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Griffin starts hot but Redskins can't score on final drive

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Griffin starts hot but Redskins can't score on final drive

Robert Griffin III and the Redskins started hot and finished hot. But in between they didn’t have enough offense or defense to keep the Minnesota Vikings from getting their second win of the season.

Trailing by 34-27 with 3:30 to play, the Redskins embarked on a desperation drive that got them a first and goal at the eight and a Roy Helu Jr. run got them to second down at the four. But Griffin threw three straight incompletions, including a fourth-down fade pattern to Santana Moss that was just out of bounds in the left corner of the end zone.

"This loss hurts, but we have to pick ourselves up and get back to work after the weekend,” said Griffin. “We have to keep pushing forward"

Griffin ended up with one of his better statistical days of the season, completing 24 of 37 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

But the numbers are somewhat deceptive. Griffin was on fire in the first half, completing 16 of 21 for 179 yards and all three touchdowns. But he completed just half of his passes in the second half, going 8 for 16 for 102 yards. After driving for a field goal in their first possession of the second half, making it five scores in five possessions and giving them a 27-14 lead, they did not score again.

Griffin didn’t get much help from his line. He was hit frequently in the first half but not sacked. In the final 30 minutes those hits got home as Griffin was sacked a season-high four times.

"I got hit a lot, but it's football,” said Griffin.

As noted, the offense started off well. The Redskins had the ball four times in the first half. The results were 11 plays, 43 yards, field goal, 7-78-TD, 13-85-TD, 11-82-TD. Griffin was playing as well has he had all year, thanks in large part to Alfred Morris. He had 17 carries for 88 yards.

But after a 12-play, 59-yard drive to a field goal to open the second half the Redskins next three drives went three plays, five plays, and three plays. They wound up punt, punt, and punt while the Vikings were taking the lead.

As noted, Griffin was under pressure more in the second half. Even when he had time on occasion he was off target. And it didn't help that after getting those 17 carries in the first half, Morris got just seven in the second.

The key series was the middle one. The Vikings had scored to take a 28-27 lead. Starting quarterback Christian Ponder was out of the game with an injury and this was the Redskins’ chance to blunt Minnesota’s momentum. They overcome a first and 20 to get one first down. But back-to-back sacks on third and fourth down—on both occasions Griffin had defenders in his face—killed the drive and the Redskins had to punt.

The Vikings got two field goals in their final two possessions, leaving the Redskins the ball with three and a half minutes to go and needing a touchdown to force overtime. Griffin was 4-4 for 34 yards as the Redskins got down to the four. But his pass to Jordan Reed was off target, his third-down pass to bounced off of Pierre Garçon’s hands and Moss caught his fourth-down pass but he couldn’t get two feet inbounds.

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

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  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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