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Snap Judgments: Redskins @ Patriots

A look at the snap counts for each player on the Redskins in the team's Week 9 road game against the undefeated New England Patriots

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins brain trust envisioned a 2015 team that would be able to control the clock and entire games by running the ball down opponent's throats with their bigger and nastier offensive line and a new power running scheme.  Bill Callahan's offensive line would pave the way for the two-headed backfield monster of Alfred Morris and Matt Jones to punish opposing defenses, and when those defenses began to sell out against the run Jay Gruden and Sean McVay would dial up a perfectly timed play action pass to keep them off balance and make them pay

Meanwhile, Joe Barry's defense would keep opposing running games in check and would create more big plays with an aggressive and attacking one-gap system and improved personnel in the front seven.

For a few weeks, their plan actually worked.  They finally had something to hang their hat on week-in and week-out.  They finally had found an identity.  But like that, it was gone.

After rushing for 558 yards with a 4.43 yards per carry average in the first four games, they rushed for just 172 yards with a 2.29 average in the last four games.  That's three times fewer yards with a per rush average that's almost cut in half.  In those last four games they have not rushed for more than 51 yards once.  Per Rich Tandler that is the worst such streak in the franchise's 84 year history.

What's even worse is that there have only been seven other four game streaks of 51 rushing yards or fewer by any NFL team since 1940. The Redskins rushing attack truly has been historically bad in the team's last four games.  Bill Callahan and company should be incredibly embarrassed by this performance.

I wish I could say that only the offense has fallen apart in the rushing department, but the defense has been nearly equally as bad when it comes to stopping the run.  In the last four games combined the Redskins have allowed 748 rushing yards.  I'll let John Keim give you a little more perspective on that.

Per Kiem the 187 rushing yards per game allowed in this span ranks last in the league and the 5.34 rushing yards allowed per attempt by the defense ranks 31st.

In each of the past four games the Redskins have allowed for a single player to rush for 129 or more yards (Freeman, Ivory, Martin and Blount).  In the last four years combined (2011- to Week 4 of 2015) they had only allowed four running backs to rush for 129 or more against them.

Washington has also allowed the opposition as a whole to rush for 161 yards or more in each of those games.  This is the 15th time that this has happened to any team since 2000 and only the sixth time that it has happened to the Redskins since 1940.

The team was setting a blistering, record-setting pace with their time of possession numbers in the first four games of the season, as they ranked first in the league by a good margin (time of possession of over 36 minutes per game); but their futility on the ground since then has changed all of that.  Their average time of possession per game has dropped by nearly ten minutes since Week 5, and they rank second worst in the league in that span.

The coaching staff and the players just had a bye week to address these problems and it doesn't look like they've done anything to fix them.  If they don't figure out something, and do it fast, then many of them will be looking for new jobs in a few months.

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • The 58 offensive snaps represented the team's lowest snap total all year.  Kirk Cousins, Trent Williams, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses played on every snap.  Josh LeRibeus missed one play and was replaced by Arie Koundijo, who took his first and only snap of the season.  Almost every player on the offense saw a season-low in snaps against the Patriots, because of the low team snap total.  The only active players that did not play on a season-low number of snaps were: Josh LeRibeus, Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Arie Koundijo.
  • The loss on Sunday brings Kirk Cousins road record to 1-9 (.100).  His only win away from Fed Ex came nearly 35 months ago, when he led the Redskins to a 38-21 win over the 5-11 Browns in Week 15 of the 2012 season.  Cousins has also never won back-to-back games in which he has played more than 7 snaps in.  Like Cousins, Jay Gruden has only won a single road game in his time with the Redskins.  Gruden is 1-11 on the road (.083), with his one win coming in a 3-point overtime victory over the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.  That win also marked the only time that Gruden has won back-to-back games.  Three of his seven career wins have come against the Titans, Buccaneers and Jaguars, who are the only three teams with worse winning percentages than the Redskins since Gruden took the head coaching job.
  • Cousins actually didn't have a bad day against the Patriots.  PFF gave him a grade of 2.5, which is his best rating of the year and the second best of his career behind only last season's Week 3 road loss against the Eagles (5.1).  Cousins posted the 12th best accuracy percentage of the week (74.4%) according to the site, and he did so despite being under pressure on an NFL Week 9 high 53.7 percent of his dropbacks.
  • The main reason that some of Cousins' stats make his performance look so much worse than it actually was is that the Redskins dropped seven passes in this game.  According to ESPN 980 and ESPN's research department that is tied for the most drops by any team in the last seven years and is the most by a Redskins team in the last ten seasons.  I looked through the over 130 Redskins games that PFF has charted, and according to them the team dropped seven passes on just one other occasion since 2007 (2012 loss against the Steelers).
  • Josh LeRibeus and Brandon Scherff were each the third lowest graded players at their positions and both allowed five quarterback pressures this week.  A Redskins center has ranked in the bottom six at the position according to PFF's grading in every single week of the 2015 season.  So nothing new there, but Scherff's declining play is a different story.  In the first five weeks of the season he allowed 0 sacks, 1 QB hit and seven hurries for a total of eight QB pressures.  In the last three weeks he has allowed a sack, five QB hits and 12 hurries for a total of 18 QB pressures.  Two of his three worst PFF grades have come in the last three weeks, including his worst rating of the season this week against New England (-4.9).
  • If there is one thing that the offensive line is doing well, it's preventing sacks.  Morgan Moses did allow a sack on his trademark statue stance (i.e. when he doesn't move at all after the snap), but that was it in this game.  The Redskins rank first in sacks allowed (9), first in sack percentage (2.8%), second in sack percentage when the QB is pressured (7.6%) and second in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate (3.3%).  This is quite the contrast to last year when they ranked 31st in sacks (58), sack percentage (9.6%) and adjusted sack rate (9.8%).
  • DeSean Jackson has missed a game or a set of games due to injury seven times in his seven-and-a-half year career.  Five of those injuries occurred when he was a member of the Eagles.  In his first games back from those five injuries he averaged 6.5 receptions, 116 yards and 0.8 touchdowns.  He has missed games twice for the Redskins, and in both of his return appearances he has caught exactly three balls for 15 yards.   The team needs Jackson to get back to being his old dynamic self, as they still rank last in the NFL in number of big plays (24), number of big passing plays (9), big play percentage (4.62%) and big play differential (-26) after only hitting on one big or explosive play in New England (36-yard reception by Pierre Garcon).
  • Jamison Crowder led all Redskins backs and receivers in snaps (55), routes run (39), targets (8) and receptions (6) against Patriots.  Crowder also either ranks second or third on the team and among all rookie receivers in each of those categories this season.  He has only played on 15 or more snaps in the last six games and he has recorded at least 4 receptions and 40 receiving yards in each of those contests.  Only ten other players have accomplished that feat this year and every one of them is either a pro bowler or a pro bowl caliber player.  Check out the list for yourselves.  Crowder is on pace to catch 76 passes this year and to break Gary Clark's franchise record for receptions in a season by a rookie (72 receptions in 1985).  If he keeps up his pace from his last six games then he will catch 86 balls, which would be the sixth most receptions ever by a rookie.
  • The NFL Next Gen Stats app featured 16 plays from Sunday's game.  In those plays, the fastest clocked speeds by Redskins were: Keenan Robinson at 20.11 mph, Pierre Garcon at 18.10 mph, Trenton Robinson at 18.00 mph, Pierre Garcon at 16.81 mph and DeSean Jackson at 16.75 mph.  Keenan Robinson maxed out at 20.11 mph on his return of Tom Brady's interception.  Robinson traveled a total distance of 57.41 yards on the play before eventually being tripped up by Brady himself. 
  • Of course the Redskins did not score any points following Robinson's pick or after their other takeaway.  Meanwhile, the Patriots scored points off of both Washington turnovers in the game.  The Redskins rank 29th in points scored off of takeaways (16) and 30th in points allowed off of giveaways (64).  They are tied for dead last with the Detroit Lions in net turnover points (-48).  This is not a new trend either as they ranked 31st in this department last season (-70).

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • The 80 defensive snaps in the game are tied for the most this year for the Redskins (Week 5 at Atlanta).  Will Blackmon played on every defensive snap, and was the only Washington player to be in on more than 73 plays.  Ryan Kerrigan (73), Dashon Goldson (72) and Keenan Robinson (66) were the only other defenders that played on more than 80 percent of the snaps. 
  • Chris Culliver, Trenton Robinson and Bashaud Breeland played on a season-low 51, 33 and 32 snaps respectively.  However, on the other end of the spectrum, many of the team's other defenders set or tied their season high in snaps including: Will Blackmon, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Jason Hatcher, Jeron Johnson, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Ricky-Jean Francois, Mason Foster and Deshazor Everett. 
  • Half of the aforementioned list is comprised of defensive linemen because they needed to play more in order to compensate for Terrance Knighton's absence and New England's run-heavy attack.  All five of the active D-linemen played on a greater percentage of snaps than their season-long averages, and Hatcher, Golston and Francois set new season-highs in snap percentage. 
  • If only the defense was as good at getting sacks as the offense is at avoiding them.  The defense has not recorded a sack in the team's last three games and only had one sack in each of the two games before that.  They only hit the quarterback a season-worst one time in New England.  They also only pressured Brady on just 18 percent of his dropbacks, the worst pressure percentage for the team this season.  The Redskins defense ranks 27th in sacks (13), 26th in sack percentage (4.7%) and 31st in adjusted sack rate (9.8%).  Joe, say it ain't so, Joe KimSay it ain't so.
  • Redskins defenders combined to miss 22 tackles in Sunday's game.  Yes, you read that right, 22 missed tackles in one game.  Just as I did with the dropped passes, I looked at the over 130 Washington games that PFF has charted to see if there was any other game on record in which the team had fared worse in.  The only game that really came remotely close to this one in terms of missed tackles was the teams 2012 win against Minnesota, when they failed to wrap up Vikings offensive players on 18 occasions.  The Redskins now rank 31st in the NFL in missed tackles (82), missed tackles per game (10.3) and missed tackles per defensive play (.166).
  • Keenan Robinson was one of the three players on the team with three missed tackles against the Patriots and his 15 missed tackles this year are the most on the team and is tied for the third most in the entire NFL.  Robinson received the lowest PFF grade among all NFL defenders in Week 9.  His season-long grade of -22 is the second worst among all defensive players in the league ahead of only Brandon Browner's rating of -23.3.  The Saints have not yet had their bye week, so Robinson will get a chance to catch up to Browner in the very near future.
  • Robinson is not the only inside linebacker on the team that has been strug-a-ling.  Riley was PFF's second lowest graded ILB (-6.5) and the fourth lowest graded defender in all of Week 9.  His 2015 grade of -18.9 is the fourth worst among all inside backers.  Riley allowed 45 yards and a touchdown through the air and lucked out when Dion Lewis dropped what would have been another TD in Riley's coverage.  Also, despite playing on 49 snaps against the Patriots, he failed to record a single tackle or defensive statistic of any kind.  He only shows up on the PFF stat sheet with two missed tackles.  That is absolutely amazing.  It's almost as if he purposefully tried not to make plays or was attempting to throw the game.  How you do not record a single defensive statistic of any kind with nearly 50 snaps at the middle linebacker position when your opponent runs the ball 37 times is truly mind boggling.  Will Compton, on the other hand, led the team with 10 total tackles.  Somebody please tell Joe Barry that it's time to throw the towel in on Perry Riley and to install Will Compton as one of the team's starting inside linebackers.
  • Dashon Goldson decided to join in on the fun too and was also PFF's worst graded player at his position (-2.9).  He took missed three tackles in the game, but was at least able to chip in with nine total tackles.  Goldson and Trenton Robinson are the two worst graded safeties in the NFL this year.  Robinson was replaced midway through the game by Jeron Johnson, who played on a season-high 49 defensive snaps.  The 49 snaps also represents the second highest snap total in Johnson's career.  He made the most of his time by tallying five solo tackles.
  • Despite allowing a touchdown in the game, Will Blackmon had a decent outing against the Patriots.  He quickly got his revenge on Edelman for the touchdown, when he forced the diminutive New England receiver to fumble and recovered the ball for one of the Redskins' two turnovers on the day.  Blackmon also recorded eight total tackles and three receptions for 30 yards on 38 coverage snaps and six targets.
  • Don't be fooled by cumulative yardage and points allowed rankings and by the fact that the Redskins are one of only three teams this year that has yet to allow a 300-yard passer; Washington has a very poor all-around defense yet again this year.  The defense ranks near the bottom of the league in almost all of the major team efficiency and advanced analytics metrics.  Here are some of those rankings: 20th in average points per drive allowed (2.03), 23rd in QB rating allowed (97.6), 23rd in PFF rating (-10.5), 23rd in DVOA (6.4%), 25th in third down conversion rate allowed (41.9%), 27th in big plays allowed (50) and 28th in yards per play (6.0). 
  • Just because the Redskins don't rank quite as badly in total yards and points allowed doesn't mean that they don't have a bottom-ten defense in the league as the aforementioned metrics indicate; it just means that their opponents don't need to keep abusing the defense because the Redskins' offense puts no pressure on them to do so.  The Saints, for example, are a team whose defense is also horrible, but whose offense does put pressure on their opponents to score more.

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Darrel Young, Deshazor Everett and Mason Foster led the Redskins with 15 special teams snaps each.  Jeron Johnson did not lead the group in snaps for only the second time this year (Week 7 at Jets).  I'm sure he will happily trade a couple of teams snaps every week for a handful of defensive plays and a crack at the starting strong safety job.  Darrel Young, on the other hand, would probably trade some of his extra special teams work for the opportunity to get on the field for more than the season-low two offensive snaps that he received in this game.
  • The only special teams tackles for Washington were recorded by Houston Bates (2) and Dashon Goldson (1).  The ghost of Darrel Young was credited with a missed tackle.  Ryan Grant was unable to corral a Patriots onside kick that New England would ultimately recover.
  • For the second week in a row and for only the third time this season the Redskins did not commit a special teams penalty.  This unit was flagged in five consecutive games prior to the team's Week 7 matchup against the Buccaneers. 
  • Letting Andre Roberts and Chris Thompson take over kick return duties for Rashad Ross may have been a mistake.  Roberts and Thompson returned three kicks for 48 yards, which is an average of 16 yards per return.  That is more than ten yards fewer than Ross' average of 26.7 yards per return, which is the fourth best return average in 2015.  Ross' 400 kick return yards this year also rank fourth in the NFL.
  • Tress Way's net average of 47.5 on his two punts is the second best such mark of his career.  The Patriots returned those two punts for negative two yards, which is the lowest number of punt return yards allowed in a game that Way has played in.
  • Dustin Hopkins connected on another field goal in this game.  He remains perfect on attempts from inside of the fifty and is 12 for 13 on all field goals this year.  His field goal percentage of 92% ranks him tied for ninth in the league.  He is still getting it done on kickoffs too.  The Redskins rank third in the NFL in kick return yards allowed (179) and first in yards per return allowed (16.3).

Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:

2015 Redskins PFR SRS ESPN FPI numberFire nERD 538 ELO Rating Sagarin Rating Total PFF FO DVOA
Values -2.8 -4.1 -1.15 1373 16.47 -79.4 -8.8%
Rankings 20th 26th 16th 28th 25th 29th 19th

**All statistics are courtesy of  538, ESPN, Football Outsiders,, NFL Game Books, NFL Next Gen Stats,  numberFire, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Sporing Charts and USA Today**