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Monday six pack: Redskins' turbo offense very efficient

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Monday six pack: Redskins' turbo offense very efficient

My six pack of observations from the Washington Redskins’ 45-41 win over the Bears on Sunday:

1. The Redskins’ defense was not good yesterday but it was not as bad as it looked. There is no reason to celebrate giving up 41 points, 140 yards on the ground and to have Josh McCown, who last threw a pass in the 2011 season finale, throw for 204 yards, post a 119.6 passer rating, and scramble 4 times for 33 yards. But if you look at the 41 points, you can point the finger directly at the special teams for seven of them on Devin Hester’s punt return. Another Bears touchdown came two plays after Charles Tillman picked off a Robert Griffin III pass and returned it to the 10 yard line. And, while we’re at it, Chicago had to move just 18 yards to get into position for a field goal after the Redskins had to punt from inside their one yard line. So that makes 27 points that the defense was really responsible for. Throw in the fact that the defense scored a TD on Brian Orakpo’s first interception at any level of football and it’s not as bad a defensive showing as it appears to be at first glance.

2. It’s not a coincidence that Alfred Morris had his best rushing game of the year on a day when Griffin was so effective on the ground. And, of course, Morris’ effectiveness opened room for Griffin to roam, giving the game a decided 2012 feel on offense. Morris got his season high in carries with 19, and his second-highest yardage total of the year with 95. The key was that the Redskins never got away from him. The Redskins had 12 possessions in the game and Morris got at least one carry on all but two of them. One of those possessions lasted just one play, Griffin’s first-down pass that Charles Tillman intercepted.

3. How good was Jordan Reed? He only played about half of the snaps (40 of 76) but he still was Griffin’s favorite target. Reed was targeted nine times and he caught nine passes. Many thought that the fade had been taken out of the Redskins’ playbook but Reed and Griffin executed it to perfection. Reed lined up wide right and was being covered by safety Chris Conte. He took a quick jab step to the inside and then headed for the corner. Griffin’s rainbow pass was perfect and Reed managed to get both feet in before falling out of bounds. That is the kind of play that will help boost the Redskins’ red zone percentage. They had four touchdowns in five red zone possessions yesterday after going 0-3 against the Cowboys. Reed has two good things going for him. For one, he’s highly confident without being cocky. And, he used to be a quarterback so he’s smart and has a deep understanding of the game.

4. The Redskins had 73 offensive snaps yesterday and, going off of the NFL play by play, they ran 13 of them out of the no huddle or “Turbo” offense. The snaps came in four different drives although they did not run the no huddle during the entirety of any possession. Still, they scored a touchdown at the end of every drive where they went to the Turbo at some point during the possession. On those 13 plays they gained a total of 149 yards, an average of 11.5 yards per play. Doing the math, since the Redskins gained 499 yards of total offense they gained an average of 5.8 yards on their other 60 snaps. This doesn’t mean that they can or should go to the Turbo full time. They can’t change personnel while they are going no huddle so they have to stay in the base formation they started the drive with. And utilizing a zone-blocking scheme you could just as easily wear out your offensive line going Turbo full time as you could wear down the defense. Still, as Griffin gets more experience running it we could see it more and more.

5. I’ll admit that I’m not much of an expert on special teams X’s and O’s but it seemed to me that Devin Hester’s TD Punt return was the result of Sav Rocca’s 53-yard line drive punt, Niles Paul going out of bounds as he went downfield for coverage so that he ended up chasing Hester from the side instead of slowing him down by coming straight on, and the other 10 players failing to contain. Rocca may have outkicked his coverage to some extent but the hang time was 4.9 seconds, respectable for a kick that distance. I had a feeling that the Bears were going to try an onside kick as they huddled before the kick (no, I didn’t say or tweet it so you’ll have to take my word for it). It was just sheer blind luck from Eric Weems being slightly offside, not a heads-up play by the special teams unit, that kept the Bears from stealing an extra possession in a game where every possession mattered.

6. Did the win save the Redskins’ season? Only time will tell. It was certainly a great boost for the offense to gain 499 yards and put up 38 points (subtracting the seven from the Orakpo touchdown). They had scoring drives of 60, 80, 74, 83, 80, and 80 yards. Yes, the Bears have a pretty bad defense (bottom third of most statistical categories except for takeaways) but the Redskins will face a lot of bad defenses the rest of the way. The defense, as noted, didn’t play as poorly as many think. Special teams will have to be fixed, perhaps by just booting every kick out of bounds to prevent a big play. Last year, my pat answer going into any game and in almost any situation during a game was, “if they have RG3, they have a chance”. Now that the Redskins have that Robert Griffin back, the pat answer is back.

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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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