RG3 is pretty good

RG3 is pretty good
October 2, 2012, 5:30 pm
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Here are my observations after taking a second look at the game. Here is the second half, the first half review is here.

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First quarter

--Griffin’s cadence drew the Bucs offside on the very first offensive play. You couldn’t hear the snap count but you can see Griffin’s head bobbing. The linebacker on the right side jumped on the first “hut”, the ball was snapped on the second one.

--Rob Jackson was not quite as stellar in this game as he was in his starting debut against the Bengals. Wide receiver Arrelious Benn literally faked Jackson onto the ground on an end around. Jackson could have had him after a short gain but Benn picked up 10 yards and a first down. By the way, the Redskins need to do a better job of defending that play. The Bengals got at least three first downs off of it last week.

--The NFL ponied up a lot of money to get the real refs back on the field. Now can’t they cut a check for a few hundred dollars per NFL stadium to get backup microphones for the head referee to use so we can be assured of hearing penalty calls? It was annoying not to be able to get the number of the offending players on infractions.

--On the second play of their first touchdown drive, Griffin pitched the ball back to Alfred Morris, who was in an I formation. He caught the pitch about five yards behind the line of scrimmage and he could immediately turn his attention upfield. That allowed him to identify the gaping hole on the right side and he bolted through it and wasn’t taken down until he had picked up 17 yards.

--On the next play, Fred Davis did a heck of a job pass blocking against defensive lineman Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, who lined up at right end in a three-point stance. Davis engaged the lineman and stuck to him. Te’o-Nesheim broke loose eventually but Davis pushed him to the ground. That allowed Griffin to step up into the pocket and flip a pass to fullback Darrel Young, who broke a tackle and rumbled for 30 yards. None of that happens without Davis’ pass blocking.

--First and 20? Years past, a big problem. On this play, no problem. After a holding penalty, Griffin waited until just the right moment and flipped to Davis just behind the line. Linebacker David Lavonte was able to avoid Chris Chester’s block a few yards downfield but the linebacker was late getting to Davis and the tight end dismissed him with a stiffarm to the face. Further downfield he skirted an attempted tackle by Ronde Barber and was finally pushed out of bounds at the 14 after a gain of 20.

--Griffin needs to be careful with the ball. It’s great that he wanted to score as he approached the goal line on a third and five play from the Bucs’ nine. But he waited a step or two too long to protect the ball as two defenders converged on him near the goal line. He already had the first down but the ball got knocked out as he went for the end zone. Fortunately Pierre Garçon caught the ball bouncing in the end zone out of the corner of his eye and pounced on it for the touchdown.

Second quarter

--I’m not much for symbolic gestures on the field, I don’t think they matter all that much. But in the first quarter, DeAngelo Hall put a legal shoulder into Josh Freeman to tackle the quarterback after a sort gain. A Bucs offensive lineman went up to Hall and barked in his face, apparently telling Hall to lay off of his quarterback. In the second quarter, rookie Mark Barron drew a (borderline) flag for picking up Griffin on an option plan and dumping him to the ground. There was no response from anyone on the offensive line. Again, it’s nothing major but you would like to see a message being sent.

--They could have doubled the width of the goal posts and Billy Cundiff’s first field goal try from 41 yards still would have been wide right.

--It looked like Barry Cofield got a fingertip or two on the Freeman pass that Hall intercepted. Give some credit to Ryan Kerrigan on the play as well for relentlessly driving towards Freeman despite the tackle being engaged and forcing him to step up towards the line.

--Gerald McCoy is a third-year player and he should know better than to jump offside on a hard count on fourth and a long one. The Redskins ran the play and got a first down anyway as Alfred Morris ran right through the hole created by McCoy’s premature movement.

--Last week, RG3 scooted outside for a touchdown in a goal to go situation. This week the Bucs spread out their defense to try to stop that and he scoots right up the middle for five yards and a score. Too easy, no wonder he was laughing while looking at pictures on the bench with Kyle Shanahan after the score.

--Morris made a good, quick decision that got him a 39-yard touchdown run. He cut through the left side of the line, planted his foot and took off back to the right. Eric Wright was the only Buc to touch him and he just barely nipped his ankles. Leonard Hankerson stuck with his block downfield and that was all Morris needed to dash into the end zone.

--I don’t understand getting conservative in the last two minutes. After getting a first down at their own 35, the Redskins went with a pass behind the line to Morris that lost four yards and two draw plays. You’d think that Mike and Kyle would be more aggressive here with their quarterback who seems to be capable of just about anything and at least try to get back the field goal they just gave up. Yes, they were getting the second-half kickoff but they could have treated it like an opportunity to score 10 straight points without the Bucs getting the ball. That would have put the game away.

--Then, after a short Bucs punt, they get aggressive with 14 second left. Passes to wide receivers Hankerson and Morgan picked up about 18 yards and getting the Redskins into position to at least try a long field goal. Where was that approach a minute and a half earlier?

Third quarter

--Brandon Banks was on the field for two defensive snaps. Early in the third quarter he motioned into position behind Griffin and the quarterback faked a handoff to him. The fake drew even the offside defenders to the right, allowing Davis to get a little running room after Griffin threw him a pass on the left side. Davis ran right between blocks by Josh Morgan and Trent Williams and got 12 yards and a fist down. The fear of Banks’ speed set it up.

--The Redskins were on the move to put the game away until a first-down clipping call on Will Montgomery spiked the drive. It clearly was a clip and looks like Morris may have been trapped for a loss of seven yards or so had he not done it. After that, a pass intended for Hankerson was tipped away, an underneath pass to Hankerson picked up 10, and the Griffin ran well short of the first down.

--Richard Crawford made a nice, open-field tackle on Benn to prevent the Bucs from converting a third down. He got into the bigger receiver with this shoulder and stopped him a yard short of the sticks.

--Again, bad optics as Griffin yells at the defender who hit him late to draw a flag but the offensive line does nothing.

--Shanahan said that Garçon’s personal foul on Aquib Talib came prior to the whistle. That turned a third and four into a third and 19. On the original camera shot you can see it happen while Royster, who caught a short pass form Griffin, was fighting for an extra yard or two. It’s hard to tell if the whistle had blown. It was a good 8 or 10 yards away from the action, though, and Talib clearly wasn’t going to be involved in making the stop. That is going to get flagged most of the time.

--The play that got Freeman and the Bucs going, a 65-yard pass and run to Mike Williams, happened both because Wilson hesitated when Williams broke down the sideline and because Madieu Williams missed a tackle near midfield. There is no reason for Wilson to let Williams get past him there. A big play was the only thing that would get the Bucs back into the game and he got it.

--I’ll chalk up the seven-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson up to great athletic ability. Jackson gets paid a lot of money to make plays like that and, in this case, he did. Hall could have been a little closer to him and Williams could have anticipated that Jackson was going to get the ball and moved over there sooner but I’m not sure it would have done any good.

--The second time they use the quick pitch to Morris it picks up seven and a first down.

--One of Griffin’s few off-target passes of the season was a little behind Morgan and it almost got picked off. It was tipped in the air and linebacker Mason Foster was close to a diving interception.

--Banks’ speed set up the razzle dazzle as the Bucs defense was pulled over to the left with Griffin’s first lateral and Niles Paul had all kinds of room to run after he caught Griffin’s forward pass. Had Banks not actually run the ball a few times last week against the Bengals this and the previous play with him in on offense would not have been nearly as effective.

Fourth quarter

--Again, just a great athletic play by Jackson on Freeman’s deep pass to Jackson right after Cundiff’s 31-yard miss. And anything but a perfect pass is incomplete.

--We thought that the field would be an issue after a college game was played there Saturday night. It turned out not to be but Hankerson did slip on a cut during a route. If he keeps his feet, it’s likely a reception and a first down. Because he slipped, the pass was nearly intercepted. As it was, it became second and 10. A sack and an incompletion followed and the Redskins’ chance to respond to the Bucs’ second TD was gone.

--Maybe some day offenses won’t expect Ryan Kerrigan to get fooled on screen passes. But Sunday was not that day as he took away a scoring opportunity for the Bucs by sniffing out a screen and tackling D. J. Ware for a seven-yard loss on third and three at the Redskins’ 31. They were in Connor Barth’s field goal range before the play but they had to punt due to the loss.

--Not much to say about RG3’s scramble on third and 10 that came up short of the first down. He had no chance to extend the ball out to get it over the line to make as he was getting tackled. It was very clearly short and I have no idea why Shanahan decided to challenge.

--There’s not much more that can be said about the final drive except that there were two terrifying moments. The second was 0-3 Cundiff lining up for the game-winning field goal. The first came right before that after Griffin threw to Moss for seven yards. They rushed to line up as the clock ticked below 10 seconds. If anyone had committed a false start, the game is over after a 10-second runoff. Shanahan got the timeout before they got set, however, and Cundiff slipped the kick past the good side of the left upright.