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Snap Judgments: Eagles @ Redskins

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A look at the snap counts for each player on the Redskins in the team's Week 4 divisional matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington leads the NFL in rushing yards (558) and 20-yard rushes (5).  The team also ranks third in yards per carry (4.4), second in rushing attempts (126) and second in total offensive plays run (284).

These incredible rushing numbers and a fourth ranked third down conversion rate of 46.8 percent have allowed the Redskins to possess the ball for an average of 36:19 minutes per game, which is the best time of possession average in the NFL by over two minutes.

So first place in time of possession is good, right?  How good though?  Well for starters, they have held the ball for about six minutes longer and 20 percent more than the NFL average this season.  Is that good enough for you?  No?  Well, then hold on to your butts, because I've got more.

According to Pro Football Reference, whose time of possession statistics date back to 1983, no Redskins team in the last 32 years has ever possessed the ball for more time through four games than the 2015 team has.  That would also rank them ninth best among all teams.  But surely this isn't sustainable, right?  But what if it is?

If the Redskins continue to possess the ball for over 36 minutes per game, then they will break the record held by the 1984 Chicago Bears!  The 1983 Redskins rank 14th on this list.  Eat your heart out, Joe Gibbs.

The vision of the ball-control offense that Scot McCloughan and Bill Callahan had when they arrived in Washington has truly been realized.

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • For the second time this season, Kirk Cousins and all five offensive linemen played on every offensive snap of the game.  Morgan Moses only missed two snaps in Week 1 and Shawn Lauvao was lost to injury against the Giants just five snaps into the game.  Ryan Grant led all backs and receivers in offensive snaps for the first time in his career.
  • Kirk Cousins notched his first career win against a division opponent and only his second career win versus an NFC team.  In order to pick up the win, he had to lead a fourth quarter comeback and a game winning drive for the first time in his career.  He also completed a career-high 31 passes and threw for his highest yardage total (290 yards) and attempted his most passes (46) ever without throwing an interception.  The Redskins are 4-2 when Cousins does not throw a pick; they are 2-10 when he does.
  • For the second time in the last two weeks and also the second time in his career, Chris Thompson eclipsed 30 snaps in a game.  In these last two games, Thompson has played more offensive snaps (71 to 58) and total snaps (104 to 103) than he had in his entire career prior to that point.  He has also more than doubled his career rushing attempts, rushing yards, receptions and reception yards in this very short time frame.  His 42-yard rush against the Eagles is the second longest play from scrimmage by a Redskins player this season.
  • With Shawn Lauvao recently placed on injured reserve, 2014 third-round pick Spencer Long got his first career start on Sunday.  Let's take a quick look at how Long compared to Lauvao.  Long allowed two QB pressures (2 hurries) against the Eagles for a pass blocking efficiency rating of 96.8 out of 100.  That is an improvement over the three pressures allowed by Lauvao in each of his two full games.  Lauvao's 92.5 PBE mark ranks him 76th out of 79 guards that have played on 25% of their teams snaps.  However, it is a different story in the rushing department.  Between Weeks 1 and 2, the team ran for a combined 104 yards on 26 carries on either side of the left guard, which was good for an average of four yards per carry and a plus one PFF grade (best run blocking grade on the team).  On Sunday, the Redskins ran for just 15 yards on eight carries on these plays, which is an average of less than 1.9 yards per carry and earned a grade of -2.1. 
  • For the first time this season, Kory Lichtensteiger allowed fewer than four QB pressures in a game (1 hurry allowed).  That's at least a step in the right direction, because his 13 pressures allowed are the second most by a center this season and the third most allowed by any player at his position through Weeks 1 though 4 since 2007.  He was also given the lowest PFF grade on the team and among all centers for the third time in four weeks this season (-6.2).  Lichtensteiger continues to hold the second lowest PFF grade for the entire season across all positions (-24.5), behind only Ravens backup left tackle James Hurst (-26.2).  I know a lot of people don't put any stock in PFF ratings, but when a player has rated so consistently poorly like Liechtensteiner has, then I think it's time for us all to take notice.
  • Jamison Crowder is your new starting slot receiver.  He isn't the first player to outplay or supplant an incumbent or projected starter this year (Griffin, Forbath, Johnson, Amerson, Paea, etc.) and he certainly won't be the last.  Let's focus on Crowder for now though.  Here is how he's done relative to the teams' other complimentary receivers.  Crowder has hauled in at least six receptions and 45 yards in two consecutive games now, and he currently ranks third on the team in receptions (15) and receiving yards (117) behind only Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon. 
  • In Sunday's game alone, Crowder caught seven passes for 65 yards.  That's more receptions (3) and nearly as many yards (70) as Rashad Ross has in his entire three-year career.  Those numbers also beat or nearly meet the total output of Ryan Grant's whole 2014 rookie season (7 catches for 68 yards) and Andre Robert's 2015 season to date (5 catches for 54 yards).  Roberts has only had 65 yards receiving once as a Redskin and has only caught six or more balls nine times in his now six-year career.  Remember that Crowder has 6 or more receptions in the last two games.  Among all rookie wide receivers with at least four targets Crowder ranks: second in targets (20), second in receptions (15), third in yards (117), second in catch percentage (75%). fifth in QB rating when targeted (93.8) and sixth in yards per route run (1.31).  That's quite Impressive for a rookie fourth-round pick.
  • On Sunday, Jordan Reed became just the ninth Redskins player since 1960 to record a five receptions in five consecutive games.  Only four Redskins have done it six times in a row in that time frame.  The problem is that Reed can't stay on the field long enough to achieve the records and accolades that he is truly deserving of.  He suffered yet another concussion in the game. According to Sports Injury Predictor, it is his fifth recorded concussion.  All five have occurred in the last five years.  The site lists nearly 50 other tight ends on the list, and Reed currently ranks third worst among them with an 80 percent chance of being injured.  I looked at the profile of each tight end and could only find seven playerss that had suffered more than one concussion.  Reed was the second youngest among them, behind only Ladarius Green with two head injuries listed.  Only two of the seven, Jordan Cameron and Jeff Cumberland, had three concussions on record.  Reed will simply not be able to keep playing professional football if he continues to average a concussion a year.
  • The NFL Next Gen Stats app featured 11 plays from Sunday's game.  In those plays, the fastest clocked speeds by Redskins players were: Rashad Ross at 21.03 mph, Chris Culliver at 19.37 mph, Ryan Grant at 19.15 mph and Keenan Robinson at 19.04 mph.  I was not tracking this data in Week 1, but Ross' top speed of over 21 miles per hour on his 43-yard reception - which also happened to be the Redskins' longest play this season - was the fastest time that I have seen in a featured Redskins play this year.  The only faster top speed by a Redskins that has been reported this season was reached by Matt Jones, when he topped out at 21.70 on his week two 39-yard touchdown run.

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Chris Baker is having the best season of his career, the best season among all of Washington's defensive linemen and maybe even the best season of any player on the entire defense.  Baker leads the team in sacks (2.5), QB hits (2), stop percentage (20.6%) and PFF rating (10.5).  His exemplary play just earned him an official promotion to starting left defensive end on the team's depth chart.   
  • I'm fine with Baker passing free agent acquisition Stephen Paea on the depth chart, but I don't know how I feel about Paea only getting 12 snaps in this game.  This marks the second time in just four games this year that Paea has set a new career-low in defensive snaps.  Paea needs to get more playing time and he should be getting most of it at the expense of Jason Hatcher.  I'm not the first one to say this, but I'm concerned that the team's oldest player is simply not going to hold up if they keep giving him 40-plus snaps, as they have done in every game this season.  Hatcher has played 169 snaps this season, while no other Redskins defensive lineman has taken more than 100 snaps.  Hatcher's play has also dipped in the last two games.  Give the old guy some rest, so we can put this trend to bed and get him back to doing what he does best: wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. 
  • Trent Murphy had his best game of the year and one of the better games of his NFL career this past week.  Murphy picked up his first sack and a QB hit that really should've been counted as a second sack.  He also doubled his pressure total (4) from Weeks 1 to 3 with four total QB pressures against Philadelphia.  Those four pressures were tied for the second most that he's had in a game.  Murphy also matched his career high in passi rushing productivity of 18.4 and received the highest PFF grade (6.6) of his career for his efforts against the Eagles.  That PFF rating was the best single-game grade given out to any Redskins player so far this season. 
  • Murphy better keep it up though, because Preston Smith is still gunning for his job.  Smith's snap total and snap percentage have increased every week this season.  He also technically has recorded one more sack than Murphy on 17 fewer pass rushing snaps.
  • Ryan Kerrigan missed a handful of opportunities to get to Sam Bradford in this one, but that doesn't mean that he had a bad game.  Kerrigan recorded a sack and a season-high seven QB pressures.  The stud outside backer only had seven or more pressures three times in his incredible 2014 season, so this was far from a down game for him.  But that's not to say that he doesn't need to do a better job of getting to the quarterback, because he does.  Kerrigan's 1.5 sacks this year are one lower than his previous career-low through four weeks (2.5 in his rookie season) and are 2.5 fewer sacks than his career average of four sacks through four weeks.       
  • After only blitzing three times last week (10 percent), Joe Barry dialed up five blitzes this week (15%).  The Redskins have only blitzed 20 times this year, but for good reason because the defense has allowed touchdowns on three of those plays while only getting to the quarterback on one occasion.  All five of the team's season-high five sacks in this game came on non-blitzing plays.  The defense pressured Sam Bradford on a season-high 15 dropbacks and 44 percent of the opposition's dropbacks, irrespective of whether or not the pressure occurred on a blitz or not.
  • Will Compton led the Redskins in both solo and total tackles with five and seven of them respectively.  Compton has finished first or second on the team in both solo and total tackles in five of his seven career starts.
  • Chris Culliver battled through knee inflammation all week leading up to Sunday's game, as he missed practice on both Thursday and Friday and received a questionable tag at the end of the week.  He was clearly still injured; and I'm of the opinion that he probably would have been held out of the game if the team had a full complement of healthy corners and a winning record going into this contest.  The reason I believe this so strongly is that this was one of the worst statistical games of Culliver's career.  He allowed the fourth most receiving yards (84), the third longest reception (45 yards) and the fourth highest QB rating (135.4) of his career.  He also allowed a touchdown pass for just the 13th time in his 54 games in the NFL (including postseason).
  • After only playing on 4 snaps in Week 1, one snap last week and 44 total defensive snaps this season, Kyshoen Jarrett played on 56 snaps against the Eagles.  Jarrett took 30 of his 34 coverage snaps from the slot (88%) and only allowed three catches for 23 yards on those plays.  Jarrett also played a lot in Week 2 (39 snaps), when Chris Culliver was suspended and Justin Rogers was out.  Jarrett is going to continue to get a great deal of playing time whenever Breeland is unable to handle slot duties, especially now that Rogers is out for the year.  Jarrett also tallied five tackles, three stops and a pass deflection against Philadelphia.  He received the third best PFF grade on the team (3.1).

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • For the fourth week in a row, Jeron Johnson led the Redskins in special teams snaps.  It is a good thing that he is contributing here, because he has yet to take a single defensive snap this season.  Johnson is clearly the teams' fifth safety behind Dashon Goldson, Duke Ihenacho (yes I'm counting him here), Trenton Robinson and Kyshoen Jarrett.  However, it's still surprising that Johnson isn't even seeing limited defensive action.  He averaged 23 defensive snaps per game over the course of 40 career games with the Seahawks.  Through the first four weeks of each of his four seasons in the league he has been on the field for 9, 29, 1 and 17 defensive snaps.  But again, at least he's on pace for 320 special teams snaps.  That's something, I guess.
  • Johnson was tied Darrel Young for the most teams snaps for the second time this year.  Young currently ranks second on the team with 75 special teams snaps this season.  Like Johnson, Young has been largely relegated to special teams.  He has been in on fewer than 10 percent of the offensive snaps this year in each of the last three games; from 2012 to 2014, that only happened to him two times.  With the exception of 2010, which was the first year that he was on an NFL roster, Young has averaged at least 13 offensive snaps per game.  This year Young has only averaged a paltry 6.8 snaps per game.  According to PFF, his 27 snaps this year ranks him 21st among fullbacks. 
  • Bashaud Breeland was flagged on specials for the second week in a row.  Newcomer Quinton Dunbar was also flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty.  Jackson Jeffcoat recorded the teams' only special teams tackle, and Tress Way was credited with a missed tackle.
  • Everyone is still waiting for Jamison Crowder to break a long one on a punt return.  He has just 47 punt return yards on ten returns this season and his longest return was for just 13 yards.  His 4.7 yards per punt return average ranks him 26th out of 27 players with at least five returns this season.  Despite all of that, I still believe that the big one will come, because Crowder averaged 13.4 yards per punt at Duke and took four returns to the house. 
  • Kicker Dustin Hopkins continued to impress against Philadelphia.  He remained perfect as a field goal kicker by hitting from 20, 33 and 38 yards out in the game.  He also booted a whopping six touchbacks.  Five other kickers (Forbath, Potter, Cundiff, Gano and Suisham) have attempted a field goal for the Redskins in the last nine years, and not one of them ever kicked six touchbacks in a game while on the team or averaged over 4 touchbacks per game like Hopkins is doing this season.  In fact, Graham Gano was the only one of them to ever kick over 18 touchbacks in a season (32 in 2011); and if you exclude the those kickers that played in four games or less, then the group collectively averaged about 14 touchbacks per year.  Hopkins already has 13 touchbacks in three games this season. 
  • If you were to hypothetically replace Hopkins' two onside kicks this season with touchbacks, then he would be tied for first place in the NFL in that category with a rate of 93.8 percent.

Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:

2015 Redskins SRS ESPN FPI nERD ELO Rating Total PFF DVOA
Values 2.6 -2.9 -1.29 1392 -41.8 -1.2%
Rankings 13th 26th 20th 27th 24th 18th

**All statistics are courtesy of  538, ESPN, Football Outsiders, NFL.com, NFL Game Books, NFL Next Gen Stats, numberFire, Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference**