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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Lamenting a lost opportunity

Dec 12, 2015, 5:08 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 12, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Redskins Week 14 in review

Some thoughts on the news during the week that was:

Missed opportunity for the Redskins—There’s no other way to put it; they blew it against the Cowboys. It was predicable because it’s apparent that this team is not ready for prime time (literally and figuratively) but at the same time it was somewhat shocking to see them bumble to the loss in the fashion that they did.

The accelerated phaseout of Alfred Morris—The player who Jay Gruden insists is still his “No. 1 back” played eight snaps and got six carries in the most important game of the year. It’s apparent they are going to move on from Morris when his contract is up at the end of the year but what’s baffling is Gruden’s refusal to even say that Morris and Matt Jones are 1-A and 1-B. It’s costing him credibility

Should the Redskins abandon the run?—I was sort of kidding when I wrote this but they can’t go on gaining less than three yards per attempt. At some point you just have to say you’re going to throw the ball and spread out the field and do it. Maybe this Sunday in a rainy Soldier Field against a Bears rushing defense that allows 4.8 yards a carry isn’t the time to do it. But at some point, before the season is lost, Gruden has to consider it.

‘Banged up’ Redskins cancel practice, hold walkthrough—This drew some snickers on social media when I posted the article on Wednesday but, news flash, not everybody on Twitter and Facebook knows what they’re talking about. Practice was scheduled less than 36 hours after a very physical Monday night loss. With six players out and four more limited it would have been hard to conduct even a light practice. The walkthrough was the way to go.

Skins’ Thompson has a torn labrum—The third-down back went into the Dallas game with a sprained shoulder and came out of it with an even more severe injury. While I’m interested to see if Matt Jones can make some plays filling in on third downs, Thompson has a burst that Jones doesn’t have.

‘Keep ripping it out’—One are where the Redskins’ defense has improved is in the takeaway department. They have 20 on the season, one more than they did all of last year. Unfortunately the Redskins have been able to turn those takeaways into a mere 28 points. But the D is doing its job here.


Today’s schedule: No availability; travel to Chicago

Days until: Redskins @ Bears 1; Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 14

In case you missed it

  1. celeoinc - Dec 12, 2015 at 5:48 AM

    Referees are controlling the outcome of the games. They don’t control the outcome of the games by missing an obvious calls. Those are honest mistakes I believe. The way they control the outcome of the games is getting incrediblely pick at times against a specific team. There are minor infractions almost every down in the NFL and they choose to call some and sometimes they don’t. Sure Monday Night was a lost opportunity, sure we had many chances to win the game, sure we should blame ourselves for not winning, but the picky calls made against the Skins, that 98% of the times are not called, in the first half made a game of a Monday Night that should not had been a close game in first place. The NFL is becoming a farse right in front of our eyes.

    • hail74 - Dec 12, 2015 at 7:21 AM

      They kept showing highlights of the Thursday game where Larry Fitzgerald blocked downfield on floyds TD and called it some great blocking by the vet. All I thought was with his hand grabbing the outside shoulder of the defender, they would’ve called that holding on Reed 100 out of 100 times.

  2. celeoinc - Dec 12, 2015 at 5:50 AM

    Referees are controlling the outcome of the games. They don’t control the outcome of the games by missing the obvious calls. Those are honest mistakes I believe. The way they control the outcome of the games is getting incrediblely picky at times against a specific team. There are minor infractions almost every down in the NFL and they choose to call some and sometimes they don’t. Sure Monday Night was a lost opportunity, sure we had many chances to win the game, sure we should blame ourselves for not winning, but the picky calls made against the Skins, that 98% of the times are not called, in the first half made a game of a Monday Night that should not had been a close game in first place. The NFL is becoming a farse right in front of our eyes.

    • Dwayne T - Dec 12, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      Great comment!!!!!

  3. JOHNNY B - Dec 12, 2015 at 6:26 AM

    First I like to say if it is a torn labrum one good hit,if he falls down wrong or reaches to high for a pass his shoulder will be dislocated. He needs surgery to repair it. He should be on ir so he can be ready for next year. The run game is done this year due to lack of talent and experience on the o-line. If we are going to stay with the power run game next year we need to pick up a back with good vision to find the open hole and good burst to punch through.
    With the way that we played the Cowboys we should be in last place. Our o-line was not prepared for their pass rush. That is on the coaches. Play calling was really bad for a good part of the game. Wasting 3rd downs by going deep to a player when short yardage pass would have given us a first and field goal range. I like Gruden and what he brings the this team his play concepts are good and works for Cousins but if they can’t find the right play call for the situation and down get someone who can. We have to be careful with the Bears secondary but we should be able to run against them but I think we should start the game with nothing but passing for the first 6 to 8 plays then slowly bring the run in. Not looking for a big play from Djax with the rain. Low scoring game 17 to 10 Redskins.

  4. sidepull - Dec 12, 2015 at 7:19 AM

    I hope to see Pierre Thomas get some playing time. He can block, is a great screen play back and I am curious to see what he has left. I want BB to send me his notes on why he didnt sign PT recently when he had him in for a workout, lol. I mean after losing Vareen to the Giants, Dieon Lewis being lost for the season, youd figure a guy with PT’s resume would be a good pick up yet the Pats passed. I guess we are going to find out here shortly.

  5. skinsgame - Dec 12, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    Maybe Long plays C next year after Lauvao returns and Licht and Rib move on. LeRebius has plateaued as an inconsistent player. One play he looks like he’s getting it, the next he’s bull rushed and embarrassed. Whatever the case, it seems to me that the team will be looking for a new starting running back next year unless Jones develops his game. Last year Chris Cooley pointed out how Griffins play was so bad that you couldn’t grade the rest of the team. This year, the RB play seems to be that way. Neither RB has shown any consistency and the rest of the offense seems to suffer accordingly.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Dec 12, 2015 at 10:35 AM

    I don’t think they need to abandon the run, they need to abandon the predictability.

    You make the D’s job so much easier when they know what’s coming.

    • colmac69 - Dec 12, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      Quite agree…….would like to see some sweeps….throw in some read options…might not work but it gives defences more to think about…..if it works stay with it

      We saw Monday we ran bootleg four times and worked every time and cowboys never adjusted to it……

      In 05 run they handed ball to portis and o-line and they ran into playoffs. …..would b nice to do same thing but highly doubtful

      • bangkokben - Dec 12, 2015 at 12:20 PM

        In ’05 and ’07 Gibbs always went back to the run game. No gimmicks, just man on man 3 yards and a cloud of dust. It certainly wasn’t pretty but it worked with Greg Williams running the defense. Callahan coming in gave of thoughts of being able to resort to the same kind of identity when push comes to shove but alas, utter failure. Injuries to the interior, to the tight ends, indecisiveness by the backs, and a predictability by the play calling have all led to the problem getting worse rather than better. The tight end issue cannot be fixed, the interior o-line is what it is, same with the backs, so the only resolution is the predictability. Gruden and Co. began Monday with a play action pass with the non-tight-ends in and Scherff was abused by the same stunts we used on Callahan’s boys in Dallas last year – when no one expected the Redskins to win. Chicago isn’t good against the run but neither was Atlanta when we faced them. I expect we will see the same that we have seen – 60-75% run plays on 1st down in the first half. I hope not because I would like to test Tracy Porter in coverage, but unless they are successful out of the gate on throwing on 1st down, we will see the “play not to lose” strategy applied either until the end of the game or until the Bears get a 10 point lead. I hope I’m wrong but it’s not like the organization hasn’t TRIED to fix the problems it just hasn’t been successful in its solutions. Brian De La Puente – not starting, Pierre Thomas – just got here, Derrick Carrier, JaRon Hamm, Anthony McCoy, Tom Compton and Ty Nsekhe – ick. No wonder Chris Cooley thinks he could do a better job.

        • colmac69 - Dec 12, 2015 at 2:15 PM

          Think this game we will really find out if team is evolving the right way….we got it all in front of us whereas bears r bout done from playoffs…

          Would xpect our level of intensity to b higher than bears…..if we do that and stop beating ourselves we will win………if we off and get blown out then serious questions nd to b asked bout coaches and players with so much on the line for us

          Think we come out sharp…fancy defense to have strong game and offense to do enough

        • bangkokben - Dec 12, 2015 at 8:56 PM

          I’d be shocked if “we” get blown out; not surprised if we lose a close one.

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Dec 12, 2015 at 2:23 PM

          I would like to test Tracy Porter in coverage

          We did!

          I believe the verdict was “not that good.”

        • brucefan1 - Dec 12, 2015 at 6:03 PM

          “No wonder Chris Cooley thinks he could do a better job.”

          Cooley … hehe. Don’t know whether his shtick is funny — or sad.

    • goback2rfk - Dec 12, 2015 at 3:23 PM

      They don’t need to abandon the run they need to abandon the horrendous, conservative, predictable, play-calling of inexperienced McVay and head coach Jay gruden. Got air that sh|t out and open up the passing game. Get the freaking ball down the field every now and then.

      • brucefan1 - Dec 12, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        Yer right, they can NOT abandon the run — even when its not being particularly successful.

        It’s football 101; as long as the defense has to respect it as still being something the Skins might go to. That means they have to keep at least one eye out for a run, opening up Skins’ ability to complete the play-action pass (which is Cuz’s — and every other QB’s actually — bread & butter).

        Once a defense knows the opposition has abandoned the run all that goes away; they ignore the run AND the play-action, while their guys up front just pin their ears back and the guys in the back go right into their drops.

  7. goback2rfk - Dec 12, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    CODE RED!! CODE RED!!! This is Deagelo Hall’s game to become a hero. Go get them Bears! Redskins arrow Bears for breakfast. hail yeah.

  8. kenlinkins - Dec 12, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    Rich, It seems to me that the NFL ref’s have made the TE / WR holding and PI (push off) calls much like the NBA charge calls (you just have to hold your breath when you see a flag and hope the call go’s your way). Seems like each NFL Ref crew has their own likes and dislikes! As for RB Morris, how much do you feel was the Redskins keeping him on the bench and how much was the way Dallas was stunting the middle, bring ILB on pass rush and placing 8 in the box when they saw Morris (and a OT playing TE) that forced the Redskins to use Jones? Morris does have a problem picking up the blitz and Dallas was doing that from the first play? I read that the Redskins will keep using Compton at TE on running downs so can I assume that Jones will keep getting most of the plays?

  9. kenboy99 - Dec 12, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    Seriously Rich, the press needs to hold Gruden accountable and not let him just sidestep the issue. He absolutely refuses to use one of the best FB’s in the league, D. Young, who just happens to greatly increase the effectiveness of Alfred Morris. He also provides a great safety valve for Cousins, definitely better than any TE not named Reed. I’m tired of people in the media acting like it is Morris’s fault for his sub par season, when the man is often hemmed in by 3 defenders five yards behind the LOS. Seriously, that is too much to ask of even AM, one of the best backs I’ve ever seen at eeking out a yard or two when any normal back would have been stopped for a loss. It just kills me that Gruden has been allowed to just completely ignore things that have worked just to implement “his system”.

    • Rich Tandler - Dec 13, 2015 at 5:50 AM

      So, do you suggest we drag him into a room and shine a bright light on him? Waterboarding? We ask, he answers, his answers are out there for us to write opinions on and for the fans to judge.

      • JOHNNY B - Dec 13, 2015 at 6:28 AM

        Don’t forget to tar and feather him. Lol I hope that I am right if not we are in trouble. I think that he is going through his massive play book right now to see what is going to work and what is not. Building a play book for his Qb. This is something that a new coach does in his first year. Well Gruden had the wrong qb last year so he had to start over. This is why I think that we only see some plays only once after it works . He runs basic concepts all the time complicated concepts through out the game with one and done all the time. If I am right just be patient and we will start winning. If I am wrong next year won’t be much better.

    • John - Dec 13, 2015 at 9:42 AM

      Regarding Morris, he is taking to long to decide where to go with the ball. Perfect example is the Cooley film breakdown of the Tampa game. Everything is blocked with double teams and linemen ready to clobber linebackers at 2nd level and Morris can’t figure out which of 3 holes to run through (starts left then right and back left moving Leribus off his block in process) and 8+ plus carries become 1 to 2 yards at most. For Gods sake, Alfred, put your foot in the ground and go.

      This is not on the line or play calling. This is all on the back.

    • John - Dec 13, 2015 at 9:48 AM

      The I formation does not provide much flexibility. They don’t run well with fb and the as te can’t block (Reed holds and Carrier misses or blocks the wrong guy). Their strength is in the passing game out of the spread, hence no DY.

      Callahan is also not a big fb guy, probably because very few teams still employ them.

    • John - Dec 13, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      I see them eventually finding a good blocking tight end and employing 2 tight ends (Reed as H Back) ala Gibbs and alternating personnel.

  10. John - Dec 13, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Their talking up Morris in the hopes he’ll get his decisiveness back and to keep his value from tanking. Giving him more carries would not make a difference at this point. Archives

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