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Good, bad and more from the Skins’ 38-30 loss to the Vikings.

Good:

  1.  DJ Swearinger. His two interceptions in the 2nd half gave the Skins life and were for the most part the only stops the Redskins got all day long.    
  2. Maurice Harris. Catch of the year for the SkinsHe should’ve been called up/activated earlier. 
  1. Improved pass protection. Last week was a disaster with all of the backups…this week much better with everyone back although it helped that the Vikings’ best pass rusher (Everson Griffin) was out.  Cousins got pressured some but wasn’t sacked until the final drive of the game.

Bad:

  1. Defense.  It was the worst defensive day of the year.  DJ Swearinger made two excellent plays that ultimately kept the Skins in the game but they were run through and thrown over all day long.  The Vikings scored their first 35 points on just 32 plays and had just one short field to do it. 
  1. Offense should’ve scored more. The offense moved the ball against arguably the best defense in the league for much of the day but missed on too many scoring chances. Tress Way punted just once but Josh Doctson slipped in the end zone and fell on what would’ve been an easy touchdown.  Jamison Crowder dropped 4-5 passes.  Then in the 3rd quarter down 35-20, Cousins missed Doctson on a deep shot in the end zone and then Gruden decided to go for a 4th and 6 instead of kicking a 49-yard FG.  With 4:48 left in the game, the Skins got stopped on a 4th and 1 in a two-possession game….a field goal would have helped.
  1. No pass rush. The Redskins had no sacks and just two hurries on the day.  The opposite of recent weeks. 
  1. 3rd-down defense. The Vikings were 8-12 on 3rd downs but interestingly only faced three total 3rd downs in the first half mostly because they had so many big chunk plays on early downs.  Adam Thielen was a problem all day…he had half of Minnesota’s 3rd-down conversions.
  1. Norman/Breeland. After not being thrown at last week in Seattle, Minnesota seemed to target Norman at times.  Diggs and Theilen both had their way with him on a pair of 3rd-down completions.  I thought it looked like he had one of the worst games he’s had since he came to Washington.  Breeland got beat badly in the end zone on the touchdown to Diggs in the 2nd qtr.
  1. Gruden 4th-down decisions. I didn’t like the 4th and 6 decision at the end of the 3rd qtr.  You have to kick the field goal (49 yarder) in that situation to make it 35-23.  There is too much time left in the game and too many scoring chances.  4th and 6 is a tough ask.  The 4th and 1 decision with 4:48 left in the game was more debatable in my view.  Yes there is an argument for cutting the lead to 8 in that spot but 4th and 1 vs a 51-yard FG attempt is up to whether or not you like your play-call.  The problem was more the play-call to Thompson when they’ve had problems with him on short-yardage runs in the past. 
  1. Injuries.  The season of wounded continued today.  The Skins lost Kelley, Hall, Grant, Compton, and others.  The O-line was back but several of those players left/came back during the game.
  1. Terrell Pryor. Appeared to come in for Grant when he left the game but was never targeted.  Not sure how many snaps he would’ve played if not for injuries.  Harris is clearly better.  Pryor’s apology a few weeks back where he admitted to not being focused enough rings hollow.  There were reports that Cleveland tried to trade for Pryor last week.  I hope the Skins aren’t holding on to him as a way of not admitting a mistake.
  1. Final offensive drive. I thought the final drive that ended in the Rose 55-yd FG lacked urgency and smarts.  Vernon Davis should’ve gotten out of bounds on an early catch in the drive and the receivers (Doctson in particular) could’ve been more urgent in getting back to the line of scrimmage for the next snap.  Kirk taking the sack wasn’t smart.  He had to throw that away.
  1. The onsides kick. Nick Rose has been pretty good since arriving but that onsides kick was terrible.

More:

  1. Kirk Cousins. Kirk Cousins was far from the primary reason the Skins lost the game but he did throw a killer interception at the end of the first half that led to an 11-point deficit at the break.  He overthrew Crowder badly on that one.  He also missed Doctson on what could’ve been a touchdown late in the 3rd  qtr.  His throw to Grant on a 3rd and 8 sideline comeback was late and short but I think he was hit on the arm on the throw.  He took a sack late in the game before the Rose 55 yard FG which cost them time and distance too.  However, Cousins was very good at times against a top NFL defense that hasn’t given up more than 20 points all season long.  He had 5-6 passes dropped…3-4 of them by Crowder.  He completed some big throws to Thompson, Crowder, Davis, and Perine vs the blitz in particular.  His QB sneak for the touchdown was lucky after he bobbled the snap.  Perine deserves credit for pushing him.
  1. Rush offense. I thought the Skins ran the ball better than they have in recent weeks and didn’t give it enough of a chance at times.  Of course failing on 3rd and 1 & 4th and 1 with Thompson would conflict with that thought.  Thompson is not a good short-yardage runner unless you’re going to spread the field.  I hated both of those calls.  I thought Perine looked good.
  1. Theilen/Diggs. Chris Cooley told me earlier this week that Theilen was a top-10 NFL wide receiver and Theilen proved it today.  He caught 8 passes for 166 yards on 12 targets. Diggs is a true #1 WR in the NFL.  The former Terp went in the 5th round!
  1. Case Keenum. He was near-perfect in the first half throwing for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He finished 21-29 for 304 and 4 TDs.  His two interceptions kept the Skins in the game.  He’s good enough to win with and is the kind of QB the Skins will look at if they don’t sign or tag Cousins next year.  He’s a free agent at the end of the season.
  1. Minnesota timeout before Rose FG. Why did Mike Zimmer call a timeout before the Rose 55-yd FG?  The Redskins were hurrying but weren’t ready yet so Zimmer could’ve let the clock run more.
  1. KO returns. The Redskins had a few decent returns for the first time this year.  Thompson, Perine, and Harris averaged 26 yards per.
  1. Pre-snap alignment issues? It looked like the Skins were forced to use timeouts twice because of alignment issues with Davis once and perhaps Pryor and/or Sprinkle on the other.
  1. Low shot-gun snaps. There were at least a half-dozen low shot gun snaps from Rouillier.
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