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The Very Last Practice Of The 2011 Season

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 30, 2011 – 11:35 am

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 »

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A Shift Back On ESPN’s All-Division Team

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 29, 2011 – 10:43 am

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In gauging division honors over the course of a 16-game season, it’s logical that the cream will rise to the top and the best of the best will be fairly set in stone.  But with the inconsistency of the entire NFC East this season, it’s been difficult to determine who is not only the best, but can perform most consistently.

In this week’s edition of Dan Graziano’s ESPN NFC East Blog’s “All-NFC East Team,” there are a new set of seven Redskins representing the best in the division at their position.  The honors are based on a body of work over the course of a season, with wry commentary to follow.

Enjoy: Read more »

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Redskins Players Christmas Day Recap

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 26, 2011 – 1:31 pm

In honor of yesterday’s moderately well-known holiday, most players had a chance to spend time with some version of family or adopted family.

While many players hosted family or made it home, some of the visits were unexpected.  Safety DeJon Gomes was his own surprise present, playing Santa Claus for his delighted mom.  From the looks of his pristine suit, I don’t think he had to brave the chimney:

Other players had a visit from Santa…or at least from nose tackle Chris Neild’s “nutty Nephew”: Read more »

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Minnesota Vikings In The Rear View Mirror

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 26, 2011 – 10:05 am

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It’s safe to say that too many of the storylines in the NFL are predicated on pregame predictions.  Going into the Redskins-Giants game two weeks ago, no one gave the Redskins a chance to win.  Going into the Redskins-Vikings game on Saturday, no one gave the Vikings a chance to win.

We know what happened in both cases.

The fact is that the Redskins had a good chance to win on Saturday, and did what they needed to do to ensure that, at least against the Vikings’ starters.

On defense, running back Adrian Peterson gained only 38 yards in the game before he was helped off the field early in the third quarter.  Ponder was similarly limited to 58 yards through the air and 5.2 yards per completion, and no touchdowns.

Problems occurred once the replacements to those players came in, due to injury.  Unlike many teams, the Vikings not only have talented backups, they also have backups with wildly different skill sets.  The Redskins defense had the Vikings’ starters pegged, but the backups were wild cards that they couldn’t account for.

With that being said, there were still outstanding performances on the field for the Burgundy and Gold.

London Fletcher had 17 tackles and a half-sack, extending his NFL-lead in total tackles.  Cornerback Josh Wilson had another outstanding game, managing six tackles and a forced fumble on a long, would-be touchdown run.

On offense, the Redskins were wise to get Evan Royster started early.  He gained a career-high for yards in a game, with 48 in the first half.  He finished up with steady diet of 19 rushes for 132 yards, with an additional two receptions for 15 yards.  He was the workhorse for the offense, finding gaps and running lanes against the 11th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL.

Receiver Jabar Gaffney also provided production that the Redskins have been accustomed to from No. 10, hauling in six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown.  He has already met his career-high in touchdowns, and surpassed his career high in receiving yards for a season this week.

We like to gauge our team in terms of plays, quarters, games, and seasons, but to do so with the 2011 Washington Redskins would be, quite frankly, irresponsible.  This is a team in transition, a team in progress.  On offense, there are five starters that played even one snap together last season, and only three that played the whole season.  On defense, there are six starters that played together last season, and only four that played the whole season.  In a game where success is built on consistency and cohesion, this team is only starting to achieve that.

For some of the veterans, this is their second year in the system, but for all of the free agents and rookies, this is new.  That’s not an excuse–it’s a fact.  This roster is bedazzled with gems that project to much higher levels.  This group of Redskins has one more week to prove their muster, and I would expect them to rise to the occasion in Philadelphia.

Here are some other notable stats from Saturday’s game: Read more »

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Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 24, 2011 – 3:24 pm

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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.

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Redskins Rising On All-East Team

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 22, 2011 – 9:53 am

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After a big win against a division foe, the Redskins are on the rise as far as divisional honors.  There are seven Redskins on this week’s edition of ESPN blogger Dan Graziano’s All-NFC East team.

Solid Sundays kept all of last week’s honorees intact, but a big week in the secondary earned another award.

To save you the time to comment, I do realize that there were technically only six players listed.  But because Banks excels in two roles, the Redskins get a two-for-one special.

Here’s the rundown: Read more »

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Week 15 Madden ’12 Redskins Updates

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 16, 2011 – 4:31 pm

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Calling all Redskins gamers, it’s time for your weekly Redskins updates for Madden ’12, along with my own wry commentary.  This week, we have the typical increases and decreases, additions and subtractions.  We also have a virtual equipment update and an issue of dominant hand orientation.

Check out the full list of Redskins moves and alterations this week: Read more »

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A Redskins Shift On The All-Division Team

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 15, 2011 – 1:18 pm

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For the second week in a row, the Redskins have been awarded a six spots on ESPN blogger Dan Graziano’s All-NFC East team.  However, this week saw a shift in the players that were selected for the team, including some well-deserved credit in the secondary.

Once again, I can count, I know that there were technically only five players listed.  But because Banks excels in two roles, the Redskins get a two-for-one special.

Here’s the rundown: Read more »

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Trick Play A Keeper With Southpaw Banks

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 12, 2011 – 5:08 pm

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Last week, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan saw something in the Patriots’ defense that caused him believe they were susceptible to a trick play.  The quarterback would take the snap, hand it off to the running back, who would run to the right side of the field.  He would then flip it to the receiver, who would run an option to the left and either keep it or throw it.

All he needed was a speedy, left-handed receiver that could get the ball downfield.

Enter Brandon Banks:

And that’s pretty much exactly what it was supposed to look like.

“We practiced it a couple of times this week–probably four or five times,” Banks said after the game.  “They played around with me throwing it, but it was a joke at first.  This week it was kinda serious though, obviously.” Read more »

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Patriots In The Rear-View Mirror

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 12, 2011 – 1:25 pm

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The last time that the Redskins clashed with the Patriots was in 2007 under mildy New England skies.

Quarterback Jason Campbell threw a touchdown and an interception, in addition to fumbling the ball three times on three sacks.  The Redskins rushing attack managed only 47 yards on the ground, while the defense yielded 486 total yards to the Pats’ fabled offense.

Fans who watched it all the way through managed to see the Redskins tack on a touchdown onto the scoring parade, with the game mercifully ending at 52-7.

The scary thing is that some people expected that to happen again, yesterday–or worse.  But the Redskins showed up in a big way.

This season has been defined by progress.  When the team came out of training camp with 25 players with less than three years experience, it was considered a sign of progress towards a much-needed influx of youth.  When the team started out 3-1, it was seen as progress towards competitiveness.  When the team lost six-straight, but kept fighting and didn’t fracture emotionally, it was considered progress in character.

And when the Redskins showed up yesterday, they proved that they have the heart to show up ready to play.  Last week’s late loss to the Jets could have deflated this group, but they rose to the occasion.  Injuries and suspensions have utterly decimated a Redskins’ offense that nearly out-dueled the NFL’s No. 2 offense.  The defense picked off Tom Brady, who hadn’t thrown an interception since Week 9.

Even in a loss, yesterday was a fine example of progress, as the Redskins played perhaps their best game all season.  Yesterday, the Redskins showed that their progress is paying off, and that there’s a lot to look forward to, both immediately and in the future.

Special kudos for yesterday’s game go out to the following players:

On Offense: Roy Helu

Who else?  This young man is showing the vast potential of mid-round backs in the Shanahan system, putting up three-consecutive 100-yard games with his 126 yards yesterday.  With yesterday’s performance, he is:

  • The first rookie running back to accomplish this feat in franchise history.
  • The first of his 2011 rookie draft class to do so.
  • The first Redskins running back since Clinton Portis went five-straight in 2008.
  • The first 100-yard rusher against the Patriots this season.

Even though he didn’t get his first career start until Week 8 against San Francisco, Helu has already accomplished multiple feats never seen before in this organization.  That’s not just noteworthy, that’s downright impressive.

On Defense: Barry Cofield

Cofield will never get the credit that he deserves as the 3-4 nose tackle in Washington, but fortunately, he doesn’t seem to mind.  He finished yesterday with five tackles, putting him at 55 on the season.  He added in a half-sack of Brady, and was credited with his league leading (among nose tackle) ninth pass defensed.

On Special Teams: Brandon Banks

Admittedly, this recognition goes for his overall performance, not just what he was able to do on special teams.  Banks got all of his work on kickoff returns yesterday, managing 117 total return yards.  But when you combine that with his 49-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter–now we’re talking.  Notes on that pass:

  • Was the first by a Redskins receiver since Oct. 5, 2008, when Antwaan Randle El threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Cooley at Philadelphia.
  • The longest by a non-quarterback in Redskins’ history, beating the previous long of 48, set on a Randle El pass to Moss vs. the New York Giants on Dec. 30, 2006.
  • It was the first of Banks’ career. He did not attempt a pass in college during his time at either Kansas State or Bakersfield College (Calif.).
  • The touchdown reception was the 35th of Moss’ tenure with the Redskins, tying him with Ricky Sanders for seventh-most in team history.
Banks has been lobbying to be included in the offensive gameplan all season.  This play isn’t possible without the defenders’ respect for his dangerous speed, but as the old cliche goes: playmakers make plays.

Here are the rest of your random assortment of game notes: Read more »

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