Some notes, quotes and observations from Thursday at Redskins Park:
Washington Redskins RT Jammal Brown is unlikely to play against Miami this Sunday because of a strained left groin, coach Mike Shanahan said.
Brown, who did not practice Thursday, sat out the second half against San Francisco last week. Backup Sean Locklear replaced him against the 49ers and likely would start in his place.
That has the potential to be a bad matchup for the Redskins. OLB Cameron Wake (5.5 sacks) usually lines up on the left edge of the defense in passing situations.
SS LaRon Landry (Achilles) fully participated in practice, Shanahan said. He sat out Wednesday’s session. Landry, however, was listed as limited on the injury report. I’ll go off of what Shanahan said, and we’ll clarify Friday.
FS Oshiomogho Atogwe (toe/knee) might miss his third game in the last four weeks. He did not practice Thursday. Reed Doughty would start in his place.
ILB Keyaron Fox missed practice for the second straight day because of an infection in and around his knee.
RB Tashard Choice was limited in practice because of his nagging hamstring injury. OLB Markus White (illness) fully participated.
The possibility of a divided locker room recently has been an interview topic, which is natural with the defense outperforming the offense. Coaches and players have insisted the team will remain a cohesive unit because of players’ strong character.
“Our guys understand,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said, speaking for players on his side of the ball. “I think defensively you need to set goals for yourself where you have something to envision.”
In other words, if the Redskins created one turnover in a 19-11 loss, take the ball away a few times and shrink the opponent’s point total to 10 – something like that.
“This is a good team to be around,” Haslett said. “I like being around the guys on defense. That’s as good a group as I’ve been around from that standpoint. And they have a goal – they want to be one of the best in the league. As long as they have a goal and they keep working hard at it and try to do that, that’s all you can ask of them.”
In addition to a possible fracture between the defense and offense, some players spoke out on QB Rex Grossman’s behalf before Shanahan benched him. That situation warrants monitoring, especially if John Beck continues to struggle.
On Monday, Mike Shanahan said he told his son, Kyle, in Jan. 2010 not to leave the Houston Texans and join him in Washington because Houston already had a quality quarterback in place and some offensive playmakers. Kyle offered his side of that exchange on Thursday.
“I think my dad understands the NFL,” Kyle said. “I think he understands the situation I was in in Houston – having a very good established quarterback and being there with a group of guys we had success with. Coming into an unknown, I think he understood that it wouldn’t be easy. So I think he made sure to say that stuff to make sure that it was something I absolutely wanted to do, kind of like he told me my whole life not to get into coaching.
Once he realized that it didn’t matter what he said, I was going to do it and he was excited that I was. It’s a hard business. It’s hard stuff. You have to make sure that’s what you want to do. It doesn’t matter what he says. That’s what I wanted to do. Once I think he realized that then he was excited to have me.”
I understand why some fans have criticized Kyle Shanahan, but I’ll defer to players who continue to express belief in the scheme. For me, the Redskins’ issue on offense is talent. It’ll take another offseason to address that, so the final eight games are about individual improvement and assessment.
That said, I do wonder if Kyle could better tailor game plans to suit QB John Beck now that he has three full games of film.
“To a degree,” Kyle said in response to that question. “I can’t just say that in a total absolute. Each game has been totally different. He’s done one thing in one game really good and the next game he’s struggled in that area. So I’m still trying to figure out exactly who he is and I think he is too. It takes time with a quarterback. They’ve got to find their niche.”
The Dolphins’ 1-7 record belies the fact they have some explosive playmakers on offense, including RB Reggie Bush and WRs Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess. The Redskins’ defense, however, could exploit QB Matt Moore.
Moore has completed 61.6 percent of his throws. Although he has four interceptions in five games, he has only one pick in his last three.
“I think he’s done a good job,” Haslett said. “I’ve played against Matt before and I think he’s a good athlete and he’s got good touch on the ball. He can make all the throws and if you’re going to give him time to sit back and do those type of thing. And he can run. He’s got that elusiveness. You could tell he felt much better and more comfortable in the offense last week.”
Haslett’s line “if you’re going to give him time to sit back” stood out to me. Let’s see how much heat he brings this week.
Through the first six games, the Redskins rushed five or more defenders on 44.7 percent of opponents’ dropbacks. In the last two games against Buffalo and San Francisco, they rushed five or more on only 30.5 percent of dropbacks. Those percentages are from my own notes and therefore unofficial.
The blitzes and dogs were down against Buffalo, at least, in part because the Bills’ passing attack relies on quick throws that limit the effectiveness of the pass rush.
I looked ahead to the second half of the season Thursday in a chat on ESPN980 with Andy Pollin, Steve Czaban and Ryan O’Halloran. It’s about 10 minutes. Check it out: here.