Journey to Fed Ex through the eyes of the Press (Matt Jones and Jordan Reed sighting at the end of first video!):
Welcome everyone to your week 4 of the regular season ExtremeSkins coverage, I'm TSO here in the pressbox with my man Murf (who will be covering the team on the sidelines) ready to provide you the best damn coverage we can!
Oh, the entangled web the NFL can weave.
When some random guy named RG3 who no one really knows that well moved on this offseason and signed with the Browns, many around the NFL, let alone Redskins Nation, had this game circled on their calendar. What excitement! What thrill! What adventure lays in wonder with such an intriguing matchup?
Alas, it was not meant to be. As he is unfortunately wont to do, RG3 got hurt.
The Browns are a total mess at the QB position and so that part of the game has lost quite its luster.
But, fear not! The battle of the QBs wasn't the only intertwining aspect these two teams have for us today.
How about Hue Jackson and Jay Gruden? Two Cincinnati Bengals ex-offensive coordinators wanting to strut their stuff against each other. After Gruden accepted the Redskins head coaching gig and left the Bengals, Hue Jackson was elevated to offensive coordinator from his running backs' coach position to replace him. There was plenty of talk during that offseason about how Hue was going to take their offense to the next level, some of it fairly interpreted as being critical of Gruden. Yet, in the end, the Bengals offense regressed under Hue, going from 6th in points scored under Gruden in 2013 to 15th overall under Hue in 2014 as well as going from 10th in total yards to 15th.
Oh, and that's not even getting into the Hue Jackson/Redskins connection, where he was the team's RBs coach under both Schottenheimer and Spurrier in 2001-2002.
Coaching histories not doing it for you?
How about recent Redskin castoffs coming back for revenge? Both Stephen Paea and Austin Reiter were cut recently, the former before the season began, the latter after the first game of the year to make space for Cullen Jenkins. Both are starting for the Browns today and definitely looking to prove the team made a mistake in letting them go. If you've followed along here on the ES Coverage blog, you'd know Stephen Paea was a player we focused on during the preseason. The first game against Atlanta, he was subpar at best. But he seemed to improve as each game went on, albeit against lesser competition. It wasn't necessarily a surprise to see him released, but it was disappointing considering the offseason talk about him being fully healthy and ready to play at a high level. Were the improvements during the preseason enough, or was the team right to let him go?
As for Reiter, that one particularly stings because of the need the Redskins ended up having at Center with Kory Lichtensteiger out for the year. Reiter would've been backing up Long, either way, but they wouldn't have been forced to sign John Sullivan off the streets. That's certainly a set back in the Scot McCloughan era of trying to build through the draft, generating legit angst among the fanbase by losing a draft pick who seemed to be developing.
Alright, alright. How about just plain old football talk? This matchup certainly entices, as the Browns come in with the league's 4th best rushing attack while the Redskins have the league's 9th worst rushing defense.
Sounds horrifying, right? And it is, but then you factor in that the Redskins boast the league's second best passing attack and is going against the Browns' 9th worst passing defense.
So, in the end, I believe this game boils down to the Redskins stopping Isaiah Crowell on the ground more than anything else. I know many are focusing on the threat of Terrelle Pryor, but I really think it's all about the Browns rushing attack today. An X factor coming out of the backfield, as well, could be Duke Johnson, as we've seen pass-catching backs like Vereen have success against us already. If they can't stop those guys out of the backfield, they're going to struggle enough to where any offensive advantage they have will be washed out and it could end up in a terrible loss against a desperate 0-3 Browns. Let's hope Ricky Jean-Francois, Chris Baker, Ziggy Hood, Cullen Jenkins, Will Compton, Mason Foster and even David Bruton, Jr. put on their big boy pants on today because we're going to need some interior run-stuffing more than ever.
Cool little nugget: For the first time in forever, with Arie Kouandjio starting, the Redskins now boast an Offensive Line entirely comprised of their own draft picks!
Stay tuned for more tweets, notes and general updates right here on the ES Coverage blog.... and let's go Skins, HTTR!
What could have been? Months ago, when the NFL released the 2016 schedule, the Washington Redskins vs. Cleveland Browns match-up had so much potential. It wasn't viewed as two perennial doormats trying to claw their way towards respectability or even a .500 record. No, it was the return of Robert Griffin III.
Had anyone with sense been calling the shots, this would have been the season opening matchup. Put two troubled franchises on primetime television and let the rest of the football loving world sit back and watch as the Heisman Trophy winner had a chance for redemption at the expense of the team who traded a bounty for him, watched him routinely get injured and, ultimately, allowed him to leave. America loves drama and that was as juicy of a storyline as either of these two teams is likely to be involved in all season long.
But alas, it was not meant to be. Griffin did what Griffin does (namely, put himself in harm's way when he didn't have to) and now he's on the shelf, so the 1-2 Redskins will host the 0-3 Browns in a game that no one outside of friends, loved ones and diehards will want to see a single snap from.
Without the appeal of RGIII vs. the Redskins, we're left with some pretty basic subplots for this afternoon's contest. Can Kirk Cousins and the passing attack finally work through their red zone struggles? Can Matt Jones finally show he's capable of being a workhorse back (and will the coaching staff stick with the ground game long enough to get him going)?
On defense, can anyone on the defensive line other than Chris Baker get to the quarterback? Can the linebackers -- specifically Ryan Kerrigan pass rushing and Will Compton in coverage -- become more involved (because neither did much to stand out last week in New York)? How will the secondary handle the rash of injuries?
In short, there are plenty of questions in need of answers as Jay Gruen's squad looks to build off of last week's victory over the Giants.
As always, I'll be down on the sidelines during the game -- capturing photos of all the action. Some of the names and faces I'll be paying attention to today include Jordan Reed (can he be the guy to help the Redskins score touchdowns, rather than settle for field goal attempts?), Kendall Fuller (does he make the most out of his opportunity) and Arie Kouandjio (or whoever steps into the offensive line).
For Immediate Release
October 2, 2016
STATEMENTS FROM WR DeSEAN JACKSON
AND THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Prior to pregame warmup, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and the Washington Redskins issued the following statements regarding cleats Jackson is wearing during warmup today.
Statement from WR DeSean Jackson:
“Today is the start of my attempts to be part of a solution and start dialogue about the senseless killings of both citizens and police. I have chosen to wear these cleats in pregame today to use my platform as a pro athlete to add to this discussion. This isn’t meant to be any kind of protest against the good men and women in law enforcement in this country. I just want to express my concern in a peaceful and productive way about issues that are currently impacting our country.”
Statement from the Washington Redskins:
“We stand in support of both DeSean and the law enforcement community. We have great respect for law enforcement and the sacrifices they make each and every day to protect and serve our communities. We continue to have open dialogue with our players about issues that are important to them and support their efforts to bring awareness to those issues when done in a responsible manner.”
ANNOUNCEMENT OF INACTIVES
LANDOVER, Md. – The Washington Redskins have announced the following inactives and lineup changes for today’s game against the Cleveland Browns:
The Redskins declared the following players as inactive:
o No. 2 QB Nate Sudfeld
o No. 18 WR Josh Doctson
o No. 26 CB Bashaud Breeland
o No. 35 CB Dashaun Phillips
o No. 60 OL Vinston Painter
o No. 72 DE Anthony Lanier II
o No. 77 G Shawn Lauvao
No. 47 Quinton Dunbar is expected to start in place of Breeland at cornerback.
No. 74 Arie Kouandjio is expected to start in place of Lauvao at left guard.
The Browns declared the following players as inactive:
o No. 13 QB Josh McCown
o No. 19 WR Corey Coleman
o No. 22 DB Tramon Williams Sr.
o No. 24 DB Ibraheim Campbell
o No. 74 OL Cameron Erving
o No. 87 TE Seth DeValve
o No. 94 DL Carl Nassib
No. 30 Derrick Kindred is expected to start in place of Campbell at strong safety.
No. 77 John Greco is expected to start in place of No. 78 Alvin Bailey at right guard.
No. 62 Austin Reiter is expected to start in place of Greco at center.
On Saturday, the Browns signed No. 57 LB Cam Johnson to their active roster from Arizona’s practice squad and placed No. 44 LB Nate Orchard on their Reserve/Injured list. Johnson is 6-4, 268 pounds and in his third NFL season out of Virginia.
1st Half Analysis
Spencer Long with a sick pull and block after the holding penalty by Vernon Davis on the first drive, springing Thompson for a big gain on 2nd and 15.
Preston Smith with a great play setting the edge against Pryor on the Browns' first drive.
Kirk Cousins sharp, decisive on the first drive of the game. 12 plays, 75 yards and took about 7 minutes. That's the offense we've been looking for. 2nd drive, same thing, just smooth sailing. 3rd drive with a terrible INT, didn't see the cover 2 guy on the outside flow towards the inside.
Defense seems intent on stopping the run that first drive. After that, they got hurt with Browns going to heavy formations.
2nd drive for the Defense, starts with Blackmon and Ihenacho both in the lineup along with Bruton. Browns in heavy formation, 1 WR... allow huge gain to Crowell.
David Bruton got absolutely leveled on one running play by an Olineman on the 2nd drive for the Browns. Ouch.
I'm not a big Joe Barry basher, but the defense lining up offsides is ridiculous. Guys shouldn't be doing that under your watch this consistently, period.
Pryor is killing Norman. He's got few huge 3rd down conversions as well as a TD against him in coverage, though the TD was a great throw by Kessler. :/
Trent Williams pancakes someone on the Skins 4th drive, then shows off his guns to the guy.
Speaking of Trent's, Trent Murphy continues his solid play. Been in their backfield all day.
At first glance, it looked like we were going to blow these guys out but, as many have said, the Browns are a scrappy bunch and managed to fight their way back with some great plays. Our offense came out real hot, but Kirk's INT really cost us as it gave the Browns great field position and they immediately tied the game. Browns get the ball first to come out of the half, let's hope the defense can can get a turnover or hold them on the first drive to allow our offense to take control of the game back.
- Wanted to focus on some new faces, so first Kouandjio:
- Kouandjio opens with a nice block on the 2nd play of the 1st drive. He gave up quick pressure on the next pass play, but Cousins got it out quick to Reed so it didn't matter. Kouandjio with a killer penalty, holding right after the Redskins got into the redzone on the first drive. Vernon Davis was also called for holding on the same play.
- 2nd drive, Kouandjio handling Shelton for the most part in pass pro. On rushing play in the red zone, Kouandjio pulls and does a decent job, but you can see his lack of athleticism. Matt Jones finished nicely, though. He then gets pushed back real badly on 1st and goal, costing a Matt Jones run. Great job pass blocking from Arie on the 3rd and goal, allowing Cousins to step up, extend the play, and find Reed for the TD!
4th drive, Kouandjio does a good job blocking for Matt Jones, who gets a 6 yard rush on 2nd down. After big play to Reed, Kouandjio loses initially to Shelton but does a great job recovering. Kouandjio doing a good job run blocking this drive in general. Got to the second level on one run pretty well.
1st drive, Kouandjio does a good job in pass protection on the first snap, allowing Cousins to extend play and find Vernon Davis for an 8 yard gain. On that strip sack Kouandjio also got pushed back pretty badly by Shelton, but it was Trent and Thompson who messed that one up. Kouandjio follows that up with a hold on 3rd down. He got beat by the Browns' DT, wasn't Shelton. Bad series for him.
2nd drive, Kouandjio got beat again and almost got Cousins hit in the end zone on the first play of the drive. Kouandjio doing a good job run blocking on the following series. On deep ball to DJax that generated pass interference, he does a good job pass blocking. Following play, big run for Matt Jones, does a good job clearing space. Same on the next play... Oline in general killing it here. Finishes with a good pass block on the Kirk TD throw to Thompson!
3rd drive, Kouandjio does a nice job pass blocking on the first 2nd down where Cousins took that terrible sack for no reason.
4th drive, Kouandjio getting pushed back a little bit on the first snap, costing Jones a one yard loss. Kouandjio with a good block on the Jones outside run that almost resulted in a TD.
1st drive, Fuller gives up first pass to Hawkins for a 7 yard gain. Fuller and Dunbar combine to make the tackle on Barnidge, short of the 1st on 3rd down and forcing a punt.
2nd drive against the D, Fuller does a good job on Hawkins in the slot on 2nd down, but defense gives up first to Pryor. On the 3rd down following that sequence, Fuller gives up a bit too much space to Hawkins who got slightly open... but Pryor gets the 1st anyway against Norman as Kessler wasn't looking that way.
4th drive against the D, Fuller does a good job against Hawkins on 1st down, but Kessler extends play and hits Barnidge for a 1st. Fuller is shutting Hawkins down this drive, but Kessler keeps finding others.
1st drive of 2nd half, Fuller continues to do a good job on Hawkins in the slot, though on the first 3rd down of the drive he let Hawkins get behind him.
2nd drive, mostly heavy formations from the Browns so no Fuller. On their second 3rd down of the drive they had Hawkins basically run a go route up the seam to clear out space for Barnidge. Fuller is step for step with him, but that's the 3rd or 4th time they've done that and it's worked every time. Frustrating. Anyway, back to Fuller. He's handling Hawkins.
Final Drive of the game (Browns almost exclusively went jumbo/heavy formations after that 2nd drive, so Fuller wasn't on the field until now), he continues to shut down Hawkins. There were some times where Hawkins got slightly open, but nothing egregious. Kessler hardly looked his way this entire game.
Other 2nd half notes:
This defense is ridiculous. Only way they stop anyone is with a turnover in the redzone. Happened again on the 2nd Browns' drive of the 2nd half, with Compton forcing the fumble. Ziggy Hood then does it on the Browns' ensuing drive. I mean, better than not doing it, I guess.
If only whatever we're doing, coaching-wise, in terms of teaching fumbles could be extended to everything else we'd be golden.
Norman redeems himself with huge INT!
AWESOME ES EXCLUSIVE AUDIO
Final Analysis (TSO)
Going into this game, the run defense was a major concern against the Browns excellent rushing attack and that ended up being the case, to say the least. Fortunately, the defense came through with three huge turnovers. At this point, it seems like we can consider this the defense's M.O. Give up crazy chunks of yardage on the ground, then force a fumble or nab an INT. Not sure that's what you want out of your D, but it could certainly worse. Offensive teams that are more disciplined are likely going to destroy this defense if it remains the same, as we've already seen with the Steelers.
Offensively, can't ask for much more than that. Outside of one bad INT and a couple of unnecessary sacks, Cousins was sharp and decisive throughout the whole game, taking advantage of the weak Browns passing D like a good QB should. We finally got to see Reed have a big game, again, which was refreshing. He finishes with 73 yards and 2 TDs. Matt Jones kept getting better as the game wore on, showing us what so few of us still believed he can do. The Oline was excellent throughout, and it was good to see both Spencer Long and Kouandjio play well.
It was nice to see the new guys, Arie Kouandjio and Kendall Fuller, play really well today. Seeing draft picks continue to contribute is simply awesome, and something us Redskin fans need to stop and appreciate. We've went for so long almost expecting nothing from our drafts. Don't forget that. Smile some.
Oh, and how about Trent Murphy? He just looks real good out there, completely different now that he's going forward more often than not.
All in all, the game went almost completely as expected. It initially had the makings of a blowout, but the Browns are better than that and have proven that thus far this season. They fought back and, for a moment, looked like they were going to win this game... but the defense saved themselves from total humiliation, forced some turnovers, and the offense capitalized at the end.
We've got a tough matchup against the Ravens next week. The defense will need to perform better, and the offense is going to have a tougher time moving the ball against their defense... so if this same exact team shows up against the Ravens it will likely not end up favorably for our beloved Burgundy and Gold. Hopefully they have a great week in practice, and continue to improve as they have thus far this season.