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Redskins vs. Chargers Game Blog

Redskins vs. Chargers Game Blog

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Postgame
This was about as down a locker room as I’ve seen. While the voices are saying that the losses don’t have a cumulative effect, the eyes and the tone of voice say something different. The defensive players are wondering if they’ll ever be able to make the play that will win it at the end. The offensive players, while they have been rather scarce in the locker room the past few weeks, are looking for the answers that will let them score enough so that it won’t come down to a couple of plays at the end. Joe Gibbs is trying, trying to keep things positive but that’s a mounting challenge as the one agonizing loss after another piles up.
Both players and coaches bristle at the suggestion that they are playing not to lose the game rather than to win it, but that seems to be the case here. They seem to lose all of their aggressiveness with the game on the line and hope that they can hang on rather than going out and taking it game. This manifests itself both in the play calling and on the way the team is playing. The problems in close games will continue unless this changes.
First quarter
That particular goal post where Keading missed the field goal on the Chargers’ opening drive has been lucky for the Redskins. It’s the one to the right on your TV screens. Josh Brown smacked the potential game-winner for Seattle off of the left upright there and Sebastian Janakowski was wide right last week. We’ll have to investigate to see if there are any doors that can be opened on that end.
Can you do that? Can you actually tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage? Twice in three plays? The Redskins blitz worked on that series. The blitzers were not seeking out blockers, they were finding the opposing quarterback.
Already, Jimmy Farris has had more of an impact this week than Taylor Jacobs did last week with an 18-yard reception for a first down. He stayed with his pattern, coming from all the way across the field as Brunell had plenty of time to pick him out. That sets up a field goal and the Redskins have a 3-0 lead. John Hall is now nine for nine on field goal attempts this year.
Antonio Brown has now executed exactly what is wanted out of him three times—he has held on to the ball on all three returns. If he continues to do that, he will remain employed.
Second quarter
That’s two trick plays on the Redskins’ end of the field by San Diego now with the reverse to Parker following the halfback pass attempt to Brees. This one results in a score at the referees gave Tomlinson as long as he needed to bull his way over the goal line. The concept of forward progress being stopped seems to vanish near the goal line. Not starting to complain about the call, mind you, it always works that way.
Apologies to Taylor Jacobs for the previous slight. He managed to work his way wide open to get a key reception in the Redskins’ first TD drive. Actually, no apology until he does that a few more times.
Santana Moss goes into the end zone for the first time since the San Francisco game and the Redskins are showing some fight as they answer the Chargers score to recapture the lead.
Brees is having all of his passing success on quick outs. They need to jump those routes and they’ll get a quick six. An alternative to that is to bat it away, as the much-missed Cornelius Griffin did to kill a drive.
We have a quick-moving first half here. The Redskins have outplayed the Chargers by a slim margin, pretty much what’s reflected on the scoreboard. They are hanging tough with the favored team from San Diego, up 10-7 at the half.
Third quarter
Gibbs is playing this one very close to the vest, throwing short passes after getting a holding call to make it first and 20. The Chargers have a pretty good offense to play that way it seems to me, but Gibbs is showing confidence in his defense.
LaVar Arrington needs to make that interception. The replay was closer than it appeared at first glance. I’ve seen less control be called a catch, but it was a good call. Er, actually, bad call, good reversal on replay.
OK, that’s twice for Jacobs now. Good job finding the first down marker and stopping to catch Brunell’s pass to convert a big third and twelve.
Good for Rock Cartwright! Untouched 13 yards, a good, decisive cut into a large hole opened up by the left side of the line. The Redskins have a working margin and have the momentum. The next 10 minutes of play will be key. They need to keep the San Diego offense shut down as they have for all but one drive.
Brees simply isn’t sharp today. He’s missing open receivers all over the field and when he’s hitting them they are dropping the ball.
He was sharp on that third and 12 pass to Parker for a huge conversion. The Redskins need to hang on here for dear life and keep them down.
Here’s another third and long for the Redskins. A sack would be most helpful for the Redskins.
Nope, to Parker again. Third and twelve and then third and 14. That sack thing we learned about earlier seems to have disappeared.
Fourth quarter and Overtime
The lucky goal post didn’t do its job that time as Keading puts one through just inside that left post of the set up uprights on the right. That pulls the Chargers within a touchdown at 17-10.
Third time is a charm as the Redskins finally an interception the third time a defender has had both hands on the ball. It was Carlos Rogers who got this one, killing a promising Charger drive and giving Washington another chance to try to kill some time off of the clock. Another non-sharp pass by Brees there after hitting a few good ones in a row.
Gibbs has not abandoned the run, keeping it with Portis on the ground. However, Brunell has to throw it away on third and two and the Redskins punt. Not a superb effort by Frost with a 33-yard boot when he had the whole field to work with, although there was no return. Still, the Chargers have the ball five yards shy of midfield with just under 10 minutes to play.
With 8:03 to play, the Redskins are a few first downs away from salting this one away. If they go three and out again, it will be asking too much of the defense to stop the Chargers yet again after almost no rest.
There’s one of the first downs by mere inches. Portis did not get a favorable spot, but it was it was just good enough.
Robert Royal has now dropped three passes, the last of which cost the Redskins the second first down that they needed. Jacobs bails him out with his third catch for a first down of the day. Official apology to Jacobs now issued for the first-quarter comment. He has played well today.
One more defensive stand should do it. It’s not off to a good start, though, as Brees goes to Parker for 22 yards to get into Redskins territory followed by an offside penalty on Chris Clemons. Need to tighten up in a hurry.
The zebras are picking a hell of a time to tighten up on illegal contact on this drive. That’s two, one accepted, in the past four plays called on Washington.
Well, it was a matter of time until Tomlinson got it untracked. The Redskins defense has just been on the field for too long.
OK, it’s time for the Redskins to put together a drive for the first time since the third quarter. They need about 50 yards or so for a good shot at a Hall field goal.
Three three and outs and a short drive with a couple of first downs has been the sum total of the Redskins’ offensive output since Cartwright’s touchdown. Now San Diego has the ball with a shot at a game-winner. The defense needs to reach deep and come up with a turnover or a quick three and out. You don’t want this one to come down to the overtime coin flip.
They got it courtesy of a tipped pass hauled down by Springs. It would be good to pick up a first down or two to make it closer for Hall, but they are within his range now.
Not any more after Rabach holds to push them out of range. Bad play by Rabach, that’s the last thing you want to do in that situation. Now it’s third and 14 with a 52-yard attempt on Hall’s plate if they don’t gain anything.
Short. Damn.
Interception by Harris on the final play of regulation to go to overtime for the second time of the year here at FedEx Field. The coin toss will be key here, and the Chargers get it.
One play to Gates, his first significant reception of the day is good for 24 yards. The Redskins can’t give another inch.
LT for the touchdown to end it.

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Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

The Redskins moved the ball well against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but continued red zone woes again sent Washington home with a loss. While the late November schedule proved brutal for the 'Skins, playing two games in five days, now the Redskins come to Arizona for an early December game with fresh legs and ample rest. Played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, weather will not be a factor for the 4 p.m. EST kick, but all the action starts on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at 3 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Keep it moving - Kirk Cousins showed he likes to get hot in the second half of the season during 2015. The quarterback's play late last year won the 'Skins the NFC East, and while a division title is out of reach with the Cowboys already at 11 wins, Cousins again looks to be on a heater. In three games since the bye, Cousins has thrown for more than 1,000 yards to go with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 1 story for the 'Skins is Cousins, and if he keeps his hot streak going, Washington should find itself in position to win in Arizona.
  2. Missing in action - This will be the final game of a four-game suspension for left tackle Trent Williams, and the Washington offensive line has performed admirably in his absence. Arguably more important this week will be the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in Dallas. What's wild about Reed - he came back to play in the second half against the Cowboys - and score two touchdowns - while playing with a separated shoulder. Reed did not practice this week, and Jay Gruden said his range of motion in the shoulder is just too limited to go against the Cardinals. 
  3. Consider the source - The Redskins offense might be the most potent group in this game, but Washington would be foolish to sleep on the Cardinals. Arizona was widely considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, and though they are in the midst of a disappointing year at 4-6-1, a win against the Skins could get the Cards back on the playoff track. Arizona running back David Johnson is the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL with 921 yards on the ground, not to mention an additional 613 yards receiving. Gruden on Johnson, "He is probably the best all-around back there is in the National Football League right now as far as being able to move outside, be a great route runner but also run between the tackles and run outside with his speed. So it’s going to be a matchup problem." Defensively, the Redskins ranks 25th in the NFL at stopping the run. Watch out for David Johnson.
  4. Problems don't just go away - Look at just about any metric on the Redskins offense, and the results are impressive: No. 2 in yards-per-game, No. 2 in yards-per-play, No. 2 in pass yards-per-game. But for all the yards, the 'Skins don't score at a corresponding clip as they rank 9th in the NFL in points. The culprit? Red zone troubles. "There are so many good things we’re doing on offense to put a damper on what they’re doing offensively with the red zone. It’s hard to do, but it’s something that is a glaring weakness of this football team right now," Gruden said of his team. The best road to wins for the Redskins is by scoring, ideally at least 30 points, and that will require some success inside the 20s.
  5. The harder they fall - If the Arizona offense has an Achilles heel, it's their offensive line. Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times in the Cards last four games, and the 'Skins need to focus on bringing Palmer down. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy - who will be playing in his hometown - have been the leaders at getting sacks for Joe Barry's defense, and Preston Smith could be in line for another big game. Getting to Carson Palmer should be among the defense's top priorities, as that can slow Larry Fitzgerald and the Cards pass game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • DeSean Jackson's 67-yard reception in Dallas was a season long and his longest since a 77-yard touchdown vs. Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2015 season.
  • Kirk Cousins' 3,540 passing yards in 2016 now rank 10th-most in a single season in team history, and he still has five games left to play.
  • The Redskins offense ranks first in the NFL in percentage of fewest 3-and-out drives at 9.5 percent.
  • If Pierre Garçon can gain 137 receiving yards on Sunday, he will pass Michael Westbrook for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history.
  • With nine sacks, Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from becoming the fifth member of the Redskins (Dexter Manley, 4; Charles Mann, 4; Andre Carter, 2; Brian Orakpo, 2) to post multiple 10-sack seasons since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.

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

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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances