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Inside the Numbers - Redskins @ Eagles
by Chris Russell
Sep 20, 2014 -- 7:58am

The (1-1) Washington Redskins play their first NFC East game of the 2014 season this Sunday in Philadelphia against the (2-0) Eagles.

Listen to all day coverage live from Lincoln Financial Field with "Redskins Gameplan"  starting at 9 AM on ESPN 980 & the Washington Redskins Radio Network.

I'll be on throughout the day, and don't forget the post-game show after the game until about 7:30.

With that as a scene-setter, let's go "Inside the Numbers."

I. Tale of two halves:

The Philadelphia Eagles have been mostly awful in the first half of their two games this year and mostly dominant in the second half of their two wins.

The Eagles have been outscored 34-6 in the first half, while trouncing opponents 58-10 in the back-half of games so far.

That's a interesting turnaround from last year, specifically when it comes to their games against the Redskins. In the Week one contest, the Eagles outscored the Redskins 26-7 and in the rematch, 17-0 over the first thirty minutes. Philadelphia was outscored 20-7 and 16-7 in the second half by the Redskins in the two games for a 36-14 edge.

Last year, the Eagles scored 210 first-half points over the regular season, or an average of 13.12 per game before halftime. They scored 232 points in the second half over the regular season, for an average of 14.5 points per game after halftime.

The Eagles were 6th in the NFL last season at +53 in the 1st half. 

Clearly, their numbers are out of whack so far, averaging three points per game in the first half and 24 points per game after halftime.

The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to start (2-0) after trailing by 14 or more points in the 2nd half of both games.

What does it all mean? Not much, but considering that the Eagles are a very balanced run/pass offense and dangerous in both areas, I would still want to make them as
one-dimensional as possible.

If the Redskins can take a somewhat sizable lead and force the Eagles into a more pass heavy attack, then they can pin their ears back and get after Nick Foles a little more.  

II.Time To Play:

The Eagles have run 87 plays against Jacksonville and only 68 plays against Indianapolis, because the Colts were able to slow down the game and run pretty effectively for the first three quarters.

LeSean McCoy has played 58 snaps and then 49 snaps against the Colts, with Sproles at 33 and then 25 in Indianapolis.

Last year, believe it or not, the Eagles only ran an average of 65.87 plays-per-game. (1054 plays over 16 games)

This is something pretty surprising, the Eagles opponents in 2013 ran a combined 1,150 plays over the course of the season, for an average of 71.87 plays-per-game.

You know who also ran more plays than the Eagles did on offense last year? The Redskins did. Washington ran 1,107 plays for an average of 69.18 plays per game.

The Redskins had a 0.301 points per play season mark. The Eagles were a much more productive mark of 0.419 points per play mark.

This year the Eagles are still very close to that statistic (which I think I created) at 0.412 points per play.

Here's another one that totally proves the smart contention that play counts mean absolutely nothing. The Redskins were at  5.34 yards per play  last year, which tied them with the Oakland Raiders but ahead of the Steelers, Titans, Dolphins, Jaguars, Chiefs, Jets and Giants.

The Eagles were at 6.33 yards per play. There was one team that could match that mark for the top rank in the NFL and that was the Denver Broncos.

The Redskins are up to 5.70  yards per play this year, while the Eagles have dropped to 5.97, so the gap has closed at least early on.

III. Inside the East:

The Redskins were awful in the division last year, as in winless. (0-6) after winning the division title.

Just to track how some recent winless teams in divisional play did the next year overall and in the division, I went back to 2012. The Chiefs were (0-6) in the AFC West and (2-14) overall and made the playoffs in 2013. Kansas City was (11-5) but still struggled inside the division at (2-4).

The Eagles were not winless in 2012 in the NFC East, but were (1-5) and overall were (4-12) and they won the division title in 2013 at (10-6) and were (4-2) inside the east.

Detroit was (0-6) in the NFC North in 2012 and well, they were still not good enough in 2013 at (7-9), but the good news was they were (4-2) in divisional play.

In 2011, Cleveland, Minnesota and St.Louis were winless in divisional play. In the next full year (2013), Minnesota made the playoffs at (10-6) and were (4-2) in division games, while St. Louis was pretty darn good in their division (4-1-1) but missed out on the playoffs. Cleveland was still awful.

IV. Monday Night Hangover?

Last year, teams that played on Monday Night Football as the Eagles did were 17-16 the following Sunday excluding teams that were on bye after their primetime game.

The Eagles had a war against Indianapolis last Monday night and then had to travel home to get ready for the Redskins. I have to think that will play a factor at some point.


IV. Shady & Slick Nick:

Per Elias, in 2013 Nick Foles & LeSean McCoy were the first teammates since 1970 merger to lead NFL in passing (efficiency) & rushing in same year.

Chris Russell - www.twitter.com/russellmania980 - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com


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Time To Speak Up
by Chris Russell
Sep 16, 2014 -- 10:29pm
ESPN 980

It's been over 48 hours since Redskins fans and the NFL world gasped at the thought that Robert Griffin III could be seriously injured again.

While his injury is serious, we should  be thankful that it was not worse than it turned out to be.

ESPN GalleriesRobert did not deserve this injury. Redskins fans who pay a lot of money to support the team and Griffin did not want to see this scenario play out.

As for me, I felt awful for a good young man who has worked his tail off to come back from several injuries and has a very big heart.

He's not perfect, by any means, but neither am I and you are not either. For those of you that will accuse me of being a blind homer and overly defensive of Griffin, so be it.

I can't win and neither can he. I'll say what I feel. It's 'Time to Speak Up.'

Griffin is as tough as they come. Sometimes, his competitive fire gets the best of him and maybe he'll always be in the line of fire when it comes to injuries. It happens. It's the National Football League.

Is he injury-prone? I don't know if I can answer that fairly. Yes, Griffin has had two ACL surgeries but because of timing, he never actually missed a game because of his first major NFL injury. He suffered a concussion in his fifth NFL game, missed the remainder of the second half and returned the next week to electrify the universe against the Vikings.

He missed one game because of the original injury against Baltimore in December 2012, but that was not considered major at the time.  If Mike Shanahan would have let him, he would have played that game in Cleveland.

This Sunday in Philadelphia, he will miss the first of at least a few games because of the ankle dislocation.  Is he injury-prone? I say no. Is he susceptible to injury? Yes. So is Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, and others that play the position.

It's rare that you have Eli Manning type longevity. Very rare in this league of brutality.

That's one issue. Next.

Is Griffin a franchise quarterback? He has all the requisite skills to be and still be that guy. Is he there yet? No. Is he close? Probably not. How could he be so quickly?

Was Drew Brees a franchise quarterback in year two of his NFL career? No. He wasn't completely healthy during the early part of his career and the Chargers gave up on him. They wound up with Phillip Rivers. The Chargers impatience (even though Rivers is very good) was the Saints gain.

The point is - it takes time. Some make it look easy like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. It's not.

A lot of it depends on the team you are with. In order for the Redskins to have been in a position to trade for and then draft Griffin, they had to be a bad team and they were.

Griffin came in and made it look easy, when it was anything but that. In essence, a franchise player is essentially what Griffin was able to do in 2012.

 A lot of the Redskins short-comings before Griffin and after were because of their complete lack of patience.

They weren't patient under Joe Gibbs. They were a luxury cruise liner that hit an iceberg under Jim Zorn, who was powerless. They weren't patient under Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen and they are still not patient.

I can cite countless examples, but if you've paid any attention - you know that this organization and patience is like oil and water mixed.

When you look at the definition of a franchise quarterback, Griffin has almost every box checked on the list. Smart? Check. Hard working? Check. Rocket arm? Check. Mobility? Check. Accuracy and touch? Check to a large degree.

Does he need to get better at getting rid of the football? Yes. Does he need to slide better? Yes. Oh by the way he's improved in that area.

Did he run the read option quarterback pulls as the game plan said he should? Yes. Did he execute it well? Hell yeah. The first play of the game last Sunday was textbook on how you read a defensive end and pull.

I'm not sure what else you wanted Griffin to do over the last game plus, except find a way to win in Houston. A fair expectation. Others needed to do better as well.

Yet, here we are with a Mike Wise column and a ProFootballTalk.com column essentially saying that Jay Gruden likes Kirk Cousins better than Robert Griffin III. As usual, there are unnamed sources and a complete lack of details but the reports are from credible outlets, so I can't completely dismiss them.

Yes, Redskins fans - Mike Wise and Mike Florio are not Satan and the boogeyman. Sorry.

I don't know that these accusations are true or false. Sadly, Jay Gruden has not invited me out to dinner yet or for a sit-down in his office. Here's what I know.

Robert Griffin III was Gruden's starting quarterback from day one of his tenure.

Some have the premise he was forced to do that. As in a gun to his head. Sorry, conspiracy theorists. You're wrong. Gruden may have taken the job with the complete understanding that the expectation was that he would start and develop Griffin, but that was EVERYBODY's expectation.

Including Jay's. Jay did not have to take THIS job if he was so down on Griffin's ability to develop. If Griffin was not developing as fast as Gruden wanted him to come along, then that is on Jay. That means he's not being patient.

Gruden wants to win. Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder want to win. I know for a fact that there were moments of frustration that Gruden had at different times during the process. Maybe he or somebody close to him said something to somebody that they should not have said, and it was spun in this fashion.

I really don't know. I hear a LOT of things about a LOT of players and coaches and it is my job to sort thru the wreckage and be responsible with the information. I've said a lot of things and I've held back a lot of times. I'm still doing that, because there is information about many that would serve only to hurt and disrespect, instead of to educate.

My job is to watch football, cover football and analyze football. You can't win football games or cover a football team every day, if you are constantly stirring the pot. It just will not work.

Some members of the media clearly do not care what they say or who they hurt. That's their choice. I suppose that is part of the job. I can't play that game. Sorry. Wise and Florio have every right to publish whatever they want. I have no doubt that they talked to somebody who knew somebody about someone out there somewhere.

Jay Gruden has every right to feel however he wants to feel, if those stories are completely true. I know this: Gruden prefers that his quarterback get rid of the football quicker and one that does not take negative plays. Griffin still has to improve in this area. Cousins is more advanced in this particular element. So maybe that's what Florio and Wise heard and ran with. Again, their choice.

Gruden denied the accusations to ESPN and ESPN 980's John Keim who relayed a brief conversation he had with the head coach. So you have Gruden telling Keim the report was false. I think Jay is pretty good about telling us how he really feels. I have no reason to think he is lying. His word is good enough for me.

My only regret with Jay is that he should have closed the door on the issue during Monday's press conference.

 

I'm often accused of being a shill for Griffin, Jim Haslett, Brian Orakpo, Tyler Polumbus or whoever it is that is in the line of fire.

I might be at times. I am also critical at times. What you try and do is balance the praise and criticism as much as possible.

Here's what I am, no matter how you view me. I'm accountable. If I praise, I get hammered. If I criticize, I get hammered. You know what also happens regardless of whether I praise or criticize? I show up every day at Redskins Park. Every day during the season and several days a week during the non-season.

Players and coaches know where to find me and have done so over the years. That's part of the job. What I don't do is ignite the flame and go into the witness protection program.

Here's the bottom-line. I want Robert Griffin III to be successful and I want Kirk Cousins to do the same. Both are good guys in their own different ways that are in a ultra-competitive fish bowl. For the Redskins to be successful long-term, there should be no competition between Griffin and Cousins. You have two competitive and capable guys, but Griffin is and should be the starter and Cousins is a terrific secondary option.

You are going to like a lot of things about Cousins on Sunday and moving forward, and if you compare Griffin III side by side - you might think to yourself Griffin doesn't do that as well. You're also going to see things Sunday that Griffin does significantly better than Cousins.

How you view it and process it is your choice. Here's what I'll be watching and judging: whether the Redskins win the game by any means necessary. Then and only then, can we possibly try to compare and scrutinize.

Nothing else really matters. After a win, then it will be time to speak up.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/rusellmania980

 


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Blitz for the Better with Ryan Kerrigan
by Chris Russell
Sep 15, 2014 -- 5:51pm

Ryan Kerrigan had four sacks on Sunday in the Redskins dominating win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He leads the NFL in that category and the Redskins are very likely to be the number one ranked defense in the league after Monday Night Football between the Eagles and Colts.

Tonight, Kerrigan is doing  something just as important.

"I'm excited for my charity event tonight. It will be a good time," Kerrigan told me Monday morning in the Redskins locker room. "It's at Ruth's Chris in Arlington. 6:30. My teammates and I will be serving dinner to all the folks attending."

This particular event has a special meaning to me because I have a special needs child.  Kerrigan said "all the proceeds will go to my foundation, the "Blitz for the Better" Foundation, which benefits family members of children with special needs, that are physically challenged in the area. It's a really great event. It's a really good time,  so come on out."

Tickets are available at  the door or you can go online, all the way up until the doors open at Ryan Kerrigan.org.

Kerrigan will also be on ESPN 980 tomorrow at 2:30 PM as he has been for his entire career. Not a bad week to have him on the radio and it is a  good  way to celebrate with him
tonight for a great cause.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980

 

 


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Redskins Hammer Jaguars: Three-and-Out
by Chris Russell
Sep 15, 2014 -- 12:19am
ESPN

The Redskins hammered the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home opener 41-10 in front of a jacked up crowd of 80 thousand plus.

The bad news was on the injury front. Washington lost Robert Griffin III to a dislocated ankle. The ankle could possibly have a fracture and almost certainly has torn ligaments, according to Dr. David Chao, a former team physician for nearly 20 years.

DeSean Jackson also has a sprain of the AC joint in his shoulder or a dislocated joint. His status for the Redskins next game against his former team in Philadelphia next Sunday is uncertain at best.

Jackson did not seem very optimistic on Sunday afternoon but did say it was feeling better after the win.

Darrel Young, Roy Helu and Shawn Lauvao all were banged up during the win but should be OK moving forward.

Here are three things  that stood out to me

1. Ten Sacks: Let's start with the Jaguars offensive line which absolutely stinks. The Redskins tied a franchise record with this mark and feasted from the opening series. Ryan Kerrigan had four sacks and abused Jacksonville's right tackle Cameron Bradfield again and again. Kerrigan had sacks on consecutive plays in the third quarter.  

Perry Riley was tremendous as well with 1.5 sacks. Jason Hatcher had the same and was in the Jaguars backfield seemingly all day. Chris Baker only had three tackles, but had one sack taken away because of a penalty on Jarvis Jenkins for illegal use of the hands. If you like football and appreciate terrific defensive line play, Chris Baker was dominant. Like Hatcher, it seemed like Baker was visiting Chad Henne and friends for lunch quite often.

Frank Kearse also stood out. He had a sack of his own and also had a hand on Henne's shoulder during one of Kerrigan's sack as he blew up the middle of the line of scrimmage.

Many scoffed at our "Summer Series - How do the Redskins get Better? column on the team shooting for 50 sacks, but they are one fifth of the way there through one-eighth of their season.


2. Bacarri Rambo still stinks when the bullets fly for real. He got badly beat because he gambled in cover two and took the wrong angle while trying to intercept Henne and instead giving up a 63-yard touchdown to Marcedes Lewis.

Raheem Morris was visibly upset as were some of his teammates. Rambo said he got caught napping in Houston as he was watching Ryan Fitzpatrick's eyes on the long DeAndre Hopkins touchdown catch and run. It seemed like on Sunday that he misjudged the throw or route and it was a lost cause. I supposed it did not help that DeAngelo Hall lost his footing, but it appeared that Hall was passing Lewis off to Rambo to start.

Trenton Robinson started the 2nd half in place of Rambo, and came up with an interception on a similar looking cover two design. Later, Robinson did get turned around and beat down the middle of the field on a long ball.

Brandon Meriweather is eligible to return to the Redskins 53-man roster on Monday and once again will be able to practice and play. The question is this: Who do the Redkskins release to make room for Meriweather.

I have no problem thinking that Rambo would clear waivers and could find himself a new home or possibly end up on practice squad.

3. The Redskins had 449 net yards of offense compared to cool 148 for the Jaguars. In two games, the Redskins have allowed 464 net yards of offense or an average of 232 per game. Washington still has not allowed a first quarter point in their last six games, including the preseason.

Yet 99.5 percent of you wanted to fire Jim Haslett. That's a shame. Out.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980.

 


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Inside the Numbers - Jaguars @ Redskins
by Chris Russell
Sep 12, 2014 -- 11:48am
Jay Gruden with RG3

The Jacksonville Jaguars are at FedExField to take on the Washington Redskins in the home opener at 1 PM.

Listen to all-day coverage from Landover beginning at 9 AM Sunday morning on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, ESPN980.com & Audio Now (832) 999-1980.

With that as our scene-setter, let's go "Inside the Numbers" for this must-win game for the Redskins.

I.  Do-or-die?

Yes, I said must-win. Jacksonville and Houston are much improved but you still can not go (0-2) against the so-called soft part of your schedule and against teams that were a combined (6-26) last year. Then again...

We have this twisted notion in Washington DC that the Redskins are better than they actually are.

They aren't until they prove they are. As much as it would make life a lot more enjoyable for all of us if they win consistently - the Redskins really just need one win in a game that counts first and that should be all that they are focused on.

The Redskins lost their last eight regular season games last year and despite a (3-1) preseason record, they have lost NINE  regular season games in a row and it has been 313 full days (including today) since they have won a game that mattered.

In case you are wondering, 255 days in 2014 along with the 58 days in 2013 is how we got to that number, since a overtime win on November 3rd against San Diego.

FedExField has not been a home-field advantage in any way for Washington. It needs to be. In my five plus years covering the Redskins, at FedExField, they are  (2-6) in 2013, (5-4) in 2012, (2-6) in 2011, (2-6) in 2010, (3-5) in 2009.

The Redskins are (14-27) including their playoff loss to Seattle at home since 2009. Overall, a combined (28-54) in my five plus years including playoffs.

What perhaps is worse is this trend against teams on long losing streaks, which continued in Houston last week as Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post wrote about.

Yikes.

The bottom line is this. A win on Sunday is a must-have for so many reasons. They would be (0-2) heading into Philadelphia and while plenty of teams have overcome a bad start, including Carolina last year, this team is not good enough to have to climb the mountain from the very bottom.

Carolina opened (0-2) and (1-3) but their defense was terrific and the offense was very efficient. Not to mention how solid they were on special teams.

Consider this via Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News,"since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, just 23 of 196 teams that started 0-2 (11.7 percent) went on to make the playoffs.”

The only positive and this is really stretching it is that if the Redskins lose to Jaguars Sunday, both losses would have come not only outside of the division but outside of the conference. Those are the games that do not hurt you as bad.

I know. Nobody wants to hear all of this, but a win on Sunday would go a long way to breaking the ice.

II. Home is where the heart is. At least for one game.

Want some good trends? The Redskins have won nine of their last 12 home openers since 2002 and overall are 47-32-3 all time  as a franchise. They're also 29-15 in home openers since the 1970 merger.

Of course, they also lost their last home debut last year against Philadelphia.

The Redskins all time are (4-1) against the Jaguars. For a quick, hidden trivia question, what rare occurrence took place the last time the Redskins played the Jaguars?

The last time the Jaguars played at FedEx was certainly memorable, a 36-30 overtime win by the Redskins. Washington has won two straight in overtime against Jacksonville.

III. A hard to fathom trend.

The Redskins have a history of some (Ric) flair during home openers, despite last year's loss to Philadelphia.

In that game, Ryan Kerrigan forced a fumble and DeAngelo Hall scooped it up and ran it all the way back for a touchdown.

In their 2012 home opener against Jay Gruden and the Bengals, Rob Jackson came away with an interception for a touchdown.

In 2011, Kerrigan batted and then intercepted a pass from Eli Manning for a touchdown in his NFL debut.

In 2010, DeAngelo Hall scooped up a fumble return from former Cowboys running back Tashard Choice for a touchdown.

That's four straight home openers that the Redskins defense has scored a touchdown. Will they have a fifth in a row?

IV. Pierre on a great pace.

Pierre Garcon just keeps on trucking. He led the Redskins in receptions last year at 113, breaking Art Monk's franchise record.

He already has ten catches (10-77) in the first game of 2014. Perhaps most impressive, Garcon now has 17 games in a row where he has caught at least five passes. Last year, he became the third player in NFL history since the adoption of a 16-game schedule (1978) to have at least five receptions in every game of a season. He joined Jimmy Smith (2001) and Antonio Brown (also in 2013).

One thing the Redskins wide receivers did not do a good job of last week, and it really was the ultimate difference for why the so-called "short" passing game did not work, is break tackles.

Jay Gruden talked all week and really the entire pre-season about getting the ball out of Robert Griffin III's hands and getting the ball in space where skill players could make plays on their own.

Griffin did his part for the most part, but Garcon (10-77 7.7) and DeSean Jackson (8-62, 7.8) did nothing to help the last part of the equation.

I can't say this enough, but you CAN NOT win in this league throwing 40-yard bombs. You have to have people that make defenders miss in space. The Redskins had really none of that.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Texans only missed SIX tackles last Sunday. Three of those missed tackles came from non-starters. That's not good enough.

By contrast, PFF had the Redskins missing nine tackles with five credited to Ryan Clark. Essentially, all nine came against starters even though Bacarri Rambo and E.J. Biggers did not start the game. They were both in very early.

V. Flip 'em to get 'em home.

 The Redskins need to find a way to free up Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan even when offenses are trying to dictate by formation.

Orakpo drew a lot of criticism from fans for last week, but of course they are only paying attention to what they see. As for what  they are not seeing, John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN 980 detailed here.

According to PFF, Orakpo had 12 snaps that he was judged to be rushing on and was on the field for 20 passing plays.

Ryan Kerrigan was on the field for 24 passing plays, and rushed 21 times according to ProFootballFocus.com. He had one quarterback pressure. The Redskins need more on Sunday.

Perhaps most important, the Redskins did not really flip sides with Kerrigan and Orakpo as they want to do more of this year.

Orakpo stayed on the right, Kerrigan on the left and Trent Murphy was not in much.

I expect that to change Sunday. Jacksonville's right side of their offensive line is a huge question mark with rookie Brandon Linder at right guard and and Cameron Bradfield at right tackle.

VI. Kicking Kai.

By the midway point of the regular season, Redskins PK Kai Forbath should be the most accurate kicker in Redskins history. Currently, he's made 87.5% of his kicks (35-40). It is the best percentage in Redskins team history of placekickers with at least 40 attempts.

If Forbath makes six of his next ten field goal attempts, he will be (41-50) which is 82%, which would eclipse Shaun Suisham who currently is the franchise's most accurate kicker (80.2%) with a minimum of 50 attempts.

Final Prediction: Redskins beat the Jaguars 21-17.

Answer to hidden trivia: It snowed in Jacksonville, Florida on the morning of December 26, 2010 during early pre-game warm ups.


Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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Quick Snaps - What Jumped out for the Redskins in Houston?
by Chris Russell
Sep 09, 2014 -- 4:42pm
ESPN 980

After watching back most of the television copy of the Redskins loss to the Texans, here are a few of my "Quick Snaps" or fast thoughts on what went wrong and what actually went right for Jay Gruden's team in his regular season debut.

**Bashaud Breeland started at nickel corner on the very first snap from scrimmage for Houston, which was somewhat unexpected. I've talked about Breeland's emergence and filling that role a lot. I just didn't expect it until after E.J. Biggers struggled or after Tracy Porter came back and got hurt/struggled again.

I don't want to go crazy with the fact that Breeland started, because Biggers was in on the 2nd and 3rd snap of the game. I do kind of like it though.

Breeland will make some mistakes (had a horse collar tackle on Andre Johnson late) but he will be a physical force that Biggers is not and has good enough speed.

Honestly I have no idea what to expect out of Tracy Porter. He's been hurt way too much for me to have any legitimate faith.

**Yes the Redskins missed a few tackles here and there, but very early on you could see the 'gang-tackle' mentality and hats to the ball. On Washington's 2nd defensive series, Jason Hatcher peeled off a block to anchor and make a run stop with six or seven Redskins defenders coming in to finish the play.

**Barry Cofield was just dominant early abusing a pretty good center in Chris Myers. Cofield tore into the backfield twice on short third down situations including once on the first series when he blew up a 3rd-and-1 rush attempt by Arian Foster at mid-field.

On the next series, Cofield whipped Myers again and he drew a holding penalty, also on a 3rd-and-1 situation.

This impact would be felt in a positive way and also in a negative way when Cofield had to leave because of a high ankle sprain.

Later on, the Texans converted two 3rd-and-1 situations in the fourth quarter on a quick hit to Andre Johnson and then Foster was able to get enough surge for a first down. Maybe Cofield and the Redskins still come up empty if he is in the game, but maybe not, considering how well he was playing..

Cofield is going to be out for a while and the Redskins are planning on using the short-term injured reserve designation, ESPN 980 has learned. That designation means that he won't be able to return until Washington's bye week.

The good news? Cofield should be super fresh down the stretch and Stephen Bowen should also be a lot fresher because he is not eligible to return until Week 7.

**Watching the television copy back confirmed what I thought I saw when it came to a couple of key strategic issues by the Redskins.

You can't double team on every play and the plan was blown up early by Jordan Reed's departure before the first quarter was over, but the Redskins left Tyler Polumbus in a bad spot against J.J. Watt.

The Redskins had the offense flowing (I suppose) with a couple of quick passes along with a  inside trap run that got Washington into decent field position. On 1st-and-10 from the Redskins 36, Jay Gruden decided to pass and leave Polumbus in a vulnerable one-on-one and he was beat by Watt for a sack.

Yes, Griffin could have run away but he is trying to develop from the pocket and part of that is not taking off and running every time he sees or feels pressure. On the play before, Griffin was belted on a blitz from the secondary just after throwing a pass that was completed.

Late in the game, Watt also had a pass knockdown. Again, Polumbus was on his own. On an earlier sack by Brooks Reed, the Texans pressured with six and had

Reed isolated on Polumbus with DJ Swearinger coming off the opposite side. Roy Helu tried to pick up the blitz and got beat. Griffin saw that and scampered right into Reed who had finally got around Polumbus. This was a 3rd-and-3 at the Texans 33-yard line and would have been a long field goal attempt but it was a possible loss of three points.

**Anybody that says Robert Griffin III did not make progress on Sunday wasn't watching the same game I was. Was he great? No. Does he have a long way to go? Yes. Did he do anything special? No.

However, his throw to Niles Paul for 48 yards down the middle of the field in stride was perfect. He also led Andre Roberts on a 22 yard grab and run over the middle of the field. The ball was thrown well out in front of Roberts and maybe was slightly off by a hair, but not every throw is perfect. It was a nice grab by Roberts.

One play after the sack by Watt in the fourth quarter, Griffin threw a 17-yard seed to DeSean Jackson on 2nd-and-16 in stride for a first down. On the Redskins final drive of the game, Griffin hit Niles Paul perfectly in stride again on a crossing route. It was a 19-yard gain.

You certainly need more than just progress, but at least you had some plays that made me feel better about where he's going.

There were many other areas where Griffin efficiently got rid of the football which was progress from last year.

In the fourth quarter, Griffin scanned to his left and came back to his right and found Logan Paulsen who was his check-down/safety valve. On the last play of the game, Griffin was under siege by Houston's rush and scampered away to dump the ball off to Roy Helu. I believe that would have been a sack last year.

Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980


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