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Need to Know: Redskins have uneven special teams play vs. Patriots

Aug 9, 2014, 4:16 AM EST

Forbath_FG_Vikings

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 9, nine days before the Redskins host the Browns on preseason Monday night football.

Nickel coverage

A look back at some notes and quotes from the Redskins preseason game against the Patriots before the final days of training camp start up.

—Some think that Jay Gruden is a pass-first coach but that’s not how he sounded about the Redskins’ ball control (39 minutes of possession time) offense. “It’s important. Our offensive line did a good job blocking, obviously. Both our fullbacks in the game did a nice job,” he said. “Of course the receivers blocking downfield, getting those tough yards. Those yards after contact instead of those three-yard gains, you’re getting four or five yards. It was good to see some cutback runs. Some guys made some physical runs and all sorts of things.”

—Robert Griffin III probably would have preferred to attempt more than the four passes he threw. But he knew what Gruden wanted to do and that it made his offensive line happy. “I think he wanted to get his guys in and out and keep us healthy,” said Griffin. “We’ll move on to the next game and we’ll get some more snaps. And those offensive linemen like to run the ball. Let them get their hands dirty in there for a couple plays and get [running back] Alfred [Morris] some touches. We played off that really well.”

—Griffin liked his coach’s demeanor as well. “He was funny, getting the plays in and out to us,” he said. “He enjoys it and that’s the great thing about it. You enjoy the process, you enjoy game day. He’s out there with us on game day. When we have a bad play, he has a bad play. When we have a great play he has a great play. That’s great to see from a head coach.” Note that Griffin later clarified that Gruden did not tell “knock-knock jokes” into the headset while he was making the calls.

—One area that was uneven for the Redskins on Thursday was special teams. There was a 46-yard field goal attempt that was both wide and short, a kickoff out of bounds, and a play that looked bad (long kickoff return) then turned good (recovered fumble) but ended up bad (turnover negated by offside penalty). Then there was a Patriots kickoff return that went 47 yards before rookie kicker Zach Hocker made a nice tackle. “Yeah, that was different,” said Hocker of making the tackle. “The touchback would have been great, but getting to convert the tackle and, you know, I had to make a couple tackles in college and finally getting that one NFL tackle out of the way definitely boosts my confidence the next time they bring one up to make the play.”

—When talking to Mike Shanahan after games, he would never give names of players who played well. After giving the caveat that he need to watched to watch the film, Gruden was happy to name names. “Obviously, [running back] Silas Redd had some physical runs, and was impressive, and then [running back] Lache Seastrunk came in there had a couple splash runs, which was good to see,” he said. “From a receiver standpoint, [Rashad] Ross had another big catch. He’s made some big catches all along. [Wide receiver] Aldrick Robinson, he just continues to make play after play after play. Then defensively, it was good to see [linebacker Brian] Orakpo get a sack and some of the safeties fly around. Not only on defense, but on special teams, like [safety] Akeem Davis. I saw him make a big hit on special teams and do a good job.”

If you have any questions about what’s going on at training camp, hit me up in the comments. I’ll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

—Former Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams was born on this day in 1955.

Today’s schedule: Practice 2:15; Jay Gruden media availability after practice; players available coming off of the field.

—It’s been 222 days since the Redskins played a game; in 30 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Monday night preseason vs. Browns 10; Final cuts 23; Home opener vs. Jaguars 37

In case you missed it

  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 9, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Rich, are the Redskins running the same ZBS that Shanahan was using, or has Jay G. changed things up?
    ~

    • Rich Tandler - Aug 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      The zone is very similar if not identical. The difference is that Gruden mixes in some power runs with the zone.

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  2. hitmeimopen - Aug 9, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    I’m interested in your thoughts about the possibility that Almo isn’t as effective when running behind this new (bigger) line. My concern is that his style and body type may need to adjust to the advantages this new line brings with it. Outside Zone may not have the same success as our lighter previous line had.

    • Rich Tandler - Aug 9, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      I think that you’re way overthinking. Morris is a very good back who can make the first man miss. He will have to do some adjusting but a back with his skill set can thrive in any scheme.

      > >

    • shermanp79 - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      I think Morris looked quicker. He will be ok, they are using stretch running , same as last year. Gruden used the backs a lot to catch the ball. I think that was under used by Shanahan. I liked all the RBs and liked Helu got in early. That is another thing Shanahan failed to do much. I believe Helu will have a big year. Getting him in on first downs and for good part of drives will help this offense. They have to find a role for Seastrunk, his speed is real. He can give the big plays we need from the backfield. I think Morris looked quicker too(maybe bcuz missed football they all seem fast LOL), hopefully next game we see some catches. They all will be fine. The backfield is the least of my concerns on this team. I think Gruden runs when the defense lets him. They r going to have some problems, especially if the OL plays as they did, I am pleased with so much from game. I am with some perspective, being the first game and how little scheme was involved.

  3. shermanp79 - Aug 9, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    I made mention of the ST in a comment Friday. It’s not good missing FGs but I focused more on the long run early in the game. Since it was such an issue last year. I missed both the FG and kick out of bounds. It seems everything went wrong last year, that needs to be corrected. A missed FG or ball out of bounds probably happens during the season . A ball going out of bounds a time or two, I can live with. We would love the K to hit every FG but that probably doesn’t happen. I don’t know if it was nerves or because early in pre season, those have to be fixed. Hopefully once the cover teams get more reps out there, they will keep those returns in check. I’ll give them some slack in the first game, since so many new guys are working together. The coaches need to stress staying in lanes this week. Now they have actually tackled somebody, I hope that improves throughout the team. It’s one thing I don’t like about the lack of tackling in TC. If Forbath kicks like that in preseason there will be some issues. I thought Hocker would have the advantage on KO. The next couple games are important, they need to correct the woes of last year. If they have to bring another K in, that is fine with me.

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