I'm just using this as my intro paragraph this week. There was plenty of good and a fair share of bad, but above all, that was a pretty fun football game. That did not feel like a typical Washington Redskins game — nor a typical Chicago Bears game, for that matter — in that I feel like I actually would have enjoyed keeping it on even if I didn't care about either team.
Could you say that about half their other games this season? I can't.
#1. Kirk Cousins
Give the man credit, he played a helluva game. He had two total brain farts in the interception and that Matt Jones miracle grab, but other than that, he was pretty damn good all day. Cousins completed 24-of-31 passes for 300 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and he added four carries for 13 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, he did it on the road, where he has been well below his own standard this season. Time will tell if it was a fluke or a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong outing by a quarterback whose 2016 salary is only rising.
#2. Ryan Kerrigan
An honorable mention last week against the Dallas Cowboys and a member of the Good two weeks ago against the New York Giants, Kerrigan again finds himself on the right side of this particular Tuesday split. I probably shouldn't keep putting him here; if he's back to his usual self — and it certainly appears that way — then he could make the list every week, and that's not the point of this exercise.
But I'll go ahead and list him among the positives again this week, as he made one play in particular that I felt helped sway the game in Washington's favor. After the Redskins started out hot, they cooled off in the second quarter. Chicago scored to end the first half, and it seemed to have all the momentum entering the second half, which began with the Bears receiving the kick. Three plays into the third quarter, Chicago faced a 3rd-and-3. Kerrigan got around the edge and, despite getting shoved off-balance twice, chased down Jay Cutler for an eight-yard sack that forced a punt and quieted the crowd. The Redskins then marched 62 yards down the field and scored their third touchdown of the game to push the lead back to 14.
#3. Jordan Reed
This is probably the most boring Three Good of the season, as each player can make a case for the most important player on the roster.
The Redskins would have the hardest time winning a game without?— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 14, 2015
But whatever, each of these three players also had one of their best games of the season, and each played critical roles in the Redskins earning a very important win.
Anyway, Reed had an exceptional game. He caught all nine passes thrown his way for a season-best 120 yards and a touchdown. (And he wasn't called for a single penalty!) It was just the second time all season a Washington player racked up at least 100 receiving yards in the game, with the only other time being Matt Jones against the New Orleans Saints — you might recall Jones had a 78-yard catch-and-run in that game.
Semi-interesting tidbit: Reed's game was just the 65th time since 2000 that a Redskins player had picked up at least 100 receiving yards in a game. For reference, the Green Bay Packers have had 118 such occurrences in that time, the Saints have had 128 and the New England Patriots have had 133. The Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, have had 61, once again reaffirming the fact that but then again, what's so good about Cleveland?
Honorable Mentions: Bashaud Breeland (see Will Blackmon below), Will Compton, Mason Foster, Trent Murphy
#1. Trent Williams
Trent Williams is somebody you never expect to have a bad game, but he really did on Sunday. He's still one of the best linemen in the league and everybody has off days, but Williams made Willie Young look like Khalil Mack. I'll let Twitter take it from here.
Trent Williams struggling a bit today— Emmanual Benton (@Manny_PPI) December 13, 2015
Rough day for Trent Williams.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) December 13, 2015
Trent Williams is having his worst game in what feels like years. Beaten for sack, TFL, had a false start, now a hold. Not used to this.— DC Paragon (@SportingParagon) December 13, 2015
Willie Young is giving Trent Williams fits. All day.— Nick (@NQS88) December 13, 2015
#2. Will Blackmon
Will Blackmon has been a terrific in-season pickup, doing everything the Redskins could have hoped for and more. The one thing he can't do, evidently, is mark big receivers. He was routinely targeted when he was matched up against Alshon Jeffery, and Jeffery routinely won the battle. That's nothing to be ashamed of, plenty of defensive backs can't cover Jeffery — he's at least 6-foot-3 and well over 200 pounds.
Remember what happened when Blackmon was put on 6-foot-5 Mike Evans? That didn't go well, either. He's a very solid corner who can do a lot of things at a decent or better level, but he should not be matched up one-on-one against receivers who have a few inches on him. Considering Bashaud Breeland has historically played very well against big cornerbacks, Perry Fewell might have to abandon his strategy of letting cornerbacks stay on one side of the field.
#3. Clock Management
Jay Gruden has improved at many aspects of being a head coach in the NFL since taking over the lead gig in Washington. One area that is still very much in need of a stride or two is clock management, and more specifically, timeout management. The Redskins, especially in recent weeks, have appeared eager to burn through timeouts early in halves. It's hurt them some, though not as much as it could have, so it's unlikely Gruden and Co. have learned from their mistakes.
Of course, nothing was worse than the catastrophe of a sequence that came midway through the third quarter. The Redskins had a 3rd-and-goal on the Bears' 1-yard-line, couldn't come up with a play and called a timeout. That wasn't a huge deal — it was a significant play and they wanted to make sure they got a look they liked for the endzone instead of settling for a field goal. But then they came back from the timeout, looked disoriented and got flagged for delay of game.
Cousins said Monday he never received a play call, and he didn't feel comfortable making the decision himself. It all worked out fine, as Washington scored on the ensuing play, but that could have been catastrophic if it hadn't worked out; not only would the Redskins have gotten (in theory) four fewer points in a game they ultimately won by three points, but they would have looked completely incompetent in the process.
Also, it's a bit alarming that Cousins felt so insecure making a call on his own. I understand his reasoning, that it was a big moment and the Redskins wanted to get the right play set up, but the backlash would have been considerable if they gained, say, four yards on that play.