This has to be one of the toughest and most physical games played that I’ve witnessed in a very long time. Both sides were very chippy and over aggressive from the first quarter all the way to the final whistle. Here’s a recap of yesterday’s action.
Starting off the game with a bang, Washington capitalized early with a forced fumble returned for a touchdown by Josh Wilson. It appeared as though the defense came ready to play. That is, until Sam Bradford remembered that the Redskins have always had problems defending small quick receivers. He began to target Danny Amendola as if he were the only person eligible to receive a pass. Amendola tied his career high in receptions (12) in the first half. For those reading this that have yet to see any action from the game, that was not a typo. Amendola is the reason that this game didn’t get out of control early for St. Louis. The Washington offensive attack did their job well in the first half, by scoring on two drives which included a touchdown run by Griffin III and a 68 yard bomb to Hankerson. Griffin III finally got his first interception out of the way, as he was attempting to hit Fred Davis crossing the field. Cortland Finnegan read Griffin III’s eyes and made a spectacular one handed catch reaching behind him.
For the second week in a row, the Redskins allowed a blocked punt. These are mistakes that absolutely cannot be allowed at any point in the game as it seems to always be proven to be drastic. The reason you are punting in the first place is because you are not in ideal scoring range for yourself, but in perfect scoring range for your opponent. Washington needs to re-visit punt protection immediately because it seems as though the league has found a hole in their protection.
The 4th quarter is no time for players to try to be a hero by not doing your assignment on a designed play, especially in the goal line set. On the play action play where Bradford found a disturbingly wide open Mulligan in the back of the end zone, every linebacker was chasing Bradford rolling to the right like he was Vick racing towards the pylon. Nobody saw Mulligan run past their face and set up shop in the back of the end zone praying that Bradford saw him. Reviewing today’s red zone performance and growing from it will be key for Washington as the road they face doesn’t get any easier.
Penalties. Penalties. Penalties.
Washington has the ball with 4:54 remaining in the 4th quarter and Trent Williams is called for holding on 2nd down. Now faced with 2nd & 20, Washington is forced to change their game plan to move the ball and eventually get forced into a 3 &out. You cannot afford to have wasted possessions in the 4th quarter when you are trying to come back from behind. That holding penalty destroyed any chance Washington had to have a relaxed drive to attempt to win the game. Thanks to the defense getting a stop, the Skins had a 2nd opportunity but we all know that’s not always the case. If S. Jackson is on the field, would there have been a fumble?
Josh Morgan…the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty doesn’t bother me. In a physical game where there was pushing and shoving all game, when you get pushed in the head by a defender, you are supposed to be angry. There is no excuse whatsoever though for throwing the football at a defender. If you want to show your frustration, get up and bark in his face…anything but throw the football at him especially on 3rd down. If he had not drawn that penalty would Washington have won the game? Maybe. Is Josh Morgan’s penalty the reason Washington lost the game? No, there were many contributing factors. However, his penalty is the reason that the Redskins weren’t able to take full advantage of their last scoring opportunity and that ended up being the miscue that hurt the team the most.
I think that these two games are enough for Washington to stop playing like they are scared for Griffin III to be tackled. This is football and football plays have to be made as often as possible. I understand that Griffin III prefers to stay behind the line of scrimmage and throw the ball, but part of being a great quarterback is understanding what is necessary for every situation. There were a few plays in which it would’ve been best for him to take of and run but ended up resulting in throwing the ball away. Griffin needs to take advantage of all running opportunities so that he can get adjusted to the speed of the NFL as soon as possible. I am positive that this will make reading the field for him as easy as it was in college.
Morris had another strong performance. He tallied up 89 yards on 16 carries which comes out to be 5.6 yards per carry. With an average like that and your team playing with the lead most of the game, there should have been a lot more of #46 touching the ball. Washington did not do a good job of controlling the ball like they did vs New Orleans and the results of that were obvious. If the Redskins are going to trust Morris as their starting running back then they have to use him as if he were amongst the elite in the NFL. It is unacceptable to have a running back average 5.6 yards per carry and only run the ball 16 times. Unacceptable.
Overall, the Redskins are moving in the right direction. They aren’t showing the struggles to score like they have in the past and it is refreshing. I got tired of not having free toppings on my Papa John’s pizza on Mondays! The defense needs to find their identity quickly because the last thing Washington needs is to become a scoring machine with an unreliable defense. At the end of the day, there is always something a team can point to in a loss and say, “We need to work on this.” There are always aspects of the game that could use some fine tuning. What I saw yesterday was a team that refused to back down, refused to stop fighting and refused to lose. I saw faces of disappointment after the game which means that there has been a change for the better in Washington. This team expects to win and is equipped to do it. Keep your heads up Redskins Nation, the future of the Burgundy & Gold is in good hands.