Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) attempts a pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins got a crucial win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Here is how they did it.
In prime time, the Washington Redskins were able to notch their sixth win of the season. The team put together a very strong offensive effort in the contest, and defeated the Packers by a final score of 42-24. The Redskins definitely deserved the win and it could give them momentum heading into a Thanksgiving matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
With that said, the Redskins did a lot to get the victory. We will take you through everything they did to do that in this week’s Redskins Breakdown.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a touchdown pass to Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (not pictured) against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Passing Game: Kirk Cousins Puts On Spectacular Display
Coming into this game, I expected a huge performance from Kirk Cousins. He was starting to catch fire heading into the second half of the season, and he did not disappoint against the Packers.
Cousins put together one of his best performances of the season. He went 21-of-30 for 375 yards and three touchdowns. He looked great in the process of doing so and he played a near perfect game. WalterFootball.com’s Walter Cherepinsky offered up this analysis of Cousins’ performance.
[Cousins] constantly launched perfect bombs to his targets, who torched the beleaguered Green Bay defensive backs. He hit Pierre Garcon with a 70-yard bomb going into the wind in the fourth quarter, erformance from and then struck gold once again in the same direction with a 53-yard strike to Jamison Crowder. Rodgers had very little success heading in that particular direction, so it’s remarkable that Cousins was able to rip through Green Bay’s secondary that easily, despite the numerous injuries.
It is amazing that Cousins has improved so much since a poor start to the season. He is now playing at a borderline elite level and he should be able to use his amazing accuracy to continue his success. If he keeps playing well, then the Redskins should be a playoff team.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) catches a 70 yard touchdown pass as Green Bay Packers cornerback LaDarius Gunter (36) chases during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Passing Game: Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder Lead The Way
Because of Cousins’ success, the receiving corps was able to put together a strong performance. In this game, the Redskins were able to support two 100 yard receivers, as Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder put together some solid games.
Garcon was the better of the duo as he was strong early in the game. He was heavily targeted by Cousins, and caught six of his seven targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. A huge chunk of his yardage came on a 70 yard touchdown. Cousins launched a perfect throw to Garcon who made the grab and managed to outrun the defender to the end zone. It was a huge play for the veteran, and he could end up making more of them as the season goes along.
Crowder had a similar play on a deep ball into the wind. The only difference is that the speedster was tackled at the half yard line before scoring. Crowder did catch a touchdown earlier in the game, and he caught three passes for 102 yards. He should continue to be one of the more dynamic options for the team as Cousins loves to throw his way.
Elsewhere, Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson had an impact. Reed caught five passes for 79 yards during the contest. It was a solid performance from the tight end. Jackson was a factor early as well, and he totaled four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. He looked healthy and will likely only get better as his shoulder heals.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) carries the ball as Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) chases in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Running Game: Robert Kelley Proves To Be Strong Option
Since Robert Kelley has taken over for Matt Jones as the starter, the Redskins running game has been significantly better. Kelley has proven to be a very strong runner, and his ability to use his powerful style gain yardage on almost every carry.
In Sunday’s game, Kelley ran for 137 yards on 24 carries and totaled a whopping three touchdowns. He had some issues early on dealing with the Packers 4th ranked rush defense, but he got stronger as the game wore on. In the first half, he did have a nice touchdown run to close the half. He was able to burst through the line for a 10 yard touchdown. His blockers deserve credit for opening up the hole as well.
One of the best moments of the night for Kelley was his 66 yard burst late in the fourth quarter. That run essentially sealed the game for the Redskins. He displayed some explosive speed on that play which was big. Given that he already has excellent power ability, adding speed to his skill set will be huge for the young back.
The only issue with Kelley on Sunday night was his inability to succeed in the passing game. Cousins threw two passes to Kelley, and he dropped both of them. One was a tough one to catch, but he still should have made the grab. Perhaps he will improve on that moving forward.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Chris Baker (92) tackles Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Defense: Chris Baker Makes Huge Impact
The Packers had some issues on the interior offensive line coming into this game. T.J. Lang was out with an injury, and Don Barclay had to start. Barclay, a poor blocker, had some serious issues on Sunday afternoon and Chris Baker made a huge impact.
Baker had one of his best games of the season as he was able to push Barclay back into Aaron Rodgers for a good chunk of the day. He used his strength to break through the line on multiple occasions, and was able to notch his third sack of the season. His interior pressure caused Rodgers to throw early and really helped the Redskins defense to perform well.
Moving forward, Baker’s performance will continue to be important for the Skins. They already have a strong exterior pass rush thanks to Ryan Kerrigan and company, so if they can get interior pressure, they will wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. That could really help to strengthen their defense.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Jared Cook (89) makes a reception in front of Washington Redskins safety Donte Whitner (39) during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Defense: Secondary Has Some Issues In Coverage
The one major issue with the Redskins in this game was the performance of their defense. The unit surrendered 360 passing yards during the game, and they had some issues covering the offensive weaponry for the Packers.
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Namely, Donte Whitner was weak in coverage. The hard hitting safety did lead the team in total tackles with 10, but he had some serious issues with the Packers receivers. Jared Cook matched up against Whitner quite a bit, and he had success in torching the veteran. Cook totaled 105 yards and a touchdown on six catches. Whitner just did not have the speed to keep up with the athletic player. Perhaps the team should explore playing Duke Ihenacho a bit more in coverage situations.
Elsewhere, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland were both guilty of committing delay of game penalties. Norman threw a ball in protest of a call by an official while Breeland kicked a ball after a mistake in coverage. The duo needs to make sure that they control their emotions better. The penalties did not make a huge difference in this game, but they could matter down the line for the team.
Nov 20, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden looks on from the sidelines against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 42-24. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Final Notes: Jay Gruden’s Gutsy Play Calling
Following the game, I commented on Jay Gruden’s play calling in this contest. He made some gutsy calls that changed the pace of the game late. In the immediate postgame recap, here is what I said:
Jay Gruden deserves some credit for his play calling. He came in with an aggressive mindset and went for two a couple of times. Both conversions failed, but he trusted himself which was huge.
Perhaps his biggest call came with just six minutes left in the game. On fourth and inches on their own 40, Gruden elected to go for it as opposed to kicking into the wind. Cousins snuck forward for a yard and that allowed the team to lead the game winning drive.
Gruden has to keep being aggressive. So long as he can continue to do that, the Redskins will have a chance to win games. The team is definitely trending in the right direction at the moment.