ES Coverage & Interactive Game Day Thread: 2012 Redskins vs Falcons
Falcons 24 - Redskins 17
They say home is where the heart is. Problem is, hearts can be broken, which is more or less how the FedEx Faithful have felt for nearly an entire season’s worth of home football games. Over the last seven straight regular season contests at The House That Jack Kent Cooke Built, the Burgundy and Gold have been unable to defend that house.
It’s as if some neighborhood thief keeps breaking in and stealing our stuff because he never gets caught. Anytime he needs a little cash, he just pries open opens the side window and walks out with the jumbotron. Time for a little force protection. Let the guard dogs off the leash.
Is today the day that the Redskins stop being such gracious hosts? Is today the day they put a halt to the longest current home winless streak in the NFL? If they can keep from giving up a 78 yard TD on the first play from scrimmage, that will be a step in the right direction.
Whatever the case, they will certainly have their hands full with the Atlanta Falcons.
A Google search of Matt Ryan in quotes with MVP generates about a half million hits, including article after article about “Matty Ice” and his red hot first quarter of a season. ESPN, NFL.COM, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports – along with countless other websites lurking in the dark alleyways of the homegrown sports blogosphere – have something to say about Ryan and his “MVP start” to his “MVP caliber campaign”.
While that all might be just a wee bit premature, there’s no denying that the Falcons quarterback has led his team to lofty heights through the first four games, at least on offense. They’re lighting up scoreboards (31 PPG) and occupying highlight reels left and right, with Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez hauling in Ryan’s pinpoint passes.
A subject I am already so very tired of talking about (but is probably not going away anytime soon): the Redskins pass defense has had severe difficulty covering men who catch footballs for a living. Not exactly a favorable matchup. So let’s talk about something a little less depressing – the cold, dreary, rainy weather.
One of my favorite memories from the Redskins 1991 Super Bowl Season is former radio announcer Frank Herzog’s summation how a similarly pass-happy Atlanta Falcons team would fare on a similarly cold, windy, rainy day in the Nation’s Capital. It was a divisional playoff game – the famous “seat cushion” game with rapper MC Hammer (yes they were called rappers back then) holding court on the Atlanta sidelines – and Herzog gave this accurate prognosis, paraphrased from my memory, shortly before game time:
Joe Gibbs hates windy, rainy weather. It interferes with the delicate precision of his passing game. But if the Skins don’t like it, then you know the Falcons don’t like it. And what are the Falcons going to do if they can’t pass? They’re going to DIE, that’s what they’re going to do!
Twenty years later, a precision-passing Falcons team again comes to DC on a wet and chilly afternoon. Now, just as then, the Redskins are the much better running team. And the Falcons have problems stopping the run. So there is reason to be optimistic.
Picture, if you will, trying to tackle RG3 on a QB scramble. Now picture it on a wet field. Yeah, I don’t want that job either. If the Skins can run some ball-control offense and make a couple of plays on defense, they could knock the Falcons from the ranks of the unbeaten.
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For the Washington Redskins:
- No. 8 QB Rex Grossman
- No. 19 WR Dezmon Briscoe
- No. 20 CB Cedric Griffin
- No. 31 S Brandon Meriweather
- No. 55 LB Markus White
- No. 67 G Josh LeRibeus
- No. 73 G Adam Gettis
No. 15 Joshua Morgan is expected to start in place of No. 85 Leonard Hankerson at wide receiver.
For the Atlanta Falcons:
- No. 4 QB Dominique Davis
- No. 30 CB Terrence Johnson
- No. 45 FB Lousaka Polite
- No. 76 T Lamar Holmes
- No. 81 TE Michael Palmer
- No. 96 DE Jonathan Massaquoi
- No. 98 DE Cliff Matthews
No. 44 Jason Snelling is expected to start in place of No. 45 Lousaka Polite at fullback.
12:00 - As most people already know, this is breast cancer awareness month and there will be pink gear on most every player on the field. RG3 is reportedly going to wear a pink arm sleeve. But so far, the most interesting pink uniform quirk is Falcons K Matt Bryant, who kept his regular Falcon-colored kicking shoe on his right foot but is sporting hot pink on his left. Coming to a theater near you - The Man With One Pink Shoe.
12:14 - Speaking of uniforms, the Skins are in gold pants and burgundy jerseys, and the Falcons are in white-on-white.
12:37 - Just saw Joe Theismann in his dapper full length coat on the sidelines, posing for pics with some Navy cadets.
12:51 - Everyone of Fox Sports pregame show picks Falcons. Love to prove those guys wrong. Go Skins!
12:55 Skins take the field. Seats are filling in nicely but there might be a few empties due to the chilly weather and the Nats game. Couldn't they have started it an hour later?
12:59 - Almost everyone covering the game in the press box shook their head in disgust as we could hear the fans yell "O" during the national anthem.
1:01 Skins win the toss, will kick off.
1:03 - HOLDING! Blatant too, directly led to that big return.
1:05 - You can clearly see what the Falcons want to do - get #11 Julio Jones matched up against LBs and safeties. Skins will have to adjust to that if they want to keep JJ from having a big day.
1:09 - TV broadcast is exactly 7 seconds behind the live action.
1:11 - It's plain to see that without pressure on Matt Ryan, he will be able to pick the secondary apart.
1:13 - That's a huge stop by the D. If RG3 can lead the Skins to an early score, that's a big swing because the Skins get the ball 1st in the 2nd half.
1:54 - WOW - first we went through 30+ minutes of the internet being down in the Redskins press box, and then it finally came up and this thread was closed for a few minutes. Back up and ready to rock.
1:56 - Ryan Kerrigan's TD was the third defensive TD this season, most since they had 4 in 1999.
1:59 - This game is turning into a defensive battle, just like I predicted:
2:02 - It looks like the Falcons have found a weakness in the middle of the Skins D-line. Will be interesting to see if they change their game plan.
2:05 - Alfred always, and I mean ALWAYS looks for someone to hit when he has the ball. LOVE that mentality. Very Walter Payton like.
2:09 - It's a Ryan Grant sighting! If he had cut that inside he could have had 10-12 yards. Skins 0-4 on third downs in this game. Really a source of trouble.
2:10 - If Cundiff is still a Redskin by Wednesday of this week, I will be shocked. What is going on with him? It's as if he passed through some vortex of awfulness. His misses are on the verge of historically bad performances.
2:18 - Skins backup DE Doug Worthington has a calf injury; return is questionable.
2:22 - Overheard in the press box - "I actually like Cundiff".
2:26 - Halftime. Some observations: RG3 has thrown a few inaccurate passes. Third down performance HAS to improve. D had stepped up big time. You can't cover JJ, Roddy White and Gonzalez on every play, and the Skins secondary has done a great job making the Falcons put together long drives. Good game plan, well executed. Skins need to help out on offense by putting together a long drive of their own to start the 3rd quarter.
2:42 - 45 passing yards in the first half - that has got to be a source of frustration from Kyle & Mike Shanahan.
2:47 - Skins now 0-5 on 3rd down. I believe they are far and away the worst in the NFL in this stat (will have to look that up in a minute). Killing this team. Was an off tackle run really as creative as Kyle Shanahan could get on 3rd & 2?
2:50 - The back of the helmet is always a great way top stop a pass! Nice coverage by Josh Wilson, way to force a 3 & out. Skins should have great field position.
2:55 - One of those calls that probably stands with whatever is called on the field.
2:56 - Love being wrong sometimes. Skins catch a break.
2:59 - RG3 having some accuracy problems today. Fred Davis bails him out.
3:00 - Morris has 15 carries for 107 yards.
3:03 - Weatherspoon hits RG3's helmet with a vicious hit from his shoulder. RG3 has got to be smarter than that. Overheard in the press box - "I can't even watch this" (RE: Cundiff's kick)
3:10 - From Tarik El-Bashir's tweet: If the Redskins win this game, the rest of the team should pitch in and buy him a new car.
3:13 - Kirk Cousins taking snaps from Will Montgomery on the sidelines.
3:16 - This is a great opportunity for Cousins to audition for other teams, and for the Redskins to get a high pick for him if he plays well.
3:18 - Time to start looking at what the worst one-game performance on 3rd down is in NFL history. The Skins are threatening to set it.
3:20 - Official word from the press box is RG3 is "shaken up" (literally the term the press box announcer used), his return is questionable.
3:25 - Just a matter of time before the Falcons connected on a long-ish TD pass. You can't go 0-7 on 3rd downs and expect the D to keep the Falcons offense out of the end zone.
3:30 - great pass by Cousins. Garcon left his hands in the locker room.
3:32 - Another beautiful pass from Cousins, nice to see Tana get involved. Congrats to Kirk Cousins and his 1st NFL TD. Cousins draft value just went up, big time.
3:40 - Cofield with a sack and then a tipped pass. I tip my hat to you sir. Cundiff can't make a 31-yarder but Bryant kicks a 53-yarder. Can we trade kickers please?
3:50 - Today's announced attendance: 75, 337
3:51 - The defense played valiantly today. Can't stay on the field for that long and expect to keep Atlanta out of the end zone. That hole looked so open from my perspective, it almost seemed like they wanted to let him in to give themselves more time. ALMOST.
5:00 - Just got back from a somber Redskins locker room. Whoever said that pro athletes only play for money didn't see the passion and frustration in the eyes of guys like London Fletcher and Barry Cofield. They take this stuff personally. They want to win for the team and for the fans. Despite the loss, it seems that the Skins are headed in the right direction.
RG3 was not present. His mom and fiance were in the locker room and left just before the media got there. They didn't look too concerned, just kind of like they wish things had gone differently (obviously).
Guys, I enjoyed the experience and I hope you got something out of this thread. Wish the outcome could have been different but this seems to me to be a team with good times ahead.
To see ExtremeSkins game photos click HERE
To listen to comments from Barry Cofield click HERE
To listen to comments from Kirk Cousins click HERE
To listen to comments from Fred Davis click HERE
To listen to comments from London Fletcher click HERE
To listen to comments from Ryan Grant click HERE
To listen to comments from Ryan Kerrigan click HERE
To listen to comments from Joshua Morgan click HERE
To listen to comments from Alfred Morris click HERE
To listen to comments from Trent Williams click HERE
To listen to comments from Josh Wilson click HERE
The big story – the one that will dominate airwaves and water coolers over the next few days – is obviously Robert Griffin III and the hit he took in the 3rd quarter from Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Of course it should be a big story. Any franchise QB who gets knocked out of the game is big news: double your pleasure if it’s a big name like RG3.
What makes this an even bigger story is that he got hurt doing EXACTLY what every fan and pundit said he would do, which is: take an unnecessary hit trying to make a play when it wasn’t there. It’s like RG3 got sick of hearing it so he went along with the script. As we watched him wobble off the field to get stitches in his lip, we all wish he hadn’t.
There’s more good news here than meets the eye. First, it’s not serious. Expect #10 to come trotting on the field next week in the not-so-friendly confines of FedEx Field and lead the Redskins against a Vikings team that is surprising a few folks.
Second, some lessons just can’t be learned the easy way. Your dad can tell you 100 times not to hang out with that screwed up kid from the dysfunctional family down the block, but until the both of you are in the back of a squad car together, you don’t understand why your dad was so adamant about it. When he comes to the local precinct to pick you up with rage and disappointment in his eyes, then – and only then – do you get it.
RG3’s “get it” moment came courtesy of Weatherspoon’s shoulder. He won’t try that again; if there’s anything I’ve noticed about RG3, he learns from his mistakes and doesn’t keep making the same ones over and over again.
Third, what a great opportunity for Kirk Cousins. Sure he threw the two picks, but he also connected with Santana Moss on a huge play that could have won the game, if only the defense wasn’t worn to the bone by the 4th quarter. His trade value increased despite the picks – we expect a rookie to make those throws.
But the big story for me is not RG3’s injury. Heck, it’s not even Alfred Morris’ 2nd straight 100+ yard game. It’s the defense.
The Redskins have a defensive TD in three games this season (ironically, the Redskins have lost all three of those games, which flies in the face of every turnover statistic you can find). But more importantly, the secondary didn’t give up any plays over 30 yards, and if the Skins offense didn’t go a staggering 0-7 on third down until Cousins connected with Moss, we’d be talking about how the D finally kept their side of the street clean.
The Atlanta Falcons ran 35 – THIRTY FIVE – more plays than did the Redskins. They won the TOP battle 37-23. Those are eye-popping stats.
So the story of the game is this: the Redskins appear to have found a formula that works on defense. If they can improve to just average on 3rd down conversions, we could have a team that finally sheds the “struggling” label and takes on contender status.
- E-Dog Night
PS - If the Redskins don’t release Billy Cundiff this week, he might want to start wearing his Halloween costume early if he plans on going out in DC.