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Post-game: Redskins beat the Bears on the road

Some wins come from being good, and some come from being lucky. It’s still not entirely clear which was the case for the Washington Redskins today, but there were certainly elements of both as they went on to beat the Chicago Bears 24-21.

Today’s game was the first time Kirk Cousins had won a game on the road since 2012 (at Cleveland), the first time the Redskins won on the road in 2015, and the first time this year Cousins threw a pick in a game that the Redskins won.

With the Redskins  still atop the NFC East in mid December, there’s a whole lot to cover from today’s game, so strap yourselves in for another edition of our weekly recap where we look at What worked, what didn’t, and what sucked. 

What worked

  • If there was any doubt that Jordan Reed is an elite weapon as a receiving Tight End, surely that was put to an end today. He finished the day with 9 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, and was undoubtedly the most dangerous weapon on the field for either team. Reed consistently creates mismatches against Linebackers who are too slow to cover him and Defensive Backs who are too small to stop him, and the Redskins capitalized on it today.
  • When Kirk Cousins connected with Reed for a touchdown, Reed was lined up as the outside receiver which potentially signaled to the Bears that the Redskins were going to attempt a back corner fade to him. Instead, he crossed the middle on a slant route, split in between three defenders and worked himself open for Cousins who hit him in the numbers with a beautiful quick strike. One of the better Redskins redzone possessions of 2015.
  • Speaking of Cousins, he now has as many rushing touchdowns as Alfred Morris and Matt Jones combined. Early in the game with the ball only a few yards out of the endzone, Cousins executed a textbook Quarterback keeper run for six points that had everyone on the Bears defense fooled. Cousins ended the day on 24/31 for 300 yards, 1 pass TD, 1 rush TD, and 1 INT. Solid outing.
  • Although he recently tweeted in response to a troll that it’s not his job to sack the Quarterback, that’s exactly what Terrance Knighton did today. The man called Pot Roast was a disruptive force in the trenches all game, and to add to his sack of Jay Cutler, Knighton was also a huge factor in the Bears complete inability to get any rush yards inside the tackles. Big game for the big boy today.
  • Knighton wasn’t the only member of the Redskins defensive front to make big plays today. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy both added sacks of their own, and rookie Preston Smith put Cutler under pressure multiple times as well.
  • Although the stat sheet doesn’t show anything special, Inside Linebackers Will Compton and Mason Foster had themselves an impressive game today. Compton especially shined late in the game when he recognized a Cutler audible to a screen pass and adjusted the defense accordingly, resulting in a big stop. Considering that the starting Inside Linebackers going into the season were Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley Jr, the fact that Compton and Foster have been able to step in and produce is invaluable.
  • After not being utilized at all last week, Darrel Young saw the field for a handful of offensive snaps today and contributed on every single one of them. He creates gaps in the running game that the Offensive Line has been unable to do so since September, and if the Redskins want to fix their lackadaisical ground game (more below), Young needs to see more game time.

What didn’t

  • The Redskins defensive backs gave up a few big plays today to Alshon Jeffery, Zach Miller, and Deonte Thompson. Cutler is a known gun-slinger, so a few big throws were to be expected. The issue, however, is that the Redskins secondary was caught out of position a few times too many, and it very nearly cost the Redskins the game.
  • The Redskins ground game continues to have its struggles, with Morris and Jones combining for 2.9 yards a carry today. The Redskins Offensive Line is really finding it difficult to create running lanes for the ball carriers to hit, with perhaps the biggest gap created today occurring thanks to Fullback Darrel Young. An issue that continues to need improvement.
  • It won’t be clear until we have a chance to review the gametape, but it appeared Cousins was caught multiple times waiting for routes to develop, resulting in him being sacked three times today. When you have weapons like DeSean Jackson, it is only natural to try and get the ball to him on routes that can take a few extra seconds to develop, but when it’s simply not there Cousins either needs to checkdown or get rid of the ball.

What sucked

  • On a play that saw Cousins escaping pressure with his legs before releasing a big throw towards Jordan Reed, Matt Jones did a great job to catch the tipped ball. What he did next very nearly cost the Redskins the game when he flipped the ball on to the turf thinking that the play was over. In the NFL, you have to be downed by contact, which Jones was not. Fortunately the ball found its way back into Jones’ hands somehow, but that was very very close to disaster for the Redskins.
  • In the second quarter, with the ball on the 1yd line the Redskins called a timeout after some difficulty getting the play call dialed in. Coming out of the timeout, there was again apparent confusion regarding the playcall, and Cousins ran to the sideline for clarification, but was then unable to get back to the line of scrimmage in time and the Redskins got flagged for a delay of game. If Cousins is going to be the starter going forward for the Redskins, he needs to gain the confidence and football IQ to simply audible in that situation instead of running to the sideline.

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