The Washington Redskins lost an ugly game last night. They started to make strides in the second half, but it was too little – too late as they failed to do enough to regain the lead. There was a lot of sloppy play on both sides of the football, but in a loss, some of the better performances are getting overlooked.
There was only one guy who stood out for me on the unit, and he didn’t really excel outside of one area last night. Kai Forbath on kickoffs was a different player than last year. In 2012, Forbath couldn’t kick the football across the goal line if he had a backwind helping him. Last night, he drilled the football to the back of the endzone to pin returners deep and forced consistent touchbacks. His missed field goal was a real upset for a guy who has been so good at hitting 3-pointers so far here in Washington. The only positive to take away from that field goal was that it was a 45+ yarder that was coasting even with the top of the upright when it crossed the back of the endzone. If we extrapolate that kick, it may have been good from 60+ yards out.
On offense, three players really stood out last night above the rest for playing well. Those guys are:
Roy Helu, Jr.: A lot of people were ready to give up on the oft-injured Helu. I’ve been outspoken in my support of the kid and believed cutting his workload would make him exceptionally more effective. But Helu exceeded even my expectations of his talent last night as he proved to be a very good pass-protection back. Helu picked up blitzes and bailed at least twice on his routes to stay in the pocket and provide support when a lineman was beaten. Helu didn’t get many handoffs (a byproduct of the large lead the Eagles built) but the few occasions that he carried the rock, he showed patience while still maintaining an edge with his speed and burst.
Jordan Reed: This kid has done nothing in game situations besides play well. Jordan Reed’s biggest question mark coming into the league was his ability to block. His injury also led coaches to question whether he could pick up the offense in time and perform at a level high enough to earn playing time. Well, he has certainly learned enough to play in the offense: he runs very solid routes and shows a good knowledge of how to play vs. the defense (a byproduct of his experience at QB). What Reed also does very well? Block. I’ll even go as far as to say that Jordan Reed is one of the better blockers on this team. Last night he played football and had fun on the field, and his attempted hurdle/dive to get extra yards showed he has heart and is willing to put it all on the line for his team, even when the team is down by a lot.
Leonard Hankerson: I had Hank as an honorable mention on my list on Twitter, but it’s hard to discredit his performance. The only reason I knocked him is because I want to see Hank’s awareness of the field grow. He loses himself at times on the sideline (something he didn’t do in college, at all). He still loses a little effort when he’s short of the 1st down marker, which is something he should take a page from Santana Moss’s playbook to improve on. But Hank showed a determination last night to catch the football before he turned upfield. He also scored twice, the second TD in the back of the endzone on a long ball thrown perfectly by Robert Griffin III.
On defense, four players really stood out. I wanted to add Rambo for his ability to bring down the ball-carrier when he didn’t get shook out of his cleats, but he got shook out of his cleats a lot, and bit up hard on some of the run fakes.. But these are mistakes rookie safeties make; even the late Sean Taylor made his share of playaction bites and took himself out of the play. It happens. Rambo will learn from this game and I’m sure he will make this list several times this season.
Ryan Kerrigan: We all know Kerrigan has a high motor, and he plays his ass off in front of the home crowd at FedEx Field. He showed up last night before leaving the game late with concussion-like symptoms. Kerrigan got consistent pressure on Vick, got a notch in the sack column, got his hands up at the line to force ugly throws from Vick, and batted a lateral pass to force a fumble which DeAngelo Hall eventually scooped up and carried into the endzone for a TD. Kerrigan also helped free up other rushers when the Eagles committed more attention to him.
Perry Riley: Riley was one of those other rushers. Used in multiple blitz packages up the middle and on the edge, Riley really made his name known last night. There was a fire, intensity, and motor we haven’t seen out of Perry before, and if it carries over, we’ll be saying his name for a lot of years… that is, if he earns the contract it looks like he’s playing for here in Washington.
Brian Orakpo: Coming back from a torn pectoral (twice), many fans wanted to know what to expect from Orakpo. Would he be as strong? Would he play with the same intensity? Rak was lined up over Jason Peters almost the entire game, and while the numbers don’t exactly reflect him putting up stats, Rak helped by grabbing the attention of the Eagles and helping make Ryan & Perry’s job a lot easier on the opposite side. In the run game, Rak missed one tackle which stands out (Shady hit a massive spin move on him in the box), but I thought he set the edge very well for the majority of the game against Peters; his teammates just didn’t consistently close the gaps in the inside when Rak helped free those lanes.
And your overall player of the game for the Redskins this week:
David Amerson: I don’t think he played a perfect game, but he damn sure didn’t do anything noticeably bad. His name wasn’t mentioned outside of when he was batting passes or making tackles. He wasn’t a major contributor in stopping the run, but the Eagles ran a lot to the right or up the middle, which meant Amerson wasn’t really the guy to attack. He had one big tipped pass which could have been an interception, but he didn’t let his man get past him with the ball. For a rookie who had concerns with his tendency to peak into the backfield and bite on fakes, Amerson showed poise and patience in sticking with his man or on his assignment in loose zones and he wasn’t targeted much because of his committal to his duties.