Analysis of the Redskins’ passing game, running game, defense and special teams from the Redskins’ win over the Raiders
Week 3: The Redskins improved to 2-1 with a 27-10 win over Oakland at FedEx Field on Sunday Night Football (Sept. 24, 2017)
Passing Game: A
As was the case the last time the Redskins played on Sunday Night Football (the 42-24 ripping of Green Bay last Nov. 20), Kirk Cousins was sensational in this game. He went 25-of-30 for 365 yards and three touchdowns, committed no turnovers and took just one sack. Kirk had a yards-per-pass-attempt of 12.17 and a Raw QBR of 88.5, which is better than all but two of his Raw QBRs from last season. A quarterback who has been terrific the previous two seasons officially has had his first great game of this season.
Among the most impressive moments for Kirk:
- The drive on which Kirk specifically shined brightest was the Redskins’ fifth offensive drive, which resulted in his second-quarter third-and-nine 18-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Vernon Davis on a terrific throw…third play of the drive: Kirk had a first-and-10 11-yard under-center completion to Ryan Grant….two plays later: Kirk did a terrific job of working off-schedule in running to his right and connecting with Terrelle Pryor Sr. on a second-and-two 12-yard completion off under-center play-action…three plays after that: Kirk had a third-and-six six-yard shotgun completion to Jamison Crowder.
- Kirk went 3-for-3 for 58 yards on the Redskins’ first offensive drive, which resulted in his first-quarter third-and-six 22-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Chris Thompson. The third play of that drive was a third-and-six 26-yard shotgun completion to Vernon Davis.
- The Redskins’ third offensive drive, which resulted in a first-quarter punt, included a Kirk second-and-13 14-yard shotgun completion to Ryan Grant and then a first-and-10 seven-yard under-center play-action completion to Terrelle Pryor Sr. despite Kirk getting hit by Mario Edwards Jr., who beat Spencer Long.
But as good as Kirk was, it’s important to note that Redskins pass catchers were a huge part of his success. And no pass catcher was more impactful than Chris Thompson, who had six receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Thompson had the most receiving yards in a game by any Redskins running back in records available dating back to 1960.
- Thompson was terrific once again when it came to YAC, excelling in that department on his first-quarter third-and-six 22-yard shotgun touchdown reception and his third-quarter third-and-19 74-yard shotgun reception on the drive that resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ 23-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
- Redskins’ seventh offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s third-quarter first-and-10 under-center play-action 52-yard touchdown bomb to Josh Doctson…Thompson had three big receptions on the drive: a third-and-eight 11-yard shotgun reception, a second-and-20 16-yard shotgun reception and a third-and-four four-yard pistol reception.
We had a Josh Doctson sighting! He had just one reception on two targets, but whatta catch it was. Doctson displayed the leaping and ball-tracking skills he was known for at TCU in jumping over former Redskin David Amerson on a third-quarter first-and-10 52-yard touchdown reception on a Kirk under-center play-action bomb. The funny part about this play was that it capped a drive in which the second play was a drop by Doctson on a Kirk second-and-eight shotgun incompletion.
Jamison Crowder had six receptions for 52 yards on six targets. He had a second-and-nine 30-yard reception on a shotgun play-action screen on the second play of the drive that resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ fourth-quarter 28-yard field goal.
Vernon Davis had five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown on five targets, beating corner Sean Smith on multiple occasions (including the touchdown) and making the Redskins not miss Jordan Reed as much as they could have.
There wasn’t much bad from the passing game. Among the nits to pick:
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out… Shawn Lauvao either slipped or got steamrolled by Mario Edwards Jr. on a Kirk second-and-six offset-I completion to Niles Paul for minus-three yards…Morgan Moses committed a third-and-nine five-yard false-start penalty…next snap: a Ryan Grant offensive-pass-interference penalty was declined on a Kirk third-and-14 10-yard shotgun completion to Jamison Crowder.
- Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…Terrelle Pryor Sr. committed a 10-yard holding penalty that negated a Kirk first-and-10 seven-yard completion to Vernon Davis off an under-center play-action boot… Khalil Mack blew by Morgan Moses on a third-and-three sack of Kirk for a nine-yard loss out of the shotgun.
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is greeted by fans as he leave the field after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. The Redskins defeated the Raiders 27-10. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Running Game: C
Samaje Perine was the Redskins’ starting running back due to Rob Kelley being inactive due to a rib injury. Perine had 19 carries for just 49 yards and committed a painful lost fumble on a second-and-seven offset-I-handoff run for minus-two yards in the fourth quarter (and he suffered a hand contusion on that play). The ensuing Raiders drive began at the Redskins’ 12 but did result in a Giorgio Tavecchio 22-yard field goal as opposed to a touchdown. But there was a lack of vision and tackle-breaking missing from Perine. He had five carries for just 11 yards on the Redskins’ first offensive drive, which resulted in Kirk’s first-quarter third-and-six 22-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Chris Thompson.
Jay Gruden made it a point to establish Perine and the running game early, but the production was lacking.
A drive on which Perine did have success was the Redskins’ fifth offensive drive, which resulted in Kirk’s second-quarter third-and-nine 18-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. Three of the first four plays on the drive were impressive Perine’s runs: a first-and-10 nine-yard shotgun-handoff run, a second-and-one three-yard shotgun read-option run and a first-and-10 eight-yard under-center-handoff run.
Mack Brown after Perine’s fourth-quarter lost fumble got offensive snaps for the first time this season and produced. He and Chris Thompson combined for 14 carries for 65 yards. The Redskins’ 11th offensive drive, which resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ fourth-quarter 28-yard field goal, included the following four-play sequence:
- Third play of the drive: a Thompson first-and-10 eight-yard under-center-toss run
- Fourth play of the drive: a Thompson second-and-two seven-yard shotgun-handoff run
- Fifth play of the drive: a Brown first-and-10 11-yard under-center-handoff run
- Sixth play of the drive: a Brown first-and-10 six-yard under-center-handoff run on which he displayed great patience
The Redskins’ seventh offensive drive, which resulted in Kirk’s third-quarter first-and-10 under-center play-action 52-yard touchdown bomb to Josh Doctson, included a Niles Paul 10-yard holding penalty on a first-and-10 two-yard under-center-handoff run by Samaje Perine.
Is it time to truly get excited about this Redskins defense? It authored one of the most dominant defensive performances in franchise history. Consider all that the Redskins’ defense accomplished in this game:
- The Redskins held the Raiders to 0-for-11 on third downs
- The Redskins held the Raiders to just 128 total net yards of offense, the fewest yards allowed by the Redskins since Oct. 12, 1992, against Denver.
- The Redskins held Derek Carr to a mere 3.81 yards per pass attempt on 31 passes, sacked him four times and intercepted him twice
- The Redskins held Marshawn Lynch, a master of YAC, to just six carries for 18 yards
- The Redskins totaled four sacks and three takeaways against a Raiders team that had not committed a turnover over the first two weeks of the season
Four things that stand about this Greg Manusky-coordinated Redskins defense so far: 1) it plays harder than last season’s (defensive effort was something that Jay Gruden complained about this past offseason) 2) the Redskins are playing a much more man coverage than in recent seasons 3) the Redskins are making it a point to disguise looks and 4) D.J. Swearinger’s leadership is legit, as the communication has improved; he is a pre-snap maestro.
There were so many great moments for the Redskins’ defense in this game:
- Raiders’ first offensive drive…Montae Nicholson made a great leaping and twisting pick of a Derek Carr second-and-seven under-center play-action deep pass intended for Amari Cooper. The ensuing Redskins drive resulted in Kirk’s first-quarter third-and-six 22-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Chris Thompson.
- The Raiders’ fifth offensive drive resulted in a Kendall Fuller second-quarter third-and-one pick of a Derek Carr third-and-one shotgun deep pass intended for Seth Roberts, who was blanketed by Fuller. The ensuing Redskins drive resulted in Kirk’s third-and-nine 18-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Vernon Davis.
- Raiders’ eighth offensive drive… resulted in a third-quarter three-and-out…Derek Carr was sacked twice in three plays: a first-and-10 Ryan Kerrigan sack for a five-yard loss and a third-and-10 sack that was split by Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis for an eight-yard loss.
- Raiders’ second offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Derek Carr, who was never sacked on back-to-back plays last season, was sacked on back-to-back plays: a second-and-seven sack split by Jonathan Allen and Junior Galette for a six-yard loss and a third-and-13 Preston Smith sack for a three-yard loss.
- Speaking of Preston Smith…the Raiders’ third offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Smith shed the block of tight end Lee Smith and then combined with Bashaud Breeland to tackle Marshawn Lynch on a third-and-two one-yard under-center-handoff run.
- The Raiders’ ninth offensive drive… resulted in a third-quarter three-and-out…Zach Brown and Martrell Spaight tackled DeAndre Washington on a first-and-10 under-center-handoff run for no gain…Brown and Bashaud Breeland tackled Seth Robers on a third-and-three reception for minus-two yards.
- The Raiders’ sixth offensive drive…resulted in a late-second-quarter punt…Ryan Kerrigan tackled Jalen Richard on a second-and-six under-center-toss run for minus-seven yards…Zach Brown tackled Seth Roberts on a third-and-13 five-yard reception.
- The Raiders’ 12th offensive drive…was the ensuing Raiders drive off the Samaje Perine fourth-quarter lost fumble…Raiders had the ball at the Redskins’ 12…but the drive resulted in Giorgio Tavecchio’s fourth-quarter 22-yard field goal as opposed to a touchdown…DeShazor Everett and Bashaud Breeland had pass defenses on back-to-back Derek Carr shotgun incompletions from the Redskins’ 4.
- The Raiders’ 10th offensive drive… resulted in resulted in Derek Carr’s third-quarter second-and-13 21-yard under-center touchdown pass to Jared Cook…Ryan Kerrigan tackled Cordarrelle Patterson on a first-and-10 under-center-reverse run for minus-three yards.
- The Raiders’ 11th offensive drive… resulted in an early-fourth-quarter punt…Montae Nicholson put on a heavy hit on Michael Crabtree on a third-and-11 deep incompletion that might have been a drop anyway.
Zach Brown got beat by Jared Cook on his third-quarter second-and-13 21-yard touchdown receptions and Matrell Spaight had a few missed tackles in the first half. That was about it for negatives for the Redskins’ defense in this game.
Special Teams: C
For the second time in three games this season, Jamison Crowder had a lost fumble off muffed catch of a punt. His muff in this game came at the end of a Raiders third-quarter three-and-out with the Redskins leading 21-0. The ensuing Raiders drive resulted in Derek Carr’s third-quarter second-and-13 21-yard under-center touchdown pass to Jared Cook.
Crowder did have a third-quarter 18-yard punt return.
Dustin Hopkins missed a 52-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter but made 23- and 28-yard field goals in the fourth quarter.
Tress Way averaged just 44.2 yards on four punts, but his net average was 43.4 thanks to some very good coverage. Fabian Moreau and Quinton Dunbar tackled Jalen Richard on a six-yard first-quarter punt return and Moreau tackled Richard on a second-quarter punt return for minus-two yards.
The Redskins outgained the Raiders, 472-128. The 344-yard differential was the Redskins’ largest in a regular-season since a 385-yard advantage against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 15, 1974, a span of 660 regular-season games prior to this one.
The Redskins improved to 7-21 in prime-time games since the start of the 2008 season.
One of the few negatives for the Redskins in this game was penalties. The Redskins had 10 accepted penalties for 77 yards. A few of the penalties, like the fourth-quarter eight-yard pass-interference penalty on Bashaud Breeland, were bad calls (Breeland was in fact the victim of a facemask penalty). But you can’t blame officiating for all 10 accepted penalties.
Some playing-time observations:
- Mack Brown, off being inactive for the first two games of the season, played on 10 offensive snaps. Chris Thompson, as productive as he is, played on two fewer snaps than Samaje Perine did (30 vs. 28).
- Josh Doctson was only targeted twice, but his playing time again went up. He played on 53 percent of the offensive snaps off 41 percent in the Week 2 win at the Rams and 32 percent in the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia.
- Terrelle Pryor Sr. had minimal impact on the passing game in terms of receptions (two receptions for 19 yards on four targets), but he led all Redskins receivers in offensive snaps for a third straight game to begin the season.
- The burial of Will Compton continued. While he started the game with Mason Foster inactive due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Week 2 win at the Rams, Compton played on just five defensive snaps the entire game off not having played on a single defensive snap over the first two games. Martrell Spaight played on 90 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps.
- Deshazor Everett started at strong safety for a second time in three games, but he played on just eight defensive snaps the entire game. Montae Nicholson played on 84 percent of the defensive snaps.
- We continue to see more of Kendall Fuller. The 2016 third-round pick out of Virginia Tech played on 90 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps in this game, up from 72 percent in the Week 2 win at the Rams and 61 percent in the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia.
- The rise of Matt Ioannidis continued. The 2016 fifth-round pick out of Temple, off ranking second among Redskins defensive linemen in defensive snaps in each of the first two games, led all Redskins defensive linemen in snaps in this game at 55 percent. He played on six more defensive snaps than Jonathan Allen did (28 vs. 22).
- Junior Galette’s playing time dipped down, as he was in on just 29 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps off playing on 38 percent in the Week 2 win over the Rams and 23 percent in the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia.
Perine suffered a hand contusion on his fourth-quarter lost fumble. Ty Nsekhe suffered a core-muscle injury.
The Redskins’ offense played this game without:
- Tight end Jordan Reed (inactive due to rib and sternum injuries suffered in the Week 2 win at the Rams)
- Running back Rob Kelley (inactive due to a rib injury suffered in the Week 2 win at the Rams)
- Guard Tyler Catalina (inactive for a third straight game)
- Offensive tackle T.J. Clemings (inactive for a third straight game)
- Running back Keith Marshall (placed on injured reserve due to a torn right patellar tendon suffered in practice on July 29; the 2016 seventh-round pick out of Georgia spent all of last season on injured reserve due to an elbow injury suffered in the preseason)
- Tackle Kevin Bowen (placed on injured reserve due to a labrum injury suffered during training camp)
The Redskins’ defense played this game without:
- Safety Su’a Cravens (placed on the reserve/left-squad list on Sept. 18; this off being placed on the exempt/left-squad list on Sept. 3 due to contemplating retirement; he also suffered a meniscus injury in the preseason-opening loss at Baltimore and underwent surgery on Aug. 15)
- Linebacker Trent Murphy (placed on injured reserve on Aug. 12 due to a torn left ACL and MCL suffered in the preseason-opening loss at Baltimore)
- Defensive lineman Phil Taylor Sr. (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 2 due to a torn left quadriceps tendon suffered in the preseason win over Cincinnati on Aug.27
- Defensive back DeAngelo Hall (placed on the regular-season physically-unable-to-perform list on Sept. 2 off spending all of training camp and the preseason on the preseason PUP list due to a torn right ACL suffered in the Week 3 win at the Giants last season)
- Linebacker Mason Foster (inactive due to a shoulder injury suffered in the Week 2 win at the Rams)
- Defensive lineman Anthony Lanier II (inactive for a third straight game)
- Corner Joshua Holsey (inactive for a third straight game)
The dominant issue for the NFL – and in many ways for the country – on Sunday was President Trump’s comments and tweets blasting NFL players who don’t stand for the national anthem. This led to various forms of protest throughout the NFL in Week 3, including the Redskins standing arm-in-arm with each other (including coaches and team executives like Doug Williams, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder) and multiple Redskins (Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Brian Quick) kneeling during the anthem at FedEx Field on Sunday night. A few thoughts:
- There was no perfect way for players and teams to handle what Trump said. His comments backed players and teams into a corner out of which there was no perfect path. Everyone standing for the anthem is kowtowing to the president and giving up on personal beliefs. Continuing to kneel is disrespectful to the country. I don’t blame any team or player for what it or he did on Sunday, including Pittsburgh offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva. The guy is a former Army Ranger who toured several times in Afghanistan. I give him no grief for standing by himself in the tunnel at Soldier Field, even though he admitted on Monday that he unintentionally made the team look bad. A statement posted by Ben Roethlisberger on his Web site on Monday said it all, as he admitted to having trouble sleeping on Sunday night and didn’t feel right about what his team had done in not coming out for the anthem. Again, there was no right or absolute answer.
- I continue to be amazed by Trump’s behavior – not surprised, but amazed. This guy pulled off maybe the greatest political upset in the history of this country last November – certainly the modern version of “Dewey defeats Truman” – and yet has done so much over the last 10 months to shoot his administration in the foot. If Trump is against guys kneeling for the national anthem, fine. That’s a more than reasonable take and, actually, is in accordance with the opinion of most people in this country. But calling a player who does this a “son of a bitch” and for him to be fired – even if he was half-kidding, which I sort of think he was – is obviously miles beneath the dignity of the presidency. I personally view Trump as a provocateur whose words should not be taken literally. He is as much of a showman as he is a politician. But that doesn’t justify so many of the divisive and just plain dumb things that he has said.
- I think it’s also worth noting the timing of what Trump said and tweeted. Some have noted that the anthem issue was going away, and that all Trump did was inflate it. Yes, that’s true. And I believe that he did this on purpose. Trump’s initial comments on the issue were made at a rally in Alabama on Friday night. This happened just a few hours after we learned that Sen. John McCain would not back the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, yet another severe blow to the quest to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump, as he has done so many times, totally changed the news cycle by sounding off. There is a method to his madness.
- One funny thing about all of this has to do with kneeling itself. Kneeling in many aspects of life – religion, marriage proposal – is considered a greater sign of deference than standing. And yet with the national anthem, kneeling is a sign of protest. It’s harder to kneel than it is to stand.