Archive for September, 2013

How can any Washington fan feel okay with an 0-3 start? It is difficult but there was little chance that DC was going to experience a championship run in RGIII’s sophomore year after the injury. It is definitely the case that the entire team is struggling at the moment.

201309221300468547118Week 3 has only proven much of the same that was seen in the previous two. RGIII’s field vision and stability is still off-balance. The defense still is woeful against both the run and the pass. The receivers are still lacking rapport with their QB and cannot find ways to get open for big plays (settling for a lot of underneath coverage routes and minimal gains). The offensive play-calling is mostly conservative, even though RGIII has racked up more than 300 passing yards in each of his first 3 games.

The negative stats are starting to look really bad. The Redskins have given up the second most yards in their first 3 games in NFL history. They have averaged allowing over 30 points per game. They have only 1 TD in the first half of each of their first 3 games. A game against the Raiders next week is an opportunity to try for a real first win but Pryor could show up RGIII if the defense continues to play so poorly overall.

With another loss, the Redskins are trying to look back at this week to understand what went wrong…

nfl_g_rgts_576x324The beginning of this game felt a bit like the Eagles game. Stafford threw an off-target pass, which got scooped up by DeAngelo Hall and returned for a touchdown. The fans got excited, but then the Redskins gave up 14 straight points on a combination of Joique Bell’s running and Stafford’s hookups with Megatron, Burleson, and Fauria. Meanwhile on offense, there was a little more movement this week, but the end result was close to the same. RGIII threw his fourth interception of the year but Morris burst out for a 30 yard TD run to tie it up before halftime, and then gave up a field goal. Finishing the first half only down by 3 points was a huge improvement.

The second half left the two teams in similar straights. The Redskins began to hold the Lions offense in check a little more but was still given up major yards to both the passing and running game. On the reverse side, the offense did not get the burst of explosiveness needed to overtake Detroit. RGIII continued with little throws and the offense got away from the run game with Morris at times. On a big running play by RGIII, he dove head first and the ground caused a fumble (killing the momentum that he was finally achieving). This, of course, was also after a long bomb for a TD that was called back because Aldrick Robinson bobbled the catch when he hit the ground. Unable to stop Johnson from getting the lead-increasing touchdown and putting the Lions up by 10, the Redskins fell short again.

Positives

  • Morris continues to look good running, but will not be able to fully unleash until the offense can get more balanced and comfortable in the first half.
  • The defense had some moments of brilliance. Kerrigan is on point with his awareness. Hall went up against Megatron and tried his best, and got the pick 6.

Negatives

  • This part of the list is still longer.
  • Tackling is still one of the defense’s most challenging issues. They let Bell break out of at least 10 tackles and extend runs by anywhere from 3 – 15 yards.
  • RGIII’s decision-making is the problem, not his legs. He is not reading the defenses correctly and taking too many risks. The head-first dive was a complete lack of attention when he was going to be able to slide feet-first and easily have the first down.
  • The penalties are deflating. The Redskins continue to do a lot of the damage to themselves.
  • Opposing offenses are going to carve up the secondary the whole season unless they can figure out how to properly cover when putting extra pressure on the opposing QB.

On a separate note, Cousins is not the answer for this team. He is a great backup QB and might be able to play better than RGIII right now, but there is no proof that he would play well for the remainder of the season. He is more of a pure passer, but many are underestimating RGIII’s passing ability. He was accurate last year and in college. He can step back in the pocket when necessary. Without a preseason, his true nature for the season will come out by game 5. At that time, the team can reevaluate and decide if he needs more time to get back into his football form, though I would argue that he is a true athlete and needs to get back into it on the field.

Around the rest of the league…

  • Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia left the Eagles stunned as the Chiefs squashed the up-tempo style and forced 5 turnovers (4 from Vick).
  • The Bengals surprised the Packers behind the running of Bernard and Green-Ellis. Dalton also pulled off the game-winning drive with a TD to Green.
  • The Rams had no answer to the Cowboys, who looked good with Romo’s pass attack and Murray’s rushing.
  • The Chargers struggled to finish their attempt at a comeback with something that looked like a hook & ladder play that went backwards. The Titans reaped the benefit of the botched play.
  • USP NFL: CLEVELAND BROWNS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS S FBN USA MNThe Browns lose Richardson to the Colts but fall behind Hoyer for 3 TDs to Jordan Cameron to take out Peterson and the Vikings.
  • Tampa Bay had nothing going as Freeman failed to complete even half of his passes. Brady, meanwhile, found Thompkins twice in the endzone.
  • Brees and the NO offense had no problem carving up the Arizona defense for a 31-7 win.
  • As woeful as the Redskins look, the Giants are that much worse. Eli threw another interception and was sacked 7 times in a blowout loss to Newton and the Panthers.
  • Baltimore’s defense did the heavy lifting the prevented the Texans’ ability to pull off another comeback win with a interception return TD and punt return TD.
  • In the matchup of rookies, Geno Smith got the better of EJ Manuel as he and the Jets’ running game edged out the Bills.
  • Miami continues to surprise the NFL with a win against the Falcons to get to 3-0.
  • Kaepernick and San Fran suffered on offense against this week against the Colts with a lost fumble and interception, leaving themselves to a 7-27 loss.
  • Jacksonville may have scored more against the Seahawks than the 49ers did last week, but they also gave up 45 points with 4 TD passes by Russell Wilson.
  • The Bears were able to sleepwalk into a win against the struggling Steelers, and waited until the fourth quarter to realize they needed to put it away with a TD pass and fumble recovery for a TD.
  • Peyton is breaking more records with 12 TDs in his first 3 games of the season, after beating the Raiders 37-21. They are also averaging over 40 points per game.
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It seems like week 2 is more of the same from week 1. The Redskins are quickly looking like the team to make the most negative change from last season to this one. It is unclear how much RGIII is truly the problem with the overall performance, but it is clear that there are failures all over this team.

nfl_g_griffith_gb1_576One could say that the problems started before RGIII was drafted to the team. Poor choices with contracts, like the one with Albert Haynesworth and extensions of other players that barely enter the field on game days, have come back to bite the team. The monetary sanctions handed down by the league on DC and Dallas have hurt us more than we know. Then you need only to fast forward to what Washington gave up to get RGIII. Multiple #1 draft picks over three years was a huge concession, though we knew that we were getting a great player. Now we are stuck in a place where we do not have the available funds to improve the depth of the defense and position ourselves better against the league.

With the offense, RGIII is rusty but the team is also not providing him great protection. Washington has traditionally been a rushing team but has been falling behind early and forced to use the passing game to show more competition. Morris struggled in the first game but showed a better spark in the second. RGIII does not look like cannot run or that he cannot get back to close to the same speed but he does not look comfortable yet after having missed preseason. The receivers have been dropping passes, even though some of them are not as accurately thrown as Griffin did last year. He will eventually recover his motion like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady after their injuries, but it is going to take time. Cousins is not proven and preseason is not enough to say that he could actually pull the offense out of its tailspin.

The defense is not any better and could be considered to be much worse. Though the offense is giving up field position, the defense is quickly giving up points in the first half and forcing the team to come from behind. Kerrigan is the only one who seems to be playing inspired. The defensive backs are inexperienced and are making mistakes on the coverage. It does not help that Meriweather and Forbath were injured. Giving up 480 yards threw the air is never an acceptable outcome.

So how was the game against the Packers….

lacy-redskinsIt was much of the same as the first half the previous week. Green Bay was able to take advantage of 5 straight drives that ended in failure for the Redskins. The first four ended in punts after only accruing 92 total yards. The fifth drive ended in an interception. On the other side of the ball, Washington gave up a field goal and 3 touchdowns. All of this was after Green Bay accrued 353 first half yards, though they did have 1 punt and a fumble. The biggest bright spot for the Skins was the running game of Morris, who seemed to be the only player truly clicking on offense.

The second half seemed similar to the second half of the Eagles game as well. RGIII was forced to air it out and finally experienced success by the midpoint of the third quarter. Though the first drive ended in a punt and the second in a missed field goal, RGIII threw his first touchdown to Pierre Garcon and threw two additional touchdowns on the next two drives to Jordan Reed and Santana Moss. Meanwhile, Green Bay added an additional 2 touchdowns and 219 yards against the Redskins defense. The final score was 38-20 but the game was over in the first half with the lack of Washington’s momentum.

Positives

  • Another slow start for RGIII turned into a nice set of drives in the third and fourth quarters. 3 touchdowns seems to suggest that there is not a lack of offensive capabilities but just a lack of chemistry (which can be fixed).
  • Jordan Reed, Albert Morris, and Ryan Kerrigan look like they were ready for the start of the season. Reed is a great young talent who seems to be a great counterpart to having Fred Davis back from injury.

Negatives

  • The defense gave up 480 passing yards. There is no defense for that poor performance.
  • It may not be RGIII injured this time, but injuries are hurting the team. Meriweather was out, but so was Forbath. John Potter was filling in and missed a field goal. It is still 3 points.
  • The receivers are still not in sync with Griffin. Dropped passes continue to plague the team.
  • Seven penalties for 78 yards is devastating.

Around the rest of the league…

  • The Jets and Patriots played a nasty looking game, but Tom Brady was able to finish off Geno Smith’s poor second NFL performance with a win.
  • Julio Jones got the Falcons out to an early lead with 182 yards but Atlanta almost let the Rams back into it with an equally impressive performance from Tavon Austin.
  • The Bills decided to steal a game at the end rather than lose one at the end and send the Panthers to an 0-2 start.
  • bildePeterson was not the bright spot for the Vikings this week but it was Cutler and Marshall that edged out the Vikings advance.
  • The Dolphins defense stepped up in the second half to hold off any attempt for the Colts to get their 2nd win of the season.
  • The Chiefs are starting to look like competitors behind Andy Reid and Alex Smith’s 2 TDs and 56 yards rushing.
  • The Eagles offense started hard and fast but the Chargers stunned the Eagles on a last second field goal by Nick Novak.
  • The Ravens defense made up for its poor 1st week performance with a punishing game against the Browns, holding them to 4 of 15 on third downs.
  • The Texans are going to give their fans heart attacks with their come-from-behind victories, but they snuck by the Titans in overtime.
  • The Lions offense with Megatron looked menacing but gave up 9 points in the 4th quarter to give the win to the Cardinals.
  • The Saints had the yards but not the points this week. It did not matter as they pulled out a 2-point win against the Bucs.
  • Jaguars fans are calling for Tim Tebow as they have failed to break 10 points for the 2nd consecutive week and fell to the rookie-led Raiders and a barrage of field goals.
  • The Broncos embarassed Eli in the Manning Bowl with 4 interceptions and put up 41 points against the NY defense.
  • The Seahawks made their bid for best team of the league holding the 49ers to 3 points, stealing 3 picks, and erasing Kaepernick’s impressive 1st week performance.
  • The Steelers continue to struggle to find their rhythm on offense and lose to the rookie Gio Bernard and the Bengals.

Still feeling a bit troubled with the start of the season, there is a lot to discuss already. In the offseason, the story was all about RGIII and the recovery from his serious injuries of last season. Operation Patience was the name of his recovery campaign and the news of whether we would see the Rookie of the Year during week 1 waited almost until the start of the game.

Preseason could be claimed a success by many measures. While the team did go 4-0, winning the preseason is about confirming the talent and feeling confident about the gameplan going into the season. Kirk Cousins is probably the best young backup QB around and he proved it during his limited time in the preseason. Even Grossman did not look too bad. Pat White solidified himself as a player and a great practice opponent for the defense with his mobility, accuracy and toughness. With the running backs, Helu is definitely a great secondary back, but it was Thompson that impressed during the camps and the final preseason game to become a possible kick returner. The defense looked to be in decent shape with Orakpo and Kerrigan supporting the leadership of Fletcher. New additions Amerson and Rambo looked a bit shaky in their preseason performances, but it was still unclear how they would do in the regular season.

This brings us to week 1 against the Eagles…

hi-res-7650488_crop_northIt had been talked about that Chip Kelly’s offense was going to use the no huddle, speed design and try to overwhelm defenses. They avoided showing it during the preseason, so Washington was going to get the first look at it without a chance to prepare with game tape. The first several plays were devastating to the Washington defense, but they were bailed out when an errant backwards pass by Vick was taken back for a touchdown. For the rest of the 1st half, the Eagles made the Redskins look like a high school team. Alfred Morris fumbled on his first carry and the Eagles recovered. RGIII was intercepted on the next offensive drive. The Redskins were then plagued by penalties, missed catches and the rustiness of their starting offensive weapons. Included with that was a costly fumbled exchange between Griffin and Morris that led to a safety.

The second half did not start out that much better. RGIII was intercepted on the first drive and ‘Shady’ McCoy was able to make the Skins pay for the mistake. It seemed like all was lost, but some short yardage completions and good defensive holds allowed Morris to make up for his earlier mistakes and score Washington’s first offensive touchdown of the season. The fourth quarter then turned into the RGIII we had been waiting for. He completed passes to Garcon, Moss and Hankerson. He made up a bit for his 2 costly interceptions with his first touchdown to Hankerson. The defense stepped up for 2 consecutive drives, having finally caught up to Philly offense. They gave up some first downs and longer plays but kept Vick and the offense out of field goal range. Griffin picked up his second touchdown to Hankerson on a beautifully thrown ball over the Philly defense. In the end, the Skins missed their opportunity to get the onside kick with over a minute left on the clock and lost the game by 6.

Positives

  • After the slow start, Griffin was able to make up for costly errors and keep the game in contention.
  • Griffin and Hankerson seemed to show a decent connection.
  • The defense caught up to the high octane Philly offense and slowed them down in the second half.

Negatives

  • Philly exposed the Redskins offense’s rustiness. Griffin and Morris were not prepared and the Philly defense capitalized.
  • Forbath had been automatic last year but missed his first field goal attempt of the season.
  • The defense had to play catchup to a younger and faster overall offense. While the score could have been worse, Philly was able to take large chunks of yards at a time.
  • The offense coughed up the ball 4 times (incl. safety) and only had 2 takeaways. RGIII had 4 INTs all last season and the Eagles ranked last in takeaways.

Around the rest of the league…

  • USP NFL: HOUSTON TEXANS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS S FBN USA CADenver decimated the Ravens behind a record-tieing 7 touchdowns by Peyton Manning.
  • The Patriots barely survived the Bills after Ridley fumbled the ball twice and was immediately benched. Vereen filled in an had a fantastic game but was injured before the game’s conclusion.
  • Peterson had a 3-touchdown performance but fell to Stafford and the strong performance by Reggie Bush (191 total yard & 2 TDs).
  • Pryor’s debut with the Raiders may have been a losing one to the Colts but he put up a real fight to start his career.
  • The Falcons and Saints, as well as the Packers and 49ers, game viewers a sense of what the NFC’s strongest teams are ready to do. Brees outshined Ryan to give Sean Payton a happy return, while Kaepernick’s 4 touchdowns and Boldin’s impressive introduction as a 49er barely lifted them over a threatening Packers team.
  • Russell Wilson avoided a 1st game loss to Cam Newton with a late 4th-quarter touchdown.
  • Alex Smith provided himself to be a great talent as he and the Chiefs’ defense destroyed Jacksonville 28-2.
  • The Giants lost the ball 6 times but only lost to the Cowboys by one score, with Romo’s status still uncertain after taking a double rib shot before the half.
  • The Texans had an impressive 24-point second half to erase a 21-point deficit and march back against the Chargers.

Well the NFL season is only a day away and I have participated in my annual drafting for fantasy teams. I decided to just do the one pay league this year and two non-pay leagues. The pay league is the one that I came in 2nd last year, unfortunately by only 2 points in the final matchup of the final week. I am hoping that my luck has turned around and I can win it big this time around.

Starting with the first of the non-pay leagues, I have been playing against this group for the past few years. I came in 6th last year but was 2nd in my first year with them. I had the benefit of Tom Brady that year and have a group of players that were averaging just enough to get me to the final to lose by 1 point. When I started this year’s draft, I thought that I was going to have a tough choice for the first pick but then discovered that I was the first overall pick. From that point on, it was relatively smooth sailing. Here is the team:

  • QB: RGIII, Andy Daltonrobert-griffin-iii-adrian-peterson-nfl
  • RB: Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Stevan Ridley, Frank Gore, Mark Ingram, Ben Tate
  • WR: Marques Colston, Torrey Smith, Eric Decker, Steve Smith, Sidney Rice
  • TE: Vernon Davis, Fred Davis
  • K: Kai Forbath
  • DEF: Denver
  • D: James Laurinatitis, Lavonte David

I then spent this past Labor Day in two draft, the first of which was the pay league. Last year, I rode to the finals with a team that included Matt Ryan, a good group of wide receivers and an underperforming cluster of running backs. My biggest problem last year was my best rushers getting injured but I still somehow managed to both get to the finals and almost win. I went into this draft and discovered I was the #2 overall pick, but Peterson was not the first one off the board. This left me open for a clear first choice and then I believe I have picked a great team from there on.

  • QB: Matthew Stafford, Ben RoethlisbergerridleyTD
  • RB: Adrian Peterson, Stevan Ridley, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Vick Ballard
  • WR: Brandon Marshall, Randall Cobb, Antonio Brown, Tavon Austin
  • TE: Vernon Davis, Jermaine Gresham
  • K: David Akers
  • DEF: Baltimore

Later that day I drafted my third and final team. Wouldn’t you know it but I enter my third draft in the #3 position in the drafting order. This time around, the group I was drafting with was my family, in order to try to get them into the idea of fantasy sports. We originally were going to make this a small pay league but eliminated the buy-in to remove some of the pressure.

  • QB: Drew Brees, Alex SmithBritain Chargers Saints Football
  • RB: Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno
  • WR: Danny Amendola, Antonio Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Wes Welker, Stevie Johnson
  • TE: Tony Gonzalez, Brandon Myers, Scott Chandler
  • K: Alex Henery
  • DEF: Seattle

I think this is going to be a good year, but the one that matters it the one that required the buy-in. Here’s hoping.