After the St Louis rams absolutely bullied the Seattle Seahawks in week 1, there weren’t many who were predicting a happy ending for the Redskins going into this week 2 match up.
But this is why we play the games.
The Redskins ended up leaving the field victorious with a 24 to 10 win over the Rams thanks to a balanced and tough showing from both sides of the ball.
Which, of course, brings us to this week’s edition of What worked. What didn’t. What sucked.
- Behind some superb blocking from the Offensive Line, the Redskins notched up 182 yards on the ground today, building upon the 160 yards they gained in week 1. That means that against two of the toughest defensive lines in the league, the Redskins have absolutely gashed them on the ground. This is the effect that Coach Bill Callahan brings to the team; he brings the best out of the personnel he has on the Offensive Line and plays to their strengths without being hampered by any preconceived notions, as most famously seen in his decision to move Brandon Scherff inside to Right Guard. The entire Offensive Line played a great game today, but it’s important to single out Left Guard Shawn Lauvao. The often maligned Lauvao was huge and his open-field blocking setup numerous big plays today, including Matt Jones‘ second touchdown run as seen here:
- Speaking of impressive games, how about Matt Jones? The third round rookie had 19 carries for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Add to that 3 catches for 23 yards and it was a fantastic day for the young behemoth. Jones displayed a patience and poise that is rare from rookie Running Backs, as he followed his blockers and allowed gaps to develop all day. Jones also displayed a ‘next gear’ speed that we had not seen from him yet on his first touchdown carry, bouncing outside to the left on a stretch run for 39 yards.
- Newly signed Kicker Dustin Hopkins came in and impressed straight away, with every single one of his kickoffs going out the back of the endzone for touchbacks. Indeed, the first kickoff to open the game ellicited a bronx cheer from the home crowd as it sailed over the head of the Rams returner. Hopkins also added a 46 yard field goal as well as being a perfect 3/3 in terms of his extra points, which are no longer sure-fire gimmes anymore.
- Quarterback Kirk Cousins played himself a nice, if not spectacular, game. Importantly he didn’t turn the ball over at all which is a huge positive. Going 23/27 for 203 yards with 1 touchdown, Cousins looked exactly like the definition of a ‘game manager’ today, which is exactly what his job is for this offense. A nice day for the young Quarterback, especially leading the final drive that resulted in Matt Jones 2nd touchdown of the day and sealed the victory.
- The Redskins defense continues to look impressive against the run, holding the Rams to a combined 67 yards on the ground. Starting with Middle Linebacker Keenan Robinson, the Redskins front seven is a brutal and bullying force to be reckoned with. They are swarming to the ball and playing with a ferocity that is a noticeable attitude adjustment from previous years.
- Keenan Robinson wasn’t the only Redskins defender in that front seven to have a good day. Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Jason Hatcher, Perry Riley Jr and Ricky Jean-Francois all came up big at different times today as part of the defensive front that GM Scot McCloughan wants opponents to fear. So far, so good.
- For the second week in a row, Tight End Jordan Reed led the Redskins in receptions, racking up 6 catches for 82 yards. He’s looking healthy and menacing, and as we wrote earlier in the week, it’s a fantastic sign for the Redskins.
- Whenever you win a game, trying to find things to criticize can be an exercise in nitpicking. But there were a few things that need to be improved if the Redskins are to build upon this win and continue to add W’s to their season tally. And it starts with the overall playcalling. For the second week in a row, Head Coach Jay Gruden utilized an ultra-conservative game plan that almost backfired on the Redskins after they went into half-time leading 17-0, only to have that lead reigned back into a 1 score edge. Thankfully the team was good enough to hold on to victory, but this team needs to go for the jugular when it has a lead instead of desperately retreating inwards to try and simply eke out a win.
- Punter Tress Way, who was legitimately one of the Redskins best players in 2014, had his first poor game for the Redskins today. Asked to punt 6 times, he averaged 37.3 yards, but that number is inflated by a long of 56 yards. He had a couple of pooched punts today as he tried to keep the ball away from Tavon Austin that ended up being very short. There is no doubting Way’s leg strength, but today was evidence that he still has some required development on his more nuanced directional punts.
- The two offensive leaders for the Redskins today, Matt Jones and Jordan Reed, both have elements of their respective games they need to work on. For Jones it is ball security. He lost a fumble today on a pretty loose carry that was too easy for the Rams to knock out of his hands and recover. Running Backs Coach Randy Jordan will continue to work with Jones to ensure he is using his enormous arms to old that ball in like a vice. For Reed, he needs to find a way to block without getting called for holding penalties. Whenever Reed loses some ground against an opponent, he seems to revert into poor technique that will get flagged frequently. Something to work on for both players.
- Speaking of penalties, the Redskins once again gave the officials too much work to do. The yellow flags hit the turf 7 times for a net loss of 53 yards against the Redskins today. Definitely an area to address, as penalties can simply kill momentum for a team in a close game.
- Perry Riley Jr appears to have injured a calf muscle today, and more alarmingly Morgan Moses “tweaked” his MCL towards the end of the game. With a short week coming before the Redskins play the Giants on Thursday night football, recovery time is minimal. Both players are a big part of their respective units, and will be missed if they are unable to play on Thursday.
- There were simply far too many empty seats at FedEx field for a week two game. Far too many. Fans need to do a better job of showing up.
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