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Snap Judgments: Rams @ Redskins

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A look at the snap counts for each player on the Redskins in the team's Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback David Amerson did not play on a single defensive snap against the Rams and was released yesterday.  I think that a lot of us were not surprised by the fact that the move was made, but more by the timing of the move itself.  Amerson was cheaply under contract for the 2015 and 2016 seasons; his cap number was just over $1 million in 2015 and just over $1.2 million in 2016.

His talent as an athlete also meant that there may be a great deal of untapped potential with Amerson.  Just check out his MockDraftable and SPARQ athletic comps below.  The SPARQ info was provided by Zach Whitman of Field Gulls and Three Sigma Athlete.

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There is a lot to be excited about when your list of top comps includes: Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, Aqib Talib, Chris Culliver, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Darius Slay, Antonio Cromartie and Jimmy Smith.  That's pretty much a who's who list of the top corners in the NFL.  Amerson's pSPARQ score of 136.2 also places him somewhere between the 96th and 99th percentile among all cornerbacks since 1999.

It seems crazy to think that the team would cut ties with such a cheap and talented asset like Amerson, but when you look at his production you realize that the move was completely justified.  As I explained here, David Amerson's 2014 season was one of the very worst- if not the worst - seasons by a cornerback since PFF started tracking statistics for the position in 2007.

I don't mean to be hyperbolic here, but there really aren't many other great statistics to measure cornerback performance by; so it would not be a stretch to say that Amerson's 2014 season was one of the worst years by a cornerback in recorded history.

The team and fans hoped that he would rebound in 2015, but his performance in the preseason and Week 1 indicated otherwise.  Amerson allowed a team-worst 99 receiving yards and a touchdown in the preseason.  He also gave up three receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 on just eight total snaps.  Teams were clearly picking on him, and he couldn't stop them even though he knew it was coming.

More often than not, or at least more often than many people care to believe, immense physical talent helps to lead NFL players to success on the field.  However, there are also many cases in which gifted athletes just can't put it all together and that talent is squandered.  Many of these individuals flame out of the league altogether or they become  career journeymen.  Unfortunately for the Washington Redskins, David Amerson appears to be one of those players.

I wish I could tell you the warning signs weren't there in college, but that was not the case.  Amerson was burned repeatedly for long touchdowns at NC State and he actually regressed in his senior year.

The talent was always there, but his production indicated that picking him in the second round would be an extremely risky proposition.  If only the Redskins had a competent talent evaluator at the helm in 2013, then perhaps this bust of a pick would have been avoided altogether.  Only two of the team's seven 2013 draft picks remain on the roster (Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson) and only one of those other five players is currently on an NFL roster (Bacarri Rambo).

Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Kirk Cousins and all five starting offensive linemen played on all 72 of the Redskins' offensive snaps.  You might think that a QB and all of his linemen playing for an entire game is a common occurrence, but this is only the fifth time that it has happened for the Redskins since the start of the 2014 season.
  • Matt Jones became just the 22nd player since 1960 to rush for more than 120 yards in at least one of the first two games of his career.  Here are some of the other players to do so: Matt Forte, Eddie George, Darren McFadden, Warrick Dunn, Otis Anderson, Earl Campbell and Marshall Faulk.  I didn't just list every good name in that group either.  Check out Jones' Week 2 highlights here.   
  • Jones outdid Alfred Morris in pretty much every way.  He had more rushes (19 to 18), touches (22 to 20), rushing yards (123 to 59), receptions (3 to 2) and reception yards (23 to 13) in the game.  If not for a clock-killing final drive that featured Morris on all three plays, Jones would have out-snapped him too. 
  • More importantly, Matt Jones had higher yards per reception (7.7 to 6.5), yards per route run (2.30 to 1.63), yards per carry (6.5 to 3.3) and rushing success rate (57.9% to 16.7%) marks.  To put it another way, 52 percent of Jones' run went for four or more yards, while 78% of Morris' carries went for two yards or less.
  • The early-season success of Jones, Morris and the offensive line has helped to propel the Redskins to a first place ranking in rushing yards (343), first in rushing attempts (74), fifth in yards per attempt (4.6) and second in time of possession (37.49).
  • Almost everyone on the offensive line had a great day on Sunday.  The one glaring exception was Kory Lichtensteiger.  Lichtensteiger's PFF grade of -8.5 was the lowest on the team and among all centers across the league in Week 2 by a fairly wide margin.  The next lowest grades were -6.1 and -5.0 respectively.
  • Kirk Cousins has now started and finished ten NFL games, and Sunday's win against the Rams marks just the second time that the Redskins have come out on top in one of those contests.  The last time this happened was on December 13, 2012 against the Browns.  In his other three career wins (5 total) he either came in to relieve an injured starter or was benched.  This was also the second time in eleven career starts and the fifth time in 16 career games that Cousins has not thrown an interception. 
  • Jordan Reed has played on 60 or more snaps and over 80 percent of the Redskins' offensive snaps in both games this year.  Prior to last week, he had only eclipsed those numbers one time a piece in his career.  Reed still leads the Redskins in targets (17) and is tied for second in the NFL among tight ends in this category, trailing only Rob Gronkowski with 21 targets.  He is also still leading all tight ends in targets per route run rate (34.7%) and target market share (29.3%).  Reed's 2.96 yards per route run average ranks second among all tight ends with at least 9 targets or 50 percent or more of their team's snaps, behind only Travis Kelce's average of 3.15 yards.
  • The NFL Next Gen Stats app featured seven Redskins' offensive plays this week.  In those plays, the three fastest clocked speeds by a Redskin were: Ryan Grant at 18.65 mph (on Grant 35-yard catch), Jordan Reed at 18.49 mph (on Grant 35-yard catch) and Alfred Morris at 17.94 mph (on Morris 35-yard run). 
  • Per Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, Matt Jones' top speed in the game was 21.70 mph, which was the second fastest speed recorded in Week 2.  Only Darrius Heyward-Bey, who topped out at 22.01 mph on his 35-yard touchdown play, was faster.  And only two ball carriers were faster in Week 1: David Johnson, (22.05 mph) and Travis Benjamin (21.74 mph).  A 231-pound man like Matt Jones running the second fastest time of the week and one of the fastest times in the entire season is utterly absurd and downright freakish.

Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Six Redskins defenders - including the entire starting secondary, Ryan Kerrigan and Keenan Robinson - played on all 52 defensive snaps.
  • Jason Hatcher was back at it again against the Rams.  For the second week in a row he led the team in total QB pressures and PFF pass rushing rating.  Hatcher has also finished in the top three among 3-4 defensive ends in each category in both weeks of the season.  He is currently ranked first in the NFL in pass rushing productivity among 3-4 defensive ends with 50 percent or more of their team's snaps.
  • Last week, Stephen Paea and Preston Smith saw a surprisingly low amount of play timing on defense.  Paea was only in on a career-low 14 snaps (25%) and the rookie Preston Smith only played on 12 snaps (21%) in his debut.  Both players saw more time this week, as Paea played on 20 snaps (38%) and Smith made it on the field for 17 snaps (33%). 
  • Paea looked good recording three stops, two tackles, two hurries and a sack.  Smith, on the other hand, did not do much at all, after tallying a sack, two forced fumbles (1 on special teams) and a fumble recovery in Week 1.
  • Why this team cuts players like Frank Kearse and Amerson while keeping someone like Kedric Golston on the roster is beyond me.  Golston failed to record a quarterback pressure of any kind for his 13th consecutive game and has yet to show up on the stat sheet at all this season.
  • Will Compton (17 snaps) filled in for an injured Perry Riley for a third of the game, after only playing on special teams last week.  Compton did not make the most of his time, as he only recorded one solo tackle, a missed tackle and earned the lowest defensive PFF grade on the team this week.
  • DeAngelo Hall allowed the only Rams touchdown and a team-worst 56 yards receiving.  Those receiving yards accounted for 37 percent of the Rams passing yards in the game.  Keenan Robinson was the only other Redskins defender to allow more than 15 receiving yards (23 yards allowed on five targets).
  • Kyshoen Jarrett only gave up one catch for six yards on two targets and 30 coverage snaps.  With Justin Rogers inactive and Bashaud Breeland in a boundary corner role, Jarrett showed his versatility by covering the slot receiver on 27 of his 30 snaps in coverage (90%). 

Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:

  • Jeron Johnson tied for the most special teams snaps by a Redskin for the second consecutive week.  It's a good thing that he was able to contribute here too, because he did not play on a single defensive snap in the game despite last week's season-ending injury to Duke Inhenacho.  Johnson is no stranger to special teams duties either, as he saw nearly 400 teams snaps (391) from 2012 to 2014 in Seattle. 
  • Johnson was tied for the team lead in special teams snaps with another player that has a lot of experience on this unit: Darrel Young.  Young notched the Redskins' only special teams tackle of the game.  However, PFF differs from the NFL game book, in that they also awarded an assisted tackle to Will Compton.
  • The recently departed David Amerson played on 19 snaps.  I wish I could tell you that he at least added value in this department during his time here, but I can't do that either.  Amerson has only recorded one special teams tackle on 252 career snaps.  Yes, you read that right.  Just one tackle on 252 career special teams snaps.
  • Tavon Austin did not return a single punt against the Redskins on Sunday.  Four of Washington's punts were downed, one was a touchback and the other was kicked out of bounds.  This was only the third time in Austin's three-year career in which he has not returned a single punt in a game.  Not letting the opposition return a punt against the Redskins' sieve-like coverage unit is definitely a strategy that I can get on board with.
  • New placekicker Dustin Hopkins connected on his first NFL field goal attempt against the Rams, a first quarter try from 46 yards out.  Five of Kai Forbath's nine career missed field goals were from 45 or more yards, including a 45-yard miss against the Dolphins last week.  However, Scot McCloughan didn't replace Forbath with Hopkins because he could kick longer field goals; he made the move because he knew that Hopkins would give them better field position on kickoffs.
  • In his first NFL regular season game, Hopkins booted four touchbacks against St. Louis on five kickoffs, good for an 80 percent touchback rate.  Kai Forbath has only kicked four touchbacks once in his career and he has never had a touchback rate of 80 percent or higher in a game.  In fact, Forbath has only averaged 1.17 touchbacks per game and a 27.3 percent touchback rate in his career. 

Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:

2015 Redskins SRS ESPN FPI nERD ELO Rating Total PFF DVOA
Values -14.9 -2.6 -2.74 1388 -22.0 6.1%
Rankings 26th 27th 25th 28th 23rd 13th
  • There are certainly several reasons to be optimistic about this Redskins' chances in the ever changing landscape and dumpster fire that is the NFC East; but perhaps we should make sure that our optimism is of the cautious variety after seeing that the team ranks in the mid-twenties across the board in these categories.

*All statistics are courtesy of 538, ESPN, Football Outsiders, Mockdraftable, NFL.com, NFL Game Books, NFL Next Gen Stats, numberFire, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Three Sigma Athlete and Zach Whitman*