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Lorenzo Alexander Makes Another ‘Explosion’ Of A Tackle

Posted by Matt Terl on October 4, 2010 – 3:42 pm

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is not known for showering effusive praise on players, at least not to the media, but every so often he does dole out some praise. In his press conference today, he offered a glowing review of Clinton Portis — “exceptional” was one of the words used. There were also compliments for Ryan Torain, Brandon Banks, and Albert Haynesworth.

But the compliment that jumped out at me most came in the description of Lorenzo Alexander‘s tackle on the Eagles’ first kickoff return. “He seems to do this each week,” Shanahan said, “regardless if they double-team him or not. But that was one of the best hits I’ve been around since I’ve been in the NFL. I mean, that was an explosion on the sidelines. So that was very, very special.”

And here’s how Alexander himself described the same hit in last night’s postgame locker room: “It’s insane, you know, cause when you hit somebody that hard, you don’t even feel it. You feel like you just ran through ’em. It was a great play — great kick by Gano and the guys filtering back into me, and I was able to make a play. Great call by [special teams coach Danny Smith] — all week he said they weren’t gonna have anybody to block me; I was free on that play just from our scheme, and any time they let me free to the ball something bad’s gonna happen to the returner.”

I don’t think you’d find anyone who would disagree with either of those assessments after watching this one or two — or twenty — times.

Or maybe you prefer this angle?

And here, because why not, is one of Alexander’s similar hits from LAST year: Read more »

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Brandon Banks Can Take A Hit

Posted by Matt Terl on October 4, 2010 – 2:37 pm

When Brandon Banks arrived at Redskins Park as a tryout guy, the first thing I noticed about him was his size. The guy is as small as anyone I’ve seen on a football field, and it seemed improbable (at best) that he could stand up to the intensity and hitting of a professional ballgame.

Sure, he’d done it in college at Kansas State — 123 receptions for 1,754 yards and 10 touchdowns in 24 games, plus a whole bunch of yardage and accolades as a return guy. And, sure, similarly diminutive ex-Kansas State Wildcat Darren Sproles had acquitted himself well in the NFL. And, yes, Banks showed flashes of dazzling speed and ability during the preseason.

But still: 5-foot-7, 155 pounds, with an entire eleven man special teams unit bearing down on you … it still just didn’t seem quite fair.

My doubts persisted right up until the first Eagles punt last night, which Banks took back 53 yards to get the Redskins started very much on the right foot. “All I had to do was run,” Banks said, crediting his blockers and special teams coach Danny Smith with setting up the play.
Read more »

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Carlos Rogers Is Frustrated With His Hands

Posted by Matt Terl on October 4, 2010 – 11:47 am

It’s probably a sign that your cornerbacks had a pretty good day when AP Photo has no pictures of them, and only three pictures total of the opposing team’s top two wideouts. And Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall had a very good day indeed, combining to hold DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to four catches for 34 yards. (On the other hand, that’s why this post is headlined with a picture of Rogers watching his wife play in a charity basketball game on Saturday.)

But it would be a sign of an even better game for the defensive backs if there was a sequence of pictures of Rogers pulling down an interception on the first play of the Eagles’ final drive, then streaking down the field and sliding to clinch the win and avoid getting Nate Clements-ed. Those pictures don’t exist, though, because that fourth-quarter throw bounced off of Rogers’ hands and the Eagles were able to keep driving right down to the final gun.

This is not the first time that Rogers has had an interception bounce off his hands. It’s probably not the tenth. This has become part of the general perception of Rogers’ game, and Rogers, for one, is getting sick of it.

“It’s frustrating, man,” Rogers said in the locker room yesterday. “I was in front sorta jamming [Jackson], actually about to run down the field, and I see the ball. I just tried to stick my hands out and get it, but, you know.”
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Brian Orakpo Is Tired Of Being Held

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2010 – 8:54 pm

Back when Brian Orakpo sealed the Redskins’ LAST heart-stopping down-to-the-final-play NFC East win, I talked to him about how his offensive lineman drawing a holding penalty on that play was just about as good as a sack, and he mostly agreed. Now it’s becoming a habit — there were at least two more penalties for guys holding Orakpo — and Orakpo’s getting a little less sanguine about the whole thing.
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LaRon Landry Inspires Fear

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2010 – 8:36 pm

The picture above is from the final, miraculous play of the game — Jason Avant is going to be seeing the breast cancer awareness ribbon floating in front of his eyes for a long time — and, as you can see, LaRon Landry is involved. But possibly his most important contribution came two plays earlier, on third and 10. Kevin Kolb threw a pass deep to DeSean Jackson; one of the reasons that Jackson didn’t make the catch certainly appeared to be that he saw Landry bearing in on him like a bullet train.

I asked Landry about the play in the postgame locker room, and he laughed. “I don’t know,” he said, “you gotta go ask that guy. But it looked like he was tiptoeing, and after I passed him he ducked like he was hurt and I didn’t even really touch him.”

He laughed. Read more »

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Donovan McNabb Gets A Game Ball

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2010 – 8:20 pm

Despite a week spent explaining how this was “just another game,” it was pretty obviously not just another game for Donovan McNabb. He didn’t have his best statistical performance 8-for-19, 125 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception — a quarterback rating of 60.2 — but he received a game ball in the locker room, for reasons that are pretty readily apparent.

And Fox Sports had their cameras there, to capture the fact that, hey, maybe this wasn’t just another game after all.

The transcription of McNabb’s speech, after the jump: Read more »

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Redskins @ Eagles – Third Quarter Reactions

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2010 – 6:32 pm

That third quarter was, frankly, not a particularly good one for the Redskins offense. Donovan McNabb didn’t complete a single pass to anyone wearing a burgundy jersey, although he did throw one interception preceded by one near-interception. And the running game wasn’t nearly as impressive as it started out either — the third quarter added 41 rushing yards, but not when they were needed the most.

The Redskins have gotten breaks — a fumble here, a crucial Eagles penalty there — but have done nothing with them, and have just as often returned the favor — the aforementioned interception, another drive-killing penalty by Stephon Heyer. Keeping a team like the Eagles hanging around is never a good idea, but that’s what the Redskins are doing here.

And since I mentioned that the game was moving quickly, it has started taking FOREVER — things just look much less crisp and precise than they did in the first quarter. Not an entirely encouraging performance coming out of the locker room here. Read more »

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Redskins @ Eagles – Second Quarter Reactions

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2010 – 5:42 pm

The second quarter was a bit more worrisome than the first — but for a slightly counterintuitive reason: I’m not sure that the switch from Michael Vick to Kevin Kolb actually benefits the Redskins. The team has spent the entire week preparing for Vick, a lefty QB who is a constant threat to make plays on the run. Now they’re facing Kolb, who has just about the exact opposite skillset.

And the results seem to back up my concern, to a certain extent. With Vick in, the Eagles were having real trouble converting third downs and staying on the field, and they had scored no points. With Kolb in, the Eagles have converted their last few third downs and have scored six points. It’s not like Kolb came out and set the scoreboard ablaze or anything like that, but the defense was looking a little more like they did at their low points last week than they did in the first quarter.

Still, a good job to hold the Eagles — after a bizarre sequence of events that included me jinxing the entire concept of time and a 23 minute final two minutes — to a second field goal and go into the half leading by 11.

One thing that makes me happy about Kolb being in the game, though: it makes this picture I took yesterday at least marginally more relevant: Read more »

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Redskins @ Eagles – First Quarter Reactions

Posted by Matt Terl on October 3, 2010 – 4:53 pm

If you had told me that the picture on top of the first-quarter was going to be of anyone — ANYONE ON EARTH — besides Donovan McNabb, I would’ve called you insane. That’s been the story all week, right? McNabb’s return to Philly, would he get booed, etc.?

And make no mistake, it certainly could be a picture of McNabb up there. He was given a nice ovation at introductions, then roundly booed when he came in on offense. The fans jeered when a pass to a wide-open Fred Davis went incomplete (although I thought it looked like Davis had misplayed the ball in the air), and were completely silenced when he hit Chris Cooley on a seam route for the team’s second touchdown.

But the bigger story — and MUCH bigger surprise — from the first quarter was the Redskins running game. After a strange week, Clinton Portis came out running hard, cutting quicker than he has been in some time. He finished with 4 carries for 22 yards. And Ryan Torain looked even better, lowering his shoulder to truck Quentin Mikell on a touchdown run, and displaying some real quickness.

Also looking good: the defense, Albert Haynesworth, and … everything, really. That was a strong quarter of football from the Redskins. Now the question is if they can keep it up for three more. Read more »

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Sonny Jurgensen's First Game Against The Eagles

Posted by Matt Terl on October 1, 2010 – 1:05 pm

The similarities are somewhat startling; I’ve put them in bold to remove any hint of subtlety here:

The Redskins team was coming off a disheartening loss to St. Louis — a loss in which they fell behind early by a score of 14-3 — and found themselves preparing to face the Philadelphia Eagles. But it wasn’t just a crucial division game; the entire storyline of this game surrounded the Redskins’ star quarterback, acquired via offseason trade from those same Eagles.

So, yeah, we’ve sort of been here before, way back in October of 1964.

There are differences, obviously, because history doesn’t PRECISELY repeat itself: the St. Louis team was the Cardinals, not the Rams; the Eagles game was at home Week 5, not on the road during Week 4; and the quarterback was Sonny Jurgensen, not Donovan McNabb.

Even the storyline was slightly different, as the Eagles had received quarterback Norm Snead from the Redskins in exchange for Jurgensen, and he played in the game. The 2010 Redskins gave up picks, not players, so you can’t quite play up the same level of interpersonal drama.

But the underlying theme was the same: how would Jurgensen respond facing off against the legendarily hostile — yes, that was their reputation even then — Eagles fans?

He responded pretty well, thanks. Here’s the lede of the Washington Post’s game story from the next day: Read more »

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