Snaps- The Redskins defense was on the field for a season-high 85 snaps.
DC Greg Manusky called on 18 of his 26 defenders to play in the game. The 8 who did not play included 4 players who worked solely on special teams (Otha Peters, Pete Robertson, Joshua Holsey and Fabian Moreau, 3 inactives (Terrell McClain, Zach Brown and Montae Nicholson) and one active player who didn’t make it onto the field at all (DeAngelo Hall).
Yards- Of the Cardinals’ 286 yards of offense, 202 of them came in the first half. Four of their seven second-half drives only lasted 3 plays.
Points- The Skins’ D did not allow a single touchdown in the game; all 15 of Arizona’s points came via field goals. This was the first time the Redskins did not allow a touchdown since Week 11 of the 2012 season (at Philadelphia).
Opening Drive Turnovers- Washington’s defense scored a takeaway on the opening drive of the game. This was the fifth time this season the Skins have forced a turnover on their opponent’s initial offensive drive, which represents a new team record (data dating back to 1999).
The Rams are the only team who has forced more opening drive giveaways this season (7). They are also the only team that has scored more on their first offensive drive of the game than the Redskins have.
This makes me imagine an alternative universe where Wade Philips actually ended up with the Redskins and Jay Gruden was fired for 2017 Coach of the Year Sean McVay. Sorry, not sorry.
Third Down- The Cardinals only moved the chains on 4 of their 19 third downs. Believe it or not but the 21% success rate allowed by the Redskins’ defense on the money down represented only their third best performance of the year (0-for-11 vs. Oakland and 2-for-14 vs. New York).
The defense’s 15th place ranking on third down this season (46.6%) is a major improvement over last season’s performance. In 2016, the Redskins ranked dead last in defensive third-down conversion rate (38.3%).
Red Zone- This was by far the defense’s best performance in the red zone this season. They did not allow the Cardinals to score a touchdown on any of their six trips to the red area.
Gabbert and company only gained a total of 3 yards on their 14 offensive plays inside of the Washington 20. They picked up a first down on as many of those plays as they turned it over on (1 each).
Tight End Defense- Arizona tight ends only hauled in 5 of their 13 targets (38%) for a total of 52 yards and 2 first downs. The Cards’ lone interception of the day came on a pass to Ricky Seals-Jones.
Passing Pressure- The defense recorded a season-high 6 sacks against the Cardinals, the team’s most since Week 6 of last year.
Things weren’t much better for Blaine Gabbert when he did throw the ball, he completed just 16 of his 41 passes (39% completion rate). The last time a quarterback attempted 30 or more passes and completed under 40% of them against the Redskins was in 2008 when Browns QB Derek Anderson completed 14 of 37 passes.
A big reason for Gabbert’s lack of success was the Redskins defenders combined to defend a whopping 13 passes in the game, which is also a new season high. The defense ended the game with PDs on each of the final four plays.
Rushing Defense- Cardinals’ runners picked up 141 yards and 8 first downs on 34 attempts (4.1 YPC) against the Redskins‘ defense.
That’s right, a Cardinals rushing attack headlined by Kerwynn Williams, Elijhaa Penny and Blaine Gabbert just put up 140 yards on the Redskins in a loss.
Washington has allowed their last nine opponents to rush for a combined total 1,287 yards and 67 first downs on 289 carries (4.45 YPC).
Anthony Lanier- This was the best game of Anthony Lanier’s career.
He started and led the team in defensive linemen snaps for the first time in his career. His 54 snaps in the game represented a new personal record, as well.
Lanier didn’t just play more, he dominated when he was out there. He led the game and posted new career bests in both sacks (2) and passes defended (3). He also forced a fumble for the first time as a pro. That fumble led to a Redskins touchdown two plays later, which was the fifth play from scrimmage in the game.
Lanier is only the second Redskin with 2.0 or more sacks in a game this season (Ryan Kerrigan has done it twice).
He is just the fourth player in team history with 2 or more sacks and multiple PDs in a game; the other three were: LaVar Arrington (2002), Cornelius Griffin (2004) and Brian Orakpo (2013). Lanier is the only one in that group who has defended 3 or more passes while also recording multiple sacks.
The second-year player out of Alabama A&M became the first Washington DL to register 3 PDs since Jason Taylor did it in 2008.
Every one of those pass defenses were crucial, too. The first one prevented what would have been an easy touchdown catch for D.J. Foster. His next PD came on third down and forced a Cardinals’ three-and-out. His last batted pass occurred on Arizona’s final offensive series; the Cardinals did not pick up any first downs after that play.
Lanier ranks 5th in the league in sacks since Week 11 (5 sacks). Only Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn and Terrell Suggs are ahead of him in that span.
Anthony Lanier is absolutely on fire! He was the Redskins’ best player in this game.
Matt Ioannidis- Ioannidis tied Lanier for the lead in snaps among the team’s defensive linemen. This was the seventh time this year he has led the DL corps in snaps.
Matty I was quiet in the tackle department, with just 2 takedowns (1 solo) on the day. His 6 pressures, however, were tied for the most on the team. One of those pressures was a QB hit which resulted in an incompletion.
Only Ryan Kerrigan has generated more pressures than Ioannidis has this season. Don’t forget that Ioannidis missed two games and played with a cast on his hand in three contests.
Ziggy Hood- Hood assisted on 4 tackles and hurried Gabbert on two dropbacks, one of which resulted in a sack-fumble.
I don’t know what happened, but Hood has really stepped up his game as of late. Maybe he was tired of hearing me talk trash about him, and that lit a fire under him. I doubt it, but I can dream.
In Weeks 1-11, he averaged 0.9 tackles per game and failed to generate pressure in 5 games. In his last four games, Hood has averaged 3.75 tackles per game and has pressured the quarterback at least once in all but one contest.
Stacy McGee- Lanier’s bump in playing time came at McGee’s expense. This was the first time McGee both did not start and played on under 36.5% of the snaps since Week 8 (Dallas).
The reduced PT didn’t stop the veteran lineman from recording 4 tackles (2 solo), a QB hit and a hurry. This was only McGee’s second multi-pressure game of the year, with the first coming two weeks ago against the Cowboys.
A.J. Francis- A.J. Francis played on a career-high 29 snaps and tied a career-high with 3 assisted tackles (3 total). Two of his tackles came within a yard of the line of scrimmage.
Francis was the only active Skins DL without a pressure in the game.
Terrell McClain- McClain sat out with a toe injury for the fourth consecutive week.
He has only played 280 snaps this year. The 2016 season was the only time McClain has ever played more than 350 snaps. That is not good. Just for reference, consider this: 85 interior defensive linemen have already exceeded that number this season.
Jonathan Allen- Jay Gruden said the team will not be activating Jonathan Allen from injured reserve. This year’s first-round pick is still tied for second among Redskins D-linemen in total pressures (16), despite the fact that he only played in 5 games and on 159 snaps this season.
Ryan Kerrigan- Kerrigan led the outside backer corps with 65 snaps.
The defense’s iron man deflected a third-down pass and recorded two solo tackles in the game.
You could argue that Kerrigan’s second tackle should have counted as a sack instead of a TFL. He touched Gabbert down after Gabbert fumbled off of his own lineman and fell to the ground to recover the ball. The play was officially credited as a “team sack.” The Hearbtreak Kid generated 4 QB pressures in the game.
Kerrigan was just named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight year and for the time third time in his career.
Preston Smith- Welcome to the annual Preston Smith blowup game. The third-year edge rusher had a career day and was all over the field against the Cardinals.
He recovered a fumble on the third play from scrimmage (2nd career FR), intercepted Blaine Gabbert inside of Washington’s red zone to end Arizona’s longest drive of the game (2nd career INT), earned a sack by pushing Gabbert out of bounds for a loss of 5 yards and led the team with a season-high 4 hits and 6 total pressures. One of those hits could have easily been ruled a sack and a forced fumble, but the refs thought otherwise.
Smith is the first Redskin to record a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception in the same game since Monte Coleman accomplished this same feat just over 25 years ago (1993) against the Falcons.
That’s not all Preston Smith did on Sunday. He made a solo tackle on a Cardinals run that went for no gain and recorded 30 total return yards. Samaje Perine, Jamison Crowder and Kapri Bibbs were the only Redskins who gained more than 30 yards from scrimmage.
Smith’s 84.6 PFF grade ranked second on the team. Only our next player earned a higher mark.
Junior Galette- Galette was on the field for 35 defensive snaps, which ties the season high that he set last week in L.A.
The veteran’s late season surge continued, as he batted down a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald and recorded his third sack of the year; unfortunately, the sack was his only pressure of the game.
Junior Galette had the highest PFF grade on the team for the second consecutive week (85.2).
Ryan Anderson- The second rounder suffered a knee sprain on the first play of the fourth quarter and played on just 12 snaps.
He recorded 3 solo tackles, but did not generate any pressure on Gabbert.
Anderson has recorded more tackles on his last 36 snaps (8 tackles) than he did in his first 159 snaps (7 tackles).
Pete Robertson- Robertson was added back to the roster last week, but did not make an appearance on defense.
Zach Vigil- It was another career day for Vigil. He didn’t miss a play on defense and his 85 snaps were easily a new career high.
He was tied for a game high on both solo (6) and total tackles (8) and recorded a hurry as a pass rusher.
He did just fine as a tackler (0 missed tackles), but he struggled in coverage. Vigil gave up 4 catches for 47 yards and 4 first downs on 7 targets. His only saving grace in this department was that he defended the first pass of his career on the Cardinals’ final series of the game.
In truth, he actually intercepted that pass, but the referees made a bad call and ruled it incomplete. The ruling likely would have been changed to an interception if the Redskins had challenged the play. It would have been the first interception of his career.
Martrell Spaight- Spaight started in his fourth game this season and played on the majority of the defensive snaps for the fifth time in 2017.
His 5 solo and 7 total tackles both ranked 3rd on the team this week. The Cardinals did not pick up a single first down on any of the plays Spaight made a tackle on and he was credited with 5 defensive stops. Six of his seven tackles came in the running game.
Spaight didn’t fare quite as well in coverage. He allowed both of the passes thrown in his coverage to be completed for 14 yards and a first down.
Josh Harvey-Clemons- Harvey-Clemons played a career-high 26 snaps on Sunday. He set a new career-high with 2 solo tackles (tied his high in total tackles). His coverage line was identical to Spaights: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards and 1 first down.
JHC should consider himself lucky that D.J. Foster didn’t turn around and catch a touchdown pass against him. The ball, instead, bounced off Foster’s helmet and fell to the ground.
Zach Brown- Brown missed his first game of the season; yet he somehow still leads the league in total tackles (tied with 2 other players at 127 total tackles).
Unfortunately, Brown did fall to second place in terms of tackle market share. The Ravens’ C.J. Mosley is the only player who has recorded a greater percentage of his team’s tackles than Brown has (15.63% to 15.51%).
Brown was just voted as an alternate for the Pro Bowl. If he ends up making it, this would be Brown’s second consecutive selection to the NFL’s version of the All-Star team.
Otha Peters- Otha Peters was signed to the active roster last week. He only played on special teams in this game.
Peters is an undersized (6’0” and 238 pounds), below average athlete (13.9 pSPARQ perenctile) who never did anything terribly impressive in college.
Josh Norman- Josh Norman, who turned 30 last week, returned to form on Sunday.
He played on 100% of the snaps for the ninth time this season and finished the game with 6 total tackles, 3 which came within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage. His biggest tackle came when he teamed with Kendall Fuller to stop D.J. Foster a yard shy of the line to gain on third down.
Norman was even better in coverage. He did not allow a single reception and registered a PD on an end-zone target, the only pass thrown his way. Norman’s only misstep in coverage was the 24-yard pass inference penalty that he committed on an Arizona scoring drive.
J-No desperately needed a bounce-back game after surrendering a career-worst 142 yards last week against the Chargers.
Norman was named a Pro Bowl alternate on Tuesday night. It will be the second Pro Bowl of his career if he makes it on the team.
Bashaud Breeland- Bashaud Breeland got the start and played on 91% of the snaps after being benched for Quinton Dunbar last week. Breeland might have played even more on Sunday had he not suffered an AC joint injury late in the game.
This was far from Breeland’s best game in coverage. He gave up a team-high 55 yards and 2 first downs through the air. Those receptions came on the Cardinals’ longest play of the day (46-yard reception to J.J. Nelson) and an Arizona third-down conversion. At least he was able to score a PD against Ricky Seals-Jones.
Breeland finished with 3 solo and 4 total tackles in the game.
Kendall Fuller- The fact that this was possibly Kendall Fuller’s worst 2017 game in coverage, statistically, is pretty amazing.
He squared off against future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald, and was targeted a season-high 8 times. Fuller allowed 4 receptions (tied with 5 other games for his most this season), 37 yards (tied with 1 game for the second most yards he’s allowed) and 1 first down. He was also called for a questionable 13-yard pass interference infraction against Fitzgerald (his most penalty yards of the season).
When your worst coverage line of the year is 8 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards, 1 first down and a 13-yard DPI and it comes against one of the best receivers of all time, there is a good chance that you are having a Pro Bowl type of season.
And those are just the more “negative” parts of Fuller’s performance. He defended two passes, one of which came on third down against Fitzgerald, and recorded a game-high 6 solo and 8 totals tackles. Three of his tackles came within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage.
The only cornerbacks that have allowed a lower passer rating (53.3) on targets thrown in their coverage are A.J. Bouye, Marshon Lattimore and Jimmy Smith. Fuller has the best season-long PFF grade (88.9) on the Redskins. Kendall Fuller deserved to go the Pro Bowl this season, but I suppose he just doesn’t have a big enough name yet.
Quinton Dunbar- Dunbar was out there with the defense for 18 snaps, 13 of which were passing plays. He was not targeted and did not record any stats in the game.
Fabian Moreau & Joshua Holsey- Moreaue and Holsey have played a combined 2 snaps in the team’s last nine games. The pair of rookie corners have played on a total of 64 defensive snaps this season.
I get that the coaches need to play the vets to give them the best chance to win games so they don’t lose the locker room and all, but come on. I’ll be disappointed if Moreaue and Holsey don’t at least get a handful of snaps over the course of the final two games.
D.J. Swearinger- Swearinger played on all 85 defensive snaps against Arizona. It was the 8th straight game that he’s played on 100% of the snaps and the 11th time he hasn’t missed a snap this season.
The former Cardinal played much better in coverage than he did last week against the Chargers. Swearinger was not targeted once in the game and made the game-sealing pass defense against former teammate Larry Fitzgerald.
He also recorded 4 tackles (3 solo), one of which was a TFL.
Swearinger did miss a tackle and was penalized 10 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the flag was thrown when the game was essentially already over.
Deshazor Everett- Everett played on over 95% of the snaps for the fifth time this year and played well both against the pass and the run.
He was particularly effective in coverage. The former cornerback only gave up 1 reception for 14 yards and a first down on the 3 targets thrown his way. He also defended a pass.
All 4 of his tackles (3 solo and 1 assist) came on rushing plays. He did miss a tackle in the running game, though.
DeAngelo Hall- I remember a few years back when Greg Popovich rested Tim Duncan and gave him an official designation of “Did Not Play-Old.” This was Hall’s second DNP-Old of the season. He did not take a single snap on defense or special teams.
D-Hall has only played on 1 defensive in the team’s last four games. The Redskins should just end the charade and release Hall now, so that they can add him to the coaching staff.
Montae Nicholson- Montae Nicholson was placed on injured reserve today. He had missed six of the past seven games. This was essentially a lost season for the rookie, but at 22-years-old there should still be a lot of football in front of him.
Nicholson is the sixth youngest safety to start in a game this season (6 starts). The only younger starters at the position were Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Budda Baker, Marcus Williams and John Johnson. Johnson is the only player in that group who was not selected in the top 42 picks of this year’s draft (3-91). Nicholson was taken with the 123rd selection in the draft. Now that is value.
Fish Smithson- Preseason fan favorite, Fish Smithson, was signed to the active roster today to take Nicholson’s spot on the team.
ALL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
Snaps- Ben Kotwica used a season-high tying 37 players over the course of 31 special teams snaps against the Cardinals.
With Chris Carter on the shelf with a broken fibula, it was Fabian Moreau who led the team in special teams snaps for the third week in a row (27 snaps). Pete Robertson (23), Josh Harvey-Clemmons (21), Joshua Holsey (20) and Niles Paul (20) were the other Redskins players with over 20 special snaps.
Dustin Hopkins- Hopkins returned to the team after missing the last eight games with an injury. He hit on both of his extra points and connected on field goals from 24 and 32 yards out.
Three of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. The two kicks that were returned were taken out to the Arizona 17 and 26-yard lines, respectively. The Cardinals gained 6 and 22 yards on those returns (28 yards total).
Tress Way- Tress Way punted the ball six times for a total of 319 yards, which was a yard shy of tying his second highest total on the year. Way’s 53.2-yard average in the game was a new season best.
A season-high tying five of those punts were returned, but the Cardinals only gained a total of 43 yards on those returns (8.6 average). Two of the punts ended up pinning Arizona inside their own 20. Way has averaged three such punts per game over the team’s last four contests.
Way is tied for 6th in the NFL with 28 punts inside of the 20-yard line.
Kick Coverage- Deshazor Everett led the way with 2 solo special teams tackles. Quinton Dunbar made solo teams stops on punts that pinned the Cardinals inside of their own 20-yard line. Long snapper Nick Sundberg got in on the action and made a specials tackle near midfield.
Fabian Moreau chipped with two assists and JHC, Brian Quick and Otha Peters made assisted teams tackles of their own.
Punt Returns- Jamison Crowder returned two of the Cardinals’ five punts for a pair of 9-yard gains (18 total yards). He returned those punts to the Washington 21 and 44.
The bigger story here is the punts that he didn’t return. He cost the Redskins about 25 yards of field position by not at least fair catching two punts, one of which ended up pinning the Skins’ offense at their own 6-yard line.
He fair caught the fifth and final Arizona punt at the 12.
Kickoff Returns- Maurice Harris returned his lone kickoff of the day 34 yards to the Washington 35. It was Harris’ longest career return and the second longest by the team this season; Bashaud Breeland gained 35 yards on one of his returns last week.
Breeland continued to put up numbers in the return game. He took 3 kickoffs for a combined 61 yards. The walk-year cornerback has now taken 7 kickoffs in the last two weeks for a total of 149 yards. Only Tyler Locket (203 yards) and Andre Roberts (169 yards) have gained more kickoff return yards in that span.
Special Teams Miscues- What would a 2017 Redskins game be without at least one special teams miscue?! This week Ben Kotwica’s boys delivered with not one, but two mistakes.
Niles Paul let the opening kickoff of the second half land approximately 7 yards in front of him because he thought it would bounce to him. Come on, Niles. Really, 7 yards?
The ball bounced in the opposite direction and landed right next to fellow tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. Sprinkle didn’t notice the ball was right next to him and it was recovered by Arizona rookie Budda Baker at the Washington 22-yard line. The Cardinals kicked a field goal four plays later.
In the fourth quarter, A.J. Francis was flagged 15 yards on a Cardinals field goal attempt for trying to jump off the back of another player in order to block the kick. Luckily, the drive would only end with a field goal and not a touchdown.
The Redskins currently rank 27th in Football Outsider’s special teams DVOA. The Browns, Cardinals, Giants, Chargers and next week’s opponent, the Broncos, are the only teams with a worse special teams unit than the Redskins. Those six teams have won a combined 26 games this season. I’m thinking this probably is not a coincidence.
*All statistics are courtesy of Air Yards, CSN Mid Atlantic, ESPN, Football Perspective, NFL.com, NFL Gamebooks, Player Profiler, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Redskins.com, Sharp Football Stats, Team Rankings and The Washington Post*
If the Redskins have to move on from one of the following high-priced players in order to retain Kirk Cousins next season which one of them should it be?
This poll is closed
Keep them all and let Cousins walk