Oct 11, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) greets Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) after the Falcons defeated the Redskins in overtime at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 25-19 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Five Thoughts from the game:
1. Besides the final play obviously, the Redskins lost this game when they only got 3 points off of 3 Falcons turnovers. You simply cannot do this and expect to win in the NFL, and the only reason that the Redskins were in even in the game was because the Falcons kept handing it to them.
The Redskins weren’t just in the game thanks to turnovers(3) and drops(9) by the Falcons. The Redskins’ defense could not stop Devonte Freeman’s stretch runs behind Jake Matthews. And even though he ultimately got 27 carries, Kyle Shanahan out thought himself and almost took the Skins off the hook.
He called 42 passes, even after the Falcons lost WR after WR due to injury. And even after their scoring drive with 6 Freeman run calls, the Falcons inexplicably only gave him the ball once in their next interception shortened drive.
If this lack of commitment to the run, even when it’s successful, sounds familiar it should. Kyle Shanahan had the same problem during his time in DC as offensive coordinator.
2. Jay Gruden can throw whomever else he wants under the bus(post game it was Ryan Grant for ‘slipping’ no matter how little it mattered on the final play) but Kirk Cousins was just horrible against the Falcons.
He had a couple nice drives, but even outside of the INTs, Cousins just had too many passes that were unacceptable. The coaches were driven insane last season by how poorly RG3 positioned the ball for his WRs, so it would be interesting to see if they’re as critical of Cousins’ being as poor.
As for the final play: Cousins had a free rusher in his face and he threw it up blindly. Which is simply can’t do in any situation or with any pass. This is one of his bad habits that got him in so much trouble in 2013 and 2014. So Cousins’ growth as a passer is still limited.
Since Gruden’s fate is tied to Cousins’ performance this season and benching him would lead to a firestorm of drama, don’t hold your breath expecting Gruden to do anything about the Cousins’ problem.
3. Running the ball 24 times for 51 yards isn’t going to get it done. Gruden didn’t abandon the run, but the zone block scheme just isn’t going to work for him anymore.
And if that means benching Long and Morris to improve the results, so be it. They’re not getting the job done. Morris especially looks completely out of sorts as a player and is tentative in the hole when he’s been confident with his cuts and runs.
This is especially mystifying since Jones has looked better than Morris has this season especially in the power running scheme. For some reason, Gruden is being stubborn here.
And this is more than just a situational problem: Cousins and Gruden’s offense works better when it’s based on solid running and play action passing. Without that, teams will blitz Cousins far more often.
Gruden came into DC saying that he would hold players accountable. It’s time for him to try and show it for players whose name doesn’t rhyme with Mobert Miffith.
4. Chris Baker got a starting shot today and the Redskins saw mixed results from this decision. They saw improvement from Paea/Ricky Jean-Francois as the subpackage guys. And Baker had a nice strip sack of Ryan deep inside of Redskins’ territory.
On the flip side, Baker got pushed around like a ragdoll by Jake Matthews in the run game. Matthews is a very talented tackle but Baker shouldn’t be beaten as badly as he was in the run game.
It’s not that Baker got a lot of help either, Matthews and the Falcons’ TEs had their way with the left side of the line all game long and Freeman got over 120 of his rushing yards behind this side of the line.
If Baker wants to continue as a starter over Paea, he’s going to have to improve his run defense and ability to hold his points. Or Ricky Jean-Francois will get a shot at his job.
5. Garçon was targeted by Cousins 8 times on sunday and only got 3 catches. A couple of times, the lack of a reception fell on Garçon himself, including the INT thrown his way. And Cousins had a lot of wild throws especially Garçon’s way.
It’s becoming clear that while Garçon can get the clutch catches, he’s just not going to produce consistently. He’s on pace for a 86 catches/854 yards season. Is that worth 10 million in cap charges for Garçon in 2016?