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Snap Judgments: Redskins @ Panthers

A look at the snap counts and stats for each player on the Redskins in the team's Week 11 meltdown against the undefeated Carolina Panthers

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Kirk Cousins is probably not nearly as bad as some - myself included - thought he was, but at this point he still may have to be considered a king of inconsistency.  On the other hand, perhaps he's not inconsistent at all.  Maybe he is actually almost perfectly consistent relative to the circumstances in any given game.

We've talked about Cousins splits before, but I thought we should take a closer look at them this week in order to attempt to ascertain under just which situations Cousins thrives in and which he struggles.  We'll look specifically at his home-road splits, top half versus bottom half pass defenses splits per DVOA and his splits when the spread is greater than plus 3 and when it is equal to or lesser than plus 3.

For each group of splits you'll see his winning percentage, yards per game average, yards per attempt average, touchdown percentage, interception percentage and QB rating listed.  You will also be able to see how much better or worse he is in each area in the bottom row of each of the following tables.  Please note that the 2012 Ravens game has been excluded from these splits because Cousins only played for seven snaps and attempted just two passes in that game.

Let's start with the low hanging fruit and look at his home/away splits first.  I'll let the numbers do the talking for me here and I won't spend too much time providing my own opinions on the subject. After all, we're really all about the facts here,  Just the facts.

H/A Splits Games Win % Yds/G Y/A TD % INT % QB Rate
Home 12 .500 218.8 7.55 4.89% 2.87% 93.6
Away 11 .091 260.3 6.82 3.57% 4.52% 73.7
Away Difference
-.409 41.5 -0.73 -1.32% 1.65% -19.9

Cousins' numbers decline quite significantly in almost every category when we compare his play in home games to his performances away from FedEx Field.  The only area where we see any improvement is in yards per game and that is because he averages almost ten more attempts per game on the road.

Pass Def DVOA Splits Games Win % Yds/G Y/A TD % INT % QB Rate
Bottom Half Pass D 13 .385 261.5 7.83 5.07% 4.15% 89.4
Top Half Pass D 10 .200 208.9 6.25 2.99% 3.29% 74.1
Top Half Difference -.185 -52.6 -1.58 -2.08% -0.86% -15.3

Cousins fares even worse when he is facing above average pass defenses, which for our purposes are defenses ranked one through 16 in Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA metric.  When he faces top-half pass defenses his yards per attempt and TD percentage numbers really suffer.  At least his interception percentage improves in these games.

Spread Splits Games Win % Yds/G Y/A TD % INT % QB Rate
Less than or = to Plus 3 10 .600 208.6 7.48 5.02% 2.15% 98.6
> Plus 3 13 .077 261.8 6.96 3.68% 4.70% 73.7
> Plus 3 Difference -.523 -53.2 -0.52 -1.34% 2.55% -24.9

We see his biggest drop off in his production occur when we compare games in which Redskins' opponents were favored by three points or less to games where they were favored by more than three points.  Cousins' numbers drastically drop across the board when the Redskins are heavy underdogs; his winning percentage, yards per game average, interception percentage and QB rating all take massive hits in those situations.

Split Differences Win % Yds/G Y/A TD % INT % QB Rate
Away Difference -.409 41.5 -0.73 -1.32% 1.65% -19.9
Top Half Difference -.185 -52.6 -1.58 -2.08% -0.86% -15.3
> Plus 3 Difference -.523 -53.2 -0.52 -1.34% 2.55% -24.9

I have seen improvement from Kirk Cousins this year, but I still think that we all need to see him shake some of these issues before we can proclaim him the undisputed and unchallenged franchise quarterback of the Washington Redskins.

If he has been consistent in one regard, it is that his performance typically declines a lot more often when the situation is more difficult, whether that is on the road, against above average pass defenses or as an underdog.  In that way Cousins actually needs to become more inconsistent.

Every quarterback struggles in these circumstances from time to time, but the really good ones and the great ones find a way to overcome them more often than not.  They find a way to rise above and to succeed in spite of these challenges instead of failing because of them.  Kirk Cousins will need to do the same in order to take the next step in his career.

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Washington's 48 offensive snaps against the Panthers were by far the team's lowest number of snaps this season, as their next lowest total was 58 against the Patriots.  In the beginning of the season, Washington's offense saw the field just about more than any team in the league.   In Weeks 1-4, the offense averaged 78 snaps and never saw below 72 snaps in a game.  The team ranked second in offensive plays run (284) and first in time of possession over that stretch (2:25).  Since then, however, things have taken a drastic turn for the worse.  In Weeks 5-11, the offense averaged 59 snaps and never exceeded 64 snaps in a game.  They rank last in plays run and second-to-last in time of possession in that span, and these rankings have almost nothing to do with them having their bye in Week 8.
  • As a result of the team's season-low number of snaps, many offensive players hit their personal lows in this game.  Here are the players that set or matched their season lows in offensive snaps: Cousins, Williams, Long, Scherff, Moses, Garcon, Reed, Grant, De La Puente, Compton and Morris, who played on a career worst three snaps because of a rib injury.  Ty Nsekhe played on his second most snaps of the season (10 snaps) in relief of an injured Trent Williams.  Chris Thompson saw his second highest snap percentage of the year because of Morris' injury and Matt Jones fumbling issues.
  • Just how bad is that aforementioned "issue" though?  Jones now has four fumbles this season, and only Adrian Peterson (6) and Bobby Rainey (5) have fumbled the ball more among non-quarterbacks.  The real problem here is that Jones has fumbled much more frequently relative to his number of touches.  Peterson has out-touched Jones 229 to 104 and it looks as if most of Rainey's fumbles have occurred on kick and punt returns.  To put it in perspective, Jones has fumbled on 3.85 percent of his touches this season or 1 time for every 26 touches.  That is the highest fumble percentage among all players with at least 75 touches this year (61 players and QBs included).   Even if you exclude QBs and cut the touch criteria to more than 50 touches, he would still have the fifth highest fumble percentage in that 100-player group.  Per John Kiem and Dane Brugler, Jones fumbled one time for every 63.2 times he touched the ball in college (5 fumbles on 316 touches), which was the sixth worst fumble rate among the running backs that entered the 2015 NFL draft. 
  • Fumbling wasn't Matt Jones only problem against the Panthers.  He rushed for zero yards on five carries.  Since Week 3, he has only gained 181 yards on 65 attempts, which equates to a yards per carry average of 2.78.  That is the third worst mark by a player with 50 or more attempts in that stretch. 
  • Jones was not the only runner that struggled in Carolina though.  Alfred Morris rushed for zero yards on two rushes and Chris Thompson and Kirk Cousins were only able to combine for 14 yards on five carries.  The 14 rushing yards in the game is tied for the third lowest rushing total in team history (including playoffs).  The second lowest total of ten yards was not passed until there were five minutes remaining in the game.  The franchise low of five yards occurred in 1940.  The Redskin' 1.17 yards per carry average in the game was the team's eighth lowest average since 1940 and likely ever (minimum 10 carries).  The rushing yardage total and average were the second and fifth worst respectively by any team this season.
  • Jamison Crowder tied season lows with one target and one reception and his five yards receiving in the game represents his second lowest total of the season.  He also still has not exceeded 26 punt return yards in a game.  Pierre Garcon totaled 43 yards through the air and has now failed to record 75 or more receiving yards in his 13th consecutive game despite getting at least five targets in all but two of those instances.  He has only topped 75 yards twice (95 and 87 yards) in his last 23 games.  Garcon will turn 30 next August.  DeSean Jackson had the Redskins' only two plays of 20 or more yards in the game and the team's only touchdown.  Jackson will turn 30 in almost exactly one year.  Ryan Grant and Andre Roberts were both held to zero yards receiving for the third time this year.  Translation: this team needs to invest in the wide receiver position this offseason.
  • Morgan Moses and Ty Nsekhe each allowed a sack in Carolina.  After not allowing a sack in his first five games this season, Moses has now let Cousins get sacked in four of the last five games.  Nsekhe gave up his sack despite only pass blocking on seven plays.  Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus were the team's lowest rated offensive linemen.  Long allowed four QB pressures, his second most of the year.
  • Trent Williams was the team's highest graded player by PFF and the site did not attribute a QB pressure to him in this game.  According to PFF, Williams has actually not allowed a single sack all season, despite playing in every game.  He is the only starting left tackle in the league that has not allowed a sack.  He ranks second among all tackles behind only Andrew Whitworth in pass blocking efficiency (97.7).  That is truly amazing considering that he has gone head-to-head with Olivier Vernon, Robert Quinn, Fletcher Cox, Vic Beasley, Muhammad Wilkerson, Chandler Jones and Jared Allen.  Williams is in all likelihood the Redskins best player and has been for a while now.  Stop what you're doing and go vote Trent Williams into this year's Pro Bowl.

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • The 70 defensive snaps in the game represent the Redskins' third highest defensive snap total this year (80 at Atlanta and New England).  Washington averages 57 defensive snaps at home and 74 snaps on the road.  The -29 snap differential was also a new season-worst.  In contrast to the offense, the defense's high snap total saw several defenders hit a new season high in number of plays.  Those players were: Will Compton, Chris Culliver, Perry Riley, Chris Baker and Stephen Paea.  DeAngelo Hall played a season-low six snaps.  The Redskins continued to go easy on Jason Hatcher, as he only played on a season-low 45 percent of the snaps.
  • It's hard to say if the rest is paying off for Hatcher though.  He did have three pressures in the game, but he also missed a season-worst two tackles and received a negative rating for only the fourth time this year.  Paea has been picking up most of the slack for Hatcher.  He had a solid running game grade, but he failed to pressure Newton after tallying a sack and a hurry last week.  Chris Baker stayed swaggy and consistent in this one, as he pressured Cam Newton a team-high five times and earned the third best PFF rating on the team. 
  • You have to blitz sometimes to mix things up and keep offenses off balance, but it's just not working out for Joe Barry's bunch this season.  The defense sent extra rushers 12 times and Newton roasted them by completing 11 passes for 100 yards and five touchdowns on those plays.  His QB rating of 141 was 73.4 points higher than it was when the Redskins didn't blitz (67.6).  That is the biggest differential for Washington's defense all season.  The defense has allowed ten touchdowns and has only recorded eight sacks on 76 blitzes this year.
  • Perry Riley and Will Compton finished tied with the second most total tackles (9 each).  Riley was credited with four stops and no missed tackles, while Compton added a pass deflection and three stops to go along with just one missed tackle.  Compton did, however, allow a receiving touchdown and 34 receiving yards in the game.  Preston Smith recorded a sack and a pressure, and fellow novice OLB Trent Murphy pressured the QB three times.  Ryan Kerrigan also had a sack and a team-high five total pressures.  Despite having what some perceive to be a down season, Kerrigan still leads the team with 32 total QB pressures this season.  That is the tenth most pressures by a linebacker in 2015. With his sack, Kerrigan moved into fifth place (42.5 sacks) ahead of Ken Harvey for the most career sacks in team history.  He now only trails Monte Coleman, Dave Butz, Charles Mann and Dexter Manley.  So, the Redskins had a decent D-line in the 80s, huh?
  • Chris Culliver's struggles continued this week.  The team's biggest and most expensive free agent signing was targeted 11 times on 36 coverage snaps and allowed six catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns; all the worst on the team in this game.  His -6.0 PFF grade this week was the worst on the team and among all NFL corners.  At this point you just have to admit that Culliver is having an awful year.  His QB Rating against (134.8), PFF grade (-11.7) and yards per coverage snap allowed (19.7) numbers rank 105th, 104th and 109th among cornerbacks this season respectively.  He's been on the injury report for the last seven games, so I'm hoping that this is the reason for this drop-off and that he is not another free agent bust.
  • Bashaud Breeland led the team with 11 total tackles and five defensive stops.  He allowed five receptions for 43 yards, but did not allow a touchdown in the game.  It seems like he was one of the only Redskins defenders that did not allow a score on Sunday.  Starting safeties Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson weren't so lucky, as both players allowed passing touchdowns to be scored in their coverage.
  • The Redskins allowed Carolina to score a whopping 27 points off of turnovers.  The Redskins rank dead last in giveaway points this year with 91 of them.  The next closest team has only allowed 71 points off of turnovers.  Part of the reason for this is that the defense can't stop opposing offenses with a short field, especially when they get in the red zone.  The defense allowed Newton and the Panther's offense to score five touchdowns and 38 points in the red area this week.  They rank 20th in opponent's red zone scoring percentage this year (56.25%). 
  • The defense did not allow an opponent to rush for 150 or more yards against them for the first time in the last six games.  They did allow 142 yards on the ground though, so things were only marginally better in that regard.  This is still only the third Redskins team since 1940 to ever allow opponents to rush for 140 yards or more in six straight games.  This has never happened to Washington in seven straight weeks.  Jonathan Stewart's 102 rushing yards made him the fifth player this season and in the last five games to rush for more than 100 against Washington.  The Dolphins and the Browns are the only other teams to allow five or more 100-yard rushers against them.  The best thing that rushing defense did was to hold the Panthers to 3.64 yards per carry, which was the second lowest average allowed by the defense this season.
  • Washington was flagged nine times for 68 yards in Carolina.  Both numbers represent the team's third highest totals on the year.  So that is high, but not extraordinarily so.  We also need to consider the officiating crew that was working this game.  Jerome Boger's bunch gives out more penalties (17.6 per game) and penalty yards (156.9 per game) than any other crew in the league.  In fact, they call over three more infractions and 33 more penalty yards than the average crew does.  They have also called a league-high 21 behavioral penalties that include personal fouls like unnecessary roughness (cough, cough, Culliver touchdown).  And despite how it may seem after this game the Redskins are actually committing far less penalties this year.  After ranking 27th in penalties and 31st in penalty yards in 2014, they have improved to ninth and third in those categories respectively this season.   
  • The Redskins missed tackles in droves yet again.  It looked like they had started to fix this problem last week when they only whiffed on four wrap-ups, but things went south again down in Carolina when they failed to bring down Panthers defenders 12 times.  This was the seventh time this season and the sixth time in their last seven games that the team has missed nine or more tackles.  The defense (special teams not included here) has now missed 98 tackles this year.  Only the Steelers have more with 103 of them.  However, the Steelers' defense has been on the field for 38 more plays so far this season.

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • The 32 special teams snaps are tied for the most this year for the Redskins (Week 6 at Jets).  Derek Carrier led Washington with 26 special teams snaps and played on 81 percent of the specials snaps.  Both numbers are season highs for a Redskins player this season.  He was followed by Darrel Young, Houston Bates and Mason Foster, who all played on 22 snaps.  Only six other Redskins, including Carrier, have played on 22 or more teams snaps this year.
  • The NFL credited Dashon Goldson and Derek Carrier with solo tackles (1 each) and Deshazor Everett and Will Blackmon with assisted tackles (also 1 each).  Everett broke his tie with Jeron Johnson and now leads the team in total special teams tackles with six of them.
  • The Redskins were penalty free on special teams for the third time in the last four games.  That's quite an improvement considering that they committed a penalty in five straight games between Weeks 2 and 6.  According to, the Redskins are tied for the fifth fewest special teams penalties and have been flagged for the ninth fewest penalty yards (88 yards) this season.  That is yet another major improvement, as last year the team ranked 28th in special teams penalties (26) and 29th in penalty yards (223).  These numbers do not include declined and offsetting infractions. 
  • Tress Way had another good outing this week.  Way had 265 net punt yards, a 53.2 yard average and a 53 yard net average.  All three numbers were season highs and the third best of his career.  His three punts inside the 20-yard line and two fair catches were also career bests.  The Panthers only had one punt return yard in the entire game, which is the fourth lowest yardage totaled allowed in games where Way has punted four or more times.  So the team played horribly and Way had a good day, feels like 2014 all over again.
  • Dustin Hopkins had a quiet game on Sunday.  Hopkins only got to kick two extra points (both good) and did not attempt a field goal in the game.  He slipped on the opening kickoff and that led to probably what was his worst kickoff game this year.  He only booted a touchback on one of his three kicks and the Panthers had 31 kick return yards in the game.  Those numbers don't sound too bad, but they are definitely subpar by Hopkins' standards.
  • The Redskins special teams scored their third touchdown this season when Andre Roberts returned a first quarter kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown.  It was the second kickoff return TD of the year and that marks just the third time in franchise history that the team has taken two kickoffs to the house in a season.  Two of those seasons occurred in the 1940s (1942, 1947 and 2005).  And as far as I can tell only 3 other Washington special teams units have recorded three total touchdowns in a season (1941, 1942 and 1955), and only the 1942 team exceeded three specials TDs with five of them.  Don't forget that there are still six games remaining in 2015.
  • The Redskins' newfound special teams success is evident when you look at the numbers for the unit as a whole.  Football Outsiders special teams DVOA is widely regarded as the best measure of special teams quality among the analytics community; and they currently rank the Redskins' special teams as the eighth best unit in the entire NFL (4.0% DVOA).  The fifth place team has a DVOA of only 0.5% higher too, so they are not far away from being considered a top-five unit. 
  • That is a truly amazing turnaround when you consider that this group ranked in the bottom seven in the NFL in each of the last three seasons (29th, 32nd and 27th) and in the bottom ten in each of the past seven years.  The 32nd ranked 2013 group ranks as one of Football Outsiders' five worst specials units since 1989, which is as far as their data goes back.  Washington's special teams have only finished with a DVOA ranked eighth or higher one time since 1997.  Their current DVOA of 4.0% would rank as the fourth best mark ever by a Redskins team if they are able to maintain it for the final six games of the season.

Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:

2015 Redskins PFR SRS ESPN FPI numberFire nERD 538 ELO Rating Sagarin Rating Total PFF FO DVOA
Values -2.1 -4.0 -1.54 1403 17.22 -92.0 -6.0%
Rankings 18th 27th 20th 28th 23rd 28th 20th

  • To absolutely the surprise of no one, the Redskins dropped in virtually every one of the major analytics rankings systems.  They fell in these rankings by an average of almost three spots and hold an average ranking of 23.4. 

Happy Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving, and hail to the Redskins!

**All statistics are courtesy of 538, ESPN, Football Outsiders,, NFL Game Books, NFL Penalties,  numberFire, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Sporing Charts, Team Rankings and USA Today**