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State of the Redskins, Week 5: An important drive for Cousins

Oct 7, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

Cousins-vs-Eagles

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 5 of the NFL season.

Record: 2-2, T-1st in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 1-1
vs. NFC: 2-1
vs. AFC: 0-1
Home: 2-1
Away: 0-1

Key numbers changes from 2014-2015

 source:

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 383.0 (8th)
Defense (yards/game): 288.0 (4th)
Passer rating offense: 84.5 (19th)
Opp passer rating: 102.1 (26th)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.4 (3rd)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 3.9 (13th)
DVOA through Week 4 (Football Outsiders): -1.2% (18th)

Top three storylines:

A turning point for Cousins?—Kirk Cousins finally got that first fourth-quarter game-winning drive as a starter. If the Redskins go on to do anything this season, that 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Cousins firing a strike to Pierre Garçon will become an iconic moment.

O-line turnaround—The Redskins’ offensive line was a weak point last year but the revamped unit is getting it done so far this year. The backs are averaging 4.4 yards per rush and have allowed a sack on just 3.3 percent of pass attempts, fifth in the NFL. This week they plugged Spencer Long into the hole created when Shawn Lauvao went to injured reserve with a badly sprained ankle and didn’t miss a beat.

Relying on rookies—Right guard Brandon Scherff is a member of that effective line and he is just one of five 2015 draft picks contributing this year. Preston Smith has two sacks, Matt Jones has 200 yards rushing, Jamison Crowder is the slot receiver and Kyshoen Jarrett has gone from safety to being the top nickel corner.

Next three games

Sunday @ Falcons (4-0)—Kyle Shanahan has Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the rest of the Atlanta offense rolling and Dan Quinn has the team believing. In their last three games they overcame double-digit deficits on the road to win against the Giants and Cowboys and then nearly hung half a hundred on the Texans.

Oct. 18 @ Jets (3-1)—Former Redskins safety Todd Bowles (1986-1990, 1991-1992) has the Jets playing pretty well. They are getting it done the way the Redskins want to get it done, with a stout defense, a game managing QB, and a stout rushing attack.

October 25 vs. Bucs (1-3)—Jameis Winston is struggling like, well, a rookie quarterback. But he’s not getting a whole lot of help from the defense and other factors are contributing to the Bucs’ 1-3 record. It should be remembered that they were on a five-game losing skid last year when they came into FedEx Field and enjoyed one of their few 2014 bright spots with a 27-7 win over the Redskins.

  1. mr.moneylover - Oct 7, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    I don’t people will really look or care about that 90 yards drive against the eagles if we have a horrible season I think we will forget that drive by Sunday especially if he go stink it up in Atlanta…if he keeps building and building week by week he will get better and better towards the end of the season….Before the giants game people was talking about how redskins need to give kirk cousins an extension because they beat the rams but then Thursday night he laid a egg…he gotta learn how to win back to back games before we talk about a contract extension and saying its a turning point for him…rg3 had a turning point and put together a 7 game winning streak

    • goback2rfk - Oct 7, 2015 at 12:07 PM

      Cousins has earned a spot on this roster regardless. He has proved he can definitely be a solid back up. Even if he is not going to start next year or be our franchise QB the Skins should keep him around as a number 2 guy. Cousins would make a really solid back up to a decent franchise type guy.

    • hail74 - Oct 7, 2015 at 12:19 PM

      To be fair, RG3 did not have a 7 game win streak. Cousins came in with the score 28-20 against Baltimore and won it in OT then beat Cleveland the next week. I do agree on holding off on any extension that pays him as a full fledge starter just yet, but he’s definitely proved his value in some capacity to this team for years to come. Even if that’s as a place holder for the next guy

      • timwillhide - Oct 7, 2015 at 5:36 PM

        To be fair RG3 drive them down the field to 1 pass away from tiring the game against the Ravens and Morris was a big reason we won the Browns game.

        • hail74 - Oct 7, 2015 at 6:03 PM

          Morris and to lesser extent rob Jackson are the reason we won the Dallas game too. What’s your point?

        • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 6:11 PM

          All of this is really irrelevant to the here and now, which I think is Hail’s point.

        • timwillhide - Oct 7, 2015 at 8:43 PM

          My point is Cousins has played horribly all but a couple plays. Let’s see what he does this season before crowning him.

        • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 9:11 PM

          Id actually say the opposite, but to each his own. It’s pretty clear to me that Cousins has played well except for a handful of plays this season and let’s not forget he’s only had his #1 WR for two plays all season.

        • timwillhide - Oct 7, 2015 at 8:44 PM

          My point is give credit where credit is due.

        • hail74 - Oct 7, 2015 at 9:48 PM

          Cousins threw for 327yds and 2tds while Morris ran for 87 at 3.2 yds/carry and 2 tds. I’d say they were at least equally effective tho seeing as how cousins accounted for the higher percentage of offense I’d give him the edge. So with mr.money giving rg3 sole credit for the 7 game win streak and using that as a benchmark for cousins and you totally neglecting cousins performance who exactly is not giving credit where credit is due?

  2. mr.moneylover - Oct 7, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    He still looking for his first road win…theres no turning point here yet

    • greed - Oct 7, 2015 at 12:07 PM

      agreed-lets see what he does against a well coach defense and a good secondary -eagles top corner was EJ Biggers for got sakes

    • waqgman1 - Oct 7, 2015 at 2:23 PM

      mr.moneylover,

      Gotta get those facts straight. His first road win was his first starting win, almost 3 years ago, against the Cleveland Browns, Dec. 16, 2012. A 38-21 victory.

      • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 2:32 PM

        Yep and why do people such as him keep bringing up Griffin. Griffin isn’t part of the equation right now. I just don’t get it.

        Can’t we just talk about the players that are playing each week. Whichever camp people are in, it seems like every other post someone has go to say something bad about Kirk or bad about Griffin. I just don’t get it.

        • brucefan1 - Oct 7, 2015 at 6:49 PM

          Old habits die hard, Adam. ;^}

          (And besides, we all know the final chapters have yet to be written on either of these guys’ careers — by a long shot. Gotta funny feeling that Skins fans will be debating about both of them for seasons to come, no matter WHICH uniform they end up wearing!

  3. goback2rfk - Oct 7, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    ‘Cakes’ is a tool.

  4. ajbus1 - Oct 7, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    Gotta find a way to win two out of the next three.

  5. abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    Those projected stats for the end of the year look a lot better than they did after last week’s loss to the Giants.

    The Redskins have a true test the next two weeks. If they can split the games against the Falcons & Jets and beat the Bucs, they’ll be above .500 at the bye week.

    Interesting that the Skins and the Jets play similar styles of football. That should be a good and even match up.

    That will be awesome.

    • brucefan1 - Oct 7, 2015 at 6:54 PM

      “Those projected stats for the end of the year look a lot better than they did after last week’s loss”

      Haha! That’s true …funny AND true!

      It doesn’t take much to skew these “projections” this early in the season. Talk to me about such predictions when we’re at the three-quarters pole … maybe. (Even THEN, they usually end up off the mark.LOL)

      • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 7:05 PM

        Well its really all we have to talk about at this point

      • Rich Tandler - Oct 8, 2015 at 9:24 AM

        I’ll continue posting them, you are welcome to read them or not.

        • brucefan1 - Oct 8, 2015 at 2:36 PM

          You do that!

      • bangkokben - Oct 9, 2015 at 9:40 AM

        You need to look at these stats not like an arrow pointing at a destination but more like the big red “cone” one uses in predicting a hurricane’s path. You can disagree with the linear projection but four games is a reasonable sample in an NFL season to land within a reasonable range (10%-12.5%) at the end of the season provided that most of the variables remain constant. Major injuries similarly to the Cowboys would be an example of a significant change in variables. Now if you’re skeptical, apply a negative of %10 to the projections and you arrive at less carries, more sacks on the QB, less sacks by the defense, etc. However, what is your rationale? No matter how you answer that question, rationally it comes down to your belief in the team and belief in its leadership. Statically speaking, they’re on track to be 7-9 or 8-8 which is significant improvement.

  6. ET - Oct 7, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    While opponent passer rating has dropped by a projected 6%, it’s still a disturbingly high number. Last year’s Skins made an artform of turning mediocre or struggling QBs into stars for a day. This year’s secondary is trying hard (kudos, fellas), but they need better luck with injuries and the play needs to improve overall.

    Jarrett has been a real bright spot—the rook has a tough assignment. He played every snap in the Philly game. Hopefully Culliver shakes off his injury this week. Still curious as to why Johnson is not seeing any defensive snaps at all.

    • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:12 PM

      Again, Jeron Johnson isn’t playing on defense because Goldson & Trenton Robinson are better players. Johnson doesn’t appear to be an option at corner. The only reason Jarrett saw snaps on defense last Sunday is because he has the versatility to play both corner and safety, and Jarrett saw snaps at slot corner.

      • ET - Oct 7, 2015 at 4:11 PM

        To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting that Jarrett got snaps in preference to Johnson—I realize he was playing nickel corner. His smarts and ability to jump into a new/different role are impressive nonetheless.

        As far as Johnson goes, I feel like people outside of the building haven’t gotten the full story. I have nothing against TRob or Goldson, they’ve been playing adequately (certainly better than last year’s starting duo). But TRob ain’t settin’ the world on fire, either. I wonder if Scot didn’t get exactly what he was expecting with Jeron. They went after him pretty confidently, but he’s clearly undershot expectations.

        • brucefan1 - Oct 7, 2015 at 7:18 PM

          “I feel like people outside of the building haven’t gotten the full story”

          Sounds like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside of an enigma, ET. ;^} Gotta put Rich & Tark on the job of gettin to the bottom of it all!

          I too am surprised that JJ hasn’t gotten ANY tic (zero, zip, nada) in the backfield!

          And if it is as simple as inadequate performance, then ya gotta lay most of the blame at the feet of Scottie Mac, no? It seemed that he targeted Jeron because he was a guy Mac knew of from his Seahawks days. If we find out now that the reason JJ never got on the field in Seattle was NOT mainly because the Hawks’ starters were that good and that healthy would be a major fubar by Scott, imho. (Because I could see a dude NEVER playing if he was a SEAHAWK backup, but not a Redskin backup!)

          Whatever tho, hopefully whatever is holding my boy JJ back so far this season gets ironed out before too much longer,and he starts contributing in the way they envisioned for him.

        • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 7:42 PM

          I don’t necessarily consider Jeron Johnson as someone that McCloughan targeted highly. It’s not like we signed Johnson on the first few days of free agency or gave him a huge contract.

          The only reason Johnson got any hype from the local media is because McCloughan had a part in drafting him and because he was a back up – NOT A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR – on the best secondary in the NFL over the past 3 seasons.

        • Rich Tandler - Oct 8, 2015 at 9:24 AM

          Trust me, if there was some sort of a juicy story behind Johnson not playing it would not be a secret.

          He simply hasn’t performed well enough in practice or in preseason games. That’s the story for both inside and outside the building.

  7. hk2000 - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:24 PM

    This extrapolation of a whole season from 4 games is just ridiculous, we all know these numbers you forecast are too good to be true, so why bother? I think you should stick with the facts of what already transpired and maybe limit your predicting to only the upcoming game.

    • abanig - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      Rich does do that. He’s just keeping a running tally of stats each week and posting it for Redskins fans.

      Why is that such a bad thing?

      • hk2000 - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:40 PM

        I’m not really saying a bad thing Per Se, it assumes linearity in a system that includes endless variables, and is inherently misleading, it just builds up false expectations

        • ajbus1 - Oct 7, 2015 at 5:40 PM

          Doh Kay…

        • jonevans511 - Oct 7, 2015 at 7:11 PM

          Using that same logic though, many stats in football and extrapolations used in other industries are useless to begin with. Passing yards per game, for example. People love to say “ooh so and so threw for 340 yards a game!”. Same with receiving yards, rushing, etc. But if you had a ridiculous 4-6 game stretch followed by 10-12 games of horrendous performances, the good games are factored in with the bad to come up with an average. Not the exact same thing you’re talking about but the fact is variables exist in every facet of statistical analysis.

          Rich used a month’s worth of data and extended it out over 16 games. This is literally the exact same overall theory/process financial modelers use, actuaries use, investment bankers use, heck retailers use! So while it may seem “just ridiculous”, it’s a concept that’s used in almost every industry. Not being linear is a valid statement; but not much in life is so we use these figures as the basis for our discussion. In that context, Rich’s extrapolation absolutely has merit.

  8. hk2000 - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:28 PM

    That final drive for Cousins was far from a turning point- he twice got bailed by Garcon, including the TD catch which in my view was a bonehead throw typical of his usual mistakes, Chris Thompson was a few yards behind Garcon WIDE OPEN and he did not see him.

    • abanig - Oct 8, 2015 at 4:31 PM

      Thompson was a decoy on the play, they lined him up wide left. Garcon was the first read and the right decision by Kirk.

      On the play before which got the skins to the 5, Garcon was Kirk’s second read and Kirk found him cutting across the middle.

      I seriously don’t understand what your beef is, Kirk made the right read and delivered a pin point bullet for the game winner.

      The only throw you could really get on Kirk about was the one where he threw into triple coverage and Crowder jumped up and made a Miraculous leaping grab.

      Certainly not the final play though.

  9. redskinsnameisheretostay - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    From Football Outsiders….
    “Dink, dink, dink. Dunk, dunk, dunk. Cousins threw 46 passes against Philadelphia, and 36 of them (including 27 of his 31 completions) were thrown to receivers within 6 yards of the line of scrimmage. And he got even more conservative when playing with a lead in the first and third quarters. When Washington was ahead, he went 6-of-7 for 56 yards and four first downs, and all six completions were caught within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. But he was usually able to keep drives alive – – on third downs, he went 11-of-14 for 101 yards, plus a 17-yard DPI, for nine first downs, with one sack.”

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2015/week-4-quick-reads

    I don’t see anything wrong with the dink and dunks when you are getting 11 of 14 on third down attempts. The only key element missing is touchdown drives. If Cousins can start to produce touchdowns early and maintain the numbers like against Philadelphia then I think most fans would be in a happy place regarding his overall performance. I agree with Rich about how pivotal the last drive could be for Cousins and this season. It’s drives like that which build confidence and can really bring out the best in a player.

    This is a great opportunity coming up for this offense. I don’t see any aspect of the Falcons defense to be concerned about. They have talent in the secondary but teams are still managing to produce good passing numbers against them. Much of that may be a result of large leads. Overall, I think the running game has a better chance for a great game than the passing game. We still may not have Jackson and Reed is certainly out. Cousins will need to work the Crowder connection that seems to be building. I also think Grant gets open but for some reason there has been less success on key receptions between Cousins and Grant thus far.

    • abanig - Oct 8, 2015 at 4:44 PM

      I think most fans are happy with Kirk’s performance in all but one game – the Giants game. The only people who seem to be upset with Kirk’s performances or are digging through haystacks trying to find issues with his play are those who have a bias against him coming into the season because they only want Robert to be the qb of the team.

      When Jackson returns the Redskins will start to stretch the field more and will put up more points I believe, but until then, we have mostly possession receivers (expect for the inexperienced Ross), tight ends and running backs who he can check down to.

      As for Reed, he’s likely to be out for at least a month, if not maybe the season. I think what the skins will do is use Garcon in Reed’s role as the slot receiver on 2nd/3rd & medium and Garcon will be the go to guy on third down and more or else Cousins’ safety blanket.

      Rather than playing a TE on those sets, they’ll just add another receiver.

      So in stead of it being:

      WR – Garcon
      TE – Reed
      SL – Crowder
      WR – Grant

      On 3rd and medium to long, it will be:

      WR – Ross
      SL – Garcon
      SL – Crowder
      WR – Grant

      I have a feeling Djax is going to give it a go this weekend. It’s indoors and playing in the dome is more or less like playing on a track. I think he’ll be on a snap count.

  10. hk2000 - Oct 7, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    I think getting Callahan was one of the best moves the team made. I think that O Line improvement is a direct result of that hire. Granted we added some new guys, but the O Line coaching is underrated on all NFL teams.

  11. smotion55 - Oct 7, 2015 at 4:15 PM

    The Falcons Defense is not that good.This could be good old style Dog Fight.I like the stats – and if you try to project after 3 or 4 weeks for the hole season that is your fault.Hope this team just stays in the moment and try to get better every week.Hope Crowder gets more touches and Thompson also, If Jackson comes back great if not we will be OK.The tight end position is the real problem. All three hurt by week 5-and the 1 that gets hurt the most lasted the longest-just plain crazy. And what about corner’s We might be playing a converted receiver at corner this week.

  12. kenlinkins - Oct 7, 2015 at 8:02 PM

    Rich: What do you think the Redskins have in mind for Cousins long term? Is he on track to be “The Answer” at QB? I know it is early, but any guess if the Redskins take a QB in the 2016 draft and at what pick? What has changed (if anything) in the first quarter of the season for the long term answer at QB?

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 8, 2015 at 9:22 AM

      You just said it. Way early to tell. They are finding out what Cousins can do right along with the rest of us.

    • murphsman - Oct 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM

      It’s not a matter of “if” they’ll take a qb, but “when”. Regardless of their view of Cousins, i think they’ll draft a qb anyways because the front office likes to keep 3 qbs on the roster, and McCoy is only on a one year contract.

      • murphsman - Oct 8, 2015 at 9:30 AM

        I do agree it’s too early to tell, but i think they would anyways. Since they did draft Halliday this year, but he decided to quit football. I think if he had stayed in football Mccoy would have been cut

        • abanig - Oct 8, 2015 at 3:55 PM

          I had Halliday pegged for the practice squad if he didn’t quit.

          McCoy is a really good back up, no way we’d cut him

  13. murphsman - Oct 8, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    I think the most important difference is the oline improvement

  14. James - Oct 8, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    I throw the Tampa game out last year. RG3 started that game, and as everyone has found out, he’s not an NFL QB

    • abanig - Oct 8, 2015 at 12:10 PM

      Lol! Ridiculous! He played well enough for the team to win 4 of the games he played in last year.

      Houston, Minn, NYG & he the Skins did win the Phila game he played in last year.

      People make some real dumb comments sometimes.

      If a averages 69% complete, 249 yards, a little under a TD and a little over an int each game he can play in the NFL.

      Griffin just needs time to develop as a drop back passer, just like Kapernick. Until last year Griffin had never had to play primarily from the pocket in an offense before.

      In 2013 he looked good at times, he was just an inconsistent young qb. He had 3,203 yards, 16 TDs and 12 ints in just 13 games. He did it while just coming back from knee reconstruction and with a heavy brace on that restricted his mobility. He also still ran for 500 yards.

      • brucefan1 - Oct 8, 2015 at 2:34 PM

        “People make some real dumb comments sometimes.”

        Don’t sweat ’em, adman! ;^}

        It’ll be just a matter of the right offense with a coach that believes in him, a little more experience (and maybe just an IOTA of positivity surrounding him?) in order for Griffin to reach his full potential.

        And I for one will happy to watch all that occur — wherever it happens to be.

        • abanig - Oct 8, 2015 at 3:49 PM

          I can’t say I’ll be happy if he goes somewhere else and plays well. Especially if it’s in the division or in the NFC conference and we have to face him someday.

          I’m a fan of his, but if he leaves I hope he goes to the AFC where we can be happy he’s doing better as a qb from a far and not up close. Kinda like with Jason Capmbell being traded to Oakland in 2010 and how he played pretty well for them before he broke his collarbone.

  15. john - Oct 9, 2015 at 5:54 PM

    Enough of the RG3 talk. He is so, 2012. That might as well be a million years ago. The read option has gone the way of the wildcat. RG3 won’t use his athleticism and can’t play out of the pocket. If RG3 did run around, he’d more than likely get hurt again and cost the team $16 muh-million.

    In regards to Cousins, for the most part he has been efficient and effective. The team is running a “west coast” offense, where the the quarterback throws short passes to receivers who then make plays after the catch. It may look like check downs but that’s not an accurate description. Were Desean Jackson healthy, they would take more shots down the field. In any case, its much more complex than what the read option that RG3 ran. Cousins does make mistakes from time to time but he’s a lot better this year than last year. He is not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, so people should not expect him to be a world beater. Given time, he probably will do those things but it takes 2 to 3 years of playing regularly for a guy with potential to round his game out. So give him some time before you crucify the guy. I’ll take Cousins over a lot of other quarterbacks out there. Would you prefer to have the guys playing in Buffalo, the Jets, the qbs in Houston, Cleveland, to name a few? RG3is done here, so get over it.

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