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Snap Judgments: Bills @ Redskins

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A look at the snap counts and stats for each player on the Redskins in the team's Week 15 regular season home finale against the Buffalo Bills

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins won their seventh game of the year when they beat the Buffalo Bills by a score of 35 to 25 this past Sunday.  Their seven wins this year matches their win total from the previous two years combined.  That is no small achievement either, as this is something that has only happened two other times in the 84-year history of the franchise (1962 and 1996), and in one of those years the team only won five games (1962).  This was accomplished largely on the strength of the Redskins six wins at home this season and the play of Kirk Cousins in those games.

So far, six of the team's seven wins (86%) this year have come at FedEx Field.  Those six wins represent the second highest number of victories at home ever by a Redskins team.  Only six Washington teams (7%) have ever won more home games and only 13 (15%) of them have ever had a higher winning percentage than the .750 the team had this year.

This series of home games also produced the 12th highest yards per play average (6.03), eighth most points (206), fifth most passing touchdowns (16), fourth most passing yards 2078, fourth most first downs (170),  third most total yardage (3,108), third fewest number of turnovers (7), fewest pass intercepted (2), most completions (192),  highest completion percentage (74.7%) and highest time of possession (4:36:53) by a Redskins team at home ever.

You probably noticed that several of those records were passing statistics.  That is because Kirk Cousins played a very large role in the success that this team had at home in 2015.  I'm not just going to talk about where Cousins' 2015 season at home stands in franchise history though, I'm going to talk about where it ranks in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts since 1960).  And I say that because he has pretty much broke or is going to break all of the home and total regulars season Redskins' passing records anyways.

Only 42 quarterbacks since 1960 have thrown less than the two interceptions that Cousins threw at home this year, and none of those that did had more attempts than Cousins did this season; some were not even close.  In fact, Cousins had a better interception percentage (0.77%) than 18 of those 42 players.  Per Elias and ESPN 980, Cousins threw 232 consecutive passes at home without an interception, which was the longest streak in franchise history.

Cousins also had the 17th highest passer rating (117) at home by any QB since 1960.  He had the 10th best interception percentage among the top 100 of that group.  Finally, Kirk Cousins had a higher completion percentage at home this season (74.7%) than any other quarterback has had, not just since 1960, but in the entire history of the NFL.

It truly has been a special season overall, especially at home; and that is in large part thanks to the excellent play of Kirk Cousins.  And if the Redskins brass has their way, Cousins will be playing many more home games at FedEx field.

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Kirk Cousins, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams led the offense with 57 snaps, which was the second lowest snap total by the offense as a whole this season.  Brian De La Puente played on a season-high four snaps, Ty Nsekhe saw his second highest snap total of the year (28 snaps) and Alfred Morris played on his second most plays since Week 5 (30 snaps).  Jordan Reed was in on 84.3 percent or more of the snaps for his fourth consecutive game.  Prior to this streak, he had never played on more than 84.2 percent of them in his career and had an average snap percentage of 58 percent per game.   Morgan Moses, Rashad Ross Pierre Thomas either tied or set their season lows in snaps.
  • You've probably heard about the handful of franchise records that Kirk Cousins has already set this season, but this is a stats article so I feel obliged to list them here again for you.  I can only come up with so many new stats after all.  Cousins passed Jason Campbell's record of 327 completions (2009) in a single season with 336 of his own so far.  He threw for 300-yards for the sixth time this year, breaking the previous record of five held by Sonny Jurgensen (1967), Jay Schroeder (1986) and Mark Rypien (1989).  Cousins is also the only other Redskin besides Jurgensen to pass for a touchdown in 14 consecutive games in a single season (1967).
  • Cousins' increase in productivity over his last eight games when compared to his first six games of the season is truly remarkable.  In his first six starts of the year, he threw a touchdown on 2.6% of his passes and an interception on 3.5% of his throws, had a yards per attempt average of 6.2 and a QB rating of 77.4 and rushed for one touchdown.  In his last eight starts, he's thrown a TD on 6.3% of his throws and an interception on 1.2% of his passes, has a yards per attempt average of 8.7 and a QB rating of 115 and has rushed for four touchdowns.  Cousins ranks third in passer rating and yards per attempt and first in completion percentage (he does on the entire season too) in the NFL since his hot streak started in the team's epic Week 7 comeback against the Buccaneers.
  • Alfred Morris led all Redskins running backs in snaps against the Bills, something he has not done in back-to-back games all year.  He had one of his best days on the ground this season.  His 84 rushing yards and his yards per carry average of six yards were his third and second best totals of the year.  However, over 50 percent of his production came on his career-long run of 48 yards.  Matt Jones pitched in with just 28 yards on 10 carries (2.8 yard average).  Jones has the third worst PFF rating (-7.8), the second worst yards per carry average (3.4) and the worst defensive-adjusted yards above replacement total (-95) and DVOA (-23.9%) among all qualifying running backs in the NFL this year.  The Redskins must add another running back in free agency or the draft this offseason, because their current stable of backs is simply not getting it done this year.  Injury prone players like DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed can't be counted on to carry this offense forever.
  • Speaking of Jordan Reed carrying the offense, we've already established that he's in the midst of the greatest receiving season by a tight end in franchise history, however I think there is still more to unpack on this subject.    Last week we looked at things from more of a per game basis, so this time around I thought we'd dive even deeper by examining his production on a per route run rate.  Reed ranks third in yards per route run average (2.32), first in reception percentage on routes run (22%), first in first down percentage on routes run (13.1%), second in touchdowns percentage on routes run (2.7%) and third in defensive-adjusted yards above replacement per route run (0.49).  So he is top three in every one of these categories and first in two of them, and he isn't one of the four best tight ends in the league according to Pro Bowl voting.  Okay, that makes sense.
  • Trent Williams allowed the teams only sack and was the only player on the team to allow more than a single pressure (3) against the Bills.  Alex Smith, Matt Jones and Spencer Long each allowed one hurry.  Williams' -3.7 PFF rating was the worst among all offensive players on the team, the eighth worst among all tackles in Week 15 and his worst grade since the 2012 season.  He hasn't been great the last couple of weeks, but overall he has been this season.  The sack allowed to Jerry Hughes in this game was his first allowed all year.  He was the last starting tackle in the league to allow a sack and ranks fourth in pressures allowed and fifth in pass blocking efficiency among tackles (97). 
  • Williams earned his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl nod on Tuesday night for his efforts.  Per PFR, only 23 other offensive tackles have been selected to four pro bowls at or before their age 27 seasons (what Williams is in now).  When it's all said and done, twelve of those other 23 (52%) players will likely be in the Hall of Fame (10 are already in).  Only 19 Redskins players have ever been selected to four or more Pro Bowls, and only eight of them have been named to five or more all star squads.  Trent Williams is entering some rarefied air and deservedly so.
  • DeSean Jackson scored on yet another long touchdown in this one.  Jackson now ranks 12th (28), 8th (24) and 2nd (20) in 40, 50 and 60 yard touchdowns respectively all time.  Last week I talked about how sacks have gone up since he returned, but I'll happily accept that in exchange for the added firepower that he brings to the offense.  In Weeks 1-8 when Jackson only played 12 snaps, the Redskins passing game had a TD percentage of 3.3 percent, a yards per attempt average of 6.3 and a QB rating of 84.  In Weeks 9-15 with Jackson in the lineup, the TD percentage almost doubled to 6.1 percent, the yards per attempt average jumped by almost two yards up to 8.25 and the QB Rating rose by nearly 30 points to 110.  This figures, since according to ESPN's John Keim, Kirk Cousins has a QB rating of 130 and a QBR of 94.8 when throwing to Jackson this season.  In the last four games, Cousins has been nearly perfect when targeting Jackson, with a QB rating of 154 and a QBR of 98.5. 
  • All three of Pierre Garcon's completions against the Bills resulted in either a touchdown or a first down.  Garcon records one reception for every 7.3 routes he runs, which is the 11th best rate among wide receivers who have garnered 50 percent or more of their team's targets.  He converts 8.4 percent of those receptions into first downs.  Per Gil Brandt, Garcon is the owner of one of the very best drop rates in the NFL.  Jamison Crowder ranks sixth in receiving yards (482), third in receptions (52) and second in receiving first downs among all NFL rookies.  The Redskins have only dropped three combined passes in their last six games.  This, after dropping seven passes in Week 9 and dropping 12 balls in their last four games before the bye.
  • The NFL Next Gen Stats app featured 13 plays from Sunday's game.  In those plays, the fastest clocked speeds by Redskins were: 19.89 mph by DeSean Jackson, 17.28 by Pierre Garcon, 16.10 by DeSean Jackson, 16.04 by Pierre Garcon and 16.02 by Ryan Grant.  Jackson's top speed of 19.89 was reached on his 77-yard touchdown reception.  It was the tenth fastest time recorded by a ball carrier in Week 15 prior to Monday Night Football.  Also, don't feel too bad about Sammy Watkins' 48-yard touchdown and Mike Gillislee's 60-yard score.  Watkins and Gillislee recorded the fastest and second fastest speeds of the week on those plays (22.13 mph and 21.40 mph). 

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Bashaud Breeland was the only Redskins to play on all 76 defensive snaps.  He was followed by Dashon Goldson and Will Blackmon with 66 and 64 snaps respectively.  Frank Kearse (20 snaps) and Houston Bates (5 snaps) tied or set new 2015 highs in snaps, while Quinton Dunbar and Mason Foster saw their second highest totals of the year.  Jason Hatcher's 21 snaps represented his second lowest snap count on the season.  After averaging 40 snaps and 62 percent of the plays in his first 11 games  and playing on no fewer than 27 snaps and 45 percent of the snaps in those contests, Jason Hatcher has average 18 snaps and 29 percent while not exceeding 21 snaps and a percentage of 36.2 in his last three games.
  • Jason Hatcher and the rest of the D-line stepped up in a big way against the Bills.  Hatcher contributed a sack and two hurries to the group that totaled 12 total QB pressures in the game.  Rick Jean Francois picked up his first sack in over a calendar year, Chris Baker tallied four or more total pressures for the first time in four games, Frank Kearse added his first QB pressures (2 hurries) since Week 14 of last season and Terrance Knighton chipped in with two pressures as well (2 hurries).
  • Ryan Kerrigan led the team with five total QB pressures, including a sack of his own.  After averaging 0.4 sacks and 2.2 pressures per game in the first nine outings of the year, Kerrigan has averaged one sack (5 total) and 5.4 pressures (27 total) per game over his last five contests.  Those five sacks and 27 pressures tie Kerrigan for the fourth most sacks and the fifth most QB pressures by any player in that span.  He also forced yet another fumble in the game for good measure.  Kerrigan's 17 career forced fumbles rank second in the NFL since 2011, when he was drafted (only one by the leader Charles Tillman with 18).  He is also now tied for the all time franchise record in forced fumbles with Charles Mann per PFR.  If voting ended at the end of the season, then Ryan Kerrigan may very well may have earned his second Pro Bowl bid.  He was, however, named an alternate.
  • Trent Murphy and Preston Smith essentially split snaps again (37 and 35 snaps).  This time it was Smith who recorded a sack though to go with his two hurries, three stops and four total tackles.  Murphy added just one tackle and two hurries. 
  • Really the entire team has turned things around in the sack department in recent weeks.  In the first nine weeks of the season, Washington's 13 sacks and 4.7 sack percentage ranked 27th and 26th in the league.  Since then, the team ranks seventh in both sacks (16) and sack percentage (7.41%).  The defense sacked Tyrod Taylor a season-high tying five times on Sunday.  The pressure percentage of 41 percent was their second best in the past eight weeks and their sack percentage of 15.6 percent was the best of the entire season.
  • Both Mason Foster and Will Compton did not have great games on Sunday.  They finished second and third on the team in tackles (6 and 5 respectively), but they also had the fourth worst and the worst PFF grades on the team (-2.6 and -5.5).  Will Compton, in particular, had a rough day.  He led the team in missed tackles (3), receiving yards allowed (92) and receptions allowed (4).  He also had both the lowest run defense (-2.5) and pass coverage (-2.9) grades among all Redskins defenders.  His overall grade of -5.1 was easily the worst of his career (-3.5 was his previous low) and it was the third worst rating among all inside backers in Week 15.
  • Defensive backs Quinton Dunbar and DeAngelo Hall each recorded a pass deflection.  Hall led the team with eight solo and nine total tackles and only missed one.  Bashaud Breeland finished second on the team with four solo tackles and tied for third with five total tackles, which included one for a loss and two stops.  Breeland ranks second in the NFL in stop percentage (4.6%) and 13th in tackling efficiency (12.%) among all corners that have played on at least 60 percent of their team's snaps.  Breeland and Dunbar did, however, allow Sammy Watkins to score a touchdown in their coverage.  DeAngelo Hall was the closest safety on both plays.  Will Blackmon and Dashon Goldson only allowed eight combined yards on four targets between them.
  • Washington allowed eleven more big plays (rushes of 10 or more yards and passes of 25 or more yards) in this game.  The Redskins 85 big plays allowed on the season ranks 29th in the league.  The main issue here is that the defense has seen the sixth fewest offensive plays against them this season.  The Redskins' defense is allowing a big play on 9.8 percent of their plays.  Only the New Orleans Saints are worse, with a big play allowed 10.7 percent of the time.
  • The Redskins nine missed tackles in this game was their most whiffs in the last four games and their second most in the last six.  This was part of the reason that the Bills were able to rush for 240 yards in the game, the most allowed by Washington's defense since Week 1 of the 2013 season (20th most since the merger).  This was especially disappointing after seeing the team hold opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground in three consecutive weeks prior to Sunday's game. 
  • It certainly hasn't been all bad for the defense though.  They have owned the first half of most games this season.  Washington ranks in the top 12 in first half first down percentage allowed (28% and 12th) scoring margin (plus 41 and 9th), first half points allowed (131 and 7th), and takeaway percentage (4% and 3rd).  The Redskins shut the Bills out in the first half on Sunday.  This was the team's fourth first-half shutout of the year.  Only five Redskins teams since 1940 have shutout their opponents in the first half more than the 2015 team has.

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Houston Bates led the Redskins in special teams snaps all by himself for the first time this season.  He tied for the team lead in specials snaps with Darrel Young last week.  Bates has been in the top four on the Redskins in special teams snaps in each of the last five games.  Darrel Young, who is building a healthy lead in teams snaps on the season with 261 of them, played on the second most snaps in this game.  Those two were followed by Carlos Fields, Trent Murphy and leading specials tackler Desazor Everett.  Everett leads the team in special teams solo (5), assisted (2) and missed tackles (5).
  • The NFL had Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Ryan Grant and Carlos Fields with one solo teams tackle each and Grant, Deshaun Philips and Deshazor Everett with one assisted tackles each.  Of course PFF saw things a bit differently.  They only awarded Philips (2) and Robinson with solo tackles and charted another missed tackle for Everett.  The Redskins did not commit a special teams penalty for the first time in four weeks.
  • Rashad Ross' 50 yards on kickoffs represented his fifth highest kick return yardage total of the season, but he had a subpar outing overall against the Bills.  His return average of 16.7 yards was his second worst of the season and he only returned one kickoff past the twenty (23-yard line).  He was also not targeted as a receiver for the seventh time this season.  With Andre Roberts on IR and Chris Thompson on the mend, the Redskins need Ross to improve his consistency as a returner.
  • Ross is not the only one that did not perform up to expectations as a returner.  Jamison Crowder turned in another poor showing as a punt returner with a fair catch, a five-yard return and a muffed fumble that was recovered by the Bills.  I've been critical of Crowder in this area, but the fact that he has been so extremely poor and disappointing in this regard needs to be discussed more.  Crowder ranks 25th in punt return yards this year, but what's worse is that his average of 5.46 yards per return ranks him 31st among 32 players with at least 15 returns.  He has not exceeded 26 yards in a game, while over 30 other players have returned a single punt for 27 or more yards this season.  He was a standout punt and kick returner in college (5 TDs and averages of 13.4 per punt return and 21.1 per kick return), so I still believe that he will eventually figure it out; he's just taking his sweet time doing it though.
  • The Redskins did not punt until the third quarter of this game.  Tress Way's three punts in the game resulted in a fair catch, a touchback and a five-yard return that was nullified by a Buffalo penalty; because of that the Bills did not have any punt return yards. 
  • According to Pro Football Reference, this was the first Redskins win since 2005 in which the team did not attempt a field goal (it happened three times in 2005).  That, Redskins fans, is a very good thing.  Dustin Hopkins did put some work in against the Bills though.  Three of his six kicks went for touchbacks and he remained perfect on extra points (5-5).  The only other players that have kicked 30 or more extra points this season without a miss are Mason Crosby and Stephen Gostkowski.  It's really just not that easy of a thing to do anymore.

Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:

2015 Redskins PFR SRS ESPN FPI numberFire nERD 538 ELO Rating Sagarin Rating Total PFF FO DVOA
Values -2.8 -3.1 0.21 1456 18.12 -62.8 -2.5%
Rankings 19th 24th 13th 19th 17th 26th 15th
  • Somehow the Redskins only jumped up by an average of 1.7 spots according to these analytical measures this week.  Their average ranking of 19th across these sites is the third best in the division, just behind the Giants and Eagles.  I have a strong feeling that this will change next week.

Season Projections & Playoff Odds:

Projections & Odds Team Rankings numberFire nERD 538 ELO Rating NY Times Football Outsiders
Projected Record 7.7 - 8.3 8.1 - 7.9 7.8 - 8.2 N/A 8 - 8
Playoff Odds 47% 68.6% 50% 56% 62.8%
  • Last week the best playoff odds given by any of these sites was just under 37% (numberFire); while this week the lowest odds given by any of them is 47% (team rankings).  The average increase in playoff odds across the five sites is 28%.  Quite a difference a week can make, huh?  I'm hoping this will be the last time that I have to write this section in 2015; because if things go Washington's way on Saturday, then there is a 100% chance that there will be a home playoff game in January and that this season was a complete and utter success.   

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