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Post-game: Redskins shot down by Jets

In case you’re not the type of person who has any sort of presence on social media, the fact that in the immediate aftermath of the Washington Redskins 34-20 loss to the New York Jets there were multitudes of people calling for the Quarterback to be benched should, for all intents and purposes, tell you the full story from this game.

The injury depleted Redskins traveled to New Jersey to face off against the New York team that isn’t in the NFC East in the first regular season match up between these two teams at the new MetLife Stadium. Prior to today, the Redskins had never lost a regular season NFL match on the road against the Jets, but as you know that record fell today.

Which brings us to yet another edition of our weekly game recap series; What worked. What didn’t. What sucked. 

What worked

  • In a game where they were missing three out of the five starting Offensive Linemen, both starting outside Cornerbacks, the starting Tight End, the number one Wide Receiver, and their flashy rookie Running Back, the Redskins started the game strongly. Drawing first blood, Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a solid 7 play drive that resulted in a 2 yard Touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon against Darrelle Revis.
  • That Redskins first score was made possible by rookie Defensive Back Kyshoen Jarrett forcing a fumble following an Eric Decker catch and Bashaud Breeland recovering the loose ball, giving the Redskins possession 37 yards away from pay dirt.
  • That forced fumble meant that the Redskins defense continued their streak of not allowing opposition teams to score any points on their first possessions in 2015.
  • Breeland was by no means content with a simple fumble recovery in the first half, and went on to record two more individual takeaways; a forced fumble/fumble recovery where Breeland simply overpowered Brandon Marshall for the ball, and a diving interception near the end of the 2nd quarter that not many Defensive Backs in the NFL would have been able to get their hands on.
  • Breeland became the first Redskins player to record interceptions in consecutive weeks since London Fletcher did it in the late stages of 2012. Additionally, Breeland was the first player to recover two opponent fumbles in a single game since 2002 (LaVar Arrington). In fact, according to the NFL, Breeland was the first player in 20 years to have as dominant a first half as he did.
  • The three first half turnovers for Breeland led to all 13 of the Redskins first half points, including two booming Field Goals from Dustin Hopkins, who continues to impress. Hopkins 54 yard Field Goal in the second quarter was the Redskins longest made Field Goal since 2011.
  • Although the quality of the throws wasn’t great (more on that later), rookie Wide Receiver Jamison Crowder continues to look like a steal for a 4th round draft pick. He once again led the team in receiving yards today, and displayed elusiveness and quickness that should continue to be useful for the Redskins for a long time.
  • Credit where it is due; the patch-work Redskins Offensive Line that included Ty Nsekhe, Josh LeRibius and Spencer Long did a solid job in pass protection today, giving Cousins ample time in the pocket against some dominant players along the Jets defensive front.
  • Although it came in garbage time, the Redskins had their first punt block returned for a touchdown since 2004. It came from a great edge rush from Safety Jeron Johnson, and was recovered by Rashad Ross for the touchdown.

What didn’t

  • It appears that the blueprint for how to beat the Redskins is proliferating around the league now, as for the second week in a row the opposition stacked the box in a determined effort to curtail the Redskins running game, instead daring Cousins to beat them in the air. Just like last week, the Redskins were completely unable to overcome it. Last week against Atlanta the Redskins were only able to manage 51 yards on 24 carries. This week, a paltry 34 yards on 17 carries. Both weeks ended with a team-wide dismal 2 yard per carry average.
  • It’s not entirely appropriate to place the blame on the Redskins lack-lustre ground game on either the Offensive Line or the Running Backs. They are facing 5 and 6 man fronts almost every single snap, and opposition defenses are overtly focused on stopping the run. The fact remains that whilst Cousins is taking snaps at Quarterbacks, Defensive Coordinators are going to be more than happy to have him throw the ball 30 plus times a game if it means that they are able to stymie the Redskins on the ground.
  • Whilst the Redskins were unable to rack up meaningful yards on the ground today, for the second week in a row the opposition had no such difficulties. The Jets had a combined 221 yards rushing today, including 2 touchdowns on the ground. The Redskins Defensive Line has been touted as a strength of the roster, but six weeks into the NFL season cracks are starting to appear.

What sucked

  • As mentioned at the top of this article, there are now growing choruses of Redskins fans calling for Kirk Cousins to be benched, making way for either Colt McCoy or Robert Griffin III.
  • Whilst the two interceptions are obviously brutal, and symptomatic of a persistent ball security issue that has plagued Cousins in his time in the NFL, what seems to be hurting the offense even more is the consistently inaccurate throws to open receivers.
  • Whether it is a receiver who has worked open on a simple crossing route, or even just a basic bubble screen, Kirk Cousins is consistently unable to get the ball in to the hands of the receiver. We saw it numerous times against the Jets, with perhaps the most egregious example being this simple screen pass targeting Crowder that fell incomplete as it sailed past the outstretched hands of the waiting receiver.
  • Cousins play was so bad today that the body language of his receivers started to turn sour late in the game after numerous inaccurate throws fell incomplete. It is always a bad sign when there is visible and growing discontent amongst players, and if the Redskins season is to be in any way salvaged, Cousins will have to improve both his play and his rapport with his team mates.
  • In a week where there has been numerous media personalities, most notably Bomani Jones, critical of the perceived favoritism from Head Coach Jay Gruden when it comes to how he handles Cousins in comparison to how he handled Griffin, Gruden made a couple of comments in his post-game press conference that will only add more fuel to that fire. When asked about Cousins and his interceptions, Gruden literally remarked that “it was a little windy today”. Now, admittedly his full comment went in to more detail, but that comment regarding the wind came at the top of his response and was a perfect soundbite for news stations. For the record, his full comment was the following:

“I don’t know. I’ll have to look at the film. Like I said, it was a little windy. Also, he had a lot of pressure on him, really. There were a lot of things going on pre-snap that he’s got to deal with; getting the formations, the protections and all that. Last week the Jets had about 15 cover-zeros against Miami, so we’re always looking out for those and making sure he’s aware of those. They played pretty vanilla today. I think he hurried on some throws he didn’t have to, or maybe he did… I’ll have to look at the film. But overall, you hate to pin this game on Kirk.” 

 

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