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Redskins vs. Giants: Highs and lows from Week 14

Redskins vs. Giants: Highs and lows from Week 14

FEDEX FIELD -- The Mark Sanchez era as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins has begun. Fine, maybe it’s not an era, but a stretch of games that may only last four regular season games (assuming he avoids the injury curse). If the Redskins, 6-6 entering Sunday, plan on pushing their way into the postseason, they cannot afford to lose a home game.

Well, the Sanchez era did not lost long. In his first start since 2015, Sanchez was benched in the third quarter for Josh Johnson, who was signed by the Redskins just four days ago. It did not matter who was playing quarterback, as Washington fell in a lopsided affair, 40-16.

Here are the highs and lows from the game...

Giants at Redskins: Highs and Lows

FIRST QUARTER:

HIGHS: Tress Way averaged 48.0 yards on three punts, all of which resulted in the Giants started at or inside their 25-yard line. Yes, it was that kind of offensive quarter where the punter deserves a spotlight acknowledgment. This might be the game, should the Redskins win, where Way locks down Washington’s Player of the Year honors.

Defensively, the Redskins shutout out New York’s Beckham-less offense during the opening 15 minutes. Washington held dynamic rookie runner Saquon Barkley to six yards on three carries. Daron Payne sacked Eli  Manning on a 3rd-and-3 play. As long as the Redskins’ offense doesn’t give away the ball, this looks like a defensive struggle (Hold that thought).

Not sure if this is a high, low or just an interesting note, but the Redskins started rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton at inside linebacker next to Mason Foster. Zach Brown missed some work this week with an illness. Remember that beyond all the social aspects of the Reuben Foster signing, Washington claimed a young ILB off waivers despite all the potential heat. That move signals the Redskins are looking for more at the position at least long-term.

LOWS: Immediately after the Payne sack, New York punter Riley Dixon pinned Washington at its own two-yard line. After Adrian Peterson lost a yard on first down, Sanchez dropped back to pass on second down with 2:52 remaining in the period. Gulp. The pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by safety Curtis Riley, who returned it nine yards for a defensive touchdown.

It’s certainly possible that score is more than Washington’s offense can overcome. The Redskins dropped one, maybe two of Sanchez’s throws, and committed five penalties in the first quarter. They need a clean performance from the other 10 players on the field considering Sanchez’s limitations.

Injury note: Jordan Reed went to the locker room with an ankle injury. He's "questionable" to return. We’ll leave it at that for now.

SECOND QUARTER:

HIGHS: Way continued his strong outing with three more long punts, two of which pinned the Giants inside the 25. That’s 49.4 yards on seven kicks. Nice, but let’s move on.

LOWS: So much for slowing down Barkley. He wowed with a thrilling 78-yard touchdown run, breaking an inside run to open space down the left side after a block on Foster created a huge lane. Barkley wasn’t done. He finished the half with 159 yards on 10 carries.

Also not done, New York’s offensive onslaught. Manning threw a three-yard TD pass to Sterling Shepard after Sanchez’s second interception of the half, and then tossed a six-yarder to Bennie Fowler.

Aldrick Rosas kicked a 23-yard field goal on the final play of the half for a 34-0 lead. True story.

There is ugly and there is that first half for the Redskins. New York outgained Washington 284 to 51. This wasn’t all on Sanchez, but he finished 5 of 13 for 0 yards with two interceptions. That’s a 7.1 QB-rating. Yikes. Wonder if we see a Josh Johnson sighting in the second half. No, I’m not joshing.

Injury update: Reed downgraded to “doubtful” with that foot injury. Sounds about right.

THIRD QUARTER:

HIGHS: More punter talk. Way bumped his average to 51.1 on eight punts. This is the “highs” section, options are limited and Way is killing it. Enough said.

So much for the aforementioned Sanchez era. It barely lasted a half of football. After another offensive drive of nothingness, the Redskins sat their new-ish QB midway through the third for a guy who was signed Wednesday. Yes, Josh Johnson took live snaps. What a world. However, he moved the ball thanks to a blend of mobility and completed passes (4 of 6 for 32 yards). But…

LOWS: …The quarter ended with Johnson stopped for one yard on a 4th-and-2 play from New York’s 22. So much for getting on the scoreboard. Based on that drive, Johnson is the clear Week 15 starter.

Speaking of scoring, Manning threw his third touchdown pass, an 11-yarder to Russell Shepard with 5:38 remaining in the quarter. Rosas missed the extra point, so New York only increased its lead to 40-0.

Injury update: Reed goes from “questionable” to “doubtful” to out with that foot injury.

FOURTH QUARTER:

HIGHS: Finally, some honest to goodness positive moments not involving Way, though he finished with an impressive 51.1 average on eight punts.

Josh Johnson did good work, for the most part. Sure, his touchdown run after a Mason Foster interception and 79-yard scoring play to Jamison Crowder along with a pair of two-point conversions came in garbage time. Yes, the Giants’ defense played soft with a massive lead. They also picked off a Johnson pass near their goal line with Washington threatening to score a third touchdown in the quarter.

With all those low bar qualifications, Johnson looked decent. Most of the throws were underneath, including a short dart that Crowder legged out for the longest TD of his career. Johnson finished 11 of 16 for 195 yards, one touchdown and one interception, along with 45 rushing yards and an 8-yard scoring run. Expect Johnson to start Sunday at Jacksonville.

LOWS: This entry is less about the final 15 minutes and more about the game. Washington’s losing streak reached four. This stunk more than the others did, yet was the most predictable considering the QB concerns. Maybe not trailing by 40 points, but the Redskins were a home underdog against a four-win team for a reason.

Neither Sanchez nor Johnson had anything to do with the defense getting gashed on the ground and through the air; Manning had three TD passes and Barkley finished with 197 yards from scrimmage. Call it a scheme issue, or blame effort, or whatever, but the defense collectively hasn’t looked sharp for a month. Maybe if they hold up in the second quarter and enter halftime only down 13-0 the offense finds a way to rally.

That’s just wishful thinking, at least with Sanchez at quarterback. Maybe there’s hope with Johnson going forward. Then again, he was slated to join to the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football before joining Washington. He’s unlikely the answer to anything more than the question of who was the Redskins’ fourth starting quarterback in 2018. At 6-7, it’s probably time to start focusing on who plays the position in 2019. Anyway, see you in Jacksonville.

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As the NFL heads to the Senior Bowl, what do Redskins need most?

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As the NFL heads to the Senior Bowl, what do Redskins need most?

It's a bit of a weird annual tradition. Almost the entire NFL world descends upon Mobile, Alabama, a small city on the Gulf Coast far away from the big metropolises most teams call home. 

The reason? The Senior Bowl, a showcase of much of the best talent getting ready for the upcoming NFL Draft. 

Like the name suggests, underclassmen can't play in the Senior Bowl, and that means some of the most elite players that will hear their names called in the first round won't be in Mobile. But while much NFL Draft focuses on the first round, the best teams are built by day two and day three draft picks.

Mobile is the best place to find them.

The Redskins' staff heads to Alabama with many more questions than answers. The team has a major need at quarterback and all over the defense. The skill positions could use a boost too. 

Starting with the QBs, there is a lot to watch in Mobile.

Duke's Daniel Jones, West Virginia's Will Grier and Missouri's Drew Lock are probably the headliner's of the cast in Mobile, but don't count out Washington State's Gardner Minshew II. Mark Rypien's nephew, Brett Rypien, won't play in Mobile, but another intriguing name: University of Buffalo's Tyree Jackson. He's 6-foot-7 and raw, but has a cannon of an arm. 

The two biggest QB names - Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray - won't be in Mobile, but that doesn't mean all eyes won't be on the passers. The Redskins need to bring in a young signal caller, and the Senior Bowl has a deep pool to scout. 

Offensively, the team also needs to add interior offensive line players and wideouts. 

On the line, there are guys to like. Wisconsin's Michael Dieter, Oklahoma's Dru Samia and Kansas State's Dalton Risner all project as guards in the NFL. Dieter and Risner are known for a nasty streak, the same thing that got said about Brandon Scherff coming out of Iowa. Samia has great feet for a man his size.

Washington needs to address their long running weakness at left guard, and this should be the draft for that.

At wide receiver, the Redskins could lose Jamison Crowder to free agency. Beyond Crowder, the team simply isn't getting enough production on the edges.

One NFC scout talked about Missouri's Emmanuel Hal as a player with a big opportunity to impress this weekend. Two lesser known prospects to watch: UMass WR Andy Isabella, who has 4.3 speed and could play the slot, and UC Davis WR Keelan Doss, who put up huge numbers the last two seasons. West Virginia's David Sills is another wideout with video game numbers on the college level that will be in Mobile. 

Defensively, the Redskins need help on each level.

Starting up front, Washington likely needs to add another pass rusher and every football team in the universe always needs to add defensive line depth. The Redskins could lose Preston Smith in free agency, and need more speed opposite Ryan Kerrigan on the edge. 

A player to watch: Wyoming OLB Carl Granderson. At 6-foot-5 and 261 lbs, he has all the physical tools to be a menace on the outside. One Midwest scout explained that with Granderson, he could have a tremendous week of practice for NFL scouts, assuming he's locked in and focused.

A lot of buzz centers around Mississippi State's Montez Sweat, a probable first-round pick. He was a star in Starkville. 

Smaller college players like Old Dominion's Oshane Ximines and Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson produced significant sack totals, enough to get them invited to Mobile and compete with the Power 5 school players. This is there opportunity to prove they belong, much like UTSA's Marcus Davenport did last season when the Saints drafted him 14th overall. 

Washington also needs help on the back end.

Their safety situation has significant holes as the team released DJ Swearinger before the final game of the 2018 season and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is set for free agency. 

Two local players of note: Virginia's Juan Thornhill and Maryland's Darnell Savage. Thornhill had six interceptions as a senior and Savage is one of the bigger hitters in the Big Ten. Both need to improve their tackling.

Another semi-local name to watch: Nasir Adderley of Delaware. The young man flies to the football and never stops running. Want a high motor potential special team stud? Adderly could be that guy. 

Much will be learned during the week in Mobile.

The Redskins will send a full cast to scope out the talent and talk with coaches and other scouts. Teams will interview the players, and figure out which targets they want to go deeper on over the coming months of the draft process. The NFL Scouting Combine is only about a month away, and plenty of college pro days after that. 

For Washington, the first steps toward an improved season in 2019 begins this week. 

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Redskins TE Vernon Davis helps send grieving family to Super Bowl LIII

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Redskins TE Vernon Davis helps send grieving family to Super Bowl LIII

Vernon Davis is a charitable guy, and it's one of the reasons he's the Washington Redskins Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. 

His latest gesture is an attempt to bring a little joy to a grieving family after they recently lost their 17-year-old son, who Davis had previously met. The Redskins veteran tight end met the Howey family and their son, Ryan, who was a huge Washington fan and was going through treatment for brain cancer, according to the team.

Sadly not long after Ryan and his family met Davis, he passed away.

"It broke my heart," Davis told TMZ in a video, adding that about a year ago, Ryan was "totally fine" and going to Redskins games. "It was unfortunate he had to deal with that."

And Davis wanted to do what he could for the Howey family and "bring some joy to their spirit," so he gave them two tickets to Super Bowl LIII, and, with the help of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, he was able to get them a third so Ryan's parents and sister could all attend the game together. Davis said is also paying for their flights to Atlanta and hotel as well.

He said after he heard Ryan passed away, he reached out via FaceTime to the Howey family, and, of course, they didn't know what to expect from such a call. And after he told them what he wanted to do, he told TMZ they were crying "tears of joy."

"It was just on my heart," Davis said in his interview with TMZ. "They were the first ones I could think of when it comes to just making them happy, just bringing some joy in their life after all they've had to deal with their son. I just put myself in that situation, you know? I'm just having some compassion here, and I would want the same thing."

The New England Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3.

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