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Luckless Loss to the Lions

Rough Monday huh? Well that’s what happens when you lose a close game late. You get days like today, days spent licking wounds and asking what if? These are the types of bad days that you get when a team that has emerged as a contender loses a game that went down to the wire. Make no mistake, this is not a loss like in 2013 when we let the Lions snap their 0-21 losing streak. This was a loss to a respectable football club that came into their house with a winning streak of their own. A team that has a strong quarterback and a solid corps of receivers. A team that is good enough to win close games. A team that will punish you for being careless.

There were plenty of reasons why the Skins should have gone up early; the defense had a strong first showing and Cousins was playing with focus. Strong play didn’t mean much in the first half though as a series of the almost comic occurred. Thompson tripping in the backfield and scrambling from the line and Stafford using Breeland as a backboard to pass the ball 15 yards were funny, but the chuckles disappeared when we twice saw a Redskins ball bounce across the field on a run. Matt Jones spent a significant portion of his off season working on gripping the football. Fumbles had been an issue his rookie year and he specifically went out of his way to learn the five pressure points on the ball and how to ensure total ball security during hand offs. He ran through those same drills as part of his pre-game warm up. He had even JUST FUMBLED ON THE PREVIOUS DRIVE. Yet, he was still unable to avoid a turnover that deflated the team’s spirit and flipped the game’s early momentum.  A fumble into the end zone that blew our opportunity to go up 7… inexcusable.

(Though, if you were able to read Gruden’s lips when the cameras cut to him on the sideline you may have had a brief laugh.)

The Redskins defense did well to limit big plays and Norman kept the Lion’s receiving corps forced to either run block or take small underneath passes. Stopping the run was still a bit of an issue with Justin Forsett playing the role of ghost of Baltimore’s past but it served in line with the bend don’t break mantra. Indeed, Stafford took only what was given and slowly carved his way into field goal territory to have the Lions go up 3-0. Scherff had an injury scare and we had a 43-yard field goal bounce off the upright, but thanks to a dropped pass by Andre Roberts (good to know he’s now doing for someone else) we were able to go into the half tied at 3-3 with the knowledge that the kick off would be coming our way. Not a bad way to escape from what should have been considered a quirky half of football with a couple fluke plays. Nothing that we can’t overcome, right?

Wrong. Starting the second half, penalties on offense turned another chance to take the lead into a punting situation. In what would become another dagger in the Redskins’ defense, Stafford responded by challenging Norman on a deep pass. Norman made an amazing effort with a leaping defense and truly could not have played the ball any better, but a spectacular catch by Jones Jr and an awkward landing had both Josh and the skins defense crashing into the ground. We would lose our best cornerback on that play, and from then on in the game the deep passing game opened up for the Lions. Until that point we were doing quite well against the pass, however Josh Norman is THAT IMPORTANT to our defensive secondary and his loss would eventually contribute to the Lion’s being able to have their last second heroics. Don’t think so? Ask Carolina how fast it can go bad without him. Breeland would do his best but the defensive line would be pushed aside as the Lions claimed a 10-3 lead.

Being down 10-3 when you had multiple chances to lead the game is not a place you want to find yourself. Dominant teams don’t find themselves in that position, but then again we’re not a dominant team yet. We are, however, contenders. We have shown ourselves to be contenders these past 4 weeks by being able to scrap and fight our way back into games. We’ve never let games get away from us and we always found a way to respond when things didn’t go our way. The team that started the season 0-2 is no longer here, and we showed it with Cousins marching down the field to …. wait what!?!? WE FUMBLED AGAIN???

Yup, you see it doesn’t matter how much grit you have if you can’t hang onto the darn football. It’s clear from re-watching the play that the reason for our next turnover was twofold.  Jones came in with his arm flat on the hand off, and a tripped Cousins should have eaten the ball rather than risk a bad hand off, but regardless of the excuse, the result was the same. Down 10-3 going into the 4th quarter with 3 Fumbles (2 Lost), 2 Sacks, and a Missed Field Goal. Oh, did I say 10-3? Cause Matt Prater just kicked another field goal making it 13-3. Maybe it’s the Lions that aren’t putting us away and not the other way around.

As Cousins and co. responded by making their way down the field, I heard Desean Jackson’s name for the first time that day. *warning, imminent rant* I’ll give credit where credit is due, I’m glad Crowder had the day he had. It’s clear that McCloughan found something special and that he’ll be a contributor for many years. But why are the only names I’m hearing Crowder, Davis, and Grant? Between Garcon and Jackson, 20 million dollars of our cap space went unused. They’re the best receivers on the team, why aren’t they getting the ball? Don’t tell me we can’t force a game plan around a player, we just did it for Jackson last week against the Eagles. While I’m complaining about personnel usage, why the heck is Robert Kelly not getting more touches? The man always falls forward, hits hard, and he HANGS ON TO THE BALL! In fact, he hung onto it so well that it resulted in a 1-yard touchdown pass and cutting the Lions’ lead 13-10.

With new life the skins defense took the field. A sack and a near interception led to a Lions punt and a chance at taking the lead. The offense would have to be careful though as there was 5:20 left in the game and Lions still had all three time outs. The skins did a great job staying inbounds and keeping the clock running as they made it to midfield before an illegal formation penalty wiped away a 20-yard reception to Davis. It may have been for the best though as there was still 3 minutes left on the clock and eating too many yards too quickly would be bad. No worries, the running game would bring us to the two-minute warning in Lions’ territory with a fresh set of downs.  The pressure was on, but the opportunity for redemption was here. Yes, this was a game of miscues, but a score here and eating the clock would let us leave Ford Field 5-2 and be very much in the fight for the NFC East.

Cousins, finding an opportunity, broke loose and runs 19 yards to the end zone in a display a athleticism I doubt even he knew he was capable of. With a minute left and all three timeouts. The defense only had to keep the Lions from marching 75 yards, a task that should be within our capabilities. The loss of Norman would become very apparent though as a 28-yard pass on the first play of the drive would put the Lions at midfield. Norman had warned this week that Stafford could hurt people with his feet and he did just that on the next play gaining 14 yards up the middle. 20 more yards came as Andre Roberts stuck it to his former team on the exact route that he ran while dropping the ball earlier that day, and Boldin caught an 18-yard touchdown pass that would leave us with a 4-3 record and shaking our heads in disbelief.

It’s surreal, the idea that we could make that many egregious mistakes and still have been in that game. In a game with redzone fumbles, multiple turnovers, and missed field goals, the last second heroism by Cousins was encouraging, but should never have been necessary. The game never should have been close. Instead we allowed Matt Stafford an opportunity late and he took it for all it was worth. Just more evidence that the Redskins belong in the Good column, not Great.

4-3 is very different than 5-2. We still have a chance at the division, but it’s harder when you’re dependent on other teams losing instead of just you winning. Wins won’t come until we can learn to not turn the ball over in the end zone and they won’t easy until we learn to put teams away early. We can start though by getting refocused and ready to travel to London.  At least the one silver lining about playing there is we won’t have to wait as long until we get to see if the skins can put this tough loss behind them and go into their bye week with a win. It’s a rough Monday for everybody, but keep your chin up. We lost to a good football team off a series of bad breaks on fluke plays.




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Will The Redskins Repeat As NFC East Champions?

With a completely irrelevant preseason game now under their belt, it seemed a perfectly “poke the bear” time to ask the question…

The Washington Redskins shocked a large portion of the NFL world in 2015, rattling off nine victories en route to winning the NFC East. They will look to build upon that performance during the 2016 campaign, and while the NFC East won’t be as easy to run away with, things at least look good on the improvement front. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kirk Cousins By The Numbers

When a team makes a player the highest paid player at his position for the year there are going to be high expectations.  When that team is the Washington Redskins and that player is Kirk Cousins we had better like that.  More importantly, Scot McCloughan had better like that or we’ll be back on the quarterback search trail.  But what does Cousins have to do for Scot McCloughan to like that?  There were things Cousins did exceptionally well last season.  But when you’re paying a player like a top five player at his position, even if it’s on the franchise tag, he needs to perform as such.  Did Cousins?  Let’s take a look.

The Good:

7th in Completions but outside top ten in attempts.
7th in Passing Yards Per Attempt.
5th in Passer Rating.
Outside the top ten in Interceptions.
8th in Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt.
7th in Net Yards Per Pass Attempt.
8th in Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt.
10th in Pass Completions Per Game.
1st in Pass Completion Percentage.
7th in Sack Percentage.
8th in Game-Winning Drives.
10th in Comebacks.
2nd in Fumbles Recovered.

The Bad:

7th in Completions but 10th in passing yards.
Outside the top ten in Passing Attempts Per Game.
Outside the top ten in Interception Percentage.
Outside the top ten in Passing Touchdown Percentage.

The Ugly:

Outside the top ten in Passing Touchdowns.
Outside the top ten in Passing Yards Per Game.
Outside the top ten in Yards Per Completion.
8th in Fumbles.
Outside the top ten in Total Offense.

What Cousins has to do to justify the Franchise Tag and command a long-term contract:

Cousins threw 29 touchdowns last season. The top five quarterbacks threw an average of 35 touchdowns.
Cousins’ touchdown percentage was 5.3%. The top five average was 6.5%.
Cousins’ yards per attempt was 7.7. The top five average is 8.4.
Cousins’ adjusted yards per attempt is 7.8. The top five average is 8.6.
Cousins’ yards per completion average is 11. The top five average is 13.
Cousins’ yards per game is 260.4. The top five average is 300.
Cousins’ net yards per attempt is 6.99. The top five average is 7.7.
Cousins’ adjusted net yards per attempt is 7.14. The top five average is 7.75.
Cousins’ sack percentage is 4.6. The top five average is 3.0.

One can gather from the above much improvement is expected of Kirk Cousins this season.  Not only should he have better passing protection thanks to the replacement of Josh (What’s the snap count, again?) LeRibeus but he also has an additional receiving weapon in 2016 1st round draft selection Josh Doctson and another red zone target in off-season acquisition Vernon Davis.  One has to assume the rushing attack will be better this season. (How could it possibly be worse?)

Cousins will be on a long leash this season because when you’re paying a player over $1.0MM per game you’re not paying him to sit on the bench.  The only way he’s not playing is if he is injured.  That could be good for Cousins or it could be disastrous.  If he’s playing up to expectations expect him to get paid like a top five quarterback.  Before complaining about the potential cost involved take a moment to remember the quarterback history of the team over the course of the last twenty-five seasons.  If he’s not playing up to the level expected it’s going to be a long and painful season for him, for Scot McCloughan, who will have to begin scouting quarterbacks mid-season, for Jay Gruden whose job is balancing on Cousins’ performance, and for the fans.

The real question is: If Cousins performs marginally well, as in top ten but not top five, what does the team do?  They almost certainly won’t tag Cousins again.  That gets very expensive.  If the Skins offer him top ten money but not top five money will he take it?  Or will he take his chances on the open market?  Is he really a team player?  If he is, I like that.

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You Like That: Wallpaper Wednesday

That’s right, it’s Wallpaper Wednesday again, and while we may be playing the Cowboys this week…

… it doesn’t matter because we’re going to the playoffs!

Largely due to the play of Captain Kirk.

We Like That.


Click for the 1440×900 wallpaper size, and please feel free to share across your social networks.

Hail #RedskinsNation!

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Mistakes Prove Costly For Redskins

You will often hear people remark that no one, single play defines a game, but it would be tough to deny that if you string even two or three really bad plays together, the result will be reflected negatively in the score more often than not. Such was the case on Thursday night in the Washington Redskins’ 32-21 loss to the New York Giants.

Obviously football is a complicated sport, and mistakes are going to happen on every play. That isn’t what we’re talking about. We’re talking about plays that are head-scratchers, or change the momentum of a game, or both as is often the case. Read the rest of this entry »

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By The Numbers: Rams

After dominating for the first half and forging a 17-0 lead, the Redskins held on in the second to beat the Rams 24-10. Here are some of the numbers that tell the tale: Read the rest of this entry »

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Captain Kirk: #WallpaperWednesday

Every week of the regular season, I will be posting a Redskins wallpaper on Wednesday.

Hence the catchy hashtag. 😉

I thought I would start with Captain Kirk. Given the recent announcement that Cousins was the 2015 starting quarterback – why start anywhere else?

Enjoy and #HTTR !


Just click on the image for a full 1440×900 wallpaper. I will try to do up a social network friendly version later on today.

Next up – the traditional annual Schedule Wallpaper – 2015 edition.

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By The Numbers: Redskins vs Titans

Here are the important statistics and numbers for Washington’s narrow 19-17 victory over Tennessee on Sunday. It may not have been the prettiest of wins, but it ended the losing streak regardless, and hopefully put the now 2-5 Redskins back on the winning path. The Titans fell to the same mark of 2-5.

351 – Total net yards for the Redskins, to just 236 for the Titans.

160 – Yards passing for Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, on 17 receptions (26 attempts, 91.8 rating).

139 – Yards passing for Kirk Cousins, on 10 completions (16 attempts).

138.9 – QB rating for Colt McCoy. Contrast that with the 64.3 that Cousins put up on basically the same number of yards. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Quick Game Thoughts: Titans

Here are 5 quick thoughts I had following the Redskins, ahem, thrilling 19-17 victory over the Titans at Fed Ex on Sunday.

1) The Real McCoy – I don’t know what Colt McCoy’s NFL future looks like, or even if he will start next week against the Cowboys, but I will tell you this – he should. He was sharp coming off the bench, and provided Washington with exactly the right mix of spark and conservativeness. His very first pass hit pay dirt when Pierre Garcon took it 70 yards to the house. Colt showed great poise down the stretch too, especially on the last drive. He finished his first start as a Redskin, 11 of 12 for 128 yards. You could ask nothing more of the young man… near back-up perfection. Read the rest of this entry »

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By The Numbers: Redskins vs Cardinals

Here are some of the more important numbers and statistics from the Redskins 30-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

407 – Yards of total offense for the Redskins. The Cardinals had 317.

354 – Yards passing for Kirk Cousins, on a 24 for 38 day; unfortunately 3 of those 14 incompletions were actually completions to Arizona Cardinals.

250 – Yards passing for Carson Palmer, who returned from a 5-game absence due to a nerve injury in his shoulder. He was 28 of 44, with 0 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. Read the rest of this entry »

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