Here are my observations after taking a second look at the game. First half is here, second half will be posted at 5:00 p.m.First quarter--Griffins cadence drew the Bucs offside on the very first offensive play. You couldnt hear the snap count but you can see Griffins head bobbing. The linebacker on the right side jumped on the first hut, the ball was snapped on the second one.--Rob Jackson was not quite as stellar in this game as he was in his starting debut against the Bengals. Wide receiver Arrelious Benn literally faked Jackson onto the ground on an end around. Jackson could have had him after a short gain but Benn picked up 10 yards and a first down. By the way, the Redskins need to do a better job of defending that play. The Bengals got at least three first downs off of it last week.--On the second play of their first touchdown drive, Griffin pitched the ball back to Alfred Morris, who was in an I formation. He caught the pitch about five yards behind the line of scrimmage and he could immediately turn his attention upfield. That allowed him to identify the gaping hole on the right side and he bolted through it and wasnt taken down until he had picked up 17 yards.--On the next play, Fred Davis did a heck of a job pass blocking against defensive lineman Daniel Teo-Nesheim, who lined up at right end in a three-point stance. Davis engaged the lineman and stuck to him. Teo-Nesheim broke loose eventually but Davis pushed him to the ground. That allowed Griffin to step up into the pocket and flip a pass to fullback Darrel Young, who broke a tackle and rumbled for 30 yards. None of that happens without Davis pass blocking.--First and 20? Years past, a big problem. On this play, no problem. After a holding penalty, Griffin waited until just the right moment and flipped to Davis just behind the line. Linebacker David Lavonte was able to avoid Chris Chesters block a few yards downfield but the linebacker was late getting to Davis and the tight end dismissed him with a stiffarm to the face. Further downfield he skirted an attempted tackle by Ronde Barber and was finally pushed out of bounds at the 14 after a gain of 20.--Griffin needs to be careful with the ball. Its great that he wanted to score as he approached the goal line on a third and five play from the Bucs nine. But he waited a step or two too long to protect the ball as two defenders converged on him near the goal line. He already had the first down but the ball got knocked out as he went for the end zone. Fortunately Pierre Garon caught the ball bouncing in the end zone out of the corner of his eye and pounced on it for the touchdown.Second quarter--Im not much for symbolic gestures on the field, I dont think they matter all that much. But in the first quarter, DeAngelo Hall put a legal shoulder into Josh Freeman to tackle the quarterback after a sort gain. A Bucs offensive lineman went up to Hall and barked in his face, apparently telling Hall to lay off of his quarterback. In the second quarter, rookie Mark Barron drew a (borderline) flag for picking up Griffin on an option plan and dumping him to the ground. There was no response from anyone on the offensive line. Again, its nothing major but you would like to see a message being sent.--They could have doubled the width of the goal posts and Billy Cundiffs first field goal try from 41 yards still would have been wide right.--It looked like Barry Cofield got a fingertip or two on the Freeman pass that Hall intercepted. Give some credit to Ryan Kerrigan on the play as well for relentlessly driving towards Freeman despite the tackle being engaged and forcing him to step up towards the line.--Gerald McCoy is a third-year player and he should know better than to jump offside on a hard count on fourth and a long one. The Redskins ran the play and got a first down anyway as Alfred Morris ran right through the hole created by McCoys premature movement.--Last week, RG3 scooted outside for a touchdown in a goal to go situation. This week the Bucs spread out their defense to try to stop that and he scoots right up the middle for five yards and a score. Too easy, no wonder he was laughing while looking at pictures on the bench with Kyle Shanahan after the score.--Morris made a good, quick decision that got him a 39-yard touchdown run. He cut through the left side of the line, planted his foot and took off back to the right. Eric Wright was the only Buc to touch him and he just barely nipped his ankles. Leonard Hankerson stuck with his block downfield and that was all Morris needed to dash into the end zone.--I dont understand getting conservative in the last two minutes. After getting a first down at their own 35, the Redskins went with a pass behind the line to Morris that lost four yards and two draw plays. Youd think that Mike and Kyle would be more aggressive here with their quarterback who seems to be capable of just about anything and at least try to get back the field goal they just gave up. Yes, they were getting the second-half kickoff but they could have treated it like an opportunity to score 10 straight points without the Bucs getting the ball. That would have put the game away.--Then, after a short Bucs punt, they get aggressive with 14 second left. Passes to wide receivers Hankerson and Morgan picked up about 18 yards and getting the Redskins into position to at least try a long field goal. Where was that approach a minute and a half earlier?
If you find yourself looking for Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis, you really just need to find one of them. Odds are, if you locate one, the other two will be close by.
The second-year pro, third-year pro, and fourth-year pro have forged quite a bond on the Redskins' defensive line, which is easily the team's most promising unit going into 2019. The three guys share an appreciation for lifting really heavy weights and dropping opposing quarterbacks.
As it turns out, that latter love is actually part of the inspiration behind a bet Payne, Allen and Ioannidis have queued up for the 2019 campaign. Payne revealed that while with Larry Michael on a recent episode of Redskins Nation.
"Me and Jon and Matt got a little competition right now on sacks and tackles," he said with a smile, but he ultimately didn't shed any light on what the competition's compensation will be.
Whatever the trio is playing for, it should be a close race.
Ryan Kerrigan led the 'Skins in sacks in 2018, but Allen (8), Ioannidis (7.5) and Payne (5) were second, third and fourth respectively. In terms of tackles, meanwhile, it went Allen (61), Payne (56) and then Ioannidis (31).
Allen and Payne saw a ton of snaps last year while Ioannidis was used more in a rotational role, which limited his tackles. He's an insanely productive pass rusher, though, so he can make up some ground in the sacks/tackles bet by keeping that trend going. Any of them are a solid pick if you're trying to project who'll capture their title.
Payne, for one, expects to generate better numbers in his second go-round in the league.
"Of course," he responded when Michael asked if he left some sacks out there as a rookie. "Definitely did. I want to get a couple more."
In the team's offseason practices, he's already noticed that things are "coming easier," so perhaps he'll be able to record those extra takedowns he's looking for.
As mentioned earlier, you can make an easy case for Payne, Allen or Ioannidis to win their competition, but you won't know who that winner is until late December.
One thing you can already say, however? That the QBs and running backs they'll be chasing down are the losers in this thing. That much is already known.
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Ah, NFL training camps. They're where every handoff always results in a first down, safe from refs who can ruin things with one piece of yellow cloth and home to roster sleepers.
JP Finlay came up with his post-minicamp Redskins roster projection earlier this week and has said he's already extremely confident in roughly 49 of his 53 picks. What can really throw off those kinds of projections, though, is the emergence of little-known players at training camp.
Now, trying to find the next Rob Kelley or Quinton Dunbar or Cam Sims can come off as foolish, considering Washington will bring 90 players to Richmond in late July. However, using observations from offseason practices so far and clues from what coaches are saying can narrow the list of potential preseason difference makers.
So, here are three Redskins who seem like they could seriously shake things up when the Burgundy and Gold reconvene for the summer grind.
When he's asked to critique a certain position group, Jay Gruden often does this thing where he lists every player in that group, from starter to backup to fringe option. It's hard to discern the times when he's doing that just to be polite from the times when he's doing that because each name truly is relevant.
Jeremy Reaves' name, however, has come up twice at two very different points of the spring and early summer.
Here's Gruden from after the draft, when he was asked about what the Redskins have at safety.
"We still have Montae [Nicholson]. We obviously drafted [Troy] Apke last year, which is a pretty good option. We have [Jeremy] Reaves here in the building. He's doing some good things, did some great things at the end of the year on practice squad. And Deshazor [Everett] and Landon [Collins]. So, we have five pretty good safeties."
Here's Gruden a month and a half later, after the team's last open OTA session, again addressing that secondary spot.
"Apke is doing well. It has been good to see him get a lot of these reps and work. Obviously, last year he did not get a whole lot with his hamstring, so he is progressing nicely. Everett also has picked up the slack. He has done a very good job. Reaves, he made some big plays out there today. So, those guys are taking advantage of their time."
With Collins, Nicholson, Everett and Apke, the defense should be set on the back end. Those four all feel quite locked in.
Yet Nicholson is coming off of an unpredictable second year as a pro, while Apke couldn't get healthy at all in 2018 after a hamstring issue. Perhaps Reaves, who Gruden also called an "upcoming talent" last December, can pick up the slack if either of those DBs drop off.
Sure, the path won't be easy for Reaves, but one thing's for sure: It's better to be brought up by the head coach than not, and he's being brought up relatively frequently.
Craig Reynolds is an undrafted rookie running back who played for the Golden Bears in college.
No, not the California Golden Bears. The Kutztown Golden Bears. Yes, that's a real school, and yes, it's fine if you've never heard of it.
Reynolds could be the longest longshot of the three players on this list, but guys like Kelley, Mack Brown and Marcus Mason have come from a similar level of anonymity to take fall snaps in the 'Skins backfield.
If you look at the RB depth chart, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are making the 53 barring anything crazy. Bryce Love will probably hit the PUP, but he's in the franchise's plans, too.
That means Reynolds will have to compete with the likes of the quite popular Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall, but he should see plenty of action late in preseason games. He averaged more than 150 total yards per game last year at school — indeed, it was Division II, that's a very fair counterpoint — but it feels like the chances to make impressions on Gruden and Randy Jordan in precious live action will be there. It's not like Peterson or Thompson will be used that much, anyway.
Plus, if Perine starts fumbling again or Marshall gets injured as he did in 2018, Reynolds could see those chances grow. He just has to seize every one that comes his way.
Tight end feels like another position that should be simple. Jordan Reed is the star, Vernon Davis is still around despite a somewhat heavy contract and Jeremy Sprinkle is entering Year 3. If Davis or Sprinkle face any competition, you'd expect it to come from the likes of Matt Flanagan or JP Holtz.
You shouldn't ignore Daniel Parham, however. In fact, it's pretty much impossible to.
Parham signed with the 'Skins on June 7, and the 6-foot-8(!) pass catcher was on the receiving end of more than a few passes once he got going. Not surprisingly, he made the most plays in red zone situations, giving QBs like Dwayne Haskins a very appealing target to throw to.
The Stetson product probably won't add much of anything as a blocker. Remember that Gruden doesn't like using one-dimensional tight ends, so that could hurt him. Going off that, some scouting services even think he'd be best served lining up consistently in the slot.
Regardless, you just don't see many people at his size running downfield routes, and his potential is noticeable. A few preseason highlights on jump balls could help him stick around past August.
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