My six pack of observations on Redskins-Cowboys:
—If you glance at the stat sheet it looks like Alfred Morris had a pretty respectable game against the Cowboys with 81 yards rushing on 16 carries. But 45 of those yards came on one touchdown run. It’s not as though the 45-yard run doesn’t “count”; it was a big play at the moment as it made it a one-score game. But on his other 15 carries he gained 36 yards, an average of 2.4 a carry. That’s not the kind of running we saw from Morris last year, the kind that sets up second and short or moves the chains. It’s been a pattern all year. Morris has four carries of 30 yards or more. Outside of those plays he is averaging 3.5 yards a carry.
—The performance of Robert Griffin III in this game can’t really be summed up in a bullet point but it’s safe to say it was up and down. He had his legs under him, no question about it. He was credited for 77 yards rushing but a pair of 15-yard penalties the defense incurred while he was scampering out of bounds pushed the net result of his runs over 100 yards. But you have to juxtapose that against him completing fewer than half of his passes for just the second time in his 21 NFL starts. The only other time he did that his receivers let him down as they dropped about 10 passes on a rainy day in Pittsburgh. He had a few drops and there were other issues that were out of his control like Santana Moss falling down on the interception in the end zone. But he flat-out misfired on some to open receivers.
—Jordan Reed went from potential star of the game in the first half to someone who needed to have his picture on a milk carton in the second. After being targeted five times and making four catches for 58 yards in the first half, Reed was targeted just once in the second. It’s possible that the Cowboys worked to take him out of the game but you’d have to think that Griffin would at least give him a chance to make a play. And if he’s not getting open, why not try Fred Davis? He played just 18 snaps. In a league where teams are trying to figure out how to get two pass-catching tight ends involved in their offenses all over the league, the Redskins, who have at least two such players (and maybe a third in Niles Paul), can’t get one TE to be consistently effective.
—For a couple of games, it looked like the Redskins had shaken the penalty bug that has plagued them since the start of the 2012 season. But after committing just nine penalties for 74 yards in their previous two games, the flags were flying against them last night. They racked up 12 for 104 yards including that bizarre flag drawn by special teams coach Keith Burns when the got too close to the sideline and ran into an official. The 104 yards is bad enough but there was hidden damage as well. Jerome Murphy was flagged for illegal motion on a punt that was downed at the 16. The Cowboys elected to have them re-kick and Dwayne Harris returned it for a touchdown. The penalty on Burns happened on that return so a simple five-yard penalty ended up costing an 86-yard return, seven points, and another 15 penalty yards.
—The fears that Tony Romo would eat up the Redskins’ defense did not materialize. After passing for 506 yards and five touchdowns against the Broncos, Romo passed for 170 and one on Sunday. No question, the Redskins played some solid defense and Dez Bryant caught just five passes for 36 yards. But I kind of had the feeling that the Dallas offense could have turned it up a notch if it needed to. After Kai Forbath missed a field goal that would have pulled the Redskins to within two points early in the fourth quarter, the Dallas offense flipped the switch to on. They moved 49 yards in nine plays to a Dan Bailey field goal that pushed the Cowboys’ lead to eight. Had the Redskins responded, I suspect that Romo could have cranked out another scoring drive.
—Back to Griffin, much is being made of the fact that he had only five interceptions all of last year and he has five in five games this year. There is no way to sugar coat that as he almost certainly will throw more interceptions as the year goes one. But it is not a particularly alarming statistic. For this season, 2.9 percent of his passes have been intercepted. The league average is 2.8 percent. Griffin is regressing to the mean. He’s gone from being extraordinary when it comes to protecting the ball to being average. That’s not particularly surprising when you look at the fact that he has take just 19 snaps with the Redskins in the lead this year. That’s 19 out of 341 total snaps, or just 5.6 percent.