Archives for posts with tag: Tress Way

The official attendance figure at FedEx Field was 61,459–although if we’re playing the “Price is Right” game I’m going to say it was more like 41,596.  The other number of note was 9-0, as the Redskins fell to San Francisco in the rain.  It was also Alumni Day, which we repeat IS NOT HOMECOMING as the franchise recognized former players who came back home.  Instead of the lineup this year, former Redskins gathered by the decade of service.  I’m just glad that former assistant coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t try to stand with the 2010’s alums.  Or bring his father, who certainly qualifies as a Redskins alumnus.  Instead–Kyle gave his dad the game ball.

The Case Against Keenum- proof that while figures do not lie, liars do figure.  A 91.3 passer rating looks impressive-until you realize that the 9 for 12 was built on short throws with a long gain of 19 yards.  The Skins averaged under nine yards per completion–and with sacks taken into consideration managed 3.3 yards per pass play.

Grinding on the Ground- Adrian Peterson began the day with a bang, getting the ball on the first seven plays from scrimmage. He’d post 49 yards on 8 carries before finishing with 81 yards on 20 tries, meaning after that first possession the veteran was held to 32 yards on 12 attempts.  He also got stuffed on a fourth and one, and fumbled in the second half to set up a San Francisco scoring drive.

McLovin McLaurin- Terry had just two targets on the afternoon, making one catch for 11 yards.  The rain really reined in the passing game; Steven Sims made a team-high three receptions went for a combined five yards–all on third down.

Third and Wrong- the Skins converted on just 3 of 9 attempts, with seven runs and two pass plays called.  Keenum was sacked twice and completed 4 of 7 passes for two conversions. Peterson ran the ball twice, moving the chains once.  As mentioned, Sims was the top target.  Yardage Breakdown: 1-1 in short yardage, 0-5 in medium (4 to 6 yards needed), 2 for 3 in long yardage situations.

D earns a rain-assisted B- they shut out the number three offense in the NFL for the first thirty minutes and held Joey Garoppolo to a passer rating of 59.8.  But when they needed to make stops after intermission, the Skins couldn’t keep the Niners out of field goal range.  San Francisco scored the final three times they had the football.  The Redskins didn’t break, but they bent enough to come up short.   Matt Ioannidis led the team with nine tackles, Noah Spence had one sack, and Troy Apke notched an interception.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins missed a 39-yard field goal in the wind and rain, while Tress Way averaged 49.5 yards per punt.  There were no disasters in the return game, although Richie James Jr. did have punt returns of 13 and 17 yards.

Flying Flags- seven penalties for 47 yards, giving the team 58 for the season-third most int the league.  The five on offense featured three holds (two on Brandon Scherff) and two false starts.  The two defensive flags were illegal hands and pass interference.  Their 18 offensive holds this year is tied for the most in the NFL, while the 10 false starts are eighth most in the league.  What’s additionally disturbing is back to back penalties, something that happened once in each half.  The most costly flag?  A first quarter hold on Scherff that turned a 3rd & 8 into a 2nd & 18, helping push the Skins back from the Niners 21 to the 31 before missing a 39-yard field goal.

Dissecting the Division- how ’bout them Cowboys?  Dallas’ 37-10 win over Philadelphia gives them a 4-3 record and first place in the NFC East, as well as ownership of the #4 seed.  Philadelphia (3-4) is in second place of the division and is 11th in the NFC.  The New York Giants (2-5) are in third place while holding down the #14 spot in the conference. The 1-6 Redskins are in last place of both the East and the NFC, thanks to Atlanta owning a better conference record.

West is Best- the NFC West owns an 18-8-1 composite record, best of the league’s quartets.  The AFC North brings up the rear at 9-17, but the NFC East is not far behind (or ahead, depending on your perspective) at 10-18.  The NFC owns a 20-11 mark against the AFC in the highly useless interconference contest.

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.

Perhaps Monday Night Football isn’t the best showcase for the Redskins.  Once again, the Burgundy and Gold get blasted under the glare of the prime time lights in a 31-15 loss that wasn’t as close as things appeared (this is becoming a trend).  At 0-3 the Skins are sinking faster than you can possibly imagine.  And just when you thought things eased up after an early rough patch (and it was rough with three games against playoff teams from 2018), three of the Skins’ next six games before their November bye are against 3-0 teams (a fourth is against 2-1 Minnesota and Kirk Cousins).  Even with the NFL being a week to week league, things do not look good in Ashburn.  To add to the fun, at halftime the team honored London Fletcher by adding the former linebacker to the Ring of Honor at FedEx Field-only to spell his last name “Flecther” on the scoreboard.  And the beat goes on…

The Case Against Keenum- the Redskins quarterback threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears.  That’s the good news; he also threw three interceptions and lost a pair of fumbles.  Nobody was expecting Keenum to  be the QB of the future, but the present is far from ideal.

Running a Little Better- from 28 yards against Philadelphia to 47 against Dallas to 69 against the Bears, the Skins are making progress. In theory.  Adrian Peterson ran 12 times for 37 yards, giving him 62 on 22 tries over two games.  Keep in mind that the veteran had seven games in 2018 where he gained fewer than three yards per carry.

Catching On- Terry McLaurin grabbed six more receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, giving the rookie 16 for 257 and three scores (prorates to 85-1370-16).  One extremely bright spot in a sad start to the season.

Toppings Update- back in the day Papa John’s would offer free toppings on Monday for touchdowns the Redskins would score, and then double the toppings for a Skins win.  Rick Snider (formerly of the Washington Post Express) and I hash out toppings picks each week, although he doesn’t believe in the doubling part of the exercise (which I think only adds to the intrigue).  We have our own quirks;  for example Rick is not a banana peppers guy.  My quirk is when the Skins get a TD garbage time, you get a garbage topping. So instead of pepperoni and mushrooms, last night’s effort generated beets and summer squash (I used broccoli in week one and cauliflower in week two).  Meaning four of the eight touchdowns tallied this year have come after the game was no longer in doubt.

Third and Long Gone- the Skins moved the chains on 3 of 9 attempts, with seven pass plays and two planned runs.  They went 0 for 2 on the ground. Case Keenum completed 3 of 5 passes (two conversions), was sacked once and scrambled for a first down.  Trey Quinn was the top target (two passes thrown to) while Chris Thompson had a carry and a catch (but no conversions).  Yardage breakdown?  They converted 2 for 5 short yardage (1-3 yards needed), 1-1 medium (4-6 yards) and 0-3 on third and seven yards or longer.  Bright spot:  five of the nine third downs were short yardage.

D earns one- the Bears converted 6 of 8 third downs in the first half, including a 3rd and 17 that put Chicago up 28-0.  While they played better after halftime (a season-low three points allowed after intermission) and generated three sacks (one more than their total through two weeks), they also had two linebackers leading the team in tackles. Baby steps.

Special Situations- Tress Way punted just once for 48 yards.  Dustin Hopkins made a 35-yard field goal but missed a 43-yarder. Steven Sims Jr. averaged 34 yards per kickoff return with a long of 45. Trey Quinn averaged 7.5 yards per punt return.  Punt and kickoff coverage wasn’t disastrous.

Flying Flags- NINE penalties for 61 yards (not including one that was offsetting).  Three on offense (plus the offsetting flag) with six on defense.  Just one hold after eight the first two weeks.  A pair of neutral zone infractions on defense was the only recurring violation.  Donald Penn’s the early leader with three accepted penalties (this week’s hold was added to a chop block and a false start) after three weeks.  The most costly flag?  Actually a sequence where the defense was whistled for a neutral zone infraction, an offsides and an illegal contact that kept alive the Bears’ longest drive of the night.  A drive that would result in a touchdown that would put the visitors ahead 14-0 in the second quarter.

Digesting the Division- Dallas (3-0) leads the NFC East and currently owns the #3 seed due to the strength of victory tiebreaker.  Philadelphia (1-2) is in second place and 13th in the NFC due to their division record (1-0) while the New York Giants (1-2 and 0-1 in the East)  are in third and 14th in the conference.  The Redskins reside in last place and are the only 0-3 team in the NFC (there are five 0-3 teams in the AFC).

North Stars and Stumbles- the NFC North is the early leader in the clubhouse with a 9-2-1 start, while the NFC West has the the second best composite record at 8-3-1.  The AFC North has the worst mark at 3-9.  The NFC East?  Middle of the pack at 5-7.

Interconference Affairs- the NFC is crushing the competition, with 11 wins in 14 games.  The NFC has dominated each of the last four odd-numbered seasons.  Since the merger, the conference with the better record has produced the Super Bowl winner 27 times in 49 years (there were eight seasons where the NFC and AFC finished even).

Remember last year when the Redskins went to Seattle with an offensive line held together by duct tape and paper clips, only to bring back a victory from Puget Sound?  Well this past weekend the Burgundy and Gold used rubber bands and masking tape to keep the line semi-solid in a 16-3 win by Tampa Bay.  Instead of losing a second straight game to a fellow future wildcard contender, the Skins are two games clear of a muddled NFC East and are off to their best start in ten years (we won’t mention who was coaching the Maroon and Black that autumn).  This has the feel of 2012 and 2015 all over again:  a first-year starting quarterback at Fed Ex Field exceeding expectations amidst a division ripe for the taking.  Enjoy the ascent, because if there’s anything we’ve learned from 2012 and 2015 it’s that 2013 and 2016 are distinct possibilities.

Turnovers Told the Tale- four takeaways helped keep the Buccaneers out of the end zone.  Josh  Norman’s interception at the goal line on the first drive of the day set the tone.  Greg Stroman’s interception led to the team’s final points of the afternoon.  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s fumble recovery in the end zone ended another Bucs drive into the red zone.  And Ryan Kerrigan’s fumble recovery inside the ten ended Tampa Bays’ last best chance to rally.  And the Skins did not turn the ball over at all.  The team now ranks third in the league at +11 in turnover margin, and they needed every one Sunday to prevail.

Mr. Smith Goes to Consistency- for the third time in four weeks Alex Smith threw for exactly 178 yards.  The Skins won all three of those games…and are 5-0 when he throws for under 250 yards (1-3 when he crosses the 21st century marker for “productive passer”).  If he throws for exactly 178 yards against Houston, we’ll know the fix is in.

Cousins Comparison- Kirk and company had a bye this past week, but I took my bye last week (writing back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back college basketball previews for WTOP.COM) so let’s revisit how the former Franchise Tagged one fared:  18-22 passing for 164 yards and a touchdown with an interception in the Vikings’ 24-9 win over Detroit.  Minnesota is 5-3-1 and in second place of the NFC North, currently owning the second wildcard.  Cousins for the season owns a passer rating of 102.2 (9th best in the league) while Alex Smith is at 90.7 after nine games (21st in the NFL).

Peterson Provides Production- he didn’t gain 100 yards, but the Skins main threat on the ground rushed for 68 yards–including two first down scampers in third and short situations.  His 672 yards through nine games is already more than his numbers from the last two years (and three teams) combined over 13 games played.

Catching On- Maurice Harris led the team with 5 catches for 52 yards, following up his 10 reception effort against Atlanta.  With 26 catches this fall, the third-year pro has already more than doubled his career numbers.  Not bad for a fringe roster player.

Third and Two Halves- the Skins went 0-for-4 on the money down in the first half and 5-for-9 after intermission.  Alex Smith completed 5-of-8 passes while getting sacked once, moving the chains twice.  The running game moved the marker on 3-of-4 plays (Peterson twice and Kapri Bibbs once).  Smith’s top target?  Maurice Harris and Josh Doctson each notched a pair of catches on two targets–each moving the chains once (Doctson’s grab was for a touchdown).  Yardage breakdown:  2-for-2 on short-yardage, 1-for-5 on intermediate (4 to 6 yards needed) and 2-for-6 on long-yardage.  Almost 50% of the third downs needed seven or more yards-less than ideal.

D gets a pass- so they gave up 501 yards…but when it mattered they stopped the Buccaneers shy of the end zone each time.  Mason Foster led the way with 10 tackles while Preston Smith and Matt Ioannidis notched sacks.  Plenty to be happy with, but also plenty to work on moving forward.

Extra Special Teams- Dustin Hopkins nailed his three field goal attempts (unlike his Tampa Bay counterpart Chandler Catanzaro who missed two of three and was cut) with a long of 43 yards.  Tress Way averaged 49.4 yards per punt, but that merely graces the surface.  Four of his five landed inside the Bucs’ 20 with Way’s three second-half kicks landing at the four-, six- and 13-yard line.

Flying Flags- eight infractions for 52 yards gives the team 64 for 624 yards (9th and 4th most in the NFL). Of the five on the offense, two were false starts while the other three were holds (the Skins 21 holds this year are the most in the league).  Morgan Moses had one of each while recent pickup Jonathan Cooper had a pair of holds.  The two defensive penalties (neutral zone infraction and a hold) came in the fourth quarter and were luckily wiped out by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s third turnover of the day.  The special teams’ flag was an illegal formation on a kickoff.  Costliest penalty?  Those two that kept the Bucs’ late drive alive.

Dissecting the Division- the Skins own a two-game lead in the NFC East and due to conference record would be the fourth seed “if the playoffs began today”, which they obviously do not.  Dallas (4-5) owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Philadelphia thanks to Sunday night’s win and is in 10th place of the conference–the Eagles holding down 11th.  The New York Giants may be in last place of the division but depart the conference basement with their Monday night victory in San Francisco.

NFC East no Longer Least- despite the worst winning percentage (.444) of the league’s eight quartets, the Skins’ division after a 3-1 week at least moves into lock-step with the NFC West (17-21) and AFC East (18-22).  The NFC South (21-15) continues to be the best bunch, even with a 1-3 week that saw Tampa Bay squander 501 yards of offense, Atlanta lose to Cleveland and Carolina get crushed by Pittsburgh.  The Interconference Contest (that means absolutely nothing) is also tied at 22 wins apiece.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

So much for the descent into disaster.  The Redskins never trailed in their 27-20 win at the Los Angeles Rams…and for a while it was cool to see the George Allen-era Skins uniforms go against the George Allen-era Rams uniforms.  Now we have to wonder if week one was the aberration or week two was the mirage.

Captain Kirk- the Franchise Tagged One completed 18 of 27 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown…the game-winner to Ryan Grant.  While less than ten yards per completion is less than ideal, Cousins was turnover free this time out and was much better on third down.  Star Trek Episode Equivalent: “The Tholian Web”, where Kirk is trapped aboard the USS Defiant as it phases into another dimension.  Perhaps the Skins’ offense is phasing into a different dimension of its own.

Running Wild- I couldn’t see too well without my glasses…was that USC’s old “Student Body Right” on display at the Coliseum?  The Skins ran for 229 yards…their highest total since last October’s win over Philadelphia (ironically also a 27-20 score).  Robert Kelley provided the thunder (until he hurt his ribs) while Chris Thompson added the lightning (106 total yards on six touches) and rookie Samaje Perine provided the rain (67 yards on a team-high 21 carries).  Nobody expects “Hogs 2.0” to sustain a ground attack that regularly surpasses 200 yards, but consistently reaching 100 would help Cousins and the air game hit their stride.

Better to Receive- at least this time Terrelle Pryor didn’t have eleven targets.  Jordan Reed led the way with six catches for 48 yards while Ryan Grant acted like it was August all over again with his 11-yard TD grab.  Jamison Crowder notched three of his four catches on third down.

Third and Something- the Skins converted 5 of 13 attempts, with Kirk Cousins completing 7 of 12 passes (5 conversions) and Perine getting stopped for no gain on their lone run.  His top target?  Chris Thompson (4 targets, 1 catch and conversion) followed by Crowder (3, 3 and 2).  Eight of the 13 passes were thrown to the short right…while three more tossed to the short middle and the touchdown came on a pass to the short left.  Distance breakdown:  2 for 2 on short-yardage, 2 for 7 on medium range (4 to 6 yards needed) and 1 for 4 in long-yardage situations.  Nine of 13 third downs are medium range or better?  I’ll take that.

Case for the Defense- I’m this close to going back to “Saved by the Bell” references as Zach Brown is producing like a powerhouse preppie.  With 10 tackles, the free agent pickup leads the team in stops for the second straight week.  Linebacker Preston Smith added a sack and two quarterback hits.  Cornerback Josh Norman forced another fumble with his well-placed punch.  Two more takeaways by the team give the Skins four on the season…tying the D for third in the NFL.

Third Down and Lockdown- even though the Rams moved the chains on 5 of 12 attempts, at least the defense didn’t get embarrassed on third and long–holding Jared Goff and LA to 0 for 7 on third and 7+ yards needed.  Bending but not breaking:  Goff completed 6 of 8 attempts but only three of those resulted in a first down (they also sacked him once).  While the Skins allowed both Todd Gurley short yardage runs to keep possessions alive, this was much better than the Philadelphia game.

Flying Flags- four penalties for 25 yards?  Who are these people!?  I’m used to Septembers where this team is committing multiple infractions on the same drive and often on the same play.   Instead– the team’s six penalties accepted over two weeks is the lowest in the league.  Two holds, a defensive hold and a neutral zone infraction were accepted Sunday (a facemask was offsetting and an ineligible downfield receiver was declined).  Jordan Reed is the early leader on the season with two flags (holding and pass interference).

Special Situations- Tress Way averaged 51 yards per punt–placing both inside the 20-yard line.  Dustin Hopkins makes two of three field goal attempts, connecting from 22 and 41 yards while missing a 51-yarder.  It would be nice to have more production from the return game, but there were no major embarrassments and the coverage crew didn’t give up the big play.

Dissecting the Division- Philadelphia leads the NFC East via tiebreaker:  the Eagles and Dallas own 1-0 division marks to the Redskins 0-1 while Philly has the better point-differential.  The Skins are in third while the 0-2 Giants are in last…but take heart as Howie from Hoboken remembers that the 2007 team started 0-2 and won a Super Bowl.

Conference Competition- the AFC holds an early 4-3 edge in the race to 33 wins and interconference supremacy.  The AFC West (6-2) is marginally better than the NFC South (5-2) while each division has at least one 0-2 team.  A different race for #1 is underway…who’s feeling the draft?