Nov 8, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) reacts after an incomplete pass during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots provided the Redskins with a much greater challenge than did the defensively starved Saints. The Patriots covered the Redskins receivers well and were in position to tackle the ball carrier whether the Redskins ran the ball or threw it.
Kirk Cousins vs the Patriots
Cousins and the Redskins were put in a difficult position from the start when the Patriots intercepted Cousins on the Redskins’ first offensive play of the game. The ball bounded up off of Garcon’s hands and into the arms of the Patriots’ Logan Ryan. Although the interception was the fault of Garcon, it was not a good pass by Cousins either.
The ball was up into Garcon’s chest when he had plenty of room to run with no defender within five yards of him. Cousins needed to put the ball out in front of Garcon and given him the ability to run after the catch. What could have been a big gain for the Redskins turned into the key play that led to their loss as the Patriots marched down the field to give them most of their margin of victory with a 14-0 lead. -2 points.
The Redskins had a three and out on their next series of the game when after a Morris run, Carrier dropped a possible big gainer. Once again, the ball should have been caught but Cousins threw the ball behind Carrier causing him to torque his body back to the ball when he had easily beaten the defender. A well thrown pass over his shoulder could have been a 40 yard gain. 0 points.
The short passing game can be effective…but if the receiver has no chance at a first down…the drive is doomed
Cousins third pass of the game was also dropped, this time by Jordan Reed. Even if the pass had been caught it would not have been a first down as the Redskins had a third down and 6 while Reed ran the route at three yards and would have been out of bounds 3 yards short of the first down as he came back to catch the ball. The short passing game can be effective as we saw in this game with Tom Brady but if the receiver has no chance at a first down because the route is short of the first down marker, the drive is doomed. 0 points.
The Redskins’ Keenan Robinson intercepted Brady to give the Redskins great field position at the Patriots 46 yard line late in the first quarter. After the obligatory Morris run on first down, Cousins threw behind Jackson and high on a pass that should have been thrown toward the sideline and in front of Jackson giving him room to run. A better throw would have been a 30 yard gain or possible touchdown but instead, Cousins was 0-4 for the game. 0 points.
Cousins ends the first quarter with his first completion of the game to Garcon for a first down on a route that was run past the marker. Jones gained a yard on first down and Cousins completed his second pass on a screen pass to Jackson that gained 2 yards. +3 points.
Morgan Moses forgot to block Chandler Jones
Morgan Moses forgot to block Chandler Jones on third down and Cousins was sacked quickly for a 4 yard loss. Cousins had Jackson open but would have had to step up in the pocket and deliver the ball before being hit. The Redskins went for it on fourth down and 11 from the 36 but Garcon again drops a ball that could have been caught. The throw was not a good one by Cousins as Garcon had to reach back, up and inside for the ball which should have been placed at his waist. Gruden should have chosen to attempt a field goal on fourth and 11. -2 points.
The Redskins run on first down for the fourth straight time after throwing the interception on their first play. I’m a big proponent of a strong running game but Gruden was making things easy for the Patriots’ defense by being so predictable. Carrier brings the drop total to 5 on a good short throw from Cousins. 0 points.
Jones runs 2 more times on second and third down which must have been a surprise to the Patriots
Cousins throws a nice pass to Garcon on third down leading him toward the first down. If Cousins throws the ball where Garcon was, he would have been tackled short of the marker as soon as he caught the ball. Cousins checks down to Jones on a first down throw that catches the Patriots a little off balance and turns upfield for 12 yards and a first down. +4 points.
Jones runs for a first down on the next play so of course the Redskins run on first down again following that for 2 yards setting up second down and 8. Crowder makes a good catch on a crosser with a ball that was low and behind him for 14 yards. Jones runs again for the Redskins seventh run out of nine first down plays. +2 points.
Jones runs 2 more times on second and third down which must have been a surprise to the Patriots’ defense and the Redskins have a first down at the 19 yard line. Cousins throws to Reed on a short crosser and he hurdles over the defender and stumbles for a 6 yard gain. Jones runs for the first down to the 9 yard line. +1 point.
Jones is stopped for a 4 yard loss on a first down run setting up second and goal at the 13 yard line. Cousins scrambles left when he sees no one open and throws the ball away. If Cousins had stood in the pocket for another second, Crowder came open on a crosser briefly but Cousins was already focused on Jackson to the left. 0 points.
Cousins throws to Andre Roberts for an 8 yard gain on third down. Cousins could have pumped the ball at Roberts and then lofted it over his head and into the end zone for a touchdown as the defender was coming hard at Roberts and would not have been able to adjust but instead he threw short. The Redskins get their first points of the game with a field goal by Hopkins and trail the Patriots 17-3 at the end of the half. +1 point.
The Second Half
Jones starts the second half with the sixth dropped pass of the day for the Redskins. Jones runs for a yard on second down before Cousins lets one go deep to Garcon who has to stop and turn to make the catch but falls down with the ball for a 36 yard gain. A better throw would have led to a much longer gain as the deep safety had shifted to the other side of the field as Garcon ran a post-corner route and may not have been able to catch Garcon and make the tackle. +2 points.
Jones is the focal point of this drive as Cousins checks down to him on a short out that gains 5 yards. Jones runs the ball on second and third down but fumbles on the third down run to give the ball back to New England at their 43 yard line. Jones has had a problem with fumbles in his rookie season as this was his third lost fumble in 2015. I emphasized the inaccurate throw to Garcon on this drive because with the Jones fumble, a slightly better throw could have been a 10 point turn around for the Redskins since the Patriots drove down for a field goal after the fumble. +1 point.
Reed…runs a deep pattern…but Cousins throws an out
Morris is back in and runs for a yard on first down. The usually sure-handed rookie, Crowder, joins the drop party with the sixth drop of the game on a short pass from Cousins. Moses has a false start penalty to set up third and 14. Jackson is open quickly off the line and runs a deep out but Cousins chooses to check down to Reed a yard past the line of scrimmage. Reed gets a nine yard gain that is well short of the first down forcing a punt. +1 point.
Crowder catches his next pass for a short 3 yard gain. Reed is split out wide on second down and runs a deep pattern with a step on his defender but Cousins throws an out so somebody made the wrong read. Either Reed or Cousins made a bad read on the play. Cousins throws well short of an open Garcon on third down and the Tress Way punts again for the Redskins. +1 point.
The Patriots keep the ball into the fourth quarter and Brady throws a touchdown to put them ahead 27-3. Cousins throws to Jackson for a 9 yard game on first down. The next pass is tipped away from Reed. A holding penalty negates a Thompson run. +1 point.
seven drops by the Redskins receivers
Cousins throws short on a crosser to Crowder who runs for 13 yards and another first down. Cousins throws 2 incompletions to Thompson with the first one being way outside and the second a little high and dropped by Thompson to total seven drops for the Redskins receivers. Cousins inexplicably throws a 2 yard pass to Crowder on third and 10 and the Redskins punt. +3 points.
Cousins throws to Crowder for 16 yards on an in breaking route. Cousins throws to Jackson deep but out of bounds as Jackson is pushed by the defender. Cousins throws short to Crowder for 2 yards. +3 points.
Cousins checks down to Crowder on a crosser again for 2 yards. Cousins checks down to Thompson over the middle who turns up for 8 yards and a first down. Cousins throws to Roberts on a short post and Roberts runs for 18 yards. +5 points.
Cousins throws to Jackson on a four yard out. Cousins throws incomplete downfield well short of Crowder as the ball hits the defender in the back. Cousins completes to Garcon for 16 yards. +3 points.
Cousins throws a swing pass to Thompson who scampers for 13 yards down to the 6 yard line. Cousins misses Reed way outside on a fade pass. Cousins holds the ball and is brought down on another sack but defensive holding gives the Redskins a first down at the 3 yard line. +2 points.
Cousins struggled with accuracy downfield throughout the game
Cousins throws way outside to Garcon on first down. Cousins throws a nice pass to Reed for a touchdown with seconds left. The Redskins lose 27-10. +3 points.
Cousins scored 32 points on 40 graded plays for a 0.80 rating. Half of Cousins points for the game came on the final drive with 16 points on 12 grade plays for a 1.33 rating. Before that drive Cousins had 16 points on 28 graded plays for a 0.57 rating. The seven dropped passes also affected his rating as they would have added at least 10 points to his total.
Cousins struggled with accuracy downfield throughout the game. He is generally very accurate with short passes and that may be why Gruden seems to have focused the offense in that direction. Only 3 of the 40 passes that Cousins threw traveled over 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. That number seems very low for a game in which the Redskins were 2 touchdowns behind before they ran their second play on offense.