Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at email@example.com.
Redskins notes, quotes and observations (Wed, 9/22)
Wednesday’s are busy at Redskins Park, and this was no exception. Lots to review, and I’m even gonna save some for tomorrow. Let’s roll…
Everything seems copasetic between CB DeAngelo Hall and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Hall’s statement on Monday that the Redskins’ are “my team” and that the defense is “my defense” didn’t bother Haslett.
“It is their team,” Haslett said. “Players play. Coaches, we coach.”
This is the reaction of a coach who played in the NFL for eight seasons. He empathizes with the raw emotions of a loss. Greg Blache and Gregg Williams, Haslett’s two predecessors, did not play in the NFL. Blache and Williams might have responded as Haslett did to Hall’s remarks, but Haslett shares with his players a bond that only playing experience can forge. In this case, it helped diffuse a potentially explosive situation.
As for Hall’s insistence on covering the opponent’s top wide receiver, Haslett said he’s “open to anything.”
“The good corners I’ve been around all have that mentality,” Haslett said. “I’d be disappointed if he didn’t have that mentality. I give him all the credit for saying that, to be honest with you.”
There are some problems with that approach, though. Let’s use last Sunday’s game as an example. If Hall were matching up against Andre Johnson everywhere on the field, problems arise if Johnson were to line up in the slot in a three-receiver set. Hall hasn’t practiced in the slot, and Johnson’s two-way go would be a distinct advantage for the opposition. Plus, if Hall were to shadow Johnson on a play, it could give away to the opposing quarterback whether the Redskins are running zone or man-to-man.
“I think there’s times when you can do that based off of formations. There’s times that you can’t,” Haslett said. “In training camp, he flipped around all over the place. …There’s different reasons to do it. There’s different reasons not to do it, but I do like his attitude.”
Judging from what Haslett said, I think we’ll see Hall flip sides of the field a bit more. Maybe not a lot, but some.
Hall’s teammates in the secondary didn’t take umbrage with his remarks; at least not publicly.
CB Carlos Rogers: “It was out of frustration. That’s the mindset of a corner, everybody wants to cover the top guy. His thing is he’d rather them catch it on him and take the heat for it than anybody else.”
S Reed Doughty: “He’s just letting the coaches know he has confidence in himself, and I think there’s nothing wrong with that.”
From a team chemistry standpoint, Hall’s remarks seem to be a non-issue. We’ll see if his role changes this week and, more importantly, what happens if the pass defense is poor again.
As if QB Donovan McNabb’s return to Philadelphia next week needed a juicier backdrop, Eagles coach Andy Reid yesterday went against his word and named Michael Vick the starting quarterback for the rest of the season over Kevin Kolb. Two days earlier, McNabb threw for 426 yards. Oh, the irony!
“That’s Philadelphia—things like that happen,” McNabb said. “I’ve been a part of that for 11 years. Obviously, as you see, it just doesn’t stop.”
Philly’s move to jettison McNabb and go with Kolb obviously was made with the long term in mind, not just the first two weeks of 2010. But even though McNabb wouldn’t say it today, he’s got to feel some level of satisfaction that he proved he can still carve up a defense while there’s turmoil to the north.
McNabb was asked a couple questions about the Eagles’ QB controversy and next week’s game up there, but he stuck to a line about being focused only on the St. Louis Rams this week. So we’ll have to wait until next week’s circus to hear from him on that.
LT Trent Williams (bruised knee, sprained toe) did not practice and limped off the practice field once the session was over. He declined an interview request.
Coach Mike Shanahan would not say who would play left tackle if Williams can’t play, but Jammal Brown gave the indication that he would stay on the right and that Stephon Heyer would play on the left.
“I guess they got Steph over there, and we’ll just go with that,” Brown said. Brown said before today’s practice that he hasn’t taken any snaps at left tackle since arriving. Heyer, meanwhile, worked at both sides throughout training camp.
Shanahan said of the backup options at left tackle: “We think we’ve got a pretty good situation.”
And yes, Shanahan has seen the tape of Heyer playing last season.
The time-share at left guard between Derrick Dockery and Kory Lichtensteiger was split more evenly against Houston. The two alternated series in the game.
“What you gonna do about it? You gonna cry a bout it? Pout about it?” Dockery said. “You’ve got to go out and play ball.
“Kory deserves his shot,” he continued. “I thought he played he played a really good in the preseason.”
Lichtensteiger was surprised to learn about the arrangement the night before the Dallas game. “I thought I was going to be a backup so it’s been pretty cool to get some time,” he said.
Their rotation raises the question about the important of cohesion and chemistry along the offensive line. You hear linemen talk about this so much, how it’s imperative to have a good feel for the players around you and a good sense of timing with the running backs. No one, however, seems to think this is an issue with the current rotation.
“That doesn’t matter,” Shanahan said. “Both guys can play.”
Dockery has been plagued by inconsistency. He was driven back at the goal line twice in Sunday’s game. The only times I noticed Lichtensteiger in Sunday’s game were the three running plays on which he partnered with C Casey Rabach to successfully drive out the tackle.
By the way, we’ve got to come up with a nickname for Lichtensteiger. His last name is too long. I already miss The Rhino.
I’ve heard from a couple people in the organization, players and otherwise, who were surprised by the decision to release RB Larry Johnson. “I really didn’t see that coming, and I don’t think anyone saw that coming,” QB Donovan McNabb said.
The move leaves Keiland Williams second on the depth chart. Not bad for an undrafted rookie who came to training camp competing against three former Pro Bowlers.
“Definitely somewhat nerve-wracking,” he said. “But that’s just step one. I definitely want to become a factor on this team.”
Williams improved his pass protection skills during the preseason, and those must stay sound if wants to hold on to an increase in playing time. I’m still not convinced, however, that he has the speed to thrive in this system. After watching Houston’s Arian Foster last week, I suddenly see him as the prototype—great vision, extremely patient and above average speed. I don’t see a lot of Foster in Williams, but maybe I’m off-base on this.
The Redskins officially signed RB Chad Simpson today. His performance against the Redskins in the preseason (7 carries, 67 yards) did catch the club’s eye, coach Mike Shanahan said.
WR Anthony Armstrong did not practice because of a groin injury. That’s a terrible injury for a player whose greatest asset is his speed. Leg muscle injuries don’t heal well during the season. They need rest. Just ask Malcolm Kelly.
DL Albert Haynesworth (ankle) was limited in practice. “It’s still bothering him a little bit, but I want to get him going,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “I think he’s got to get going to help us win some games. Whatever his role is on the team, we need him to help us try to win some games.”
FS Kareem Moore (knee) fully participated in practice for the first time since Aug. 19. He has been a member of the first-string when healthy. Haslett is eager to get him back in the lineup because of the speed and athleticism he brings to the secondary. “We’ll se how he is winded-wise,” Haslett said. “Hopefully he can build that up over the next couple of days.”
S Chris Horton (ankle) missed practice.
The dissection of Sunday’s loss to Houston continued among players, coaches and reporters today. Usually Wednesday marks a divide between the previous game and the game ahead, but because the loss was so sensational, there were still a few loose ends.
CB Phillip Buchanon spoke today for the first time about his role on the fourth-and-10 touchdown surrendered to Houston WR Andre Johnson.
“Andre looked back for the ball and kind of stopped,” he said. “Once he stopped, I stopped, and I thought the ball was coming. And then he drifted, and then the ball was in the air.”
That left FS Reed Doughty in an un-winnable jump-ball situation against Johnson. Haslett offered a harsher critique.
“We had two guys on him, alright?” he said. “It just happened that the one guy (he did not mention Buchanon by name) thought the play was over and he didn’t finish the play. We had a guy in front of him and a guy behind him. It’s a shame they got the play. We should have had two guys on him.”
Haslett went on to lament two of his play calls. He regretted calling a blitz on the third-and-10 that Houston converted with a 50-yard screen pass in the third quarter. CB DeAngelo Hall and LB Rocky McIntosh, two of five rushers on the play, blitzed from the left side of the defense. Houston beat it with a screen to the other side. “I’ll take the blame on that,” Haslett said. “The play I would have liked, it wasn’t a good call for that situation.” Houston scored a touchdown on the next play, and the comeback was on.
Haslett also regretted putting the Redskins in a Tampa 2 coverage on third-and-10 from the Texans’ 19 late in the fourth quarter. Andre Johnson beat the zone easily on a crossing route for a 29-yard gain. It extended the drive that culminated in the game-tying touchdown five plays later. “We didn’t play it right,” Haslett said.