The Washington Redskins completed the biggest comeback in franchise history on Sunday, which is cause for celebration. But for there to be an enormous comeback, there must first be an enormous deficit, which means there is plenty cause for concern.
For those reasons, the 31-30 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs provides us with perhaps the most appropriate Three Good/Three Bad of the season thus far.
(No, you won't find Kirk Cousins here. Yes, I know you have strong feelings on the matter. If you want quarterback analysis, go read one of the 5,000 Redskins QB Situation articles that have already been published this week or will be published in the near future.)
#1. Jordan Reed
A bit of a no-brainer, but it's still worth mentioning: Jordan Reed is very important to this Redskins offense. Individually, Reed is a terrific athlete that brings a reliable (when healthy) short-to-medium weapon who fights for extra yards at each opportunity. He's not at the Jimmy Graham/Rob Gronkowski level, but he's probably in that second tier of pass-catching tight ends, maybe a notch below Travis Kelce.
But when he's taken out of the equation, as he was last week, especially when the offense is already missing its only legitimate deep threat and the run game isn't working, you see just how valuable he is. The Redskins were still without DeSean Jackson this week, and Alfred Morris and Matt Jones were still ineffective/generally ignored, but they got Reed back. He was the key to the offense and almost singlehandedly kept the Redskins in the game offensively, and he proved to be the only true matchup problem for the Bucs defense.
#2. Ryan Grant & Andre Roberts
Neither Ryan Grant nor Andre Roberts had exceptional games — Reed is probably the only Redskin I would give that distinction to — but both had meaningful games at an important time. Jackson very well might come back after the bye week, and he's going to hog some targets when he returns to the lineup.
Roberts has been a disappointment since coming to the Redskins and appeared to be taking the David Amerson route out of town at some point, but he came through with three catches for 49 yards against the Bucs, including a beautiful adjustment on a Cousins throw to turn into a 38-yard gain on third down.
Grant, on the other hand, is probably not going anywhere any time soon. Still, he's teetered on the edge of relevance for the duration of the season, and he needed a strong showing to reaffirm his status as a valuable weapon before Jackson cut into his snaps. He produced three catches for 54 yards, including a 32-yarder immediately after the onside kick to send the FedEx Field into a frenzy, and his first career touchdown.
#3. Jay Gruden
I'll be the first to admit: I'm not a Jay Gruden fan. Not only do I think he's a mediocre coach at best, but his mannerisms drive me nuts. He and his brother both bother me, and I can pretty much only watch Monday Night Football games with music or something else in the background these days, because I find that Gruden voice to be incredibly irritating. But the primary reason for my aversion to Jay is strategy-based. I find his play calling to be uninspired and I think he picks a player he likes and does whatever he can to make him look good, often at the expense of others.
That said, I know when to eat my words, and Gruden did exactly what he needed to do to turn the tide on Sunday. The onside kick was the piece de resistance, but the play-action touchdown run by Cousins in the first half was every bit as important. Turning Cousins into a runner helped mitigate the otherwise lackluster run game, and while I still think Gruden needs to give his backs more carries and attempt more deep balls to try to establish a run, a game in which you're down 24 points early is exactly the game you're supposed to rely on the passing attack.
Finally, I loved his nod to the stupid Jamison Crowder screen passes. A few weeks ago in Atlanta, Gruden admitted he (or Sean McVay) shouldn't have called the Crowder bubble screen on a crucial goal-line situation late in the game. The Redskins have since continued to run that same screen play time and again, and it's almost never resulted in significant gains. When asked about the final offensive drive that eventually led to Reed's game-winning touchdown, Gruden poked fun at that same play:
"Yeah, we were going to throw that wonderful bubble-screen to Crowder if we got the look," Gruden said. "That would really tick a lot of people off."
Honorable Mentions: Bashaud Breeland, Dustin Hopkins, Preston Smith, Dashon Goldson, SwaggyRoast
#1. Alfred Morris
I'm firmly in the camp that argues Morris is not done, for what it's worth. However, the guy looks totally different. He's not getting any room to run and seems to get hit pretty much as soon as he touches the ball, and he's not getting enough carries to develop a rhythm. But there's no denying he's simply not making players miss or breaking tackles, and the coaching staff doesn't seem to have any interest in getting him going again. I still love you, Alf.
#2. Defensive Backs
With the exceptions of Bashaud Breeland and Dashon Goldson, it was not a good day for the Redskins defensive backs. Breeland was not as impressive as he has been in recent weeks, but his tackle on Doug Martin that saved a touchdown (and got Breeland injured) likely saved the game, as well. Goldson led the team in tackles (again) and did a good job selling an unnecessary roughness penalty that netted the Redskins 15 yards.
Trenton Robinson and Will Blackmon, however, got punked time and again by Mike Evans. It wasn't really their fault; Evans is 6'5" and neither Robinson (5'9") nor Blackmon (6'0") have any business matching up with him. I'm 5'9" on a good day, I know my defense on a 6'5" man would basically be me kicking him in the shins. Still, their inability to slow Evans was the biggest problem for the Redskins defense, though certainly not the only one — Kyshoen Jarrett gave up a touchdown to a guy who'd never caught a pass before.
#3. Ryan Kerrigan
Kerrigan has looked almost nothing like his 2014 self this season, and now he's got a fractured hand. Even before the injury, Kerrigan was ineffective in this game and his ability to generate pressure has been completely absent in nearly every game this year. Not that Kerrigan's job is in any doubt, but the idea that Trent Murphy and Preston Smith might each get a full game or two of snaps can't be reassuring for him. After all, three years ago, the three safest players on the roster were probably Trent Williams, Robert Griffin III and Brian Orakpo. No job is safe if you can't live up to the standard you've set. (For the record, I am certainly not comparing Kerrigan to Orakpo or Griffin, I'm just saying he needs to get back to where he was a year ago to win the fans, coaching staff and new GM over again.)