1.  Graham Gano is on the clock. There’s no way the Redskins go into training camp with Gano as the only kicker. He cost them a shot at beating the Giants and his missed kicks hurt them in close losses to Houston and Tampa Bay as well. He has a big leg and his kickoffs are good, but he’s paid to make field goals – and a 30-yarder shouldn’t be an adventure. But it always is with him. I’d heard how tough he was mentally, but it’s hard to think that’s the case. If his leg is this good, then it must be mental. Is that a function of youth or is this just who he is? The Redskins have been patient with him, hoping to see what he could become. Wonder if they would have been that patient had they been a legit contender. They hoped he would develop. He hasn’t. It’s hard to say he’s a much different kicker at the end of the season than he was at the beginning. Problem is, they also need to find a punter. Their kicking game was dreadful and they know it and they know it must be fixed. Bank that one. The Redskins lost five games by three points or less this season; one reason for that was the inconsistent kicking game (in addition to a few other issues).
2.    Trent Williams didn’t have a great finish. Williams was doing OK in the first half, but Osi Umenyiora had no problems with him in the final two quarters. And man did he set him up. Umenyiora kept rushing inside early in the second half and each time he got a little closer to breaking through. Williams was not stopping him. So what happens? On third and three from the Giants’ 30 in the fourth quarter, Williams sets for an inside rush against Umenyiora, who naturally takes off upfield. Result? A sack/fumble of Rex Grossman. Later, Williams was off-balance in what he was expecting to get and Umenyiora got inside him a couple more times.

Now, on the failed fourth-down run, coach Mike Shanahan said RB Ryan Torain should have cut it upfield. Instead, he went outside and Umenyiora broke off Williams to make the stop. I want to see the replay of that one to see if that indeed was the case. Regardless, Williams was inconsistent. You could see his athleticism, but you could also see the areas he needs to improve. He was better vs. stunts Sunday and experience will help him learn what players like to do in certain situations. For now, he’s a talented rookie who was capable of anything – good or bad. Don’t know where he’ll head based off this season.
3.    The locker room was strangely upbeat. Could be because the season was over and they’re a little bit relieved. But there’s no doubt it was more upbeat than after any loss I’ve seen in a while. I think it helps that they know who’s in charge; they trust him and they like the direction they’re headed. Not sure I share their enthusiasm just yet because a couple important positions still need to be filled. Until we know who the quarterback is – Rex Grossman has proven he’s a good backup -- it’s hard to get excited about them in a division where at least two teams are much further along. And Mike Shanahan’s record as a personnel guy is not good. But it really doesn’t matter what I think now, does it? Most players genuinely seem to want to stick around.
4.    DeAngelo Hall needs a pass rush. OK, the entire defense does but bear with me. The reason Hall has given up more big plays than normal is partly a function of the pass rush. There is none. Sunday, they tried to use Brian Orakpo in different spots. Because the Giants like to slide their protection, the Redskins countered by moving Orakpo around to keep them guessing. Maybe they’d catch the Giants sliding the wrong way and Orakpo would get to Eli Manning. But in 29 pass attempts the Redskins didn’t sack Manning once. Now, back to Hall. He’s going to the Pro Bowl because he takes chances at corner. He did so on the 92-yard touchdown pass to Mario Manningham, staying inside on the route and trying to force a tough throw over the top.

Hall likes to set up quarterbacks hoping to con them into a quicker throw. Tough to do that when they have all day and that was the case on this one. Of course, Hall should also know that he doesn’t have a pass rush – hasn’t really had one most of the year -- and he can’t take certain chances. It’s great to be instinctive and to play a certain way, but you also have to adjust to your surroundings. In some cases this season for Hall smarter would have been better. Still, Hall had a chance to intercept 10 passes this year; if the Redskins find another pass-rushing linebacker he might get even more.
5.    The Redskins need a young player like Vonnie Holliday. Perhaps no player better understood his role in the defense more than Holliday. Watching him all season it’s clear he knew the proper angles to take and he knew how to play with leverage. At 35, he just couldn’t have done it in a full-time role for 16 games. But it’s not a coincidence that the run defense improved with him playing more the last two games for injured Kedric Golston. But what the Redskins need is to find a young player who has been in a 3-4 who understands how to play it; makes a difference. Nobody set up his teammates better than Holliday. See, the Redskins don’t just need a pass-rushing linebacker, they need a lineman who can threaten the quarterback, too. One big difference between the Redskins and New York is the Giants collapsed the pocket with their tackles. Time and again, they shoved the Redskins guards back. Really, there were several times I was a little surprised Grossman got the pass off; not sure how he saw his target and he had nowhere to step up into the pocket. Makes the ends more dangerous as well. The Redskins have no one like that (though, of course, they did). So even if they get another linebacker, they’ll still need to find a lineman who can rush as well. This defense will not be complete until that’s the case. I also think this speaks to needing to find at least one more guard who can anchor better vs. bigger tackles. It’s needed in the NFC East. It’s great to use some finesse, but you need to play a physical style to win in this division.

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