In his second NFL game, Robert Griffin III was knocked around, sacked, chased, and generally harassed by the St. Louis Rams. He also made plays with his arm, his feet, and his head and was the primary reason the Redskins were able to hold on before losing 31-28 in the last minutes of play.Griffin completed 20 of 29 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown. He also threw the first interception of his two-game NFL career.As noted, Griffin got it done running as well with 11 attempts for 82 yards and two touchdowns.Griffin was not impressed with his performance. Youre judged on wins and losses, he said. We lost the game so I didnt play well enough.Still, he did some things well. He scored the Redskins first offensive touchdown (they scored early in the game on a 30-yard Josh Wilson fumble return) on a five-yard scamper around left end.It was Griffins right arm that got it done on their next possession. After faking an end around and then a handoff, he launched one to a wide-open Leonard Hankerson. The second-year wide receiver gathered in the bomb and went in to complete the 68-yard scoring play.His big mistake came as halftime approached. With 52 seconds left until halftime, he threw under pressure and cornerback Courtland Finnegan picked it off at the Redskins 45. The turnover set up a field goal that cut the Redskins lead to 21-16 at halftime.The pick wasnt the only play where Griffin was pressured. Although he was sacked just once he was hit a number of times, some of them perhaps later than allowed by the rules. Griffin did say after the game that he got hit late a few times but declined to comment further.After the Rams scored in the third quarter to take a 23-21 lead, Griffin pulled a classic fantasy football touchdown vulture move. After running back Alfred Morris got the Redskins into the red zone with runs of 29 and 14 yards, Griffin saw a hole open up in the middle of the Rams defense and he scampered through it on a quarterback draw. His seven-yard TD run put the Redskins up 28-23.That run came with about five and a half minutes left in the third quarter and would be Washingtons last points. On their last five possessions the Redskins did not come close to the red zone and their only realistic chance of scoring lasted only for a few seconds. That was because Josh Morgan lost his cool and drew a 15-yard penalty after a Griffin pass to him got the Redskins down to the St. Louis 29 with a chance to tie the game with a field goal. The penalty resulted in Billy Cundiff having to try a 62-yarder to tie it up and he was well short and wide.
Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
The Redskins week that was
Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million.
Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL.
Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here.
Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic.
Tweet of the week
Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick.
In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline.
Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet.
Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to.
—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76
The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days.
In case you missed it
- Redskins absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, lowering helmet
- Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium
- Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp
The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed.
Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them.
Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work.
“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season.
“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”
Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs.
“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked.
The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs.
Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information.
“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”
The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges.
“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.
The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs.
The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk.
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