Archives for posts with tag: Shakespeare

After four weeks, despite the burgundy and gold lenses, the Redskins glass is half-full. Two straight wins brings the Skins back from the brink and (coupled with the Giants Monday Night loss) gets them out of the NFC East basement.  While the team is by no means playing great football…the results are getting better.  Sunday’s 31-20 victory over an 0-4 Cleveland team on its third starting quarterback of the season will be more than accepted by the faithful.

Captain Kirk- yes, he threw the interception that led to a three-play, 12 yard drive for a TD in the first half.  And yes, he gave up a crucial sack on 1st on 10 from the Browns 32 that killed a drive only to get sacked again on 3rd and 18 that pushed the team out of field goal range.  And yes, he averaged less than 10 yards per completion.  But Cousins completed 78% of his passes and threw for 3 touchdowns.  Converting in the redzone (4 TD’s in 5 chances)!  All while the man he replaced stood idly on the other sideline.  The Star Trek Episode Equivalent “I, Mudd”-where the scheming, mustachioed Harry Mudd hijacks the Enterprise…leaving Kirk and crew to work off-script.  Not a classic, but highly entertaining especially with the return of a former nemesis.

Griffin’s Ghost- Robert III returned to Landover like an exiled leader, simply watching as his replacement rallied his former team against his current squad.  A squad that he only was able to lead for one regular season Sunday…and one that remains the lone winless team in the NFL.  Unlike Caesar, Hamlet’s father, Banquo, or Henry IV, this ghost will fade quietly into the background: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.  And then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Macbeth)

Welcome Matt- the second-year running back Jones gained a season-high 117 yards on 22 carries, scoring the game-clinching TD in the fourth quarter.  For a team that was held to just 55 yards rushing in the season opener, definitely an encouraging sign.  Because the more productive Jones and Chris Thompson (3 carries for 24 yards) are, the less Kirk Cousins has to throw.  Let the record show that the Skins are 2-0 when Cousins throws fewer that 40 passes in a game this fall, and 0-2 when he has 40+ attempts.

Jordan Rules- the Redskins top target notched season-highs in catches (9), receiving yards (73) and touchdowns (2) while providing Cousins with a third down security blanket: all four of his completions on the money down went to Reed (two did not move the chains, one did and the fourth put points on the board).  Currently the fourth-year player is on a pace for 100 receptions.

Third and Streaky- the Skins converted 4 of 8 opportunities, moving the chains on their first four third downs while failing to reach the marker on their last four attempts.  As mentioned, Reed was the target: 2 short-left, one short-middle and one short-right.  Cousins was sacked on the other third down pass play.  Matt Jones carried the ball three times on third down, converting twice on third and one.  Yardage breakdown:  3-3 on third and less than four yards, 1-5 on third and more than six yards needed.

Defense Takes the Fifth on Third Down- after four weeks the Skins’ D is the worst in the league at getting off the field…allowing opponents to convert 57% of third downs.  Cleveland moved the chains on 8 of 12 chances. A makeshift defensive line is doing what they can, but when three of your top four tacklers are defensive backs it usually means one of two things:  either you’re allowing too many completions or the opponent’s running game is getting by your front seven consistently.  This is an issue that won’t go away…especially with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (hyperextended elbow) added to the day-to-day injury watch.

Saved by the Turnovers- thank goodness for the ballhawking defense that tallied takeaways on three straight second half Cleveland possessions:  Quinton Dunbar’s fumble recovery inside the ten kept the Skins from potentially falling ten points behind, Will Compton’s recovery stopped a Browns running game that had gained 25 yards on the previous two plays, and Josh Norman’s interception set up the game-sealing TD.  With a defense that ranks 25th against the pass, 30th against the run, and 29th overall- turnovers will be its saving grace.  The Skins are tied for fifth in the league with 8 takeaways.

Josh Norman=Robin Hood?- instead of robbing from the rich while giving to the poor, the Skins offseason acquisition simply takes from the opposing offense while he gives his team a short field.  Until he unveils the bow and arrow.  Norman was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct after his INT for pantomiming Errol Flynn (I’m sorry, we refuse to acknowledge the Costner film) or for you millennials Jennifer Lawrence.  Full disclosure: I’ve used the bow-and-arrow move after getting a strike on bowling (timing the release for when the ball hits the pins).  As well as the six-shooters move…and the pulling the pin from a grenade.

Flying Flags- while Norman’s penalty didn’t hurt the Skins (they still scored a TD on a drive that began at the Browns’ 39 instead of the Cleveland 24), there were 9 flags for 75 yards against the Skins Sunday.  Through four weeks the team’s 34 penalties are the 5th most in the NFL (although their 251 penalty yards is 13th most).  This week four came on offense (two holds, a false start and a pass interference) while four came on defense (holding, pass interference, offsides and archery) and one more coming on special teams (offsides on a Cleveland extra point).  Norman’s three flags gives him a team-high 7 for the season…while the biggest infraction remains false starts (10) followed by offensive holding (6).  None of the flags were as back-breaking as a few have been in previous weeks.  Which was the most costly penalty?  Jordan Reed’s offensive pass interference in the second quarter that turned a 3rd & 4 from the Browns’ 11 into a 2nd & 20 from the 27.  Instead of a TD, the Skins would settle for a field goal.  Here’s hoping Norman notches another INT against the Ravens and breaks out a cutlass.

Special Situations- Tress Way averaged 48.7 yards on his 3 punts…placing two inside the 20 yard line and getting one off in the face of full-pressure.  Dustin Hopkins nailed a 49-yard field goal.  With the recent history of the hot mess that was the kicking game, it’s nice see this unit that once imploded on a weekly basis actually help this team along.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia (3-0) had the week off and remains in the top spot, while Dallas (3-1) moves into second place with their win at San Francisco.  The Giants (in first place just two weeks ago) slip into last place after their defeat at Minnesota–for remember, the Skins hold the head to head tiebreaker.  Third place is nothing to sneeze at for a team that has finished in last place eight times from 2004-14.  The NFC East is living up to its reputation with a 10-5 composite start-best in the league.  Worst division?  A tie between the AFC South and NFC South at 6-10:  of the eight teams only Atlanta has scored more points than its allowed.  Sadly the Skins draw both North Divisions this fall.

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.