Tag Archives: Case Keenum

Patriots – Redskins Week 5 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 3, 2019 at 8:52 am ET

The Patriots are back on the road in Week 5, as they head to our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins. With a win on Sunday, the Patriots will improve to 5-0 on the season and go 3-0 on the road, where they won only three games away from home in 2018.  

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, October 6 at 1:00 PM ET and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Melanie Collins will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (4-0) beat the Buffalo Bills 16-10 behind another outstanding defensive effort. New England had four interceptions and sacked Bills QBs five times

The Redskins (0-4) lost to the Giants 24-3. QB Case Keenum was replaced early in the second quarter for rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. .  

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Redskins, although frequent preseason opponents, have met on 10 times in the regular season. Although Washington holds a 6-4 advantage overall in the all-time series, the Patriots have won the last three meetings including a 27-10 win over the Skins in Gillette Stadium back in the 2015 season. 

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Redskins Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game has been mired in mediocrity at the quarter pole of the season. As a team, they are averaging just 91.3 yards per game [24th in the NFL] and a measly 3.2 yards per attempt in 2019. Injuries all along the offensive line have certainly played a part and running back Sony Michel has had precious little room to operate. However, he could hit the hole a tad quicker to help things a bit. 

Fullback James Develin was placed in IR but Jakob Johnson showed some promise in the Bills game. Rex Burkhead was nursing an injured foot last week and had only a single touch against Buffalo after being the go-to guy in the first three games. James White and Brandon Bolden will chip in as well. 

Washington has been really struggling against the run so far this season and is allowing a whopping 147.5 yards per game on the ground and 4.7 yards per rush. Washington plays a base 3-4 front and they are getting pushed around. Although NT Daron Payne is having a solid season. He’s been the bright spot for a defense reeling. Last week Washington gave up 164 yards on the ground to a Giants team without Saquon Barkley.

This will be a good week to get the running game untracked a bit and have Michel getting some positive yardage against a porous run defense. Don’t be surprised to see Brandon Bolden continue to get some play in the mix while Burkhead nurses his foot back to health.               

Patriots WRs vs Redskins Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game had a rough afternoon in Buffalo last week, Tom Brady had the worst statistical game since 2006. The Bills secondary effectively shut down the wide receivers. With Julian Edelman banged up [ribs] and now Josh Gordon limited with a knee issue, the passing game will be a key area to watch on Sunday. 

But Ben Watson should be back in the fold on Sunday, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The Patriots tight ends have been largely invisible for the first quarter of the season. It is pretty telling that safety Devin McCourty has caught as many passes [4 interceptions] as the TE group has caught overall. Look for Watson to attack the seams and open things up underneath. Burkhead and White out of the backfield should see plenty of passes coming their way. 

Washington’s pass defense is middle of the road [251 yards per game, 18th in the NFL] but that is a bit of a smoke and mirror stat since teams have been running the ball on them at will. Without the benefit of a good pass rush other than Ryan Kerrigan, teams are completing 77.8 percent of the passes their attempting. Their third-down defense is allowing a whopping 63 percent of conversions. Of their top four cornerbacks, only Quinton Dunbar is performing well. Opposing QBs have a 29.9 QB rating when targeting him. The others including Josh Norman 121.7, Jimmy Moreland, 131.5, and Fabian Moreau, 112.0 are not getting it done. 

Look for Brady to isolate White and Burkhead on the linebackers frequently and pick his spots with the WRs outside. We look for Jakobi Meyers to perhaps get some looks in the game this week. 

Next up the Redskins offense:

Redskins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots front seven has been outstanding against the run allowing just 61.3 yards per game [2nd overall]. And despite the big game from the ageless Frank Gore a week ago, most of his production came on two carries where the defense made correctable mistakes, mistakes that no doubt was played in the film room this week. Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy have been terrific at slowing the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up. 

Washington has struggled to run the ball averaging just 49.7 yards per game, and 2.9 yards per rushing attempt in 2019. Like New England, injuries to the OL have crippled them. Left tackle Trent Williams has been a holdout, center Chase Roullier and right guard Brandon Scherf are banged up. Adrian Peterson has had nowhere to run and is averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt. 

With their QB position in total flux right now, the Redskins are going to have to try to run the ball to take the pressure off whoever gets the start, [my money is on Colt McCoy this week].  With the way the Patriots front seven has been defending the run, I expect New England to win this matchup easily. 

Redskins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Redskins passing game has been middle of the road [246 yards per game, 16th] but with Case Keenum being benched and questionable for this one due to an injury, the question is who plays on Sunday? Jay Gruden, in a bit of gamesmanship, was asked about their QB plan for Sunday and replied that they didn’t have one. Haskins showed a week ago that he’s not ready. So I believe they’ll go with Colt McCoy.

The Redskins have two speedsters on the outside, rookie Terry McLaurin and Paul Richardson. McLaurin missed the game against the Giants due to a hamstring problem and is questionable for this one. But he’s been outstanding. Washington QBs targeting him thus far have a 141.8 QB rating. Chris Thompson has been a reliable target out of the backfield and has 20 catches for 251 yards. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are both banged up and may each miss this week.

The Patriots pass defense has been excellent thus far in 2019 allowing 181.8 yards per game [2nd in the NFL] and has racked up 18 sacks and 10 interceptions. Look for the Patriots to unleash the hounds on Sunday. With a running game that can’t get untracked, the Redskins should be in obvious passing situations most of the game. That is a recipe for the defense to attack.  

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Washington

The Patriots Stephen Gostkowski was placed on IR [hip surgery] on Wednesday and as of this posting, the Patriots don’t even have a kicker on the roster. They’re holding tryouts 

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are facing a team that is beaten up physically and reeling mentally. And yet, many fans and media members chuckle at Bill Belichick as he sings the praises of the Redskins as if they are 4-0 instead of the opposite. That’s why the team’s winning percentage is, and continues to be far above the rest of the league for the past 19 years. They rarely, if ever, play down to the level of their competition. In this sense, Belichick is the anti-Tomlin, and the team is much better for it. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Running Game Takes Over – Look for the Patriots to try to establish the run early in this game and set the tone for the afternoon. With a strong showing in the running game, it will open up play action passing and should help Tom Brady have a big day throwing the ball. 

On the flip side of the coin, controlling the Washington running game will force the game into the hands of whoever is the QB this week. With the way the secondary has been playing, coupled with the pressure the front seven has been getting, it is a recipe for success. Look for the defense to continue its very aggressive approach. 

Win Third Downs – The Patriots offense struggled last week against an overall excellent Buffalo defense [5-18]. That should change this week. Washington’s defense is allowing an average of 63 percent of third downs to be converted. Even worse, opposing QBs are completing  87percent of passes attempted on third down. If the running game gets untracked, like we envision, that trend will continue. 

The Redskins have struggled on 3rd down offensively converting only 12 of 42 attempts [28.5 percent]. Their inability to run the ball has forced them into too many third and long attempts. Look for the Patriots to dominate 3rd down defensively again. 

***Insane Stat Time*** – The Patriots defense has more turnovers [10] than 3rd down conversions they’ve allowed, [7]. Overall, the Patriots defense has been outstanding on 3rd down [7-52, 13 percent]. 

Keep Creating Turnovers – The Patriots are +6 in the turnover department, while the Redskins are -3. See above insane stat line, the only way Washington can hope to pull an upset is to protect the ball, which is something they haven’t done, and force the  Patriots into some turnovers. 

The way the defense has been playing very opportunistic football, we expect this trend to continue on Sunday as Bill Belichick knows that this team they’re facing is ripe for packing it in, if they get up to a nice lead early. 

___________

This should be a game where the Patriots should take care of business early and win easily. Jay Gruden is definitely on the hot seat in Washington, but with the interference of owner Daniel Snyder, the once prime Redskins job is now one, that won’t be highly sought after. The front office is no doubt pushing Gruden to start Haskins in this one, although he showed last week [and Gruden knew] that he wasn’t ready. Gruden will try to go with Colt McCoy in our opinion but his hand may be forced here. 

Don’t expect a lot of fireworks in this one. I expect a methodical, workman-like approach for the Patriots on offense, as they eat the clock and keep grinding the ball down the field. Look for James White/Rex Burkhead to have a big game catching the ball as the Patriots roll and move to 5-0. Patriots 35-7

The “Knocking on Seven’s Door” tour heads home to Gillette Stadium on a short week to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and breakdown game analysis

 

Patriots 2019 Opponents, First Impressions of the Redskins

Steve Balestrieri
October 2, 2019 at 6:37 am ET

The Washington Redskins have dropped a long way from the glory years of Joe Gibbs, the Hogs, Riggo, and the Fun Bunch. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different QBs. But they’ve gone through a slew of QBs and head coaches and even brought Gibbs back about 10 years ago, all to no avail.

Washington finally got a new stadium in Landover, MD but has yet to field a team that is remotely close to competing for a Super Bowl. The fans in the D.C. area have always been rabid football fans, dating back to their 1937 beginnings. But the fan base is beginning to turn off from the constant losing and the hiring of coaches that can’t turn the fortunes of the team around. 

This year’s team has been beset by injuries galore but the 0-4 start isn’t expected to get much better this week as the Patriots are 16 point road favorites this.

So, here are our first impressions of the Redskins of 2019:

Who is the Quarterback for the Skins on Sunday? Gruden Mum on It:

Washington brought in Alex Smith last year after Kirk Cousins got his big-money contract with the Vikings. Smith suffered a gruesome injury in 2018 and is still out. Case Keenum started the season but after drafting Dwayne Haskins this spring, head coach Jay Gruden was feeling the heat to play the rookie. Gruden made it clear that he wouldn’t put him until he was ready. 

But after an 0-3 start and a listless first half against the Giants, Gruden bowed to pressure and put Haskins in the second quarter. As expected, Haskins showed he wasn’t ready yet and the Redskins scored just three points. So with the Patriots coming into town, Gruden made it clear again, that just for the simple fact that they’re facing New England his decision wouldn’t be affected by their opponent. 

But now he faces a dilemma. Keenum has been ineffective, but with the different looks and packages that the Patriots have been throwing at QBs thus far, it could be very detrimental to the confidence of a young QB like Haskins. So what do they do? The answer may be Colt McCoy, the veteran QB who is finally getting healthy. Whatever he decides, Gruden isn’t saying anything, playing the “keep New England guessing” game. 

Injuries Have Been Tearing the Depth Apart: 

The Redskins have been decimated by injuries. We mentioned above that Smith was hurt last year, but this epidemic they’re suffering has really taken a toll. Already minus All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams who wants out of town, the excellent TE Jordan Reed, young speedster WR Terry McClaurin has missed time with a hamstring. Center Chase Rollier as well as 4x Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherf has missed time recently. 

With a team that was already going to be hard-pressed to compete in a very competitive NFC East division, this injury bug has been the equivalent of pouring gas on a fire. 

It isn’t known if the speedy McLaurin will be ready to go this week, if he is, it will be a huge boost for an offense that is struggling to score points [16.5 avg, 29th in the NFL]. Having backup offensive linemen in against the Patriots defense that has been playing really great football, could also be a recipe for disaster. Even worse is that TE Vernon Davis is in the concussion protocol and may not play this week.

The Running Game [Offense and Defense] Has Been a Sore Spot:

The Redskins running game, even with Adrian Peterson has been abysmal. If you think the Patriots have had issues running the ball, Washington is averaging just 2.9 yards per rushing attempt as a team. And they are gaining an average of 49.7 yards per game, which is 31st in the league. Peterson is the leading ground gainer with 90 yards on 33 carries for an average of just 2.7 yards per rush.

And, like New England, part of the issue can be attributed to the massive influx of new bodies along the offensive line. Coupled with uncertainty at QB and subpar QB play, the offense has struggled. But as bad as the offense has been against the run, the defense may just be worse. 

The Redskins defense has been getting gashed by the run and is allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry and 147.5 yards per game with is 29th in the league.  That is a big reason why the defense is allowing 29.5 points per game, 31st in the league. With the Patriots also struggling to run the ball this year, this may be a good week to try to reverse that trend. I expect the coaching staff will be poring over film study this week. 

Cornerback Quinton Dunbar Has Been a Lone Bright Spot: 

Despite the Redskins paying big money for CB Josh Norman, he is having a very forgettable year as are all of the Redskins corners not named Quinton Dunbar. Dunbar has been a true bright spot in the secondary for Washington thus far in 2019. 

Opposing wide receivers are averaging 1.1 yards per snap while Dunbar is in coverage. When targeting him, opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 29.9. He intercepted Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones on consecutive passes his way in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. 

In contrast, opposing QBs targeting Fabian Moreau have a passer rating of 112.0, Josh Norman has an unenviable 121.7 opposing QB rating when he’s targeted while Jimmy Moreland has a 131.5 opposing passer rating when targeted. Redskins opposing QB rating for the team is 111.4 and the Redskins are allowing 63 percent of opposition third-down attempts. 

Snyder is Losing His Fan Base: 

Daniel Snyder is in danger of losing his fans. Years of constant poor teams and even worse mismanagement is beginning to take a toll on one of the more successful franchises in the NFL. 

Washington fans are hardly fickle when it comes to the Redskins. They drew really well all the way back to their first year in 1937.  Through tough times in the 1950s and 60s, fans loved their Redskins icons, Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor, and Sam Huff. George Allen got the city super excited for an all-too-brief time in the 70s which included a Super Bowl appearance. 

Joe Gibbs came along and built a Super Bowl winner in the early 80s and a Skins ticket became the hottest item in town. But those days are long gone and the fans are no longer buying the “we’ll get ‘em next year” mentality. According to 106.7 The Fans’ Rick Snider, season ticket sales are down to about 20,000. 

Snider added that opposing fans have outnumbered Skins fans for the first two home games of 2019. This weekend it is expected to be a Patriots crowd in Landover, something that was unbelievable in the Gibbs era. Snyder needs to get the fans’ loyalty back or he’s in danger of losing his team. Maybe that is what Redskins fans are waiting for. 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

 

NFL Continues To Dig Itself Deeper With Rams Concussion Protocol

Steve Balestrieri
November 29, 2015 at 9:28 am ET

The NFL will not punish the Rams for badly mishandling the concussion protocols of QB Case Keenum last week during a game against the Baltimore Ravens it was announced today. ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the story thru sources earlier this morning.

Keenum was injured last week with less than a minute and a half remaining in the game. Baltimore’s Elvis Dumervil had jumped offside, the play continued and on the subsequent QB hit by Ravens DE Timmy Jernigan, Keenum fell back and his head bounced hard off the turf.

During the ensuing officials’ discussion, Rams training staff personnel came onto the field and examined Keenum. Although he was clearly dazed, Rams trainers left him in the game and on the field. The league’s concussion protocol official on-hand was apparently asleep at the switch as they didn’t call for Keenum to be removed for evaluation either.

Two plays later, Keenum fumbled and the Ravens recovered and kicked a game winning field goal.

The obvious gaffe by NFL and Rams officials resulted in a conference call with between the league and all 32 NFL training staffs on Tuesday to discuss proper procedures in dealing with these type of issues.

It shoudl be mentioned that perhaps the proper procedures would have been conducted differently had the coach of the Rams (Jeff Fisher),  not been a member of the NFL Rules Committee. And the fact that the officials on hand as well as the Rams not being punished is a joke that the NFL is looking for an “equal playing field” in terms of punishment.

How could the Rams trainers NOT know Keenum was concussed? And watching him struggle to regain his feet, why didn’t the officials on-hand stop play and have him evaluated? The fact that his concussion was bad enough to warrant that he miss this week’s game with said concussion and be replaced by Nick Foles, shows the Rams training staff is either inept or flat out lied. It also speaks volumes about what a mess this is for Roger Goodell and the league.

On the week that family of HOFer Frank Gifford announced that he suffered from CTE, the league’s continuing mantra of “player safety” rings very hollow.

And it is no surprise that the league leaked this information out on Sunday morning just before the games today to minimize the potential fallout from this latest fiasco.

Fans in New England are already all over this one on social media claiming and apparently rightly so, had this been Bill Belichick and the Patriots, there would already be a “gate” attached to this and the cries of foul would be heard calling for fines, suspensions etc.

If there was ever a case for a team being punished for violating the concussion protocols, this is it. It practically screams out for at a minimum, a hefty fine. It is long past time for a regime change on Park Ave for the NFL. And this non-punishment is clear evidence that the punishment policies of the Goodell administration continue to be arbitrary and fatally-flawed.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

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