What a difference a week makes.
The Washington Redskins came into Week 2 as an underdog after losing to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, and they cruised to a 24-10 win over the St. Louis Rams that showed just how much potential the young team has.
There wasn't a whole lot of bad to take away from this game, so take that half with a grain of salt. Keep in mind, just because a player is listed in the "bad" section doesn't mean he necessarily played poorly. It's more an acknowledgement of a few mistakes the player made, or perhaps opportunities the player had but didn't take advantage of.
1. Matt Jones
This is obvious, but I couldn't leave the rookie off after the game he had. Jones finished with 19 carries for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and in doing so, he managed to do something most NFL defenses haven't been able to do in the past three years: He slowed down Alfred Morris.
Morris carried the ball 18 times but managed just 59 yards, 35 of which came on a single carry in the first quarter. Watching the game, it felt like Jones carried it way more often than Morris did, but that could be due to the impact each back had on his runs. Each time the rookie carried the ball, you straightened up in your seat, expecting something big. This could be a sign of things to come for the Redskins, and if so, my condolences to any who drafted Alfred Morris on their fantasy team this year.
2. Shawn Lauvao
I actually had Lauvao on the other side of this list early on. I noticed two plays in the first quarter where he got beat by his man at the worst moment, one of which subjected Jones to a big hit on a short pass in the backfield. Lauvao quickly worked his way back into good graces, however, with some really impressive upfield blocking throughout the game. Jay Gruden and/or Sean McVay drew up a handful of runs that required Lauvao to pull out and work his way up the field as a lead blocker for the runner, and Lauvao succeeded admirably.
I haven't been a big fan of him since he came to Washington, but Lauvao had a very solid game against St. Louis.
3. The Front Seven
As much as I'd like to single out somebody here, I can't. Trent Murphy had a very nice game and got around the edge to put pressure on Nick Foles a few times. Perry Riley had one of the better games I've seen from him in a long time, and I was especially impressed by his tackling. Ricky Jean-Francois showed how valuable defensive line depth is by having an impact on a few plays. Terrance Knighton routinely occupied multiple blockers and still managed to shrink the pocket. His buddy Chris Baker got in a few licks on Foles. Keenan Robinson made a terrific play on an end-around to stop a potentially big play. Preston Smith wasn't as active as he had been in Week 1 or preseason, but he made his presence felt once or twice.
It was a very, very strong game by the front seven.
Honorable Mentions: Kirk Cousins, Trenton Robinson, Dustin Hopkins
1. Alfred Morris
I'm sorry, Alf. I love you. Really. It's not you, it's Matt Jones.
Morris didn't have a bad game, but Jones stole the show. Morris averaged 3.3 yards per carry, Jones averaged 6.5. If you get rid of each runner's longest run of the day, Morris had 17 carries for 24 yards while Jones had 18 carries for 84 yards. Jones also had three catches for 23 yards to Alf's two for 13 yards.
Unfortunately for Morris, Jones could end up playing him out of a starting job by the end of the season, and it's got little to do with how Morris plays. He had a strong Week 1, but he's in a contract year and the Redskins want to see if Jones can be the No. 1 back. If they can verify that he is, get the rookie some early experience and also lower Alf's value in the process to maybe bring him back next year on a cheap deal for a dynamic one-two punch, they've hit a home run (no pun intended, Alf).
2. Jamison Crowder
Much like Morris, Crowder gets this designation more for what he didn't do than what he did. He's going to continue to get opportunities in the return game, though he really needs to improve his judgment on when to call for a fair catch, but this would have been a great game for Crowder to make an impact in the passing game. There's not always much a receiver can do to get himself involved; if plays aren't drawn up for him, he's not going to have many chances to make a play.
But with DeSean Jackson sidelined, Week 2 was a stage for the younger receivers to step up. Ryan Grant took advantage of the opportunity and had a nice game. Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon also had quality outings (though Garcon's numbers don't reflect that), as they each did in Week 1. Crowder (one catch for seven yards), Andre Roberts (one catch for no yards) and Rashad Ross (zeros across the board) all had forgettable games, though that could've been as much a product of the gameplan as anything else.
David Amerson Kory Lichtensteiger
I had written up a section on David Amerson, but then the news came that he had been released, and it no longer felt appropriate. Don't kick a man when he's down, I guess.
Instead, I'll shift gears and talk briefly about Kory Lichtensteiger. I am less down on Licht than many Redskins fans, but I felt he was the worst Redskins offensive lineman on Sunday. It was a tough Rams defensive front, and every blocker made some mistakes, but I thought he was the only one of the group who didn't play especially well. Runs directly up the middle were often unsuccessful, and Cousins always seemed to be facing pressure from the middle.
For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus ranks Lichtensteiger dead last among 35 NFL centers this season in pass blocking efficiency, at 89.3 percent (next lowest is 91.8 percent), and he's the only center they credit with more than one sack allowed this year (two).