One of the best parts about this time of the year is that you begin to see several highlight films popping up from the previous season.
Whether or not your favorite team lived up to expectations, it’s still pretty exciting to see the plays that did go your team’s way — and to know the fact that many of those players are back for more this season.
Tags: 2011 season, highlights, washington redskins
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Looking strictly at the scoreboard of today’s game, there aren’t a whole lot of positives to take away. ‘Pride games’ are supposed to end in wins–or at least near misses. Not 24-point deficits.
But to focus exclusively on the score wouldn’t really be the story of this season. The story of this season was–and has always been–about development. And the best way to illustrate the development of this team is to look at how a fully healthy Redskins team fared against the Eagles in Week 6, as compared to the team that took the field today.
In Week 6, the offense managed only 245 yards and turned the ball over four times. The Redskins had a fully-rested, fully-healthy roster take the field that day, with two playmakers at tight end, a dominant left side of the line, and zero rookies in the starting lineup. With that team, they managed only 13 points at home.
In Week 17, the offense managed 377 yards and turned the ball over once. The Redskins were eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago, with a patchwork lineup, including three rookies in the starting lineup. With this team, they managed 10 points on the road.
In Week 6, the defense yielded 422 yards and had two takeaways. The Redskins defense had a full-rested, fully-healthy roster take the field that day, with two playmaker safeties, two budding young outside linebackers, and a front seven that was leading the NFC in sacks. With that team, they yielded 20 points at home.
In Week 17, the defense yielded 390 yards and had two takeaways. The Redskins defense has also taken hits this season, losing both starting safeties, replacing three defenders altogether due to injury and performance. They didn’t finish out the fourth quarter that they wanted today, but they still managed to keep the Redskins in the game until late.
The progress that the Redskins achieved on both sides of the ball, despite losing important players during the season, is not something that is reflected in the season record (5-11). Development isn’t a consolation prize, and it isn’t anything that this team or organization wants to hang their hats on. But when this team regroups in the coming months for OTA’s and mini camps, it’s something that will be reflected in the elevated play of the young guys on the team. It’s something that will be reflected in various units, which now have great familiarity with one another. And for a team that isn’t going to the playoffs this year, roster development is something that can pay off for years to come.
Today was an unsung hero sort of day, so here are your unsung heroes of the afternoon:
The danger of in-game reporting is in drawing conclusions too hastily. For example, after the 62-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, Twitter went crazy with conclusions that Oshiomogho Atogwe’s injuries had reduced his ability to make plays, and that he was, thus far, a disappointment as a free agent.
And perhaps up to that moment, these reports were fair. Until, on the ensuing drive, Atogwe intercepted Michael Vick for the second time this season, down near the goal line. He then–with the help of cornerback DeAngelo Hall–returned the ball to the 30-yard line.
All of this is not to say that Atogwe has had his ideal season, but he’s played very well in big games. Atogwe got all three of his interceptions against division opponents this season, with two against the Eagles and the other against the Giants. The best part of his contributions to the defense, is that he’s done everything that’s been asked, including accepting and excelling in a reserve role. His last two interceptions have come in games that he didn’t start.
Evan Royster and Roy Helu both gave gritty performances today, with Royster rushing for 113 yards on 20 carries, and Helu catching a touchdown pass for 47 yards.
Both rookie backs had back-to-back 100-yard games to their name this season, a rarity in any organization, and a testament to their ability to step up. Royster had to be taken to the locker room in the second half for rehydration, while Helu battled leg injuries that visibly hobbled him on his touchdown run. But both stayed focused and active in the game, supporting each other and keying the offense.
Not bad for two rookie backs taken after the fourth round.
This was a tough day for the 2011 Redskins, but with positives that can allow them to march forward into 2012. Will this team be able to get healthy and capitalize on the development and maturation of the players in the scheme? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait nine months to find that out. But from the 300 level of Lincoln Financial Field, I think the Redskins will find their stride in 2012.
That’s all from Philadelphia on this New Year’s Day, as the Redskins fall to the Eagles, 10-34. Here’s wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.
Tags: 2011 season, DeAngelo Hall, evan royster, fourth quarter, oshiomogho atogwe, philadelphia eagles, roy helu, washington redskins
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Following a long touchdown pass to Roy Helu–the first receiving score of his career–the Redskins were right back in the game. However, if they want to stay in it for the fourth quarter, they have to eliminate the big 15-yard penalties that are consistently pushing them backward. So far, they have three of them on the afternoon.
The first was a penalty on Santana Moss for taking his helmet off after a play. He was understandably frustrated, but that’s a long-standing rule–on the field, helmets stay on.
The second penalty was on Donte’ Stallworth on the Roy Helu touchdown catch and run. It’s unclear what exactly was going on, but Stallworth took a knee in the end zone and was flagged for excessive celebration, going to the ground in the end zone.
The third penalty was for a hit on a defenseless receiver, on the defense.
You can say what you want about the legitimacy of the rules, the interpretation of said rules, and whether or not the Redskins players violated those rules. I certainly have my own thoughts on all three facets. But no amount of angst or debate on the topic will change the fact that the Redskins put themselves in a position to be flagged for three flagrant fouls in a game that they’re losing.
This is a game for pride alone, and this isn’t the type of focused football that’s going to win this afternoon.
On a very positive note, running back Evan Royster is over 100 yards from scrimmage again this week, piling up 73 on the ground and 37 through the air. It’s hard to project how Royster and Helu will pan out to a 16-game season, but the experience that they’ve gained in their respective rookie campaigns have laid the groundwork for an informed, focused offseason.
Although the Redskins haven’t found their top guy in the passing game today, Grossman has spread the ball around, finding nine different receivers, including Brandon Banks for the time this season. Receiver Jabar Gaffney was a non-factor in the third quarter and still needs 53 yards to reach 1,000 on the season.
After three quarters in Philadelphia, it’s still in reach for the Burgundy and Gold: Redskins 7, Eagles 13.
Tags: 2011 season, brandon banks, Donte Stallworth, evan royster, Jabar Gaffney, philadelphia eagles, rex grossman, roy helu, Santana Moss, third quarter, washington redskins
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Redskins fullback Darrel Young spent four years of college only 17 miles from Lincoln Financial Field at Villanova University. Villanova Stadium holds only 12,500 people, each of whom cheered on his defensive prowess
Today, in front of five time as many people, he’s silencing the Philadelphia crowd with his offensive ability, piling up 32 yards from a non-traditional playmaker position. On top of that, he’s cleared the way for Evan Royster who continues his run of dominance as the Redskins tailback.
Averaging only 1.8 yards per carry in the first quarter, Royster has found his stride with 41 yards in the second quarter, including a 28-yard churn and burn scamper. On that 28-yard run, he broke four tackles, something that Redskins running backs have struggled to do this season. Forget the strategy of “one cut and go”– Royster cut four defenders nearly out of their shoes on one play.
At the half, Royster leads the team in both rushing and receiving yards. Young is second and fourth, respectively.
One player that we should be celebrating in the first half is receiver Anthony Armstrong. Armstrong has stretched the field deep today, but has been unable to sync up with quarterback Rex Grossman. On two plays, Grossman was pressured and either checked down or forced the ball deep. On the other play, he had time but it appeared that he waited half a beat too long, as the corner popped the ball in the air and the safety picked it off.
By trying the deep ball, the Redskins have opened up running plays and short passing routes underneath. But the offense really needs these plays to work if they expect to keep pace in this game.
The Redskins passed up their best opportunity at points in the second quarter, when a field goal attempt from Graham Gano was blocked up the middle. It’s been a frustrating year for blocked field goals, something that has been attributed in the past to the injuries and suspensions that the Redskins have weathered along the offensive line. Whatever it is, it’s something that will need to be addressed in the offseason.
Receiver Jabar Gaffney had a solid first half, surpassing his career high in receptions with 67 this season. His 25 yards put him within 56 yards of 1,000 on the season, for the first time in his career. The Redskins need someone to step up big in the passing game in the second half.
After 30 minutes in The Linc, the Redskins still trail: Washington 0, Philadelphia 10. Redskins will receive first in the second half.
Tags: 2011 season, anthony armstrong, Darrel Young, evan royster, graham gano, halftime, Jabar Gaffney, philadelphia eagles, rex grossman, washington redskins
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Prior to two weeks ago, Brian Orakpo was the team’s leader in sacks during his tenure with the team, having never registered a full sacked on a division quarterback. Against the Giants, he brought Eli Manning down for the first of his career. Against the Eagles, he took care of things early, “Orakpo-ing” Michael Vick on his first third down pressure.
Now that the divisional sack monkey is off his back, Orakpo looks to be flogging it. Orakpo is also the first Redskins defender with eight or more sacks in three consecutive seasons since Dexter Manley achieved the feat between 1983-89.
The Redskins defense is getting good pressure on Vick today, which could prove to be effective. Vick has been bothered by various contact related injuries this year, including broken ribs, and looks to prefer passing today. I’m certain the Redskins will be spying him all afternoon, but it’s nice to know that he has a vested interest in being a passer first.
On offense, running back Evan Royster got the first crack today, continuing his success from last week. The Redskins initially viewed Roy Helu as a change-of-pace back earlier this season, and the same dynamic could be in place today, with both backs healthy and active. The Redskins have also continued to pitch the ball on almost all running plays, something that head coach Mike Shanahan attributed to their ability to get the ball, pick their hole, and get a full head of steam going through the line.
The running game hasn’t necessarily been effective in the first quarter, but this is an important facet of the game that the Redskins need to stick with.
With the 20-yard pass from quarterback Rex Grossman to fullback Darrel Young, Grossman passed 10,000 passing yards for his career. For the Redskins, he passed for 3,779 yards in his first 16 games before today.
Punter Sav Rocca has been a model of consistency in his first season in Washington, but badly missed his first punt this afternoon, kicking it out of bounds for 12 yards. The play essentially acted like a turnover, but the defense held on a short field, yielding only a field goal.
Rocca bounced back on his next two kicks, downing both inside the 20-yard line, tying a career-high for the season with 28. Nice recovery from the Down Under Thunder.
At the end of the first quarter, the Eagles lead by a field goal: Washington 0, Philadelphia 3.
After the first quarter in the “2012 Social Showdown,” the Redskins fans have pulled it close, trailing by 40 fans. #HTTR, #BeatPhilly
Tags: 2011 season, Brian Orakpo, Darrel Young, evan royster, first quarter, mike shanahan, philadelphia eagles, rex grossman, roy helu, sav rocca, washington redskins
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The final day of Redskins practice has arrived for the 2011 season. It’s a routine that began in training camp at the end of July, and has lasted five months to the end of December.
There were days of 100-degree temperatures, and days when it was in the 30′s. There were many days when it rained (sometimes creating lakefront property) and other days when onlookers got sunburn. There were days when thousands of fans packed the sidelines, and many many more when they did not.
On this particular youth-infused team, there were opportunities (and potentially careers) that were launched on the back fields, both through injury and excellence. All together, there were six players that rose from the practice squad to the active roster this season, meaning that six players proved their muster exclusively in practice.
Here are a few of the Redskins players’ thoughts on the last day of school: Read more »
Tags: 2011 season, brandon banks, Brandyn Thompson, last practice, washington redskins
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As the Washington Redskins get set to enter the final week of the 2011 regular season, it’s time for your 2011 virtual Redskins to do the same. It’s been a big year for improvement in this group, as many players have taken giant steps forward.
Tags: 2011 season, Chris Chester, dejon gomes, EA Sports blog, LaRon Landry, offensive linemen, oshiomogho atogwe, washington redskins
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The Redskins found out the hard way that sometimes knocking out the starter isn’t the answer to beating a team. Where Adrian Peterson is an athletic stud who can slash and dash, Toby Gerhart is more of the ground and pound bowling ball.
For the second consecutive year, Gerhart was the Vikings’ leading rusher against the Redskins, going over 100 yards in the second half alone.
Where quarterback Christian Ponder was a passer with some elusiveness and the ability to run, Joe Webb was a runner who attempted only five second half passes.
Unfortunately, half of them were for touchdowns, and he finished with a perfect 158.3 quarterback passer rating.
When a team loses their top playmakers on offense, it’s usually a disadvantage. But in this case, it cast the Redskins defense into the unknown of facing players they didn’t prepare for. The Redskins’ defense contained Peterson and Ponder in the first half, having good anticipation of the Vikings’ game plan. Once their replacements entered the game, it was a different ball of wax.
“It was disappointing because that wasn’t us out there,” said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan after the game. “We feel like we have the capability to be one of the top defenses in the league, and to allow 240 rushing yards is disappointing.”
After last week’s win in New York, the Redskins looked to be pushing for a late-season surge. Even today, there were plenty of things to be proud of.
Roy Helu was out for today’s game, but Evan Royster rushed for 132 yards on 19 carries, good for second in the NFL after the 1 p.m. games. This was also the first time in Redskins history that two rookies running backs managed 100-yard games in the same season.
Jabar Gaffney eclipsed 900 yards receiving on the season for the first time in his career, and added another touchdown and “Landover Leap.” He needs only 81 yards to crack 1,000 yards this season, and his next touchdown will be his career-high sixth in a season.
Kicker Graham Gano, who was on the toastiest of hot seats only a month ago, has put the kicking game on ice with his fourth-consecutive perfect game of placekicking. Despite his leg strength, his lack of touchbacks this season looks to be a product of kicking the ball higher for added hang time. All-in-all, this has been quite a rebound for the young kicker.
Because of the Saturday game, the players will now have three days off for the first time since the bye week, with which to rest and recuperate before getting ready for Philadelphia. Despite a disappointing record, the Redskins have played each of their division opponents well this season, and beat the Eagles on the road last year. Given their record on the road and their level of play against division opponents, I wouldn’t discount their ability to play some of their best football next week.
For the last time this season, so long from FedExField, as the Redskins lose a tough one: Minnesota 33, Washington 26.
Tags: 2011 season, evan royster, fourth quarter, graham gano, Jabar Gaffney, minnesota vikings, roy helu, ryan kerrigan, washington redskins
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At the time of Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder’s respective exits from the game, the Vikings lost their team’s top passer and the team’s top two rushers.
The Vikings responded by finding the next two top rushers in quarterback Joe Webb and Toby Gerhart. Webb was the beneficiary of Gerhart’s relaxed approach to the end zone, which ended in a fumble inside the 10-yard line. I sang his praises after the first quarter, but Josh Wilson has exploded for the Redskins in recent weeks, and he was the one defender who was able to make a play on Gerhart, chasing him down from behind.
Knowing that Gerhart wasn’t aware of him and wasn’t protecting the ball, he went for the fumble and got it. Teammates DeAngelo Hall and DeJon Gomes made a heads-up effort to recover the fumble, but it just barely went out of bounds. Good awareness, good communication, and fantastic effort, refusing to give up on what would otherwise be a runaway touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brandon Banks followed his blocks to the tune of 43 yards, very nearly breaking it to paydirt. Credit his blockers for springing him, especially Niles Paul who has the speed to stay in front of Banks, and the ferocity to be a lead blocker.
Paul has been a little bit of everything for the Redskins in his first season, performing ably as a receiver, returner, running back, goal line tight end, and special teams beast. He has the talent to one day blossom into a purely offensive player, but he has the selfless approach to the game that this team needs now.
Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell had a career rate of 600-for-608 on extra points and 74 percent on kicks of 40-49 yards, coming into today. He’s missed one of each today, proving that history is not an indicator of future success. He is a dome kicker now, but he kicked for most of his career in the frozen tundra of Green Bay, so he should be capable of anything.
However, his four missing points have kept this game at a three-point Vikings advantage.
With one quarter to go, running back Evan Royster is on the cusp of his first career 100-yard game in his first-career start.
Redskins need to answer back in the final frame: Washington 20, Minnesota 23.
Tags: 2011 season, brandon banks, DeAngelo Hall, dejon gomes, evan royster, josh wilson, minnesota vikings, Niles Paul, third quarter, washington redskins
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In the last two weeks Darrel Young has gone from an unsung hero in the blocking game, to being a weapon and playmaker on offense. On the Redskins touchdown drive early in the second quarter, Young caught two passes for 33 yards. At the time, he was the team’s top receiver, and it was Young’s top receiving day, ever.
Not a bad offensive performance for a former linebacker from an FBS college.
The drive was culminated in a short touchdown reception by receiver Donte’ Stallworth, who stretched the ball across the goal line before absorbing a savage hit. He also negated a sack on the ensuing drive by converting a long third down with a nimble catch and run.
Stallworth has also been a bright spot for the Redskins down the stretch, providing sure hands on the field and quality leadership off of it. Stallworth watched the Redskins-Dolphins game as a free agent before rejoining the team the following week. He has two receptions for 24 yards today and 18 receptions for 266 yards and two touchdowns on the year. He has 220 of his yards and both touchdowns since he rejoined the team.
Running back Evan Royster looked much more comfortable in the second quarter, rushing four times for 24 yards, increasing his game average to 5.9 yards per carry. Not only has he found good yards after contact, he also played an instrumental role in picking up Stallworth’s long third down conversion by throwing a deep block.
The top defender in the first half has been one of the top defenders in the NFL this season–middle linebacker London Fletcher. After falling behind early, he rallied his fellow defenders to get back on their horses and shut the Vikings out. The Redskins–led by the NFL’s top tackler–haven’t yielded points to the Vikings since the 14:56 mark in the second quarter.
Brand new ballgame in the second half, as the Redskins brough it back to even: Washington 10, Minnesota 10.
Tags: 2011 season, Darrel Young, Donte Stallworth, evan royster, halftime, london fletcher, minnesota vikings, washington redskins
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