Week 4: The Squeaker

After two weeks of nail-biting almost-wons that ended with Griffin making a final drive push for gaming winning points, we finally got the results we’d been hoping for in Weeks 2 and 3 – we won! 24-22 on the road against the Bucaneers. And we deserved to win. Well, I’m not sure Cundiff or our secondary deserved it, but the rest of the team sure did. This game embodied so much of what we have been looking for from the Redskins and really showed the progress we’re making as a team. Oh, and welcome back, Refs!

Pregame Best & Worst
I love waking up on Sundays and hearing that Rex Grossman is inactive. I was also very excited this week to hear that Trent Williams would play and that Reed Doughty was starting over DeJon Gomes. I know not everyone will agree with the second half of that last sentence, but the results on the field should quiet the naysayers a little bit. I was not, however, amused to hear that Aldrick Robinson and Brandon Merriweather had a pregame collision that knocked them both out of the game. Robinson came away with a concussion and Merriweather injured his knee and will miss more time. Not good.

Our Fearless Leader
Robert Griffin, III. Every week Griffin gives us more and more to praise. He is still taking hits, including one WWE-style body slam from Barron, but he is taking fewer and making a concerted effort to show his empty hands after hand-offs to avoid late hits. Of course, he also followed that body slam with a 20-yard pass to Garçon. Griffin is taking his time, looking for the openings and not trying to force anything. While he may still occasionally miss spotting an open receiver and have a little trouble with some deep balls, he is playing more like a pro every week. When the headsets went down in Q4 during the last drive of the game, Griffin took command of the offense and lead us into FG territory like a veteran QB. Griffin never fails to impress and he makes this team so much fun to watch. I can’t wait to see what he does next week.

YAC
Our receivers are still evolving and finding their grooves with Griffin, but the big story this week for me was the yards after the catch they are getting. Garçon, Hankerson, Morgan and Davis were the primary targets this week and all of them contributed big plays with crucial yards after the catch. Garçon is clearly, as anticipated, the number one guy and I am so glad to see that his foot injury seems to be on its way out. He runs good, clean routes and has a great connection with Griffin. As I noted to one of my companions during the game, I’m happy to have Garçon over Vincent Jackson, for both his reliability and his lack of off-field drama. He did get a little chippy late in the game though, with a blatant pass interference followed by a shoulder check on one of the Bucs DBs. Hankerson, like Niles Paul, still needs to work on his hands before he can be a go-to guy, but he is fast and gets open. Paul did have a major catch on the Q4 flea flicker though and racked up some decent YAC. Whether it is because the other teams aren’t covering him like they should or because he’s finding a way to get open, Freddy-D is establishing himself as a play-maker and giving us the big plays we’d been seeking from him. I liked seeing Josh Morgan reemerge as play-maker this week. And Darrel Young deserves a mention too – he gained 24 yards and broke two tackles on his first catch of the season.

Block & Run
Congratulations to rookie Alfred Morris who had his first 100-yard game this week. He is a power house who finds the open lanes, stiff arms DBs and has the speed to leave the competition in his dust. In addition to another fantastic game on the ground, Morris excelled at blocking, making the crucial block that allowed Griffin to run for a TD in Q2. And his teammates are returning the favor. Logan Paulsen made a huge block on the next Redskins drive that opened the lane for Morris to run 39 yards for a TD.

Getting Back on Track
After a pitiful outing last week, the defense adjusted and put on a much better show in Tampa. They gave up a few big plays and the pass rush is still lacking, but, for the most part, it was an improvement over weeks 2 and 3. Kerrigan is getting around the edge and putting pressure on the QB. He is the star of the defense right now. As a whole, we still need to get to the QB more, but progress is progress. Josh Wilson and Reed Doughty both had decent games and Doughty was a needed improvement over Gomes. Rookie Richard Crawford is progressing well. And how about DHall? He’s never perfect, but he did haul in a nice INT. It doesn’t earn him any smack talk points, though I do hope it does give him the fire he needs to step up his game and haul in many more. Merriweather missing more time is devastating, even more so now that Madieu Williams has proved he is useless. Williams can’t make the tackle, gets beat big and then goes to the sideline to suck on the oxygen tank.

Billy the Kicker
Three missed FGs. 9 points we didn’t get. Billy Cundiff secured the job in Washington without ever having to compete for it. He was unopposed. Unopposed. Yes, he did make the game-winning FG, but I really would’ve liked those 9 points as a little extra cushion.

Shanny’s Moxie
I love it when we go for it on 4th & 1. I also love that we played out every second of Q2 instead of running out the clock and heading to the locker room. I did not, however, love it when he challenged Griffin’s 3rd down scramble. Griffin clearly didn’t get. Don’t waste a Q4 timeout in such a close game.

STOP THE PENALTIES
Please and thank you.

We are 2-2 and facing a tough road ahead. This week was a huge, and much needed, boost for the team. It was a close game, mostly due to second half failures, but we prevailed. If we can tighten things up a little and continue to improve a little each week, we can be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch. But for now, let’s just take it one week at a time.

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