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First Quarter Impressions

Posted by Brian Tinsman on January 1, 2012 – 1:44 pm

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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

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First Quarter Impressions

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 24, 2011 – 1:48 pm

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Much like last week, the Redskins turned the ball over early, but not because of aggressive play call down the field.  Instead, it came via a breakdown in protection that led to a sack-fumble.  The defense had a stellar stand, yielding two yard, but the Vikings were already in field goal range.

Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell doesn’t miss those: 3-0.

Running back Evan Royster has been a capable replacement for Roy Helu in the running game, gaining 24 yards on five carries.  He looks strong to the hole and fast through it, but he isn’t quite the weapon so far in the passing game.  On a downfield pass attempt midway through the quarter, there was some sort of miscommunication between Royster and Rex Grossman.  On the play, Grossman went long with the pass and Royster curled back in.

Not sure who misread who, but it was a mistake that didn’t hurt the team.  Hopefully that good luck will continue while they work out the kinks–the offense needs these two players to produce.

The Redskins top player in the first quarter was cornerback Josh Wilson, who has been playing out of his mind the last two weeks.  Wilson has three tackles in the first quarter, a decent game statistic for him position.  He has also stopped, slowed and prevented plays that could have potentially broken for big gainers.

Redskins trailing early with the Viking driving: Washington 0, Minnesota 3.

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First Quarter Fundamentals

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 18, 2011 – 1:43 pm

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Shortly before kickoff, the Redskins won the toss and elected to receive.  They did not, however, elect to drive the ball first.

On the first play from scrimmage at the 18-yard line, quarterback Rex Grossman hit cornerback Corey Webster way down the field on a failed flea flicker.  Because of the subsequent Giants’ field position, it essentially amounted to a punt.  After the defense held the Giants to zero yards, Giants actually did punt the ball, giving the Redskins the ball around the 25-yard line.

In a round about sort of way, the Redskins gained seven yards on that sequence.  I don’t recommend putting that in the playbook though.

From there, the Redskins marched 52 yards down the field and Graham Gano banged one through from 36 yards.  After another suffocating defensive effort, the Redskins had an early shot at momentum, but gave it back with another deep pick.

I can appreciate the aggression and creativity in the play call, but the results certainly weren’t what they were looking for.

If there’s anything fortuitous to be said about the interceptions, it’s that they were both deep down the field.  The Redskins defense has smothered the Giants’ offense so far, but they need to get off the field.

One matchup to keep an eye on for the rest of the afternoon is undrafted left tackle Willie Smith vs. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.  Smith hasn’t gotten beaten since Andre Carter in the first quarter of last week, and he looks good against the Giants 4-3 front.  It’s difficult for some players to adjust to the 4-3 look after going against the 3-4 everyday in practice and most Sundays.

The Patriots aided in this preparation, as they run a base 4-3, but run plenty of packaged with only three down linemen.  Smith, left guard Maurice Hurt, and right tackle Tyler Polumbus will look to continue their success week against one of the best front sevens in the NFC.

For the record, when Pierre-Paul sacked Grossman in the first quarter, it was a botched communication in protection.  Not sure whose fault it was, but it wasn’t because Smith got beat.

Redskins looking physical and aggressive after the first quarter.  Manning has zero completions in the first quarter (zero-for-six).

Washington on top early: Redskins 3, Giants 0.

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First Quarter First Impressions

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 11, 2011 – 1:59 pm

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For better and for worse, this is not how the Redskins expected to start.  This has been a weird first quarter for both teams.

After their respective first scoring drives, the Redskins had 60 passing yards and the Patriots had 24.  The Redskins were able to drive the length of the field–albeit for a field goal–and the Patriots got their touchdown on defense.

In the first three minutes, Redskins returner Brandon Banks had three opportunities and two returns for a total of 38 yards. Donte Stallworth had his longest reception as a Redskins player at 51 yards, which happened to be Grossman’s longest pass of the year, and the Redskins’ longest offensive play of the season.

Kicker Graham Gano put the only Redskins points on the board so far, but he’s also responsible for a 20-yard penalty for kicking the ball off out of bounds.

In the stands in front of the press box there was a fight between fans–two Patriots fans, that is.

Somewhere, Vince Lombardi is politely inquiring what’s going on out there.

With the Patriots jumping out to a quick lead and the Redskins responding, this game has all of the makings of a track meet.  Stallworth–who is tied with Gronkowski for most yards in the league this Sunday–has seen a lot of playing time alongside Anthony Armstrong.

Following two consecutive 100-yard games on the ground, Roy Helu is churning and burning his way, to the tune of 51 yards, good for third in the league today.

Defensive end Stephen Bowen–who has had an emotional week with the funeral of his mother-in-law–burst through the line to end the first quarter with a sack.  He’s playing with a heavy heart this week, but was all heart on that play as he dragged No. 12 to the turf.  Well done, Stephen.

My picture-perfect moment of the first quarter was watching Jabar Gaffney do a FedEx leap onto Patriots fans who were not interested in catching him.  But the second row of Redskins fans hauled him up and celebrated his touchdown properly.

Redskins marching, down by four after the first quarter: Washington 10, New England 14.

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First Quarter Fast Break

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 4, 2011 – 1:40 pm

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I remember when the Redskins used to punt on their first possession each week.

I don’t miss those days.

After not scoring in on the opening drive for an entire season, the Redskins have now scored on opening drives in back-to-back weeks for the first time since Weeks 12 and 13 of the 2009 season.

Roy Helu rushed for 32 yards on that drive, putting him fourth in the league, for the week, at that point.  That includes putting him behind everyone who played a complete game on Thursday night.  Grossman also threw for 50 yards, which put him third in the league for this week’s passing stats.

Fred Davis’s 42-yard reception put him just off of the list for league leaders, but was a season-long, and his longest since Week 10 of last season.  Not only is Helu causing havoc in the running game, but he’s also opening up huge holes for his receivers in the secondary.

On defense, the Redskins yielded a score but made the Jets work for it.  Where the Redskins offense was clicking, and moved 82 yards on eight plays, the Jets needed 17 plays to move 69 yards.  In the red zone, nose tackle Barry Cofield got his career-high seventh tipped pass, in the red zone.  He now leads the league in tipped passes for defensive tackles.

The first quarter ended with an electric kick return by Anthony Armstrong, via Brandon Banks.  When playmakers come to play, get them the ball.

The first quarter ended on a 21-yard reception by Santana Moss.  This reception moves him into fourth place in all-time receiving yards for a Redskin, passing Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell.  Mitchell finished his Redskins career with 6,492 yards, and Moss now has 6, 493.

This is set to be a physical, ground-n-pound game, with only two and one-half total drives in the first quarter.

Redskins and Jets knotted up, 7-7, after one quarter of play.

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First Quarter Frustrations

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 27, 2011 – 4:49 pm

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I’ve written frequently about the Redskins’ frustrations in the fourth quarter this year, but the tempers at CenturyLink Field boiled over before the Redskins and Seahawks could even flip the coin.  In an awkward moment for the girl serving as the honorary coin flipper, the players started jawing at each other, causing officials to cut off the microphones and intervene.  The party of captains was reduced to one from each team, and DeAngelo’s tails call produced a winner.

These teams may be 3-7 and 4-6 respectively, but no one can accuse them of not caring.  Given the especially chipper nature of the first 15 minutes of football, this could be the culmination of a lot of frustration finally coming to a head.

If receiver Donte’ Stallworth is getting involved in extra-curricular discussions in the first five minutes of the game, you know that the stove is on boil. Read more »

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First Quarter Considerations

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 20, 2011 – 2:46 pm

Today is a good day to have your Redskins roster printed and at the ready.  In the first defensive stand, a 10-play drive by the Cowboys, the Redskins subbed in defensive linemen Chris Neild, Darrion Scott, and Kentwan Balmer.  Those are No.’s 95, 76, and 93, for those of you following at home.

It was a strange first drive for the Redskins, who used two running backs not named Roy Helu, Ryan Torain, or Tashard Choice.  Head coach Mike Shanahan said that Anthony Armstrong and Donte Stallworth should see some playing time this week–he just didn’t say where.

Today features a battle between Outback mates at the punter position, with both Sav Rocca and Mat McBriar hailing from Melbourne, Australia.  Both players have factored into today’s game, with a pair of punts a piece.  Rocca leads in head-to-head stats, averaging 47 yards-per-punt (44 for McBriar), and no touchbacks to McBriar’s one.  If the defense keeps playing this well, it could be a competition to keep an eye on.

But the best play of the quarter, was running back Tashard Choice’s 9-yard gainer for his first play as a Washington Redskins player.  No. 40 hit the hole, made contact, spun out of the lineman’s grasp, and trucked cornerback Terrence Newman.

Welcome to Washington, good sir.  Now lead your people to the end zone.

Redskins trail after 15: Dallas 7, Washington 0.

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First Quarter Fakeouts

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 13, 2011 – 2:46 pm

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The Redskins employed a bit of trickery in their pregame lineups, waiting until the last minute before announcing that Rex Grossman would start at quarterback in place of John Beck, and linebacker Perry Riley would start in place of Rocky McIntosh.

Both surprise starters had a shaky start on their respective first drives, with Grossman going three-and-out with a sack, and Riley getting flagged for a 15-yard horse collar tackle.

But after yielding a Dolphins touchdown, the Redskins responded with their Florida contingent.  Gator Grossman hit his former teammate Jabar Gaffney for a completion and Hurricane (Leonard) Hankerson for two catches.  Unfortunately, the drive stalled on the Dolphins 35, and Gano missed a 50-yard attempt into the swirling wind.

The Redskins finally got their spark on the ensuing defensive campaign, pushing the Dolphins back with two tackles for a loss, before Barry Cofield pressure forced a bad throw and a Kevin Barnes interception.  Barnes followed his blocks and returned the ball 30 yards to the Dolphins 6-yard line.

Right now, the Redskins defense is forcing the turnovers, and the offense is limiting turnovers.  But as a team, they need to capitalize on these opportunities, especially with turnovers in the red zone.  Penalties and swirling winds are no excuse–the Redskins need to capitalize in the second quarter of play and build some momentum.

‘Fins up over the ‘Skins early: Washington 3, Miami 7.

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First Quarter: Freshman Report

Posted by Brian Tinsman on November 6, 2011 – 2:43 pm

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Freshman! Freshman! Freshman!

The Redskins are starting three rookies on offense today–two for the first time–and none taken before the third round of April’s NFL Draft.  Receiver Leonard Hankerson will get his second consecutive start, after going inactive in the first six weeks.  Roy Helu will get a chance to jump start the Redskins running game, and Maurice Hurt will try his hand at left guard.

Hurt is the second seventh-round rookie to play this year (Chris Neild being the first), and one of three that are active for today’s game (Brandyn Thompson).  Last year’s seventh-rounder, receiver Terrence Austin has already worked his way into the offense.

On the first play from scrimmage, Helu made the most of his first NFL start and cut it up field for a 16-yard gain.  This is the second-longest run of his career, and he was one man away from breaking it the distance.

But it was another rookie, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, that stole the show on the team’s first defensive stand.  On third-and-six from the San Fran 46-yard line, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith rolled out of the pocket and stared down linebacker Rocky McIntosh.  He never saw Kerrigan break free from his blockers, run completely across the field, and whisper sweet nothings in Smith’s earhole.

And then he hit him as hard as you’re legally allowed to hit an NFL quarterback, for a sack.  This is the third sack of his career, and his first since the St. Louis game on October 2.

Hankerson got involved at the end of the first quarter, catching a pass over the middle for a first down.  It wasn’t a clean catch, but he stuck with the play, and had the time to secure the pass before contact.  This is his second reception and second first down of his career.

The youngin’s are on a roll after the first quarter, with the game going back and forth early.  All’s quiet on the scoreboard, as the Redskins and 49ers are locked at zero after 15 minutes.

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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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