Archives for posts with tag: Jordan Reed

Sometimes an NFL season can turn on a dime.  In the span of four days last week, the Redskins lost their starting quarterback for the season and fell out of sole possession of first place of the NFC East.  Instead of 8-3 with a three game lead in the division, the Burgundy and Gold are fighting for their playoff lives with a backup quarterback that hasn’t seen regular action in four years.  The 23-21 loss to Houston and 31-23 defeat at Dallas don’t have this team on the ropes, but they’re not in great shape for 2018–or beyond.

Broken Leg, Busted Dreams- the season-ending injury of Alex Smith came on the 33rd anniversary of Joe Theismann’s career-ending compound fracture against the New York Giants.  Before the injury, Smith had thrown interceptions on back to back first half possessions.  He also had his lowest completion percentage and yards per attempt of the season and was sacked three times for the third straight week.  Now the veteran stares into the face of an 8 to 10 month rehabilitation.  Will he be able to come back after this?  And if not, how does this team handle the salary cap albatross?

Colt at the Controls- while McCoy threw a touchdown pass on his first drive off the bench, he tossed three interceptions against the Cowboys.  The new starter has a 73.9 passer rating, but now has a full week of practice reps with the first string for the first time since 2014.  So there’s that.  And didn’t he have his best moment in a Monday night on the road that year?

Third and New- under McCoy, the Skins converted 5 of 15 third downs.  The lone running play saw Adrian Peterson gain four yards on third and one.  Colt completed 3 of 9 passes with each of his completions resulting in a conversion while getting sacked twice and scrambling twice (moving the chains once).  His top target:  Jordan Reed (two catches/conversions in four passes thrown to).

Flying Flags- six penalties for 43 yards against Houston and four infractions for 25 yards at Dallas, giving the team 64 penalties (14th most in the league) for 692 yards (5th highest).  Four on offense (three false starts and a hold), five on defense (three holds, an illegal use of the hands, and a roughing the passer) and a hold on special teams.  For the season, offensive holding (23) and false starts (17) are the biggest offenders.  Morgan Moses has the most accepted penalties (8) while Fabian Moreau (6) is gaining ground; the safety’s hold in the fourth quarter against Dallas allowed the Cowboys to hold the ball for three more minutes and help kill the clock.

Dissecting the Division- the loss drops the Skins to second place in the NFC East, as Dallas owns the division record tiebreaker.  While the Cowboys own the fourth seed in the NFC, the Redskins are sixth-taking the second wildcard thanks to a conference  record tiebreaker against Seattle and a head-to-head tiebreaker against Carolina.  Philadelphia’s rally past the New York Giants keeps the Eagles’ season from hitting the skids…the third place team is ninth overall in the conference.  The New York Giants had a chance to escape the cellar but instead stay in the basement and are 14th in the NFC.

If the playoffs began today- the NFC matchups would have the Redskins visiting Chicago and Dallas hosting Minnesota; with top seed New Orleans playing the Cowboys, Vikings or Skins and the Los Angeles Rams meeting the Bears, Dallas or the Vikes.  The AFC would have Pittsburgh hosting the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore at Houston, with top seed Kansas City drawing the Steelers, Chargers or Ravens and New England preparing for the Texans, Pittsburgh or LA.

Competing Quartets, and the Conference Contest- the NFC East is 20-24…tied for sixth best (or worst, depending on your perspective) with the AFC East and NFC West.  The NFC South and AFC West are the tied for first at 24-20.  The AFC currently owns a 24-23 edge over the NFC.

 

 

 

Sunday’s 20-13 win at the New York Giants had “trap game” written all over it in such a manner it was almost disgusting.  If Hollywood cast for “Letdown Games”, this would be the prime candidate.  But instead of a disappointing defeat to cut whatever momentum the Redskins had built, coach Jay Gruden’s team comes home off to their hottest start since 2008 (we won’t go over how that ended, but it involved the Skins wearing burgundy on burgundy in a prime time game).  For a franchise that has missed the postseason in eight of the last ten years, there are no small victories.  Especially in the division.  Especially on the road.

Mr. Smith goes to the Meadowlands- Alex completed 20 of 32 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown while running for 13 yards on three carries and avoiding a sack.  While he’s not winning the Skins games at this time, Smith isn’t losing them.

Country Cousins- Kirk threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed an interception that was run back for a New Orleans touchdown.  While Cousins’ passer rating is over ten points (102.5 to 91.3) higher than Smith’s he also has four interceptions plus four lost fumbles this fall to just a pair of turnovers for Smith.

Yo Adrian- Mr. Peterson rumbled for a season-high 149 yards and a 64-yard touchdown while catching a TD pass that put the Skins on the board.  The offseason pickup is on pace to rush for 1,300 yards- not bad for a 33-year old.

Top Targets- Jordan Reed had arguably his best day of the season, catching seven passes for 38 yards.  Josh Doctson added season highs of five grabs and 49 yards.  While Paul Richardson and Chris Thompson are less than 100% and Jamison Crowder is on the shelf, Doctson’s presence is all the more important.

Third and Just Enough- the offense moved the chains on 6-of-15 attempts…with Alex Smith completing 8-of-12 passes for five conversions.  He also had a scramble for three yards on 3rd & 13.  Jordan Reed was the top target- catching four of seven passes thrown his way for two conversions.  The two runs?  Adrian Peterson gained one yard on 3rd & 1 while Christ Thompson gained a yard on 3rd & 10 in the fourth quarter.   Distance breakdown:  3-for-4 on 3rd & short (1-3 yards needed), 2-for-5 on 3rd and medium (4-6) and 1-for-6 on 3rd & long (7+ yards needed).

D continues to Grade Well- the Skins held the Giants to 37 yards on 14 carries while handcuffing NY to 2-of-14 on third down.  Matt Ioannidis tallied 2.5 of the team’s seven sacks while Mason Foster led the way with 13 tackles.  D.J. Swearinger posted a pair of interceptions to give the safety a league-best four picks on the season.

Special Situations- Tress Way averaged 49.2 yards per punt.  Wow.  Dustin Hopkins made two of three field goal attempts-missing a 41-yarder-while connecting on both extra point tries.  While the punt coverage team allowed a 19-yard return, there were minimal failures.

Flying Flags-  eight penalties for 90 yards–with 46 of coming on a defensive pass interference on Montae Nicholson that set up a Giants field goal (and that was the only flag on the D).  Four penalties were on offense (two false starts, a hold and a PI) while to were on special teams (false start on an extra point and offsides on a free kick).  Seven weeks into the season, over 50% have been either holds (13) or false starts (12).  Sunday’s most costly penalty?  A false start on Morgan Moses turned a 3rd & 1 into a 3rd & 6–resulting in a field goal.

Dissecting the Division- the Skins at 5-2 keep their one and a half game lead over Philadelphia, who beat Jacksonville in London Sunday morning.  There’s heaven, hell, purgatory and 9:30am London games.  Idle Dallas drops two games off the pace at 3-4 and responds by firing their offensive line coach.  The New York Giants at 1-7 continue to make the case for not being as good as their record would lead you to believe.  NFC seed/place:  Redskins are 3rd, Philly is 9th, the Cowboys are 12th and the Giants are 16th.

NFC Least- the division still has the worst composite record at 13-17, one half game behind the AFC South (14-17).  Good news for the Skins who still play Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee.  The best quartet?  The NFC South is 17-11–bad news for the Burgundy and Gold who still have to play Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

 

Well how about that?  Sunday they turned back the clock and put the Redskins-Cowboys game on CBS…kicked it off in the late-afternoon window and the two teams played in a 20-17 nailbiter decided on the final play.  The only thing missing was promos for “Murder………………She Wrote” coming up after “Sixty Minutes”.  Instead of being in a rugby scrum for the NFC East lead, the Skins find themselves with a rare early season cushion–yes, it’s only one and a half games but it’s their biggest advantage since the end of the 2015 campaign.  And if one looks a the upcoming schedule, the Burgundy and Gold face ONE team currently with a winning record the rest of the year.  That “winning” team is 4-3 Houston.

Mr. Smith Goes Underneath- Alex completed 14 of 25 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.  The 23-yard pass to Kapri Bibbs for the game’s first touchdown was his second-longest completion of the afternoon.  Now his average yards per completion for the season may rank 19th in the league at 11.2, but he’s almost one yard better than Captain Checkdown himself-Kirk Cousins (10.3).

Captain Kirk in Exile- the former franchise tagged threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns against the very team that outbid Minnesota for his services last winter in a 37-17 rout of the New York Jets.  For the season, Cousins has a passer rating of 101.8 to Smith’s 91.9.  But Smith has fewer turnovers (two to Kirk’s four).

Peterson’s Presence- Adrian rushed for 99 yards on 24 carries without a touchdown so the Fantasy Football players will be bummed, but once again the Redskins runningback gave the team exactly what they needed and wanted on the ground.  Can you imagine the offense without the offseason pickup?

Third and Troubling- the Skins went 3-for-12 at moving the chains with 10 of their 12 third downs needing at least seven yards.  Not ideal.  Smith went 5-for-7 with three conversions.  Kapri Bibbs led the team with two catches on two targets (and one conversion).  Smith scrambled twice and fumbled once.  His second scramble was the one he’d like back as Alex failed to stay in bounds and keep the clock moving late in the fourth quarter.   For the season the team ranks 23rd in the NFL at 37.5%, better than last year’s 32.1% that ranked 31st in the league.  Yardage breakdown:  0-for-2 on a pair of third and short (under 4 yards needed) runs and 3-for-10 on third and long (7+).

D earns an A- the Redskins handcuffed the Cowboys’ ground game, allowing 73 yards on 22 carries.  They also held Dallas to 5-of-14 on third down and Ryan Kerrigan’s strip-sack led to Preston Smith’s touchdown that proved to be the difference in the end.  It’s less than two weeks from the debacle at New Orleans, but one has to feel good about this unit-especially up front with Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen.  Kerrigan also notched his first two sacks of the season after being held in check.  Watch out for #91 as he gets untracked.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins drilled both of his field goals and extra points while Tress Way averaged 37.8 yards per punt–landing five of his six kicks inside the Dallas 20.  Nice to know that part of the game is not beating the Skins in a razor-thin margin league at this time.

Flying Flags- “Don’t Beat Yourself”.  It’s an easy mantra to have, but a tougher one to follow.  The Skins had five penalties (plus one that was declined) for 35 yards, keeping the team in the pack of least-penalized clubs (7th fewest infractions, 8th fewest yards).  Three of the five were on the offense (hold, false start and pass interference) while the other two were on the defense (encroachment and holding).  The early leaders in the clubhouse are holds (12) and false starts (9), with Trent Williams team-high five flags (3 holds and 2 false starts) making the tackle the most-whistled Redskin after six games.  Sunday’s most costly penalty?  Josh Harvey-Clemons’ defensive hold in the fourth quarter that turned what would have been a 3rd & 10 from the Skins’ 11 into a 1st & goal from the 6.  Dallas would reach the endzone three plays later.

Dissecting the Division- the win prevented the Redskins from falling out of first place in the NFC East…and they received an additional gift when Philadelphia blew a 17-0 lead to Carolina at home.  The Skins (4-2) are now a game and a half ahead of the Eagles and Dallas (Philly owns the division record tiebreaker) and are three and a half games up on the last-place New York Giants, who have dropped 19 of their last 23 games.  Conference Playoff Rankings:  the Redskins get the #3 seed while Philadelphia is in 11th place and Dallas holds down 13th (both are within two games of the second wildcard at this time).  The Giants are dead last in the NFC because San Francisco has a better conference record.

NFC Least- the 1-3 week meant that the Skins’ division dropped to 11-16…the worst record of the eight divisions.  The NFC South is #1 (Redskins still face Atlanta and Tampa Bay) with a 15-10 mark…while the AFC West and both Norths are above .500 at this time.  After a hot start the AFC East has returned to the “Patriots with three hot messes” and the NFC West has a pair of six-loss clubs in Arizona and San Francisco that look lost in the desert and by the bay.  Will the Eagles wake up from their early-season slumber?  And will the Cowboys’ trade for Amari Cooper be the jolt their sagging offense needs?  The Redskins are the hunted…for now.

 

We just knew the Skins would bounce back from their thrashing in New Orleans, right?  The 23-17 win over Carolina swings the burgundy and gold pendulum back over .500–and in a league where 16 of 32 teams are within a game of breaking even the “every week a new season” mentality is not even halfway over.  Buckle up and prepare for the pendulum to swing again.  And again.

Mr. Smith goes to the Endzone- Alex tossed a pair of first-half touchdowns, and while he only threw for 163 yards on the afternoon didn’t have any back-breaking mistakes.  And that was all minus Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder (a combined 39 catches, or 44% of Smith’s completions this year).   And that was with a banged up Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson.

Captain Kirk in Exile- Cousins threw for 233 yards and a touchdown while running for another score in 3-2-1 Minnesota’s 27-17 win over Arizona.  For the season the former franchised one has a passer rating of 102.7 (10th in the NFL) while the new kid in town has 90.9 (18th).  Not that anyone is keeping track.

Running is Back- Adrian Peterson and the ground game continued their rollercoaster ride.  One week after the Skins rushed for just 39 yards at New Orleans, Peterson (and his banged up shoulder) rumbled for 97 of the team’s 132 yards.  In three wins the team has averaged 160 yards rushing, and in three losses they’ve been held to 52 yards per game.

Best Run of the Day- the biggest run was not by Peterson but by his former Oklahoma teammate Trent Williams.  The left tackle somehow found a fumble in his hands on a third and long…and instead of going to the ground rumbled ahead eight yards.  He didn’t reach the first down marker, but got to the Carolina 38 and Dustin Hopkins’ 56-yard field goal was good.  Instead of the Panthers needing a field goal to tie with under a minute left, they had to go for the endzone.  Perhaps going forward this might be a new wrinkle in the playbook.

Tight End Tandems- Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis received 12 of the 34 targets,  with the duo combining for 8 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.  Reed had one sweet one-handed grab to help keep a first half drive alive and Davis caught the game’s first touchdown.  The TD was set up by a fumble recovery by fellow TE Jeremy Sprinkle on a special teams play.

Third and Reed-  the Skins moved the chains on 7 of 16 money downs…running the ball just once (a sneak by Alex Smith that got the job done).  Smith completed 8 of 13 passes for 6 conversions while getting sacked once.  Jordan Reed was the top target–with four passes thrown his way (two catches for one conversion).  Paul Richardson caught both of the passes thrown his way while generating one first down and one touchdown.  Yardage breakdown:  5-6 on 3rd and short, 1-3 on 3rd and manageable (4-6 yards needed), 2-7 on 3rd and long.

Norman Invasion Leads the Defense- six days after being benched in the loss at New Orleans, Josh Norman tallied his first interception since December of 2016 while also forcing a fumble that would lead to a field goal.  DJ Swearinger paced the team with seven tackles and recorded their only sack.  The D earned an A on third down, holding the Panthers to 3 for 9 while keeping Cam Newton and company out of the end zone on their final drive of the day.

Special Situations-  Dustin Hopkins connected on 29, 49 and (a career-long) 56 yard field goal attempts while Tress Way averaged 41 yards per punt.  But the big play came on a fumbled punt return by Carolina’s DJ Moore.  Jeremy Sprinkle recovered the loose ball and the Skins would convert on the very next play with the previously mentioned 22-yard TD pass from Smith to Davis.

Flying Flags- five penalties for 43 yards gives the team 33 for 300 on the season (seventh fewest infractions and ninth fewest yards in the NFL).  Two holds (Trent Williams and Morgan Moses) plus an intentional grounding on Alex Smith were the offensive flags.  Preston Smith picked up a neutral zone infraction while DJ Swearinger was whistled for taunting after the Panthers went incomplete on fourth down with under a minute to play.  Most costly flag– Smith’s grounding took the team out of field goal range after they had the ball on the Panther 33-yard line.

Dissecting the Division- the victory keeps the Skins ahead by one half game in the NFC East and owns the tiebreaker over Chicago for the #3 seed (common opponents).  Philadelphia owns the common foes tiebreaker over Dallas for second place.  Both the Eagles and Cowboys are a half game out of the Wildcard (Green Bay’s MNF win puts the Packers in the #6 spot).  The New York Giants remain in the cellar and dead last in the conference…and the gap is widening by the week.

NFC Least- well, the 10-13 composite record of the division is the seventh best in the league…only better than the AFC South (good news, the Skins have three more games against the South this year).  The AFC North is tops at 13-9-2 (boosted by 2-3-1 Cleveland) …with the NFC North (11-9-2) and AFC East (13-11) helped by last-second field goals in prime time.

 

So–you’re telling me the Redskins needed two weeks to come up with what we saw Monday night?  Sadly the Skins in their 43-19 loss to New Orleans showed more pretender than contender…2-2 for the seventh time in ten years.  This wasn’t just a loss, this was a dismal defeat and an exposing exhibition.  Instead of taking control of what appears to be a sagging NFC East, the Burgundy and Gold keep the hopes of Cowboys and Eagles fans alive.  Giants fans–2020 is going to be great.  Meanwhile, Drew Brees carved up the defense like a beignet to the tune of a video game on cheat mode 26 of 29 passes while passing Peyton Manning’s career mark for passing yards.

Not Ready For Prime Time Again- the Skins drop to 1-7 on Monday Night Football under coach Jay Gruden, with the only victory coming in 2014 at eventual NFC East Champ Dallas.  With Colt McCoy at the controls.  Perhaps the Redskins should make him their designated MNF starter.

Mr. Smith Goes to .500- Alex completed 23 of 39 passes for 275 yards and an interception while getting sacked three times.  Number 11 did score the team’s first touchdown late in the first half…but looked shaky throughout the night.

Kirk in Exile- Cousins helped lead Minnesota to a 23-21 win at Philadelphia in a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship, albeit with different starting quarterbacks.  Kirk completed 30 of 37 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.  And unlike the game at the Los Angeles Rams, there were no defeat-sealing fumbles.  Cousins after five games has a passer rating of 105.1 (7th best in the NFL) to Smith’s 92.9 (20th).

Running on Empty- I guess an even-numbered game means the Skins will have trouble on the ground:  a season-low 39 yards on 18 carries.  Adrian Peterson gained 6 yards on 4 tries while injuring his shoulder.  Granted, they trailed from the end of the Saints’ first drive.  It’s tough to establish the run when being forced into playing catch-up.

Third and Longer- the offense converted 4 of 13 third downs…passing on every play.  Alex Smith completed 6 of 12 passes (for 4 conversions) while getting sacked once.  His top target was Jamison Crowder (one catch in 3 attempts) while Chris Thompson tallied 2 receptions (and one conversion).  Yardage breakdown:  1-3 on third and short (1-3 yards needed), 1-2 on third and medium (4-6 yards) and 2-8 on third and long (7+).  It’s tough to move the chains when over 60% of your opportunities are long-distance.

D earns an F- so much for the new look defense that shined in September.  The Skins allowed touchdowns the first four times the Saints had the ball…and New Orleans had possession for the final 10:25 of the night.  The secondary suffered multiple breakdowns, and cornerback Josh Norman was benched for a series in the third quarter made memorable when Drew Brees burned rookie Greg Stroman.  What’s nice is that Ryan Kerrigan posted his first sack of the season.

Flying Flags- six penalties for 38 yards.  Four on the defense and two on special teams.  No multiple offenders this time–although there were a pair of defensive holds and a hold on a punt return.  The most costly flag?  Down 6-3 the Skins got a third down sack of Drew Brees-but Montae Nicholson gets whistled for unnecessary roughness.  Instead of a 4th and 16 from the New Orleans 41, Brees and company get a 1st and 10 from the Washington 44.  They’d score six plays later for the first double-digit lead of the day.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins made both of his field goal attempts and Tress Way averaged 36.7 yards over three punts.

Dissecting the Division- even with the loss the Skins remain on top of the NFC East.  Dallas, Philadelphia and the NY Giants each lost one-possession games Sunday.  The 2-3 Cowboys enjoy the division record tiebreaker over the Eagles while the 1-4 Giants currently occupy last place in the East and in the entire NFC.

NFC Least- the Skins are atop the only division that doesn’t have at least one team with a winning record.  the 7-12 mark held by the East is the worst in football–while the AFC North is the best at 11-7-2 (but only 9-5-1 without the help of Cleveland).  The NFL is a snapshot league, but this has the feel of 2015 when a 9-7 record could win it all over again.  Meaning a team that loses a lot of games will win the division–and the Skins could easily be that team.

Sunday’s 31-17 win over Green Bay was further proof that the NFL is a snapshot league.  Last week’s crisis turns into this week’s validation.  Are the Redskins as good as their wins over the Packers and Arizona would lead you to believe?  Likely not…just like this team is not as bad as the unit that lost to Indianapolis.  Winning is both a process and a result–and what’s most important in the league is that the Skins are 2-1.

Mr. Smith goes to the Endzone- the new face of the franchise completed 12 of 20 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.  Any doubts about his ability to stretch the field were put aside on the first drive with a 46-yard scoring strike to Paul Richardson Jr.  While the offense gained just 48 yards in the second half, they didn’t give the Packers great field position to start from after intermission.

Kirk downgrades from Captain to Lieutenant- while the Skins were rolling past the Packers, Alex Smith’s predecessor ran into disaster:  Minnesota’s 27-6 loss at home to Buffalo was the biggest pointspread upset since 1995.  Cousins threw for 292 yards (averaging seven yards per completion) while tossing an interception and losing two fumbles.  For the season, Cousins’ passer rating drops to 98.8 while Smith’s is 102.2.

Running Game Revived- after the Skins gained just 66 yards on the ground in week two, the pendulum swung back past the century mark as the team racked up 166 yards against the Packers.  Adrian Peterson tallied 120 yards…his first 100-yard effort wearing burgundy and gold.

Better to Receive- while Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder each notched four catches,  Sunday was more about quality than quantity.  Vernon Davis had a 50-yard reception, Richardson had that 46-yard strike for a score and Reed had a 34-yard catch.

Third and a Tale of Two Halves- the pre-intermission Skins converted 4-of-5 third downs, while the post-break offense moved the chains on just 1-of-6 attempts.  The pass-run blend was 9-to-2 (accounting for Smith scrambles).  Alex completed 3-of-6 passes for a pair of conversions while scrambling twice for first downs (on three scrambles).  He also moved the chains on a QB sneak.  Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson were each targeted twice.  Yardage breakdown:  2-2 on 3rd & short (1-3 yards needed), 2-4 on 3rd & medium (4-6) and 1-5 on 3rd & long (7+).

D earns an A- don’t look now, but the Burgundy and Gold defense that’s resided in the 20’s most of this decade currently ranks second overall in the league and allows the second fewest points per game.  Sunday they sacked Aaron Rodgers four times and held on third down when they needed to.  Jonathan Allen tallied a pair of sacks while Mason Foster made 10 tackles.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins made a 35-yard field goal and all four of his extra point attempts.  Tress Way averaged 47 yards per punt.  Consistently throughout the day the Skins gave the Packers long field position: just once did Green Bay start a drive beyond their own 35.

Flying Flags-  the Skins were penalized six times for 66 yards, giving them 22 (tied for 16th most in the league) for 215 yards (8th most).  Five were on the offense with one (a pass interference on Quinton Dunbar) for the defense.  It was NOT a good day for Ty Nsekhe, who had three flags:  two false starts and a hold. Vernon Davis had a taunt and a hold.  The most costly penalty?  A sequence in the third quarter when Davis’ hold and Nsekhe’s false start turned a 2nd & 6 from the Green Bay 35 into a punting situation.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia’s win over Indianapolis gives the Eagles a 2-1 record, and they technically own first place because of a better record against common opponents.  Dallas owns the tiebreaker for third place thanks to their win over the New York Giants.  NFC Playoff Picture Rankings:  Eagles 4th, Redskins 5th, Cowboys 13th, Giants 15th.

 

The Redskins began 2017 hoping to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991-92, needing a win on New Year’s Day over the New York Giants to make the postseason.  Flash-forward 364 days and the Burgundy and Gold wrapped up a second straight non-playoff year by losing to the Giants on New Year’s Eve.  Instead of a 19-10 loss with thoughts of what could have been, it’s an 18-10 defeat with the grim realization of what isn’t.  Momentum in the NFL is a fickle beast…and the Skins have gone from 9-7 to 8-7-1 to 7-9.  While the 24-23-1 mark over the last three seasons is their best since 1999-2001’s 26-22 (the new glory years), one wonders what’s next.  As in another three months of the Kirk Cousins saga sucking all of the energy and optimism out of the room.  Meanwhile, there’s a team with needs that need to be addressed…but we won’t be watching because the dance with #8 will likely be played out as it has been the last two springs.

Here We Go Again- was anyone shocked that the Skins laid an egg against the Giants in week 17?  Last year’s loss is still with many…but 2013 gave us another clunker that set the NFL back 30 years.  Perhaps they should schedule the Cowboys or the Eagles to wrap up the season…

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One did not save his best for last in 2017, throwing for 158 yards and no touchdowns.  He also threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.  A rough end to a third straight 4,000-yard season, despite losing his top two receivers to free agency and then his top target Jordan Reed to injury mid-season.  His new #1 Terrelle Pryor was as bad a signing as one thought it would be.  There’s been no running game of note to keep defenses honest.  And in some circles the 2017 season will be a referendum on Cousins.  Good luck and godspeed, my boy.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent:  “The Squire of Gothos”, where the crew meet a strange being and we’re marking time until the episode ends.  The original series lasted three seasons- will we get a fourth installment of Captain Kirk commanding the USS Burgundy and Gold?  Or will we be forced to watch Kirk on a different show with Adrian Zmed and Heather Locklear?

Running In Place- the Skins were held to 61 yards rushing…or 14 fewer yards than Orleans Darkwa gained for the Giants on the second play from scrimmage.  Kapri Bibbs had a 16-yard run to highlight his 47-yard outburst.  The absence of a ground game counterpunch once again undercuts a team that plays meaningful games in the northeast where it’s cold.

Receiving Corps- Bibbs led the team in receiving as well with 8 catches for 53 yards…so he reached the century mark in a roundabout way.  Josh Doctson ended his first full season with 4 grabs for 37 yards.  His season totals are comparable to Pierre Garcon, until you realize the veteran missed half of the season.  Jamison Crowder had 3 more receptions to finish atop the team with 66 catches, or one fewer than last year.  If you’re Kirk, do you want to stay and throw to these guys again next fall?

Third and Unlucky- the Skins converted just 1-of-13 money downs.  Cousins completed 4 of 11 passes for 2 conversions while getting sacked once.  Bibbs was stuffed for no gain on a 3rd and 1 in the team’s lone running play on third down.  The top option?  Crowder nets the lone conversion while making two receptions on four targets.  Yardage breakdown:  0-for-1 on third and short, 1-for-3 on third and manageable, 0-for-9 on third and long.  As has been the case for most of the season, the majority of third down plays were needing 7+ yards to convert.  Beyond not ideal.

Zach Attack II- Zach Vigil led the team with 16 tackles…giving the team confidence for 2018.  I’m hoping for a 3-4 defense that features the two Zachs next fall, just to be able to empty all of my “Saved by the Bell” observations (who’s ready to hum a couple of bas of “Friends Forever”?).  Meanwhile, Preston Smith’s interception clinches the best finishing haul by a Preston since my Uncle Chris’ last fishing trip to Colombia.

Flying Flags- only four infractions on the final day, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the officials were swallowing their whistles to get out of the cold in a draft-order game.  Two on the offense (delay of game and a clip) and two on the defense (illegal hands and a trip).  The clip and delay were the two costly ones–turning what would have been a 2nd & 9 form the Giants 42 into a 1st & 30 on the Skins 36.  Not a ton of 1st & 30 plays in the book.

Special Situations- Jamison Crowder’s 29-yard punt return led to the final points of the season for the Skins…unfortunately that spark doesn’t make up for the fumbles this fall.  Dustin Hopkins made a 49-yard field goal while missing from 47 (his only miss inside 50 this season) to finish 14-of-17 in 2017.  Tress Way?  A 47.3 yard average on nine punts…allowing him to finish 13th in gross punting average.  Unfortunately the punt coverage team was less than awesome, so Hopkins ranks 28th in the NFL in net yardage.  Where’s Danny Smith when you need him?

Dissecting the Division- the Eagles despite losing to Dallas have home field advantage in the NFC thanks to boasting a better common opponents mark than #2 seed Minnesota.  Dallas (9-7) takes ninth in the conference after losing NFC record and head-to-head tiebreakers to Detroit and Seattle.  The Redskins (7-9) finish 12th in the conference because Green Bay boasted a better record against common foes.  The Giants (3-13) despite winning lock down the #2 draft pick in 2018.  Lawrence Taylor isn’t available.

Elimination Island- the Ravens’ defeat to Cincinnati blew the purple and black out of the water.  It also allowed Buffalo in the back door for the first time this century.  Despite the Los Angeles Chargers’ win over the Bills in the regular season, Tennessee’s victory over Jacksonville keeps LA from having two playoff teams for the first time since 1985.  Seattle was locked out of the NFC Playoffs when Atlanta beat Carolina.

So this is the team we have.  A 3-4 squad that has more than a few injuries on an offensive line currently being held together by duct tape and paper clips (plus the occasional stapler).  A running game that scares nobody…and a receiving corps where the supporting players are forced to carry the show.  The Redskins are at a crossroads after Sunday’s 33-19 loss to Dallas…because their next three games are against division leading Seattle, New Orleans and Minnesota.  Teams that are a combined 16-6.  Teams that could put the Burgundy and Gold four games under .500 as they enter Thanksgiving week.  They say March enters a lion and exits like a lamb…I’m feeling that November enters for the Redskins like a deer that just stepped on a nail that’s about to cross the GW Parkway.  Brace yourselves…

 

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completed 26 of 39 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown.  Unfortunately he lost a fumble and tossed an interception–and the Cowboys were able to generate 10 points off of those turnovers.  The pick-six reminded fans real quick about the Giants loss last year.  He was also sacked four times behind a makeshift offensive line and had minimal time to look deep.  The real loss for Kirk though was learning the SS Niners traded for a new captain in Jimmy Garoppolo.  This takes another ship away from Kirk–as Jared Goff is playing well for the Rams.  In the offseason one would have guessed that the Rams and Niners–with former Redskins Offensive Coordinators in charge–would be prime landing spots for Kirk.  Now I’m thinking Jacksonville might be the best place for his next five-year mission.  Episode Equivalent- “Elaan of Troyius”.  As bad as it sounds…with tears being used as a drug.

Running on Empty- the ground game gained a season-low 49 yards on 15 carries…with ten of those coming on the final play from scrimmage.  On a day where the rain and wind was less than ideal, the Skins ran the ball just 15 times.  For comparison, Ezekiel Elliott had 18 carries in the second half alone.

Catch Me if You Can- nine receptions for 123 yards gives Jamison Crowder a major game-ball…while Chris Thompson adds eight grabs for 76 yards.  That’s 65% of the day’s completions and 76% of the receiving yardage made by two guys who in an ideal world are complimentary players.  Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson & Terrelle Pryor combined for two catches for six yards.

Third and Maybe Not- the Skins moved the chains on 4 of 13 attempts.  Cousins completed 7 of 11 passes while getting sacked twice–losing a fumble on the first possession of the second half.  Ryan Grant was the top option with two conversions on three catches and four targets overall.  Distance breakdown:  1-for-1 on short yardage, 2-for-4 on medium (4 to 6 yards needed) and 1-for-8 on long yardage.  So…over 60% of their third downs were long yardage?  The Skins had more third & 20’s than third and shorts.  Not good…

Zach Brown Band- Bayside’s best led the team again with 12 tackles…as the free agent pickup currently leads the NFL with 75 stops.  As in over ten per game.  Unfortunately he’s playing behind a banged up line and in front of a shattered secondary.

Third Down D- the Skins held the Cowboys to 5 of 14 on the money down, forcing four field goals in the second half.  Truth be told there were a few plays wiped out by holding calls that would have resulted in big gains or touchdowns, but the D held its own on a short field.  Dallas twice converted on third and short by using running plays (I know, seriously?) and was 2-for-4 on the ground while 3-for-10 through the air.  Yardage breakdown:  3-for-4 on short yardage, 2-for-6 on medium yardage and 0-for-4 needing 7+ yards.

Special Situations-  well, well.  We’re not going to call the kicking game “special” this week because there were issues.  A blocked field goal that turned a potential nine-point lead into a one-point deficit. A missed extra point.  A penalty on a punt that resulted in 30 yards of field position gained by Dallas.  And Jamison Crowder muffed a punt.  Plenty to chew on this week.

Flying Flags- five penalties for 32 yards…with two contributing to Dallas scoring drives.  Just one on offense (false start-Moses), two on defense (offsides on Galette and unnecessary roughness on Brown) and two on special teams (low block on Way, illegal touch on Holsey).  The Way penalty was actually okay…as his low block prevented a Dallas TD on the blocked kick return.  At least the Skins forced them to run two plays inside the five.  Most costly penalty?  Brown’s flag put the Cowboys within field goal range…and gave them their final points of the day.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia leads the NFC East at 7-1 while also owning the #1 seed in the conference.  Dallas at 4-3 is in second place of the division;  the Cowboys are 9th in the NFC as they lose out on tiebreakers with Atlanta (conference record) and Green Bay (head to head).  The Skins 3-4 mark has them in third of the NFC East and 11th in the conference;  NFC records have them one spot behind Detroit and one slot ahead of Arizona.  The New York Giants after their bye week are 1-6 and in last place of the division;  they’re 15th in the NFC with winless San Francisco not chasing them as much as running in the other direction.

Conference Call- the NFC is 15-13 against the AFC after eight weeks.  The best division is the AFC East at 18-10 while the AFC North is a league-worst 13-18 (the Browns will do that to you).  The NFC East is 15-14 and trending in the right direction…I think.  How many more bye weeks to the Giants get?

 

There was a window that slammed shut Monday night.  It may be for the NFC East, although Philadelphia lost their best offensive lineman as well as a starting middle linebacker.  But up 10-3 in the second quarter the Burgundy and Gold had an opportunity to build off a dominant first quarter.  Instead, the offense sputtered and the defense coughed up touchdowns on three consecutive possessions that spanned intermission.  Instead of coming home one half game behind the Eagles, the Redskins are 3-3 after losing 34-24 to the division leaders.  And Philly owns the head to head tiebreaker, meaning if the Skins want to win the division they have to be three and a half games better than the Eagles the rest of the way.  The Skins’ next four foes are a combined 16-9.  Buckle up…

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One posted another 300-yard passing effort…his third in four games.  He also ran for 18 yards (although he didn’t lead the team on the ground this time).  But when they needed Star Trek Equivalent- “Spectre of the Gun”.  This final-season episode saw Kirk & company face foes from the old west…and amidst production cost issues they had to scrimp on the sets.

Running Aground- the Skins were held to 75 yards rushing…and multiple times turned away from pounding the ball on third and short.  Chris Thompson tallying 38 yards on the ground is one thing…but the runningback leading the Skins with 38 yards rushing is another.

And the Skins’ best wideout is???- I’m voting for Vernon Davis.  The veteran tight end paced the team with 67 yards receiving on 4 catches.  Jordan Reed had his best game of the year (8 catches for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns) although he’s still slowed down by injury.  Last year’s first round pick continues to underwhelm, although Josh Doctson’s 3 grabs almost doubled his total for 2017.  Terrelle Pryor?  Officially entering free agent bust territory as the offseason acquisition caught a pair of passes for 14 yards.  Jamison Crowder (1 catch for 3 yards) remains an afterthought…and now fumbles with alarming regularity.  DeSean & Garcon never looked so good…after combining for 10 catches Sunday for 122 yards with their respective teams.

Hold the Line- they need all the comfort they can get.  Four of the five starers on the Skins’ offensive line are banged up in some way after Monday night’s loss.  Not great as they prepare for Dallas–if they can prepare.  Limited numbers meant a walk-through Wednesday.  The Cowboys’ D is second in the league in sacks-per-game.  Not ideal.

Third and Frustrating-  converting 4 of 12 attempts is never good, especially when one is 0-for-5 in the first half and fails three times to move the chains on 3rd & 1.  They ran the ball once–on a 3rd & 25 in the fourth quarter.  Cousins completed 4 of 9 passes for 2 conversions…while scrambling for a first down and getting sacked once.  The top target?  Jordan Reed caught 2 of 4 passes for a pair of conversions.  Distance breakdown:  0-for-3 on 3rd & short, 2-for-4 on 3rd & manageable (4 to 6 yards needed) and 2-for-5 on 3rd & long.

Zach Brown Band- the linebacker leads the way with 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks.  He’s not the best in pass coverage, but on a defense with injuries up front (no Jonathan Allen) and on the back end (at least until Josh Norman returns).

Getting off the Field- the Eagles were 6 for 12 on third down…actually running the ball four of the five times they faced 3rd & short.  While the Skins’ D denied Philly on 4-of-5 long yardage situations, Carson Wentz turned a near-sack on 3rd & 8 into a 17 yard scamper.  That one still stings.

A Rose is a Kicker by any other name- Nick Rose converted all three extra points and made a 27-yard field goal in his NFL debut.  Welcome to the league, Nick–if you stick with the team through December you’ll give me a great “It’s a Wonderful Life” crutch.  Tress Way averaged over 47 yards per punt.  Jamison Crowder averaged eight yards per punt return but had his customary fumble.

Flying Flags- five penalties for 55 yards.  One came on a punt (Nick Sundberg’s hold) and resulted in the Eagles beginning a possession at their 35-yard line instead of their 13.  The four defensive flags involved a pair of facemasks, a hold and a pass interference.  Quinton Dunbar was whistled twice–for a PI and a facemask while Breeland had one of his two defensive holds declined (because of Dunbar’s facemask on the same play).  Breeland has a team-high 8 penalties this year (although three have been declined).  The most popular penalty remains an offensive hold with nine–although technically this week’s offensive hold came on special teams.  The most costly flag?  Dunbar’s PI that turned what would have been a 4th & 3 into a first and goal at the 1.  The Eagles would take the lead for good shortly thereafter.

Dissecting the Division- Philly’s win not only gives the Eagles a two and a half game lead at 6-1, but they also own the best record in the NFC.  Dallas at 3-3 owns the divisional tiebreaker with the Redskins…so the Cowboys are in 2nd place of the NFC East while holding down the 9th spot in the conference (Atlanta has a better NFC record while Detroit does not).  The Cowboys come to Fed Ex Field Sunday…by the way.  The Skins reside in 3rd place of the NFC East are 11th in the conference standings (strength of victory keeps them behind the Lions).  The New York Giants at 1-6 remain in last place and are in 15th thanks to San Francisco’s rebuild.

Conference Call- the NFC owns a 14-13 edge after seven weeks of interconference competition.  The best quartet?  How about the AFC East at 16-10–I guess they’re more than just the Patriots (for the moment).  The AFC North is a league-worst 10-17…but that’s with the 0-7 Browns in the mix.  The NFC East ranks 5th at 13-13…one half game out of 3rd but one half game better than 6th.

 

I don’t gamble.  Yes, I circle my picks every Sunday morning (this week I went 8-8 against the spread, reason #246 why I don’t gamble) but I rarely put cash down on an NFL game (plus, it’s illegal in these parts).  Monday night was reason #247 why I don’t put dollars on a sporting event:  with under a minute to play the Redskins were down 20-17 and if you had the Burgundy & Gold +7 or the under of 48.5 you were in great shape.  Even with a Skins field goal at :47 life was okay.  Even with a Chiefs FG at :04 it wasn’t the end of the world.  The world did end when the Redskins ran an offensive play drawn up in my backyard…and instead of being able to run around an oak tree they lost the ball and the Chiefs returned it for a score that covered the spread and scored the over.  As time expired.  THAT IS WHY WE DON’T GAMBLE.  

The 29-20 loss drops the Skins to 2-2 on the season and if they had RPI in the NFL they’d be in great shape:  the combined record of their four foes is 12-4.  Plenty of good and bad to chew on during the bye week.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completed 14-of-24 passes for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions or sacks.  Many will point to his third down pass that Josh Doctson couldn’t quite hang on to…but I will focus on Kirk making things happen with his feet on multiple occasions.  Much like when Captain Kirk thought he was the chief “KIROK” on the episode “The Paradise Syndrome”, Cousins did his darnedest to save the Burgundy and Gold planet from destruction.

Running in Circles- Cousins was the team’s leading rusher for the second time in four games…and through some sort of coincidence the Skins are 0-2 in those games.  The tailback trio of Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley combined for 73 yards on 3.8 per carry.  Not awful like against the Eagles, but definitely not awesome like the last two weeks.

Receiving Review- Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson combined to catch 5 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, but those watching will remind everyone about the passes they didn’t catch:  Doctson’s grab would’ve resulted in a go-ahead TD and Pryor has developed a rep for not making catches between the numbers.  Jordan Reed returned to the lineup and made 3 receptions for 21 yards:  while his 14 catches on the season are tied for the team lead the TE is averaging 7.5 yards per catch.  On the other end of the spectrum from the young injured player is the healthy veteran-and Vernon Davis made 2 grabs for 89 yards while helping set up the Skins’ lone second half touchdown.

Third and Lost- after converting three of their first four money downs, the Skins failed to move the chains on six of their final seven attempts.  Kirk Cousins completed 3-of-8 passes for two conversions while scrambling for another first down…and his top target was Jordan Reed (completing 1-for-3 passes with one conversion).  Rob Kelley moved the sticks on his lone third down carry of the night.  Yardage Breakdown:  1-for-6 on 3rd & short, 0-for-1 on 3rd & mid-range (4 to 6 yards needed) and 3-for-4 on 3rd & long.

Defensive Dynamics- if it seemed as though the secondary was falling apart, it kind of was.  Josh Norman was just one player to depart due to injury (ribs)…and for a while I was confusing Stefan McClure with Troy McClure (“you might remember me from such situations as “The Shattered Secondary” and “Here Comes the Kickoff Team!”).  Zach Brown led the team with nine tackles while Martell Spaight added eight stops.

Third Down Blues in the Land of Red- the Chiefs converted 8-of-13 money downs…including 4-for-4 on the ground and short-yardage.  The bright spot?  Six of the 13 attempts came from 7+ yards…so at least the D was doing its job on 1st and 2nd down.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins converted both field goal attempts (with a long of 40) while Tress Way averaged 42.3 yards per punt (landing two inside the 20 as opposed to one touchback).  No punt or kickoff returns made for a quiet evening.

Flying Flags- the Skins were whistled for 44 yards on seven penalties.  All on the defense.  Five resulted in first downs for the Chiefs and three came on a last-minute drive that ended in a missed KC field goal.  Most costly?  Second quarter…a Neutral Zone Infraction by Preston Smith (he had two other flags declined Monday night) turned a 3rd & 8 into a 3rd & 3 at midfield the Chiefs would convert.  They’d go on to score their first TD of the game on that drive…and crawl back into the game.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia’s win at San Diego keeps the Eagles in first place while Dallas takes second thanks to the NFC East tiebreaker (1-0 to 0-1) with Washington.  The Redskins are one of six 2-2 teams in the conference…and currently rank 12th.  The New York Giants continue to find ways to lose…and at 0-4 are 15th due to a better strength of schedule than 0-4 San Francisco.

Conference Call- the NFC owns a 10-7 lead in the early interconference contest.  The NFC South is the early division to beat at 10-5 while the AFC North is a depressing 6-10.  The NFC East?  A 7-9 made possible by the Giants’ rough start.