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Griffin starts hot but Redskins can't score on final drive

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Griffin starts hot but Redskins can't score on final drive

Robert Griffin III and the Redskins started hot and finished hot. But in between they didn’t have enough offense or defense to keep the Minnesota Vikings from getting their second win of the season.

Trailing by 34-27 with 3:30 to play, the Redskins embarked on a desperation drive that got them a first and goal at the eight and a Roy Helu Jr. run got them to second down at the four. But Griffin threw three straight incompletions, including a fourth-down fade pattern to Santana Moss that was just out of bounds in the left corner of the end zone.

"This loss hurts, but we have to pick ourselves up and get back to work after the weekend,” said Griffin. “We have to keep pushing forward"

Griffin ended up with one of his better statistical days of the season, completing 24 of 37 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns.

But the numbers are somewhat deceptive. Griffin was on fire in the first half, completing 16 of 21 for 179 yards and all three touchdowns. But he completed just half of his passes in the second half, going 8 for 16 for 102 yards. After driving for a field goal in their first possession of the second half, making it five scores in five possessions and giving them a 27-14 lead, they did not score again.

Griffin didn’t get much help from his line. He was hit frequently in the first half but not sacked. In the final 30 minutes those hits got home as Griffin was sacked a season-high four times.

"I got hit a lot, but it's football,” said Griffin.

As noted, the offense started off well. The Redskins had the ball four times in the first half. The results were 11 plays, 43 yards, field goal, 7-78-TD, 13-85-TD, 11-82-TD. Griffin was playing as well has he had all year, thanks in large part to Alfred Morris. He had 17 carries for 88 yards.

But after a 12-play, 59-yard drive to a field goal to open the second half the Redskins next three drives went three plays, five plays, and three plays. They wound up punt, punt, and punt while the Vikings were taking the lead.

As noted, Griffin was under pressure more in the second half. Even when he had time on occasion he was off target. And it didn't help that after getting those 17 carries in the first half, Morris got just seven in the second.

The key series was the middle one. The Vikings had scored to take a 28-27 lead. Starting quarterback Christian Ponder was out of the game with an injury and this was the Redskins’ chance to blunt Minnesota’s momentum. They overcome a first and 20 to get one first down. But back-to-back sacks on third and fourth down—on both occasions Griffin had defenders in his face—killed the drive and the Redskins had to punt.

The Vikings got two field goals in their final two possessions, leaving the Redskins the ball with three and a half minutes to go and needing a touchdown to force overtime. Griffin was 4-4 for 34 yards as the Redskins got down to the four. But his pass to Jordan Reed was off target, his third-down pass to bounced off of Pierre Garçon’s hands and Moss caught his fourth-down pass but he couldn’t get two feet inbounds.

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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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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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