coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
On 09/16/2013 04:37 PM in NFL

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins: Preview and Pick

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins: Preview and Pick

Tit may only be week three of the NFL but the Washington Redskins are already feeling the heat as they are one of a handful of good teams that have yet to get a win on the season. They will return home for the game this week, but will have a hard team to tussle with as they face the Detroit Lions. The Redskins secondary was torched against Green Bay in week two and they will need to get better quick if they hope to win this game.

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Redskins listed as one point favorites. That line has yet to change even after the horrible performance on the road last week by Washington as they were owned by the Packers. The line can still be found at one point at several of the top rated sportsbooks but it should see some movement. At this point 55 percent of the sports betting public is on the Redskins but that could change as the NFL fans are starting to hop off the Redskins bandwagon.

If the Redskins hope to win they need to stop Megaton, the Lions best player. Calvin Johnson shouldered the load once again for the Lions' passing game. Matthew Stafford connected with Johnson on 6-of-8 targets for 116 yards and both of Stafford's touchdowns. It will help if the Redskins can stop players after the catch. The Packers gained 283 yards after the catch Sunday, the most by any team in the last six seasons.

The Lions will look to blitz early and often. Robert Griffin III has faced at least five pass rushers twice as often as last season and has struggled to adjust. Griffin went 1-for-5 against such pressure in the first half against the Packers Sunday, all on third down. This could be the difference in the Lions winning a big home game.

The latest NFL betting trends show just how difficult of a spot that this is to back the Lions. The Lions are 1-5 six games on the road and they are 4-16 straight up in the last 20 games when playing the Redskins. The Redskins are a perfect 5-0 straight up at home against the Lions. The Lions are a different team on the road as they are just 2-11-1 against the spread (ATS) in the last 14 games away from home and 7-17-1 ATS in the last 25 games overall.

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/17/2013 03:48 PM

Is Washington’s NFL season over? At 0-2, it’s certainly on life support. And as bad as that record looks, it pales in comparison to the realization that this team probably does not have the tools to radically improve.

As a refreshing change of pace, let’s not start with Robert Griffin III. Instead, let’s talk about the defense. It’s not good. Washington ranks 32nd in yards allowed, 23rd in passing yards allowed, 32nd in rushing yards allowed and 31st in points allowed.

The secondary was expected to struggle, but the unit as a whole has allowed 50 first-half points in two games. True, Aaron Rodgers was sacked three times in the first quarter in Sunday’s 38-20 loss, but after that, he was pretty much free to rack up a career-high 480 passing yards, 178 of those to wide receiver James Jones, who also had a career day.

And lest you think that’s all on the secondary, James Starks rushed for more than 100 yards, the first time in nearly three seasons a Packer had done so. And Starks isn’t their go-to guy: Starter Eddie Lacy was knocked out by Brandon Meriweather, who later knocked out himself. Again.

Washington defenders also continue to have trouble tackling. They don’t seem to know how to wrap up. They fling themselves at receivers and backs and seem surprised when their opponents are able to dart away. This is not a new problem, and it’s odd that it persists.

Speaking of old problems that persist: penalties. That particular bugaboo seemed to be under control last season, but it reared its head again Sunday, with seven for 78 yards. Some were the usual blocking in the back on special teams — which seems to have become a franchise tradition, like the marching band — and some were due to new rules this season, but no matter. This team looks undisciplined at times, and that is puzzling, given Mike Shanahan’s reputation for, well, discipline.

Now we turn to Griffin. Everyone knew that both the quality and style of his play would be different, especially at the beginning of the season, as he literally works to find his footing. He’s clearly not comfortable in his brace, and he’s also clearly not comfortable in his own skin, not like last season. Without that break-it-loose threat, the offense is vanilla, and Griffin is merely human.

He’s dependent on his arm, and only his arm, for the first time. He is not a bad passer — in fact, he’s a better passer than he was given credit for last season — but this is the area in which his lack of preseason playing time shows itself. His timing is not there; he’s making high throws, and occasionally wild throws. This matters far more this season because there is no Plan B. And the fact that he comes onto the field facing deficits is not helping his comfort in the pocket.

So let’s see: The defense is bad, the offense is bad (yes, the stats may look good, but both the Eagles and Packers let up in the second half). What are the usual excuses? Injuries? Kai Forbath was a loss, no doubt, but overall, the roster was pretty healthy Sunday — except for the loss of Meriweather. Again. The schedule? Yes, it’s tougher this season, although the NFC East once again seems ripe for the plucking. Tougher is what happens when you make the playoffs the previous season. Deal with it.

In fact, dealing with it is the job of the coaching staff. And Washington’s seems paralyzed in the face of this season’s problems. The offense is beyond predictable. The line is collapsing in the backfield to the point that Griffin can barely cock his arm to throw. And only one back is carrying the ball. Sunday, Alfred Morris looked more like the rookie star of a year ago than he did in Week 1 — but he literally was the only back with a carry. That makes the opponent’s job a lot easier. Somehow, he gained 107 yards, although about half came in the second half when the Packers were giving up ground like they were getting a charitable tax write-off.

The defense is not making good adjustments. True, in Week 1 the Eagles were debuting the Chip Kelly Experiment (great band name), but game film of Oregon was available. It shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise.

So 0-2, while perhaps not dire, is daunting. Griffin will improve as the season goes on, barring injury, and perhaps the defense will as well. Right now, however, Washington has gone from the playoff team of 2012 to the unwatchable mess of 2011. Shanahan has his work cut out for him, and he’s running out of time.

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/18/2013 03:48 PM

The Detroit Lions have contracted a case of the dropsies, and they're working this week to find a cure.

They've dropped 10.4 percent of passes, according to ESPN, the worst rate in the NFL.

Lions Cardinals Football(14).JPGMatthew Stafford shouldered some of the blame for Detroit's drops this year, whether that's fair or not.Associated Press

"We have to focus more. Key in. Period," said tailback Joique Bell, who had three drops himself in Sunday's loss at Arizona. "You can't dwell on it. You have to have a short-term memory and move on to the next pass. If you dwell on that pass, you're going to drop another one.

"Your focus isn't going to be on making the next play, it's going to be, 'Ah, I dropped the last ball.' You can't focus on not dropping it. You have to go out and you have to play."

Dropped passes can be a subjective stat, but the various analytic services are in accordance that Detroit is among the worst offenders.

The respected Pro Football Focus pegs the Lions even worse than ESPN, at 11.4 percent. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was victimized by nine drops, according to that service, more than every QB but Washington's Robert Griffin III.

Stafford wasn't playing victim Tuesday, though, shouldering some blame for the problem.

"It's on me too," he said. "I got to give 'em more catchable passes. I take credit for some of those. And then guys need to make a few more plays.

"But at the same time, a lot of guys make great catches for me too. You take the good with the bad. That's something we're constantly trying to be the best at."

Detroit's receivers, though, weren't buying it.

"He's our leader, he's our quarterback -- he's always going to take the blame, whether it's his fault or not," wideout Kris Durham said. "He put the ball on the right spot. We have to make the catch."

Stafford could have an easier time this week, facing a Washington defense that currently is allowing an NFL-worst quarterback rating of 135.4. Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers both had big days in wins against the Redskins.

And Stafford seems intent on not allowing the drops to poison future games.

"I want to get 'em the ball the next play (after a drop), just to get 'em back in the swing of things," he said. "There's nothing more frustrating as an athlete -- to mess up, and then not have an opportunity to make up for it.

"I know when I throw a pick, I want to throw the next play so I can let people ever throw doesn't get picked off. It's the same thing for a receiver. They drop a pass -- it's going to happen -- I'm coming right back to him."

Stafford is among the game's most prolific quarterbacks through two games. He's 52-of-79 passing for four touchdowns, one pick and a QB rating of 102.0.

He's one of just six quarterbacks with a passer rating above 100.

But give him a league-average four drops, instead of nine, and his completion percentage shoots up from 65.8 percent to 72.2 percent. That would rank second in the NFL behind Tony Romo.

"He's putting the ball in the chest plate -- in our hands -- so what we got to do as receivers is continue to catch the balls that are thrown to us, and the tough ones too," wideout Nate Burleson said.

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/19/2013 02:39 PM

The most popular explanation for the Washington Redskins’ failure on offense is that quarterback Robert Griffin III has struggled, which he has, but you would miss the big picture focusing on Griffin. Washington’s worst problem starts up front: Its formerly productive offensive line has been miscast in a new production.

After making a splash last season with a college option-style offense — Washington tied for first in the NFL in yards per play and led the league in rushing — offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan added more traditional drop-back passing plays to the playbook. The idea was to keep opponents guessing. So far, only the Redskins have appeared confused.

The Redskins (0-2) have had no answers, while their interior linemen — center Will Montgomery and guards Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger — have been manhandled in trying to engage pass rushers differently than they did last season. True, the Redskins have had to adjust their second-half play-calling because they’ve been way behind. But at least half the reason for those huge deficits is that the offense hasn’t generated a point before halftime all season.

Often, the pocket has collapsed around Griffin, who has been sacked four times, hit 12 and otherwise harassed by opposing pass rushers. Defensive linemen have clogged passing lanes, tipped several of Griffin’s passes — that didn’t happen regularly in 2012 — and disrupted the timing of the passing game. The Redskins haven’t established a rhythm on offense until it was too late.

No NFL offensive line is perfect. And the Redskins, in catch-up mode early, have attempted an average of 44.5 passes — way more than they would prefer in their run-heavy system. In comparison, Griffin attempted just 26.2 passes per game in leading the Redskins to the 2012 NFC East title. It’s harder to block well when the defense knows what’s coming.

Still, Washington’s line, for the most part, hasn’t gotten the job done when Griffin has dropped back. Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams could lead any group. Right tackle Tyler Polumbus, Montgomery, Chester and Lichtensteiger aren’t rock stars.

The unit was effective last season because Griffin was on the move so often. Quarterback draws, zone-read runs, bootlegs, moving the pocket — Shanahan threw it all at opponents, and the line moved well enough to deliver. This season, the line isn’t playing to its strength.

Right about now, some probably are suggesting an easy solution: Just go back to what they did last season. If only it were that simple.

In the NFL, coaches say, you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. The offense had to evolve for the Redskins to grow as a team. It also made sense, with Griffin having sat out preseason games for precautionary reasons, to limit his exposure on designed runs early in his first season after reconstructive knee surgery.

Kyle Shanahan devised formations and plays he thought would help Washington improve. Even if Shanahan could scrap the playbook and start over or bring in several new first-rate linemen, an impossibility during the season, it’s doubtful he would after just two games. The Redskins have no choice but to be all-in on what they’re doing. They have to find a way to make it work — or at least make it better than it has been to this point.

Griffin is another hurdle to turning back the clock. Throughout the offseason, the signal-caller and his father, Robert Griffin Jr., made it known to Kyle and his father, Coach Mike Shanahan, that they wanted more passing, less running. The rest of the league was listening.

Essentially, Griffin, who says his knee is fine, announced to opponents his intention to become an elite pocket passer. Then he stopped running. Griffin had 25 yards rushing combined against the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. The Redskins ran a total of nine zone-read plays in their first two games, but you almost couldn’t tell from the reaction of the defense.

For zone-read plays to work best, opponents must believe the quarterback is willing to run. Griffin set an NFL single-season rushing record for rookie quarterbacks because, in large part, the Redskins’ option was so effective with him and 1,600-yard rusher Alfred Morris in the backfield. The Eagles and Packers never feared Griffin taking off this season.

Predictably, defensive ends and linebackers locked in on Morris, who despite rushing for more than 100 yards against the Packers hasn’t had the strong start the coaching staff envisioned. The struggles of the line, Griffin’s uninspiring performance and Morris’s reduced role in the second half of blowouts have been confidence-shakers for an offense that figured it would rank among the game’s best.

Potentially, though, there is some good news for the Redskins. The Shanahans remain committed to the zone-read portion of the offense. Presumably, Griffin will regain his rookie form as the season progresses and run enough to help free Morris.

Anyone who has watched Washington’s defense knows its offense must carry the team. It’s unclear whether the Redskins can get it turned around, but this much is certain: There’s a lot riding on the line.

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/20/2013 07:22 PM

When healthy, Robert Griffin III is one of the most dynamic, athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. Kellen Moore is not.

So what has Moore, the Detroit Lions’ No. 3 quarterback, done to simulate Griffin on the scout team in practice this week? “Try and learn to throw with my right arm and cut down about four-tenths on my 40,” Moore joked after practice Thursday.

Moore and backup quarterback Shaun Hill have spent most of their practice time this week giving the Lions’ defense as reasonable of a facsimile of Griffin as possible.

Neither can run quite like Griffin, but the idea is to mimic Washington’s scheme as much as anything. Moore said Hill “does most of it” in practice, and he may be better equipped to play Griffin anyway. “Shaun supposedly ran the option in college,” Moore said. “Supposedly. I’ve only seen the 32-year-old version of Shaun since I got here. Somehow, all those highlights avoided YouTube and Google image searches.”

Griffin has carried just nine times for 25 yards this year, but the Lions know full well how dangerous he can be. Last year, Griffin led Washington to the playoffs while throwing for 3,200 yards and rushing for 815.

“He’s a good player,” said Moore, who graduated from Boise State the same year that Griffin left Baylor. “He’s, obviously, got some unique characteristics and he does some really talented stuff and he’s only going to get better once he gets back into the routine of things. Missing the preseason with the knee, he’s only going to get better each week.”

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/20/2013 07:24 PM

Redskins strong safety Brandon Meriweather and place kicker Kai Forbath remain questionable for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions and will be evaluated Saturday before a decision on their status.

The Redskins have monitored Meriweather for concussion-like symptoms all week long. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday, and then on Friday said, “I did what I could,” but didn’t know if he would play on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Forbath is nursing a groin injury that forced him to miss last week’s game at Green Bay. He didn’t practice on Friday but will attempt some kicks on Saturday, coach Mike Shanahan said. Fellow place kicker John Potter remains on the roster in case Forbath can’t kick against the Lions.

Also listed as questionable for the Redskins on Friday: wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), defensive end Stephen Bowen (knee) and defensive end Kedric Golston (abdomen). Nose tackle Barry Cofield (hand) is listed as probable.

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/21/2013 12:11 PM

The Washington Redskins have five players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, including one new player added to the injury list.

Receiver Leonard Hankerson tweaked his hamstring and groin during practice Friday, but he did not seem concerned about it after practice and expects to play. Still, he’ll be listed as questionable.

The others listed as questionable: place kicker Kai Forbath (groin), defensive end Stephen Bowen (knee), defensive tackle Kedric Golston (abdomen) and safety Brandon Meriweather (concussion). Nose tackle Barry Cofield (hand) is probable.

Coach Mike Shanahan said all the players listed did practice, except for Forbath. He’s expected to test his leg Saturday.

For Detroit, running back Reggie Bush (knee) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder) are questionable. Both were limited in practice. Safety Don Carey (hamstring) and tackle Jason Fox (groin) are doubtful.

coleryan Posts:11960 Followers:18
09/22/2013 07:27 AM

The Redskins are in a must win spot but they have a secondary and an entire defense that is awful. The Lions with or without Reggie Bush will be able to put up points and get a big win on the road.

Pick: Lions PK