Archives for posts with tag: Kirk Cousins

Portions previously appearing on WTOP.COM (apologies to the late Glen Campbell)-

By the time Kirk gets to Arizona, the Redskins will be mourning the loss of a three-time 4,000-yard passer as well as their most stable quarterback situation since Joe Theismann in the mid-80’s.  Don’t blame Cousins for leaving.  He’s done nothing but do the right thing since being drafted in the fourth round in 2012.  He learned the system and competed without complaining, sitting behind the face of the franchise Robert Griffin III.  He even shined as an understudy in spot situations and was likely going to be trade bait after two or three seasons in Ashburn.  But when the Skins brass realized that RG3 was brittle beyond belief and not as good as Cousins, Kirk received a battlefield promotion from lieutenant to captain.  He’s since responded with back-to-back-to-back 4,000 yard seasons.  Previous 4,000-yard passing seasons in team history?  Only two– Jay Schroeder in 1986 and Brad Johnson in 1999.

By the time Kirk gets to Glendale, the Cardinals will be building with a new coach.  One that will be 100% behind getting a quality quarterback to throw to Larry Fitzergald the final years of the future Hall of Famer’s career.  Even with all of the quarterback issues and coaching uncertainty Arizona had this fall, they went 8-8.  He’ll be going to a team that actually plays defense (ranked sixth in the league in 2017) and was only a competent and healthy quarterback away from competing for a playoff berth.  Arizona’s been to a Super Bowl recently with Kurt Warner, and played in an NFC Championship game with Carson Palmer.  Far from being the Zeppo Marx of the NFC East, these Cardinals have won five playoff games over the last ten years.  The Redskins have appeared in a total of five postseason games since the 2000 season started.

By the time Kirk gets to Tempe, the Redskins will be waking up to the fact that the quarterback situation around the league isn’t necessarily feast-or-famine, it’s surviving-or-starving.  Is Cousins a once-in-a-generation Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers?  No.  Not even close.  But he’s worlds better than Brock Osweiller (193 yards passing plus an interception and a fumble Christmas Eve at FedEx Field) and solar systems better than Blaine Gabbert (16-of-41 passing with an interception and three fumbles the week before).  Cousins over the last three years has the sixth-highest passer rating in the NFL, trailing only Brady, Brees, Ryan, Wilson and Rodgers.  He’s proven to be more than a stop-gap measure in DC, but for some reason has not merited long term foundation money.

By the time Kirk gets to Phoenix Stadium, the Skins will realize that he actually overachieved this past fall.  Think about it- Cousins lost top targets Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson to free agency only to see the offseason signing of Terrelle Pryor underwhelmed from day one.  Pryor’s season ended with injury, as did top option Jordan Reed.  Even the best receiver out of the backfield Chris Thompson didn’t make it into December.  I’m not even going to discuss the running back rotation he’s had to rely on over the years.  After the nonsense and shenanigans he’s had to deal with here, it’s nice to see Kirk find a better place and an organization who will build around and with him-as opposed to building in spite of what he brings to the table.  Hopefully the Cardinals will be adding some linemen (52 sacks allowed was the 2nd most in the league last fall) to keep Kirk upright.  Perhaps from Wichita.

 

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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.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is an odd one;  it’s almost as though time is suspended because most are off at some point in time during the week.  Does it really matter which day it is?  You could also say the same about the Redskins’ 27-11 rout of Denver.  Does a late December victory over a last place team matter?  Yes it does.  Because .500 remains a possibility…and the players fighting for jobs in 2018 have another game of tape that highlights their upside instead of call out their deficiencies.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns while tossing one interception and taking one sack.  Kirk stretched the field with TD strikes of 31 and 48 yards while working with a receiving corps that resembles a smokey big bite from 7-11.  If this was his final home game at FedEx Field, then good luck and godspeed to #8.  Episode Equivalent:  “What are Little Girls Made Of?”- where Nurse Chapel meets an ex, Kirk is replicated into an android but plants the necessary red flag for Spock to be suspicious.

Running its Course- Samaje Perine gained 53 yards on 17 carries…his fourth straight week of 10+ attempts resulting in less than 60 yards.  Whether or not Cousins comes back in 2018, the Redskins need a hammer on the ground.  I have the full confidence they won’t draft or sign one.

Give it up to Grant- I’ve often called Ryan Grant “Mr. August”, due to his ability to shine in the preseason before becoming anonymous.  Well he could be angling for “Mr. December”, as he led the team with 4 catches Sunday.  Grant’s tallied 12 grabs since Thanksgiving and has posted 43 receptions for 550 yards this fall– or more than his combined total from the three previous years.

Third and…hey, it’s the holidays- the Skins converted 5 of 13 money downs with Cousins completing 4 of 10 passes for four conversions while scrambling to the marker for the fifth.  He also fumbled (recovered) on one play.  Samaje Perine wasn’t as lucky, losing his fumble on the lone third down rushing attempt.  Ryan Grant was the top target (thrown to three times for one catch and conversion) while Vernon Davis was the most productive (moved the chains twice on two passes thrown to).  Yardage breakdown:  1-for-1 on short-yardage, 3-for-5 on manageable (4 to 6 yards needed) and 1-for-7 on third and long.

Saved by the Zach II- the defense kept the Broncos out of the endzone for most of the day, while holding the visitors to 5 of 17 on third down.  Zach was huge once again–and I’m referring to Zach Vigil instead of Zach Brown.  Fourteen tackles (he’s averaging over 10 stops per game in December) to lead the team.  In Bell terms, it’s as if Mark-Paul Gosselaar was replaced during the Tori episodes by Zach’s cousin and the scriptwriters were too lazy to rename the character.  Elsewhere, Preston Smith notches two sacks to build off the previous week (interception and a fumble recovery) turning this into the best stretch by a Preston since I boarded the Enchantment of the Seas for a five night cruise in April 2006.

Flying Flags- six penalties for 35 yards.  Three on the offense (two false starts and an unnecessary roughness) plus two on the defense (delay of game and a hold) while the other came on special teams (more unnecessary roughness).  Arie Kouandjio was flagged twice (roughness/false start) while Bashaud Breeland’s hold gives the cornerback a near-lock on most penalized Redskin (8 flags) of 2017.  False starts (18) remain the big infraction, with offensive holding (16) checking in at #2.  Both false starts came on third and long–setting up longer fields and shrinking the playbook.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia (13-2) wraps up home field advantage with their underwhelming victory over Oakland.  Dallas (8-7) is out of the playoff hunt after their home loss to Seattle but their sweep over the Redskins mean they have second place secured.  The Skins are in 11th place of the NFC, pretty much where they’ve been all season.  The New York Giants (2-13) broke a team record for losses in a season, and have wrapped up last place in the conference while in line for the second overall pick in the 2018 Draft.

Conference Calls and Division of Depression- with nothing but division games on the slate for week 17, the book is closed.  The NFC won 41 of 64 interconference games this year.  That’s not a victory, nor a mandate.  It’s Reagan over Mondale territory.  The only AFC Division to finish with a composite winning record was the East (31-29), and the best NFC quartet this year was the South (35-25).  The AFC South somehow finished with a worst record at 25-35…and that’s with Cleveland’s 0-15 factored into the AFC North’s final grade.

Elimination Island- the Cowboys weren’t the only team to say goodbye to playoff hopes. Detroit, Miami and Oakland were also bounced from postseason consideration.

They don’t give out banners for finishing 8-8.  And they don’t even have last year’s “first place schedule” to hide behind…although the first ten games were a brutal gauntlet.  And the Redskins are going to finish out of contention for the fourteenth time in eighteen years this century.  But coach Jay Gruden’s team can salvage some dignity by finishing .500- it would give them a non-losing record for a third straight year (longest streak since…1999-2001).  And it would give the team a 25-22-1 mark over his last three seasons.  So even though Sunday’s 20-15 win over Arizona only affected the Cardinals’ playoff hopes, it was necessary for the Skins to end their slide and get in position to be in position to scrape their way back to .500.  With last-place Denver and last-place New York on the horizon, the avenue to 8-8 is there.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completed 18 of 26 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns while getting sacked just once.  A passer rating over 100 for the sixth time this year.  No fumbles were lost…but the offense only had two solid drives on the day.  Thank goodness the Cardinals were even more offensively challenged.  Episode Equivalent:  “Operation Annihilate!”- where flying amoebas attack the landing party and one attaches itself to Spock.

Running in Reverse- one of the reasons why this year pales compared to the last two for Cousins production-wise.  Thirty-one yards on 20 carries…with Samaje Perine (14 carries for 37 yards) being held to under 50 yards for the third straight week despite being the main ball-carrier.  Will this be addressed in the offseason with a band-aid or a big-time prospect?

Chilly Receptions- Jamison Crowder led the way with 5 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, giving him 59 for 717 on the season.  Great for a #3 option.  Which sadly this year he is not.  The duo of Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have combined for 640 yards on 49 catches–and even though Pryor has been on the shelf for a while this is still not good.

Third Downers- how about 1-for-9?  Cousins completed 3-of-6 passes for the lone conversion (to Crowder his top option with three targets and two catches), while getting sacked once and scrambling short of the marker once. Their lone run came on a 3rd & 8.  Yardage Breakdown:  1-for-5 on third and medium and 0-for-4 on third and long (7+ yards needed.  Meaning yes, they didn’t face a third and short.  One of the many reasons why this team is fighting for 8-8 and not a playoff berth.

Zach Rules- okay, so Zach Brown didn’t play.  But Zach Virgil did the Bayside faithful proud with 8 tackles which tied for the team lead.  More importantly, the defense kept the Cardinals out of the end zone and got off of the field on 15 of 19 third downs.  Preston Smith notched a fumble recovery which set up the Skins’ first TD and an interception in the red zone.  Easily the best Sunday for a Preston since I crushed 20 wings (13 drums and 7 flats) at the Rhino circa 2006.

Kicking Game and Screaming- tough to get past the missed kickoff in the second half.  Not acceptable.  Still Tress Way averaged over 53 yards per punt and Dustin Hopkins made both field goals (long of 32 yards).  So there’s that.

Flying Flags- seven penalties for 82 yards.  Three on offense (two false starts and a hold), three on defense (pair of PI’s and an unsportsmanlike conduct) and a special teams infraction (leveraging).  Holds and false starts (16) are now the most common offensive fouls, while pass interference (7) is the most common defensive whistle.  Most costly?  a while Josh Norman’s PI in the second quarter set up a Cardinals field goal, Kendall Fuller’s PI with under a minute left put the ball on the Washington 21…and gave Arizona another chance to steal a victory in Landover.

Dissecting the Division-  Philadelphia (12-2) has locked up a first round bye and needs just a Vikings loss to wrap up home field in the NFC.  Dallas (8-6) is assured of second place in the division thanks to their win over Oakland and is currently in ninth place of the conference–meaning they need to leapfrog three teams to make the playoffs.  Two wins plus 0-2 finishes from two of the three NFC South contenders (Atlanta-Carolina-New Orleans) plus Detroit and Seattle each losing once will do the trick.   The Redskins (6-8) are assured of third place, meaning that for the first time since 2001-03 they won’t finish in last for three straight seasons.  The New York Giants can still finish out of the NFC cellar by winning two straight and Chicago wrapping up their year with two more defeats.

Conference Call plus the Mouth of the South-  the NFC leads the AFC 36-22 with six games remaining–and it isn’t even that close.  The NFC South owns the best mark at 33-23 while the AFC North brings up the rear at 23-33 (Browns are responsible for 14 of those losses).  The NFC East is 28-28…tied for fifth with the NFC West.

Elimination Island- Green Bay was bounced from contention with their loss to Carolina plus Atlanta’s win on Monday night.  Other hopes terminated along with Arizona’s (thanks to their loss to the Redskins):  Green Bay and Cincinnati.  Tennessee’s loss to San Francisco keeps Miami and Oakland hanging by a thread.

Well…at least we’re no longer dealing with hypotheticals.  The 30-13 defeat at the Los Angeles Clippers–I mean Chargers–drops the Redskins to 5-8 and out of contention thanks to having a worse conference record than Atlanta.  The 2018 season sort of begins this week with three auditions before we mercifully put the 2017 campaign out of its misery.  Who’s ready for OTA’s?

Captain Kirk-the Franchise Tagged One completed 15 of 27 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown with one interception while getting sacked twice.  The offense posted a season-low nine first downs and 201 total yards.  It wasn’t pretty.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent:  “And the Children Shall Lead” featured attorney Melvin Belli and little else.

Running Wrong- the ground game was held to 65 yards on 21 carries-the seventh time in nine games since the bye where the team failed to reach the century mark.  Samaje Perine after consecutive 100-yard games has been held to 83 yards on 29 carries.  But barring a monster finish from Kirk Cousins, Perine is going to lead the team in rushing for the season.

Receiving Core Values- Josh Docston and Jamison Crowder each caught three passes for 34 yards.  Not a lot of there there.  Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson caught 4 passes for 41 yards in Tampa Bay.

Third and Done- the Skins converted 2 of 12 money downs en route to defeat…and failed to move the chains on all six third downs after halftime.  Cousins completed 3 of 9 passes for 2 conversions while getting sacked once and missing the marker on a scramble.  Perine was stuffed on a 3rd & 2 in the first quarter.  Josh Doctson was the #1 option with one conversion/catch of four targets.  Yardage breakdown:  0-for-4 on short-yardage, 1-for-4 on 3rd & 4-6 yards needed, 1-for-3 on long-yardage.

D earns an F- for the second straight week, fourth time in five games and seventh time since the bye week the Skins allow 30+ points.  LA scored the first five times the had the ball…and on the sixth were stopped inside the five as time expired.  Explosive plays coughed up include 51 and 75-yard completions while the Chargers also tallied a 33-yard run.  Deshazor Everett tallied 11 tackles and then complained to the press about how lax practices have been. Zach Brown made ten stops but is banged up heading into the final weeks of the season.  Third down?  The Chargers converted 4-of-6 on short-yardage, 1-for-3 on 3rd & 4-6, and 0-for-5 on long-yardage.

Special Situations- Tress Way averaged 43.4 yards per punt–with three in the 20 and no touchbacks.  Nick Rose missed one of his two extra points.  Bashaud Breeland had a 35-yard kickoff return.  The punt coverage team was ripped for 22 and 27-yard scampers by Travis Benjamin.

Flying Flags- just four infractions for 43 yards, with three of the four coming against the defense and the other on special teams.  What–no holds or false starts?  Who are these people?!?  The ones that hurt came in the first quarter on the Charger’s first touchdown drive–an unnecessary roughness against Ryan Anderson and facemask against Josh Norman combined for 25 of the 92 yards on the possession.  That put the Chargers up 10-0 and the Skins wouldn’t get closer than a touchdown for the rest of the day.  Bashaud Breeland remains the most guilty party (7 penalties for 66 yards).

Dissecting the Division-  Philadelphia (11-2) clinches its first NFC East title since 2013 lost quarterback Carson Wentz to a torn ACL.  Their tenuous hold on the #1 seed will have Nick Foles at the controls.  Dallas (7-6) is one win or one Redskins loss away from clinching second place…and stands in 10th place of the NFC because they lose tiebreakers to Detroit and Green Bay.  The pokes also have to leapfrog Seattle and Atlanta to make the postseason–not impossible but not completely likely.  The Skins are 12th in the conference and can still slip into last place of the division with three losses plus three wins by the Giants.  The New York Giants at 2-11 are in 16th place of the conference and one week after scoring 17 points in a loss at Oakland were held to 10 points in a loss at home to Dallas.  Thank goodness Eli is back in the lineup.

Conference Call– the NFC owns a 32-22 edge with two weeks of interconference play remaining and the Bengals/Browns playing three of those games.  One feels confident for the old guard this fall.  The best division remains the NFC South that is a combined 30-22 with three potential playoff teams.  The AFC North (23-29) is the worst, although the AFC West and South are both 24-28.  The NFC East?  How about a 5th best 25-27?

Elimination Island- Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Denver joined the Redskins and others Sunday…while Houston was a late add after figuring tiebreakers between multiple 7-9 teams.  Pray it doesn’t come to that… 

So much for “Gotta win five to stay alive”.  So much for going through tiebreakers after week fifteen while hoping Carolina would come back to earth.  The Redskins made December almost meaningless for the sixth time in nine years by losing 38-14 at Dallas.  It wasn’t just a bad loss; it was a defeat that exposed this team and roster.  The 2018 season in theory begins now.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged one completed 26 of 37 passes for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns while tossing a pair of interceptions (one in the red zone) and losing a fumble.  He was also sacked four times behind an offensive line held together by duct tape and paper clips.  Episode Equivalent:  “Spock’s Brain”- a disaster on the scoreboard despite Kirk’s best efforts.  He didn’t write the script where aliens came on board the Enterprise and hijacked Spock’s brain–only to have Dr. McCoy re-insert said organ later in the hour.

Running Aground- it was bound to happen sooner or later.  The recently resurgent running game managed just 56 yards on 19 carries against the Cowboys-with Samaje Perine being held to 38 yards on 12 tries.  Perine will be the third runningback in four years to lead coach Jay Gruden’s team in rushing.  Meanwhile, the guy who was replaced by the guy who was replaced by the guy Perine replaced as the #1 back fared nicely for the Cowboys.  Alfred Morris ran for 127 yards against his former team.  Ouch.

Ryan the Receiver- it’s something when Ryan Grant is your leading receiver. You cannot make the postseason when Mr. August is your top target in December.

Third Down the Drain- the stat sheet says they converted 6 of 14 third downs…but the offense didn’t move the chains until they were down 17.  Cousins completed 7 of 11 passes for 4 conversions while getting sacked once and scrambling for the marker once.  Ryan Grant was the top target (3 conversions on 3 catches and 4 passes thrown to) while recent pickup Byron Marshall also caught 3 of 4 passes on third down but was short each time.  Marshall also ran for a late first down on 3rd & 1.  Yardage: 3-for-4 on short-yardage, 2-for-4 on 3rd and 4 through 3rd and 6, 1-for-6 on 3rd and long.

Zach Meets Mr. Morris- you don’t mess with Preston’s Perspective’s pop-culture references.  Earlier this year we saw the Vikings come to FedEx Field with former kicker Kai Forbath…and showed no mercy (I’ll let you know when he’s had enough).  This past week we saw Mr. Morris blast through the Redskins defense like it was an ATV race at the Malibu Sands.  Alfred gained 80 of his 127 yards after halftime…and the Cowboys converted 7 of their last 10 third downs (and 4 of 5 in the second half).  Not an ideal day for the defense that now ranks 22nd against the run and allows the third most points in the league.

Kicking and Screaming- NO longer shall we use the term “Special Teams” regarding the kicking game that fumbled a punt and allowed a punt return for a touchdown.  Nick Rose connected on both of his extra points and Tress Way averaged 42.6 yards per punt, so they’ve got that going for them.

Flying Flags- SEVEN penalties for 43 yards.  And if you’re counting that’s 24 over the last three games.  Two infractions were rather costly:  a pass interference on Kendall Fuller turned a 3rd & 1 into a 1st & 10 and the Cowboys would score two plays later…while a pass intereference against Bashaud Breeland (he had another PI declined) set up a 1st and goal at the 1.  Then there was that “12 men on the field” flag where there may have been 14 on the field for the Skins.  Not what you need in the fourth quarter on the road.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia’s loss to Seattle means the Eagles won’t clinch the NFC East just yet–but at 10-2 they need only one more victory or a Cowboys loss to wrap up the division.  Philly does slip behind Minnesota into the #2 seed (Vikings have a better common opponents record).  Dallas moves a game ahead of the Skins for second (and owns the head to head tiebreaker) and is in 10th place of the NFC, two games out of the wildcard.  The Burgundy and Gold remain in 11th place thanks to a better conference record than Arizona;  a loss to the Chargers plus victories by Seattle and Carolina make the elimination official.  The NY Giants drop behind San Francisco into dead last of the conference…and are one more loss plus a Redskins win away from securing the NFC East cellar one year after making the playoffs.

Interconference Connection, Dominant Divisions & More- the NFC owns a 28-20 lead, meaning they’d have to go 3-12-1 in order to lose the Conference contest.  Cleveland and Cincinnati are playing five of those remaining 16 games so I’m going to say that might not happen.  The NFC South is a combined 28-20…while the AFC West has withered away to 21-27 over the last month.  The NFC East?  Tied for fifth with 23 wins.

Home for the Holidays- joining previously eliminated Cleveland, San Francisco and the New York Giants this week is Chicago.  The Bears lost 15-14 to the Niners as their former kicker Robbie Gould kicked five field goals before  replacing Dr. Houseman as Chief of Staff and purchasing Kellerman’s where his first act was firing Johnny Castle.  Sweet revenge, indeed.

Just when you thought this year would blow up (after the opening day sleepwalk loss to Philadelphia) or catch fire (after the dominant win over Oakland), the Redskins are back in familiar territory.  Yes, they’re 5-6 for the sixth time in 13 years.  But you know what?  Four of those years saw the Skins somehow surge into the playoffs-with 2010 being the outlier.  There is a path to get to the postseason that involves a 5-0 or 4-1 (with the loss coming to Denver or the LA Chargers) finish.  Just like 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2015 they have the NFC contenders right where they want them.  Unless they lose to Dallas on Thursday night.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completes 19 of 31 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns…while tossing an interception and getting sacked six times.  The pick-six brought back memories of last year, but once again despite a depleted receiving corps Cousins delivers.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent:  “The Gallileo Seven”, where Kirk spends most of the hour trying to get Spock, McCoy and Scotty back on board after a shuttle craft mishap.

Running with a Purpose- Samaje Perine ran for 100 yards…meaning that for the first time since Alfred Morris in 2013 a Redskins runningback passed the century mark in consecutive weeks.  In 47 carries over the last two games, he’s lost yardage just three times.  If this can be the new normal– we may have something.

Threes a Crowder- Jamison Crowder led the receiving corps with 7 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.  On a team where the best receiver is an injured Jordan Reed, the ideal #3 guy is turning into a #1 as of late with double digits in targets three times and 100+ yards through the air twice in the last month.

Third Down Doubts- wouldn’t you know Crowder was on the receiving end of all four Skins third down conversions?  The team moved the chains on 4 of 15 tries, passing 12 times (Cousins went 8-11 with one sack, one touchdown and one interception) and running three times (short each instance, although on 3rd & 27 there aren’t a lot of plays available).  Crowder was the top target with 4 conversions on 4 catches in 5 passes thrown to.  Yardage Breakdown:  1 for 3 on short-yardage, 1 for 4 on 4 to 6 yards needed and 2 for 8 on long-yardage.

Case for the Defense- Zach Brown once again led the team in tackles with nine stops while Ryan Kerrigan tallied two sacks.  They held the Giants to 2 for 14 on third down, sacking Eli Manning twice on the money down while holding him to 2 for 10 passing (and two conversions).  A nice bounce-back for a D that had allowed 30+ points in four of five games.

Special Situations- Nick Rose converted on both of his field goals and extra points while Tress Way averaged 44 yards per punt. The returns weren’t spectacular but not disasters.  Move along…

Flying Flags- EIGHT PENALTIES?!?!  And that was with two declined (both of them holds by Ty Nsekhe that didn’t help Perine gain one yard or Cousins not get sacked).  Six on the offense and two on special teams.  Three false starts and two delays of game.  The most costly infraction?  A delay of game against Cousins that turned a 3rd & 13 into a 3rd & 18 right before Kirk threw his pick-six.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia (10-1) after crushing Chicago are now just a Dallas loss away from wrapping up the NFC East.  They’re also in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed in the NFC–owning a one-game lead over Minnesota.  Dallas’ free-fall minus Ezekiel Elliott continues with their 28-6 turkey of a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.  Their October win at FedEx Field keeps them in second place over the Redskins…although they’re now 10th in the NFC.  The Skins are right where they want to be for their finishing kick–and although they may be in the conference’s 11th spot, they’re gaining ground.  The NY Giants remain in last place at 2-9 and are two losses away from clinching last place…while awaiting the random San Francisco win that moves them into dead last in the conference.

Conference Call- the NFC owns a 28-18 lead over the AFC with Carolina (4-0) and the Los Angeles Rams (3-0) doing their brethren proud…while Chicago is somehow 2-0 against Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  The NFC South owns the best composite record at 27-17, while the AFC West is worst at 19-25.  The NFC East continues its middling 2017 at 22-22, good enough for fourth place.

Sayonara, Season- three teams are now officially done for 2017.  San Francisco was already eliminated from postseason possibilities (trust me, I went through the model where they reach 7-9 and tie Seattle and Arizona for 2nd in the West).  Cleveland and the New York Giants join the Niners with losses.  The Redskins and Chicago are also eliminated from their respective division races.