Monday, December 31, 2012

How Good Are the Seahawks?

The Skins host the Seahawks next Sunday in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.  Like the Skins, the Seahawks are led by a rookie QB (Russell Wilson) and finished the season on an impressive winning streak.  So how good are they?

Some suggest the Seahawks are a mediocre team that has beaten up on weak opponents in the latter half of the season.  However, advanced analytics tell a different story: the Seahawks are the 3rd best team in the league.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Skins vs. Cowboys: The Great, The Good, and the Not-So-Good

The Great
  • NFC East Champions!
  • Alfred Morris.  200 yards rushing, 3 TDs, and sets the team record for rushing yards in a single season.
  • Jim Haslett.  I've been hard on him in the past, but there's no question his schemes, particularly his ability to disguise coverage, has led directly to turnovers time and again.  The key interception by Rob Jackson was a direct result of Jackson faking blitz and dropping back without Romo noticing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Playoff Scenarios

The Skins have two ways to make the playoffs:

1) They beat the Cowboys, OR
2) Both Minnesota and Chicago lose

More details after the jump... 

Skins vs. Eagles: The Great, The Good, and the Not-So-Good

The Great
  • London Fletcher.  After struggling with injuries London appears to be back. Today he notches 10 solo tackles and a huge INT.
  • Barry Cofield.  He barely shows up in the box score, but his good play allows others to make plays.  Case in point, he tipped the ball that resulted in London Fletcher's INT.  
  • Santana Moss.  Only two receptions, but a beauuutiful TD pass dragging his left foot just in bounds on what was a key 3rd down play.  Fantastic to have Santana contributing like this. 

Why RGIII Is Great

Here's a wonderful story from the first Eagles game, courtesy of the Washington Post:

"Griffin made what could have been a crucial mistake — calling for a pass play out of the wrong formation. But he improvised, and hit Young, the fullback, for a six-yard touchdown pass ... Rather than celebrate on the field as he usually does — with a quick kneel-down, a short prayer and an index finger pointed to the sky — Griffin immediately sprinted to the sideline and apologized to Kyle Shanahan for getting the formation wrong."

Back in March we argued that RGIII was the right QB for the Skins not just because of his physical tools, but because he is "a student and perfects the little things." History is filled with immensely talented QBs who fizzled because they did not have the discipline or desire to perfect the details.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Skins vs. Browns: The Great, The Good, and the Not-So-Good

By virtue of tie-breakers, the Skins occupy 1st place in the NFC East.  A good day.

The Great
  • Kyle Shanahan.  Good game-plan, better adjustments.  The Browns committed to stopping the stretch run play, Shanahan countered by repeatedly faking the stretch run and giving Kirk Cousins time to throw.  
  • Kirk Cousins.  After his poor start, Cousins went 25/31, for 300+ yard, and 2 TDs. Cousins is not just a rookie, he's a rookie who didn't get many practice reps with the first team until this past week.  Yet, he looked poised, successfully threw both touch passes and lasers, and made a number of great reads and throws under pressure. He also distributed the ball to 8 different Skins receivers. Impressive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Alfred Morris and Fumbling

Alfred Morris has been phenomenal, already accumulating more than 1,200 yards this season at about 5 yards per carry.  But he's almost fumbled in each of the last two games, and 4 times on the season, which raises the question.  Is Alfred Morris fumble-prone?

I know we all want the answer to be 'no', especially given the many wonderfully positive story lines this season.  But let's be adults and take an objective look at the data, focusing on his college football career.

In college, Morris had a tendency to fumble.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Youth Everywhere ... And That's a Good Thing

With so much focus on RGIII, it's easy to miss that no fewer than 12 rookies and 2nd year players are making major contributions up and down this Skins team.  Today's win against the Ravens is a great example.

  • RGIII.  We'll start with the obvious, he's re-writing rookie record books.
  • Kirk Cousins.  Makes several key plays in the comeback win, including a pass for a first down, a TD pass in the final seconds of regulation, and a QB sneak for the game-tying 2-point conversion.
  • Kai Forbath.  14/14 on FGs this season, including two long FGs and the game-winning FG today.

Skins vs. Ravens: The Great, The Good, and the Not-So-Good

Tremendous concern for RGIII's knee, but a tremendous come-from-behind win with key contributions from many.

The Great
  • Ryan Kerrigan. Had two HUGE QB pressures.  One led directly to Flacco's INT, the other prevented Flacco from completing a 2nd quarter TD pass to a wide open Ravens receiver.  Huge impact that won't show up in his stat-line.
  • Kai Forbath.  His kick-offs are a concern, too returnable and occasionally out-of-bounds.  But he's made up for that by being perfect on FGs for the season, including two long FGs plus the game-winner in OT today against the Ravens.  Amazing accuracy, unfazed in the clutch.

RGIII Knee Injury Update: No Major Damage

Looks like we can breathe a sigh of relief. From RGIII's Facebook page 7:40pm Eastern time: "Your positive vibes and prayers worked people!!!! To God be the Glory!"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Skins vs. Giants: The Great, The Good, and the Not-So-Good

The Skins beat three consecutive NFC East opponents.  I checked my calendar, it's indeed 2012 and not 1991.

The Great
  • Kyle Shanahan.  He wasn't on the field, but his impact loomed large.  Shanahan is a master at designing different plays that begin out of the same formation, and a master at disguising what's coming next.  The Giants' defense was kept off balance for much of the game. 
  • Pierre Garcon.  Just a few weeks ago it seemed Garcon could miss the season. Tonight he had 8 receptions for 106 yards and a TD. 

Alfred Morris Is Not Terrell Davis, But They Sure Look Alike On Paper

Alfred Morris is not the next Terrell Davis, he's the first Alfred Morris.  To my eyes he's distinguished by having elite vision and anticipation.  He doesn't just see the holes, he sees them before they open up, and slashes right through.

But I want to compare Morris to Terrell Davis anyway, because the similarities are uncanny. Obviously both are hand-picked Shanahan backs drafted in the 6th round.  But there's more.

For example, both are really really slow.