Analysis of the Redskins’ passing game, running game, defense and special teams in the season-ending loss at the Giants
Week 17: Redskins concluded a 7-9 season with an 18-10 loss at the Giants on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, 2017)
Passing Game: F
What was potentially Kirk Cousins’ final game as a Redskin also was arguably his worst game as a Redskin. He went 20-for-37 for just 158 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions and was sacked three times. This was his first three-pick game over the last three seasons. Kirk’s Raw QBR was an abysmal 8.1, which was his worst in any game over the last three seasons. His yards-per-pass-attempt was an atrocious 4.27, which was his worst in any game over the last three seasons. And Kirk quarterbacked an offense that went 1-for-13 on third downs.
Kirk was so bad on so many throws. Let’s just look at his three picks:
Here is where Kirk finished the season in some of the more telling stats for quarterbacks. As you’ll see, he wasn’t as good as he was in 2015 and 2016, but he still was clearly at least in the upper half of NFL quarterbacks:
As bad as Kirk was in this game, this was yet another game in which his pass catchers didn’t do much.
Josh Doctson had just four receptions for 37 yards on 10 targets. He played on 89 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps in leading all Redskins receivers in offensive snaps for an eighth consecutive game. Here are Doctson’s stats during this season-ending eight-game stretch in which he played far more than any other Redskins receiver: 24 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns on 56 targets. He played as much as a no. 1 receiver in the second half of the season, but he didn’t produce like a no. 1 receiver. Doctson did lead the Redskins with six receiving touchdowns, but he also had a miserable catch percentage of 44.87, which was by far the worst on the team. And he ranked tied for no. 148 in the NFL in YAC (138) per ESPN.
Jamison Crowder had three receptions for 25 yards on seven targets, including two drops. Crowder finished the season leading the Redskins in receptions (66), receiving yards (789) and targets (103) and was no. 25 in the NFL in YAC (365) per ESPN. But he had an issue with drops this season.
Ryan Grant had two receptions for 23 yards on five targets. The Redskins’ seventh offensive drive, which resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out, included a Kirk third-and-eight shotgun incompletion on which he did a great job of avoiding an unblocked Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie but then threw behind Grant, who still could have made the catch. The 2014 fifth-round pick out of Tulane and Jay Gruden favorite had by far the most productive season of his career (45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns on 65 targets), but I still don’t see him as ever being anything more than a no. 4 receiver in a good receiving corps. There’s no shame in that, but it’s important to understand what he is.
The Redskins allowed three more sacks in this game. Kirk’s sack percentage for the season ended up being 7.1 as compared to 3.7 in 2016 and 4.6 in 2015. The injuries to the offensive line and at running back and Kirk holding onto balls longer in order to make plays all played a role in this.
If there was a bright spot for the Redskins passing game in this game, that bright spot was Kapri Bibbs in the screen game: eight receptions for 53 yards on nine targets.
The Redskins finished the season no. 14 in the NFL in passing offense per the Football Outsiders DVOA metric.
Running Game: D
In a Redskins season largely (though not entirely) ruined by injuries, no position group has been more ravaged than running back. And so it was fitting that Samaje Perine suffered an ankle injury on the Redskins’ second offensive play of the game and did not return. He finished with just two carries for three yards.
The Redskins went the rest of the game with Kapri Bibbs and Dare Ogunbowale as the team’s only available running backs. Bibbs had 12 carries for 47 yards (3.92 yards per carry), including a second-and-eight 16-yard under-center-handoff run with jet-sweep action on the second play of the drive that resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ third-quarter missed 47-yard field-goal attempt. There’s a burst with Bibbs that makes him worth keeping this offseason, especially when you factor in how well he did in the screen game over the last three games of the season.
Another positive for the Redskins’ running game came on the Redskins’ third offensive drive, which started at the Giants’ 20 thanks to Preston Smith’s first-and-20 pick of Eli Manning. The second play of that drive was a Kirk Cousins second-and-two 12-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run.
But the Redskins even with that Kirk touchdown run averaged just 3.81 yards per carry. Take out Kirk’s 12-yard touchdown run and that Bibbs 16-yad run, and the Redskins had 14 carries for just 33 yards (2.36 yards per carry). And no carry was worse than what came on the first play of the Redskins’ sixth offensive drive, which resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out. Jamison Crowder lost a yard on a first-and-10 under-center jet-sweep-handoff run on which he ran right into an Andrew Adams tackle, as Vernon Davis did a horrendous job of blocking Adams (Davis, in fact, was just dancing with Adams).
The Redskins finished the season no. 28 in the NFL in rushing offense per the Football Outsiders DVOA metric.
This game was a perfect microcosm for the 2017 Redskins’ defense: good against the pass, bad against the run. The Redskins finished the season per the Football Outsiders DVOA metric no. 6 in the NFL in pass defense but no. 29 in the NFL in run defense.
The Redskins, on the one hand, held Eli Manning (in perhaps his final game as a Giant) to just 10-of-28 for 132 yards. Eli’s 4.71 yards per pass attempt was nearly as bad as Kirk’s (4.27) in this game. Ryan Kerrigan destroyed a rookie out of Pitt, Adam Bisnowaty (bihz-noh-WAH-tee), for two sacks late in the second quarter (including a second-and-seven sack-strip on the play right before the two-minute warning). Preston Smith had a first-and-20 interception that led to Kirk Cousins’ first-quarter second-and-two 12-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run. Also, the Redskins held the Giants to 4-for-16 on third downs.
But as nice as all of that was, the Redskins’ run defense was as bad if not worse, because the Giants did have a number of drops. The Redskins allowed Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman to combine for 35 carries for 243 yards (6.94 yards per carry) and a touchdown. This happened despite new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman having made their starting left tackle, Ereck Flowers, inactive and having cut their starting right tackle, Bobby Hart.
One of the more maddening aspects of the Redskins’ Week 17 loss to the Giants at FedEx Field on New Year’s Day 2017 was the Giants, who had had a really bad running game, having a season-high 144 net yards rushing – through three quarters. Paul Perkins finished with 21 carries for 102 yards. Well, the Giants, who again have had a very bad running game this season, finished this game with a season-high 260 net yards rushing.
Another item for the Redskins’ defense in this game was the team’s best defensive back this season having some problems. Kendall Fuller got beat on an Eli first-quarter second-and-seven 16-yard under-center touchdown pass to Hunter Sharp two plays after Kirk Cousins’ third-and-seven shotgun pick to Kelvin Sheppard. The touchdown gave the Giants a lead of 12 points or more for the first time this season. And Fuller got beat on a screen and then stumbled on an Eli second-and-four 29-yard completion to Travis Rudolph on the drive that resulted in Aldrick Rosas’ first-quarter 23-yard field goal.
Special Teams: B-
Dustin Hopkins went 1-for-2 on field goals. He made a 49-yarder on the final play of the first half but missed a 47-yarder in the third quarter.
That 49-yard field goal happened thanks to Jamison Crowder. He averaged 15.33 yards on three punt returns, including a late-second-quarter 29-yarder that led to the 49-yard field goal on the next play.
Tress Way punted a ridiculous nine times in this game, averaging 47.3 yards and 43.9 net yards. He had a second-quarter 51-yard punt that was nearly blocked but ultimately resulted Quinton Dunbar tackling Kalif Raymond for a minus-one-yard return.
Anthony Lanier blocked the Aldrick Rosas extra-point attempt that followed Orleans Darkwa’ first-quarter second-and-10 75-yard shotgun-handoff touchdown run. That was good. D. J. Swearinger recovered the ball and ran hard toward the end zone before being clotheslined by Brett Jones. But as Swearinger was making the return, multiple Redskins were walking off the field, apparently unaware that the ball could be returned for two points.
Bashaud Breeland muffed the catch of the Aldrick Rosas kickoff that followed his first-quarter 23-yard field goal. Kapri Bibbs recovered the ball, but the ensuing Redskins drive started at their 15 and resulted in a punt on the second play of the second quarter.
The Redskins finished the season no. 22 in the NFL in special-teams efficiency per the Football Outsiders DVOA metric.
A few humbling facts to be aware of regarding the Redskins:
The Redskins’ offense played this game without:
The Redskins’ defense played this game without: