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The Southpaw Chronicles: Brandon Banks

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 30, 2011 – 2:19 pm

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After Brandon Banks revealed to the world that he was a lefty with a gadget touchdown pass against the New England Patriots, it piqued my interest in the left-handers on the team.

It turns out that lefties comprise 15 percent of the population, but are a brilliant class of people.  There are many famous lefties, including four of the last six presidents, Joan of Arc, Alexander the Great, and Bart Simpson.

With the help of Redskins.com’s Jessica Monaldo and receiver Anthony Armstrong, I identified the southpaws on the team, and sought to find out what makes them so brilliant.

I began my search with Banks, the man who inspired my mission.

Banks’s world-class speed is well documented, and vision allows him to find creases in the coverage, and accelerate upfield.  Although rarely used, he also has the type of game-changing speed on offense that forces defenses to respect all that he can do.

But according to a Yahoo! Sports contribution by Rebecca Bardelli, Banks also has some of the best hair in the NFL. Read more »

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Third Quarter Thoughts

Posted by Brian Tinsman on December 4, 2011 – 3:34 pm

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If you’re a fan of defense, the third quarter was a joyous time for you.

If you like offense, well…sorry.

In the third quarter, the two teams combined for 50 total yards and two (2) first downs in the third quarter.  The fans got back in the game, rocking the stadium hard enough that it could be felt in the press box.

The Roy Helu fumble at the end of the third quarter was the first of his career, and came on his 128th professional touch.  There’s never a good time to turn the ball over, but thanks to a stellar defensive stand, the turnover didn’t cost the Redskins any points.  Helu responded by gashing the Jets for an eight-yard run on the very next play.

The biggest play of the entire game so far, came on a Kevin Barnes nickel blitz from the slot.  On the play, Barnes kept his head high for as long as possible, before lowering it to make the play.  He was flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact, which is a simple penalty: either it happened or it didn’t.  Regardless of whether Mark Sachez ducked or recoiled into the hit doesn’t matter, because replay showed that it was clearly, unfortunately a penalty.

It was a negative play for the Redskins, but it was a net positive, because it re-awakened the Redskins faithful at FedExField, and it fired up the defenders around him.  That drive ended with a fourth-and-23 punt.  That hit might set the tone for the rest of the game.  One more big play can win it.

This game is all knotted up at 13 entering the final quarter of play.

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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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The Pregame Meal Of A D-Lineman

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 23, 2011 – 11:34 am

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Last week, we learned that cornerback Kevin Barnes can’t handle his pregame solids, and fullback Darrel Young saves space in his pregame diet for antioxidants.

I’m still fascinated by Brandon Banks’s pregame, “Buddy the Elf Diet.”

Now we take an inside look at the diet of defensive end Adam Carriker, who offered a deep enough analysis of his diet, that he earned his own post.

“Usually when I get to the stadium, I have a banana, and a protein bar,” he said.  “I used to do yogurt, but I don’t do that anymore, because they’re a pain and you need a spoon.”

The downfall of many great snacks.

“Then, right before a game, about three hours before, I try to eat a lot of pasta.  Try to get my carbs up,” he explained.  “They always have broccoli there.  I really don’t like broccoli, but for some reason, I always get some.”

Somewhere, his mother is very proud of him for feeling obligated to eat his greens before leaving the table.

“I think so,” he said with a laugh. “I feel like I should eat healthy right before a game.  So it’s spaghetti and broccoli.  I really like oatmeal, I’m usually smackin’ on some oatmeal.  It’s a really good food and I like the taste.”

Considering that oatmeal usually tastes like wallpaper paste (or whatever you put in it), I had to ask what the hulking lineman adds for flavor. Read more »

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Sound The Feasting Horns!

Posted by Brian Tinsman on October 16, 2011 – 12:17 pm

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Two weeks ago, we found out what some players eat before the game, and that returner Brandon Banks shares his pregame diet with hummingbirds and honey bees.

And the ants on my kitchen counter.

This week, we’ve looked at three more players, to find out what they eat as the clock ticks down to kickoff.

“I really don’t like eating before the games,” said cornerback Kevin Barnes.  “Unless it’s a late game, I really can’t eat.  Nerves get me, I don’t want it to come up. I drink a lot but I really don’t eat too much.”

And each of his teammates are happy with his decision.

Fullback Darrel Young has no problem with nerves, but is concerned with controlling the free radicals in his body before gametime.

“A plate of spaghetti, two pieces of chicken, a little bit of broccoli for the antioxidants,” he said.  “Drink a ton of water, about two Gatorades, nothing too crazy.”

But if the game is a late game, then things do get crazy. Read more »

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Fourth Quarter Frustrations

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 27, 2011 – 12:17 am

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Even though you, the voters, selected the Redskins defense as the winner of tonight’s game ball (81 percent), the credit for tonight’s successes fall on the headset of head coach Mike Shanahan.

In the first quarter, he challenged the failed fumble recovery by Kevin Barnes, correctly determining that Barnes touched the ball while still in the air.  Cornerback Josh Wilson was actually the second player to touch the live ball, and secured it in bounds.  Shanahan is one-for-one on challenges in 2011.

At the end of the game, he called a timeout just before the 2-minute warning to give his offense a chance to drive for the win.  Obviously, it didn’t happen, but the game-plan and clock management were in place to allow the players the opportunity to win.

There isn’t much good to take from a loss.  It’s even harder to find the silver lining on the first loss, against the arch rival, on the national stage, To.The.Cowboys.  But there are a few offensive and defensive notes to take away from tonight’s game that make it worth tuning into next week:

  • The Cowboys marched up and down the field tonight, but the Redskins defense held them out of the endzone.  Yes, there were big plays that ultimately cost them the game, but by trading touchdowns for field goals, they kept the offense in the game.
  • The offense held the Cowboys defense to three sacks, after the unit grabbed nine in the first two games of the season.  Protection is still problem, but this was a tough task against the Rob Ryan blitz-happy defense.

On an individual level:

  • Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is a stud on this defense, and will only get better with more time and seasoning.  Tonight, he finished with four solo tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.  The “rookie” and “new position” storylines are just about dead, because he continues to be assert himself alongside his veteran teammates.
  • Santana Moss slides through the Cowboys defense like a hot knife through butter.  He finished tonight with a team-high five receptions for 70 yards.  He’s not the speed demon like he was for Mark Brunell in 2005, but he’s a smart, fearless, reliable target for Rex Grossman.

Before the game, there were a million reasons to say that the Redskins wouldn’t have a chance tonight.  In retrospect, the Cowboys’ injury woes were overblown: Tony Romo, Felix Jones, and Terence Newman all played, and all three factored into the outcome.  But once the Redskins were ahead, late in the fourth quarter, there are a million reasons that they should have won.

Every unit will study the game film and figure out ways to improve.  Remember that this is still the same young unit that no one believed in two weeks ago, and they had a tall task beating the Cowboys on the road.  The Redskins have another road test next week in St. Louis, and I would expect to see tonight’s problems addressed.

This is going to be the longest short week imaginable for the Redskins.  A tough loss tonight, and a lot of work to be done.

Over and out from Dallas, final score, Washington 16, Dallas 18.

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First Quarter Fast-Break

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 26, 2011 – 9:27 pm

Welcome back, safety LaRon Landry, it’s been a long, lonely 10 months without you.

Landry got involved early tonight, combining to stop running back Felix Jones on the Cowboys first play from scrimmage.  He backed that up with a solo tackle on third play.  He talked all week about how excited he was to go out and hit something.  I think he just expressed that to Jones too, at least by way of body language.

On the second defensive campaign, he introduced himself to Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree.  Skip the name, skip the handshake, just move straight to hugs.  Reaching around from behind, Landry punched the ball out of Ogletree’s arm for the sixth forced fumble of his career.  Moments later, Josh Wilson emerged from the chaos with the sixth fumble recovery of his career.

Landry was listed as questionable on the latest injury report.  Wilson was listed as probable.  They’re probably causing questions on the Cowboys sidelines at the moment.

The dominant defense was coupled with some success on offense in the first frame as well.

The Redskins ran wild on the first drive of the game.  Brandon Banks ran it back 23 yards.  Hightower ran it to the left for four yards.  Chris Cooley ran it up the middle for three yards.  Then, when the drive ran out of steam, the Redskins ran out the kicker for a 46-yard field goal.

It was a historic drive for Redskins tight end/fullback/H-back/rock star Chris Cooley.  His rush up the middle was the first of his career, and came in the form of a fullback hand-off.  On the very next play, No. 47 was open over the middle, as he has been 422 other times in his career.  This catch moved him into sole-possession of 19th all-time for an NFL tight end, surpassing Jay Novacek.

How the respective teams utilize their respective tight ends, figures to be a storyline all night.  The Redskins have gone with three tight ends on multiple occasions, with Cooley lining up all over the field. On the other side of the ball, the Redskins have matched Cowboys tight end Jason Witten with the likes of Oshiomogho Atogwe and Kevin Barnes.  In 14 career games against the Redskins, Witten has 69 receptions for 785 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Stopping him goes a long way towards getting the Cowboys offense off the field.

The Redskins are ahead at the end of the first quarter for the first time all season, tacking on a Gano 27-yard chip shot for the 6-3 lead.

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College Football Matchup Has Redskins Fired Up

Posted by Brian Tinsman on September 6, 2011 – 10:46 am

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Last night’s ACC matchup between the Maryland Terrapins (Terps) and Miami Hurricanes (Canes) had the locker room buzzing at Redskins Park, and players fired up on Twitter.

Before the game, former Terps cornerback Kevin Barnes gave a preview before he headed to College Park to watch the game.

“It’s No. 1 Terps all the way, I wouldn’t go against them any day,” he said with a confident smile.  “We’ve got a few players out also, but I think we’re gonna pull ahead.”

Altogether in the locker room, there were six alums with a vested interest, two Terps and four Canes.  In light of the NCAA allegations and suspensions on Miami, there weren’t many players willing to lay down a friendly wager, but Barnes guaranteed, “If it gets ugly, I’m pretty sure there will be some trash talking.”

The Terps ended up fending off a late charge by Miami, securing a respectable 32-24 victory.  But the bigger story in the game was the new Under Armour uniforms unveiled by Maryland:

Read more »

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‘Dead-Man-Suit 2011 Award’ Is Ready And Waiting

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 23, 2011 – 5:04 pm

In anticipation of tomorrow’s “Welcome Home Luncheon,” many players have gone out and rented or bought top-notch suits for the festivities.

But not everyone is a snappy fashionista.

Inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh wanted to remind me that he will be giving out the annual award to the worst-dressed teammate.  The ‘Dead-Man-Suit award,’ as he calls it, is a tradition that he’s carrying into at least its fifth year, with the help of teammates LaRon Landry and others.

He describes the award as: “It’s given to the player who wears a ugly 1960s suit that looks like they stole it from a body at the graveyard.  I have prizes and awards for whoever ‘wins’ this year.”

I’m no judge, but here are some interesting choices from last year.  First, defensive back Kevin Barnes:

And then defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth:


I’m excited to see what walks through the luncheon doors tomorrow.









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Defense Doesn’t Duplicate Dominance

Posted by Brian Tinsman on August 2, 2011 – 12:26 pm

This title has been brought to you by the letter “D.”

The team is doing some contact drills now that they have practice shells on, but there isn’t full-contact or tackling yet.  Therefore it’s hard to define what “tag” or “hug” would constitute a tackle during 11-on-11 play.

So far during camp, the pass defenders have kept the ball out of the receivers hands.  Today, the offense was able to gain a little traction:

What I saw: Read more »

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