All I can say, is “thank god.” Thank god that a 13-0 fast start – which easily could have and should have been more like 27-7 – didn’t melt into a last second loss. Life in the NFL is constantly a binary state. You either win, or lose, and your entire world feels different depending upon what happened last Sunday.
So let’s be thankful for all that we avoid this week. No talk of the season being over. No chatter about was Jay Gruden’s extension a mistake. No Kirk talk. At least for one week.
At 1-1, even with two hard wins on the schedule coming up, we have ourselves a season. So let’s dig in.
Run, Run, Run
That was a spectacular effort up front. Amazing. A final run/pass tally that is rarely seen in the modern, pass-all-the-time NFL. 39/27 run-pass is rare. And it usually means your team is ahead by 3 touchdowns all day long, and it just trying to burn clock. Not the case here. The Skins ran the ball to victory when the game was deadlocked at 20. The final drive was 7 runs, 4 passes, with a rookie RB toting the rock. The urge is to say: “Let’s just do this all the time.” Well, if only it was that easy.
For the second straight week, he was MEH- at best. But when the game was there to be won, he won it. Engineering a 70 yard drive, and plunging the dagger in with a perfect touch pass to Jay Gruden’s adopted son, Ryan Grant. Sorry Kirk haters, but that will go down as a “4th quarter game winning drive” in the big old dusty book known as “Just How Good Is Kirk Cousins.” You can footnote it all you want (mostly runs!) but he won. And winners write the history books. As for the rest of the game, there was almost no straight line, downfield probing of the Rams secondary. It was all medium stuff, with in-breaking routes, or sideline targets. Kirk again looked tentative and out of sorts. He must play better, and I think he will. But I also think there’s disorganization with his WR’s that we on the couch simply can’t know. Perhaps guys not running the correct routes. Or maybe not winning their routes when they absolutely have to win. For the second straight week, we’re all wondering: “Shouldn’t we have spent some money to keep at least Garcon OR Jackson?”
Throw this play into a North Korean gulag, and never let it see the light of day. It’s not our thing. It doesn’t work. Jay, please stop calling it. I’m not even sure how “in style” it is league-wide anymore. It seems fun and easy: Step 1) Get tall player. 2) Have him jump up and catch touchdown 1-on-1. Reality is different. Timing has to be there. Passer touch has to be there. Our WR’s ability to fight through contact has to be there. And yeah, I’ve seen fade passes get picked off, too. It’s not a zero-risk play. Junk it. Instead, put this play in the mix down on the goal-line: the 4-wide spread “shovel” pass. Seems to me, that 70% of the time, it scores a touchdown 80% of the time. Or something.
They don’t put a number for this in the box score, but it’s required to win football games. When Jordan Reed returned to the sideline after his chest injury – sans shoulder-pads – I was certain: “He’s done for the day.” Not so. He ended up strapping up and returning to play on crucial 3rd down late in the game. Didn’t catch a pass, but was out there as a threat. Then you had Mason Foster, dislocating his shoulder, having it popped back in and making the game ending INT. Awesome.
A lot of people were wondering, and worrying, that Jay’s play-calling might not be as dynamic or bold as young Mr. McVay – now standing on the opposite sideline. Well, not so on the game-winning play. On 3rd and 5 at the 12 yard line, every gutless NFL coach in the league usually runs and settles for a (Yay! We’re 3 points ahead! Hooray!) field goal. Instead, Gruden went shotgun/bunch formation and trusted Kirk to deliver. I was standing in my basement, clapping my hands so hard they stung after that beauty! It almost made me want to forget his lack of…..
Timeout usage by coaches in the NFL is still an emotional, knee-jerk endeavor. It’s not rational game-theory. The value of having all-three 2nd half timeouts in your pocket eludes most coaches. With all-3 timeouts, you can force the opponent into a 3-run, :24 possession when you absolutely MUST get the ball back. Without any, a team can burn 2 full minutes off the game, by just taking 3 knees. Yet here was Gruden, utterly wasting two timeouts in the 2nd half. The first was on defense in the 3rd quarter, with Goff and the Rams facing a 3rd and 10! The second was after the Skins converted on a 3rd down dart to Crowder to keep the chains moving at 4:49. ARRRRGH! WHY! When will he ever learn?
– Josh Norman continues to be worth every penny. The punch-out is now a lethal weapon.
– Can’t fault Breeland for whiffing on Gurley’s hurdle. Go look at it again: Breeland’s trying to make a form-perfect WAIST HIGH tackle. And Gurley just vanishes.
– Hopkins missed another one. I know it was from 50, but the ice is getting thin. And I’m a big fan.
– Lots of Skins fans in the building. Very encouraging. Who sez we don’t have a certain “National” element to us?
– Chris Spielman is quietly outstanding as an NFL TV analyst. He explains football concept plainly, and as they happen. No condescension. No cliches as crutches.
– Hekker is a bitch when it comes to fake punts. We were his 8th victim on Sunday. So it’s not that we were asleep. I think Fabian Moreau was playing “off” on purpose on his gunner, for fear of getting beat over the top for a TD. We’ll see what the coaches say today.
– Rob Kelly had his best day yet as a Redskin, and still he left a bunch of yards out there. I can’t recall the last time I saw an NFL RB just run straight into an open field tackle, 20 yards past the line of scrimmage, with a ton of running room toward the sideline. He also missed a pretty blatant cut-back to open space early in the game.
– Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder are friggin’ FOOTBALL PLAYERS! Period. I wish I could clone 53 of them.
– As fun as it was to watch the Robert Woods meltdown, and it dearly cost his team with two stupid penalties in the 2nd half, just remember that it could have easily been our guys. Breeland and Norman are great alpha-dog competitors, but they push the line. This week Woods ended up drawing the flags. Next week, it might be us.
– I have a fundamental problem with Jay trusting a crucial red-zone feature play (the fade) to a guy who was not a full participant all week in practice (Doctson). Run that play for Pryor instead. If you must…
– If Jared Goff is special, I can’t see it. It doesn’t mean he isn’t. I just can’t see it. And remember: the Rams gave up 2 #1’s, 2 #2’s and 2 #3’s to get him. (Although they clawed back a 4th and a 6th from the Titans in the deal).