Washington blames botched fake punt on miscommunication


Washington executed one of the ugliest fake punts you’ll ever see in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, with punter Sav Rocca throwing a pass in the direction of receiver Niles Paul, who had his back turned and never even saw the ball fall incomplete behind him. So what happened?

After the game, Paul said not everyone on the punt team was on the same page: Some players thought they were supposed to run their fake punt based on a signal from special teams captain Reed Doughty, but others thought they were only supposed to run it if special teams coach Keith Burns confirmed it with them before they took the field, which Burns did not do.

It was just a miscommunication,” Paul told the Washington Post. “Keith would alert that play. That wasn’t supposed to be called. . . . It wasn’t alerted because it was the first punt. That’s why nobody knew. . . . Keith would’ve alerted it from the sideline. Keith has to tell us that call was alerted. It wasn’t alerted. It wasn’t supposed to have been played.”

Rocca said the play was one they practiced and were planning to pull out during the game, but not on the first punt of the game: The plan was to see how the Vikings’ punt return team lined up before trying the fake, but as the game played out, Washington didn’t punt until the fourth quarter, and that’s when Rocca threw his pass.

The play could have worked — Paul was open — but the intended receiver not knowing the ball is coming to him is kind of a big mistake. Washington actually caught a break because of another mistake, with Jerome Murphy committing a false start that caused the whole play to be called back.

Mistakes on special teams are one of the major reasons that Washington is 3-6. Mike Shanahan has consistently defended Burns against criticism, but when the special teams have breakdowns in communications, it’s hard not to criticize the special teams coach.

72 responses to “Washington blames botched fake punt on miscommunication

  1. Washington’s struggles on special teams come down to the fact that they are weak on their fundamentals, and special teams requires good blocking, good angles to the ball carrier, good tackling, good catching.

  2. A Viking, A Redskin and Ed Hoculli walk onto a football field. …
    I think you get where I’m going with this.
    Vikings – 1 penalty, 7 yards.
    Redskins – 8 penalties, 63 yards
    It’s a surprise that Mike Shannahan did not become the third coach this week to suffer a mild heart attack.
    I can say what I want to, even if I’m just kidding.
    Indian Removal Act of 1830.

  3. Another example of poor coaching. Its ridiculous!
    They have done wonders in setting up an Offense for RGIII’s skill set but never seem to ever adjust after defenses adjust.
    The special teams and defense, outside of Kerrigan, Hall and sadly Meriweather, is the worst I’ve seen in 25 years. They can score and get turnovers, but every game they flat line. Its embarrassing..
    They make good QB’s struggle at times and then make lousy QB’s look Manning like….

  4. As I stated before…the redskins win a game and he is all over the message boards…they lose and he is know where to be found…he will be back in a few days and blame it on the refs or anybody or anything…when will he come to the realization that it is in fact his teams fault because they blow

  5. “JUST a miscommunication”???? What are you paid to do as a coach??? Teach and communicate!!! It shouldn’t be that hard to communicate to your players and make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s the most basic kind of failure and the most inexcusable kind of failure.

  6. metalman5150 says: Nov 8, 2013 9:35 AM

    A Viking, A Redskin and Ed Hoculli walk onto a football field. …
    I think you get where I’m going with this.
    Vikings – 1 penalty, 7 yards.
    Redskins – 8 penalties, 63 yards
    It’s a surprise that Mike Shannahan did not become the third coach this week to suffer a mild heart attack.
    I can say what I want to, even if I’m just kidding.
    Indian Removal Act of 1830.
    You can’t blame the refs…… Hell yeah you can!
    It was the Zenith of suck, that game. Except for Ponder! He looked good! Hocullie and that crew really have no business in the NFL. That was a joke the way they called it. But that’s my Skins! They get punked no matter who it is…

  7. Ah man wow. The Vikings are so incredibly gifted.
    Just look at the ‘unnecessary’ helmet-2-helmet flag against the Redskins.. Bad Call. Doesn’t matter, leads to a field goal however non-decisive a penalty goes.
    But when 8 penalties go against you, some that lead to points, others maybe legit but all extend drives.
    Ed Hoculli should have been the MVP of last night’s game.
    You would have Andrew Jackson was on saddle herding the men wearing Red through the trail of yellows flags….

  8. Y’know, I never felt strongly one way or the other about the Redskins, but now I root for them to lose, because of logicalvoicesays’ idiotic posts.

  9. Nov 8, 2013 12:03 AM
    Not a big skins of vikes fan, but damn if the refs didn’t call everything in favor of Minnesota. It was hard to watch. NFL needs to start releasing report cards of every ref after each season. There’s too few games to let the mishaps of refs alter a game.

  10. They call the phantom helmet to helmet on the QB and on the same play they miss the helmet to helmet on the receiver.

    I’m all for safety but if it can’t be applied fairly (not err on the side of) then it needs to be fixed and or changed.

  11. It’s safe to start calling Thursday Night Football what it really is, “Thursday Night Football – the Home Team’s Automatic win”
    Really though, Mayock’s voice hinted of confusion and despair while the Vikings were training. He had to refrain himself from saying anything positive about the Redskins during the led.
    As if somebody forgot to read their script and began acting impromptu.
    If there were Football Karma, the viking’s win might have come at the expense of the winning team/ see Ponders shoulder . That drive should have not been extended by penalty and Ponder would have finished the game.
    Keep it up NFL Network Home Field Thursday Night Football.

  12. Special teams and defense are the real problem with this team. The Vikings only had 1 punt. that tells you the defense couldnt stop them when they needed to.
    Missed tackles are the disease of this team, and unless Jim Haslett can rally this defense like he did last year (which i doubt) he should be fired!

  13. You know you’re a bad team when you need to add a fake punt into your game plan against a 1 win Vikings team.

  14. Another example of Shanahan showing he’s just not a good coach anymore at age 127. It’s way past time to take the car keys away from grandpa.

  15. how about the botched play calling in the 2nd half by Kyle?
    Does Snyder think that he can get 10 yrs out of Robert with that style of offense.
    how can a two time superbowl champ coach not make the necessary adjustment at half time and put the Vikings away.
    Im sorry, but its time to clean house!

  16. Blaming the refs, the last refuge of fans that don’t want to admit their team didn’t play well, isn’t disciplined, and just isn’t that good.

    The one bad call I saw all night was the roughing the passer early in the game against Washington #92 on Ponder. That was about the cleanest hit imaginable. Not too high, not too low, no helmet to helmet and he was in the air already diving for Ponder when he threw the ball.

    Doesn’t matter though, if the Washington team was good and disciplined they don’t make most of those penalties in the first place. And any good team plays through that sort of thing and wins anyway.

  17. The Skins had the game but what happened is that the Vikings defense stepped up in the 2nd half. Poor defense all around on both teams. What happened to the back in the day when the defense knew how to lay the wood and knock you on your a***. True tackling, not this girly tackling with the shoulder pads and not wrapping up. I am beginning to wonder about the NFL players do they really want to be great as a team or an individual.

  18. This guy Paul sounds like a big jerk, blaming it all on everyone else. He was open. If he had any awareness whatsoever, or payed attention to the special teams captain, that play would have worked.

  19. Redskins and RG3 = overhype. The media all last year tried to paint RG3 the future of the QB position while Luck, Wilson and Kap are the true next wave of great NFL QBs.

    I watch Luck, Wilson and Kap run true NFL style offenses while RG3 doesn’t throw a pass that travels more then 5 yards from the line of scrimmage but a hand full of times a game. Luck, Wilson and Kap can attack all parts of the field while RG3 is limited to slants and bubble screens and one read pass plays.

    Skins back to the basement where they belong.

  20. If you blow a 13 point lead and lost to a one win team (that prior to this had not won a game in the U.S. this season) then you cannot blame the refs, or the salary cap violation, or really anything else other than a poorly coached, once proud franchise that is now damaged goods.

  21. Not a fan of neither team but I find it funny how everyone’s blaming the refs or pointing to the calls going the Vikings way, rather than the skins for their ineptitude. Face it skin fans, your team, well, plainly, is just not a good team.

    Records speaks, specifically, wins over losses. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, never counts, in any sports, nor does it win games. A good team finds a way to pull a W in tight games, especially versus a “supposedly” weaker team.


    Defensive Cordinator – No experience nessasary
    Special Teams Cordinator – Anyone else please!

    Apply in person at Redskins Park, VA. Ask for GM Bruce Allen or call 800-723-5683 (7WE-SUCK)

    Redskins Fans

  23. Man the whole season has been botched! I’m at the place that RGIII will never win with Kyle and Mike Shanahan and one of the most pathetic Defenses in recent times.

    This experiment is over just look at the eyes of the players during interviews. Tells the whole story.

  24. Actually, they didn’t catch much of a break with the false start, because the Vikings had a long return on the subsequent punt and the Redskins got a personal foul which brought the ball almost all the way back to where the original line of scrimmage was.

    No question the Redskin Potatoes have the worst special teams I think I’ve ever seen. Whether that’s coaching, the fact that they have no depth because of salary cap penalties, or some combination of both, the fact is that they are atrocious and at some point are going to cost them a game if they haven’t already.

  25. The Redskins would be 9-0 and would’ve been 16-0 last year if it wasn’t for the refs. They are mistake free and never play poorly.

  26. NFL needs to start releasing report cards of every ref after each season.

    How many times can you write F?

  27. Conspiracy theorists, don’t you think the NFL would rather have Griffin to showcase, rather than the Vikings? Your claims of games being “fixed” are lazy. The Washington Football Team is just not a good team. Time for Snyder to hire yet another head coach. One of these times he might actually hire a good coach.

  28. I cant believe the Redskins blew a 2 touchdown lead to Ponder and a 3rd string journeyman QB Cassell.

    The Skins dont seem to understand that an NFL game is 60 minutes long, not 30. I could see some of the younger players not being aware of this, but how long has Shanarat been coaching?

  29. An even bigger problem than giving up a block…the fact that your professional football team doesn’t even understand how to communicate! I’m glad these guys aren’t in charge of the nation’s supply of nuclear weapons.

    Oops, we did it again!

  30. I’m just in Awe the Vikings almost got burned on another special teams fake, Mike Priefer has to be the worst Special Teams Coach is this league!! Glad we got the win, but lets not get carried away, I still want Johnny Football in Purple next year!

  31. trollingforjustice says:
    Nov 8, 2013 10:20 AM
    Special teams and defense are the real problem with this team. The Vikings only had 1 punt. that tells you the defense couldnt stop them when they needed to.
    Missed tackles are the disease of this team, and unless Jim Haslett can rally this defense like he did last year (which i doubt) he should be fired!
    third and (distance) – Redskins get a stop! Wait there is a flag…..
    motif of the night. Ed Hoculli stop it, please.

  32. What a waste of a great game from RGIII. This is the Redskins football I’ve come to expect in the Dan Snyder era. Horrible pass protection giving up 5 sacks and numerous QB hits in the second half, bad defense forcing only one punt during the game, terrible special teams, and a multitude of dropped passes. How do you drop passes that hit you in the hands on 2nd and goal and 3rd and goal, and why couldn’t Santana Moss figure out how to drag his left toe on the 4th and goal fade?

  33. Washington fans complaing about the officials. Just stop they were not the reason you lost. You just are not that good. The good news is you play in the NFC East.

  34. Blaming the refs…seriously? You mean like when the Washington linebacker marched 5 or 6 steps after a play to grab and push a MN player, all of this right in front of the ref???
    Two bad teams…one with even less discipline and control, and it cost them.
    For this loss the fingers should be pointed at Shanahan, his coordinators, and the team’s veteran leaders.

  35. metalman5150 says:
    Nov 8, 2013 10:18 AMKeep it up NFL Network Home Field Thursday Night Football.


    How much more home field do you want? We were up 27-14 on the road & never scored again… We had 1st & goal at the one and didn’t run it in. The Redskins only have 46 players & the coaching staff to blame. If everyone is coming up the middle… Why can’t the Redskins try a fade pattern down the sidelines? Everything RG3 does is either in the middle of the field, screen, or quick out & typically focused on 1 receiver. The coaching staff/Mike Shanahan need to help him get through more progressions.

  36. This game really went to show just how close even teams with Bad records are to being middle of the pack. As was mentioned in the broadcast, the Vikings lost 3 games in the final minute that they led. Had they won those games, they would be 5-4 and tied for the lead in the NFC North.

    But fact is they did not, and they are now only 2-7 and realistically out of it.

    But people who watch football and judge a team solely on it’s record run the risk of running into what Dallas almost did, and the Redskins did… underestimating an opponent and getting burned.

  37. The redskins had a chance to win (but kerrigan dropped the pick-6). Outside of that one play, there were 8 more plays that either (a) extended the vikings offensive drives or (b) pushed the REDSKINS back into difficult down & distances.
    Look – The Vikings are not Holy. They make mistakes too.

  38. Please…please…someone get metalman a tissue.

    You want some cheese with that whine???

    We all get and receive the benefit of bad calls. Some games it goes with and some against you. Geez, man. Accept you lost and move on. The whining makes you seem weak.

  39. If the signal to run a play doesn’t mean a darn thing, why even bother signaling it at all? That’s just inviting confusion. And despite Paul saying it shouldn’t have been run, his explanation is so confusing it’s pretty clear he really still has no clue what they were supposed to be doing.

  40. The Redskins fired Danny Smith because they weren’t getting big plays in the return game. Unfortunately, now they have a special teams disaster each week, and still get zero in the return game. Hiring Burns was an error as much as hiring McNabb was an error.

    Furthermore, the playcalling showed Minnesota was incapable of stopping the short passing game and the run. So Kyle stopped the short passing game and the run….Seems to happen all the time, I dunno….Disheartening, really.
    Defense-For all the love Ryan Kerrigan gets, can we get a sack against a 2nd-string Right Tackle? Just One??On 3rd and 9, why are EJ Biggers and Bacarri Rambo playing and not Meriweather and Amerson??

  41. I refuse to blame anyone but my skins for this one. They lost it. They looked poorly coached. The coaches did not adjust a thing… That said, the officiating did appear one sided. No calls for NUMEROUS/OBVIOUS holds on Kerrigan. And any fan can see Logan Paulsen had a textbook block called a hold. Maybe Snyder telling Goddell to stick it will hurt in the long run…

  42. metalman5150 says:
    Nov 8, 2013 11:48 AM

    You know you’re a bad team when you need Ed Hoculli on your side.


    You know you’re a bad team when you can’t beat a worse team than you.

  43. Relax and think positive vibes The record is 3-6 Just like last year. Do you have the slightest doubt that we win our last 7 games just like last year and be on top again.Got em right where we want em!!!

  44. Funny, I don’t see you THE WASHINGTON PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM OF THE NFL* fans singing your little college chants this week, huh…?


    (*Name pending.)

  45. Jim Haslett is the worst DC I’ve ever seen. they have good players on that defense and this coach does not have a clue as to how to make them successful. He needs to do his homework. Go back to a 4-3. hell, steal Greg Williams scheme if you have to. But this is no longer tolerable. He disgusts me.

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