Washington Redskins Breakdown: First Win Brings Out Best In Team

Aug 31, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden looks on during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Washington Redskins defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins finally got their first win on Sunday. How were they able to beat the New York Giants?

The Washington Redskins came away with a crucial win over the New York Giants in Week 3 of the NFL season. After a 0-2 start and rumors of discord in the locker room, the Redskins played a very strong game on the road against a divisional rival. They grinded out an important win, and they are now in contention in the NFC East.

Most units on the team played well, but there was still some room for improvement. The team also had a breakout player emerge and they got a quality game for their quarterback. Many other things happened in this game, and we will take you through them in our Redskins breakdown.

Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball against the New York Giants during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Passing Game: Kirk Cousins Finally Puts It All Together

Kirk Cousins struggled immensely to start the season for the Redskins. There is no doubt about it. He was inaccurate with his passes, and despite posting decent numbers, he really had not played well. He was guilty of critical interceptions and missed at least three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys. Cousins needed a bounce back game, and he definitely got one.

Against the Giants defense, Cousins fared very well. He minimized his mistakes during the game and ended up going 21-of-35 for 296 yards. He also threw two touchdowns and had no turnovers in the contest. The numbers actually accurately describe Cousins’ performance, which is not always the case.

Cousins was able to make numerous good passes during the contest. One of his best came on a 44 yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. Jackson was well covered on the play, but Cousins managed to thread the needle and get the ball to him. The veteran receiver ended up making a nice catch on the play, but Cousins was the one who enabled the play. He put the ball where only Jackson could get it, and it was a very nice play.

Cousins has to continue his strong play next week against the Cleveland Browns. If he can string together some momentum, he may be able to make the Redskins competitive again in the NFC East.

Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder (80) carries the ball to score a touchdown during the third quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Passing Game: Top Four Receivers All Have Impact

One of the reasons that Cousins had so much success in the pass game was because of his receiving corps. His top four options were all able to get open and really spread the Giants defense thin. Jackson led the way with 96 yards and a touchdown with five catches. He used his speed to beat the defense and he continued what is looking like his best season as a Redskins.

The other two receivers Pierre Garcon (5-59) and Jamison Crowder (4-78, 1 TD) also performed well. Garcon was able to function as a big bodied possession receiver who was not afraid to by physical with the Giants defense. Crowder had success over the middle of the field and showed some explosiveness. He caught a pass at one point, and used his athleticism to break to open space. He turned it into a 55 yard touchdown that really helped the Skins out.

Jordan Reed was the final receiver (or in his case, tight end) to have a great day. Reed caught four passes for 56 yards and utilized matchups to his advantage.

Overall, every top option was targeted seven times, with the exception of Jackson who saw eight targets. It was a successful day for the Redskins receiving corps.

Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones (31) carries the ball as New York Giants strong safety Landon Collins (21) tackles during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Running Game: Matt Jones Fares Well Against Tough Competition

The Giants have one of the better run defenses in the NFL. They have two mammoth nose tackles in Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Johnathan Hankins. They were supposed to be able to severely limit the Redskins running game and really slow down Matt Jones.

Instead, Jones was better than expected against the elite unit. Jones tallied 65 yards on 17 attempts and generally looked strong running behind the Redskins offensive line. He was not great by any means, but he was able to use his physicality to gain some yardage. That is a good sign for the young back’s future as his physicality is his best weapon.

Jones should be able to have more success next week against the Cleveland Browns. He and Chris Thompson should continue to be a decent enough against weaker competition. Against tougher competition, it will depend on the play calling from Jay Gruden.

Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Washington Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar (47) intercepts an pass in front of New York Giants tight end Will Tye (45) in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Defense: Quinton Dunbar Makes Big Plays

The Redskins suffered some injuries in their secondary during the game, and that forced some of their reserves into action. That could end up being a blessing in disguise, as it thrust Quinton Dunbar into action. In the game, Dunbar was terrific and looks like he could be a big weapon for the team moving forward.

On defense, Dunbar showed the ability to cover receivers on the outside or in the slot. His best play on defense came late in the game. With the Giants driving in the red zone, Eli Manning tossed a pass over the middle of the field. It looked like it would sail over the receiver’s head. Instead, Dunbar stuck up one hand and managed to make a beautiful catch, bringing the ball back in towards his chest. It really changed the game and swung the momentum in the Redskins favor.

Dunbar actually had an even bigger impact on a fake punt. Gruden and the Redskins coaching staff decided to take a risk and fake a punt. On the play, punter Tress Way lobbed a pass up to Dunbar who was in the gunner position. The throw was great, but Dunbar had to stop and high point the ball. He was able to do that and catch the 31 yard pass for a crucial first down. That play gave the Redskins confidence and set them up for success in the rest of the game.

Without a doubt, Dunbar earned himself some more playing time with this performance. Perhaps he will see more action in the slot, or on the outside if any injuries pile up for the team.

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Ziggy Hood (90) lines up against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Defense: Run Defense Still Struggles

If there was any major negative to the team’s overall performance, it was the lack of improvement in the run game. The biggest weakness on the entire Giants team is their lack of a running game. The team runs a back by committee approach, but they usually do not get great results from it. Today, they were without Rashad Jennings so the Redskins supposedly had an easier job.

Instead, they allowed Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen to run over them. The two combined for 21 carries and totaled 120 yards in the contest. They also were able to produce two touchdowns as the defensive line could not stop them in the red zone. It really was not a good performance for the Redskins.

Unfortunately, this appears to be something that the Redskins cannot really fix. They have lost their nose tackle for the season, so they just have to roll with the unit that they have. Maybe they will add talent if it becomes available, but for now this is just the team’s big weakness.

Sep 25, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Shane Vereen (34) carries the ball as Washington Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall (23) and safety David Bruton Jr. (30) defend during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries: DeAngelo Hall Likely Out With Knee Injury

The Redskins unfortunately suffered a lot of injuries during their first win of the season, and none will be bigger than that of DeAngelo Hall. Hall had to be helped off the field after banging his knee on a play. He had trouble putting pressure on the knee after, and he told reporters that he had likely torn his ACL. He is having an MRI to confirm the news, but it is currently only being called a knee sprain.

If Hall misses the season, then it is likely one of the veteran safeties will step up. The team has Will Blackmon and Duke Ihenacho on the roster, so they will likely be alright. They did carry five safeties to start the season, so they should be just fine. They have depth in the secondary and now they should be able to dress Kendall Fuller.

Aside from Hall, the team also lost offensive lineman Kory Lichtensteiger to a calf injury and Shawn Lauvao to an ankle injury. It is unclear whether or not either will miss time. Bashaud Breeland also left the game with an ankle injury, so the team needs to hope that he is in good health for the future. If he is not, Fuller will become an even more important part of the team’s plans.

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