The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thursday's road test against Eli Manning and the Giants served as a brutal reminder of just how bad the Redskins have been and just how awful they are capable of looking on a given day - or night, in many cases. Let the following facts be a bucket of cold water that you can throw on yourselves every time that you get too carried away about this team's chances of becoming an instant contender.
- The Redskins have committed 145 penalties for 1,329 yards since the start of the 2014 season. Only the Bills have committed more penalties and nobody has accrued more penalty yards.
- Washington has lost 12 of their last 15 games against the Giants, including losses in each of the last five matchups between the two teams. The Redskins also have only won three road games against the Giants in the last 12 years. No NFL team has more wins over another team than the 97 that the Giants do over the Redskins.
- The Redskins have a 4-18 record (.182 winning percentage) in primetime games since 2008. Half of those wins came in December of 2012. The winning percentage of .182 is the second worst percentage in that span behind only the .125 percentage (1-7) of the St. Louis Rams. Washington has been outscored by an NFL-worst 228 points in those games (10.4 points per game).
- The Giants aren't the only NFC East team that the Redskins have struggled against in recent years. Since the start of 2013, Washington is tied with Tampa Bay for the worst record against division opponents in the NFL (2-11 record, .154 winning percentage and -128 point differential).
- The 8-27 record (.229) held by the Washington Redskins since 2013 is the second worst record in the NFL in that time frame, just a half-game better than the 7-27 record of the Buccaneers (.206).
Despite all of that, I still believe that Scot McCloughan has this franchise headed in the right direction. The team is slowly but surely improving before our eyes as they begin to establish an identity for the first time in several years and in one of the only times in the Dan Snyder era. However, we have to remember that this is a process; and just because the division is there for the taking, does not necessarily mean that this team is going to take it.
We are in the same place we were almost three weeks ago when the season began. If you got carried away because of the first two weeks, then you would be wise to re-calibrate your expectations back to preseason levels. Little has changed since then. The sky is still not falling, but this is also not a very good team. It is just a rebuilding one. Sadly, it is a rebuilding team without a competent quarterback on the roster.
Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:
- With two interceptions against the Giants, Kirk Cousins has now turned the ball over multiple times in nine of his 17 career games (53%) and in seven of his 12 career starts (58%). Cousins has the sixth worst interception percentage index through the first four years of a career of any player in NFL history with at least 500 passing attempts. Heath Shuler and Ryan Leaf are the first and second worst on that list.
- Ten of Cousins' 27 career turnovers (37%) have come in his three games against the Giants. In those games he has posted QBRs of 5.5, 11.3 and 39.7 out of 100.
- Alfred Morris' number of total snaps, carries, snap percentage and yards per carry average have declined in each game this season. His 12 snaps, 16 percent snap percentage and six carries against the giants were all career lows. His 19 yards rushing and from scrimmage are the second lowest totals of his career. This game also marks the first time in Morris' career that he was out-snapped by two running backs on his own team (Matt Jones and Chris Thompson). Jones and Thompson have a combined 134 snaps so far this season, 40 more than Morris' 94.
- Going into this game Trent Williams was only one of two starting left tackles to not allow a single quarterback pressure all season. Morgan Moses was one of three starting right tackles to have allowed one or fewer QB pressures this year. Williams and Moses had allowed the lowest number of total pressures by a pair of tackles in the NFL. Unfortunately, that stat went out the window against New York, as Williams allowed three hurries and Moses allowed one on the right side. However, they both still find themselves in the top ten in pass blocking efficiency. Only the Redskins and Falcons have both of their starting tackles ranked in the top ten in this category.
- Things don't look so rosy for center Kory Lichtensteiger. He allowed four pressures for the third game in a row, bringing his total on the season to 12. Only Ravens' backup left tackle James Hurst has allowed more total pressures than Lichtensteiger this season, with 16 of his own. Lichtensteiger is currently the owner of the lowest PFF grade in the entire NFL, with a rating of -18.3. Hurst is the only other player with a grade lower than -15. Although, to be fair, we need to remember that Licht has played one more game than most players in the league. At 30-years old and 296 pounds, Lichtensteiger is one of the five oldest and five lightest starting centers in all of football.
- Josh LeRibeus has played on more than 35 percent of the Redskins snaps four times in his career. Washington has lost all four times. The average point differential in those games is just under 14 points. Could this be a coincidence? Sure. Is it one though? I'll let you guys answer that.
- Jordan Reed just won't quit. He has now caught at least six passes and totaled at least 63 receiving yards in four consecutive games dating back to the 2014 finale against the Cowboys. Only Reed and three other players (Brown, Sanders and Edelman) have an active streak of four games or more with those numbers. Since 1960, the only other Redskin to have a streak like this was Art Monk. Reed currently leads all tight ends in receptions (19), receiving yards (314) and YAC (118). He is tied with Julio Jones for the NFL lead in first downs (14). One thing that Reed could do a better job of is drawing pass interference penalties. He had two opportunities to draw a DPI call against the Giants and failed to do so on each of them. According to Football Outsiders, Jordan Reed has never drawn a defensive pass interference penalty in his three-year career.
- Oh, Andre Roberts; you'll never change, will you? Roberts has already dropped two passes this season after failing to haul in seven catchable balls last year. At this rate Roberts will drop more than eight passes this year. If he keeps it up, then his lower snap counts will almost assure him of a bottom ten finish in drop rate for the third time in the last four years. Roberts currently ranks third worst in this department with a rate of 28.57 percent. His -4.8 PFF grade is the lowest among all wide receivers this season.
- If Andre Roberts continues to falter then who will emerge and eventually supplant him? Will it be Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder or Rashad Ross? Ross is clearly the fastest of the bunch (4.36 40-yard dash), but I don't want to get my hopes up for a guy that just caught his first NFL pass at the age of 25.6. That narrows it down to Ryan Grant and Jamison Crowder. In sixteen 2014 games, Grant caught seven passes for 68 yards on 111 routes and 28 targets. Jamison Crowder caught six balls for 45 yards on 39 routes and six targets on Thursday night alone. Crowder is also more than two years younger than Grant and was a more productive college receiver, despite playing against much tougher competition in the ACC. Crowder's playing time has increased each week; and against the Giants he was in on 18 more snaps (52 to 34) and ran 20 more routes than Ryan Grant did (39 to 19).
- The NFL Next Gen Stats app featured 12 plays from Thursday's game. In those plays, the fastest clocked speeds by Redskins players were: Ryan Grant at 20.76 mph, Ryan Grant at 20.64 mph, Jamison Crowder at 19.64 mph and Andre Roberts at 18.98 mph. Grant's top two times were the fastest by any player across all of the 12 featured plays. If only all of that speed on the field would translate into production, then perhaps it would be Grant that I favored instead of Crowder.
Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:
- Chris Baker continued to impress with another productive outing in this game. Baker recorded six tackles, including one tackle for a loss. Pro Football Focus counted each one of his tackles as a defensive "stop". A stop is basically any tackle that prevents the opposition from picking up the amount of yards required for a play to be considered a success. PFF defines success as "gaining 40% of required yardage on first down, 60% on second down, and the entire required yardage on third or fourth".
- Baker's six stops were the third most by a 3-4 defensive end in a game this season. He currently has the fifth highest grade (7.0) among all 3-4 ends and is the owner of the highest stop percentage (25.9%) among all players at his position that have played on at least 25% of their team's snaps.
- Jason Hatcher, on the other hand, easily had his worst game of the year. After notching at least four quarterback pressures and one tackle in each of his first two games, Hatcher was not able to record a single tackle and only pressured Eli Manning on one occasion. It was especially unexpected considering that he played on a season-high 47 snaps against the G-Men. Meanwhile, fellow starting DE Stephen Paea tallied two QB pressures and a stop for the second consecutive week.
- Preston Smith got a season-most 28 snaps of action in New York. His snap totals have increased by 40 percent or more in each of the last two weeks (12, 17 and 28 snaps). Both he and Trent Murphy recorded one pressure against the Giants; and this game marks the first time that Smith had more pass rushing snaps than Murphy (18 to 15). Murphy's total snap percentage has decreased in each game this year (79%, 67% and 65%). Perhaps Jackson Jeffcoat (1 regular season defensive snap) should get more pass rushing snaps, or more snaps of any kind for that matter, if either Murphy or Smith don't start producing at a higher level.
- The Washington defense as a whole generally had a difficult time getting any kind of pressure on Eli Manning in this game. The Redskins failed to record a sack and pressured the opposing quarterback less times and less frequently (25% of dropbacks) than they had all year, despite seeing a season-most 68 defensive snaps. Joe Barry chose not to remedy this by sending extra defenders in to rush Eli, as the team blitzed just three times and on 9.4 percent of New York's dropbacks, both season lows. Blitzing honestly may not have helped though, because of how quickly Manning was getting rid of the ball. He threw the ball in an average of 2.90 seconds per attempt. That is the sixth quickest average time to attempt passes in a game by a quarterback with at least 15 attempts this season.
- Keenan Robinson was all over the field on Thursday night, as he made a career-high 10 solo tackles against the Giants. That is tied for the 11th most solo tackles by a Redskins defender dating back to at least 1994. His 13 total tackles (solo plus assisted) and six defensive stops in the game are both tied for the second highest totals in his career. Will Compton also had a solid game. His eight solo and eleven total tackles are both the third most that he's had in his career. Neither player missed a tackle in the game. With an already thin linebacker corps and Perry Riley also sidelined for this game due to injury, Robinson and Compton knew they had to step up; and that is exactly what they did.
- Bashaud Breeland was the primary cover man on both the Odell Beckham and the Rueben Randle touchdown plays. Breeland gave up a career-worst eight receptions, 125 yards and two touchdowns on 31 coverage snaps and 10 targets. Eli Manning had a perfect 158.3 QB rating when targeting Breeland. His yards per coverage snap average, which is nearly the equivalent of yards per route run for defenders, of 2.06 in 2015 as him ranked 83rd out of 94 qualifying cornerbacks.
- When you cut the yards per coverage snap list down to defenders that have only been in on 50 percent or more of their team's snaps, you find a surprising name at the top: Chris Culliver. He has only allowed five receptions for 25 yards on 69 coverage snaps and seven targets. He's also allowed a league-best negative one yards of YAC. Anyone who tries to tell you that Chris Culliver isn't the best cornerback on the Washington Redskins' roster probably either doesn't know who Chris Culliver is or doesn't know a whole lot about NFL football.
- The Redskins defense has played well this season, but the one thing that they are not doing nearly enough is creating turnovers. The only Washington takeaway this season came on a Preston Smith forced fumble and fumble recovery in the season opener against Miami. This is a recurring problem that predates the 2015 season. The Redskins have only forced 20 takeaways since the start of last season or in the last 19 games (28th worst in the league). I went back and looked at every 19 game stretch since 1940, when the NFL started tracking turnovers, and found that this is one of the worst turnover droughts in franchise history.
- There are 1,049 nineteen-games stretches of Redskins games since 1940, and only 16 other of those have seen the team force 20 or fewer turnovers. All of the other 19-game lengths either took place in 2008 or between the end of the 2005 season and the start of 2006. In other words, we are witnessing one of the team's all-time low points when it comes to taking the ball away from the opposition.
Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:
- Jeron Johnson led the Redskins in special teams snaps for the third consecutive week. Johnson was credited with one tackle as well, and leads the team in special teams solo tackles (2) and assisted tackles (1) so far this season. Unfortunately, Johnson was also responsible for one of the Redskins' three special teams penalties. His 15-yard unnecessary roughness infraction set the Giants up with great field position to start a drive that would eventually end in a Josh Brown field goal, which gave the Giants a 15-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
- Johnson was not the only one committing costly special teams gaffes. Terrance Plummer joined in on the fun not once, not twice, but thrice. Plummer almost allowed a punt to be blocked on a play that was negated by offsetting penalties, he followed that up by actually allowing a blocked punt which resulted in a safety and then he proceeded to commit a holding penalty on a punt return which back the offense up inside of their own 10-yard line. Kirk Cousins threw an interception two plays later, and the Giants scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to go up 9-0.
- After committing a holding penalty for the second week in a row, Plummer now leads the Redskins in special teams penalties. Plummer's teams PFF grade of -3.5 against the Giants was the second lowest such grade handed out this season and he currently has the second lowest overall special teams grade for the 2015 season because of it.
- The Redskins are not strangers to having their punts blocked. In fact, they have now had a punt blocked at least once in each of the last four seasons. Washington has allowed five of their punts to be blocked since 2012, the most in the NFL. Four of those blocks directly resulted in a score and two those four blocks were made by Rashad Jennings (Raiders in 2013 and Giants in 2015). Only three other teams have allowed four blocked punts in that span and the average team allowed 1.9 blocks.
- Oh, and if you want to make this a Danny Smith thing then we can definitely do that too. Smith left the team after the 2012 season and since then the Redskins are tied for the most blocked punts allowed in the league with three (tied with Seattle). The average team has allowed 1.3 blocks in that span. Smith's Steelers have only allowed one blocked punt.
- Moving on from something that the Redskins do more than anybody to something that they do less than almost everybody, let's talk about returning kickoffs or punts for a touchdown. Until Thursday night, the Redskins were one of only three teams (Jaguars and Buccaneers) that had not returned a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown since the 2010 season. Rashad Ross' touchdown against the Giants changed that. Now Washington is only tied for 26th in the punt and kickoff return TD department since the start of 2011. Hooray!
- Ross' 101-yard kickoff return is tied for the second longest kick return in Redskins history, behind only Larry Jones' 102-yard return against the Eagles in 1972. He is only one of two players to return a kick for a score this season, along with Cardinals rookie David Johnson. Ross is ranked second in kick return yardage (185 yards) and kick return average (36.2 yards) among all qualified returners.
- Like Ross, new kicker Dustin Hopkins has also been a bright spot on this woeful unit. Hopkins connected on field goals from 37 and 44 yards out, after hitting on a 46-yarder last week. He also booted all three of his standard kickoffs for touchbacks. However, Hopkins touchback rate was hurt in this one because of two onside kick attempts. Had he not been asked to make those attempts, then his theoretical touchback rate of 87.5 percent would have him tied for the fifth best percentage in the league. Nevertheless, both onside attempts were excellent and recoverable kicks; but to no one's surprise, the Redskins were unable to recover either of them.
*All statistics are courtesy of ESPN, Football Outsiders, NFL.com, NFL Game Books, NFL Next Gen Stats, Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference*