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GameBlog Redskins vs. Ravens

GameBlog Redskins vs. Ravens

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Cornelius Griffin is a monster. He completely blew up a running play by shaking off his blocker as though he was a statue and nailing Jamal Lewis in the backfield. At age 28, he should just be hitting his prime.

On the first play from scrimmage, the entire line blocked down to the right and Clinton Portis took the handoff and slid that way, looking for a hole and he found one for three yards. On the next snap, they ran a similar play to the other side. A bigger space opened up and Portis zipped through it and picked his way for 13. That was Portis’ last play

The second-team defense is in the game for the Redskins on the second series. That unit still includes #56 LaVar Arrington, who is still getting his game legs under him. He made a nice play knifing in from the right side and dropping Lewis for a loss on third and one.

I think I’ve said this every week, but the execution on the screen pass has been excellent. The line and the quarterback are selling it well and it appears that the defense has to guard against the speed at receiver, giving the linemen and the pass catcher a chance to do something with the ball.

The special teams have been sloppy, but they did get their second field goal block of the preseason. It would be a major improvement if they could get a couple this season. According to the press guide, the Redskins blocked a field goal last September in New York against the Giants. That was their first since October 10, 1993, when Lamont Hollinquest blocked one, also against the Giants.

Patrick Ramsey’s day is done with 3:36 left in the first quarter and although you don’t want to read too much into a few series, his performance was certainly not what he wanted. He took a couple of sacks, never took a shot downfield and generally looked jittery and unsure.

Mark Brunell led a three and out on his first series, but it wasn’t his fault. He zipped two passes to Antonio Brown, who clearly dropped the first one and had a chance at the second one but it flew through his hands. All of a sudden, he’s not looking so good as an option as the third receiver should it take Taylor Jacobs a game or two to recover from his toe injury.

Second Quarter

On the next series, Brown made a nice double move to get wide open but he flat-out dropped Brunell’s perfect pass at the five. Is Brown’s grip on a roster spot not quite as firm as we thought a week or so ago?

Rufus Brown is fighting for a roster spot and so far, early in the second quarter, the results are mixed. On the play before the blocked field goal, he made a nice strip of the receiver to prevent what might have been a first down (actually, it looked as though the receiver had the ball and Brown should have received credit for a forced fumble that the Redskins recovered). Later he was flagged for holding on a punt, but he got a nice tackle on a kickoff return later on. He’s still on the bubble.

Back to the other Brown, Antonio, yet another drop, this time on a third down pass over the middle. Perhaps he heard footsteps but, as he knows full well, you’re going to get hit anyway so you might as well catch the ball

LaVar Arrington is showing some of the discipline in his play that he has lacked at times over the course of his career. He blitzed on a third-down play and Ravens QB Anthony Wright was rushed up the middle. The old LaVar would have kept blowing in towards the quarterback, getting either a killer sack or drawing air as the quarterback eluded him or knocking a teammate out of a sack. This time, when he saw the pressure up the middle he held his ground, making sure that Wright could not get outside of the pocket and getting into Wright’s line of vision to his receiver. Of course, the player who deserves the most credit for the incompletion was the linebacker on the other side, Brandon Barnes, who scored the knockdown on Wright as he released the ball. Still, a good sign by LaVar, letting someone else make the play.

Great throw on the run by Brunell. Where was this guy last year? He zipped it in to Mike Sellers about 12 yards downfield. The tight end left some bodies strewn on the field as he fought for some additional yardage. Two plays later Brunell converted a third down by rolling left and then, under pressure, reversing his field and throwing on the run to Brian Kozlowski, who made a nice catch for the first down.

Great throw by Brunell on a fade to Jimmy Farris, who made a great catch over his shoulder for the touchdown.

With five seconds left and the Ravens on their own 43, the Redskins blitzed Wright rather than drop everyone back in deep zone coverage. You have to like that philosophy, rather than the one that rushes three and gives the quarterback all the time he needs to throw up a Hail Mary.

Third Quarter

Two people aren’t going to want to look at the film of the interception that ended the Redskins’ first possession of the second half. One is Jason Campbell, who threw late and poorly. The other is Ray Brown, who stood there unaware that the ball was dancing on the ground just a few feet away from him after the interceptor fumbled. The only one who will get some satisfaction from reviewing the play is tight end Robert Johnson, who hustled over and forced the fumble.

Back to my favorite subject, the screen. Campbell doesn’t execute it as well as Brunell and Ramsey do. You can read “screen” from the moment that he starts to drop back and the defense doesn’t bite to create any room.

It’s not often that you see a triple dose of penalties on the same team on one play, but that’s what happened to the Ravens. The Redskins couldn’t get pressure up the middle on one side because a Ravens lineman had Aki Jones in a bear hug for one flag. Ryan Boeschetti broke through and got to Wright, who intentionally grounded the ball into the back of his center. The Redskins declined the holding and the illegal touch and accepted the intentional grounding. It’s stuff like this that makes second-half preseason football almost unwatchable at times.

I think that Nic Clemons has this team made. He nearly had an interception as he got within a couple of feet of Wright and batted the ball, nearly catching it in the process. He’s not eligible for the practice squad, having spent the last two seasons there and I think that he’s one that the coaches do not want to let go.

Rich Parson, a rookie free agent out of Maryland, made a nice return to set up a touchdown drive. Actually, the whole unit deserved credit as the blockers in the wedge were patient and timed their blocks right, leaving Parson with just one tackler to beat at the 20. He bounced off of that attempt and had nothing but green grass in front of him when he got tripped up just before reaching midfield. Perhaps the best thing about the play was that there was no laundry on the field after it was over.

Campbell proves that he can hit players in the same-colored jersey as his, throwing a beautiful arching spiral to Farris for a 37-yard touchdown. Great accuracy and touch by Campbell, who is playing like the talented rookie QB that he is.

Fourth Quarter

R. Brown’s primary competition for a roster spot is with Garnell Wilds. On consecutive passes, Wilds outshined Brown. On third and goal at the two, Wright threw a fade that Wilds defended perfectly, getting up to get a hand on the ball to nudge the receiver’s second foot out of bounds. On fourth down, they ran virtually the same play to the other side, Brown’s side. Brown was called for interference and the Ravens scored on the next play. Not a good side-by-side comparison for Brown there.

A few series later, Brown forced a fumble that took a good bounce for the Ravens and they wound up getting a few more yards into Redskins territory. Zak Keasey also deserves some ownership of the forced fumble as he slammed into Patrick Johnson after the reception, bouncing him into Brown, who did a nice job with the strip.

Later on, Brown turned the wrong way and got toasted for the Ravens’ go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. His stock keeps rising and falling as the game goes on.

It was Wilds who was beaten on the game-winning touchdown pass, but the fault for the score lies with Siddeeq Shabazz, who missed the tackle allowing Hymes to run free into the end zone.

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10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

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USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

Right or wrong, fans blamed Shawn Lauvao for much of the Redskins struggles on the offensive line last season. Pro Football Focus backs up the fans, as Lauvao landed a -19.1 grade, among the worst in the NFL at the guard spot. 

It's worth pointing out that Lauvao was playing hurt during much of his nine starts before getting shut down for the season just before Thanksgiving. In fact, injuries have probably been the biggest issue for Lauvao in his four seasons with the Redskins. 

In four seasons in Washington, Lauvao has never played a full 16-game slate. Last year he played just nine games, and in 2015 he only played three games. 

That points to what may be the bigger issue for the Redskins: offensive line depth. Last season was wild with the amount of injuries Washington sustained up front. It seems almost impossible for the team to have that many injuries again.

Still, the Redskins lost Arie Kouandjio for the year in the offseason. Kouandjio played better last year than Lauvao, and having both men in Richmond would have provided real competition. 

And that might be the biggest question: Neither Lauvao or Kouandjio represent a difference maker at left guard, yet the team did little to address the position. 

All offseason, the Washington brass walked a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The organization believes strongly in the players they already have, and outside of signing Paul Richardson and re-signing Zach Brown, the team had a quiet offseason. The Redskins struggled to run the ball the last few years, and still, the team did not look to upgrade at LG. 

It's important to note that the Redskins have two All-Pro caliber offensive linemen in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff. Morgan Moses is a plus at the right tackle spot too. The team likes Chase Roullier at center too, and they tried to add depth in drafting Geron Christian in the third round and bringing back swing tackle backup Ty Nsekhe as a restricted free agent. 

Left guard will be a question, and it's hard not to think that it will be the weakest position on the O-line. Should that submarine the group? It shouldn't. What if Lauvao gets hurt?  Then things get quite tricky.

For the Redskins, however, the expectation might be that the line needs to perform as a unit, and with talent like Williams and Scherff, that should cover up any weaknesses.

Time, and health, will tell if that plan works. 

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Need to Know: The best cornerbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The best cornerbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 20, six days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best cornerbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the cornerbacks are up. They are roughly ranked by Pro Football Focus’ coverage metrics, although I did some juggling based on interception totals and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, running backspass rushers, and quarterbacks

1. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals—The athletic Peterson has been All-Pro three times and has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his seven years in the league. He hasn’t had a big interception total since he got seven in 2012, but that is mostly because quarterbacks only throw his way about once every ten snaps he is in coverage. 

2. Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars—I could easily have ranked Ramsey over Peterson. I went with Peterson because he’s been doing it for longer and he’s only 28. Ramsey has justified his No. 5 selection in the 2016 draft. His long arms and ball skills serve him well. He has the size to defend the bigger receivers and the athleticism to be effective against shifty and speedy receivers. 

3. A.J. Bouye, Jaguars—If Alex Smith tries to throw away from Ramsey he will encounter trouble on the other side. It’s been trendy to say that Bouye is underrated for so long he’s in danger of becoming overrated. But he’s not there yet. Bouye was one of four full-time (played at least 60% of snaps) cornerbacks who did not allow a touchdown pass last year and he had by far the most plays in coverage. 

4. Malcolm Butler, Titans—If the Brady-Belichick Patriots don’t win another Super Bowl, the coach’s decision to keep Butler on the bench as Nick Foles shredded the New England secondary will be marked as the end of that era. Maybe Butler isn’t good enough to have made a difference, but it would have been interesting to see. He’s with the Titans now and he will give Smith problems in December. 

5. Marshon Lattimore, Saints—Last year’s defensive rookie of the year plays an aggressive style both in press man coverage and when tackling receivers who have caught the ball. An ankle injury sent him out of the game against the Redskins early, perhaps one of the reasons why Kirk Cousins was able to light them up for 322 yards and three touchdowns. 

Best of the rest: Desmond Trufant, Falcons; Brent Grimes, Bucs; Logan Ryan, Titans;k Jaire Alexander (rookie), Packers

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

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 6
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 20
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 43

The Redskins last played a game 201 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 51 days. 

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