Ten Game Thoughts: Vikings

Washington Commanders

It was another roller coaster ride for Redskins Nation on Sunday, as the Redskins struggled early, and then struggled to put the Vikings away after dominating through most of the middle of the game. In the end, Robert Griffin III’s two rushing touchdowns, proved more than Minnesota could handle, and allowed Washington to come away a 38-26 victory – their first home win in nine tries. The loss ended a three game winning streak for the Vikings, and dropped them to 4-2 on the season.

Here are some thoughts about the game:

RGIII – is simply magnificent. That is all. The 76-yard touchdown run was one of the most exciting #Redskins plays I have ever witnessed in my 30+ years of following the team. The run officially made Griffin the only NFL player EVER to throw a 75-yard touchdown pass, and run for a 75-yard touchdown, in the same season. The performance earned him his third rookie of the week nomination already; well actually by Friday it will have earned him his third rookie of the week win, in just six weeks of football. No other rookies are doing what RGIII is – heck, no other NFL player is for that matter. He finished the day 17-of-22 for 227 yards, for a ridiculous 77.2% completion percentage. He now sits at 70.2% on the season – absolute best in the NFL. Griffin also had 13 carries for 138 yards – the most rushing yards for a quarterback since Mike Vick’s 166 yards in 2006 with the Falcons. Griffin also added his 5th and 6th rushing touchdowns of the season – also a season record for Redskins quarterbacks. Two more touchdowns and he will break the Redskins record for rushing touchdowns in a season by any rookie (Skip Hicks – 8). Everyone outside Redskins Nation is starting to take notice too, NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus called RGIII, “the most electrifying player in the NFL.” Oh by the way, his previous week’s concussion didn’t seem to bother him, or had you forgotten?

Kai Forbath – I bashed the Redskins for choosing Forbath – he made me look rash. I still believe what I wrote about the Redskins and their laissez-faire treatment of the kicking situation for the last 20 years… but at least Kai looks like it might be a good lucky choice, as opposed to a bad one. Hitting a 50-yarder for your first attempt is no joke. The only thing I didn’t like was that kickoffs looked very ‘strained’ for him and I worry about the toll on his leg over the course of the rest of the season. But I’ll at least eat a bit of crow and say that Kai looked really good in his first game.

Lorenzo Alexander – It doesn’t matter where you put him, he makes plays. Apparently if you let him play more, he makes more plays. 1.5 sacks and a game filled with highlights – couldn’t happen to a finer fellow either. Congratulations Zo – you get my defensive game ball for the first time ever.

Kyle Shanahan – I do not understand you. At times you look like a mad genius with your play-calling – a fluid mix of run and pass, with play action that makes defenses weep to their mamas. At other times, you look like you dial up whatever might be the most inappropriate play call possible – and sometimes an entire series of them. You can’t get the ball with a 2-score lead midway through the fourth quarter, execute 3 plays, and hand the opposition the ball back 90 seconds later. Careless. Nearly costly. Were it not for RGIII taking it 76 yards to paydirt, who knows the level of outcry from the media and fans had the Redskins just handed the ball back to the Vikes again. Was that a good play call, or just RGIIIness? It doesn’t change the possession before that, which in my opinion was vintage Kyle 2011. It’s okay to be creative Kyle, but sometimes you drastically over-think things. Sometimes simple is exactly what the doctor ordered, even if it seems ‘predictable’.

Offensive Line – Nobody is talking about them. Know why? Because they are doing a bang up job. My hat is off to Trent Williams too – he has played like an all-pro left tackle for two weeks on a gammy leg – and kept one of the game’s very best pass rushers, Jared Allen, in check. Not an easy task given Allen’s perpetual motor. Tyler Polumbus was beat a couple of times, but not quickly enough to put a quarterback as nimble of foot as RGIII is. They were solid, and the one time that Allen did sack Griffin, it was on Logan Paulsen, not one of the linemen. Griffin dropped back 36 times and was untouched before or after the throw 32 times – that’s decent work from your Hogs. Keeping your quarterback’s jersey clean is a badge of success.

Ryan Kerrigan – Speaking of perpetual motors, the Redskins have one of their own in Ryan Kerrigan. Once again, Kerrigan was in the backfield all day long. He may not have registered a sack, but he certainly was disruptive and  brought his season total to 27 quarterback pressures. He led a front 7 that played

Red Zone Efficiency – The Redskins were 3-for-3 on Sunday against the Vikings, all three for majors. In goal-to-go efficiency, they were also 3-for-3 and have not missed scoring a touchdown yet this year! This is the Washington Redskins that we are talking about right? Nowhere is the incredible instantaneous difference that RGIII makes more apparent, than in the red zone. He may already be the absolute most dangerous player in the NFL inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. Given the enormous problems that Washington have had in season’s past, it’s a strange sensation to be in close and feel like you’re going to score every time isn’t it?

Alfred Morris – Looked human for the first time this season. It would be easy to blame the offensive line, but they actually did a good job forwards and backwards, and A Mo just didn’t seem as full of piss and vinegar this week. He had 16 carries for 47 yards, for a very pedestrian 2.9 yards per carry. There’s your mulligan rookie – please go back to smashing through people next week. He’s been shouldering the entire load too, so the Redskins could really do with Ryan Grant being ready to contribute a little more. Grant dressed on Sunday, but didn’t see the field at all. Evan Royster had 1 carry for 0 yards, and doesn’t look to be 100% healthy, or capable of providing much of an option to Morris right now.

Santana Moss – Had 4 receptions and 46 yards to lead all Redskins receivers. It wasn’t the biggest of days, but Moss is quickly becoming ‘old faithful’ to his young gunslinger, and that’s exactly the kind of dependability the Redskins were hoping for when they moved him to the slot. Moss may not see the field as much in his new role, but he’s showing himself to be both very capable, and very professional. Kudos.

Kickoff DeferralMike Shanahan has adapted the new philosophy of deferring possession to the second half when they win the coin toss. The Redskins have won their last four coin tosses and deferred all 4 times. When asked the reason, Shanahan said, “This year, I’ve done it because I saw a percentage I hadn’t seen before – that people that defer win well over 60 percent. I said, ‘Hey, that’s an interesting stat. Why not go with the percentages?’ I kind of like it, too. Coming out at halftime and having a chance to get the ball first kind of fires up the team at halftime. I know when we get the ball, we have a chance to go the distance.” Ok Mike, two things: one, here is a percentage for you – 50% – as in you’re 2 and 2 when you defer. Here’s one more thing Mr. Shanahan, the other people making the decision didn’t have one Robert Griffin III. You have the most ‘electrifying player in the NFL’ – set a tone, hit them early, make them feel like they’re going to have score touchdowns all day long just to hang with RGIII. Don’t drive conservatively, now that you have a new Ferrari in the garage. Just an opinion.

Giants next – big test.


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