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GameBlog vs. Patriots Final

GameBlog vs. Patriots Final

Pregame

Playing the role of the Master of the Obvious here (OK, so what else is new), but I think that it’s critical for the Redskins offense to move the ball. So much so, I would say, that Al Saunders might crack out a little bit more of his playbook, although I don’t think there will be much radical like, say, motion before the snap.

The defense needs to work on the fact that teams have been taking advantage of its aggressive nature. The flea flicker burned them against Cincinnati and the reverse got them against the Jets. Marcus Washington told me after the Jets game that it was more a matter of individual breakdowns than of problems with the nature of the defense itself. Both Washington and Andre Carter assured me that the defense will continue to take it to the other teams’ offenses.

First Quarter

It looks like David Lonie will get his make or break chance tonight. He’s kicking off so that would indicate that he’ll get the punting chores in the early going. If the offense does well, though, he might not have much of a shot.

Not much shown either in the way of aggressiveness or effectiveness on the Redskins’ initial defensive series. Brady had time to make phone calls while he was in the pocket against Washington’s four-man rush and he converts a couple of third downs. The Skins stiffen as Brady runs out of room deep in the red zone and the Pats settle for three.

Brunell displayed a good arm on a deep incompletion to Brandon Lloyd. Although it was overthrown he stepped in and zipped about 30 yards downfield on a rope.

Betts is running a little harder tonight than the rather casual style he displayed against the Jets. Nothing like a little competition to light the fire.

A little too booming a punt by Lonie on his first effort, into the end zone from near midfield.

A wham, bam, thank you ma’am drive for the Patriots. That screen to Dillon that got it going was kind of funny looking, it almost looked like he was surprised to get the ball. The Redskins sure didn’t think he was the receiver and before they knew what happened Dillon was into Redskins territory, turning a second and 10 at the 20 into the start of a quick scoring drive.

It’s kind of surprising that Gregg Williams is starting to do some liberal substitution on defense. Golston, Montgomery, Prioleau, among others, are in for the third series. You’d think that Williams would want to have his defense at least stop the other guys once.

Second Quarter

A good fourth-down conversion for Brunell there. He can fire the ball in there when he needs to. The fact that they went for it on fourth and four in an indication of how badly Gibbs and Saunders want to get the offense rolling.

Now, as far as I know there is no such thing as a “vanilla” field goal attempt. It is what it is and that one by Hall was just flat out ugly. It didn’t appear that the Patriots got exceptional penetration; Hall just kicked it too low.

It’s obvious that Williams wants to see how the defense can play without blitzing. He’s sent a linebacker maybe once or twice and he’s not sent a back yet. So far, the answer to the question is “not too well”.

A couple of all-out blitzes lead to a third-down conversion and a touchdown. Maybe it’s not the schemes, maybe the Redskins are just getting whipped.

Feel free to cover Ben Watson, someone, anyone. It is permitted under the rules, I do believe.

Joe Gibbs looks like he could appear on one of those “want to get away?” commercials. If he was angry last week in a press conference that lasted less than three minutes, I can’t wait to see how tense and short tonight’s will be.

Even though this is no more than a glorified practice, it would be disturbing to see the Redskins practice like this. I’m not doubting their effort but the focus seems to be off. It’s as though they are playing the role of the scout team while the Patriots just run through their paces.

Third Quarter

Duckett is in the game. The quick scouting report based on his first couple of runs is that he needs to travel North and not East-West. He got five yards up the gut and then went nowhere trying to get outside.

Whatever Gibbs and/or anyone else said at halftime didn’t have much effect as a lackluster three and out was the effort out of the gate.

The contributing writers to the print edition of Warpath were asked to give their projections for the NFL Most Valuable Player, among a few other categories. I picked Peyton Manning as the MVP. After watching him tonight, I think I want to change my pick to Tom Brady. He won’t put up as many yards or have numbers as flashy because the New England offense isn’t built like Indy’s and the Patriots play outdoors in the North, but he orchestrates that offense to perfection, makes all of the throws with zip and accuracy, and knows how to deal with anything and everything that’s thrown at him.

Fourth Quarter

Finally, after 11 quarters of play, the Redskins get a takeaway. That and the insertion of Jason Campbell into the game have given the Redskins something of a spark.

They just showed a clip of Al Saunders talking about Campbell and he was very guarded in his praise for the young quarterback. In fact, it wasn’t praise at all really, just a wait-and-see attitude. That’s consistent with the few times that I’ve talked to Saunders about him. The coach apparently wants to be careful not to put too much pressure on him or make him think that the coach is satisfied with where he is.

I’ve touched on this before in other articles, but it’s obvious that the light schedule that Gibbs has in training camp has a lot to do with the way that they have looked in the preseason. The late start, the paucity of two-a-days, the scarcity of hitting, have the Redskins ill-prepared to be competing from scrimmage against teams that are more battle tested. Of course, the object is to win in December, not in August and you can’t question Gibbs’ record when it comes to late in the season. But it sure makes nights like this miserable ones.

A positive note is that Reid Doughty, the rookie safety, has played much better tonight than he has in the previous two games. He stripped the ball causing the fumble that the Redskins recovered and has generally been in the right place.

The Redskins can bounce back from this, no question. They bounced back after the debacle in the Meadowlands and that was a game that counted. However, they had done some good things that year before that and they had the memory of that to fall back on. They haven’t played a solid, complete game since Christmas Eve. That will make it tougher to get any momentum generated.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!