Archives for posts with tag: NFL

The NFL is a week-to-week, snapshot league.  Teams will put forward 16 regular season efforts…and just like nobody is as good as their best, no one is as bad as their worst.  So while one was encouraged but tempered last week after the win in Arizona, one should feel that the Skins can’t possibly be as bad as they were in their 21-9 week two loss at home to Indianapolis.  So in theory they’re somewhere in between.

Burgundy and Gold, I mean White- okay, I’ll say it.  I blame the white pants the Skins wore…what happened to the George Allen-era gear at home?  Almost as unsettling as white jerseys with gold pants on the road.  Again, I’m blaming the pants.

Mr. Smith goes to Checkdown- Alex Smith threw for 292 yards while averaging 8.8 yards per completion.  Not per attempt but per completed pass.  Tough to move the chains and sustain drives that way.

Captain Kirk’s Continuing Voyage- the former franchise tagged one threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns while rallying Minnesota back to tie Green Bay.  So far this season Cousins has thrown for 669 yards with 6 touchdowns and 1 interception (passer rating 108.7) while Smith has 547 yards with 2 touchdowns and no INT’s (passer rating 100.1).

Running Aground- the Skins managed just 65 yards rushing on 22 carries.  And that was with a 25-yard scamper from Jamison Crowder.  The wide receiver actually led the team in rushing…a far cry from last week when the thunder and lightning backfield made it rain.  This week Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson combined for 21 yards on attempts.

Better to Receive- Thompson tallied a team-high 13 catches for 92 yards.  He also took some monster hits in space.  Can his diminutive stature take the pounding over 16 weeks?

Third and one third- the Skins converted on 33% of their money downs, moving the chains on 4 of 13 passes and 1 of 2 runs.   Josh Doctson was the #1 option (4 targets, 2 catches and 2 conversions).  Yardage breakdown:  3-4 on third and short (1-3 yards needed), 0-5 on third and medium (4-6 yards necessary) and 2-6 on third and long (7+).

D earns a C- a mixed bag saw the Skins allow the Colts a game-opening 75 yard march on 11 plays, but then hold the visitors three and out over three of their next five possessions.  A day where D.J. Swearinger tallied a pair of interceptions but the defense was only able to sack Andrew Luck once.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins converted three of four field goal attempts, missing a 49-yarder at the end of the half.  Tress Way put three of his five punts inside the Colts 20 with no touchbacks while averaging 36.4 yards per kick.  Rookie Greg Stroman returned a kickoff for 16 yards and had a six yard punt return.

Flying Flags- seven infractions for 90 yards gives the Skins 16 (tied for ninth in the league) for 153 yards (seventh most in the NFL) after two weeks.  Three on offense, two on defense and two on special teams.  Trent Williams (both false starts) was whistled twice while both kicking game penalties were holds.  The most costly flag?  A second quarter pass interference against Fabian Moreau for 37 yards that moved the Colts from their 36 to the Skins’ 27. They’d score shortly thereafter to take a 14-3 lead.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia’s loss to Tampa drops the Eagles, Redskins and Dallas into a three-way tie for first. The Cowboys’ win over the New York Giants gives them the temporary divisional tiebreaker…and the Eagles own the common-games edge with the Skins.  The New York Giants at 0-2 own last place for the moment.

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What was that?  The Redskins won an opening weekend game for the first time since 2012?  This close to their first shutout since 1991?  Forgive me for being skeptical, but this is going to take some time getting used to.  The Redskins’ 24-6 win at Arizona was a clinic we’ve only seen sporadically in recent years:  a dominating running game plus a passing attack that made few mistakes along with a defense that denied.  There’s a new era underway in DC–or at least Landover and Ashburn.

Passing Fancy- Alex Smith threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.  While he didn’t shout “YOU LIKE THAT!?!” at any time he brought home a victory on opening day–something the previous quarterback did not.

Captain Kirk in Exile- much like “The Tragedy of Robert III”, we’re going to keep our eyes on the former Skins signalcaller for a while.  Cousins threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns in Minnesota’s win over San Francisco.  His passer rating of 95.1?  Not even within 20 points of Smith’s 118.3.  So there.

Thunder and Lightning Deliver Rain- the tailback tandem of Adrian Peterson (a thunderous 96 yards on 26 carries) and Chris Thompson (lightning-like 128 yards on 11 touches) provided a backfield balance we haven’t seen for some time.  Does one dare say John Riggins-Joe Washington?  It’s only one week, but the ground game that ranked 28th in the league last year and appeared lost when Derrius Guice went down with a torn ACL looks much improved.

Third and Mixed- the Skins converted on 6-of-13 third downs, with pass to run ratio of 10-to-3.  Alex Smith completed 6-of-9 passes for four conversions while Chris Thompson was the top target:  two conversions on three catches while also notching a seven yard gain on 3rd & 12.  Adrian Peterson moved the chains on both of his third down runs.  Yardage breakdown:  3-for-3 on third and short (1-3 yards needed), 1-for-3 on third and medium (4-6) and 2-for-7 on third and long (7+ yards needed).

D earns an A- so they didn’t get the shutout.  But the defense dominated the first half, holding the Cardinals to 36 yards on 14 plays.  Quinton Dunbar tallied five tackles and three passes defended while notching an interception.  Defense survives the changing of the season and the turning of the leaves…and if this team can continue to play at this level November and December will be something special.

Special Situations- a mixed bag on opening day:  Tress Way averaged 46.5 yards per punt while Dustin Hopkins was perfect on three extra points and a field goal.  Trey Quinn averaged six yards on two punt returns before suffering a high ankle sprain.  The punt coverage team allowed a 44-yarder.

Flying Flags- nine penalties for 63 yards is not the best way to start the season, but week one is always going to be somewhat sloppy.  The nine infractions was tied for 11th most in week one…and the 63 yards was the 18th most.  Six of the flags were on offense (three false starts, two holds and one intentional grounding), two were on special teams (unnecessary roughness and a hold) and one was on defense (illegal contact).  Trent Williams  was flagged twice to take the early lead.  The most costly penalty?  A first quarter sequence where Williams tallied a false start on first down at the Cardinals 30 that stalled the drive and an intentional grounding on third and nine from the 29 that pulled the Skins out of field goal range.

Dissecting the Division- the Skins are tied for first with Philadelphia after the Eagles’ 18-12 win over Atlanta…and it being week one there’s no point in dissecting tiebreakers.  Dallas and the New York Giants both suffered underwhelming week on defeats…so one of those teams (barring a tie) will start the season 0-2 after they meet Sunday night.

PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM-

College football lost a friend this week when actor Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82.  Years before tearing up interstate highways as the Bandit, Reynolds was turning defenders inside-out as a runningback at Florida State.  The recruit from West Palm Beach made his entrance with a 33-yard reception against Georgia (the Bulldogs played away non-conference games then?  How ABOUT that!) as a freshman and would score touchdowns against Louisville and Stetson (okay, so the Seminoles schedule wasn’t necessarily the toughest in the 50’s).  Injuries prevented “Buddy”, as he was called, from being any more than a flash of the pan on the gridiron…so he found a different stage (literally) for his talents.  Reynolds found a sweet spot from the mid-1970’s to the early 80’s where most everything he touched on the cinematic gridiron went for a touchdown.  And perhaps a little bit of Burt rubbed off on his roommate at Florida State–explaining Lee Corso’s entertaining presence on ESPN’s College Gameday.

Your Burt Reynolds playbook:

First Down- Smokey and the Bandit (1977). Reynolds helped turn what was basically a beer run into 96-minutes of pure cinematic fun.  If you have to audible out of that film check out The Cannonball Run (1981).  More cars, more characters, more fun.

Second Down- The Longest Yard (1974).  Prisoners against the guards as nature intended, no offense to the Adam Sandler remake.  Audible into Semi-Tough (1977).  Reynolds shares the field with Kris Kristofferson in the adaptation of Hall of Fame sportswriter Dan Jenkins’ novel.

Third Down- when you want to move the chains, you go with critical big plays.  Deliverance (1972) proved that Reynolds was more than just the guy from “Gunsmoke” and is not for the faint of heart.  You can audible out of some grisly scenes, but can’t avoid death in Boogie Nights (1997), which garnered Reynolds his only Oscar nomination.

Fourth Down- if the first three plays don’t get it done for you, I’m going to punt with Norm MacDonald’s parody/portrayal/homage/imitation of Reynolds on “Saturday Night Live”.  From auditioning for “Star Wars” to wearing a funny hat as “Turd Ferguson” on “Jeopardy”, MacDonald turned Reynolds’ cool 70’s persona inside-out.

Alma Mater Update- the Orange enter week two unbeaten and with a home game against Wagner look to reach 2-0 which is no small feat, given last year’s loss at home to Middle Tennessee.  While the high-octane SU offense is back in 2018, sadly so is a very accomodating defense.  Fingers are crossed–even with Wagner coming to the Dome.

#12 Virginia Tech (1-0) vs William & Mary (1-0), 2 p.m., (ACC Network)

So…my questions regarding a Hokies defense that was replacing eight starters may have been unfounded.  Now that they came out of Tallahassee with an ACC win, coach Justin Fuente’s team has to battle the dreaded five-day turnaround.  They also need to find better offensive consistency, as they were held to under twenty yards on six of their seven possessions in the second half.  William & Mary began its final season under Jimmye Laycock with a victory at Bucknell, but will be hard-pressed to repeat that feat in Blacksburg.   Hokies make it happen, 41-16.

Navy (0-1) vs. Memphis (1-0), 330 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

The Midshipmen’s flight back from Hawaii was made longer by their 59-41 loss to the Rainbow Warriors.  The option offense is built for many things–and rallying from 28 points down is definitely not one of them.  While the offense appears to be in midseason form with Malcolm Perry and Zach Abey but the defense looks like it’s going to go through some growing pains minus last year’s top tackler Micah Thomas.  It doesn’t get any easier–this week they attempt to contain a Tigers team that tacked 66 points on the board in their opener.  Memphis replaced starting quarterback Brady White after the junior threw five touchdown passes with freshman Brady McBride.  I think they both get a discount at Vineyard Vines.  Midshipmen fall 37-31.

Maryland (1-0) at Bowling Green (0-1), 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

The Terps try to follow up their upset of Texas by winning on the road against a Falcons team that actually led Oregon 10-0 behind quarterback Jared Doege.  While Maryland’s offense provided quite a bit of sizzle in week one with Jeshaun Jones scoring on touchdown runs and receptions while throwing for a score, the steak is a defense that turned the Longhorns over three times in the fourth quarter.  They’ll need another superior effort to get out of Mid-American Conference country with a victory.  Funfact;  the second-leading rusher in Bowling Green history is “Dave Preston”, who led the MAC in rushing as a sophomore before playing six years with the Denver Broncos in the NFL.  Sadly, I’m not him.  Terrapins triumph, 30-20.

Virginia (1-0) at Indiana (1-0), 7:30 p.m., (Big Ten Network)

The Cavaliers of 2017 won on the arm of Kurt Benkert, tried to run to keep foes honest and employed a defense that hung on for dear life.  If week one is any indication (and we know that week one wins against FCS schools carry a caveat), this year’s success is going to arrive thanks to a punishing running game and stingy defense.  I wouldn’t expect UVa to air it out 66 times against the Hoosiers like they did last September.  Peyton Ramsey led IU to victory in Charlottesville last year as redshirt freshman;  expect plenty of short stuff in the passing game (in nine career games Ramsey averages under 10 yards per completed pass).  Kippy & Buffy aren’t messing around with any short stuff at their tailgate:  Conundrum White 2015 “lures you with scents of apricot, pear and honeysuckle.”  There’s also a “hint of oak” that I think is more of a strong suggestion. I suggest a pairing with brie and crostini.  Cavaliers come up short, 31-28.

 

Georgetown beats Campbell, Howard slips at Kent State, James Madison beats Norfolk State, Richmond handles Fordham, Towson tumbles at Wake Forest.

Last Week: 5-4.

The Wizards/Bullets and Capitals used to have a nice benefit of being a DC resident- their slow starts for years were often ignored because of the area’s obsession with all things Redskins.  We called it “Skinsanity” and it ruled the roost between August and December…meanding the Wiz and Caps didn’t have to really get their act together until Christmas.  Not so with the Nationals– who since the night the Capitals won the Stanley Cup are 26-38.  Not to diss the Valor, Spirit, Kastles or DC United, during the time the Nats have had the stage to themselves they’ve resembled a last-place team (.406 may be good for Ted Williams, but translates to 65-97).  A roster that includes multiple All Stars has been less than the sum of its parts…and the team continues to take on water.  When does the NFL season start?

Dissecting the Division- the Nats trail Atlanta by seven games for the NL East lead and are six and a half behind second-place Philadelphia.  While neither the Braves nor the Phillies are pulling away in a manner that should have a team playing tag with the .500 mark like the Nats overly concerned, it’s a slow boil and even though there are games to be played against both clubs the window of opportunity is sliding slowly.  The elimination number for both the division and the wildcard is 32.

O’s Woes- the Birds are just a week and a half removed from being eliminated from playoff contention…and now stare into the face of a 100-loss campaign.  The O’s need to finish 26-12 to do so…and that is so ridiculous one just wants to wonder what it will take to avoid the worst-ever season in Baltimore.  That’s a 55-107 record…meaning the Birds need an 18-20 finish.  Not impossible, but for a team that hasn’t been two games under .500 since April–not exactly attainable.

Last Week’s Heroes- Bryce Harper hit .379 with two homers and eight RBI.  Matt Wieters hit .368 with four RBI and Anthony Rendon batted .348 while scoring five runs. Max Scherzer struck out seven in his only start of the week while Tanner Roark won his fourth straight decision and helped the Nats avoid a sweep in St. Louis.

Last Week’s Humbled- Gio Gonzalez went 0-2 with an ERA of 13.50…and has won just once since May.  Trevor Gott and Koda Glover post posted double-digit ERA’s last week, while Sammy Solis was charged with two runs and didn’t record an out.  Trea Turner hit .182 while Michael A. Taylor batted .125.

Game to Watch- I know that Stephen Strasburg is returning Wednesday night, but Thursday afternoon Max Scherzer (16-5, 2.11 ERA) starts against the Phillies’ Ivan Nola (14-3, 2.24) in a series finale that could feature a revitalized Nats team or one that is looking to avoid getting swept at home.  Either way, he’ll be working on six days rest.  

Game to Miss- Friday Jefry Rodriguez pitches against the New York Mets as the Nats’ band-aid to a battered rotation.  It’s also the final Friday before Labor Day weekend:  do yourself a favor and enjoy one last sunset over the Key Bridge while enjoying a fried clams basket at Tony & Joe’s.  You’ll thank me…

With the NFL Draft still a day away, my Burgundy & Gold pals are focused on the schedule that was released last week.  I was personally hoping they would release one week at a time each week following the Super Bowl…so right now we’d be breaking down the week 11 matchups.  Sadly that was not the case so instead we got all 17 weeks last Thursday…albeit in prime time.  It took me awhile to catch up with by Skinsanity Siblings, Postive Pete and Pessimist Paul.  They now provide their exclusive analysis:

September 9- at Arizona, 4:25 pm.  The Cardinals have a new coach in Steven Wilks and a new quarterback in Ryan Reynolds lookalike Sam Bradford–unless the brittle one gets banged up in the preseason.  Bring on the Alex Smith era–he’s going to carve up the Cardinals D while the Skins will sack Bradford into submission (Cardinals allowed the third-most sacks in the NFL last year).  Will we even see Smith in the preseason?  If there’s one thing the Skins do well, it’s rest starters in August–only to be smacked upside the head in September.

September 16- Indianapolis, 1 pm.  It’s a semi-homecoming for Colts coach Frank Reich, who played quarterback at the University of Maryland in the 1980’s.  It’s also the home opener for the Skins, so expect the usual traffic issues.    Will Andrew Luck’s arm still be attached to his body?  I hear he’s throwing NERF balls.  Thank you NFL for scheduling us to a 2-0 start!  AFC fans ALWAYS pack FedEx Field–because they know their team plays once every eight years in Landover and Skins fans care less about games with Miami or Jacksonville.  Home field disadvantage leads to one sorry afternoon.

September 23- Green Bay, 1 pm.  Aaron Rodgers comes to town as the Packers try to bounce back from a rare non-playoff season.  Which is the opposite of how things work in these parts.  Funny how the cheese-heads root for a swiss cheese defense. How do you like me now?  Oops, wrong quarterback.  A healthy Rodgers will be tough enough…but to finally face a team with their stuff together will certainly catch the Skins off-guard.  Bring on the bye week…

Monday October 8- at New Orleans, 8:15 pm.  The site of last year’s fourth quarter collapse welcomes the Skins back after a way-too-early bye week.  Doesn’t it feel like they take their hiatus in September every other year?  Chris Thompson stays healthy and finishes the job this time–and the Redskins enact revenge on an aging Drew Brees.  The defense isn’t much better than 2017–and the Skins have had performance issues on Monday night to begin with.  Add into the equation a stay in the Crescent City?

October 14- Carolina, 1 pm. Redskins battle playoff teams on back to back weeks after their bye.  We should know if this team is a contender or a pretender by now.  Cam Newton isn’t all that…and Charlotte is technically still Redskins Country.  So their fan base isn’t even there to travel well.  Pretender. Man, Cam’s tough to bring down…and not having Kendall Fuller has to haunt the Skins’ secondary sooner or later–right?  Pretender.

October 21- Dallas, 4:25 pm.  How is this game on CBS?  Not a fan of the NFL flipping games to other networks.  Dak Prescott looked so-so last year minus Ezekiel Elliott– I have a feeling he’s going to look pedestrian without Dez Bryant.  Somehow the Cowboys bring out the worst in the Skins-and it’ll happen again.

October 28- at NY Giants, 1 pm.  The Skins are back in their familiar slot–this being one of ten scheduled 1 pm games.  Just be thankful there isn’t a 9:30 London game this year.  The Fall of the House of Eli continues with the Skins taking advantage of a rebuilding franchise.  Somehow one feels that last year was an aberration–for the Giants being bad and the Redskins being good.

November 4- Atlanta, 1 pm.  The NFL is having the Burgundy & Gold blow through the NFC East in short succession with four games against that division over six weeks.  Matt Ryan can’t be efficient forever, right?  Shame the Skins can’t get a top-3 pick for a QB.  One doesn’t feel confident in a defense that played well in 2017–but didn’t make the plays when it mattered.

November 11- at Tampa Bay, 1pm.  Will the Buccaneers at least be wearing their creamsicle uniforms?   Nobody plays the ambiguous pirate card better.  The Redskins beat a bottom-feeder on their way to the postseason…you like that?!  Sorry again, wrong QB.  Last year the Skins went 2-6 on the road…and the Buccaneers are in bounce-back mode with a quarterback that’s tough to bring down.

November 18- Houston, 1pm.  The Texans were a quarterback away from being good last year…only to start Deshaun Watson.  And then once they found their QB of the future they lost him for the present to injury.  The Texans defense is a shell of its former self…and by now Alex Smith and the offense will be humming like nothing else.  For the third straight year the Skins have to play Sunday and Thursday on Thanksgiving week. The tight turnaround hurts a team both ways.

Thursday, November 22- at Dallas, 4:30 pm.  The Ghost of Clint Longley haunts the Redskins one holiday after Halloween.  And nothing good ever happens on November 22nd in Dallas.  If #2 overall pick RG3 can win in Arlington TX on Turkey Day, why not #1 overall selection Alex Smith?  A short prep week, bad sun through the Jerry World windows and the triumph of an uncluttered mind all give Skins fans indigestion.

Monday, December 3- at Philadelphia, 8:15 pm.  Skins play the defending Super Bowl champs twice in the last month of the season.  Couldn’t they have gotten one game in with the Eagles minus Carson Wentz?  Eleven days to prepare for the Eagles?  How can you not feel good?  The Skins had ten days to prepare for the Chargers last year–and got roasted on the road.

December 9- NY Giants, 1 pm.  The third straight NFC East game will no doubt have playoff implications, as the Redskins will either be winning their fifth straight to jump into contention…or be 5-6-1 and need a victory to stay on the precipice of elimination.  Have we already done the “Eli is old” thing?  I can’t wait to see who they take with the #2 pick in the draft…perhaps a quarterback that gets his first start in week 13?  Part of me fears they take Saquon Barkley–and he powers the Giants to the division title while becoming the headache to the Skins that Tiki Barber was (minus the bleep-eating grin).

December 16- at Jacksonville, 1 pm.  UH-OH!!! I command you to go on youtube.com and check out “Uh Oh- the Jacksonville Jaguars Super Bowl Song”. It’s a beaut.  What is it with the two-tone helmets?  The Jags can’t possibly be competitive consecutive years with that ham sandwich playing quarterback.  The Jaguars play December ball- good defense, solid special teams and minimal mistake-making offense…something foreign to the Skins.

December 22-23, at Tennessee, TBA.  Not just flexed from 1pm to 4pm or 8pm on Sunday—but flexed Saturday OR Sunday.  Can you believe the Titans fired coach Ken Whisenhunt after they went 9-7 and won a playoff game?  Wow- you only get fired as Skins coach if you go 4-12 (Zorn) or 3-13 (Shanahan).  Christmas comes early for the Burgundy & Gold as Alex Smith punches their playoff ticket with a win in the Music City.  Sour notes of the season continue as the hanging by a thread Skins are eliminated with another underwhelming loss.

December 30, Philadelphia 1 pm.  The season ends against the defending champs…I don’t know if you heard, but the Eagles ended a 57-year championship drought this past February.  Does this mean the Skins have to wait until 2049?  Okay, so Philly rolls to a second straight NFC East title.  Simply allows the Skins to have their way en route to locking up #1 wildcard berth.  If we can return Christmas presents the week after the holiday, what is the return policy on Alex Smith?  Another losing season ends in Landover.

 

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.

 

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.