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A Disappointing Game?

A Disappointing Game?

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

If you want to focus on the negative, you certainly can find a lot to be disappointed about in regards to Saturday’s win over San Francisco:

  • First and foremost, the penalties—Eleven more flags for 93 yards. A third of that total came on back to back plays when the Redskins were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the PAT following the Niners’ last touchdown and then got another 15 for taunting on the ensuing onside kick. Now, to be sure, that was during garbage time and the penalties didn’t really have any effect on the outcome or even the flow of the game. Still, considering that cutting down on penalties was going to be a focus this week after drawing a dozen walk-offs against the Eagles, the fact that they cut just one off of that total is not encouraging.
  • The inability to punch it in the end zone—It was a case of bad things coming in threes. Three times the Redskins had first and goal to go situations and all three times they had to settle for three points. During the offseason, Gibbs and company have got to come up with a more imaginative goal line offense. The shovel pass is the first and only wrinkle they’ve come up with and the Niners seemed to have that sniffed out pretty well when Ramsey flipped it to Cooley. Two words of advice for Gibbs—naked bootleg. And, while I’m at it and since you’re not going to listen to me anyway, two more—fade pattern.
  • Portis’ fumble—It just punctuated the raggedness of the team’s performance. On top of that, it seems that his fumbles come in bunches. After going a long time without coughing it up, Portis fumbled three times in two games early in the season. He’s been glue-fingered since then, up until the fourth quarter today. It will be a nagging concern in the back of my mind on Sunday.
  • The blocked punt and generally mediocre special teams play—Tom Tupa suffered just the second blocked punt of his lengthy career. Like the Portis fumble, it didn’t turn out to be particularly costly, but was a sign of sloppiness. I was thoroughly unimpressed with Antonio Brown returning punts. Run North-South first and then worry about breaking one.

Of course, that’s just focusing on the negative. There were plenty of good things that happened on Saturday:

  • Four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown—As it has been all season, the defense was a pleasure to watch. It’s been 30 games since the Redskins’ defense has scored a touchdown. That goes back to when Darrell Green was playing; it was in his last game, in fact, when Lavar Arrington pounced on a fumble in the end zone against the Cowboys. Antonio Pierce’s play was the game-saver for the Redskins. The 49ers had just scored their safety after blocking Tupa’s punt to make it a one-touchdown game at 16-9. They were driving after the free kick when Pierce got his pick for six. Taylor’s interception came at a critical moment, too, as it was just 10-7 and a poor punt to midfield had given the Niners a chance to seize the momentum. (By the way, how can an exchange of the ball be considered to be an illegal forward pass--that’s what the contradictory term “forward lateral” is—if the ball never is airborne? Yes, I know that Jimmy Johnson sort of explained this at halftime, but I can’t find anything in the rules digest that would make Taylor’s handoff to Marshall illegal. If it is, that rule should be changed since it’s a very difficult call to make and handing off to someone who is in front of you gives you no real advantage.)
  • Patrick Ramsey’s play—After a half-step back last week against the Eagles, Ramsey took another step towards cementing his status as the Redskins’ quarterback of the present and future. His numbers weren’t quite as impressive as the ones he put up against the Giants, but his QB rating of 103 for the game and an average of just under eight yards per attempt aren’t anything to complain about. He didn’t throw an interception; in fact, he didn’t even come close to throwing one. Since taking over as starter, he’s struggled somewhat against the better teams, but he has feasted on the mediocre ones. Since there are a lot more of the former than of the latter group this bodes well for Ramsey’s future.
  • No drops by the receivers—Portis dropped one pass, but the receivers continued their excellent play of late.

An ugly win? Perhaps, but not as unattractive as some earlier W’s such as the one against the Bears. This team is progressing, absolutely no doubt about it.

By the way, the win means that the Redskins are still alive for a Wild Card playoff berth. The could possibly be eliminated this weekend depending on what other teams do, so I’ll spare you the details until Monday.

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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