The good, bad, and more from the Redskins 17-13 loss to the Niners.
1. Defense. The 49ers have struggled on offense at times this year but even with that understood, the Redskin defense played well today despite all the injuries/suspension to their corners. Keenan Robinson is arguably the best player on the team right now. He’s the defense’s most athletic player and his instincts are excellent. Almost everybody in the front 7 played well. Hatcher, Cofield, Riley, Kerrigan, and Murphy stood out in particular. Despite the 3-8 record and some bad defensive days, the Skins’ D has tackled well all year long and it has been physical. Today was no different. And say what you want about Merriweather in coverage, he’s usually very good in the box and he was again today forcing a fumble and helping out in the run-stopping effort. The Skins’ D allowed just 2.3 yards per rush, it stopped two 3rd and 1s, and got 3 turnovers!
2. Alfred Morris. 125 yards on 21 carries…..he’s on a roll the last few games. Since the Skins started tossing/pitching more on run plays, Morris has excelled. He gets the ball deeper and quicker allowing his vision to take over. Without him today, they would have had zero offense.
3. Turnovers/good field position/Tress Way. The Redskins had some of their best field position since the Jacksonville game. They dominated field position thanks to a very good day from Tress Way (8 punts for 46.6 per w/3 inside the 20) and 3 turnovers from the defense. They only had one drive start in 49er territory but they had two that started at their own 40. More importantly, the 49ers started 5 of their drives inside their own 10. Most teams would’ve scored a hell of a lot more than 13 points but the Skins’ pass offense was on training wheels.
1. Pass offense. They were a bit limited with Trent Williams out and a rookie starting at left tackle but regardless, it was an awful passing day. Pass protection wasn’t very good but Griffin wasn’t very good either. Let’s not get caught up in the fact that Griffin wasn’t as bad today as he was last week because that masks the fact that he wasn’t very good today. The best thing you can say about him is the thing you can always say about him. He competes hard and he’s physically tough when he competes.
With that said, he held it too long, looked fidgety at times in the pocket, and threw the ball poorly, often off his back foot. He missed receivers including what appeared to be an open Pierre Garcon for a touchdown when he got locked into Roy Helu on 3rd and 5 in the red zone. I personally thought he was one drive away from being pulled in the first half. Their first 4 drives produced two 3 & outs and 4 punts with Griffin getting sacked twice, throwing poorly, & nearly botching a handoff when he forgot D. Young was lined up as a fullback. I thought he would get pulled if the 5th drive didn’t produce something positive. It did thanks in part to a 3rd & 5 one-handed snag by Andre Roberts.
Bottom line, with good field position and an effective rushing attack, the Skins produced 106 yards passing and were 2-13 on 3rd down. He got sacked 5 times and it would’ve been 6 if not for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Griffin on another sack. The 49er defense is good but the Skins’ offense made them look like the ’85 Bears.
2. Dropback passing/playcalling. This is usually the dumbest thing to do because there’s just too much we don’t know but I hated some of the 3rd-down “dropback” throws. The only time Griffin throws well from the pocket is when there is effective early-down playaction (often using read-option looks). Other than that, I’m not sure why they call dropback throws. I understand that it’s hard on 3rd and long to not call dropback plays but on 2nd or 3rd and 7 or less, do something else. He’s just not comfortable as a dropback passer without effective playaction.
On a positive playcalling note, there were some nice 3rd and long QB draw calls by Gruden the last of which set up the go-ahead field goal in the 4th quarter. BTW, that was a signal that Gruden not only didn’t trust Griffin as a dropback passer on 3rd and 13, but that he didn’t trust him to throw the ball away to avoid a sack which could’ve knocked them out of field goal range. I loved that call and Griffin nearly got the first-down as a runner.
3. Return units. Andre Roberts is giving them nothing so Gruden was forced to put Jackson back on punts in the 2nd half.
4. Special teams penalties. 3 penalties on the Sp teams including an offensive facemask by Roberts on a punt return and the final block in the back by Davis which forced the Skins to start their final drive at their own 8.
1. DeSean Jackson was back on punts in the 2nd half. Roberts is giving them Randel-El performances.
2. The Ryan Clark penalty on the 49er go-ahead drive was the right call but it hurt both literally and figuratively.
3. The clock mgt by both the Skins and the Niners at the end of the first half was well-done. Once S.Fran got the ball near their 40, it would’ve been counter-productive for the Skins to use timeouts on defense knowing that if they did get the ball back, they’d get it back in poor field position with an offense that couldn’t throw the ball well. Perhaps he could’ve anticipated a 4th and 2 49er “go for it” situation and called a timeout which would’ve likely forced Harbaugh to punt but overall with the score tied, I thought Gruden played it the right way. Harbaugh meantime did the right thing by allowing the clock to wind down to 11 seconds before the 4th and 2. That allowed him to take one shot to get in field goal range knowing that even if they threw an incomplete pass, the Skins would be left with one Hail Mary play only. I thought he played it perfectly….they got the completion (although I wish they’d reviewed it) and the field goal.
4. I thought the catch by Crabtree with :05 left in the first half should’ve been reviewed. It wasn’t totally clear if he completed the catch after falling out of bounds.
5. How bout Haz and Boldin jawing at each other on the sideline.
6. The injuries to Biggers and Porter combined with the suspension of Amerson forced the Skins to play 5-6 safeties today.
7. The false start on the Skins’ final drive called on Morgan Moses was induced by Aldon Smith. Missed call by the ref.