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Snap Judgments: Redskins @ Raven

A look at the snap counts for each player on the Redskins for the team's preseason dress rehearsal game against the Baltimore Ravens

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins is your new starting quarterback.  It was a move that had to be made and one that most of us saw coming.  However, despite the fact that he very well may be the best option the team has at the position right now, you have to wonder if he will be an option that is viable long term.

Cousins did some nice things last year and the team averaged 392 yards of total offense in the games that he played in, a number that would have ranked sixth in the NFL over the course of a full season.  The issue was that he continued to stare down receivers and make ill-advised throws which led to interceptions.  Interceptions are a problem that has plagued Cousins throughout his NFL career.

Cousins has thrown at least one interception in eight of his nine starts.  His career interception percentage of 4.7 percent will be the second highest among the 32 projected starting NFL quarterbacks this season behind that of only Tyrod Taylor's, who has attempted just 35 passes in his career.  His 4.7 percent rate is almost a full two percentage points above the group average of 2.8 percent.

Cousins does not have enough career attempts to qualify for the career interception percentage list; but if he did, he would be the leader among active quarterbacks.  His interception rate of 4.7 percent is almost a full point higher than the career mark held by former Redskin Rex Grossman, who ranks first on this list with an interception percentage of 3.8 percent.  Grossman is closely followed by Mark Sanchez (3.7%) and Derek Anderson (3.6%).

Through the first three years of his career, Cousins' interception percentage has been 34 percent below the rate held by the average QB in their first three years in the league.  Here is a list of other quarterbacks who have been more than 25% below average in this department through their first three years (100 is average and lower is worse).  There are a couple of decent names on there like Billy Kilmer and Lynn Dickey; but for the most part, the list is populated by players that either never produced or that were major disappointments like Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler and Geno Smith (so far).  That's not the kind of company you want to keep.

If there is one saving grace for Cousins, it's that in terms of playing time and experience he's still a rookie.  Cousins has only played in 15 totals games, and that includes his relief appearance in the playoff game against Seattle.  That is less than a regular season's worth and less than half of the number of games played by both Griffin and McCoy.

Cousins has also only seen the field for 1,088 career snaps between the preseason, regular season and postseason combined.  In 2013 and 2014, the top 25 passers in terms of snaps were on the field for an average of more than 1,000 plays.  In each of those years there were nine QBs that had 1,088 snaps or more in the regular season alone.

Despite his early interception against the Ravens, there are actually several more reasons to be optimistic.  It appears that Cousins may actually have improved in this area during training camp and that he is determined to continue doing so.  He will also have a QB coach to learn from and lean on for the first time in nearly two years; and he should benefit from an improved roster around him.  Hopefully for Kirk Cousins and the Redskins, these changes will be just what he needs to help him kick his bad interception habit once and for all.  If not, then the Redskins' quarterback carousel will continue to turn.

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Kirk Cousins and the starting offensive line led the way with 43 snaps, which accounted for 54 percent of the team's 79 total snaps on offense.  That is the most snaps that a Redskins' first-team offense has played since preseason snap data became available in 2012.
  • The starters were outscored by the Ravens' first-team 13-7.  Of course, if you count the late second-half touchdown drive that Cousins led against the Ravens' second-string defense, then it is actually Washington's starters who come out on top by a mark of 14-13. 
  • If we exclude the aforementioned drive against Baltimore's backups, then the Redskins' starting unit was outscored 23-10 in the preseason as a whole.  They were also outscored in all three games, so in reality the team was probably closer to 0-3 than 3-0.
  • Willie Smith (88 snaps) and Chase Dixon (86 snaps) were the offensive players cut today that had seen the most playing time.  Dixon was one of three tight ends released today, with Devin Mahina and Ernst Brun being the other two.  The only four tight ends that remain on the roster are Jordan Reed, Derek Carrier, Je'Ron Hamm and D.J. Williams.  One more will almost certainly be cut.
  • Rashad Ross was at it again, hauling in two more touchdown receptions on the game.  Ross leads the NFL this preseason in receptions (15) and receiving touchdowns (3).  His 163 receiving yards ranks him fifth in the league.  Ross also leads the team with an impressive yards per route run figure of 3.54.
  • Speaking of receivers, has anyone seen Pierre Garcon?  Garcon has just one catch for four yards on seven targets in the preseason.  He is the owner of abysmal yards per target (0.57) and yards per route run (0.19) averages.
  • Matt Jones is taking a cue from Kirk Cousins by potentially challenging the other 2012 savior of the team, Alfred Morris.  Jones has bested Morris in yards per attempt (6.7 to 3.1), yards per attempt after contact (4.5 to 2.7) and success rate (55% to 44%). 
  • Matt Jones ranks in the top five among running backs in preseason rushing yards, first downs, missed tackles forced, yards after contact per attempt and PFF rating.
  • The QB swap is also not great news for Morris, whose averages plummet in games that Griffin does not start (when compared to games that he does start).  His rushing yards per game, rushing yards per attempt and rushing TDs per game drop by 29.4, 1.2 and 0.3 respectively.  Alfred Morris has rushed for 100 yards eleven times in his career when Griffin has started; he has yet to hit that mark when someone besides Griffin has been under center.
  • The starting unit put up a total of 217 yards against the Ravens and averaged over five yards per play and per snap.  That's quite the improvement over last week when they couldn't even muster an average of over 0.60 in either category.
  • The Redskins offense ranks in the top six in third-down percentage, penalties, penalty yards and sacks allowed.  Most of the rankings are the result of statistics that have been accumulated by backups that will soon be out of the league, but it is still good to see the team doing well in several areas that they struggled mightily in last year.  The offense also ranks in the top five in completion percentage, QB rating, rushing yards per game, total yards per game and points per game.

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Preston Smith led the defense with 37 snaps (64% of the 58 snaps).  He has started in all three games and has been in the top three on the team in terms of number of defensive snaps in each week of the preseason. 
  • If Smith keeps it up, Trent Murphy's days as a starter might be numbered.  Smith has out-snapped Murphy 98 to 77 and played against some lesser competition; but with that opportunity he has recorded more sacks (2 to 0), hurries (4 to 2), total pressures (7 to 3), defensive stops (8 to 0) and tackles (7 to 1) than Murphy has.
  • Smith's 98 total defensive snaps this season are the second most on the team behind only Martrell Spaight, who leads the team with 101.
  • Smith isn't the only outside linebacker on the team that has been making plays.  Jackson Jeffcoat is right there with him.  Jeffcoat is tied with Redskins LB Houston Bates and three others for the NFL lead in preseason sacks with three.  However, Jeffcoat has been more consistent than most of the others, as only he and Cowboys rookie Randy Gregory have recorded a sack in each of their teams' preseason games.  Jeffcoat also intercepted a pass and forced a fumble against the Ravens.  PFF has graded him as the highest rated player on Washington's defense.  It might not be that much of a stretch to say that Jackson Jeffocoat is a better pure pass rusher than Trent Murphy.
  • Redskins defenders missed seven tackles in Saturday's game.  The team is tied for fifth in the league this preseason with 8.7 missed tackles per game.  They have missed at least seven tackles in each of their three games.
  • With Bryan McCann being released today, Justin Rogers will now likely assume the mantle of being team's top slot corner - at least until Bashaud Breeland returns, that is.  Rogers took eight of his eleven coverage snaps from the slot in this game (73%). 
  • The first-team unit stifled Baltimore's rushing attack just as they had done to their previous two opponents.  Raven's starters only rushed for 37 yards on 16 carries (2.3 yards per attempt) and managed a success rate of just 18.8 percent.  Through three games the defense has only allowed 56 yards, 2.2 yards per attempt and a success rate of 23%.  The longest single run allowed by this group went for only eight yards.  The defense as a whole ranks first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (48.7 per game) and places in second in yards per attempt allowed (2.6 yards per attempt).
  • The defense also ranks first in yards per game allowed (213.7), fifth in yards per play allowed (4.1) and second in sacks (12).  However, Joe Barry's unit hasn't shined in all areas, as the team ranks 18th and 21st in QB rating and completion percentage allowed.

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • With 11 snaps each, Deshazor Everett and DreQuan Hoskey saw the most special teams action against the Ravens.  Hoskey was waived by the team today.
  • Everett, on the other hand, is still sticking around.  The reason for that is most likely due to the fact that he is tied for the team lead with three special teams tackles this preseason.  Two of those tackles came in this game, with one leading to a forced fumble and a turnover by Baltimore.
  • The other player leading the Redskins in "teams" tackles is cornerback Justin Rogers.  Rogers made a big play of his own on Saturday when he chased down Asa Jackson and made what would end up being a touchdown-saving tackle at the goal line.
  • Scot McCloughan and the coaching staff have had a lot of nice things to say about WR Evan Spencer, but he hasn't done too much to back up their praise.  Spencer has totaled just two receptions for sixteen yards on four targets and 39 routes run. 
  • However, his main contribution was supposed to be made on special teams this year, so you would think that a lack of receiving production might not be a major problem for him.  Unfortunately, he hasn't produced there either.  Spencer has not recorded a single tackle over the course of his 26 special teams snaps this preseason.  He has, however, missed two tackles so far though.  Watch out for Rashad "the Rocket" Ross, Evan. 
  • Former Redskins special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander was released by the Cardinals today.  The Redskins would be wise to give him a call because he seems to still have "it" in the all-important third phase of the game.  He leads Arizona with three special teams tackles and has not missed a tackle either.  PFF has given him the best grade among non-kicker/punter special teams players on the Cardinals.
  • Kicker Ty Long was among the players let go today, and he never really had a chance despite being slightly better than Forbath when it came to touchback percentage and average return yardage.  Long only saw half of the number of snaps that Forbath did (9 to 18) and did not attempt a field goal (Forbath has gone 3 for 3 so far).

Category Ken Meringolo Kennedy Paynter Steve Shoup Bryan Stabbe Mark Tyler
NFC East Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles Eagles
NFC North Packers Packers Vikings Packers Packers
NFC South Falcons Falcons Saints Falcons Saints
NFC West Rams Rams Rams Rams Rams
NFC Wild Card Vikings Saints Packers Vikings Vikings
NFC Wild Card Redskins Redskins Falcons 49ers Redskins
NFC Champion Packers Rams Rams Packers Saints
AFC East Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots
AFC North Browns Steelers Steelers Ravens Steelers
AFC South Jaguars Jaguars Titans Colts Titans
AFC West Raiders Chargers Chargers Raiders Chargers
AFC Wild Card Jaguars Texans Texans Chargers Jaguars
AFC Wild Card Steelers Chiefs Jaguars Steelers Jaguars
AFC Champion Titans Steelers Steelers Patriots Chiefs
Super Bowl Jaguars Rams Rams Patriots Saints
1st Pick in 2018 Cowboys Cardinals Bills Jets Buccaneers
Comeback POY Adrian Peterson Deshaun Watson J.J. Watt Aaron Rodgers Dalvin Cook
Coach of Year Jon Gruden Kyle Shanahan Sean McVay Kyle Shanahan Mike Vrabel
Offensive ROY Baker Mayfield Saquon Barkley Saquon Barkley Calvin Ridley Saquon Barkley
Defensive ROY Daron Payne Roquan Smith Bradley Chubb Vita Vea Roquan Smith
Offensive POY Aaron Rodgers Drew Brees Todd Gurley Antonio Brown Antonio Brown
Defensive POY J.J. Watt Joey Bosa Von Miller Jalen Ramsey Myles Garrett
MVP Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Antonio Brown Aaron Rodgers Drew Brees
Redskins Off. POY Alex Smith Alex Smith Trent Williams Alex Smith Alex Smith
Redskins Def. POY Jonathan Allen Jonathan Allen Ryan Kerrigan Jonathan Allen Preston Smith
Redskins Record 9-7 10-6 8-8 6-10 9-7
Playoff Finish Divisional Wild Card None None Wild Card