays. As he stood in the locker room, his Redskins hat was so new that it still had the size sticker on the bill.
  • What's striking about Portis' running is that he gains yardage without the offensive line blowing the defense into the backfield snap after snap. The energy is focused on opening a hole and it doesn't have to be a very big one for Portis to slip through for five yards. It's not the Red Sea parting, it's more like a few strategically-placed rocks in a creek. On Portis' touchdown run, Lorenzo Alexander just push their men sideways while Randy Thomas gets about a yard of push. Jansen kind of bumps into his man, knocking him over, and tumbles into the end zone. Portis never set foot in the end zone but he got the ball across the plane of the goal line. There is no physical domination in the style of the Hogs, but it's smart blocking and Portis knows how to use it.
  • It was a slightly different story on a 27-yard Portis run early in the fourth quarter. On this one, the O-line got a good push and created a pile on the inside. At the point of attack, though, Samuels stepped back as if to pass block and just shoved his man out of the way. Portis got to the second level quickly and an Santana Moss block—nothing spectacular, he just stayed engaged with his man—sprung him. This was the middle play in the three-play drive that led to the Redskins' winning TD.
  • That came on a pass to Moss. A safety covering deep isn't much help when you send Moss streaking across the middle like that. The spin move to stay inbounds, make the tackler miss and get into the end zone isn't something you can teach.
  • That put the Redskins up 14-3. I'm going to break down the goal line stand tomorrow in the Tuesday Take, so I'll stop here.

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.