Archives for posts with tag: NY Giants

After a week where the team got blown out by New England and fired head coach Jay Gruden, the Burgundy and Gold bounced back Sunday with their first victory of the year.  In response to questions about the team’s culture Monday, it may not have been “DAMN GOOD” against the tanking Dolphins but it was good enough to eke out a one-point win against the worst team in the NFL.

The Case For Keenum- the starting quarterback of the moment threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and wasn’t sacked at all.  That’s what happens when you face the Dolphins defense.

Peterson’s Progress- Adrian tallied his first 100-yard rushing game of the season, a far cry from being inactive in the week one loss.  He also caught a pair of passes.

McLovin McLaurin- the rookie receiver caught 4 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.  He’s now on a pace to record 69 catches for 1224 yards and 15 scores.  Glad they took a flier on the Ohio State wideout to keep Dwayne Haskins company in camp.

Third and Lost- the Skins converted on 2 of 11 money downs, calling 11 pass plays.  Even on six third and shorts.  Keenum completed four of those throws for two conversions. The top target? Trey Quinn and Paul Richardson each had three.  Yardage breakdown: 2 for 6 on third and short (1-3 yards needed), 0 for 3 on third and medium (4-6 yards needed) and 0 for 2 on third and long (7+).

D earns multiple grades- how do we properly evaluate this unit?  Do we weigh more how they handled Josh Rosen or how badly they defended Ryan Fitzpatrick?  Landon Collins had the game he wished he would have posted against the Giants, notching 12 tackles with a sack.  The D posted five sacks on the afternoon, while also recording a pair of interceptions.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins made both extra points and connected on a 21-yard field goal while missing a 55-yarder.  Tress Way averaged 45 yards per punt.  Trey Quinn had a punt return of 15 yards.

Flying Flags- six penalties for 56 yards feels like an improvement over previous weeks (they averaged nine through the first five games of the season).  After six weeks, the habitual offenders have been 15 offensive holds, 8 false starts and 6 defensive holds. Donald Penn’s five flags leads the team at this time. Sunday’s big penalties?  Back to back plays where Fabian Moreau’s defensive hold and Ryan Anderson’s roughing the passer turned what would have been a fourth down at the Miami 42 into a first down at the Redskins 39.  The Dolphins would get their only first half points on that drive.

Dissecting the Division- losses by Dallas, Philadelphia and the New York Giants tighten things up.  Philadelphia (3-3) owns the NFC East lead and #4 seed in the conference thanks to the common games tiebreaker over Dallas, while the Cowboys have dropped three straight and are now in 10th place of the NFC.  The Giants are in third place of the division and 13th overall, while the Redskins remain in sole possession of the East Cellar and on the NFC’s bottom rung thanks to the conference tiebreaker.

North Stars- the NFC North owns the best record of the eight divisions, carving out a 14-7-1 start that’s one half game better than the NFC West.  The AFC North is at the opposite end of the spectrum at 8-16, while the NFC East is 9-15 at this point.

Interconference Contest- the NFC owns a 19-10 lead over the AFC, and that’s with the Redskins going 1-1.  They still play the Jets and Bills…so beware.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.