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Snap Judgments: Redskins @ Bears

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A look at the snap counts and stats for each player on the Redskins in the team's Week 14 road win against the Chicago Bears

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If you don't want to read what amounts to another love letter to Jordan Reed then I suggest that you stop right now or skip this section entirely.  Reed absolutely destroyed the Chicago Bears on Sunday with nine catches for 120 yards, five first downs and a touchdown on nine targets.

Reed has already set or matched career highs this year in games played (11), starts (6), targets (92), receptions (67), receiving yards (694), first downs (39) and touchdowns (7).  Jordan Reed is the best skill position player on the Washington Redskins' roster, and he is one of the very best receiving tight ends in franchise history and in the NFL today.

Reed is the focal point of the Redskins' offense.  He leads the team in targets (92), target market share (19.8%) and is targeted more often on his routes than any other player on the team (29%).  He doesn't just get the most opportunities either; he makes the most of them.

He also leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, first downs and touchdowns.  Reed has only two less touchdowns than all of the wide receivers and tight ends on the roster combined (9).  That is quite impressive considering that he missed two games this year, while his closest competition in these categories (Garcon, Crowder and Jones) has combined to miss only one.  When we look at things from an efficiency or an analytical standpoint, Reed still comes out on top.

He has the highest yards per route run average (2.24) among all players on the Redskins with at least 25 targets, he holds the highest PFF receiving grade on the team (9.7), he leads all non-quarterbacks on the team with a DYAR of 114 and has the best DVOA on the (11.6) among all qualifying Washington players.

At his current pace Reed will finish the season with 117 targets, 85 receptions, 883 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns.  The target and touchdown projections would see him finish with the second highest totals in those categories by a tight end in team history, and the reception and yardage marks would break Chris Cooley's franchise records in both categories.  Jordan Reed is on pace to have the best receiving season ever by a Redskins tight end.

This isn't just about Reed's place on the Redskins though, it's about his standing among all tight ends in the league.  The former Florida Gator currently ranks seventh in receiving yards, fifth in first downs, fourth in touchdowns and second in receptions among all tight ends in the NFL.  But again, we have to remember and account for the fact that he missed two games this year.  Reed's second place ranking holds steady when we look at receptions per game (6.1), but his yards (63.1) and touchdowns (.64) standings jump up to fifth and third respectively when we look at things on a per game basis.

He has the fourth highest yards per route run average and the sixth highest DYAR at the position.  And he did all of this while only running the 21st most routes by a tight end (310).  The reason that he is able to still produce such gaudy numbers with a route total like that is because no other tight end is targeted on his routes more frequently than Reed is (29%).

Jordan Reed is the best offensive player on the Washington Redskins roster outside of Trent Williams.  It was Williams who said this week that Reed was "definitely the best receiving tight end in the NFL, hands down."  He may just be right.  And perhaps the real beauty of the situation is that he doesn't even have to be yet if he can just stay healthy.  Reed is the seventh youngest starting tight end in the NFL.

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • The Redskins offense was on the field for 65 or more snaps for the third consecutive game (71, 65 and 70), after a streak of six games where they failed to eclipse 64 offensive snaps and averaged fewer than 60 plays per game.  Kirk Cousins and four-fifths of his starting offensive line (Morgan Moses missed nine snaps) played on every offensive snap.  Darrel Young and Pierre Thomas (also played one game with San Francisco this season) tied their season highs in offensive snaps with 13 and 4 snaps respectively.
  • I recently heard somebody theorize that perhaps the recent rise in sacks allowed had something to do with DeSean Jackson's return to the lineup.  The premise was that Cousins is taking more seven-step drops in order to give Jackson more time to get open deep, and that this is what's causing the higher sack totals.  I put the idea to the test, and according to the numbers I found there may be something to this theory.  When we exclude the Week 1 game in which Jackson left after 12 snaps, we see that in the six games with Jackson in the lineup the Redskins allowed 15 sacks on 201 dropbacks and a sack percentage of 7.5 percent.  In the six games that he missed, Cousins was sacked just seven times on 244 dropbacks for a sack percentage of 2.9 percent.  That's more than double the number of sacks on 43 less dropbacks and a sack percentage that increases by more than 100 percent when Jackson plays.  Yeah, I think there might be something there.
  • Alfred Morris finally scored his first touchdown of the season.  Going into the week, only Morris (151 touches) and Chargers rookie Melvin Gordon (183 touches) had 65 or more touches on the season without a touchdown of any kind.  Morris was, however, out-snapped (44 to 22), out-touched (20 to11), out-rushed (62 to 23) and out-gained (86 to 24) by Matt Jones.  This is not a new development, which is why it was a joke when Jay Gruden recently said that Alfred Morris was still the team's starter. 
  • Morris has in fact started every game, but starts don't mean nearly as much as they are thought to in the NFL.  It is, after all, only based off of one play.  Matt Jones has out-snapped Morris this season by a count of 315 to 290.  He has had more snaps than Morris in seven of the twelve games that they've played together.  Jones has also gotten more opportunities (carries + targets) this season by a count of 156 to 152.  He has been given more opportunities in eight of twelve games.  Finally, Jones has out-gained Morris in terms of total scrimmage yards by almost 200 yards (758 to 573). 
  • Most importantly, Jones makes the most out of his opportunities by being more efficient with them.  He has a higher yards per carry average (3.45 to 3.41), yards per reception average (16.4 to 5.5), first down percentage (20.9 to 12.5) and success rate (46% to 36%).  Success rate is one of, if not the most important rushing stats in my opinion, and Alfred Morris ranks dead last in the NFL among all qualifiers by that measure. 
  • Trent Williams kept his sack streak intact, but did allow two hurries and received a very poor run blocking and overall grade from PFF.  His -2.6 rating was the worst on the team and a personal worst for him since Week 9 of last year.  It was the opposite for Morgan Moses, who allowed a team-high three pressures, but led the Redskins with a 2.9 run blocking grade and was second on the offense with a total rating of 2.1.  Brand Scherff allowed two pressures, while the three other O-linemen all allowed one each as well.
  • Pierre Garcon literally never totals more than 75 receiving yards in a game, but at least he consistently racks up receptions and first downs.  He has recorded at least three receptions in 21 of his last 24 games and has put up at least 35 receiving yards in 15 of his last 17 contests.  He has averaged 4.2 receptions and 50 receiving yards per game in those respective spans.  He ranks 33rd in the NFL and 28th among wideouts with 35 receiving first downs this year.
  • Garcon has certainly shown more as of late than Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder and Andre Roberts have.  Grant has fallen off of the face of the earth with just one catch for 19 yards in the last six games.  Jamison Crowder's post-DeSean Jackson return struggles continued.  Crowder has totaled just seven receptions for 59 yards in his last four games; he was averaging 5.7 receptions and 56 yards in his previous seven outings.  Andre Roberts was inactive for the third time in five weeks.  He's only exceeded two receptions and 26 yards twice all year (3-36 and 3-49).  DeSean Jackson's 43 yards was his second lowest total of the season in a game that he played on more than 12 snaps in.  It's all good though.  This was a Jordan Reed game, and he's the Redskins' number one receiver anyways.

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Will Compton and three-fifths of the starting secondary, including Bashaud Breeland, Will Blackmon and Dashon Goldson played on all 59 defensive snaps against the Bears.  Quinton Dunbar was one of the other starters in the secondary.  It was the first start for the rookie and he played on a career-high 53 snaps and 90 percent of the defensive plays.  Preston Smith and Frank Kearse also saw season-high snap totals and percentages in the game.  Trent Murphy and Jason Hatcher weren't as lucky, both played on a season-low number of snaps.
  • Terrance Knighton picked up his first full/solo sack of the year and received the fourth best PFF rating on the defense and his third best this season (1.8).  Kedric Golston finally joined in on the fun by notching a QB hit on Jay Cutler.  This marked the first time that Golston had hit or sacked a quarterback in almost two full calendar years.  It was also only his fourth QB pressure of any kind since 2013.  Yes, you read that right; and no, he has not missed significant time due to injury.  Ricky Jean-Francois and Frank Kearse disappointed by not recording a single stat in 36 combined snaps.  Chris Baker tallied two tackles and a stop.   
  • Mason Foster led the defense with six solo and total tackles and hurried Jay Cutler on one dropback.  He wasn't quite as good in coverage, allowing three receptions for 65 yards on six targets.  Will Compton was better in coverage, as he allowed only one reception for 13 yards on three targets.  However, he didn't have a great day against the run.  His -1.4 grade in run defense was the worst on the team.  The poor run defense grade contributed to his overall rating of -2.5, which was his second worst this year and the ninth worst among inside linebackers this week. 
  • Preston Smith out-snapped Trent Murphy for the first time on Sunday.  He didn't just see the field for one or two more plays either, he played on 24 more snaps than Murphy did.  That's surprising considering that Murphy had out-snapped Smith by an average of 17 snaps per game before this week.  Smith also played on 18 more pass rushing plays than Murphy did (26 to 8), which on the surface appears to explain their snap differential of 17.  Smith did not disappoint, as he tallied a team-high four QB hurries and pressures.  Perhaps Murphy felt the heat though and upped his game accordingly, as he registered a hurry, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. 
  • Ryan Kerrigan's hot streak continued against the Bears.  He recorded a sack, three hurries, five total tackles and a team-high five stops.  After starting the season with sacks on only three of the first nine games, he has sacked the quarterback at least once in three of the last four weeks.  He is also averaging 5.5 total pressures per game in the last four contests, after only averaging three per game through the first nine weeks of the season.  Kerrigan is now one of only five players ever to finish with at least 7.5 sacks in their first five seasons (Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Derrick Thomas and Reggie White).  All four of those players already are or will likely be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.  So far they have averaged 148.5 career sacks in their careers.
  • The defense pressured Jay Cutler on 15 of his 34 dropbacks, and that pressure rate of 44 percent is tied for the second best mark this season.  Also, Joe Barry dialed up double-digit blitzes (11) and blitzed on over 30 percent of the dropbacks for the third time in the last four weeks.  It looks to be paying off too, as the QB rating of opposing signal callers has been worse when the Redskins blitzed, as opposed to when they didn't, for the third consecutive week.  That is something that only happened three times in the first ten games of the season. 
  • Quinton Dunbar allowed a team-worst 87 receiving yards.  Will Blackmon and DeAngelo Hall allowed receiving touchdowns to be scored by Alshon Jefferey and Zach Miller respectively.  Blackmon also allowed five receptions, which was the most by a Redskins defender in this game.  DeAngelo Hall and Kyshoen Jarrett both missed two tackles.
  • Bashaud Breeland, on the other hand, had yet another excellent outing.  He had five tackles, a crucial pass deflection in the end zone and only allowed one reception for four yards on four targets.  Each of those targets was directed at Alshon Jeffery.  His PFF grade for this game of 4.3 was the best on the team and the second best among all defensive backs in Week 14.  Breeland's cumulative PFF grade on the season of 13.8 is the site's sixth highest rating at the position this year. 
  • Recently I've been thinking about all of the injuries on this team and how the season might've been different had they not occurred.  There aren't many great ways to quantify this in terms of finding data that is readily available at this time of the season, but I was able to scrape a few things together.  In late October ESPN published this piece which had the Redskins with 76 starter games lost due to injury, the second highest number in the league.  That was a while ago, but I doubt the team's standing has improved much when you consider the recent injuries to Chris Culliver and Perry Riley.  Man Games Lost is another good injury site; and as of last week they counted 145 man games lost due to injury for Washington, which was the fourth most in the NFL. 

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Darrel Young and Houston Bates led the Redskins in special teams snaps (18 snaps).  Young has now led the team in specials snaps for three consecutive weeks and seven times this season.  He has had the most or second most teams snaps in every game since Week 2 and leads Washington in ST plays by 25 snaps.  Bates has played on the 11th most special teams plays for the Redskins despite not being on the roster from weeks 2 through 7.  Young and Bates were closely followed by Ryan Grant and Trent Murphy (17 snaps), two players who have seen their roles on offense and defense steadily diminish throughout the season.
  • The NFL credited Carlos Fields, Dustin Hopkins and Nick Sundberg with one special teams solo tackle each.  PFF, on the other hand, did not award tackles to the specialists and instead had Mason Foster with a tackle and Deshazor Everett with a missed tackle.
  • Washington was flagged on special teams twice for the third game in a row (one penalty was declined against the Giants in Week 12).  Derek Carrier's illegal block penalty cost the Redskins six yards and Darrel Young's holding infraction set the team back 8 yards on a return.  However, even with that being the case, the Redskins still rank in the top 13 in enforced special teams penalties (14) and penalty yards (122).
  • Not much changed in the return department.  The Bears had 54 total return yards on the three combined punt and kick returns that they had.  Rashad Ross hovered right under his average of 25.6 yards per kickoff return with two returns of exactly 22 yards.  Jamison Crowder did the same with two returns for seven yards, which is below his extremely poor average of 5.7 yards per punt return.  Crowder did have a 27-yarder, but it was called back because of the aforementioned penalty by Carrier.  Crowder's longest return this year is 14 yards.  Perhaps the biggest change in the return game this week was that DeSean Jackson did not receive a special teams snap for the first time in three weeks.  I wonder why?
  • Tress Way 64-yard punt in the game was the third longest of his career.  Unfortunately, not everything went Tress' way in Chicago (I know, I'm sorry).  His 43-yard average and 34-yard net average were both the sixth lowest marks of his career.  Three of his four punts were not returned.  One was fair caught, one went out of bounds and the other one was a touchback.
  • Dustin Hopkins rebounded nicely from his worst game this season (MNF vs. Dallas) by nailing a game winning 47-yard field goal in the rain against the Bears.  He stayed perfect on extra points by connecting on all three of his tries and booted three touchbacks on five kickoffs (60%).  Hopkins' 39 touchbacks this season are the most on record by a Redskins kicker (data dating back to 1991).  The next highest totals were 34 by Chip Lohmiller in 1991 and 32 by Graham Gano in 2011.  No other Redskin has kicked more than 21 touchbacks in a season since at least 1991. 
  • Hopkins is one of only four placekickers in the NFL with a touchback rate of 65 percent or better, that has not missed an extra point and that has a field goal percentage of 87 percent or better.  The others are Brandon McManus, Dan Bailey and Stephen Gostkowski.  Not bad company.

Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:

2015 Redskins PFR SRS ESPN FPI numberFire nERD 538 ELO Rating Sagarin Rating Total PFF FO DVOA
Values -3.4 -3.5 -0.57 1430 17.42 -51.2 -5.6%
Rankings 21st 25th 13th 23rd 20th 26th 17th
  • The Redskins' average ranking according to these measures is 20.71, which is third worst in the division above only Dallas whose average ranking is 22.  The only site that has Washington as the class of the division is numberFire.  Five of the other six sites have the Redskins as either the worst or second worst team in the NFC East.

Season Projections & Playoff Odds:

Projections & Odds Team Rankings numberFire nERD 538 ELO Rating Prediction Machine NY Times Football Outsiders
Projected Record 7.1 - 8.9 7.5 - 8.5 7.1 - 8.9 7.4 - 8.6 N/A 7.4 - 8.6
Playoff Odds 21.8% 36.9% 25% 60.5% 31% 32%
  • Every one of these projections has the Redskins winning at least one more game; but that looks to be it, as numberFire's high projection of 7.5 wins only gets you to eight if you round up.  Even they have the Eagles with a slightly better chance to make the playoffs (37.3%).  Washington's average playoff percentage/odds from these sites is 34.5 percent, which is the second best behind the Eagles' 38.1 percent.  If we take out Prediction Machine's extremely optimistic 60 percent odds, then the Redskins also fall behind the Giants (29.3% to 29.5%).

**All statistics are courtesy of 538, ESPN, Football Outsiders, The New York Times, NFL.com, NFL Game Books, NFL Penalty Tracker,  numberFire, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Prediction Machine, Sporting Charts, Team Rankings and USA Today**