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Redskins’ Barry addresses defense's lack of 'takeaways'

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Redskins’ Barry addresses defense's lack of 'takeaways'

The Redskins have been playing some pretty good defense so far this season in terms of the raw numbers the NFL uses to rank defenses. They are second in yards allowed with 285 per game and eighth in scoring defense with 19.7 points allowed per game. In all, they are in the top 10 in 14 of the 18 major defensive stats the NFL tracks.

With a fairly small sample size this year, those numbers represent a solid improvement over 2014 when they allowed an average of 357 yards per game, 27.4 points per game, and were in the top 10 in just one of the 18 statistical categories. 

But it is hard to say that the Redskins are a top defense because of their low ranking in one, very important statistical category. They have just one takeaway, tied for last in the NFL with the Jaguars. Preston Smith’s sack, strip, and recovery in the third quarter of week 1 remains the team’s lone turnover. 

Excuse me, that’s takeaway, according to defensive coordinator Joe Barry. 

“We don’t call them ‘turnovers.’ We call them ‘takeaways,’” said Barry “We’re not taking the ball away right now ... It’s our job as defenders no matter if we’re rushing three, four, five or six, whether we’re playing man or zone or zero, takeaways are our duty to take the ball away.”

The Redskins 1-2 record could be better had the team been able to get a few more takeaways. They had at least two game-turning interceptions in their hands in Week 1 against the Dolphins but dropped them. 

It’s not a coincidence that the Redskins are also ranked low sacks. They have just four of them in three games, tied for 21st in the NFL. Sacks lead to turnovers directly by setting up plays like Smith’s against the Dolphins and indirectly by forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball before he wants to. 

“I think we’ve pressured the quarterback fairly well,” said Barry. “You look at the Miami game, you look at the St. Louis game — the St. Louis game was a big point of getting [Nick] Foles off the spot. Now, you look at the final stat sheet from a sack standpoint, it wasn’t where you wanted but we affected the quarterback ... I’d tell you, our whole D-line room would tell you, ‘They’re greedy. We’re greedy. We want to sack the quarterback. We want to get after the quarterback.’”

Barry’s assessment seems to be fair. Against the Dolphins and Rams combined they had five QB hits and 23 hurries. That is decent pressure on the quarterback. 

Regardless, it doesn’t appear that Barry will be trying to dial up any new defensive calls to force more takeaways. 

“I’m a firm believer also there’s not some make-believe call that you can call to create a turnover,” he said. “It’s our job as defenders to take the ball away. Now sometimes, obviously, within the call, if there’s a breakdown on their part, sometimes takeaways happen a little bit more easier, but no, I don’t think there’s some magic call that you can call to create a turnover.”

There may not be any magic involved but the Kirk Cousins and company would surely benefit from having a short field to work with on occasion. The chances are that things will turn around at some point but the Redskins hope it will not be too late. 

MORE REDSKINS: Eagles game a big opportunity for Cousins to redeem himself

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The Kapri Bibbs touchdown vs. the Cowboys was the very definition of team football

The Kapri Bibbs touchdown vs. the Cowboys was the very definition of team football

The obsession over how football is a team game, and how all 11 guys on the field matter on every single play, can be nauseating at times.

Plenty of things in an NFL contest happen because of one player beating another player. In other instances, it's about a single dude just absolutely screwing everything up all on his own (most often that dude is Blake Bortles).

But on Kapri Bibbs' 23-yard opening-drive touchdown catch vs. the Cowboys in Week 7, a ton of non-ball-carrying Redskins did in fact chip in to help get Bibbs into the end zone. It was one of those plays that just makes you want to scream FOOTBALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!

The first two 'Skins who deserve recognition on the score are Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff.

Lauvao, who was returning from injury, leaked out with Scherff and Chase Roullier to serve as Bibbs' personal, giant escorts to the goal line. He then showed excellent awareness to peel back and seal off Dallas D-linemen Antwaun Woods, which ended any hopes of a Cowboy catching Bibbs from behind.

The true hero, though, was Scherff. The human wood chipper got pieces of two opposing linemen before breaking out to the next level, diving and knocking Kavon Frazier out of Bibbs' path. Without Scherff's insane effort, the screen pass doesn't even result in positive yardage, let alone six points.

Here's a still image of the first two, key blocks:

Large Redskins weren't the only ones getting the job done in hand-to-hand combat, however. For a screen to elevate itself from solid play to major chunk play, you need receivers doing work well past the line of scrimmage, too.

Well, this screenshot of Josh Doctson and Brian Quick holding blocks at the sticks definitely qualifies as doing work:

And, lastly, there's the center, Roullier. The man who started the entire sequence with a snap from the 23-yard line eventually found himself at the 12, displacing Byron Jones to ensure that the home team's tailback would finish things dancing instead of getting up from the ground:

To enjoy the full FOOTBALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!-ness of the six-pointer, head to the 23-second mark of this video. Then, take a moment to reflect on all those poor Cowboys who thought they were going to tackle Kapri Bibbs throughout the course of that highlight, because they never really had a chance and that's just so sad for them.

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What exactly was Alex Smith thinking when he went out of bounds on the last drive?

What exactly was Alex Smith thinking when he went out of bounds on the last drive?

FEDEX FIELD -- Late in the Redskins win over the Cowboys, when the contest was still very much in question, Alex Smith made an incredibly poor decision. 

It was situational football at its peak. The Redskins had the ball with under 90 seconds left and a three point lead while Dallas had just one timeout left. A first down would end the game, but beyond getting a new set of downs, forcing Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to use his final timeout was the next highest priority. 

Somehow, Smith achieved neither. 

On third-and-9 from his own 36-yard-line, Smith took the snap and worked left on a play-action bootleg. There was room to run for a modest gain, but it seemed obvious Smith would not pick up the first down. 

Only Smith didn't see it that way. 

"I knew a first down would end the game and I did have glimpses of myself getting the first down whatever it took," the quarterback said. 

Instead of getting the first down, Smith got dragged out of bounds by Dallas LB Sean Lee. That stopped the clock for the Cowboys, and allowed Garrett to save his final timeout. 

Barring a turnover, it was the worst possible outcome on the play. 

What makes the situation so strange is that Smith is a very smart player. A 14-year veteran, Smith is known as a guy that won't make mistakes to hurt his team and gives his squad a chance for a win every week. Only late in the game, Smith tried to make the play to go for the win, and made a huge mistake instead. 

"I all of a sudden found myself pretty awkward on the sidelines there and can’t have it," Smith said. "[I] could have obviously cost us the game in hindsight at that point, I think kinda abandon ship and go down there on the sideline.”

The good news for Smith, and for the 4-2 Redskins, is that Cowboys kicker Brett Maher plunked the upright on his game-tying field goal attempt. An attempt that might not have happened if Smith stayed in bounds. 

In the end, it didn't cost the Redskins. 

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