The Washington Redskins struck back from the disappointing opening day defeat by the Eagles, as Kirk Cousins led a late drive for the 27-20 road win. Christian Burt goes Skin Deep and 3 & Out…
Gruden remains the master, McVay the pupil
I’m not sure what the Las Vegas odds of the Redskins churning out 229 yards on the ground were going into Week 2: probably longer than Mike TV after his stretching by the Oompah Loompahs in the Chocolate Factory. But, they ran the ball well did Washington and it was an exhilarating run game in the first half that laid the foundations for this sweet win in the highly retro surroundings of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Hell, even Carl Lewis didn’t run this great in LA in 1984 and it was a gold medal for HC Jay Gruden for recognising the Rams quality pass rush defense and balancing out the Redskins attack with some smash mouth football.
Much of the pre-match talk had been of the coaching protégé Sean McVay who had left DC to become the youngest HC in NFL history. He cuts a handsome dude in the LA sunshine does McVay; but for now, the pupil stays in the pocket of Gruden. Good job Jay!
Cousins and WRs lacking rhythm
It would be churlish to paper over the cracks with the victory, as once again the Washington passing game was firmly in the average to poor category. Kirk Cousins’ accuracy is not yet there and coupled with poor pass protection from the O-Line and a lack of chemistry with WR#1 Terrelle Pryor Sr. and it’s no real surprise that the Redskins turned to the run.
A couple of badly executed fades (which seems to be 2016 first rounder Josh Doctson’s only current receiving duty) in the red zone had the Redskins twitterverse in justifiable meltdown. You can always rely on the Skins to take the foot of the accelerator when something is working well.
To be fair to Cousins, he’s nothing if not determined, and a D rated individual performance morphed into a C+ after the well-executed game winning drive. Kirk was 3/3 on the most important drive of the game, sealing the win with a clutch throw for 14 yards (on third down) to the often maligned Ryan Grant.
The drive included a 23 yarder to Pryor Sr. – perhaps an indication that #8 and #11 are starting to gel. Both these guys are essentially on one-year deals and right now you wouldn’t see Bruce Allen breaking the bank for either.
The off season was dominated by the mantra that Cousins had all the leverage for any long term deal and that’s still true; but not if he doesn’t get the job done. With promising signs that the Skins are improving in the trench and secondary areas, it’s the QB position that is looking weak.
Chris Thompson: best off season move
There’s no warmer feeling in the NFL than when a smaller guy leaves bigger guys for dust. And twinkle toed #25 Chris Thompson is a joy to behold right now. Thompson ran for 106 yards in the first half and two TDs (including 61 yards up the middle) and is more than justifying the contract extension this off season.
Rob Kelley was motoring until a bad rib injury that will rule Fat Rob out a number of weeks. After some initial struggles, rookie Samaje Perine picked up 67 yards on 21 carries and seemed to be literally learning on the spot; as befits a rookie.
With a balance between run and pass the key to success, a lot will fall onto the broad shoulders of Perine. Let’s see how he goes, but he flashed enough on Sunday to justify the faith many have on the 4th rounder from the 2017 draft.
The Extra point
In my preview of the season, I alluded to the fact there really is some stellar talent on the Washington roster and two plays in this defeat of the Rams underlined this. Josh Norman showed he has as much punch as GGG when knocking the ball from the hands of the impressive Todd Gurley. #24 is well paid in DC, but a star.
Another in the stud category: Ryan Kerrigan; and like Norman, Kerrigan showed the wise head of experience to strip Jared Goff and then sack him. These are the kind of football guys you want on your roster – playing tough but playing smart too.
A Game Ball for…
Chris Thompson, with the again impressive ILB Zach Brown not too far behind after his 10 tackles.
Next up are the no-longer-a-joke Oakland Raiders at the FedEx. An Achilles Heel is stopping the run game: so can Washington master the Beast?