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Monday six pack: Redskins' Amerson comes through with big plays

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Monday six pack: Redskins' Amerson comes through with big plays

Here are some of my observations from the Washington Redskins’ 30-24 overtime win over the Chargers:

1. Pierre Garçon was good and very valuable last year but we didn’t see the acrobatic, jaw-dropping catches he made in Indianapolis. Now, we have. Last week in Denver he made a lunging, one-handed grab of a Robert Griffin III pass. Against the Chargers he turned in some SportsCenter highlight material and the catches came in critical situations. In the third quarter he batted the ball to himself with his right hand while fighting off cornerback Derek Cox set up the Redskins’ game-tying TD and he reached back to grab an off-target Griffin pass late in the fourth quarter that forced the Chargers to burn a timeout. All seven of Garçon’s receptions were good for 13 yards are more and four of them covered over 25 yards. Six of the seven resulted in first downs (counting the overtime reception for 17 yards on first and 20 that had a personal foul penalty tacked on, getting an automatic first down).

2. The “pound the rock” fans certainly got their wishes fulfilled yesterday with Alfred Morris finally getting his quota of carries with 25 and with Darrel Young scoring three touchdowns. Overall, the play selection was 39 runs and 32 passes. They showed excellent balance in their two third-quarter drives that turned a seven-point halftime deficit into one-touchdown lead early in the fourth. The first one had six runs and three passes with Morris getting four carries for 26 yards. Santana Moss picked up 18 on an option pitch and Young scored the TD from a yard out. They got the ball back with 7:02 left in the third and embarked on an 11-play drive that featured six runs and five passes. Again, Young scored from a yard out.

3. It’s hard to say that the Redskins’ defense had a great day when they gave up a 10-point lead in the last seven minutes of the game but there is no shame in holding the Chargers to 17 points (seven came on the batted end zone interception) and holding Philip Rivers to 63 percent completions (he was near 74 percent on the year coming in). And the goal line stand made up for a lot. It started with David Amerson’s hit on Danny Woodhead, which, as replays showed, knocked the runner out of bounds about half a yard short of the goal line. On first down, London Fletcher and Brandon Meriweather got credit for the stop of Woodhead on the dive play but it was Barry Cofield at the bottom of the pile who clogged things up. DeAngelo Hall was matched one on one with Antonio Gates on second down and Hall’s jam at the line kept Gates from getting out on a fade pattern. When Rivers rolled right on third down, Josh Wilson stuck by Eddie Royal and Amerson locked on to Keenan Allen and Rivers had nowhere to go.

4. It’s always something with the Redskins’ special teams. They were solid in kickoff and punt coverage and did nothing to hurt either themselves or the other team returning. But two blocked field goals loomed large as the Chargers rallied in the fourth quarter. The one on a 59-yard attempt is somewhat understandable as kicks from that distance generally come low off of the kicker’s foot. But a blocked 25-yarder is inexcusable. Shanahan indicated that it might be due to a blocking issue in the middle of the line but he should have more details in his 5:30 press conference after reviewing the film.

5. Griffin was far from perfect yesterday but he was very good in an area he has struggled—third downs. One of the issues in his spectacular rookie season was his inability to convert on the money down. That was not the case yesterday. Griffin passed on nine third down plays. He completed eight of those passes for 100 yards and six first downs. Included were two conversions with eight to go, one with 11 yards to go and one with 12 to go.

6. The goal line tackle of Woodhead wasn’t the only big play that Amerson made in the late going. Earlier in the fourth quarter he got around Allen on a dig route and snared Rivers’ pass to give the Redskins the ball near midfield. It was one of those “I can’t believe he just did that” plays. It set up a field goal that gave the Redskins a 10-point lead. It wasn’t all good for the rookie. Allen, who happens to be a lifelong friend of Amerson, beat the cornerback on a double move a few minutes later to pull the Chargers with three and set up the last-minute dramatics. He’ll learn how to handle double moves but you can’t teach the ball hawking instincts that led to that interception.

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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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