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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants—Is the Cousins of 2015 back yet?

Sep 27, 2016, 6:16 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 27, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Cleveland Browns.


Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Ravens 12; Eagles @ Redskins 19

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

—I don’t think it’s time to declare yet that the Kirk Cousins of the second half of 2015 is back. He had his moments against the Giants, especially the back-to-back throws to DeSean Jackson that constituted the two-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. And he didn’t throw an interception, which is always good news. But he still was inaccurate on a lot of his passes, throwing behind some receiver who could have had some significant yards after the catch. Jay Gruden said that he took the wrong hole on the quarterback draw play in the third quarter. And for the second time in six games he had inexplicable problems near the goal line at the end of the first half. Fortunately, the Redskins won both their Week 16 game in Philadelphia last year and the one against the Giants on Sunday but he is playing with fire.

—Quinton Dunbar is officially a Giant killer. He made the two big plays on Sunday with his 31-yard reception on a fake punt and his spectacular end zone interception. Last year in Week 12 against the Giants Dunbar came up with a diving interception of Eli Manning in the end zone to keep the Giants off of the scoreboard. Dunbar’s play saved a touchdown in a game the Redskins won by six points.

—Maybe we can set aside the “Trent Murphy is a bust” narrative for the time being at least after he had a sack, two quarterback pressures and a forced fumble in 37 snaps against the Giants. He leads the team in sacks with three and he has forced two fumbles. This is after an offseason where he converted from outside linebacker to defensive lineman and back again. Some still aren’t sure if they should call him a linebacker or a lineman but you can call him a playmaker. The key, of course, is him keeping it up but it’s so far, so good this season for Murphy.

—The run-pass ratio always gets less attention when the Redskins win. They called 28 run plays (excluding victory formation kneel downs) and 38 pass plays (including two that ended in sacks). That’s a 58%-42% pass-run ratio, which is right around the league average of 60%-40%.

—Jamison Crowder lasted until the fourth round of the 2015 draft largely because of his 4.56 time in the 40-yard dash. But during his 50-yard punt return and 55-yard touchdown on a screen pass he showed that he has some burst and that knowing where to go can be as important as how fast you get there. He struggled on punt returns last year with a 5.3-yard average with a long return of 16. Already this year he has returns of 50, 17, and 21 yards.

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Sep 27, 2016 at 6:28 AM

    Murphy has stepped up to the challenge this year. He is a beast if we can use him correctly. He was a complete beast at Stanford.

    Dunny was clutch and shows signs o brilliance. He does however get himself in sticky situations on kickoffs it seems. We need better communication during kickoffs and how to clear a ball that is decided to be let go.

    The front line with Long and Ty N was superior to Lauvao and Kory by huge margin. Bee need to get that talent on the field in a big way. Long did great. I don’t want to see Kory in field again this year now that Long proved it. Sure wish we could have Ty and Trent together more. That line was amazing compared to our starters – go figure.

    Crowder in my book is a complete clutch player that continues to make plays when we are on the ropes. This guy is as clutch as they come. He has more grit than anyone on the team. He is the best offensive player we have. This guy is seriously special!


    • Trey Gregory - Sep 27, 2016 at 12:24 PM

      I assume you meant Dunbar where it says Danny? Go back and rewatch that punt. Everyone saw him get pushed when he was right next to the ball. But how did he get there? The Giants player started pushing him from like 15 yards back and drove him into the ball. It’s stunning that no official saw it.

  2. garg8050 - Sep 27, 2016 at 6:33 AM

    No, I don’t think Cousins is back to 2015 yet. And he may never get there, who knows. He was definitely better vs. the Giants and connected on some big time throes.

    He still seems a little tentative and not totally comfortable. He also seems a little “mechanical” in the pocket. I still believe he’s thinking too much.

    The red zone issues, I feel, are more play-calling related. Last year, we hit Reed numerous times on slants, Cousins walked in a few times on the zone read. McVay needs to simplify things in the red zone and play to his team’s strengths. I think they get it together this week vs. the Browns.

    • chimps000 - Sep 27, 2016 at 6:54 AM

      I’m with you- their success in red zone last year was mostly throwing to reed. I would like to see them go back to that- I’m sure he is getting a lot more attention from defenses, so they might need to run more of those rub/pick plays to try and isolate him… if they are going to stick with the low percentage fade
      I would rather they throw it to reed than anyone else.

      If they can run the ball better that will definitely help the red zone problem. And if Kirk would scramble on plays where the defense is dropping 8 in coverage, or just be more patient and wait for a wr to scramble open when he has no pressure, rather than dump it 6 yards short of the first down on third down, and the defenders are playing at the marker, that would help.

      • ET - Sep 27, 2016 at 10:58 AM

        Garçon is a good alternative to Reed in the red zone, as is Crowder. Both guys aren’t afraid to make a catch in a tight spot with the threat of getting walloped. They’re both great at scrounging up extra yards after the catch, too.

    • redskins12thman - Sep 27, 2016 at 9:29 AM

      The win is what’s all about, but as far as overall impressions and individual players, for the most part, plenty of room for improvement (Garcon and Jackson got best reviews yet again):

      re Cousins … This game is much closer to last year’s 2nd half of the season play. Would I love Cousins to play better? For sure, but what I love about Cousins’ game is no INTs and the fact he led the team to score on 8 of 10 drives even if there were too many field goals (not that I disagree with the decision to attempt them).

      Cousins missed a lot of “best available” opportunities — receivers wide open, especially deep. Cousins must be pre-determining a number of throws, but he might have been doing this last year too. Hopefully he can exploit best opportunity based on progression reads. Cooley gave him a 6.6 (i.e., a back-up grade).

      In sum, no INTs and 8/10 drives score = very good for me. 2nd in NFL passing yards, behind only Brees. Cousins rates around 19th (depends on rating system), just below where I think he’ll land (11 – 18), which is not surprising due to slow start against Steelers and Cowboys.

      Giants’ defense game planned around not losing because of Jordan Reed. Per Cooley, Reed did okay (6.9), a grade which could happen a lot because opponents are intent on stopping Reed which makes the jobs of other offensive targets that much easier.

      Garcon did a great job of getting open even though we wasn’t targeted a lot (8.9). As was more evident to fans, Jackson did well too (8.9)

      Crowder an 8.3 (great plays pushed down by bad plays) and Jones, a 5.3 (missed some holes although my uneducated eye would have graded him higher, somewhere in the 6s). Jones took that vicious, over-the-top hit but still recovered the football. Amazing.

      On the o-line, Nsekhe (7.9 – aided by players not studying him), Scherff (7.5 – much better at pass blocking than run blocking), Williams (7.3), Lauvao (7.0), Long (6.8) and Moses (5.8) was good performance against better d-line. Only Moses’ score really low.

      As a whole, offense was blocking late / taking bad angles. Room for improvement here. On 3rd and 3 toward end of game, all three TEs missed their blocking assignments.

      We need another win against Browns and the game will not be easy — the Browns almost, and could’ve, won two games so far. I hope the Redskins do not take the Browns lightly; if they do, they will really regret it. Redskins fans deserve a much better showing at FedEx field.

      Even with Coleman out, Browns have many playmakers; Crowell, Johnson, Pryor, Hawkins and Barnidge can all ball. Redskins must prevent Crowell, Johnson and Pryor (Pryor may take snaps and run too) from running. Redskins must force pass and stop these five from catching the ball.

      What a shame it would be to lose to the Browns after win against Giants in New Jersey!

  3. cmehustle - Sep 27, 2016 at 7:08 AM

    Kirk back to 2015 form? In a word, no. Still settling for field goals wont cut it. I think Gruden needs some level of micromanagement, in that he should be forced to play some of either the rookie or second year players that he drafted. Get these old heads out of here, and let the kids learn something. It may impact our wins this year, but we’ll be that much farther ahead with the youth movement.

  4. sidepull - Sep 27, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    Crowders speed. The 4.56 time. Bill Belichick was talking about this sort of thing the other day about how his young QB did not have any great combine times but when they scouted him Belichick said he had “football speed” as opposed to “track speed”. He said the football speed was what was important to him, how a guy runs with players in front of him, the vision etc. He was commenting that his QB speed didnt look too slow as he scrambled for first downs and a TD. Some guys run like they are running for their lives when they have the ball. Crowder iss the Redskkins dynamite and I was glad he got his. I was personally sick of hearing Aikeman going on about the Giants Sterling Shepherd. Anyhow, more of Crowder.

    Cousins does not look like 2015. Yet.

    More Murph.

    Djax made a great TD catch with a defender literally draped all over him. Giant killer as well.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Sep 27, 2016 at 7:41 AM

    Cousins almost got Reed killed with a late throw. I think he’s still playing too tight.

  6. troylok - Sep 27, 2016 at 8:38 AM

    As far as Murphy – great. I haven’t looked too closely but are his sacks coming when he lines up with his hand in the dirt or when he is standing? It seems to me most of the time he is a linebacker in name only often lining up with his hand in the dirt. I always thought Murphy could play better with a little more muscle packed on and this season he added it.

    As far as Cousins, I wouldn’t roll out the bandwagon just yet. He still looks down receivers and from a body mechanics view point, he needs to step into his passes. I know there was one play where the Giants were crowding the line of scrimmage and he should have audibled to a pass, but no dice, so I think he needs to make some calls at the line, too.

    To me, Crowder doesn’t seem to be that fast, but lawdy, he can turn on a dime – juke defenders right out of their shoes. They have got to get him more involved because all he does is make plays.

  7. Mr.moneylover - Sep 27, 2016 at 8:51 AM

    If trent Williams dont mind playing left guard this can actually help our offense out alot especially in the red zone…im impress to by how active trent murphy been but like you said can he keep it up ?…kirk cousins struggling because he had a center kory L. And a guard Shaun Lauvao who get pushed back alot

  8. demskinsbaby - Sep 27, 2016 at 9:26 AM

    Does anyone else notice the bias they comes through Troy Ailmans mouth when he calls the Redskins games. He kept mentioning that Norman had safety help numerous times. He more than enough keep bringing up negative points about the Redskins like our record and other things but always mentions the good thing our opponents are doing. You can see the frustration on his face when the Redskins are still in the game… I hate when he calls our games. He looked like he was high also with his red glossy eyes.

    • redskins12thman - Sep 27, 2016 at 9:33 AM

      I dislike Aikman calling NFL games, including Redskins games. I don’t like Ryan Clark’s NFL commentary too.

      • sidepull - Sep 27, 2016 at 9:37 AM

        He still resentful Llvar sent him packing. Hes a homer. I hate it too. Most times I just turn off the sound rather than listen to him and his butt boy Buck.

    • skinsgame - Sep 27, 2016 at 12:07 PM

      Totally noticeable. Buck doesn’t like the Redskins either. At least that’s the way it sounds. When Beckham was crying and fracked himself in the head with the kicker net it was called “frustration” instead of replayed over and over and ridiculed.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 27, 2016 at 12:32 PM

      I don’t think it’s a negative thing to say Norman had help over top. I think it’s his job to say that. OBJ should always be covered with a safety over the top. So, in a way, he was saying that Barry was doing his job correctly.

  9. mtskins - Sep 27, 2016 at 10:12 AM

    Will be interested to get the injury report this week and find out how the team plans to adapt.

    Hall done. Breeland sounds week to week. Phillips with Hamstring. Definitely some shuffling there. Excited about the possibility of getting Fuller on the field and hope he is ready for the speed of his first NFL game.

    Not sure what the current status of Kory L. and Lauvao is but an ankle injury is clearly a red flag given his history. Less excited about the possibility of getting Kouandjio on the field and curious if I’m to only one that is nervous about possibility of him starting at left guard if they put Long at Center and Lauvao can’t go.

  10. renhoekk2 - Sep 27, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    If the defense doesn’t improve it’s not going to matter how Cousins plays or how often they run the ball or what Trent Murphy does. The Redskins D is ranked 30th in yard, 30th in pts, 32nd in allowing opponent first downs. You can’t win many games playing defense like that. The Giant had 450yds of offense on Sunday. Let’s be real here….If that blocked punt isn’t overturned the Giants probably win the game, and nobody would be talking about Trent Murphy or Jamison Crowder at 0-3. If the plan is to score at least 28pts every game and hope the other team makes a month’s worth of mistakes in one game, fans should lower their expectations. Joe Barry is a problem that is not going away.

    • ET - Sep 27, 2016 at 11:18 AM

      Well, yeah, the game woulda been different if the blocked punt hadn’t been called back. But there were a half dozen moments like that—if the opening punt doesn’t carom off Dunbar’s foot, if the Skins scored to end the first half, if Bruton gets an interception, if Cousins sees a wide open Crowder for a TD. The Giants got lucky a number of times, too. It coulda been a 45-17 game if all the breaks went DC’s way. Thankfully the Skins capitalized a few times.

      • renhoekk2 - Sep 27, 2016 at 1:22 PM

        The punt sticks out because it was at the end of the game and it was a penalty 40yds away that had nothing to do with the play. If you want to be psyched about the Giants win go ahead. I try to look at performances and what is sustainable for 16 games, not one game. For three games the defense has been as bad as it can be. The Giants had three TO’s and countless penalties that took points off the board. Other teams will probably not be so cordial.

        They have 5 games coming up against current top 10 defenses. They won’t be scoring 28+ points a game in those contests. They most likely won’t be holding those teams to say 20 points or less so I have those down as 5 more losses. That gives them 7. They will need to win every other game to get back to 9-7.

        • ET - Sep 27, 2016 at 2:54 PM

          I don’t disagree with you regarding the upcoming opponents, but my point remains the same.

          There were half a dozen critical miscues or missed calls that could’ve decided the Giants game. Sure, the Skins had that one break their way. But Eli could’ve been intercepted 4-5 times instead of twice, too. We can play the Woulda Coulda Shoulda game all day long, but a win is a win. And yeah, I’m psyched that it was a win, ugly or not. Don’t care!

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 27, 2016 at 3:31 PM

          I think a realistic record is 7-9 or 8-8 based off the schedule. But that’s with them beating Dallas on the road and splitting with Philly. That’s no easy feat.

          The way the defense performed on Sunday is sustainable in a way. That performance is how they were designed to play. It’s very hard in the salary cap/free agent era to have both a great defense and offense. We clearly have invested more resources in having an potent offense recently. So the plan for defense is bend-but-don’t-break. Teams will continue to rack up yards on this D. But it’s about what they do in those last 20 yards. Once the opposing offense gets close to the end zone, we need our playmakers to make a play.

          In theory, if you truly have a good offense then you only need a couple stops a game to win. Force just 1 or 2 punts, get 1 or 2 turnovers, and force 1 or 2 field goals. That’s it. Sacks are included in the punts and field goals. We only need 1 or 2 sacks on key 3rd downs.

          This defense is capable of achieving that formula. But the offense has to do their part and get points with almost every possession. That’s the problem right now. And they also need to sustain longer drives (i.e., run the ball) to keep the other offense off the field. If you look at the way this team is constructed from a talent standpoint then the defense is not the problem. They’re not supposed to be all that good. But the offense is and we will with 6-7 more games if the offense gets rolling.

    • sidepull - Sep 27, 2016 at 11:25 AM

      Ren I think Joe Barry is not here for the long haul. I think he will be looking for work next season. I just dont see how they can justify keeping him here unless some kind of miracle turnaround happens. Maybe they ride out Barry this year and he gets axed later. I love stability within organizations. I think it is a great foundation for winning yet I cannot for the life of me like a Joe Barry D. Sounds hypocritical I know but that cat just seems like hes in over his head. I still am in a complete shock about how they actually went out and found somebody worse than Haslett. That took some doing. I know hes missing players, I root for that D with all my heart and yet I pray for his demise as the Redskins DC. Crazy .

      • RuddyJamesDIO - Sep 27, 2016 at 11:51 AM

        Maybe Rex Ryan can be DC next year after he gets fired in Buffalo. He wont be getting another HC job anytime soon….just a thought

      • renhoekk2 - Sep 27, 2016 at 12:58 PM

        I’m hoping for Gus Bradley. He should not be seeing a 5th season in JAX and he and Scot M worked together in SEA. I think that would be a great move. If JAX fires him mid-season they should grab him and give him some bogus coaching title to get him on staff.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 27, 2016 at 1:30 PM

          That’s an interesting proposition man. It never even crossed my mind. I like the thought process a lot.

          The only problem I see is that, to my knowledge, Bradley is really a 4-3 guy. Now, we basically run a 4-3 ourselves these days (that’s to oversimplify it). We’re not even close to a true 3-4 team. But, say what you will about Barry the coach, I love his system. I think we’re on the right track there. It’s really a hybrid system. I don’t see why Gus couldn’t make some changes and implement it. But, knowing the NFL, they will look for a 3-4 guy. They don’t like to take risk or get out of their comfort zones.

      • Trey Gregory - Sep 27, 2016 at 3:39 PM

        @sidepull: I’m not convinced that Barry is a good DC but I’m also not convinced that anyone else could do any better with this roster. Send Barry to Denver and I guarantee his defense plays A LOT better. Send Wade Phillips here and I guarantee his defense plays a lot worse. We’re so quick to blame coaches and not the players or GM for either execution or the talent on the field.

        I just don’t know what more Barry can accomplish with this group. I mean, really, what was the reasonable expectation for these guys? They’re playing about exactly as I expected when you look at the roster. Are we so sure anyone could do better? Rob Ryan was fired because the Saints D was terrible. Well, guess what? They’re still terrible. Because they invested all their resources on offense and don’t have good talent on D. Short of Bill Bellichick coming to coach this team, I’m not so sure a coaching change will fix anything until we get real playmakers along our front seven.

        • kenlinkins - Sep 27, 2016 at 6:18 PM

          I am not a big Joe Barry fan either, but I might agree that he is playing the only system that has any chance of winning games with the roster he has. I hate the non attacking, bend but do not break defense with the 3-4 early and the 4-3, 4-2, or 4-1 nickel / dime packages late, but with this group of guys it may be the only way not to give up 600 yards and 45 points a week. There are no studs on this defense that you can build a attacking defense around. There are a few solid types but no one really to base your defense on. Until they draft two studs (one OLB and one DE – NT) they will be forced to play this kind of system.

        • chimps000 - Sep 27, 2016 at 7:39 PM

          kenlinkins- i agree the defensive talent is not good, and a bend but don’t break defense is going to generally be the way to go for this team.

          But I would bet money if Barry coached Denver last year, they still would have had a great defense but it wouldn’t have been as good as with Phillips, and if Phillips coached this group, they would be better than they have shown.

      • chimps000 - Sep 27, 2016 at 7:33 PM

        Maybe he is great at teaching technique and would be a good position coach, but he is not a good defensive coordinator.

        Trey you say you like his cover 2 cover 3 zone scheme, but the specific scheme a team uses to me is relatively umimportant- a coach should be able to teach any and every scheme out there, and be able to vary his scheme based on his personnel, the opponent, and the game situation, and Barry has failed in that regard. Certainly a coordinator needs to have plan B, plan C, and vary his plan in game based on how plan A is working or failing. Even having Norman
        “travel” in the 3rd game this year and shadow OBJ, as Tony Dungy said its not easy to just switch sides, its like driving a car in england on the left side of the road. So why the hell did Barry not practice this in the offseason, in the preseason, before he finally made the adjustment? He put his own player in a more difficult position than he had to due to Barry’s lack of preparation. And the funny thing is, despite Barry sticking slavishly to his super special zone scheme in the first two games, his secondary looked totally lost and out of position except for the new guy Norman in those games. You would have thought if he was so disciplined in teaching these guys just his personal zone defense scheme in the offseason instead of teaching more variety, they would have made less constant mental errors.

        But the most important part of coaching is playing your best players, and in this regard Barry has been clearly bad. He has played guys who look lost and have no idea what they are doing and have no history of success at the NFL level (Phillips, Bruton, hell even D Hall who got a pass through 2 games because he was a vet learning a new position) and not bothered to pull those guys out and try new guys who actually have a history of success (Blackmon, Dunbar had some success last year), until the 3rd game of the year when the season was almost over from a playoffs perspective with another loss. That to me says that he is not seeing the game well, or that he plays favorites for non actual football reasons.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 27, 2016 at 7:49 PM

          I do like the cover 2 and cover 3 zone but really it’s Bary’s overall hybrid scheme that I like. It’s very versatile and it’s not stuck in being a 3-4 or a 4-3. His scheme is really exactly what you just asked for. It’s designed to adjust to opponents or to vary just to confuse the opposing offense. I think his lack of adjustments has been about the players he has limiting his options more than his unwillingness to do so.

          Barry doesn’t have elite pass rushers or a good DT to use and have effective 3 and 4 man rushes. He doesn’t have a nose tackle to run a 3 man front very often. He also doesn’t have the secondary and linebackers to blitz or stack the box regularly. He’s kind of forced to stay balanced or get beat in the area he pulls guys from.

          I believe the reason (whether it was stulid or not) that they didn’t practice having Norman travel is because they believed in Breeland so much. Traveling causes other issues that they wanted to avoid and though they could because they thought they had two good corners. So did all the fans. And it’s not like top defenses don’t do this. Sheen doesn’t usually travel either. Zone schemes are also hard to match up a player 1-on-1. What happens if the receiver crosses the field? You’re changing the whole cover philosophy by doing that. Right now it’s all about the secondary watching the QB and reacting. If you ask the DBs to travel with receivers it becomes about them watching one receiver. It’s just a complete departure from what we really do for the whole secondary just because they sign an elite zone corner? We’ve also been drafting zone corners. These big/long corners are zone guys. They’re not as fast as the small guys but that’s OK because why’re sitting back and reacting to the QB instead of keeping up with a WR. We don’t have the correct personnel for man.

          Long story short, Barry doesn’t have the personnel to say he’s a bad DC because the defense isn’t playing well. The defense isn’t playing well because of a lack of talent. Maybe coaching is bad too. I’m saying I don’t know because the coach doesn’t have a ton of talent to work with in the first place.

    • brucefan1 - Sep 27, 2016 at 12:11 PM

      Seeing yer veering these comments to overall defense, ren, I think I’ll go there with you.

      While the defense has obviously been very porous, I’m not convinced you can lay it all at the feet of Barry. I’m just not all that impressed by the personnel!

      They are getting very little in the way of pass pressure, especially from edge rushers P. Smith & Kerrigan. Are they overrated? (Btw, does ANY pass rusher get more uncalled choke holds put on him than Kerrigan? Sheesh!) Also, can we get some push up the middle from the d-line? I ain’t seeing it. The oppo QBs have been getting way to much time to scan the field. The OLBs have had glaring failures against the RUN game too — fooled way to many times by misdirection.

      Don’t love the play of their ILBs either — especially Compton! He seems to often be a day late & a dollar short, both in pass coverage AND run-stopping, and is frequently well-blocked. And what about his blitzing? I haven’t heard his name mentioned as creating any havoc AT ALL. Always picked up.

      Re the DBs, besides Breeland’s well-documented woes this season, I was not impressed with the early results of D. Hall’s transition to safety. Was late helping-out too many times, and his tackling looked shaky to boot. Guess going forward we’re gonna find out if the alternative to Hall will make his mistakes look minor. And some of the those nickle and dime backs have been beaten like drums. I look forward to seeing what kind of skills Fuller has. (But the fact that he has been among the inactives this season is a red flag, no?)

      Now whether these guys look less than adequate due to their talent or to Barry’s scheme remains to be seen (I don’t pretend to be the expert in discerning that that some who post here are) — but whatever the game plan, imho many of these guys are gonna have to play better if this defense is going to be worth spit this season. Archives

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