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In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.

~ Sam Huff                    



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Skins-Titans Recap
by Kevin Sheehan
Oct 19, 2014 -- 5:52pm
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the Redskins 19-17 win over Tennessee.

Good:

ESPN 980 Galleries

1.  Colt McCoy.  His 2nd-half spark was necessary....his poise and confidence on the final drive was a nice change from what we've seen the last few weeks.  He was never close to making a mistake and was 11-12 for 128 yards.  He had another big throw to Jackson called back because of penalty and his 3rd and 2 shot to Jackson on the final drive was the perfect call and a perfect throw.  It drew the critical pass interference penalty which put them in easy field goal range.  Two more things.  First, I really liked his willingness to use his mobility, something Cousins hasn't been willing to use in recent weeks.  Secondly, he threw more back-shoulder throws in one half than I've seen any Skins' QB throw in a game.  A very good play by Tennessee corner Wilson broke up a nice back-shoulder fade to Reed in the end zone.  I think we'll see that a lot if he continues to play and I think he will.  I'd be surprised if he doesn't start in Dallas.

2.  Redskin' pass receivers.  Garcon, Jackson, Roberts, and Reed are as a group, an upper-echelon receiving corps.  Jackson is their first legit deep threat in years and he's making plays every week.  He had a 37-yd catch in the first half from Cousins, a 36-yarder from McCoy on the final drive which was called back by penalty but the catch and effort to get two feet in-bounds were brilliant, and he drew the P.I. at the end on another deep shot.  I still think he should get more touches.  Garcon is the fiercest competitor on the team, catches everything, is very good after the catch, and yes, can make big plays like the one early in the 3rd quarter.  Reed is so talented it's scary.  He gets open easier than anyone on the team and his ability after the catch is top-tier.  Roberts as the 4th option among this group is pretty good.

3.  Kai Forbath.  4 for 4 including the game-winner.  He became the most accurate kicker in the history of the franchise today.

4.  Keenan Robinson.  His speed is noticeable throughout and his tackling was very good.

5.  Bashaud Breeland.  The interception was nice even though he seemed to forget that he was in the NFL.  He could've gotten up and run with it.  More than the pick though, I thought Breeland was really active as a tackler.

6.  Darrell Young.  I love him as a receiver on bootlegs and as a runner in short-yardage situations. 

7.  Opponents' penalties.  Tennessee had 11 penalties for 96 yards today.  In the last 3 weeks, Skins' opponents have committed 38 penalties for 294 yards.  The illegal use of hands on #62/Schwenke on the Titans final offensive drive was the key to forcing Tennessee to punt.  Interesting how conservative Ken Whisenhunt played that final drive.  He seemed to feel confident that his defense could keep the Skins from moving into FG range.

Bad:

1.  Kirk Cousins.  His good plays just aren't enough to overcome the bad plays he makes in games.  He may grow out of it down the road but it's not good enough now on a team that struggles on defense and special teams and needs consistent offense without back-breaking mistakes.  The interception was awful.  His decision to throw a shovel pass to Helu in the red zone was near-disaster.  More than anything, he seems to have lost his confidence over the last 3-4 games.  He looked rattled again today.  It seemed doubtful that the team would've won the game without the 2nd-half QB change. 

2.  Special teams.  The turnover on the punt return was a good result although unforced (bad mistake by McCluster) and Forbath's 4 field goals were the difference in the game but the Skins got nothing on returns and the Trent Murphy offsides penalty on the first-half 4th and 4 was a major lack of discipline.  

3.  Lack of defensive disruption.  There was more pressure today than in recent weeks but one sack and maybe 3-4 hurries just isn't good enough against a team that had given up an average of 3 sacks per game before today.  Jason Hatcher and Ryan Kerrigan were playmakers at times but the defense still has yet to make one of those huge game-impacting plays.

More:

1.  Bad judgement by Jackson to get up and jump up in McCourty's face after the late P.I. call.  A 15-yard penalty wouldn't have been good in that spot.

2.  Morris' non-fumble was ruled correctly but he seems to have an issue with holding onto the ball.  

3.  Logan Paulson has a problem holding onto the ball also.  I'm unsure as to where his value lies with Reed healthy..

4.  Compton replaced for Palumbus who got beat on the Cousins sack/fumble in the first half and also had the holding penalty at the end of the first half.

5.  A 3rd and 10 Whitehurst to Kendall Wright throw in the first half that Wright extended beyond the first-down marker was spotted poorly.  However, the Titans were out of timeouts and couldn't challenge the spot.

6.  Jarvis Jenkins misses too many tackles although he seems to be in position to make many, sometimes for loss.



Skins-Titans Preview and Pick
by
Oct 19, 2014 -- 12:06pm

The Redskins will beat the Titans if...

1.  Gruden takes the pressure off Cousins.  Running the ball, more bubble screens, etc. to create easier playaction and bootleg opportunities would go a long way to reducing some the physical and mental pressure Cousins has been dealing with.  A lead would be nice....a few short-field opportunities also.

2.  More touches for Jackson.  I've seen enough to know that if he's on the field, throw the ball to him.  Whether it be short, medium, or long, 5 targets and 3 catches isn't enough.  That's what he had last week in Arizona...it should never be that minimal.  Why not 5 bubble screens each week.  Anything to get him the ball.

3.  No backbreaking mistakes.  In a game between two bad teams, it's usually a mistake that costs one of them the game and a chance to finally win.  The Redskins made sp teams mistakes in Week 1 and Week 3, bad coverage communication in Week 4, and too many interceptions in a close game last week.  Avoid the backbreaking momentum-changing plays and they should be able to avoid "losing" this game. 

Prediction:

Skins 20-17. 



Smell Test #8
by
Oct 17, 2014 -- 1:54pm

WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?

It's a contrarian handicapping philosophy. I look for the games where the public is convinced they are right about a point spread and I go the other way. Have fun and as always, this is for entertainment purposes only.
 
PREVIOUS YEARS
 
2006-- 60.4%
2007-- 56.6%
2008-- 63.1%
2009-- 57.5%
2010-- 48.8%
2011-- 48.7%
2012-- 54.1%
2013-- 47.4%
 
THIS YEAR
Last Week: 4-5-1
Overall:  27-21-2
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 10-16-14
 
Saturday, October 16, 2014
 
Maryland -5
FSU -12.5

Sunday, October 17, 2014

Jaguars +5.5
Dolphins +3.5
Raiders +3.5


Skins-Cards Wrap
by Kevin Sheehan
Oct 12, 2014 -- 8:31pm
ESPN 980

The good, bad, and more from the Redskins 30-20 loss in Arizona.

Good:

ESPN 980 Galleries 1.  Jordan Reed.  It would be nice if he could play more games than he misses.  He's the real deal.  Big target, very good yards-after-catch receiver....he is a legit talent.

2.  Pierre Garcon.  He's here every week because he appears to compete harder than anyone else on the team.  Kerrigan and Trent Williams are nearly in his class in terms of effort each week.

3.  Roy Helu.  Good hands as a pass catcher and a good runner after the catch.  He's been excellent on screens. The 33-yard catch and run on the screen at the end of the first half led to 3 points.

4.  Will Compton.  He's on this list because he was an improvement over Perry Riley.  

5.  Deep kickoffs.  No pooch-kicking this week.  Nice to see that Forbath is capable of putting it deep.

Bad:

1.  Kirk Cousins when it matters most.  At this point, he's much more bad than good when it matters most.  Whether it's a key 3rd-down where he throws behind somebody or the 3 picks in the 4th quarter when the team needed points, he's just not very good in key moments.  His unwillingness to try and extend plays with his legs is a major problem right now.  Every quarterback in the league worth his salt extends plays by running to throw or running to move the chains.  Rarely, if ever, does Kirk extend a play allowing his talented receivers more time to get open and because of it, he ends up throwing too quickly and often badly.  The sack in the 1st qtr when Polumbus got beat seemed so easy to escape but he didn't.  He actually is athletic but seems hesitant to use it for some inexplicable reason.  This is killing them right now.  He's got to be willing to make plays with his legs, especially on 3rd-down.  One more thing.  He seemed to get lucky on two poor check-down throws in the first half.  The one to Morris could've been picked.

2.  Andre Roberts.  He makes plays here and there but he dropped another ball today and fumbled in a huge spot today.  While the fumble should have been overturned by replay, it doesn't change the fact that he put the ball on the ground.

3.  No running game.  The Shanahans are gone, so is the running game.  Seriously though, the run-game has been non-existent in recent weeks.  Seattle is very good against the run, Arizona was banged-up and should've been easier to run against.  Morris benefited from read-option football w/Griffin but the lack of read-option now doesn't explain 2.7 yards per carry in his last 2 games.  

4.  No plays on defense.  There were opportunities including what would've been a huge INT by Orakpo but he dropped an easy lob that went right through his hands.  It actually looked like they got some pressure on occasion but they just couldn't get to Palmer with the exception of the play where he fumbled the snap.

5.  Soft coverage.  On 3rd & 13, you'd think that Breeland might be better off not giving a 13-yard cushion.  We saw it a lot today and while the Skins really don't man-cover very well, you'd think with blitz pressure they would press-cover more knowing that Palmer will need to get it out quickly.  It's so frustrating to watch 3rd and long with soft coverage.  

6.  No field position....again.  The Redskins avg starting field position today was their own 19.  They haven't started a drive in opponent's territory since the Philly game.  In 5 of their 6 games (not counting the Jacksonville game), the Skins have started a grand total of two drives in opponents' territory.

7.  Two bad calls DID impact the game.  The P.I. call on Breeland on a 3rd & 8 with 2 minutes to go in the first half was terrible.  It was good coverage.  Instead of getting the ball back up 10-7 in very good field position with a chance to add to their lead before halftime, Arizona took the gift first down and drove the ball down the field for a score and a 14-10 lead.  The other horrible call was the Andre Roberts fumble.  It should've been overturned by replay.  The replay we saw on TV right after the Hochuli announcement of the call being upheld was the replay that indicated clearly that his knee was down with ball in secured.  Instead of a big 14-yard completion to the 34 down 20-13 with 12:50 left, the Cards took over and kicked a FG for a 10-point lead.

More:

1.  The onsides kick attempt was awful.  After seeing that, they should've kicked it deep.  They would've gotten much better field position with 29 seconds left.  Then again, no confidence that Kirk would've made a play to get them in field goal range.

2.  The Skins gave up 4 3rd and 8 or longer plays.

3.  How did D. Jackson avoid the unnecessary roughness penalty on the sideline tackle after the Kirk pick.

4.  Arizona threw 3 straight passes with a 23-13 lead in Skins territory after Ellington had two runs for 11 yards.  All three were incomplete.  Not sure why they didn't attempt to eat some clock.

5.  Loved Gruden's 4th and 1 decision to go for it in the first half and the play call was even better.

6.  Jackson is their best big-play threat in years.  He should've had two touchdowns if not for Chester's tackle on him on the 2nd quarter screen.

7.  Cardinals had 14 penalties for 108 yards.  Half of them were on offense yet they overcame many of them.



Skins-Cards Preview and Pick
by Kevin Sheehan
Oct 12, 2014 -- 1:05am
ESPN 980

The Redskins will beat the Cardinals if...

1.  Logan Thomas plays quarterback for Arizona.  He's big, fast, but isn't ready to play quality minutes in an NFL game.  If he plays and plays well against the Skins' defense, Jim Haslett should be getting his resume in order.

2.  the defense is prepared to play.  The defense was outwitted, outhustled, and outplayed early in the last two games.  Continuing to fall behind by double digits early in games is a recipe for losing often.  It's time for some defensive desperation.  When Haz's defense has occasionally played well in recent years it has always started with stopping the run.  I'd personally prefer to see less man coverage and more zone on passing downs primarily because they don't have anybody that can man-cover well but they have to generate some pass rush and tackle well behind it.  Arizona's offense is ranked 29th in the league even though they've played some good defenses so far.  Regardless of who plays quarterback, the Skins' D needs to step up with a much-improved performance.

3.  the offense is provided a few short-field chances.  Similar to last year, the Skins average starting field position is brutally bad.  Through five games, the Skins average starting field position is their own 22.33 yard line.  Only Jacksonville's average is worse.  The reason for it is few turnovers forced and bad special teams play.  The offense could use a few 1st and 10s at the Arizona 30 yard line.  Even a start at the 50 would allow the offense to breathe for once.

Prediction:

Last week was the first incorrect Skins "against the spread" (ATS) pick this year.  I thought the Skins could keep it close but the late Seattle FG gave the Seahawks the win and the cover.  Arizona is banged up on both sides of the ball.  The timing for a road upset is perfect.

Redskins win 37-17.



Smell Test #7
by
Oct 10, 2014 -- 9:56am

WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?

It's a contrarian handicapping philosophy. I look for the games where the public is convinced they are right about a point spread and I go the other way. Have fun and as always, this is for entertainment purposes only.
 
PREVIOUS YEARS
 
2006-- 60.4%
2007-- 56.6%
2008-- 63.1%
2009-- 57.5%
2010-- 48.8%
2011-- 48.7%
2012-- 54.1%
2013-- 47.4%
 
THIS YEAR
Last Week: 8-4
Overall:  23-16-1
 
SMELL TEST PICKS FOR WEEKEND OF 10-10-14
 
Friday, October 10, 2014
 
Stanford -17
 
Saturday, October 11, 2014
 
USC -2.5
UCLA +2
Michigan -1
Arkansas +9

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bills +3
Dolphins +3.5
Raiders +7
N.Y. Giants +3

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rams +3.5


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