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Need to Know: Who needs to step up?

Oct 4, 2013, 5:31 AM EDT

Morgan-vs-Steelers

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 4, nine days before the Redskins visit the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

Since the Redskins news, the staple for this space, has crawled to a stop we’re doing something a little different here. Yesterday we looked at the five most valuable Redskins. Today, we look at five who need to step it up. Let’s count them down:

5. Stephen Bowen—He has not performed horribly but a player who has one of the top 10 salary cap numbers on the team should be having more of an impact. Bowen’s stats (10 tackles, no sacks) are identical to those of Kedric Golston, who makes far less.

4. Josh Morgan—Another high salary (5th-highest cap number) who needs to pick up his production. He has just nine receptions and it’s not like Robert Griffin III hasn’t thrown the ball a ton.

3. Robert Griffin III—Yes, he was on the list of most valuable yesterday but he still has a long way to go if this team is going to be what we thought it could be.

2. Brandon Meriweather—Where is that player we saw for a half against the Eagles last year? He hasn’t been nearly as aggressive (unless you count knocking Eddie Lacy and himself out of the Packers game) or confident since then. Certainly the ACL recovery has slowed him down but the sooner he can get himself back to, well, himself the better off the defense will be.

1. London Fletcher—The leadership, of course, has not diminished and he seems to be able to get where he needs to be. But the number of missed tackles has simply been unacceptable. When you have a defense designed to funnel plays to the inside linebackers so that they can make plays and one of them is having problems tackling the whole defense struggles.

Stat of the day

—In four games this year, the Redskins have a point differential of minus-21 (-5.2/game, 91 scored, 112 allowed), 26th in the league. Last year in 16 games their differential was plus-48 (3.0/game 436 scored, 388 allowed), 12th in the NFL.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 9; Bears @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Broncos 23

—The Redskins are on their bye, no availability this week.

Pierre Garçon talks to Brian Mitchell

In case you missed it

  1. polofourme - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Lets be honest, the whole team has not played well….they all need to step up and raise their collective game but I will add this, the coaching staff has looked los during these first four games..I mean deer in the headlights type lost. The hc and son don’t seem to have a clue and Hasslessbrains, that D is simply terrible. Now its completely true the coaching staff cant go out and get on the field and play. Got it..but they seem dumbfounded as to how to get the players in the right position to make plays and the O has simply been abysmal especially the play calling. And STs new coach…he and his teams have been terrible. So IMO its the coaching staff that needs to step it up. That is if they can. Which I sincerely doubt.

    • manchild157 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Same thing was said by you last year when we were 3-6 and wham we took off and won 7 games in a row. We got youth and new players that seem to be finding their way. Agreed that our special teams return game needs improvement, got a rookie with nowhere to run because blockers aren’t providing the holes. I don’t think Kyle is clueless, they have had to give up on the run when they fall behind early and start throwing the ball. There is a number of individual players who are playing very well, Griff is improving every game. Doubt if you will but this team will put together a run in this last 12 games.

      • polofourme - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        Based on the way this team has played so far, I don’t see where your enthusiasm comes from…Griffin has not been very good. Its clear he is not the same player he was last year. And if you recall last year I posted many times, the difference btwn a play working and not working is a split second. Griffin has lost a half to a full step and you can see how big a difference that makes when DL can run him down, FROM BEHIND. You never saw that last year. It ripples throughout the entire O..the OL is exposed what it has always been, a weak unit. The WR group as a whole second rate we simply don’t have a true #1 WR and the TE position is a mess. T

        he D is embarrassingly bad across the board but the secondary is really terrible. Do you think a few days off is going to fix that..I would strongly disagree and the coaching staff has not made any adjustments they just keep running the same plays that don’t work. The D one of the worst in the NFL and O has trouble scoring and ST is a joke. That seven game run last years was as much about luck as it was about skill. Ask any NFL player, to have a run like that you have to have some luck…and that’s just how it works. The ball bounced in our favor last year and not so much this year and this team has no chance of running off 12 straight wins..they will be lucky to be 8-8 with our schedule but the good news, 8-8 might win the division. This team doesn’t seem to play with any emotion..no sense of urgency. They had some success using the two minute drill against OAK but then they went right back to doing what they were doing and the play calling has been suspect all year….I know you have heard that…Griffin IMO is really not improving much at all from game to game..I think what you have seen is what you will get…hes not as mobile, not as fast, not as quick and he has a really weak OL in front of him…if you watch the OAK you saw he took a real beating. If that goes on and there nothing to think it will suddenly change he wont last the season…and the most difficult portion of the schedule in right in front of us….we will see how the team comes out and plays DAL…but I am not holding my breathe.

        • Rich Tandler - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:06 PM

          You make some valid, if somewhat exaggerated, points there polofourme. Except that I have no idea–none–how anyone could objectively look at Griffin’s play and say that it hasn’t markedly improved from Week 1 to Week 4. It has and if you can’t see it you’re choosing not to.

        • polofourme - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

          Mr Tandler….his play IMO has not really improved. He was tackled behind the LOS in the OAK by a DL…his stats are really exaggerated because we have always been playing from behind and Ds have played soft. I think you understand that….He is CLEARLY not the player he was last year and IMO that’s the new Griffin and I don’t expect it to really change that much. So I respectfully disagree his play has improved week over week. In OAK he was playing against a really weak team…you could see the OAK D was playing a losing game..they started out playing hard…but as the game went on they simply got tired and you could see that in the 4th quarter. So I think you have to take that win with a grain of salt. I don’t think will ever see Griffin play again without that brace…its permanent. And it does affect his mobility and quickness along with the damage that was done to his knee. has affected his play. I have never liked him throwing from a pocket. He is throwing with his arm not his legs and his mechanics leave much to be desired. I think you will agree, he is more affective when he throws on the run. I would also add more accurate…but that’s exactly what he cant do as he did last year so you see him trying to make transition to a drop back, pocket passer and there I think we can both agree, it has not been pretty. He looks like a fish out of water. His accuracy has suffered. IMO the coaching staff not only put at risk the teams franchise player, they have ruined him…and this is just the proof of that. He is not what I would described today an elite QB..IMO about in the middle of the pack and that’s a hugh difference from his former play.

        • Rich Tandler - Oct 4, 2013 at 5:38 PM

          First of all, polofourme, it’s Rich, not Mr. Tandler. Pleased to meet you. :)

          Second, you’re putting a lot of straw men out there (I didn’t say he looked the same as he did last year and I didn’t say his mechanics are clean).

          But most of all you are leaping to conclusions that you just can’t justify after four games. Saying they have “ruined” him is way over the top. I guess they were saying that the Vikings had “ruined” Adrian Peterson last year when the couldn’t buy a 100-yard game early in the season.

          You have no “proof” of anything after four games. Do you have some sort of evidence that players, even ones that require mobility, don’t get better the further away they get from their ACL injuries? I can answer that for you, you don’t.

          So just relax and don’t jump to conclusions that are going to look silly in a month or so. But I guess since you can’t see any improvement in him from Week 1 until now you already have you mind made up that he’s ruined so maybe I should quit wasting my time.

        • polofourme - Oct 5, 2013 at 2:31 PM

          Rich, I played college football, my left knee has been scoped four times. Now my injures were not as serious as Griffins…but each time they went in there was less and less to work with. Now I also did not have my work done by one of the best surgeons in the country and nor did I have the best physical therapists and continuous support. But a knee is a knee. The structures are the same. Griffn has had two extraordinarily serious injuries, complete rebuilds twice in three years nothing close to what Peterson had done…not twice in three years. His knee will never be as stable or strong as it was before any of the surgeries..after the first reconstruction, his knee was more stable and strong than after his second full reconstruction. His knee will never be as strong as it was and he will need to wear a brace for the remainder of his career. IMO. That knee brace definitely restricts his range of motion..restricts the angles he can take when he runs or cuts, restricts his natural movement. And just wearing it is a constant reminder either consciously or unconsciously that he is wearing that brace to protect his knee..not as a fashion statement. and one more injury to that knee and it might be the end of his career. And all of this has effected his play.

          I find it curious that you consider my views misplaced. We can off course agree to disagree and respect each others views and I do…but we have four games now to measure Griffin that’s 25% of the season. IMO a reasoned sample…a lot of the games have been distorted by the games themselves seeing that we have always been playing in the first half behind. Usually by big scores. And teams have played soft, defending those big leads. Griffin has rolled up some yards but the vast majority of those yards came after the game was out of reach. Against OAK, he played just barely good enough to win against what has to be one of the NFLs worst teams. Even in that game, he was run down from behind by a DL…as he has been all season..so I see little improvement in his mobility, And throwing from the pocket is simply something he has trouble doing. His mechanics are constantly being criticized by game analysts and local pundits. He continues to make arm throws. Again I don’t see any week to week improvement in that area. He has more TOs this than he had all last season. Again, I see little if any improvement along those lines.

          I wonder if you could explain to me what areas of improvement you have seen? Its fine to be a homer but I get the feeling that’s not your view point. I am willing to be proven wrong and certainly hope I am…as far as ruining him, all I have to say is compare the QB you saw last year with the one you are seeing this year and tell me, this coaching staff, the hc in particular has not ruined a guy we traded four high round draft picks for and made him the face the franchise.

  2. m0lehead - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:44 AM

    To me the blocking needs a lot a work! There is a reason teams have been power blitzing our middle game after game! It was not until late in the game against the Raiders that I finally saw some blocking happening and that is the drive we scored our touchdown on. I think RG III needs to be able to read the blitzes better as well! The blitzes is part of why our run game has not been doing so well. Teams are controlling the line of scrimmage against us. We need to start dominating the trench and then I think points will follow, and when that happens we will start winning games and get all these fair weather fans to quit bashing a team that finally has something to cheer for!

    • manchild157 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      Agreed Molehead- get this running game going and special teams blocking is hurting us.

  3. Jason Holden - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    Here’s a thought : If RGIII and Kirk Cousins were to have a QB battle this week and Cousins won, would the skins play him or continue with RGIII? Is marketing more important than wins? How long does it take for fans to turn on a 1-3 QB? What would the Texans do if they had Cousins on there team right now?
    RGIII does have a lot of work to do and given the next couple of games before we play the Broncos he had better pull it together fast or he may start hearing the boo birds come out.

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:12 AM

      OK, Jason, let’s pretend for a minute that Cousins right now is better than Griffin. We’d have to pretend because I don’t know how anyone could see Griffin in the last two games and figure that Cousins is better but let’s pretend for the sake of the argument.

      So you play Cousins. Maybe you win a game or two, maybe you don’t. At some point you lose 3 of 4 and it’s time to put Griffin back in. Griffin then has to pick the process of learning to play on his reconstructed knee. If you’d stuck with Griffin then you’d have something close to the guy you had in 2012 by around midseason (see Adrian Peterson’s game logs from last year is you have any questions). But since you panicked and benched him, he’s still trying to find his way back to 100 percent form.

      It’s not about marketing. I can assure you that Mike Shanahan, who makes the QB decision, doesn’t give a damn about marketing. It’s about looking to the future and giving the guy you gave up a lot to get a chance to regain his form, something he can’t do from the bench.

      If Griffin regresses then your scenario might make some sense. But he’s gotten better each week. To pull the plug on him now would be to engage in the very kind of stuck on stupid thinking that has been the hallmark of this franchise for decades.

      • Jason Holden - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:44 AM

        I haven’t given up on him. I want him to put his game in order and win for the team. I just don’t why everyone has so much faith when his last measurable results came last year. As for him improving every week, he only had one way to go and that was up. As for taking a chance with one QB or another isn’t that what every team does with any first year QB. I will always be a skins fan. I just don’t want to have another lost season due to an injured players previous results. What happens if they are 3-6 again? Do we just hang on for the ride and possibly end up in a QB battle at next years training camp anyway.

        • Rich Tandler - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:52 AM

          I appreciate the frustration. But you have to understand that for him to “get his game in order” he has to play.

          Comment that he had to improve because he had no place to go but up puzzles me. Some players start off poorly due to injury or whatever reason and don’t improve. You seem to concede that he is getting better. So why stop now?

  4. ryan - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:27 AM

    think mike shanahan, Kyle shanhan and Haslett needs yo step up too..

    Bowen is a huge dissapointment this year and so is fletcher.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    London Fletcher could finally be succumbing to Father Time.

    Unfortunately, the team’s backup plan succumbed to pectoral separation, and the attempts to remedy that haven’t worked.

    Here’s hoping getting Rob Jackson helps…do you think he could possibly play ILB?
    ~

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      Jackson too tall to play inside. At 6-4, he’d have trouble keeping blocks off of himself in the middle. Guards/centers could get under his pads.

      • manchild157 - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        That’s a better point than the one I was going to make. I felt insiders were faster because they covered more of the field, as opposed to outsiders who could use the sidelines as help.

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