Archives for posts with tag: Alfred Morris

So much for “Gotta win five to stay alive”.  So much for going through tiebreakers after week fifteen while hoping Carolina would come back to earth.  The Redskins made December almost meaningless for the sixth time in nine years by losing 38-14 at Dallas.  It wasn’t just a bad loss; it was a defeat that exposed this team and roster.  The 2018 season in theory begins now.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged one completed 26 of 37 passes for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns while tossing a pair of interceptions (one in the red zone) and losing a fumble.  He was also sacked four times behind an offensive line held together by duct tape and paper clips.  Episode Equivalent:  “Spock’s Brain”- a disaster on the scoreboard despite Kirk’s best efforts.  He didn’t write the script where aliens came on board the Enterprise and hijacked Spock’s brain–only to have Dr. McCoy re-insert said organ later in the hour.

Running Aground- it was bound to happen sooner or later.  The recently resurgent running game managed just 56 yards on 19 carries against the Cowboys-with Samaje Perine being held to 38 yards on 12 tries.  Perine will be the third runningback in four years to lead coach Jay Gruden’s team in rushing.  Meanwhile, the guy who was replaced by the guy who was replaced by the guy Perine replaced as the #1 back fared nicely for the Cowboys.  Alfred Morris ran for 127 yards against his former team.  Ouch.

Ryan the Receiver- it’s something when Ryan Grant is your leading receiver. You cannot make the postseason when Mr. August is your top target in December.

Third Down the Drain- the stat sheet says they converted 6 of 14 third downs…but the offense didn’t move the chains until they were down 17.  Cousins completed 7 of 11 passes for 4 conversions while getting sacked once and scrambling for the marker once.  Ryan Grant was the top target (3 conversions on 3 catches and 4 passes thrown to) while recent pickup Byron Marshall also caught 3 of 4 passes on third down but was short each time.  Marshall also ran for a late first down on 3rd & 1.  Yardage: 3-for-4 on short-yardage, 2-for-4 on 3rd and 4 through 3rd and 6, 1-for-6 on 3rd and long.

Zach Meets Mr. Morris- you don’t mess with Preston’s Perspective’s pop-culture references.  Earlier this year we saw the Vikings come to FedEx Field with former kicker Kai Forbath…and showed no mercy (I’ll let you know when he’s had enough).  This past week we saw Mr. Morris blast through the Redskins defense like it was an ATV race at the Malibu Sands.  Alfred gained 80 of his 127 yards after halftime…and the Cowboys converted 7 of their last 10 third downs (and 4 of 5 in the second half).  Not an ideal day for the defense that now ranks 22nd against the run and allows the third most points in the league.

Kicking and Screaming- NO longer shall we use the term “Special Teams” regarding the kicking game that fumbled a punt and allowed a punt return for a touchdown.  Nick Rose connected on both of his extra points and Tress Way averaged 42.6 yards per punt, so they’ve got that going for them.

Flying Flags- SEVEN penalties for 43 yards.  And if you’re counting that’s 24 over the last three games.  Two infractions were rather costly:  a pass interference on Kendall Fuller turned a 3rd & 1 into a 1st & 10 and the Cowboys would score two plays later…while a pass intereference against Bashaud Breeland (he had another PI declined) set up a 1st and goal at the 1.  Then there was that “12 men on the field” flag where there may have been 14 on the field for the Skins.  Not what you need in the fourth quarter on the road.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia’s loss to Seattle means the Eagles won’t clinch the NFC East just yet–but at 10-2 they need only one more victory or a Cowboys loss to wrap up the division.  Philly does slip behind Minnesota into the #2 seed (Vikings have a better common opponents record).  Dallas moves a game ahead of the Skins for second (and owns the head to head tiebreaker) and is in 10th place of the NFC, two games out of the wildcard.  The Burgundy and Gold remain in 11th place thanks to a better conference record than Arizona;  a loss to the Chargers plus victories by Seattle and Carolina make the elimination official.  The NY Giants drop behind San Francisco into dead last of the conference…and are one more loss plus a Redskins win away from securing the NFC East cellar one year after making the playoffs.

Interconference Connection, Dominant Divisions & More- the NFC owns a 28-20 lead, meaning they’d have to go 3-12-1 in order to lose the Conference contest.  Cleveland and Cincinnati are playing five of those remaining 16 games so I’m going to say that might not happen.  The NFC South is a combined 28-20…while the AFC West has withered away to 21-27 over the last month.  The NFC East?  Tied for fifth with 23 wins.

Home for the Holidays- joining previously eliminated Cleveland, San Francisco and the New York Giants this week is Chicago.  The Bears lost 15-14 to the Niners as their former kicker Robbie Gould kicked five field goals before  replacing Dr. Houseman as Chief of Staff and purchasing Kellerman’s where his first act was firing Johnny Castle.  Sweet revenge, indeed.

The last time the Redskins won the NFC East, they began the following season 0-2 that included a Monday night home loss to a division foe.  This year they just separated the Monday night defeat from the home loss to the division foe.  The 27-23 loss to Dallas leaves the team 0-2 for the third time in 15 years (Martyball 2001 being the other season)… with a few questions you don’t want to ask and more answers you don’t want to hear.

Captain Kirk- the face of the franchise completed 28 of 46 passes for 364 yards and a touchdown…but also tossed an interception in the end zone and was sacked twice.  He missed an open Jermaine Crowder early and forced the ball into an area of the end zone that resembled the Cowboys sideline due to the preponderance of white jerseys in such a small area.  What’s important is that after calling Cousins out on FOX yesterday during his halftime interview segment with Pam Oliver, coach Jay Gruden is behind his QB and has faith in him.  For better or worse, this remains Kirk’s ship.  Trek Episode Equivalent for Sunday?  “All Our Yesterdays”, which features intriguing moments (time travel, Mariette Hartley) but at the end for the most part feels disappointing.

Griffin’s Ghost, aka the Continuing Tragedy of Robert III- the House of Griffin remains inactive in exile.  The shoulder now won’t return for 10 to 12 weeks…if at all.  His backup, Josh McCown, is now on the shelf with a battered left shoulder (what is it with left shoulders and Browns QBs?) meaning that Cody Kessler-aka Prince Hal-is the likely starter for week three at Miami.  If that’s the case then Kessler will be the fifth starting QB in five games for the Faulty Franchise by the Lake.  Will he be the starter in week four at Fed Ex Field?  “Oft expectation fails, and most oft there where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.” (All’s Well That Ends Well:  Act 2, Scene 1).

Saved by the Back, the Next Generation-  Matt Jones ran for 61 yards on 13 carries while tallying the Skins’ first TD of the day on a 14-yard scamper.  Unfortunately despite the game being a one-possession affair for most of the afternoon there were only two other carries by a Skins runningback:  and Chris Thompson gained just one yard on those two attempts.  Meanwhile, back at Bayside to score the game-winning touchdown for the Cowboys was Zack Attack himself, the Mr. Morris who went by Alfred the Great while playing in Burgundy and Gold (before eventually becoming Alfred the Underused and then Alfred the Unwanted).  Much like the “Next Generation” episode that saw Mark-Paul Gosselar and Lark Voorhees return to advance the plot and also underscore how pointless the sequel show was.

Third and Misleading- the offense converted 5 of 12 third downs which in theory is an improvement over the previous week (3-10) but two of those conversions were on the final possession of the game after the Skins seemingly seen their last chance fade away at the two-minute warning.  Both Cousins completions at the end of the 4th quarter were to Chris Thompson-and while he made the first down the runningback was tackled in bounds.  For the day, Cousins completed 6 of 11 passes on the money down…but what will haunt him is that interception in the Cowboys end zone.  His top target?  Thompson three times (three completions and two conversions), Jermaine Crowder twice (one catch and conversion) and Pierre Garcon twice (both incomplete with one an interception).  Garcon was also the target on an incomplete fourth down and 1 pass.  Three of those third downs were in a second-half sequence that saw the Skins have the ball inside the Cowboys’ 30-yard line three times–only to wind up with two field goals and an INT.  Yardage breakdown: 2-3 on short yardage (under 4 needed), 1-4 on medium yardage and 2-5 on long yardage (7+ needed).  The only called run was a 3rd & 1 where Chris Thompson got stuffed for no gain.  His body type doesn’t exactly scream “short yardage”.

D earns another D- lineman Ricky Jean-Francois said after the game that adjustments were not being made…and then said Monday that he was being quoted out of context.  That said, for the second straight week the Skins’ D allowed an opponent to come into Fed Ex Field and convert 50% or more of their third down attempts.  Rookie Dak Prescott moved the chains on 3rd & 8, 3rd &9 and twice on 3rd & 11.  Bashaud Breeland led the team with 10 total tackles…which is nice until you remember that he’s a cornerback and the usual reason a DB has that many stops is there were too many completions allowed in the secondary or the front seven wasn’t great at stopping the run.   The unit that ranked 28th last year is tied for 27th after two weeks…28th against the run and tied for 29th in scoring defense.  I know what you’re thinking- coordinator Joe Barry’s unit is spending way too much time working on a pass defense that ranks 20th.

Flying Flags- eight penalties for 51 yards…giving the Skins 17 infractions for the year (6th most in the NFL).  This week three were on offense (2 false starts and an illegal formation) while the other six were on defense (everything from neutral zone infractions to pass interference).  The only repeat offender this week was Preston Smith with a pair of defensive offsides (one was declined).  Which penalty hurt the most?  A tie on the Cowboys game-winning drive between a Mason Foster roughing the passer that turned a 3rd & 5 from the Skins 44 into a 1st & 10 from the 29…and a Josh Norman illegal use of the hands that turned a 3rd & 8 on the Washington 27 into a 1st  & 10 on the 23.  The winning score came on that drive.  Kory Lichtensteiger’s false start in the final minute of play also cost the team a ten-second runoff, meaning instead of 2 plays to score from the Dallas 36 they had one from the 41.  Almost half of the Redskins flags (7 of 17) have been false starts this fall.

Special Situations- another solid week from the kicking game as Tress Way plants a 32-yard punt at the Cowboy 6 while booming this other kick for 42 yards.  Dustin Hopkins nails all three field goal attempts to stay perfect at 6-6 on the season.  Jermaine Crowder had a decent day returning punts (2 for 30 yards with a long of 21).  The kickoff return team lucked out when a Cowboys onside-kick didn’t travel the necessary 10 yards.

Dissecting the Division- the loss drops the Skins to last place at 0-2.  Far from unfamiliar ground as the team has finished last 8 of the previous 12 seasons.  The New York Giants (next week’s opponent) is in first at 2-0 with two conference wins and one division victory while Philadelphia’s 1-0 NFC mark keeps them out of the top spot despite a 2-0 start.  Dallas at 1-1 is in third…while the Burgundy and Gold hold down the fourth and final position in an NFC East that is off to a 5-3 start (tied with the AFC North and West for the best thus far).


Can’t trust that night.  Monday, Monday…gives the Skins a fright.  I’ll give the estate of John Phillips a reprieve by not going through an entire set of lyrics that focuses on the Monday night misery experienced by the Burgundy and Gold over the years.  But let the record show that this team is 2-15 in Monday night games at Fed Ex Field.  Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination…and instead of being able to celebrate the raising of the 2015 NFC East banner (okay, so there wasn’t really a ceremony) the Skins wake up 0-1 with more questions than answers.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise-Tagged one completed 30 of 43 passes…but many were in check-down mode.  Instead of stretching the field or challenging the Steeler secondary, we saw the classic short stuff that pads the stats while infuriating the faithful at the same exact time.  The Original Series episode most resembling Cousins’ week one performance?  “Gamesters of Triskelion”, where they do gladiator stuff and the episode at first glance appears to be better than it actually is.

The Tragedy of Robert III- well, fans of a Stuartesque restoration on the shores of Lake Erie were given a rude awakening.  They saw the former face of the Redskins franchise complete 12 of 26 passes for 190 yards and an interception against a Philadelphia defense that ranked 28th in the league against the pass last year.  Unfortunately as has been the case with the House of Griffin, the phrase “adding injury to insult” isn’t just cute wordplay–it’s reality.  RG3 broke a bone in his non-throwing shoulder taking a hit against the Eagles.  Instead of focusing on if he’d keep his starting job by the time the Browns came to Fed Ex Field, Robert III is headed to IR with no return in sight until Halloween…if then.  “A shoulder! A shoulder!  My kingdom for a shoulder!”

Running aground- Fifty-five yards on just twelve carries!  No runs on third and short or any third down at all!  If Alfred Morris were still here, he’d be like Zack Morris wondering why the latest episode had no scenes at the Max.  Matt Jones gained 24 yards on 7 carries and reportedly made the wrong read on an early 4-yard loss.  The second-year pro has the central casting look of an NFL runningback, but is not proving himself so far this season.  Plan B is the oft-injured Chris Thompson.  Can they bring back Wilbur Jackson?

Rating the Receivers- everybody got fed Monday night, with the firm of Reed, Garcon & Jackson combining for 19 catches.  DeSean Jackson showed why he’s a game-breaker with a 33-yard grab standing out in his 6 reception, 102 yard performance.  Jermaine Crowder even got into the act as a junior associate with 6 catches.  Problem was, Jackson was the only receiver to catch more than one pass and average more than 10 yards per reception. 

Third and Checkdown Time- the good news is Kirk Cousins completed 7 of 10 passes on the money down.  The bad news is that all 7 were of the short variety…and only 3 saw the receiver reach the magic marker.  Jordan Reed was the security blanket, catching all 4 passes thrown his way for 36 yards and one conversion.  All ten third down attempts were pass plays…with Kirk & company converting 1 of 2 short-yardage (1 to 3 yards needed) plays, 0-2 mid-yardage (4 to 6 needed) and 2 of 6 long-yardage (7+) situations.  That over half of your third downs were long yardage says a lot about the offense’s inability to do the right thing on first and second downs.

Getting gashed- last year the Skins ranked 26th in the league in stopping the run and allowed a 2nd-worst in the NFL 4.8 yards per carry.  Monday saw more of the same with DeAngelo Williams ripping off 143 yards on 26 carries.  Much was made on social media of the Steeler runningback leaving a 75-cent tip at Ledo’s Pizza over the weekend.  Let the record show that it is not cool to stiff your waitstaff…but it is also not cool for a server to make a tip (or lack thereof) public.  After further examination, it was revealed that not only was the server fired but that Williams ordered salads and pasta.  At Ledo’s Pizza.  He probably also gets the Western Omelet at IHOP…

Mason Nation- major shout-out to linebacker Mason Foster, who can order the oatmeal at IHOP for all I care after tallying 14 tackles against the Steelers.  Or the Chicken Christopher at Mortons.  Or the hamburger at Union Oyster House.

Situation Norman- thank goodness they brought in Josh Norman to cover the likes of the Antonio Browns of the NFL.  Except for Monday night…when Brown tore through the Redskin secondary like a blowtorch through butter to the tune of 8 catches for 126 yards, two touchdowns and one massive endzone gyration that merited not just a penalty but a spot on “Dancing With the Stars”.  While it was uncomfortable watching Bashaud Breeland get turned inside out (he did make an early interception while tallying 9 tackles), with every catch one thought “where was Josh?”.  Especially when the $75 million dollar price tag and FOX pregame segments are involved.  The team threw out the “scheme” talk of Norman taking one side of the field…much like if the Nationals only had closer Mark Melancon pitch to right-handers.  While it’s not like this is a defense that doesn’t have a slew of potential leaks, but not to make the adjustment seems short-sighted.  One cannot wait to see where Dez Bryant lines up in week two…

Flying Flags- nine penalties for 55 yards…with two on special teams and seven on offense.  Five false starts (wondering what sort of drills we’ll see in Ashburn this week) and two holds.  Kory Lichtensteiger was flagged for two false starts while Trent Williams was tagged for a false start and a hold.  Most costly penalty?  Actually the sequence that saw a Vernon Davis hold wipe out a 10-yard Matt Jones run…turning a 1st & 10 at the Pittsburgh 32 into a 1st & 20 at the Washington 48.  Tack on a Trent Williams false start before the next snap and the Skins were 1st & 25 at their own 43.  They’d wind up turning the ball over on downs…missing the marker by one yard after coughing up 15 via infractions.  Pittsburgh would take the ball 67 yards on 14 plays to score just before halftime and the Skins would never be within a touchdown again.

Dissecting the Division- so Philadelphia and the New York Giants, despite making coaching changes, stand atop the NFC East?  The Giants 20-19 win over Dallas gives them the divisional record (1-0) tiebreaker and first place in the standings this week.  Philadelphia’s win over Division III Cleveland (I still believe they don’t give out scholarships with the Browns) allows the Eagles to embrace all that is Carson Wentz.  Dallas is in last place because of their 0-1 division record.  But that can all change Sunday.

August means many things:  I had better be finishing my summer reading (the Neil Armstrong bio won’t read itself) and the Redskins are back and better than ever!  And I mean better than ever!  Since 2010 they’ve made August their little fiefdom, going 18-6 entering last night’s preseason (don’t you dare call it an exhibition) game in Atlanta.  Thursday’s 23-17 was the team’s second consecutive defeat in “games that do not count towards playoff contention”.

Time for the return of the weekly look back at the game that was…with mind-numbing research, dubious conclusions and snarky thoughts.  First there is some offseason housecleaning as several features that were prominent in previous years no longer fit:

RG3VER- the former face of the franchise is now in Cleveland.  Last year’s best one-liner was that the Skins QB carousel resembled “Star Trek”: Kirk, McCoy and a guy in a red shirt who’s gone by the first commercial.  Good luck with the Browns…

Saved by the Ball- no more Mr. Morris to make the running game bell ding anymore.  One hopes that Matt Jones can at least go to the Max protect, or there will be multiple screeches in the backfield.

Cobra Kai Forbath- we got WAY too much mileage out of this one, from comparing the Skins kicker to everyone’s favorite movie bully.  We ranked the culpability of the other Cobra Kai during Mr. Miyagi’s famed “takedown of the skeletons”.  One likes think that after the disappointment of losing Ali (with an I) to Daniel LaRusso and coming in second during the Valley Tournament, Johnny turned things around (just like he said he was going to at the beach scene) and made us proud.  Dr. John Lawrence has been practicing thoracic surgery with the best of them and is celebrating his 50th birthday this month with his wife and four kids.  Daniel LaRusso still lives in his mother’s basement.  No mercy, indeed…


On to 2016–

The preseason loss to Atlanta?  Doesn’t matter!  The first dress rehearsal tells coaches and fans a few things but the regular season won’t begin for another month.  Please get off the ledge and worry about other things, like the Washington Kastles perilous playoff chances.

Captain Kirk-  beam this guy up after a 5-5 for 39 yard performance.  Number 8 converted 1 of 2 third down opportunities and looked solid in his lone drive with the team.  In his limited time on the field he was able to get passes out to DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.  Best thing-unlike previous first string QB’s there were no injuries or massive miscommunications.

The Real McCoy- he’s a backup, not a miracle worker!  After leading the Skins to a field goal on his first possession, Colt directed three drives that gained 26 yards on 12 plays.  He converted 2 of 6 third down chances, but four of the six were 3rd & 10+.  He likely won’t win a second straight Babe Laufenberg Trophy (his 72% completion and 115.2 passer rating still boggle the mind), but he was able to get some good work in…

The New Guy- do we even have to learn Nate Sudfeld’s name and number?  How did he get #7- was Joe Theismann properly approached?  The rookie from Indiana (where previous preseason hero Babe Laufenberg went as well) completed 10-15 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.  His 8.9 yards per completion is right in line with Cousins & McCoy.  The three sacks are less than ideal, but for his first NFL game-like experience this was not bad.

Runningback Rotation- Matt Jones gained 1 yard on 2 carries and had a third attempt (12 yard gain) wiped out with a holding penalty.  Will he be the guy this fall?  There are those who are Robert Kelley fans…and he definitely didn’t disappoint with 40 yards and a touchdown rushing plus two receptions.

The Stars of August- receivers Rashad Ross (4 catches for 49 yards) and Ryan Grant (3 grabs for 31 yards) made their impact against Atlanta…setting up the stage for when they’ll be special teamers who get limited looks on offense during the regular season.

Third and…hey, it’s August- the Skins converted 5-15 third downs…with 8 of those 15 attempts coming from 10 yards or more.  Every one of their 15 plays (even the 4 from third and 3 or fewer) was a called pass.  No turnovers and just one sack.  Again, it’s only August.

Grading the D- last year’s unit was ranked in the lower half of the league and many were saying, “once we get Junior Galette back-we’ll be set”.  As many learned in July, Galette’s not coming back thanks to another Achilles injury.  The defense held Atlanta to under 3 yards per carry and under 50% completion percentage…while also getting off the field on 8 of 10 third downs.  But they failed to notch a sack and allowed backbreaking completions of 48 and 68 yards.  It’s August and one thinks they’ll get it all figured out…but the seeds of confidence and concern both show up here.

Flying Flags- 14 penalties for 123 yards!  I give you Exhibit A for why the preseason lasts 4 games.  One looks with a little more concern towards Morgan Moses’ hold in the first half (turned what would have been a 1st & 10 at the 47 into a 1st & 20 at the 25) as well as Preston Smith’s offsides (turned a 4th & goal from the 11 into a 3rd & goal from the 6) at this time…but there’s a lot to be cleaned up in week one of the preseason.  Atlanta had 11 penalties.  And that’s why we watched the Olympics…




Kids of all ages!  We are so excited you have chosen to once again attend Burgundy & Gold Pines for multiple weeks of laughing and learning.  Set against the historical backdrop of Richmond, Virginia- Burgundy & Gold Pines offers campers a chance to strive for a ten-win season as well as that elusive non-franchise tender.


“Uncle Jay” Gruden is back for his third year as head counselor…and you know that he and Uncle Bruce (year six) as well as Uncle Scott (year two) have plenty of fun planned.  There might not be the re-enactment of the Jets-Sharks rumble they had last year with the troubled kids from the Houston Texans Hootenany Camp, but rest assured there will be plenty of surprises.  Plus, after a few days in the heat you’ll certainly be crying uncle.  Please hydrate.  I know with an average high of 88-90 degrees it seems like a nice break from the heatbomb that is DC, but please make sure you replenish your fluids.

Have we mentioned that Richmond is a historic city set on the banks of the James River?  Unfortunately this has nothing to do with the “James Gang” bandits or rock band of yore, but just thinking of Joe Walsh’s guitar riffs puts one in the happy camper mood.  In other fun facts, Richmond also at one time served as a national capital!  Back in the…um, never mind.  Regardless, we can only hope to have Governor Terry McAuliffe on hand to officiate the three-legged races…as the jousting competition reminds him too much of dealing with a hostile General Assembly.


Once again, a full array of activities are at your fingertips:

Architecture-  do you like to draw complex diagrams that stretch reality?  Uncle Shawn McVay leads campers in designing an offense where everybody is happy with ball distribution and nobody gets blind-sided by a blitzing safety.  In theory.

Volleyball- did you know that Uncle Ryan Kerrigan is from the hotspot of high school and club volleyball?  The Muncie Central (Indiana) high school grad will run you through the paces of digging, setting and spiking in a fun and educational setting.

Improv-  have you ever wanted your own catch-phrase?  Uncle Kirk Cousins runs you through the stream of consciousness process that delivers winners.  Not to be confused with former counselor Uncle Robert’s “Spontaneously Planned catch-phrases” that failed miserably.  We took your comment cards seriously in the offseason and have made changes…You Like That?

Aquatics- would you like to experience being in the center of a waterfall?  Uncle Chris Baker after each midday practice will stand on a platform and “shake off” several gallons of water for those lucky enough to be chosen.  This does not count as hydrating and there sadly will be no lifeguard on duty.

Health & Human Services- the well-being of the camper takes precedence here with Uncle DeSean Jackson discussing the tricky process of not pulling one’s hamstring or injuring one’s shoulder after skipping the bulk of offseason team workouts.  The first 15 minutes of every session will be an educational Q & A regarding the difference between “voluntary” and “mandatory” as well as “perception” and “reality”.

Ball Security- campers learn what it means to have a football welded to their tummy in this avant-garde teaching tool.  Sadly, Uncle Alfred Morris is working a different camp this year so Uncle Matt Jones will be filling in this summer.  Please be patient.  He’s trying.  On another note, if any campers know of any unemployed runningbacks who would like to pick up some shifts…please let Burgundy & Gold Pines know.  We’ll hook you up with some cool wristbands.

Genealogy- sometimes a last name can make a great first impression!   Visiting counselors Uncle Coy Gibbs and Uncle Kyle Shanahan will introduce you to the obstacles one has to overcome to succeed in a family business.  Guest lecturers Uncle Bruce AND Uncle George Allen will treat the kids to ice cream on the last day.

Arts & Crafts- have you ever wondered how a 30-something defensive back stays healthy enough to play in the NFL despite a decade of debilitating injuries?  Uncle DeAngelo Hall takes you through the painstaking process of getting paper-clipped and duct-taped together just so he can continue to play in the league.  Smoked Turkey Legs-fresh from Blacksburg-will be served for those who sign up for the full-day session.

Everybody’s Special (mandatory for first-year campers)-  Have you ever felt like an outsider?  As if you don’t matter in the grand scheme of things?  Uncle Tress Way and Uncle Dustin Hopkins will turn your outlook around by showing how life’s field position sometimes can change with a little special focus.  Everybody’s favorite former counselor, Uncle Ethan Albright, will be a special guest this year.


After letting the dust settle from Sunday’s 31-30 come from behind win over Tampa Bay, Redskins Nation has to be wondering– what exactly happened?  And can this happen seven or eight more times between now and January?  Just don’t call Sunday’s win a homecoming victory.  It’s “Alumni Weekend”!  Former players and coaches coming home, if you will, to Fed Ex Field to celebrate their past.  Nothing at all like a “homecoming”!

Kirk Beams Up– the NFC Offensive Player of the Week enjoyed a monster day…with 33 completions (tying a team record) for 317 yards (still wish they could stretch the field a little more) and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.  That’s two last-minute touchdown passes in seven games.  Sunday’s win keeps the dogs at bay–at least for a few weeks after the bye.  Could you have imagined what would have happened had things continued on that downward spiral?

Run Aground– Alfred Morris MIA.  The guy wearing #46 is not the 1,000 yard back from his first three years– he’s on a pace to gain 690 yards this year.  And that doesn’t take into account the fact that he’s been limited to 41 yards on 25 carries the last three weeks.  How many carries will he get after the bye?  And will he drop to the third back in the Morris-Jones-Thompson rotation?

Third and Not Half Bad– after failing to convert any of their 5 first half third down attempts, the Skins moved the chains on 5 of 6 after intermission…including 2 touchdown passes from Cousins to Jordan Reed.  Reed and Andre Roberts were the most popular targets (3 apiece), with Roberts’ only catch a 38-yard conversion and Reed notching three receptions with two conversions.  Cousins completed 6 of 9 passes (he lost that fumble on a third down sack) while Darrel Young carried on the only third down run…converting.  Yardage breakdown:  short 1-3, medium 4-5, long 0-3.  Nice to see over 70% of the team’s third downs needing six yards or less.

Situational Defense– after getting roasted the first three times the Buccaneers had the football (allowing 17 points), the D held Jameis Winston and company to 17 total yards on 12 plays over their next three possessions.  While still being exposed for big plays (Mike Evans lit up the secondary like the cigar he smoked last year), the defense held the Bucs to a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter when a touchdown would have been deadly.  Thank you Bashaud Breeland for running down Doug martin on his 49-yard run.  There are still things that need to be fixed and with Ryan Kerrigan’s broken hand the defense might be worse before it gets better…but a win going into the bye week cures many ills.

Special Teams– okay, I’m finally going to use the term “special” to refer to the kicking game.  For the last few years one has just been hoping the kicking units wouldn’t lose games.  Sunday the onside kick helped them win one.  Props to Derek Hopkins…you’ll never inspire “Karate Kid” columns, but you helped this team win.

Flying Flags– sixteen penalties for 142 yards–against the Buccaneers.  That is how you derail a great chance to win on the road.  As for the Skins…only four penalties for 20 yards?  Who are these people?  All were against the offense:  two false starts (one on Kirk Cousins), a delay of game (Cousins) and an illegal shift.  The other false start was technically against 4/5 of the offensive line, but was actually probably more on center Josh LeRibeus’ shoulders for not snapping the ball on the correct count.  The illegal shift in the second quarter helped squelch a drive:  instead of converting on 4th & 2 with a chance to add some more points right before intermission, the Skins had to punt on 4th and 7 at midfield.  Cousins’ delay of game was also costly:  they were unable to convert a 3rd & 14…and had to kick a field goal in the 4th quarter.  A four point swing that would have cost them if Tampa Bay had been able to score a TD from the 1 on their next drive.  After a rough start where they were in the top five in penalties and yards penalized, the Skins are now 16th in flags and 17th in yards lost.

Dissecting the Division– the New York Giants take over first place with their 27-20 win over Dallas…although they have the sixth best record in the NFC they’d get the #4 seed.  The Redskins week four win over Philadelphia means the Burgundy and Gold are 2nd in the division and 8th in the conference…owning the NFC record tiebreaker with Seattle and New Orleans.  Dallas?  Last place at 2-4…and 12th in the conference thanks to a better NFC record than Tampa Bay and Chicago.  When does Romo get back?

Southern Lights-and Frights– the NFC South owns the best division record…starting the year at 17-9.  Last year’s division winner went 7-8-1!  The worst– AFC South is 8-19…as the Colts count their lucky stars.  The NFC East?  Seventh place at 12-15…not exactly the SEC-or even the SEC East.

Forgive Burgundy and Gold Optimism surrounding a last-second bailout of a home game they should have won going away.  Starting 2-2 with a division win is much better than the alternative we’ve seen early and often the last few seasons–no, make that quite a few seasons.  Will the schedule get more challenging?  Of course…Atlanta and New England are just two of the venues this team has to visit.  However, if this team started 1-3 despite having three of their first four at home and had an 0-2 division hole to climb out of…we’ll lets just say there would be a lot more empty seats for Skins-Tampa Bay October 25th.

Kirk Beams Up– 30+ completions again while throwing no interceptions this week (I think it’s an odd-even thing, meaning watch out in Atlanta).  Cousins’ ability to guide the offense 90 yards on 15 carries to score the gamewinning touchdown was season-altering.  Comcast Sports Net reported that it was the first last-minute game-winning TD pass at home for a Redskins quarterback since Joe Theismann led the defending champs past the Raiders in 1983 (the silver and black would exact revenge in Super Bowl XVIII)…which is pretty amazing.  The work in progress continues to work and progress.

Saved By the Backfield– Sometimes Slater can’t carry the show…and that’s when you go back to Mr. Morris.  Alfred ran 17 times for 62 yards to provide the main cog while Matt Jones spun his wheels with 11 yards on 7 tries.  Chris Thompson’s early 42-yard scamper set up an early field goal.  Consistent commitment to the ground game results in another lopsided time of possession advantage (41:08 to 18:52 this time).

Third and Encouraging– the Skins converted 9 of 17 third downs.  Cousins completed 10 of 13 passes (for 8 conversions) while getting sacked once…and the team ran 3 times on third down (converting once).  The top target?  Jamison Crowder (5 targets, 4 catches, 3 conversions).  Yardage breakdown:  3-3 on third and less than 4 yards, 3-3 on third and 4-6 yards needed, 3-9 on third and 7+.

The Defense Rests– what’s nice about keeping the ball for over 40 minutes and moving the chains a majority of the time is a rested defensive unit that was effective despite what should be a soft secondary.  One wonders when teams will try to exploit a defensive backfield diminished by injuries.  Until then, it’s a unit that ranks 6th best in yards allowed, 10th best in points given up and 3rd in stopping opponents on third down.  Much better than the last few years…

Flying Flags– ten penalties for 110 yards continues a less than ideal trend…as the Skins 35 infractions over 4 games are fifth most in the league (the 309 yards charged are sixth highest in the NFL).  Four on offense (with two more that don’t count because they were declined), four on defense (including a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties on Trenton Robinson) and two more on special teams.  Jordan Reed’s 5 flags for the season have the tight end in the early lead.  Which penalty hurt the most?  Robinson’s fourth quarter unnecessary roughness penalty that turned a 2nd & 6 from the Philly 46 into a 1st & 10 from the Skins 39;  the Eagles scored on the next play.

Dissecting the Division– despite Dallas’ loss, the Cowboys stand atop the NFC East because of their 2-0 division record.  The Giants win the tiebreaker for second because they beat the Redskins in week 3…and Philadelphia holds down last place at 1-3 with an 0-2 division record.  Could the streak of fourth place finishes end at two?

The South Rises Again– after four weeks the NFC South has the early lead as the division to beat…boasting a composite 10-6 behind Atlanta and Carolina’s 4-0 starts.  Their opposite number, the AFC South, brings up the rear with a 5-10 mark.  The Colts are sooo thankful for the 2002 realignment.  The NFC East?  A happily middling 7-9.  On to October…

What was that Sunday?  A 24-10 thumping of St Louis where the Redskins looked like a contender instead of a pretender?  A game where mistakes were at a minimum?  If this weren’t the 8th win in the team’s last 26 games, there’d  probably be a little more an even keel approach to the aftermath of the club’s first double digit win over a fellow NFC team since the 2012 season finale.  Thank goodness it’s a short week before Thursday night football…

Kirk Beams Up– Cousins completes 23 of 27 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown (Mark Brunell against the Texans, anyone?).  While he did throw a ton of short stuff–he was able to extend the field with 20+ yard tosses to Jordan Reed and Ryan Grant.  Let’s see how he does against the New York Giants Thursday night;  last year he tossed 4 interceptions in a season path defining 45-14 loss.

Saved by the Tandem– remember the episode when Zack realized Slater was his equal?  While Mr. Morris ripped off an early 35-yard run Matt Jones outshone the veteran…tallying 123 yards on 19 carries while scoring two touchdowns.  As the season progresses the two should in a perfect world evolve into a true “thunder and lightning” backfield…able to take advantage of what the opposing defense isn’t best suited to contain.  We just have to figure out how to get Lisa Turtle opportunities.

Life Without Desean– No #11, no problem.  Just no secondary-busting deep threat.  Ryan Grant did average 15 yards a catch…while Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon each caught 6 passes.  Jamison Crowder grabbed a 7 yarder.  Will they need to apply more pressure against opposing secondaries?  Certainly.  Is this a good start?  Of course.

Third and a Glass Half Full– the Skins converted 8 of 16 attempts…6 of 12 on called passes and 2 of 4 on called runs.  Cousins completed 9 of 11 passes (he was sacked once) with his top target being Pierre Garcon (4 targets, 3 catches and 2 conversions including a touchdown).  Matt Jones carried the ball on 3 of 4 run plays (2 conversions).  Distance breakdown: 3 for 5 on short yardage (less than 4 yards needed), 3-3 on intermediate (4-6) yardage and 2-8 on 3rd & long (7+ yards needed).  Just like last week, 50% of their 3rd down plays were long distance.  Not a good long term trend…

Case for the Defense– for the second straight week the D allowed just one touchdown.  They held Nick Foles to under 10 yards per completion and limited the rams to 2 for 12 on third down.  The defense set the tone in the first half, allowing just 3 first downs while forcing three 3 & outs the first five times the Rams had the ball.  Trenton Robinson in making his first start of the season at strong safety tallied 6 tackles…tying for the team lead with Keenan Robinson.  These Rams will never be concerned with the The Greatest Show on Turf, but this is a far cry from the club that gave up the third most points in the NFL last year.

Flying Flags– the Skins were penalized 7 times for 53 yards…down 4 infractions and 35 yards from week one.  Four were on offense (including 3 holds– 2 by Jordan Reed), two were on defense and the other penalty was a holding call on a kick return.  Bashaud Breeland picked up where he left off last year, getting whistled for an illegal use of the hands (Breeland ranked 3rd in the league in penalties last year).  Were they costly?  Reed’s first hold turned a 2nd and 11 from the Rams 21 into a 1st and 20 from the 30 that resulted in a field goal…you could say 4 points were lost on that flag.  The worst penalty could have been Terrance Plummer’s hold on a punt return that forced the offense to start on their own 9…but Kirk Cousins was able to move the offense to midfield before they had to punt.

Adequate Teams–  Tress way averaged 40.7 yards on six punts…none of which were returned by the Rams.  Jamison Crowder returned 5 punts for a total of 12 yards (10 yards his longest return) while Rashad Ross notched a 23 yard kickoff return.  The new kicker whose name in no way references a Billy Zabka movie made his lone field goal attempt from 46 yards while drilling his 3 extra points.  Only one of his five kickoffs was returned…and that one runback reached the 20.  But in the absence of the bully, Daniel LaRusso runs amok and harrasses poor Ali to the point of where she has to drop out.  Thornton Mellon’s kid turns out to be a trust fund jerk.  And Terry never learns the true lesson of whatever the moral to the story was in “Just One of the Guys”.

Dissecting the Division– only two weeks into the season the 1-1 Redskins are in 2nd place of the NFC East.  Dallas has won two games but has lost two players for a big chunk of the season:  while Dez Bryant could be back for game five, Tony Romo is out eight weeks minimum (in Brandon Weeden they trust).  The Giants (0-2) take third due to a better points differential than Philadelphia.  The early small sample size would result in the Skins taking over first place with a win Thursday plus a Dallas loss in week three.  But it’s only September.

So…that was an action packed week, right?  Who cares about the 31-13 rout of the Ravens, except for the fact that the Skins with a win over Jacksonville plus a Philadelphia loss means they take another Preseason NFC East banner.  But I digress.  Over the span of a few days the Redskins lost their biggest defensive offseason addition for the season, cleared and then un-cleared their quarterback to play against their I-95 neighbor only to see the understudies shine.  All this amidst local and national media tweeting the direction of the wind from the moment Robert Griffin III was shelved to the moment coach Jay Gruden said he was the one making decisions on who plays one night later.  Strap yourselves in sports fans…this could become a bumpy ride.

Quarterback Carousel– with RG3 still recovering from the concussion sustained against Detroit, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy combined to complete 30 of 39 passes for 285 yards (which means they’re still checking down a little too much) with 3 touchdowns and an interception.  The “Kirk only put up big numbers against backups” argument no longer holds as much water.  Yes, Cousins threw a pick but bounced back from the INT to lead the Skins to a pair of touchdowns.  Both have looked sharp in the preseason while Griffin remains 6-13 with three sacks and two fumbles.  The Star Trek parallel remains:  a Kirk, a McCoy plus a guy wearing a red shirt that doesn’t make it out of the episode.

Running Rookies– while Alfred Morris gained 4 yards on 7 carries and caught 2 passes for 6 yards, his understudies looked ready to headline.  Matt Jones (7-57) and Trey Williams (9-39) both give confidence to an attack that’s going to run first this fall. Jones is averaging over 6 yards a carry while Williams has over 100 yards this August.  At least there’s no controversy at this position…but give the Redskins time.

Ryan & Rashad Receive– Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross made the most of their time on the field…combining for 11 catches and 120 yards with 2 touchdowns.  We all know that it becomes the DeSean & Garcon show once the regular season begins…but much like one enjoyed Lenny & Squiggy’s antics on “Laverne & Shirley”, Grant and Ross have their place.

Third & a Tale of Two Halves– the Skins converted on 7 of 13 third downs…with Kirk Cousins moving the chains 5 of 7 times while Colt McCoy went 2-6 (including a 4th quarter kneel-down).  The team ran 4 times (1-4) and passed on the other 9 third downs ( 7-8 passing and a scramble resulting in 6 conversions).  Yardage breakdown:  3-3 short, 3-5 midrange (4 to 6 yards needed) and 1-5 long-distance. 

Deceptive Defense– they held the Ravens to 13 points and shut the Purple & Black out after halftime.  But when both first teams were on the field the Skins D was less than dominant:  while allowing Baltimore to convert 4 of 7 third downs they allowed points the first three times the Ravens had the ball.  The fourth possession?  A missed field goal.  There were bright spots– rookie Preston Smith notched 4 tackles and a sack while Jackson Jeffcoat tallied a sack and an interception.  Moving forward, will the loss of Junior Galette slow the pass rush just enough to expose the patchwork secondary for what it is?

Flying Flags– SEVEN penalties for 65 yards.  These are the Preseason Skins I’ve grown to know and love!  Four were on the offensive line:  Morgan Moses, Spencer Long and Je’Ron Hamm all picked up holding calls while Trent Williams was whistled for a false start.  One was on defense (Travian Robertston roughing the passer) while the special teams flags were from holding on a kickoff return (Dre Quan Hoskey) and running out of bounds on a punt (Deshazor Everett).  Did  the penalties hurt?  The Williams false start turned a 2nd & 12 into a 2nd & 17 on a drive where the Skins missed on a 4th & 1.  They bounced back from other flags to move the ball downfield and still score.  Even Everett’s penalty benefited the Burgundy and Gold– on the re-kick  the Ravens fumbled and the Redskins recovered, going on to score.  August Magic, baby!

Special Situations– Cobra Kai Forbath drilled all 4 extra points while also connecting on a 44 yard field goal.  Tress Way averaged 37 yards per punt.  The Skins did allow a 103 yard kickoff return– but there weren’t major breakdowns this week.


If there’s one thing about the current Redskins Regime under Team President Bruce Allen, it’s that they don’t just win preseason games–they dominate.  Since taking over for Vinny Cerrato, Allen’s Skins have won 16 of 21 tuneups– and 14 of their last 17.  For the sixth straight year the Burgundy and Gold kicked off the preseason with a victory– as Thursday’s 20-17 win at Cleveland saw the club rally from a double digit deficit to bring home another hard-earned win.  Get those banner designs ready, my friends…

Only the Preseason is not about wins and losses.  It’s about how your team is playing and who is staying healthy.  Looking at that, the victory over the Browns is a decided mixed bag.

Tight End Terrors– Niles Paul’s broken ankle ends #84’s season before it begins.  They’re already minus Logan Paulsen and his sprained big toe…while Jordan Reed’s hamstring issues won’t go away.  That trio combined for 102 catches in 2014 (28% of the team’s receptions)…and although this is a train driven by DeSean and Garcon, the offense needs a viable threat at tight end to move the chains consistently.

Quarterback Carousel– Robert Griffin III completed 4 of 8 passes (despite Garcon’s drop in the end zone) for 36 yards while scrambling for a first down as well.  Backup Kirk Cousins hit 12 of 14 attempts for 154 yards while running for a 4-yard score.  Colt McCoy made 4 of 6 throws for 33 yards while running 3 times for 13 yards.  Not a bad first night for the triumvirate…although one would have like to see RG3 throw his first preseason TD pass since 2012.  Cousins looked the best, but remember he took the bulk of his snaps against 2nd and 3rd stringers.  McCoy was serviceable mopping up in the 4th quarter– and will get the 2nd and 3rd quarter snaps next week.

Running Rivalry– could Mr. Morris finally have his Slater?  Alfred Morris ran 8 times for 42 yards (including an 18 yard scamper on a 3rd and 1) while rookie Matt Jones gained 38 yards on 5 tries.  Chris Thompson and Trey Williams looked sharp as well--while Silas Redd left with a knee injury (MRI Friday).

Third and Encouraging– the Skins went 6-13 at moving the chains:  RG3 converting 2-5, Cousins 3-4, McCoy 1-4.  Griffin advanced the marker with his feet and arm… scrambling for a 3-yard gain on 3rd & 2 while hitting Ryan Grant for a 9-yard pass on 3rd & 5.  The only time Cousins failed to advance the chains was on a 3rd and 25.  One of McCoy’s 3rd downs was a clock-killing run by Mack Brown.  Down by distance:  they converted 3 of 4 short yardage (1-3 yards needed) attempts, 3 of 7 medium range (4-6 yards needed) and 0-2 long range (7+ yards necessary).

Defensive Diagnosis– the unit that ranked 20th last year began August by surrendering touchdown drives two of the first three times they were on the field (the third time made possible by a fumbled punt return).  But after a shaky start, the D settled in and wound up getting off the field on 10 of 13 third downs.  The pass rush generated 5 sacks…(with rookie Preston Smith notched 6 tackles and a sack) and Akeem Davis grabbed a 4th quarter interception.  At least we don’t have to debate the merits of former Coordinator Jim Haslett.

Special Teams at Last?– okay, the fumbled punt return was not ideal, but Chris Thompson tallied a 32 yard kickoff return and a 9 yard punt return.  Kick coverage held the Browns to under 30 yards per return (with a 54-yard scamper by Darius Jennings the outlier)…and no punts were returned.  Tress Way averaged just under 40 yards per punt and nothing blatantly embarrassing happened (blocked kicks, slippery snaps, swinging gates).

Cobra Kai– Everybody’s favorite bully sweeps the leg again in fine fashion– nailing field goals from 33 and 52 yards.  Ty Long handled the extra points.  Or given the new distance, extra extra points.

Coming this season– the new James Bond film, “Spectre”, will be released this fall.  Much like I went on 007 tangents in 2012 with “Skyfall”, I’ll stumble through 50-years worth of J.W. Pepper ramblings this fall.  So we’ve got that going for us…