Somehow a game that started ugly for the Washington Redskins, never really seemed in question for most of the second half, as they steam-rolled over the Cleveland Browns with an impressive 38-21 victory. Here are some quick thoughts on the game:
1) Kirk Cousins – I tweeted before the game that I wasn’t worried about Kirk getting the start because at the end of the day – I see the same great qualities in Kirk off the field that I see in Robert Griffin III – poise, intelligence, and born leadership. That by no means guaranteed success, but I felt that we have been playing with some real swagger, and that our growing confidence would help Cousins do what he needed to do in my opinion – not make any mistakes.
First drive… Cousins gets picked off, and the Browns roll in for seven. That would definitely qualify as one of those mistakes I was referring to; but after that, Kirk rebounded tremendously, and certainly turned a lot of heads. It would seem to almost take away from the 329-yard-two touchdown performance to say that “Cousins filled in for an injured Griffin” because that isn’t really what matters. What matters is that he led the Redskins to their fifth straight win, an 8-6 record, a visit to the top of the NFC East, and put them in the drivers seat to decide their own destiny. That’s REALLY filling in, in my opinion.
We drafted two keepers this year, thats for certain. Sure someone might come along at some point and make us an offer we can’t refuse for Cousins, but that’s what it should take. Hopefully twenty years of quarterback malaise have taught the Redskins that you can’t overlook the value of quality and depth at the position.
2) Alfred Morris – Okay, I get that it might be easy to overlook this Morris performance based solely on numbers, but the Browns absolutely sold their souls to stop the run all day long. One might see the 87 yards on 27 carries and be tricked into believing that somehow Morris hadn’t been all that effective. Here are a couple of the major reasons he WAS still effective:
i) Cleveland was determined to make Cousins beat them and regularly had a stacked box to stop the run – obviously freeing up lanes and limiting double
coverage in the secondary.
ii) Wether it was on the strength of the running game on Sunday, or just because of it’s prowess to date this season, the Browns still fell victim to play-action all day long.
iii) The Browns defense was Dawg tired by the end of the third quarter, let alone the fourth (see what I did there?)
I’m sure Morris would just as soon not have to run the ball almost 30 times to get his next 90 yards, but if it means another victory, I’m pretty sure The Shaved Bear will be lining up like a Hog atß slaughter. By the way, one more Morris number from Sunday that matters – two touchdowns – his eighth and ninth on the season, passing Skip Hicks as most ever for a Redskins rookie. Congratulations Alfred.
3) Defense! Defense! Hard to describe what the defense was in the first half… lackluster? Off? Slightly smelly? After halftime, it was a whole different unit. Sure the Browns hung that ugly 69-yard touchdown on them, but there wasn’t a lot else to complain about. I thought Rob Jackson and Reed Doughty both deserved mentions as guys that played well Sunday. I thought that London Fletcher played his best game in weeks, perhaps of the season. Jim Haslett eventually figured out how to confuse Brandon Weeden and make him look very pedestrian.
Let’s face it though – if you’re going to ‘judge’ the Redskins defense against the Browns, it was always likely going to be on the strength of how effective they were against the running game. When Trent Richardson put up 24 yards on his first 4 carries and carried 5 Redskins into the end zone for a touchdown – it looked like it could be really bad. He finished with 28 yards on 11 carries. Shut.Down.Completely. I have no real idea why the Browns gave up on the run so early – they weren’t down by two scores until mid way through the third quarter – two carries, no yards for the Browns rookie in the second half. Good defense? Good offense, putting pressure on the Browns? Bad strategy? All three?
4) Offensive Line – Continues to impress the holy heck out of me. Not only did they still do a great job on Sunday, but they did so with some missing pieces by game’s end. Will Montgomery went down with a right knee injury and Tyler Polumbus went out with a concussion – both will be evaluated and their status updated early in the week. I just want to concentrate on Polumbus, well actually on Jordan Black who replaced him…
If you say that you didn’t somehow mock Black or the Redskins for picking him up, then you are most likely fibbing, and I call bullspit. The reality of it is – in other action for the Redskins – it was actually Black that was bullspit. Give both Black and the coaching staff credit for rolling into game shape, and into a position to play well enough on Sunday to be transparent – as in not noticeable – as in exactly what you want from your tackles because it means that they aren’t getting burnt.
I am not the only one who owes Mr. Black an apology for doubting him… but I may be the only one who actually takes the time to admit fault, and say, “Job well done Jordan.”
Dominating a team playing well, on the road, without your new franchise quarterback for the first game this year, in a must win situation… is resilient.
Losing two offensive linemen in the second half, and not really missing a beat, is resilient.
Falling to 3-6, before peeling off 5 straight wins to move into the lead in the NFC East is resilient.
This Redskins team is not only gaining confidence – they are resilient as well. Watch out!
Eagles next, Cowboys last – two games to reach the promised land and only a Redskins loss can stop them now.
More By Mark Solway
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