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GameBlog vs. Seattle Final

GameBlog vs. Seattle Final



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

First Half

Seattle is wearing its all-dark uniforms. It’s only 78 degrees at game time, but they’ll be in direct sun for most of three quarters. Probably only a slight difference, but that has to take something out of you as the game goes on.

Well, my call was to go deep on the game’s first play. We’ll find out here shortly.

It was for Moss, but it was a short-to-intermediate route that bounced as Moss caught it.

They game Thrash a pretty good cushion on a 13-yard completion for a first down.

The offensive line is just blowing the Seahawk defense away here on virtually every snap so far. Brunell has had good protection, too, except on the first pass. Virtually anyone could run or pass behind this bunch today. Perhaps they’ve been reading some of the recent criticism of their play in the papers.

Fourth and inches at the Seattle 20, Gibbs leaving his rookie kicker and holder on the sidelines and going for it. Portis takes the low guided Cruise missile route to the first down.

Now they have to go on anyway after a third and seven sack. Disaster as the kick never got off the ground and was blocked. Not only that, but they smacked it back about 20 yards giving them the ball at midfield. Good drive, bad ending. They got done what they needed to do in terms of establishing some offensive rhythm (15 plays), but couldn’t finish it off.

Frost and Novak are discussing what happened on the sidelines. The snap was good, the hold seemed OK, but it only takes a little bit off for a kick to go astray.

It gets them a 52-yard field goal. That one by Josh Brown was also low, as many long kicks are, but it has enough distance and snuck in the lower left corner of the end zone.

James Thrash is becoming Mr. Clutch, moving the sticks with regularity. Two third-down conversions for him in the first 10 minutes of play.

As the first quarter moves on, the Seattle DL is getting quite a bit more active. They’re getting some penetration, although they don’t seem to be able to generate a pass rush without a blitz (as is the case with the Redskins). Still, another drive that was productive without any points being scored.

If I’m Danny Smith, I put into each punter’s contract that it’s a $1,000 fine if you punt it into the end zone from inside midfield and a $1,000 bonus for each time it’s downed inside the 20. A 20-yard net on a punt like Frost just got is pretty worthless, you might as well go for it.

Good play call by Holmgren on third and three, a play action right, leaving the TE with lots of running room.

Not sure why there wasn’t a holding call on Hasselbeck’s second and 20 pass attempt. Cornelius Griffin was right in front of him and the offensive lineman was behind him and hanging on for dear life. No matter as Philip Daniels just needed about two steps of penetration to bat down Hasselbeck’s third-down pass.

Often overlooked about Santana Moss because of his speed are his hands. He has a great ability to snatch the ball out of the air and put it away in one quick motion.

We’re starting to see Gibbs’ offense at work. Third and two, Cooley lined up at fullback, no TE’s lined up, three wides, a little pass to Cooley good for 11 yards.

It’s back to Brunell having all day to throw again. Robert Royal seemed to be his fourth option on a third and ten play. It seemed like he would have had time to go back to his first and second options if he wanted to, but Royal just got the first.

Moss’ hands on display again on the catch in the end zone that was reviewed. He got the ball into his body so quickly that he got possession before he hit the ground. It was close, but it was the correct call from the view here.

Finally, a first-half touchdown. Nice touch by Brunell on the little pass to Royal on third and goal. Sixteen play drive, 85 yard drive. Four third down conversions from as little as one yard and as long as ten, Brunell 7-9 for 71 yards. Seattle generally seemed to have no idea what the Redskins were going to do and, when they did, they were unable to stop it.

Still, when a game goes like this and you’re dominating on both sides of the ball and you look up at the scoreboard and you’re only up by four, you have to be somewhat concerned. Another score before halftime would make the breathing a bit easier.

Third and 11 for Seattle in Redskins territory, crowd roaring, false start. Seems like old times.

It may seem dumb to make a diving fair catch rather than just let the ball go, especially when time is running out in the half, but Thrash possible prevented the ball from bouncing off of a teammate, which could have been disaster. If he doesn’t field the punt on the dive, he certainly pushes it out of bounds. Smart football, smart football player.

 
Second Half
 
Halftime stats show Alexander with 12 yards rushing, showing that you can’t gain yardage while you’re on the sideline. Brunell has a triple-digit QB rating at 104.7, probably a first for him with the Redskins even for a half.
 
Some dumb football by Seattle on the second-half kickoff. On a high kick, the receiver called for a fair catch, sort of, but took off anyway. It cost Seattle five plus the few yards that the return was for.
 
Good drive going on by Seattle, they’re giving Hasselbeck time to throw, or, rather, they’re having him throw quickly. They’ll need to tighten up the coverage some if they’re going to stop the West Coast Offense death by a thousand paper cuts.
 
A sack was critical, as was a picked-up flag on Springs that would have resulted in a first down. For Seattle, it was death by a 47-yard FG try that was short. Without the sack yardage, it would have snuck through. They said that Springs made illegal contact with a receiver and he essentially admitted it, but it was after Hasselbeck was already underneath Lamar Marshall.
 
The offensive line is inconsistent so far, sometimes getting a good push, sometimes Seattle can blow up plays in the backfield.
 
Mike Sellers isn’t just an offensive tackle with an H-back’s number. He can actually catch passes and score touchdowns. That PI call to set up the score looked pretty shaky to me, but it’s not as though such flags haven’t been thrown against the Redskins over the past several years.
 
To show my East-Coast bias, I never realized what a good receiver Darrell Jackson is. He catches anything thrown in his ZIP Code.
 
A blitz—and a good blitz pickup—leaves Engram all alone on third and ten. Looks like Seattle may get closer here.
 
They do on an Alexander TD run up they middle. Not a good series by the Washington defense there. They paid for blitzing on a couple of occasions, the last one converting the third and 10. Credit Seattle with doing a good job of picking it up.
 
It’s OK to throw to a receiver who’s at a dead stop short of the first down if the receiver is Clinton Portis. Great move to pick up the first on third and nine.
 
We have had a big-time Chris Cooley sighting today. After being mostly silent after his TD in the Bears game was nullified, he’s picked up some nice yardage today. Gibbs is finding ways to work him open—usually wide open—and he’s catching the ball with all kinds of running room.
 
Nick Novak needed that one—a 40-yard field goal with plenty of distance and right down the middle.
 
That’s the second straight kickoff that’s been high and short. Seattle did make the fair catch on this one. Are they kicking off that way intentionally?
 
A Smart play by Cedric Killings. He slammed on the brakes when he recognized a second and 15 screen instead of shooting in on the quarterback. He turned and helped make the tackle after a short gain. Looks like all that NFL Europe playing time did him some good.
 
Another smart play sighting. Portis swept out on third and two and instead of stopping and cutting in an attempt to make a big run, he turned sideways, slid through a crack, and make the first down by plenty.
 
Sack specialist Demetric Evans in the game at left end. Let’s see if he can get something going as far as a pass rush from the front four.
 
Fourth and one at their own 34. Will Seattle actually go for it. Lots of time left, a stop ends the game. They’re almost certainly going to pass as Alexander has been hitting a brick wall for most of the day.
 
Good call—or maybe good play by Hasselbeck—to pick up the first on a scramble. Well, you can’t allow a 14-yard completion on third and 15.
 
Alexander is picking up some steam as this game goes on. You certainly can’t accuse Mike Holmgren of giving up on him.
 
First and ten at the 12 for Seattle. The Redskins didn’t take advantage of their early domination and they could end up paying for it.
 
They do as Seattle ties it up. Drove it 90 yards, 14 plays down the Redskins’ throat with the screaming crowd that grew quieter on each third-down as it seemed inevitable that Hasselbeck would convert. No hint of being a soft team on the road there, that’s for sure. And my dark uniform theory is pretty much out the window as well.
 
That’s the way the ball bounces. Seattle’s got a shot to steal the win.
 
Wide left. New life. Dodged a bullet, not time to go downstairs just yet.
 
A mini recreation of the last five minutes in Dallas in overtime with Brunell picking up key yards on a scramble and Moss making the catch and run that win it.

Post Game

It was a happy locker room, but under control. They realize that they’ve won nothing yet and there’s a long way to go. Still, there was a little more excitement there today. As Gibbs left the podium in the interview room and Moss was approaching the front of the room, the two exchanged enthusiastic congratulations. Later, I was passing by Brunell, who might recognize me from Redskins Park but we’ve never had a one-on-one conversation, and he gave be a big smile and slap on the back like I was an old college buddy.

I asked Novak about the short, high kickoffs and he confirmed that they were by design. He almost told me what they call that type of kick, but he caught himself, afraid of giving away company secrets.

Novak’s a good kid, easy to root for. When he was asked whether or not he watched John Brown’s potential game-winner at the end of regulation, he said that he did, but that he didn’t openly root for Brown to miss, not wanted to create “bad karma”. When a reporter followed up and asked what he meant by that, Novak looked puzzled that anyone wouldn’t get it. He asked back, “Don’t you understand what bad karma is?” A classic response to a dumb question.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

gibbs_retirement_1993_ap.png
Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

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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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

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) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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