Not that Washington Redskins fans would have required any proof, but football can be an unforgiving game when things don’t go your way. The Redskins bore the brunt of that in last night’s NFC East match up versus the New York Giants, going down in a 32-21 loss.
After all the promising signs from last weeks game versus St Louis, week 3 was an unfortunate case of deja vu for fans as they watched their team give up Special Teams plays, commit multiple penalties, lose starting players to injury, and watch their Quarterback turn the ball over multiple times.
We can’t delay it any further. Lets dive straight into this week’s edition of What worked. What didn’t. What sucked.
- Despite losing Left Guard Shawn Lauvao to a sprained ankle early in the game, and losing Right Tackle Morgan Moses for a period of the game with an elbow injury, the Redskins Offensive Line did an admirable job of giving the Quarterback plenty of time in the pocket. Veteran Left Tackle Trent Williams and rookie Right Guard Brandon Scherff anchored the Offensive Line nicely even with the turmoil going on around them. Overall a positive night in terms of pass protection from the line.
- Defensive leader and Middle Linebacker Keenan Robinson once again set the tone for the front seven, notching up 13 total tackles (10 solo, 3 combined). Robinson has shown consistently that his ability to recognize the play and track the ball carrier is sublime, and as long as he stays healthy he has all the tools and talent required to be a Pro Bowler.
- For the third consecutive week, Tight End Jordan Reed was once again the Redskins most dangerous receiver, leading the team with 96 yards from 6 catches. Reed is clearly a favorite target in the passing game, and his ability to create separation from defenders is amongst the best in the league. Indeed, Reed likely should have had at least one Touchdown, and possibly two, but both passes thrown his way were underthrown.
- The Redskins held the Giants to 2.7 yards per carry on the ground, again demonstrating that this revamped Defensive Line is a legitimate force to be reckoned with.
- New Kicker Dustin Hopkins remains perfect so far, booting two Field Goals (44yds and 37yds), an Extra Point, and also kicking not one but two nice Onside attempts late in the 4th that gave the Redskins hands unit every chance of recovering the ball.
- Newly elevated Wide Receiver and preseason standout Rashad Ross didn’t see much action until the 4th quarter, but when he came on he gave the Redskins something that they haven’t had since October 31 2010: a kickoff return touchdown. The 101yd return touchdown featured some nice sideline footwork from Ross, and opened the window slightly to give the Redskins a chance at clawing their way back into the game late.
- There can be no sugar coating it. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a bad game. The two interceptions were bad, and we’ll get to them later, but one of the consistent issues for Cousins tonight was his ball placement. Multiple times Cousins had receivers open with separation from their defenders, but the ball was thrown behind them forcing them to either stop their momentum to come back to the ball, or watch it fall incomplete. Pierre Garcon was targeted 12 times tonight but could only get his hands on the ball for 5 catches, and a majority of those throws that weren’t completed were thrown behind a receiver who, if hit in stride, can gain big yards after the catch. A couple of examples of these throws behind the receivers are below:
- Andre Roberts had yet another dropped catch tonight, and the coaches may have finally exhausted their patience. Roberts was targeted 3 times in the first half but in the second half barely saw the field, and when he was lined up he wasn’t targeted once, instead seeing Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross combine for 13 total targets. A switch may have been made, and it’ll be interesting to see who sees more action in week 4.
- As discussed in our previous Opposition Scouting article, Odell Beckham Jr is a hard man to stop. After DeAngelo Hall left the game with a toe injury, Bashaud Breeland moved to the outside Corner spot and not long after that found himself beaten in the endzone for a Beckham touchdown. In fact, Breeland conceded two touchdowns to his direct opponents tonight; not a great game from the young Corner.
- Second year Linebacker Trent Murphy has really struggled to start the 2015 season, and had a poor showing against an under-manned Giants Offensive Line. Although he wasn’t alone in this, Murphy was seemingly incapable of generating any pressure on Eli Manning throughout the night, and when combined with Murphy’s ineffectiveness versus the run as well (0 solo tackles, 3 assisted), he’ll need to improve if he is to hold on to his spot.
- For all the dominance of the front seven when it comes to stopping the run, the entire unit has struggled to get any pressure on opposition Quarterbacks. There were no sacks at all tallied against the Giants, which when you consider their Offensive Line troubles, is a disappointing result.
- The vaunted Redskins ground game had a relatively dismal showing. Although the final stats sheet will show that the Redskins averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 20 touches for a combined 88 yards, this number is inflated significantly by a garbage-time Chris Thompson 26 yard draw play to end the game. Remove that, and the yards per carry average drops to 3.3.
- Last week, Kirk Cousins didn’t throw a single interception, leading some to wonder if the rhetoric about his improved play was proving accurate. That perception came crashing back to reality tonight, with not one but two interceptions that the Giants turned into Touchdowns on the ensuing possessions. On both interceptions, Cousins had what could only be kindly described as unconventional play action motions that fooled absolutely no one, as seen here:
- That first interception and it’s strange play action motion could perhaps be the fault of Alfred Morris running too early, or to the wrong side. But the play action motion on that second interception was nothing short of bizarre. Cousins took the snap, and instantly appeared to do some kind of squat as if trying to sell a read-option handoff to an invisible runner.
- Speaking of Alfred Morris, he only got 6 touches last night. That number is mind boggling, and even if Matt Jones had been playing exceptionally well (which he wasn’t), all the Jay Gruden talk about rotating the backs to keep them fresh can’t be believed when the Redskins bellcow since 2012 only carries the ball 6 times. It was as if Gruden panicked and completely abandoned the game plan after he saw the Redskins fall to an early 9-0 deficit. Morris played a total of 12 snaps compared to Jones 26.
- Speaking of the game plan, Kirk Cousins attempted 49 passes compared to a total 20 team rushing attempts. Even accounting for the Redskins being behind on the scoreboard early, that’s an inexcusable imbalance for a team built on the ground game.
- As we mentioned here last week, ball security continues to be a worrying issue for the aforementioned Matt Jones, and it cost the Redskins dearly again against the Giants. Jones carries the ball too high and too loosely, which makes it too easy for defenders to force a fumble if they can get the right approach angle, as we saw last night when Jones fumbled the ball, turning what should have been a Redskins touchdown into a Giants touchback.
- With Perry Riley Jr out with a calf injury, Terrance Plummer came in off of the practice squad and was the teams 3rd Inside Linebacker. The inexperienced Plummer had a start he’d like to forget, as he was too-easily pushed back into Punter Tress Way resulting in a blocked punt Safety early in the 1st quarter. The Redskins never had a share of the lead on the scoreboard following that point in the game.
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