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Revisiting Some Special Teams Notes With H.B. Blades

Posted by Matt Terl on September 28, 2010 – 9:00 am

The Redskins’ gameday on Sunday was weird — almost snakebit — on just about every level. On a macro scale, the day started with a freak injury to the punter in pregame warmups and ended with severe technical difficulties at Mike Shanahan’s press conference. On a micro level, just about every player — and certainly every unit on the field — had at least one bizarre and inexplicable misstep, and the special teams was no exception.

Aside from the injury to the punter (which is weird enough on its own) and his replacement by kicker Graham Gano, the special teams unit’s day included the following occurrences, good and bad:

  • a punt blocked
  • a block of a field goal
  • a kickoff out of bounds
  • a turnover forced
  • a penalty for lining up offsides on a kickoff

There may be one or two others that I missed, but it gives the flavor of the thing. So yesterday I asked special teams stalwart H.B. Blades for a few of his thoughts on the strange, frustrating day that was. Read more »

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LaRon Landry Hates Losing

Posted by Matt Terl on September 27, 2010 – 10:37 am

LaRon Landry doesn’t much like losing, and it’s visible in the postgame locker room. He’s not a big one for hiding his feelings, I guess. Anyhow, here was his reaction last night when 106.7 The Fan’s beat reporter Grant Paulsen asked him what happened to the defense during yesterday’s game

“They [the Rams] put points on the board,” Landry said. “They don’t score, they don’t win. That’s our job as defenders not to let ’em score. We let ’em score. We didn’t finish strong as a whole. I don’t think we finished strong as a defense.”

And the struggles in the second half, Landry said, were for the same overall reason. “Like I said, we didn’t finish, man. That’s what it’s all about. You saw it. There’s not secret to it. We didn’t finish, that’s all it is.”

But all of that’s pretty elementary, and verges on athlete-speak. Landry’s description of what he felt like … that seemed a bit more noteworthy. Read more »

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Redskins @ Rams – First Quarter Reactions [Updated]

Posted by Matt Terl on September 26, 2010 – 4:48 pm

Well, at least that’s over with. Bill Simmons likes to write about those occasional times the computer decides there’s no way you’re winning at a game of Madden — games where everything goes wrong at once. I’ve seen it happen enough to know exactly what he’s talking about, and the first quarter of this game has looked worse than any of those that I can remember.

Let’s run down the list of misery:

  • Redskins lose the coin toss, making it clear from the start that luck is not going their way.
  • Opening kickoff goes out of bounds, giving the Rams the ball on the 40.
  • The defense gives up a fourth down conversion and a 42 yard touchdown run on the same drive.
  • The Redskins offense takes over; Santana Moss is called for a 15 yard penalty on the third play, then compounds the issue on the next play by fumbling the ball directly to the Rams’ safety.
  • The defense promptly gives up a second touchdown.
  • Two of the next four plays are penalties on the offensive line,
  • Graham Gano, punting because of a pregame injury to Josh Bidwell, has the punt blocked; Keiland Williams misses a crucial block.
  • Clinton Portis breaks what looks set to be his longest run in years, but falls down for no readily apparent reason. The drive sputters out.
  • Joey Galloway seems to be clearly interfered with on a long pass downfield by Donovan McNabb; nothing is called.
  • Oh, and my internet connection is cutting in and out, just to add a little excitement to the whole experience.

It settled down a bit after that, but — as the scoreboard clearly shows — still looks like a terrible start to this one.

UPDATE: Thanks to AP Photo, here are a few of those moments immortalized in photo form: Read more »

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Kedric Golston Gets Ready For Steven Jackson

Posted by Matt Terl on September 24, 2010 – 4:07 pm

Kedric Golston knows the main challenge that he and the Redskins defense will face on Sunday: Rams Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson.

“He’s a big, strong, fast running back,” Golston said. “It’s impressive — he has the power of any power back in the league, but he’s got the same speed as any smaller back. He’s a double AND triple threat, because he had, I think, 51 catches last year.”

There are, Golston said, a couple of basic keys to help slow down Jackson’s production. “You gotta get hats on him,” he said. “You don’t wanna be holding onto an offensive lineman when you’re trying to tackle him. It definitely makes you wanna get off of your blocks a lot earlier, so that you can place him one on one instead of holding to another 300 pound dude.”

Jackson may be a cause for concern, but one thing Golston is not particularly concerned about is the defense’s NFL ranking, currently 32nd in the league.
Read more »

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Friday's Injury Update Roundup

Posted by Matt Terl on September 24, 2010 – 2:40 pm

The big questions today, as on most Fridays before gameday weekends, dealt with injuries. And there was not a whole of detailed information forthcoming. Still, let’s run through what we found out, from most certain to most vague.

Anthony Bryant is OUT for Sunday’s game. “He’s got a concussion,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “He got a concussion on Wednesday, and he’ll be out for the game.” It does not get much more clear-cut than that.

Similarly clear-cut: Albert Haynesworth is healthy. “Albert’s fine,” Shanahan said. The less clear part is what role Haynesworth will take on, if any; it would seem likely that he’d be the backup nose tackle, given Bryant’s injury, but Shanahan cautioned the media against making that assumption.

Anthony Armstrong is healthy per Anthony Armstrong, but that doesn’t really matter. “I’ve been ready to roll,” Armstrong said. “Coach makes any decisions that he feels is best for the team, but I’ll be ready to go.” And he later added, “I wanna play, but I can’t make the call. I’m ready to play.” As you’ve probably guessed, Shanahan declined to make that call at this point.

Shanahan DID acknowledge that Armstrong and Chris Horton were not able to practice fully. “Yeah,” he said, “they were limited too. Feeling better, but, again, you don’t know how much they recovered in a couple of days. Chris has been instrumental in our special teams — had five tackles last week — but he still has to be able to help the defense, and you’ve gotta weigh the corner position, safety position, so a lot goes into his health and we should know more next week.”

And then there’s Trent Williams.
Read more »

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A Probable Omen Of Doom For Sunday

Posted by Matt Terl on September 24, 2010 – 10:20 am

ESPN.com has assembled ten “experts” to pick the games each week, including football luminaries like Mike Golic, Ron Jaworski, Adam Schefter, and former Redskins lineman Mark Schlereth, along with Accuscore and the popular vote from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. Accuscore is the current clubhouse leader, at 21-11 on the year, while former defensive back Eric Allen brings up the rear at 15-17.

(I’m currently 21-11 myself in the picks I’m doing, in case you’re curious. You can follow along here.)

This week, five teams were unanimously picked by all ten experts: Vikings over Lions, Patriots over Bills, Bengals over Panthers, Colts over Broncos, and, yep, Redskins over Rams.

This marks a staggering jump from the first two weeks of the season. In Week 1, only one person — Adam Schefter — picked the Redskins over the Cowboys. In Week 2 it climbed up to two people, as Seth Wickersham joined Schefter.

Now it’s Week 3, against far and away the weakest opponent the Redskins have faced, and everyone’s on board. I’m not going to lie: this is not a development that fills me with confidence. As a few people noted to me on Twitter, the other recent times that it’s likely that ESPN’s experts would’ve unanimously picked the Redskins — including the Lions game last year and the Rams game two years ago — all resulted in demoralizing losses.

For the last several years, this has not been a team that has played well as the favorite. Which is why a win in this game, especially a convincing one, would say so much about what this new coaching staff, new quarterback, and new general manager have brought to the team.

Still, I’d feel better if at least one of ESPN’s experts had gone a different direction. Maybe that’s just me.

In other Rams pregame news, here’s the shirt that Redskins Park staffers are sporting this week: Read more »

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