Washington Redskins: Ryan Mathews

Brandon Meriweather didn't back down

November, 5, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather didn't draw a penalty. At times he changed up the way he hit; other times he still went high -- albeit lower than he had in the past. Whether he'll continue this style will be answered in coming weeks. But for one game, Meriweather exited without any issues (though San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews didn't like one hit).

Meriweather did not head hunt or knee hunt, though he certainly tackled low at times (as do many defensive backs). Here's a breakdown of his tackles:
  • Second and 10, Redskins' 42-yard line, second quarter. Meriweather is about seven yards off the ball at the snap and runs up to tackle Mathews up the middle; Meriweather hits him under his pads and tries to wrap up as Mathews leans forward, bringing him down after six yards.
  • Second and 1, Chargers' 37, second quarter. Mathews bounces outside and Meriweather lines him up, sprinting from deep middle. Meriweather lowers his head on his approach but appears to first hit with his left shoulder, hitting Mathews just below his right shoulder pad as the Chargers' back lowers his head a little as well. It's a bit close for comfort. Mathews exchanges words with Meriweather after the play, pointing at him as officials separate the two.
  • First and 10, Chargers' 15, second quarter. Meriweather, playing deep half on the right side, reads a swing pass to running back Danny Woodhead in the left flat. Meriweather aggressively pursues and hits the 5-foot-8 Woodhead in his legs, just above the knees. It's his only tackle attempt that low. I wouldn't say he was aiming for knees considering this was his only tackle in that area.
  • First and 10, Redskins' 45, second quarter. Another pass to Woodhead with Meriweather in deep middle. Again, he pursues aggressively and hits Woodhead just under his shoulder pads.
  • Third and 3, Chargers' 30, fourth quarter. Rivers dumps a short pass over the middle to receiver Keenan Allen, with Meriweather about 10 yards downfield. Allen spins away from one tackle, running away from Meriweather. The Redskins' safety hits him between his waist and shoulder pads, wraps him up and tackles him. A good tackle.

Five questions facing the Redskins

October, 30, 2013
  1. Is this a must-win game? They all are, of course, but if the Redskins really want to turn their season around -- a phrase that’s getting old considering how it’s used every week and still hasn’t happened -- then they can’t afford a loss. At 2-6, their season would be shot even in a bad division. Mathematically they’d still be alive, but they have provided zero proof that they are capable of playing well for even two weeks in a row let alone eight. But if they beat San Diego, with a game at struggling Minnesota ... then the season could take a turn.
  2. Can Robert Griffin III develop into a quality passer? Yes. He has a good arm and is a smart kid and works hard. But missing the offseason work hurt him even more than anticipated. He’s still taking too long at times to read the coverage or to anticipate what will be open, and what won’t be, based on pre-snap looks. These issues existed last year, too, but were covered up because his legs served as a weapon and changed the way defenses played the Redskins. So Griffin is still enduring growing pains. If he had played like this last season, no one would have been surprised. In fact, it would have been normal. In some ways he’s learning lessons he probably didn’t have to as a rookie and is making comparable mistakes. Griffin is not a finished product; he just raised the level of expectations rather high. Yes, the talent level around him could be raised but he rarely had a healthy Pierre Garcon last season; Alfred Morris is better and Jordan Reed is a legitimate threat. This is about a quarterback who is still developing.
  3. How good is San Diego? Good enough that it beat Indianapolis 19-9 two games ago and good enough that it could withstand season-ending injuries to two of its receivers, have just one offensive lineman start every game and still have one of the best passing attacks. Most of that is thanks to quarterback Philip Rivers, who leads the NFL in completion percentage (73.9) and is second in passing yards (2,132) and passer rating (111.1). He and tight end Antonio Gates are a lethal combination. And running back Ryan Mathews has posted consecutive 100-yard games. The Chargers are 4-3 and playing well. Beatable? Yes; they’re 2-2 in road games, but that includes a win at Jacksonville. They lost at Tennessee and Oakland and won at Houston. The Chargers’ back seven is vulnerable.
  4. Was there anything to build on from Denver? Bad teams find a way to blow games when they’ve been playing well. That’s what Washington did against Denver. Jacksonville played the Broncos well, too, don’t forget. But for Washington, the run game worked and the defense did its job, though Peyton Manning methodically moved the Broncos down the field after it was 21-7. Washington needed a stop and couldn’t provide it (but the Redskins did provide four turnovers; that’s plenty). Still, if the Redskins run the ball like that and create turnovers? That’s how they climb back into contention. Turnovers have killed them all season, much like they helped them a year ago. So, yeah, there were positives from that game but at this point it’s about wins or playing well for 60 minutes, not 45. A lot of teams can do that.
  5. Will Brandon Meriweather's return help? Sure, as long as he doesn’t start getting too worried about how he’s hitting guys. He must change how he tackles; he can’t play with indecision. But the Redskins missed him on Sunday; E.J. Biggers is a corner who can play safety in spots. At least rookie Bacarri Rambo played a strong game at Denver. That’s the best he’s looked since camp opened. Against another pass-happy team, the Redskins absolutely need what Meriweather brings. If Reed Doughty can play that would help, too. But if Rambo had played all year like he played Sunday, then he would never have lost his job and Meriweather would have stayed at strong safety.