The Washington Times - November 30, 2011, 09:09PM

Notes, quotes and observations is back after a Thanksgiving week hiatus. Let’s go…

NT Barry Cofield had an insightful chat with a few reporters this morning about his struggles in the run game against Seattle and his overall growth 11 games into playing nose tackle. I wrote about it for tomorrow’s paper, and you can read the story: here.


Cofield discussed, among other topics, how he determines success on a play. Is it occupying multiple linemen? Is it holding his ground at the point of attack?

“It depends on the scheme, but it’s really about the center because the other guys are going to help the center, so you don’t really have to worry about engaging a guard,” he said. “The guard is going to chip on you – that’s his job – but the center a lot of times is looking to avoid you. If you can handle that center, if you can hold that center off, you’re likely going to take two without even trying.”

That’s just something to keep in mind when watching the games.

Cofield earned a reputation as a media favorite in New York. The Giants media corps voted him their 2010 Good Guy, an award given to the player to helps reporters do their jobs (ours was CB Carlos Rogers last year). That didn’t immediately carry over to Washington, though.

In hindsight, it’s clear that Cofield wanted to establish himself on the field and in the locker room before he became an authoritative voice in the media. He took that step at the halfway point, and it’s easy to see why defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and coaching staff love him. Haslett, as he’s quoted as saying in the story, believes Cofield will be one of the NFL’s best nose tackles by next season partly because of his intelligence.


TE Fred Davis’ run blocking has been inconsistent throughout his career. That has been magnified this season in his expanded role with Chris Cooley out.

“I’ve got to be more consistent at it because I don’t want to be a one-sided tight end that can only pass catch,” Davis said.

At least Davis knows what he needs to improve on. It was evident against Seattle on Sunday. One first-and-goal from the 6-yard line in the second quarter, RB Roy Helu took a handoff around the right edge.

Davis ran from the right side of the formation to the second level and blocked MLB David Hawthorne for a moment. But Hawthorne slipped the block, got to the sideline and stopped Helu for only 2 yards. If Davis had sustained the block, it might have been a touchdown. Instead, the drive concluded with a blocked field goal.

“For me, I’ve got to stay on a guy longer because I’m smaller,” said Davis, who is 6-4, 245 pounds. “I’ve got to finish to the end of the play or I’m going to get taken advantage of.”

Davis brought up his size, which is an interesting point. He lost about 15 pounds in the offseason. On Sunday – and throughout the season, really – he was occasionally pushed back by bigger ends. That disrupts the back’s options on outside zone plays. If Davis doesn’t capture the edge, the back is usually forced to cut back.

“I like it when they’re 280 [pounds] or lower than that,” Davis said. “Then I’m good. But 300’s don’t really get sacks. They’re harder to block in the run game. They’re more stout.”

On an unrelated note, Davis was asked what he said to the Seahawks defender that warranted a taunting penalty on Sunday.

“Some cuss words involved,” he said.

So there’s that.


RDE Stephen Bowen (torn PCL in his knee) sat out Wednesday’s practice but is optimistic about playing against the New York Jets.

“A lot of the pain has gone away,” he said. “It hurt a lot the last two days, but today I felt pretty good. The way it feels, I’m planning to play on Sunday.”

SS LaRon Landry’s groin strain kept him out of practice. Coach Mike Shanahan called it a “setback.”

FB Darrel Young (concussion) sat out practice. He declined interview requests because of his symptoms. What that means for the chance he’ll play Sunday, I’ll let you decide.

ILB London Fletcher (ankle) also sat out. This has become a common occurrence, and he still plays on Sundays.

RT Jammal Brown (hip), ROLB Brian Orakpo (ankle) and WR Niles Paul (toe) were limited.

QB Rex Grossman (left shoulder) was listed on the injury report, but he fully participated in practice. The knock was from a hit he took on the nullified touchdown to WR Jabar Gaffney in the Seattle game.


The Redskins this season have passed on 54.11 percent of their first-and-10 plays. That’s the ninth-highest percentage in the NFL. Grossman was asked about offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s approach to passing on first down.

“First down is definitely the most advantageous down for an offense because you can do anything,” he said. “You’ve got two more downs to work with. You’re going to get some defenses that take care of a pass route, and they have to take care of a run, so it definitely allows you to run your whole offense on first down.”


The Redskins promoted seventh-round rookie CB Brandyn Thompson from the practice squad to the 53-man roster after another team offered to sign him, Shanahan said. The Redskins made room by cutting CB D.J. Johnson, who did not play in a game.


CB DeAngelo Hall was named NFC defensive player of the week. Honestly, I was stunned. (Hall said he was surprised, too.) He did cover well – he had an interception and was credited with seven pass breakups – but he surrendered a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put his team behind by two scores. How is that not a deal-breaker? And it was against QB Tavaris Jenkins and WR Golden Tate; not exactly Michael Vick to DeSean Jackson.

But credit Hall for bouncing back after a down game against Dallas. He called himself out and then answered the call.

“It feels good to respond the way you’re supposed to,” he said.

***’s Ryan O’Halloran and I kicked off New York Jets week in the debut episode of ‘Redskins Reset.’ Check it out: here.

On ESPN980, Kevin Sheehan, Thom Loverro and I discussed what the Redskins’ season would be like if Rex Grossman had not been benched. We also looked ahead to this Sunday’s game against the Jets. Listen to the segment: here.

Don’t miss the film review from the victory over the Seahawks. Offense: here. Defense: here.