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Redskins-Rams instant analysis

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Redskins-Rams instant analysis

Two games into the Robert Griffin III Era, this much is clear: the dynamic rookie makes the Redskins infinitely more watchable, but he does not guarantee a victory.Punter Sav Rocca had a punt blocked for the second consecutive week, wide receiver Josh Morgan lost his cool late and the injury depleted Redskins defense got torched by the Rams Sam Bradford-led offense in a momentum-halting 31-28 loss at Edward Jones Dome. The Rams victory ended an eight-game losing streak dating to last season.
The Redskins were on the move late in the fourth quarter when Morgan snagged a Griffin pass at the Rams 29-yard line. But the wide receiver drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for flipping the ball at Cortland Finnegan, moving Washington back to the 44. Instead of a first down, Redskins kicker Billy Cundiff was forced to attempt a 62-yard field goal attempt that came up well short with 1:18 left to play.
Griffin filled up the box score, passing for 209 yards and a touchdown and running for 82 yards and two more scores. But he also tossed his first career interception and suffered his first defeat.

Adding injury to insult, the Redskins also suffered some key injuries that bear watching. Defensive end Adam Carriker (right knee), linebacker Brian Orakpo (left shoulder) and cornerback Josh Wilson (undisclosed) all left the game.
Carriker suffered what appeared to be a serious-looking right knee injury on Rams second possession. Orakpo attempted to return after appearing to reinjure his problematic left shoulder. Wilson, meantime, was hurt while tackling running back Darryl Richardson with a head-first tackle in the third quarter.
The extent of the injuries was not immediately known. But if any of them misses significant time, it could prove to be a serious blow to a defense that can ill-afford it after yielding 63 points in two games.
Griffin appeared to steady the Redskins late in the third quarter when scored from seven yards out on a keeper. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game and it restored the visitors advantage, 28-23.
On the Rams next possession, linebacker London Fletcher bailed out the Redskins when he picked off Bradford in the end zone.
But it proved to only be a temporary reprieve.
Matthew Mulligan blocked Roccas punt deep in Washingtons end. Four plays later, Mulligan was on the receiving end of Bradfords third touchdown pass, a one-yarder that put St. Louis ahead 31-28 after a two-point conversion by Richardson.
Rocca has now had punts blocked on consecutive Sundays and it did not appear to involve any chemistry issues between Rocca and new long snapper Justin Snow.
The result would have been hard to imagine after the Redskins fast start.
On the Ramss first play from scrimmage, Perry Riley stripped Danny Amendola on the Rams first play from scrimmage, and cornerback Josh Wilson returned the ball 30 yards for a touchdown.
Later in the first half, Griffin would extend the visitors lead to 14-3 with a five-yard run and then 21-6 with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Hankerson. It was the first scoring reception of Hankersons career.
The rest of the half belonged to Amendola, who shredded the Redskins shaky seconday en route to tying an NFL record for receptions in a half with 12. In only two quarters, Amendola racked up 133 yards and a touchdown.

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Did Vernon Davis force the NFL to make TD celebration rule change?

Did Vernon Davis force the NFL to make TD celebration rule change?

Last fall, Vernon Davis scored a touchdown in a Redskins win over the Eagles. Immediately following, he used the football in place of a basketball and made a jump shot over the cross bar. It was a cool, spontaneous celebration for his second TD of the season.

Seconds later, a penalty flag hit the ground. Davis was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for using the ball as a prop. In a league with a tremendous amount of awful penalties, it ranked as one of the worst of the season. 

The good news? In 2017, Davis' celebration will no longer draw a flag.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell penned a letter explaining the changes:

We are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays. We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown. And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.

In a league committed to Thursday Night Football - which both players and fans dislike - as well as archaic policies on social media and substance abuse, this is a rare, positive development. 

It's okay to let players have a little fun, show some personality. Goodell made clear that lewd celebrations would still be flagged, and that's reasonable. Using the ball as a prop, however, shouldn't be. Now, it won't.

Did Davis break the NFL? Probably not, though his penalty is often the first thing people point to when discussing the absurdity of the ball as a prop rule. 

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Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Jay Gruden is going into his fourth season as the Redskins’ head coach. If there is one thing he has learned, it is the nature of his team’s fan base.

He was asked if he would need to be patient, getting the team’s defense, which will have as many as six new starters and several other key contributors who are new to the organization, to play well as a unit.

“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C.,” Gruden said. “We have to be good now. We were 9-7 two years ago, 8-7-1 last year. I think the expectations are high and they’re always going to be high in this area and we have to perform.”

I’m not sure that most fans expect a Super Bowl win this year. But they do expect progress towards one and a slow start that results in the team being irrelevant after Thanksgiving will not be acceptable.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Gruden does have a tall task to get the defense to be effective quickly.

“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” he said. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.”

Greg Manusky replaced Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator. They brought in Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line and put Torrian Gray in charge of the secondary. Among the players expected to start or contribute heavily are free agents DL Stacy McGee, DL Terrell McClain, ILB Zach Brown and S D.J. Swearinger and draft picks DL Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson.

The Redskins have added multiple free agents to their defense in the past with mixed, mostly negative results. But things don’t have to take long to gel. The Giants had one of the league’s worst defenses in 2015 but with a few free agency additions and with the help of 2015 draft pick Landon Collins suddenly blossoming into one of the best safeties in the game they were one of the best last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule

The main thing that the Redskins defense has to avoid this year is taking a step back. The team has gone 17-14-1 over the last two years with a defensive unit that ranked from mediocre to bad in most key categories. If they can start off performing like a team in the lower middle of the pack defensively and improve as the year goes on the team should be able to be in the mix in December. Despite also dealing with some changes, the offense should be able to carry the team until the defense can get its act together.

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.