Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Takeaways from Week 2's Dismantling of the Jaguars, and a Look at the QB Situation Going Forward

This will be just a bullet-point list of some of the notes I took of my impressions during week two's win over Jacksonville and week three's blank blank the Eagles. I may add to it or reformat it as I re-watch games, but will put this up for now.

-Love the keeper first play of the game. Force defenses to respect that possibility, which Houston's did not in week one. Worked for a first down, and, perhaps most importantly, Giffin slid competently at the end of his run. 

-Tyler Polombus vacated his man to try to help Chester, letting his block go for an easy sack. Terrible play.

-On defense, our pass rush continues to look fearsome while our complete lack of a secondary to provide coverage allows completions. Allen Hurns did us a big favor by dropping a sure-fire touchdown pass.

-A return that goes nowhere yet still manages to have two penalties on it. That's a staggering level of incompetence from our special teams.

-On the play Griffin got injured, he actually did a phenomenal job of using his athleticism to extend the play while keeping his eyes downfield, and found an open receiver for a first down. Unfortunately, it ended with the awkward step and dislocated ankle.

-I like the gameplan of mixing it up and taking shots while still running the ball, but things aren’t going our way here. Outside of unfortunate injuries the only area we actually see to be struggling is on the OL, particularly the right side. Chester is a weak link and Polombus is even weaker.

-Defensive backs aren't on the same page. Amerson nearly had an interception, but Biggers got in the way going for the ball himself.

-Run the ball to the left instead of the right, and we see Trent Williams actually seal his block leaving a seam off his hip for Morris to pick up 15 yards. That's the difference between the left and right side of the OL, even in the run game, where Polombus is relatively solid. 

-Great throw by Cousins and play to Paul, despite an unblocked rusher. At first blush, I thought Young missed him, but he actually went around him to run a route. Still, wouldn’t have minded a chip there instead since it wouldn’t have slowed him down much more than avoidance and would’ve knocked the defensive player off his course.

-I wasn’t a big fan of the signing when we made it given his age and the money involved, but so far in the first two games, Hatcher has looked very good.

- And another penalty on a punt return. The Redskins never should haveve fired Danny Smith. He was a great ST coach who kept our ST in consistently great shape, and when the production fell off it wasn’t his fault, it was the fact that he didn’t have any talent to work with. He was making the best of it. And since then our ST has been a mess. Even when our returning was bad, we still covered kicks well and had disciplined blocking. No longer the case, as we've had some of the NFL's biggest ST gaffes over the past few seasons and allowed an unacceptable number of field goals to be blocked. Special teams needs to be a focus.

-Quick little out by Cousins to Paul. Cousins turned, set his feet, and threw. Simple and easy, but something Griffin needs to work on. Don’t wait and watch, just throw it on those plays. It doesn't require stellar quarterbacking but highlights the fundamental areas with Cousins is more advanced than Griffin, letting him look like a better QB.

-Andre Roberts is, as expected, getting some good looks with Jackson out and he's doing well with them. I'm sure he wasn't thrilled with the Jackson signing, but, even if he's a little overpaid, having a good slot receiver who can fill in reliably as a starter and return punts and kicks is a lot better for the team than if he were the #2. 

-Right on cue, 18 yard reverse to Roberts. I'm extremely relieved to see the agressive, varied play-calling of today's game, both before and after Griffin's injury. Week one was a tentative, conservative, easy-to-defend mess. This has been much better regardless of the outcome, though you can predictably also see the difference in the results.

-Morris made a beautiful cut to allow a long run. I'm glad to see that he's still succeeding in the run game with the new, somewhat less zone-heavy offense. Certainly that scheme fits him, but he isn't completely limited to it, and has grown as a runner since he entered the league. Unfortunately, the play in question was called back by an Aldrick Robinson hold. It was a terrible job by Robinson, as he didn't really hold the DB, just put his hands on him lazily, so it was both ineffective and penalized.

-Frustrating to see a Jaguars catch that was clearly out of bounds count when Jackson's in-bounds reception did not. Oh well, though. The Jaguars still have a total of 1 yard through the air.

-Jacksonville's playcalling is contributing some real hilarity to this game. A plodding Toby Gerhart stretch run on 2nd and 18 when you’re down by 21. Outstanding.

-Unnecessary roughness calls on punt returns are out of control. This is the second one in two weeks just in our games (and it has happened in the past couple seasons as well). If the returner doesn't call a fair catch, they risk getting blown up. There was no helmet or spearing involved whatsoever. That isn’t unnecessary roughness, it's just an example of refs throwing flags because it was a big hit. Nothing about the hit was illegal and it is completely legal to make that hit if the returner doesn't call a fair catch. That's on him. Terrible, frustrating call.

-Oof. Real, real rough play by Rambo there. He completely misplayed a ball, getting himself so far out of position that he couldn't stop it from being taken for a touchdown, which should have been easy.

-I love that we are still running a high-percentage gameplan, peppering in shots with short tosses to keep the offense moving without stagnating. Great job of getting more aggressive without constant, drive-stalling risks. Best of both worlds. My only comlaint is that I'd like to see more running when the team is up by this much.

-Crazy that Garcon hasn't even been targeted until 30 seconds left in the half.

-After some pretty good catches, Paul drops a real easy one, displaying the horrible hands that have plagued him his whole career. He’s improved but still liable to drop things.

-Overall, Cousins looked solid. Not incredible, but with a good gameplan and spectacular play by the defensive front seven, he can do plenty, especially against an inept Jaguars defense.
Cousins gives us a better chance to win a game right now than Griffin does, but this shouldn't surprise anybody. Kirk Cousins played in a pro-style Michigan St. offense under Mark Dantonio that was fairly similar to the scheme Concepts that Gruden brought with him from Cincinnati. Griffin, on the other hand, ran a spread option at Baylor that highlighted his athleticism, but did little to prepare him to read NFL defenses or make progressions in a drop-back offense. Add that to the changes the offense has undergone since his first season and the amount of time he's spent rehabbing or trying to undo the damage he did to his throwing mechanics while compensating post-injury, and it shouldn't surprise that he is struggling to competently and efficiently play quarterback. It does and will take time for him to make quick reads second-nature, allowing him to simply play rather than over-intellectualizing every motion he goes through.
Make no mistake, this was completely known when he came out of college and he was drafted for the potential he had and still has. The clinic he put on in his first season set unrealistic expectations for years two and three, and anyone suggesting Griffin be abandoned or chalked up as a failure is a fool who is caught up in the impatient mindset of a fan and doesn't understand football. There are very legitimate, worrisome concerns with Griffin, but they primarily surround his ability to stay healthy, not his ability to develop into a great quarterback. He is still smart and hard-working, he can still make all the throws, he still possesses all-world athleticism and displays discipline and leadership, and he is still just 25 years old. Nothing is guaranteed, but if he can stay healthy, Griffin should still have an outstanding career.


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