Redskins Breakdown Week 16: Near Perfect Game Pushes Skins Towards Playoffs
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach John Fox and Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden met after a game at Soldier Field. Redskins won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Redskins needed to win on Saturday afternoon. They were able to emerge victorious thanks to a full effort for the team.
What a huge victory for the Redskins. The team greatly needed to win on Saturday, as a loss would have officially eliminated them from playoff contention. The Washington Redskins were able to trounce the Chicago Bears by a final score of 41-21, and the coaching staff has to like what they saw.
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With the win, the Redskins have improved to 8-6-1 on the season, and they are in position to challenge for the six seed in the NFC. They still have to hope for a couple of things, including a Detroit Lions loss on Monday night, but they are in much better shape than where they started the day at thanks to the win.
In the win, the Redskins put together what was a nearly perfect game plan. Everything went as it needed to, and the whole team should be happy with the outcome. With that said, it is time to have an in-depth look at everything the Redskins did this week. It is time for the Redskins Breakdown.
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws the ball against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Passing Game: Kirk Cousins Bounces Back From Tough Outing
On Monday night, the Redskins were absolutely defeat. None of them were more defeated than Kirk Cousins. In a crucial game, Cousins put together one of the worst efforts he had all season. He just did not look sharp and helped to blow the team’s chance at controlling their own destiny. However, on Saturday, Cousins came out and put together a near perfect performance that should inspire faith in many Redskins fans.
On the day, Cousins went 18-of-29 for for 270 yards and one touchdown. In addition to the passing yardage, he scrambled eight times for 30 yards and two touchdowns. Though that is not exactly an elite stat line, Cousins did a lot more than just manage the game. In fact, he controlled it throughout with his pinpoint accuracy and decision making.
The Chicago defense could not figure out Cousins, so from early on he had the advantage. He was able to isolate his receivers in matchups that he liked and work in the run game when it was best. When Cousins did not have an open receiver on a pass play, he did everything he could to scramble for yardage. He never seemed to make a wrong choice in this contest, which has been a problem of his in the past. In the Redskins losses, Cousins has generally made a crucial mistake that helps cost the team the game.
This performance was a huge bounce back for Cousins. He has put the team in a much better situation, and they have to be happy with the way things turned out. At the end of the day, Cousins is a terrific quarterback and is a perfect fit in the Redskins system.
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) carries the ball as Chicago Bears inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) defends during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Passing Game: DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon Continue To Lead Way
Over the past few games, the veteran receivers for Washington had been producing at a high rate. Both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson had been developing a stronger rapport with Cousins, and it was apparent that all of them were on the same page in this game.
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Garcon and Jackson combined to see 12 targets and make nine catches. Jackson led the way, catching five passes for 114 yards. At one point, he grabbed a 57 yard pass that helped to set up a score for the Redskins. He will continue to lead the team as the main speed receiver so long as he is in a Redskins uniform.
Meanwhile, Garcon saw four catches and managed to turn them into 94 yards. He was able to use his strong frame and excellent route running skills to beat up on the opposing cornerbacks. While Jackson is the more explosive of the two, Garcon has been the more reliable. He should continue to see a good amount of targets as time goes on.
The only disappointment in the receiving game was the performance of Jamison Crowder. I expected Crowder to have a big game, but he only caught a single pass for 3 yards. He has not been as productive in recent weeks, and it remains to be seen what the issue with him is.
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins running back Mack Brown (34) is congratulated by teammates after he scores his first career touchdown during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Redskins defeat the Bears 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Running Game: Rob Kelley Improves; Mack Brown Burst Onto Scene
Coming into this game, I wanted the Redskins to mix in some of the other running backs on the roster. After all, Rob Kelley had been struggling, so maybe it was time to lighten his load. Well, they did not necessarily do that, but they did get Mack Brown more involved in the offense.
Brown saw the first carries of his NFL career, and finished the day with eight. He totaled 81 yards and a touchdown on them, but the numbers are a bit misleading. Brown had a 61-yard touchdown scamper that boosted his stats at the end of the game. That said, Brown looked pretty strong and should continue to get a few carries each game. He fits the bill as a change of pace guy, but he is much bigger than Chris Thompson. Thanks to that, he is much less of an injury risk.
As for Kelley, this was a solid performance. He saw 19 carries for 76 yards and was able to generate solid push against the Bears front. Over the past few games, Kelley had struggled to get that initial push, and that saw him get stopped for no gain too frequently. He fixed those issues today as he did not take too much time to make a decision. When he saw a hole, he followed his blockers in and put his head down. If he continues to do that, he will be able to function as a good enough lead back for the team.
Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins linebacker Will Compton (51) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Defense: Will Compton’s Return Works Wonders
Last week, the Carolina Panthers offense absolutely tore apart the Redskins defense. It was terrible to watch. This week, it was entirely different. Though you could blame some of that on the fact that the Bears were a lesser opponent, I tend to look at the return of Will Compton as the spark that got the Redskins through the week.
Compton is the leader of the Redskins defense. He calls the plays from his middle linebacker position, and he was the glue that held the unit together for the first 14 weeks of the season. In Week 15, Martrell Spaight took over his role and looked utterly lost. Thus, getting Compton back improved the whole team as well as the individual linebacker positions.
Compton only had a couple of tackles in his return, but he did a lot more than just that in his time on the field. Early on, the Redskins were obviously more organized. Compton was able to control the defense when he was on the field, and then Spaight and Terence Garvin were able to learn the coverage for the sub packages put in. There was a lot less scrambling, and the defense was operating efficiently.
The Redskins have to be happy with the way that Compton improved their defense. As he continues to get healthier, he will be able to play even more and further solidify the defense. Without him, they are just not a good unit at all.
Dec 24, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman (24) intercepts a Chicago Bears pass during the second half at Soldier Field. The Redskins won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Defense: Josh Norman Excellent In Pass Defense
The secondary for the Redskins had their best performance of the 2016 season. By far. The unit was able to force Matt Barkley into a whopping five interceptions, and part of the success was due to the excellent play of Josh Norman.
Though Norman had been good for the entire season, he was on another level in this contest. Norman was flying all over the field, and always seemed to be near the ball. He was able to get his hands on four passes, and he added two picks to his season total as well. It truly was an All-Pro performance from Norman, and it helped to energize the Redskins.
As a result of Norman’s strong play, the rest of the secondary was able to elevate their abilities as well. Though they did allow 135 yards receiving to Cameron Meredith and 92 to Alshon Jeffery, some of it was in garbage time. They were able to contain the Bears weapons until the offense was able to build their lead. The interceptions that they all were able to get were huge in giving the Redskins momentum.
Essentially, if the Redskins can play like this next week, they will have a real chance to win. If Norman can neutralize Odell Beckham Jr., the Redskins will have a real chance to knock off the Giants in Week 17.