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Fourth Quarter Frustrations

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 7:13 pm

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Perhaps Canada is best left to ice hockey and Celine Dion.

This was a tough loss today, against a very good football team.  The Redskins got beat in every statistical category that matters: total yards, turnovers, time of possession, penalty yards, first downs…you get the point.

This has been a disappointing stretch for a team that, at the bye week, was in first place in the NFC East.  They have yet to win in this quarter of the season, and the November and December schedule looms large.

Yes, the Redskins are dealing with injuries, but that’s not much consolation in a shutout.  This was the first time in Mike Shanahan’s head coaching career that he was shut out in a game.  The last time that the Redskins were shut out in a game was Week 16 of 2009 against the Cowboys.  This game was held in hostile territory against a high-flying team, but the Redskins certainly had their opportunities, and simply didn’t make the most of them.

Perhaps the greatest sense of hope can be found by looking across the field at the far sidelines, to see the meteoric rise of the Buffalo Bills.  Respectfully, this is a team that has wallowed in mediocrity for much of the 2000s, until things have magically clicked this season.  On offense, they have a journeyman quarterback that’s finally putting it all together.  Clearly, they struck gold with Fred Jackson at running back, who has already eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage on the season.  At receiver, the Bills have young, fast playmakers, and they have a line up front that gives them time to execute on offense.  This was a similar cast of characters that went 4-12 last year.  With their fifth win today, they’ve already surpassed that in 2011.

Youth is an X-factor in the NFL, and it can only be harnessed as much as it can be trusted: irregularly.  But these are the types of games, against the type of playmakers, that show Redskins coaches what the team has.  These are the types of games, against the type of playmakers, that teach the young Redskins players how to better prepare next time.  It’s not pretty, but it only counts for one loss.  The last three games only count for three losses.  The important element is how this team responds to these losses down the stretch.

There’s a lot of reason to believe in what’s happening in Washington, even after a disheartening loss.

I can’t wait to get home, and I’m kissing the ground when we land in Washington.  So long from Canada: Redskins 0, Bills 23.

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Who Is Your MVR(edskin)?

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 6:43 pm

As we reach the 2-minutes warning in Toronto, who is your top Redskins player of the day?

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Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 6:13 pm

This game may not have started off like the Redskins wanted for the first 45 minutes, but credit this young team for not giving up.  On the second Bills’ drive of the second half, it was the young defenders that sparked the three-and-out, with Kevin Barnes and Ryan Kerrigan getting back-to-back tackles for a loss.  On third down, the Bills completed a pass over the middle for a short gain, and a gang tackle by London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo forced the punt.

Trotting on and off the field, the Redskins have their heads up and are trying to encourage each other.  This isn’t the picture of the selfish superstars that used to grace the sidelines in solitude.  This is a team that may not have the answers right now, but the players do care, and they aren’t quitting.

If there’s anything positive to take from the first three quarters of football, it would be a testament to character.  You don’t really know the character of a team when it’s winning.  Not to be lost in the middle of this recent slide, is that the Redskins appear to be bunching together rather than tearing at the seams.

Unfortunately, John Beck’s jersey is tearing at the seams.  He’s been on the receiving end of a career-high six sacks in the game (previously four), and the Redskins need to find a way to keep him upright in the final quarter of the game.  A large part of that is his receivers getting open sooner.  Beck has been responsible with the ball, and six sacks are far better than six turnovers.

Not much time to get back in this game, as the Bills are on top: Washington 0, Buffalo 20.

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Second Quarter Shake Down

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 5:24 pm

AP Image

This hasn’t been the best 30 minutes for international relations, at least not on the Washington side.

But as with every story worth telling, there are two sides to this one.

The Bills defense had four sacks on the season coming into this game.  In the first half, they had four on Redskins quarterback John Beck.  Some of these have been overload blitzes and trouble in the blocking scheme, but some of these have been coverage sacks.  This is a total-team issue that needs to be addressed in the second half.

On the other hand, John Beck has weathered the storm and has protected the football very well.  He’s dealing with three offensive linemen out of position due to injuries, his best pass-blocking running back on injured reserve, his best all-around tight end on injured reserve, and his No. 1 receiver out with a broken hand.

The Redskins need to find other ways to win, but it’s not going to be easy, by any stretch.

Things are a little brighter on the defensive side of the ball, with the Redskins defense doing a serviceable job at dictating the pace to the offense.  Yes, the Bills are taking what the Redskins give them, but the Redskins aren’t giving them a whole lot.  The Bills were ranked fourth in the league with 31.3 points per game, and the Redskins have limited them to 13 in the first half, including two goal line stands that kept them out of the end zone.

In short, it could be a lot worse.

The inside linebacker play has been a highlight of the first half, with London Fletcher, and his replacement Keyaron Fox, flying around near the line of scrimmage.  Fletcher’s hamstring was a concern all week, but he’s been spelled as needed by Fox, who is proving to be productive on both defense and special teams.

The Fletcher-Fitzpatrick-Orakpo sandwich at the end of the first half was disappointed only by the play-making ability of Fred Jackson with the ball in his hands.

In other news, this is a unique football venue, with only one jumbotron, a series of hotel rooms overlooking the field, and strange seating all over the lower level of the stadium.

They should really consider playing baseball here.

Redskins still looking to get on the board north of the border, trailing 0-13.

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First Quarter Impressions

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 4:40 pm

Who said punting wasn’t exciting?

Through the first three possessions of the game, the Redskins and Bills traded punts, with Australian phenom Sav Rocca landing three total inside the 20 (one negated by penalty) in the first quarter.

The international man of mystery is locked in today, and so is his coverage team.

Despite the Bills’ second drive ending in a touchdown, the Redskins are still doing one thing right: gang tackling.  Both near the line and down the field, the Redskins are swarming to the ball.  Unfortunately, the drive amounted to two big passing plays to receivers that had gotten open in the secondary.  Not sure what happened, but there were no burgundy hats in the area.

The score woke up the Redskins offense, who showed signs of life on the ensuing drive.  After a self-inflicted fumble on a scramble, quarterback John Beck took to the air, hitting Leonard Hankerson for a 23-yard gain.  This is the first catch of his young career, and a good rebound from the miscommunication that ended last week’s game.

Running back Ryan Torain looks good early, hitting the hole with conviction and fighting for the tough yards.  The Redskins don’t have anything to show for it in the first quarter, but all three units seem to be warming up as the game goes on.

Bills on top after one, 0-7.

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Redskins Game Time Tweets

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 4:06 pm

Here’s the last minute messages from your Washington Redskins:!/freddavis83/statuses/130644930119999488

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Dome, Sweet Dome

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 3:54 pm

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Welcome to the Rogers Centre [sic].

Time will tell if this is a hostile environment, but as of right now, the 55,000 seats are not yet filled.  Once again, I was impressed this week by the turnout of Redskins Nation in a foreign land, including this motley group from Hamilton, Ontario:

And they said I wouldn’t post the photo.

The players were locked in during warmup, talking only amongst themselves and their coaches.

Injured safety Oshiomogho Atogwe is back and healthy enough to start this week, warming up with the coaching staff during warmup.  He obliged my photographic needs by running a defensive route near my sideline:

Quarterback John Beck looked loose warming up with Rex Grossman (who looks dramatically better after last week’s bout with pneumonia), rolling out of the pocket and warming up with his receivers:

The open-air press box is deafening, and I love it.  The Redskins have taken the field under a chorus of boos, as the stadium is slowly filling up.  This is a big one for the Redskins.  We’ll find out how big it is in the next 12 minutes.

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Sav Rocca’s World Tour Continues

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 2:20 pm

As the plane touched down in Toronto yesterday, it was an all too familiar feeling for Redskins punter Sav Rocca.  The Italian-Australian footballer has now played for four teams, across two major professional sports, on three continents, four countries, spanning 21 years.

“I’ve played in Australia, the U.S., Canada, and we played an exhibition game in London when I was in Australia,” he said.  “That’s about it playing wise.”

That’s twice as many as any of his Redskins teammates, and four more than you or I have. Read more »

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Photographic Tribute: Remembering Ryp

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 30, 2011 – 12:11 pm

[Editor’s Note: Despite the black and white photo and “Remembering Ryp” headline, he’s alive and quite well.  It’s just a tribute.]

As the Redskins prepare for their first regular season international contest in the land of Shania Twain and igloos, it’s important to look back and honor the greatest Canadian in Redskins history: Mark Rypien.

Mark Rypien was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, about a day-and-a-half drive from Toronto.  He came from a family of a family of tremendous athletes, including his quarterback daughter Angela Rypien, his golden gloves boxing uncle Wes Rypien Sr., and his pro hockey playing cousins Wes Jr. and Rick Rypien:

Read more »

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