- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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1. Running back Alfred Morris is running the ball well and his 2.10 average yards after contact is second among running backs with at least 40 carries. Last year, he averaged 1.92 yards after contact (per ESPN Stats & Information). Yes, that’s a hint to get him the ball more. I know the coaches understand this (I can hear you disagreeing, but trust me on this, last week notwithstanding). I’d like to see at least 10 first-half carries for him. As Robert Griffin III returns to form, rely on the guy who already is in form.
2. The issues that Griffin is having as a passer are similar to last season. He missed some guys, leaving the pocket a little early at times. He locked on receivers (saw it a few times last week, allowing corners to break hard on the ball) and he was a little off on some throws. But that’s where Griffin’s at as a passer and it’s why his legs were so important to his game last season (and simply why they’re important early in his career). But when you aren’t making big plays with your legs, the rest of your game gets a harsher look.
3. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Oakland Raiders' quarterback situation. Terrelle Pryor, who suffered a concussion Monday, does an awful lot to bail out their offense because of his legs. But is that because he’s too indecisive throwing the ball or because of breakdowns in the offense? Pryor is a legitimate threat on the zone-read option and, because of his size, will eventually run up the middle instead of taking it wide. He’s a long strider who runs more like a big running back than a quarterback -- and he will stiff-arm defenders. Pryor also has improved as a passer; less pushing the ball, stepping into it better. He’s not polished, but is throwing better.
4. One thing to watch: If Matt Flynn plays -- and ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that he will start -- what will be the impact on the receivers? Denarius Moore is the Raiders’ deep threat, but Flynn does not have as strong an arm as Pryor. Yes, he hit some deep balls with Green Bay in his start against Detroit once upon a time. But he also was throwing to a better group of receivers and had been in that system for much longer than he’s been in Oakland’s. However, this could increase the chances for possession receiver Rod Streater.
5. The real key, of course, is the Redskins’ defense. They continue to suffer from numerous mistakes, missed tackles and breakdowns. It shows the state they’re in that a game in which they allow 441 yards of offense and 27 points to an offense missing one of its playmakers is considered progress. I’m guessing the Lions didn’t care that the Redskins stopped the run; they kept stressing the secondary by putting them in spots where they had to make a play or get burned.
6. It’s a mistake to think the Redskins would be much better if they just played press coverage all game. They were burned on several occasions in that look against the Lions. This secondary is just not good enough to play one style.
7. The three-corner alignment suggests what we already knew: The Redskins have issues at safety. They just wanted their best defensive backs on the field and Bacarri Rambo has to prove he belongs in that group. However, with that you get occasional lapses by Brandon Meriweather. I’m still not sure why he drifted left on the touchdown pass to tight end Joseph Fauria last week. He should have stayed behind to double with Brian Orakpo, and Matthew Stafford was eyeing him the whole way. Meriweather’s reputation in the past was that of a gambler who guessed wrong too often. He does add energy and is Washington's best safety, but it’s something to continue watching. It’s why other teams let him leave.
8. Eventually David Amerson might become a top corner; opinions are mixed. But, for now, his “rookie mistakes” have hurt the Redskins in the past two games, whether from guessing wrong or not making the proper reads or adjustments. And when he does it’s often a play that goes for 30-plus yards. Can you blame that on coaching? Not sure how when you look at some of his mistakes and the fact that 10 other defenders played it right. Amerson is learning how much responsibilities can change week to week and he’ll have to adjust. It will take a lot of studying and effort; will he put in that time? He will if he wants to succeed. In the meantime, there’s no way every offensive coordinator won’t test him. Or anyone else in the secondary for that matter.
9. A key to disrupting those quick passes? Interior pressure. That’s why it was a good sign for the Redskins with how well nose tackle Barry Cofield played last week. He’s beating double teams, something no one else up front has been doing. It was the best performance by a Redskins defender this season. If the Redskins stick with their base front, they should have good success against the Raiders’ ground game -- especially with Flynn at quarterback, removing the zone-read option.
10. How good is the Raiders’ defense? It was picked apart by Peyton Manning, but that’s no disgrace. The Raiders will blitz; they like to use movement in the middle. But they’ll also send corners off the edge. Corner Tracy Porter’s presence is vital to this secondary. And Charles Woodson still has something left. Wish I could show you this, but instead I’ll tell you: Against the Jaguars, Woodson ran to his right in pursuit of running back Maurice Jones-Drew in the red zone. Jones-Drew was cutting to the outside of his tackle, engaged in a block but falling. Woodson dived over the tackle, grabbed Jones-Drew by the pads and pulled him down. Just an unreal play.