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Wade Philips was the highest ranked defensive coordinator on the list. Never forget that Jay Gruden and the Redskins Brass chose Joe Barry over Philips.
Former Redskins OC Al Saunders was the top ranked offensive coordinator on this list. Two other former Skins coordinators that made the list were Mike Nolan (4th on D) and Pete Rodriguez (3rd on ST).
Head coaches dominate their former assistants
Five of Sunday's games matched head coaches of which one is a former assistant of the other (listed as mentor vs. protégé): Andy Reid vs. Doug Pederson; Chuck Pagano vs. Bruce Arians; Ron Rivera vs. Sean McDermott; John Harbaugh vs. Hue Jackson; and Jay Gruden vs. Sean McVay. Prior to that, the most such NFL games on one week was four, and that happened only once, on the first week of the 1990 season: Ray Perkins (Buccaneers) vs. Wayne Fontes (Lions); Joe Gibbs (Redskins) vs. Joe Bugel (Cardinals); Chuck Noll (Steelers) vs. Bud Carson (Browns); and Sam Wyche (Bengals) vs. Bruce Coslet (Jets).
The only protégé to win against his mentor yesterday was Arians in the Cardinals' overtime victory versus Pagano and the Colts. That follows recent form: In head-to-head matchups over the past six seasons (2011-16), head coaches won more than three times as many games as their former assistants (43-14-1, including 12-0-1 in 2016).
You're next, Kyle Shanahan!
FED EX FIELD
In the first part of this series, last week, we found that, on average, natural grass has lower injury rates than artificial turf, particularly for knee injuries. However, the turf type itself isn't the whole story: how turf is maintained can play a big part in how it affects injuries. With that in mind we analyzed injury rates by stadium from 2012 to 2015, looking only at injuries to visiting teams to remove any impacts of the home roster and training staff.
San Francisco had the lowest injury rate at 14.7 per 1,000 AEs, though they were measured over only in 2014 and 15 while other teams were measured over the whole period. They had the second-lowest rate when we limited all teams to 2014 and 2015. Levi's Stadium is natural grass.
Washington, which also uses natural grass, is next-lowest at 15.0. Playing a full home slate in Washington instead of New Orleans could be worth about seven or eight fewer injuries.
Rounding out the best five are Tampa Bay and Arizona, which use natural grass, and Dallas, the only stadium to use Matrix Turf. Dallas has the lowest overall injury rate of any artificial turf stadium during this period.
Kirk Cousins has thrown for 240 and 179 yards through two weeks. He threw for fewer than 260 passing yards just twice all of 2016.
Chris Thompson has accounted for a team-high 22.8 percent of the Washington total yards on just 13.4 percent of the team touches.
The best way to take advantage of the correlation between the other side of the ball is pairing Terrelle Pryor with Kirk Cousins. While Cousins should have a few good matchups to exploit—even if Jordan Reed is out—it's Pryor who is the most likely to put Cousins' box score over the top. While Pryor has been targeted by Cousins an average of 13.0 yards downfield, no other Washington wide receiver or tight end has been targeted more than 7.0 yards downfield on average. Cousins' slow start numbers-wise (209.5 yards, 1.0 TDs per game passing) can be directly attributed to a lack of deep-ball success thus far. Whereas last season 40.0% of Cousins' TDs and 33.7% of his yardage came via passes thrown 16+ yards downfield, this season he's completed only one such pass for 16 yards. Likewise, 24.7% of Pryor's 1,007 receiving yards last season came on such passes. Natural regression to the mean is likely regardless, but the probability is enhanced by a Raiders defense that has allowed 14.7 yards per attempt and 8 TDs on such passes since the start of last season, both third-worst in the league. Pryor should most often line up against David Amerson, who is Pro Football Focus' No. 78 rated cornerback through two weeks.
The Washington offense was awfully predictable against the Rams. On first down, they had 25 runs (including a botched pitch that went down as a fumble for Cousins, which murdered his rushing numbers), but only four passes. Then again, those four passes resulted in three completions for 9 total yards and a fumbled snap, so maybe running was a better idea. However, Washington didn't run the ball a single time on third down, leaving it all on Cousins to keep drives alive. He went 7-of-12 for 72 yards, with only five conversions.
Washington Washington went really run-heavy against the Rams: not only did starter Robert Kelley have 12 carries for 78 yards before getting hurt, but back Samaje Perine had 21 carries! Third-string back Chris Thompson had three carries for 77 yards and 2 TDs, while Kirk Cousins had an efficient but inspiring passing game. The last time the Redskins had 39+ carries or the rushing game picked up more yards than the team's passing game RG3 was still the quarterback.
#Redskins passed in 76% of neutral game situations Week 1 (highest).— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) September 18, 2017
They passed in 37% of neutral game situations Week 2 (second-lowest).
Cousins has yet to top 6.07 ANY/A in a game this season. 22 other quarterbacks have.
Cousins is still bottom of the league in almost every type of throw and situation.
How has Cousins performed games with a total of 54.5 points or higher? I'm afraid I cannot share that information with you.
But seriously, I can't. He has never played in a game with this high of a total according to the Rotoviz Game Splits App. However, we have a small sample size of games played with a total of 49 or higher. In those nine games, Cousins has averaged a whopping 27.38 half-PPR points per game. Ooh-wee!
Percentage of throws that have travelled 15+ yards through the air per relevant quarterback thus far. (Kizer gets the Colts this week.) pic.twitter.com/q1NWOtVdaV— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 19, 2017
Add Samaje Perine
After failing to play a snap in Week 1, Samaje Perine had his work cut out for him in Week 2 when the dad-running Rob Kelley left the game with a rib injury. In fairness, Kelley was running much better than he did during his first game of the season, but there are now reports that his rib may be fractured. If that's the case, he'll miss time, allowing Perine to see a lot of work as the team's early-down back.
Perine played 37% of the team's snaps (Kelley was at 23%), running the ball on 81% of the snaps that he played. That's not a very sustainable number, but he was, without question, the team's early-down bruiser, running it 21 times during Sunday's game.
Welcome to the NFL.
Sell Chris Thompson
All the while, the electric Chris Thompson has now scored three times this year and sits as a top-five running back in fantasy football through two weeks. As much as I love Thompson as a runner, though, his production points to him being a sell candidate. He only carried the ball three times in Week 2, and he's been on the field for 44% of Washington's snaps this year, which is actually lower than his 2016 total (46%).
Will that increase with Kelley potentially sidelined? Sure, maybe -- I actually think Thompson is a useful flex option in fantasy. But plenty of folks out there may overstate what this Kelley injury does for Thompson, especially after his first two weeks of production. The truth is, they play two very different roles in the Washington offense.
Thompson's a talented player who plays the pass-catching role in Washington better than almost any other back in football. It's just that he's generated tough-to-repeat performances in each of the first two games, at least from a fantasy perspective, and some owners may not fully realize it.
Thompson has arguably been the biggest threat out of the Redskins' backfield this season. After two games, he has racked up 162 yards and three touchdowns on 13 total touches and he currently leads all Redskins running backs with a PFF overall grade of 60.3.
However, Thompson's primary role for the team is as a receiving back, a role in which he has flourished over the last few seasons. In 2015, Thompson's average of 1.40 yards per route run ranked 27th out of 57 qualifying running backs, and in in 2016 his average of 1.13 ranked 30th out of 43.
If the Redskins do decide to increase Thompson's load in the run game, his 2016 performance proved that he's up to the task. Among the 71 backs with at least 40 touches in 2016, Thompson ranked ninth with an average of 3.13 yards after contact per carry and seventh with an elusive rating (the PFF metric that measures a runner's success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers) of 61.6.
Eight players saw targets, led by Thompson and Reed. In fact, Thompson led the team in Air Yards for Week 2 with 30. None of the pass-catchers have been very productive thus far, and that's at least in part because the playing time is being spread to so many options.
I can't even begin to guess who will lead this offense in targets next week.
The only thing I know is Thompson is balling right now.
Signal: Chris Thompson's 12 targets
Noise: Chris Thompson's 17.3 ruFPOE (5.9 more than the next highest single game in 2017, Kareem Hunt's Week 1)
Chris Thompson and Jalen Richard are testing NFL coaches discriminatory rushing allocation when it comes to seemingly undersized running backs. Though both are short, neither is actually small. And Richard, fourth highest yards per rush since the 1970 merger minimum 90 attempts first two years, is actually 11th in RB body-mass index, according to Pro-Football-Reference. That's among the 68 backs with at least six carries. Marshawn Lynch is 34th. And Thompson is tied in BMI with David Johnson (44th) and 0.1 higher than Le'Veon Bell (47th). PFR lists Thompson at 5-foot-8, 195; he measured 5-7, 192 at the combine, which is actually a higher BMI (30.1 than his PFR 29.6).
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, ‘'He's not a guy that I personally want to give him 30 carries a game. It's important for us to keep him healthy.'
That probably explains why Thompson is averaging just 6.5 touches per games. Yet he has both of Washington's rushing touchdowns among his six carries and three of its four touchdowns despite getting just 13 of the team's 97 touches (13.4%). Thompson isn't merely a receiving specialist using catches that generally result in more yards to grossly inflate his touch average. His 5.94 yards per rush on 112 career attempts is by far the best on the list.
So fans worried about Washington's struggling offense that's 13th in scoring (because of Thompson) but just 23rd in yards are left to wonder if there is some number between 6.5 touches per game and 30 that Gruden can settle on. Gruden has never given Thompson more than 12 rushes in a game or even 20 touches in a game.
But other backs who were 5-foot-10 or less with lower body mass indexes than Thompson's 29.6 eventually saw seasons where they were given the ball 300-plus times from scrimmage. Since 2000, that list includes Tiki Barber (high of 411 touches in a season), Ray Rice (370), Charlie Garner (324) and Warrick Dunn (309).
That list of 10 players includes Thompson, David Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead among others.
Chris Thompson ran for 2 touchdowns today. He entered the day with 3 career rushing TDs - all of which came in 2015.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 18, 2017
Running back Success Rate compared to teammates through two weeks (includes players with >10 carries and teammates with >10 as well). pic.twitter.com/lbj5S3Uwlh— Brandon Gdula (@gdula13) September 21, 2017
Rob Kelley was near the bottom on these types of lists in 2016, now he's close to the top.
In 29 run-block snaps this year, Reed has excelled. He fields the third highest run block grade in the league among tight ends, with a 84.6.
One of the league's better receiving threats from the tight end position, Reed has yet to get going this season, but will add a needed extra dimension to Washington's aerial attack.
Reed has already matched his drop total from last year (1), through two weeks of NFL action. His single drop on 62 catchable targets last year awarded him with the lowest drop rate in the league among tight ends, with 1.61.
Oakland rookie defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes has started the season strong — he has two hits and three hurries with two solo tackles and an assist through two games — and will need to continue his performance against Washington center Spencer Long, especially when the Redskins call a running play.
When running up the middle, Redskins running backs are averaging 7.6 yards per carry, the highest behind any position along the offensive line.
The offensive tackles who surrendered zero pressures in Week 2 pic.twitter.com/xHmB8rvRkD— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 22, 2017
Top graded OTs through 2 weeks pic.twitter.com/3ZxgMVvdug— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 21, 2017
After a rough Week 1, Right Tackle Morgan Moses rebounded last week vs. the Rams, allowing only two pressures on 31 pass blocking snaps— PFF WAS Redskins (@PFF_Washington) September 21, 2017
With all that glowing praise well-earned as it is, the Raiders will face their first true test this week as they travel to Washington. Through two weeks of the season, Washington ranks eighth in the NFL with a 32.8 percent pressure rate. The defense has been aggressive in the season's early going. Washington's blitz percentage of 48.5 percent is higher than any other team in the NFL this year. Dedicating extra resources to pressure Derek Carr could be just what an opposing team needs to break through the iron fortress provided by their offensive line.
While Redskins cornerbacks Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland have allowed 16-of-29 passing for 6.0 yards per target and no TDs on 29 targets, their linebackers and safeties have been lit up for 26-of-31 passing, 12.4 yards per target, and 3 TDs,
We already know how good Josh Norman is, and Washington's other cornerback, Bashaud Breeland, has held his own so far as well, allowing just 3 catches through two games so far this season. Meanwhile, Washington's linebackers have gotten torched for 16-of-19 passing for 203 yards and 2 TDs. What's more, inside linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) is banged up and missing practice time. Washington's safeties have struggled as well, allowing 10-of-12 passing for 181 yards and a TDs, and now rookie Montae Nicholson will be rotating with 2015 undrafted free agent Deshazor Everett.
This matchup sets up well for the Raiders to exploit with their ancillary weapons such as Seth Roberts, Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington, and most notably, Jared Cook. There's a Cook chance Cook plays a featured role and delivers against a Redskins defense that is ranked 29th in DVOA versus tight ends and has given up 208 yards to tight ends through two games—35 more than any other team. Cook is third on the Raiders with an 18% target share and provides a cheap way to gain exposure to the Raiders' implied team total of 28-plus in a game with an over/under hovering around 54 points.
Start Jared Cook (at Washington): Per Chris Raybon of 4for4, the Washington cornerbacks have allowed 6.0 yards per target this year, while the team's linebackers and safeties have surrendered 12.4. The corners have yet to give up a touchdown, while the other grouping has allowed three. That's shown up in the counting stats -- Washington's allowed the eighth-most points to tight ends to start the year, even with one of their matchups being against an inexperienced Rams unit.
The Raiders opponents in Week 3 are the Redskins, and they have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to TEs, as well as an astonishing 93 percent completion percentage. That is not a typo. Carson Wentz and Jared Goff have combined to complete 13 of their 14 targets to TEs for 208 yards. The Redskins have yet to give up a touchdown to a TE, but that is about the only saving grace with regards their defense of the position this season.
This year's Skins have surrendered the NFL's third-most 20-plus-yard pass plays (9), and only four teams are giving up more yards per attempt (8.7).
The Skins are not using Josh Norman to shadow. Despite facing Alshon Jeffery and Sammy Watkins in the first two games, Norman stayed at left corner on 95% of his snaps. RCB Bashaud Breeland is no slouch - he's allowed only 33 yards through two weeks - but he is someone Cooper should beat. Whereas Breeland ran 4.62 at his Combine workout, Cooper blazed 4.42. ... Crabtree is going to draw more of Norman on Sunday night, but not all of him. Crabtree rotates into the slot on nearly 30% of his routes, and Skins slot CB Kendall Fuller is one of the NFL's fantasy-friendliest corners
Cook is a sleeper for a big Sunday night game against a Skins defense that got shelled for 9/104/0 by Eagles tight ends in Week 1, then 4/104/0 by Rams tight ends in Week 2. No NFL team has given up more yardage to tight ends than Washington.
Rookie DL Jonathan Allen doesn't have a sack yet, but has knocked a QB down in both of his first two NFL games (along with 3 hurries)— PFF WAS Redskins (@PFF_Washington) September 20, 2017
Andrew Whitworth so far with the Rams— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) September 22, 2017
0 pressures allowed Week 1
1 pressure allowed Week 2
0 pressures allowed tonight
The only pressure that Whitworth has given up all season was a sack by Preston Smith.
Through two games, Foster's play has taking a step back from his 2016 performance. His overall grade of 63.0 ranks 37th among linebackers. It is still early though and Foster is a vital part of the Redskins defense, playing 119 out of 120 possible snaps so far.
In 2016, Foster was one of the best linebackers in the league, earning the ninth-highest linebacker grade at 86.0.
Zach Brown, Washington Redskins (vs. Oakland)
Brown has played all but two of the defensive snaps for his new team, posting double-digit tackles in back-to-back games. He's proven to be a tackle producer in the past having put up 143 total stops last year while also flashing big-play potential. Brown has 14 career sacks along with 7 interceptions (2 returned for scores) as well as 4 forced fumbles. With teammate Mason Foster out due to a shoulder injury Brown is in store for another big week.
Zach Brown, ILB, Washington vs. OAK
The Raiders are another team I'm targeting with linebackers because of Beast Mode. Through two games, opposing LBs are averaging 14 tackles per game to the LB position. I'm hoping Lynch gets more than the 12 carries he received against the Jets. This game should be more competitive so he should see more snaps and carries. Through two games and 118 defensive snaps, Brown is producing an 18.6% tackle rate, resulting in 22 tackles.
Washington: Cornerback Josh Norman has allowed a 36.4 percent catch rate, the second-lowest for cornerbacks who have been thrown at ten or more times.
Norman did not shadow Watkins. Was on him on 7 of his 27 routes and all but 2 of Sammy's yards came on a 28-yd catch against Norman. https://t.co/1IOvOaNAQn— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) September 18, 2017
D.J. Swearinger has allowed the 3rd most receiving yards (123) among all Safeties. He has been helpful in Run Defense though (3 Stops)— PFF WAS Redskins (@PFF_Washington) September 20, 2017
FIELD GOAL KICKING
For the purposes of this study, a clutch field goal is any attempt in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or at any point in overtime when a team is tied or down by 1 to 3 points.
Since 2002, the Redskins rank 25th (8th worst) in clutch field goal kicking.