Game preview: Defense is M. I. A.


Game preview: Defense is M. I. A.

What:Redskins (1-2) vs. Buccaneers (1-2)
Where:Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
When:Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live:Comcast SportsNet 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.The real referees are back.Washingtons defense, however, remains M.I.A.Three games into a season that began with talk of the unit earning elite status, it has instead been the Redskins biggest hindrance. In fact, the defense ranks 30th in the NFL, havingpermitted 429.3 yards per game. Only the Titans and winless Saints have been more accommodating to opposing offenses.Consider these unsightly statistics:-The Redskins have yielded 33.7 points per game in 2012 (and 31 or more points in seven of their past eight games dating to last season).-After surrendering 300 or more passing yards twice in 2011, the Saints, Rams and Bengals have thrown for 326, 301 and 385 yards, respectively, this season.-Most troubling, though, the Redskins have allowed more yards per pass play (6.9) than any team in the league --a key indicator in the pass-happy NFL.Opponents have scored on pass plays of 73, 59, 48, 34, 33 yards.The reasons for the breakdowns have ranged from inadequate preparation to poor execution and technique to a lack of inexperience caused by young reserves filling in for injured starters such as Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather and, more recently, Cedric Griffin.One bright for the defense has been the performance of the front seven. Behind London Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, the unit has generated decent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, limited opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground twice and ranks ninth in the league in rushing yards against.But until the secondary gets it together the defense will continue to underachieve.Its more a sense of urgency, Coach Mike Shanahan said about the secondarys sloppiness. When you are not getting something done as a unit, everybody has to pick up their game and thats what we challenged our secondary to do. Everybody has to make sure they have their responsibility down.Thats the major storyline entering Sundays game but its not the only one. Heres are three more areas the crew atwww.csnwashington.comwill be monitoring:RG3s great hitsRobert Griffin III has so far been as advertised. Last Sunday, the rookie became the first quarterback to pass and rush for a touchdown in consecutive weeks since Joe Theismann did it 33 years ago. Griffin also ranks 17thin rushing yards with 209 and his three rushing touchdowns are tied for the most in the league.The downside of Griffins ground production, though, is the number of blows hes sustaining in addition to the hits he absorbs in the pocket. Griffins 32 rushing attempts, in fact, are eight more than Carolinas Cam Newton and 11 more than Philadelphias Michael Vick.After the defensive woes, it was the second most discussed subject at Redskins Park this week.When the coaching staff reviewed the Bengals game film with Griffin, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said they pointed out to Griffin a number of shots he could have avoided simply by not carrying out the option fake. Whether Griffin manages to implement the nuance, however, remains to be seen.Will Grant ease the loadWith Roy Helu Jr., last years leading rushing, headed to injured reserve with turf toe, the Redskins signed former two-time 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant on Tuesday.Mike Shanahan hasnt said much about how he plans to implement the veteran, but well have much better idea after Sundays game. Grant is familiar with Shanahans stretch zone blocking scheme from his early days in Green Bay, so the transition should be almost seamless.Do the Redskins hope Grant will lighten the load being carried by rookie Alfred Morris and Griffin? Will they utilize Grants ability in pass protection? Exploit his pass-catching skills? Some combination of the three?Ive always been a fan of Ryan Grant, Kyle Shanahan said. Hes a violent runner who gets the ball downhill and moves the chains. Hes always been a good zone runner and hes familiar with what were doing. It suits his skills.Banged upInjuries are a fact of life in the rough and tumble world of pro football. But its now becoming a major concern for Redskins, who have already lost Orakpo, Adam Carriker, Helu and Tanard Jackson (drug suspension) for the season and continue to be without Jammal Brown (hip).On Sunday, its possible they could be without a number of other key players, including Trent Williams (knee) and No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garon (foot).Also appearing on Thursdays injury list were: Evan Royster (knee), Meriweather (knee), Cedric Griffin (hamstring) and Brandon Banks (hip).Although the Redskins boast improved depth compared to recent seasons, few teams can overcome so many injuries at so many positions over the long term.

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 


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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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