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Redskins vs. Bengals GameBlog

Redskins vs. Bengals GameBlog

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

Seen on the way in, the perfect solution for those of you who have the dilemma of picking a player’s jersey to wear. This fan had what looked like your standard replica jersey, except there were four numbers sewn to the back: 28, 17, 81, and 33. A good way to pay tribute to four Redskins legends.

On the first play, Ladell Betts drove the pile for a gain of five, again showing the power that he’s been exhibiting during camp. The Redskins have a solid 1-2 punch at running back

Ramsey’s lack of calm in the pocket and touch on the ball on the first series gets him a smattering of boos as he left the field after the first series. Who said that the NFL fan, circa 2005, isn’t rational?

Not good for Andy Groom to airmail a punt from his own 48 about 8 yards deep into the end zone. It would have been a great kick from his own 20. Midfield is a great spot for a punter to pooch it and Groom lacked that touch.

Lemar Marshall had great technique on the opening play, waiting for Rudi Johnson on an off-tackle for no gain.

Betts is a North-South runner. He lost one yard when he tried to go wide on second down. While he has some speed, he needs to use it after going through the hole straight ahead, not moving laterally.

Groom booms one 50 and hangs it up there for the coverage, who tackle the returner for a loss of one.

Another example of a runner who needs to stick with North-South is Cincy’s Rudi Johnson. On one play he kept trying to bounce a run outside and wound up with a bigger and bigger pack of Redskin tacklers in front of him every time. He wound up losing 10.

A horrible throw by Palmer leads to Carlos Rogers’ first NFL interception (not that it counts, this being preseason). Rogers showed some speed during his 30-yard return, but unrefined running skills. He appeared to have clear sailing up the sideline.

Rollout, throwback, reminiscent of Mark Rypien in his prime, from Ramsey to James Thrash for a Redskins TD from 25 yards out. Is that the one play that Ramsey needs to get it going? The first player out to congratulate Ramsey with a high-ten was Mark Brunell.

Thrash celebrated the touchdown by lining up on the kickoff team and sprinting all the way into the end zone to make sure that the returner kneeled down for a touchback.

Carson Palmer has had two nice scrambles for first downs, but I’m not so sure that Marvin Lewis is all the excited about it. The #1 overall pick a couple of years ago is wearing a knee brace, having missed the last three games of last year with an injury to that joint. Not only that, but Carlos Rogers nearly took his head off just before Palmer went into the slide move on the first scramble.

Second Quarter

Derrick Dockery just made a Bengal cornerback disappear when pulling on an off-tackle by Betts. The massive guard didn’t pancake number 34 as much as simply engulf him.

Yep, it just took one. Ramsey couldn’t have gone up and placed the ball in Daveid Patten’s hands any better on a 46-yard hookup deep into Bengal territory. Patten had half a step and Ramsey put the ball just beyond the defender’s reach.

That is followed up by a bad interception, with Ramsey throwing in the end zone to a tightly-covered Kevin Dyson. He got a little too cocky, perhaps.

They’ve got Carlos Rogers covering Chad Johnson, who is still in the game midway through the second quarter. Johnson beats him with a move to the sideline to pick up a first. Next play, Rogers is on Houshmandzadeh, who drops a TD pass. After that, he’s on Kelly Washington, who again beats Rogers and this time the receiver caught the ball for a 45-yard TD (who put on one of the most obnoxious dance displays ever, going on for about 15 seconds to celebrate a touchdown in an exhibition game).

Following the point after, Gregg Williams met Rogers at the sideline and offered him some advice that seemed to be neither particularly friendly nor particularly harsh. LaVar Arrington came over offered Rogers some words of encouragement.

Antonio Brown didn’t seem to exhibit much in the way of being able to make tacklers miss against the Panthers last week. Tonight, he’s showing a nice ability to chance both direction and speed to elude tacklers.

The good and the bad from Ramsey again. Drops in a nice one to Patten for 33 yards and then throws another horrid INT. After the pick, Ramsey and the other QB’s huddle with Bill Musgrave, looking at what likely was a high-level snapshot of the play.

Palmer had another chance to scramble, but he wisely threw the ball 15 yards out of bounds. It appears that Lewis had a little chat with him.

The Bengals aren’t holding much back on offense—five WR sets, quick-pitch plays, a little swing pass where the receivers cleared out the left side and Palmer dropped it into a running back, a shovel pass for a touchdown--the works.

For most of the second quarter it has been the Bengals’ first offense against the Redskins’ second defense and Washington’s first offense against Cincy’s first defense.

Kelly Washington caught a three-yard pass from Palmer. Fortunately, it was inside the two-minute warning and he had to get lined up, so we were spared the dance that surely would have ensured otherwise.

Groom did do a nice job of holding for John Hall on a field goal try that was just like an extra point. The ball was a bit inside, but Groom handled it and got the ball down in plenty of time.

Third Quarter:

Some dumb football by the Redskins early in the third. Khary Campbell made a nice hit to force a fumble and Clifton Smith, rather than falling on the ball, tried to scoop it up at about knee level. He never got the handle and ex-Redskin Larry Moore recovered the ball. After that, Chris Clemons hit John Kitna when the quarterback was almost on the far side of the wide white stripe that is the sideline. Combine those two and instead of Washington driving for a score Cincinnati has a first down near midfield. That’s the stuff that drives all coaches, particularly Gibbs, absolutely crazy.

Gibbs went for it on fourth and one at the Bengal 31, figuring that his first-team offensive line should be able to push back the Cincinnati backups on the line. A defensive tackle got penetration, though, and Cartwright never had a chance and lost four.

After that initial boomer into the end zone, Groom has been booming them from better spots on the field, just launching one 52 yards. He’s still a long shot to make the team, but he’ll be playing in the NFL somewhere soon.

Omar Stoutmire had a good chance at a highlight-reel hit on a pass over the middle, but he ducked out of it and allowed a first-down completion. He’s a veteran who needs to make those plays if he wants to snag that last safety spot.

Ade Jimoh has made a couple of nice open-field tackles, but he just can’t blitz to save his life. Last week he missed the tackle on the quarterback, tonight he seemed to have an open lane to Craig Krenzel but instead looped outside and never got near him as the quarterback converted on third and eight.

Fourth Quarter:

The Redskins are getting killed on third downs. Through three quarters the Bengals are 11 of 16 on third down conversions.

Brunell made a good arm pass to Antonio Brown. With a defender preventing him from stepping into the throw, he zipped the ball in to Brown for 12 yards.

Manny White lined up at fullback and made a classic lead block to move Broughton from the Bengal nine down to the three. White kicked out the linebacker trying to fill the hole and Nemo cut right off of his butt and rumbled down to the three. Broughton scored on the next play.

Robert McCune made an excellent little play on a run up the middle. He got into the backfield and had nobody between himself and Kenny Watson. Instead of going for the kill, he stood his ground and let Watson make his move and got just enough of a hand on him so that the rest of the defense could gang tackle Watson at the line. It won’t show up on the stat sheet or on ESPN, but it was a smart play.

Three straight drops, by Elliott, Combs, and Farris kill a promising drive to tie the game up. Can’t blame Brunell for that one.

Ramsey had more positive plays than Brunell on the night, but the two interceptions were killers. The first one looked just like the Philadelphia game at FedEx last year when he just threw into coverage in the end zone. The second one was just an awful throw. Still, he averaged over 10 yards per attempt on the ones he got to the guys who were wearing the right-colored shirts.

Antonio Brown is going to be dragging tonight. In addition to handling all of the return duties in the first half, he’s been lined up at receiver virtually every play since early in the second quarter. It seems like they’re trying to make sure he picks up the finer points about

Broughton just put a damper on an otherwise great evening by fumbling away the Redskins’ last chance to tie it up.

Gibbs was visibly agitated about the turnovers during his post-game press conference. There was an edge to his voice that has rarely been heard in public. The audio clip will be up in a little while.

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How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

The Redskins ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in a number of defensive categories in 2016, and the first and second round selections in the 2017 Draft should help to address that.

A huge part of the Washington defensive problems stemmed from an inability to get off the field on third downs, and Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson should immediately provide a pass rush boost. In 2016, the duo combined for 18.5 sacks, 8.5 coming from Anderson and another 10 from Allen, two huge pieces for the excellent Alabama defense.

On the pro level, Anderson may actually be in position for more sacks as he's likely to play outside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 scheme. Allen will be more of an interior presence, a natural fit for the 'Skins defensive end spot in the 3-4.

That doesn't mean the two won't compete to hit quarterbacks. 

RELATED: Gruden squashes notion that Alabama defenders do not succeed in NFL

Asked Saturday if there would be a bet between the two college teammates about who gets more sacks their rookie season, Anderson quickly responded, "definitely."

Though he was surprised by the bet, Allen wasn't going to back down from the challenge. (Full video above)

"I guess there is now, I didn't know about it 'til now," Allen said. 

As for the stakes of the bet, Allen said the pair of rookies will figure that out behind closed doors. 

"His bank account is a little longer than mine so we will have to figure something else out," Anderson said.

What's clear from hanging out with both players is their familiarity with one another will help both players transition to the NFL. Allen and Anderson said they had an emotional response when they learned they would continue to play together in Washington. 

"There's very few players that have better film or resume than this guy right here," Allen said of Anderson. 

Anderson, as the Redskins press group has quickly learned, has a certain way with words. Honest and funny, but to the point.

"I'm excited to have one of my dogs with me here," he said of Allen. 

The Redskins ranked ninth in the NFL in sacks in 2016, but will lose Trent Murphy for four games to start the year. Sacks are just one metric to measure defensive success, though an easily quantifiable and fun metric for fans.

Where Washington has to improve is on 3rd downs. In 2016, they allowed a confounding 97 third down conversions, good for 31st in the league. There's only 32 teams. What's worse? The 'Skins gave nine fourth down conversions too.

Regardless of sack totals, Allen and Anderson were brought to Washington to help this defense get off the field. Coming from the Crimson Tide, the two rookies seem up for the challenge. 

MORE REDSKINS: Grading the Redskins 2017 draft

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Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we must dig in a little more to come up with a grade for the draft headed up by Bruce Allen. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—B

There really isn’t enough to love or to hate here. They didn’t do much wheeling and dealing while on the clock, making only a minor deal with the Vikings to move up two spots in the sixth round in exchange for moving down 10 slots in the seventh.

For the record, the trade (picks 201 and 220 from Washington to Minnesota in exchange for picks 199 and 230) was just about a wash on the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, with the Redskins giving up a statistically insignificant one point of value.

Whether center Chase Roullier, the player they traded up to draft, makes the team and has an impact or not is not going to make or break the draft but it should be noted that they gave up something of value to get him so it was a player they wanted to make sure they got as his name was still on the board.

The deals that got them up to 10 picks had already been made by Scot McCloughan on draft day last year as he added picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds with various trades.

Perhaps they deserve the most credit for a potential deal they did not make. As their first-round pick got closer and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remained on the board it had to be tempting for them to spend a mid-round pick to jump up and grab him before anyone else could. But Gruden said that they had a number of players to choose from as the pick approached and they decided to stay put. The gamble paid off as Allen fell into their laps at pick No. 17.

RELATED: Redskins roll the dice in the 7th round

Talent/fit/needs—A-

The Redskins needed to bolster their defense and they certainly gave it a go. Their first three picks were on defense as were four of their first five and six of 10 overall.

But the raw number of the picks doesn’t really tell the story; it’s the value of the picks that really matters. According to that Jimmy Johnson pick value chart, they spend 1,596 points on defense and 126 points on offense.

They hit on their biggest needs with their first two picks. They had not drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since 1997 and the neglect of the position was evident. In Allen they got a player with Pro Bowl potential in their biggest area of need.

Allen will help the pass rush from the inside and then in the second round they acquired some edge rushing ability with Ryan Anderson. It seems that this pick was strongly influenced by Scot McCloughan’s draft board. His height, weight, and combine numbers were not what a lot of teams are looking for in an edge rusher but his tough mentality and obvious love for the game are attributes that McCloughan valued.

Although Gruden expressed his confidence in Rob Kelley to be his running back it appeared to most outside observers that an upgrade was needed and they got that in Samaje Perine. You can’t have too many good corners and Bashaud Breeland is set to be a 2018 free agent so they took Fabian Moreau in the third round. They had no backup center Roullier could develop into that spot. Gruden said earlier this offseason that they needed a blocking tight end and that is what Jeremy Sprinkle is.

They didn’t hit on all their needs. With the top three inside linebackers set to be free agents next year many thought they would spend a top pick there. And although there were a few possible nose tackles on the board in the later rounds they bypassed that position. You can’t solve everything in one draft but the Redskins have now had eight drafts since converting to the 3-4 defense and they still haven’t found a solution at nose tackle.

As far as value goes, it doesn’t get much better than Allen, who was a consensus top-five talent who lasted until the 17th pick. Moreau may have been a first-round pick before tearing a pectoral muscle lifting weights during his pro day.

On the other end of the value scale, the fourth round seemed to be way too early to take safety Montae Nicholson. There is something to be said for taking a guy with good measurables who didn’t have good game tape and taking a shot at developing him. But the fourth round is too soon for taking such a chance.

READ MORE: Breaking down the Redskins late round picks

Overall—B+

After their first two picks, they didn’t shy away from red flags. Moreau and Nicholson both have injuries that will keep them out of action until sometime in training camp. Sprinkle had a highly-publicized shoplifting citation that got him suspended from Arkansas’ bowl game. Seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons failed multiple drug tests during college.

They did stay away from players with histories of high-profile violent incidents like Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon, and Caleb Brantley.

How those red-flag players turn out will be the key to this draft. It’s fine to take some chances, especially when you go into the draft with 10 picks. But you have better win more than you lose.

There were enough players taken who seem to be sure bets to be productive, if there is such a thing in the draft, to make it unlikely that the draft will be a total bust. Allen, Anderson, and Perine are clean prospects who have very high floors. Allen and Anderson may have Pro Bowl ceilings.

Given that, they seem to be assured of having a least a productive draft (again, with the caveat that nothing in the draft is certain). If Sprinkle develops into a good third tight end who can block and be a threat to catch a pass, that’s a plus. If Moreau can develop into a starter, this could be a pretty good draft. If sixth-round WR Robert Davis can contribute on special teams and be a productive fourth or fifth wide receiver, that would be another plus.

In short, the Redskins did some good work towards giving this draft a chance to be a success. Now it’s up to the coaches, to luck, and seeing how players who are projected to play well at age 22 actually perform on the field when they get older and suddenly have a six-figure salary. 

MORE REDSKINS: Clear winner from Redskins 2017 Draft?