The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Since this is the last Saturday in the regular season, this will also be the final 5 o’clock club post of 2018. This does not mean I expect to die or disappear, simply that the 5 o’clock club will go into hibernation, probably to reappear sometime in early September of 2019.
A quick peek backwards
Before we move forward to look at the challenge the Redskins will be facing when they host the Eagles on Sunday, let’s take a final quick look back at last week’s gritty loss to the Titans in Nashville.
The Redskins led for much of the game, and played competitive football for roughly 58 minutes last week, until a late interception thrown by Josh Johnson ended the Redskins drive that could have tied the game or given Washington the lead, and perhaps the win.
With that interception, all hope of a playoff berth came to a crashing end.
Last weekend, ahead of the Tennessee game, 5 o’clock club readers were invited to vote on over-under predictions for the game. Let’s see how we did.
Predictions & actual results for last week’s Tennessee Titans game
The Redskins generate 259 yards of total offense against the Titans
- prediction: over (53%)
- actual: The Redskins actually had reasonable offensive production against the Titans, putting up 292 total yards of offense (the Titans put up 291). The breakdown was:
- Passing: 131
- Rushing: 161
Given that the Redskins were starting two guards that no one in Washington had heard of a fortnight earlier, the rushing success was fairly impressive, and due to a combination of the line getting good push against the Titans and Adrian Peterson running like a Hall of Fame back.
The Redskins score 15.5 points against the Titans
- prediction: over (66%)
- actual: The Redskins barely squeaked this one out to make the fans right, scoring 16 points.
The penultimate Redskins drive (the one that ended in the interception) could have made a huge difference in this game had it been successful. With the Redskins in 4-down mode, on 3rd & 3, had the team opted for a running play with Adrian Peterson, with one more down left for desperation, if needed, the drive could have potentially taken the Redskins to 19 or 23 points. The final desperate 20 seconds, which — like a few other games in the Jay Gruden era — ended with a turnover and a defensive TD for the opposition, wouldn’t have happened, and the Titans would have lost 23-19, scored on a miraculous TD drive to win 26-23, or the game would have gone to overtime.
In any event, the first interception ended the Redskins scoring, and the second changed the outcome for a huge number of gamblers and their bookies.
The Redskins will be +0.5 on turnover differential against the Titans
- prediction: over (74%)
- actual: The entire game was turnover-free until the Redskins final two drives ended with interceptions.
This game was always going to be won by the team that won the turnover battle.
Season-long history was on the side of the Redskins going into the game, but it was easy to see that the defense was tacking the player (usually Henry) instead of attacking the ball in this game. It improved tackling, but reduced the opportunity for forced fumbles.
The Redskins defense should have had one interception that likely would have changed the game, but the ball went right through the hands of HaHa Clinton-Dix. That non-turnover was huge in this low-scoring game, as the Titans ended up kicking a field goal at the end of the drive.
Who will throw more interceptions on Saturday?
- prediction: Marcus Mariota (41%)
- actual: Mariota ended up getting injured on a sack and leaving the game. Blaine Gabbert came in as his relief. The Redskins did not manage to sufficiently rattle the backup, and the Titans finished the game without committing a turnover of any kind.
Josh Johnson, for the Redskins, played a pretty good game until the 1:22 mark of the 4th quarter when he threw an interception. Getting the ball back with :20 left on the clock, he threw two passes, to end the game — the final one a pick-6.
Prior to those final 3 plays, JJ was 13-20, 153 yards, 1 TD — very much the kind of numbers the Redskins were getting from Alex Smith during the first half of the season. Had Johnson managed to finish the final 1:22 with a score, instead of an interception, the Redskins might be playing for a playoff berth in Week 17.
Which defense will generate more sacks this Saturday?
- prediction: Redskins (68%)
- actual: The Fans got this one right — the Redskins got 3 sacks on the day, versus just 2 for the Titans.
Kerrigan, Foster and Allen got one sack each.
Derrick Henry rushes for 114 yards against the Redskins
- prediction: under (58%)
- actual: The Redskin
Derrick Henry ran well on the first drive and the last drive of the day for Tennessee. In between, he was mostly bottled up by the Redskins, who held him to 84 yards and a TD. That’s a good day, to be sure, but it was nowhere close to the 204 yards per game he had averaged in the previous 2 weeks.
The Titans leading receiver will have 62.5 yards against the Redskins on Saturday
- prediction: over (67%)
- actual: The Fans got this one right, but it was very close. Taywan Taylor snagged 3 passes for 64 yards. The Tennessee offense never really broke loose on the day, though it proved sufficient to get the win.
Dustin Hopkins scores 8.5 total points on Saturday against the Titans
- prediction: over (61%)
- actual: Hopkins went 3/3 on field goals and added an extra point, scoring 10 points on the day.
Hopkins is hitting on nearly 90% of his field goal tries, and is perfect under 40 yards this season. After hitting on just 81% and 82.4% in ‘16 & ‘17, this is a promising return-to-form for the kicker, who has also missed one XPA in three of his four seasons with the Redskins.
All in all, Hopkins is having a good season, and seems to be a solid kicker for the Redskins.
Adrian Peterson will carry the ball 16 times against the Titans
- prediction: over (85%)
- actual: The Redskins gave the ball to Adrian Peterson 26 times in the game, and he rewarded the team with 119 yards. AD carried the team on his back, not for the first time this season.
I think it’s worth reprinting some of the information that James Dorsett wrote earlier this week:
On those 26 runs, he gained 119 yards and picked up 4 first downs. AP ran for 5-plus yards on 12 rushes, while only failing to gain any yardage twice. He posted a very impressive 62% success rate on the day.
This was his third 100-yard performance of the season and a league-leading seventh time he’s gone for over 95 yards on the ground (tied with Ezekiel Elliott).
Peterson also broke 5 tackles and gained 83 yards after contact against the Titans, both of which represented his third-best showings this season.
All Day was targeted twice, and caught one of those balls for a gain of 8 on a 2nd-and-6 play.
For his efforts in Saturday’s game, Peterson earned an 81.3 PFF grade, the best rating on the offense.
His 1,042 rushing yards and 1,250 yards from scrimmage rank 6th and 21st this season, respectively.
Adrian Peterson (Records)- Peterson topped the 1,000-yard mark on the season with his first carry in the fourth quarter. He became the first Redskins’ player to rush for 1,000 yards since Alfred Morris did it in 2014 and just the fifth player to do it in the Burgundy and Gold in the last 20 years (Stephen Davis, Ladell Betts, Clinton Portis and Morris). Only seven other players have accomplished that feat in franchise history (Larry Brown, Mike Thomas, John Riggins, George Rogers, Earnest Byner, Reggie Brooks and Terry Allen).
This was the eighth career 1,000-yard campaign for AP, which is tied for the sixth most such seasons in league history with six others (12 players). He also became just the 14th one to have ever gained 1K rush yards multiple times after turning 30.
He is just the fifth player to hit that mark at the age of 33 or older. The others are John Riggins (twice), John Henry Harrison (twice), Frank Gore and Franco Harris. Riggins was the last player to have accomplished this feat and he last did it all the way back in 1984. Peterson was older than Gore when he hit this mark and only a week younger than Harris. Emmitt Smith, Marcus Allen and Larry Csonka are the only other players who even topped 800 yards on the ground after turning 33.
AP is 7 yards away from compiling the fourth most rushing yardage at or after the age of 33, which would only put him behind one of Harrison’s seasons and both of Riggins’. He is 127 yards from scrimmage away from passing Riggins for the most scrimmage yards by a RB at this age in NFL history.
Peterson also moved ahead of Eric Dickerson and into eighth-place on the all-time rushing yards list (13,318 yards).
Shifting the focus to the Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday’s game was shifted to the late time slot because it has playoff implications — not for the Redskins, but for the Eagles.
If the Redskins win the game, the Eagles are out, no matter what happens to the Vikings.
This means that Redskins fans have a reason to cheer for their team to win. The result would be an 8-8 record for both the ‘Skins and the Eagles, and a regular season split with every team in the NFC East. The Redskins can’t keep the Cowboys out of the playoffs, but they can end the Eagles’ dreams of back-to-back superbowls right here, in Week 17.
It’s likely that the game, although played at FedEx Field, will take place in front of more Eagles fans in green than Redskins fans in burgundy & gold. The reasons go far beyond the fact that the Redskins are out of the playoff race. In fact, Redskin home games have been lightly attended all season long — at least by Redskins fans.
This week saw a move by Dan Snyder that would have passed unnoticed by most fan bases. On the day after Christmas, Dan fired Brian Lafemina, who had been on the job for about 8 months, and who was charged with improving fan relations, improving the game day experience, and increasing ticket sales to Redskins fans.
The incident has been widely reported, so I won’t review it here, but I do want to make a comment on why I think it is significant that three marketing guys got sacked this week.
I felt — and I don’t think that I was the only one — that a certain critical mass had been achieved in 2018. Following the ugly firing of Scot McCloughan, there had been a series of moves, including the reorganization of the front office, which seemed to reward the right people, and the hiring of Lafemina and his team, that signaled a move in a positive direction. The blunders of 2018 mostly seemed to fall at the feet of Bruce Allen, and I thought, for the first time, that there was a very real probability that Allen would be fired come ‘Black Monday’.
The termination of Lafemina and his team appears to snuff out that hope.
It occurs to me that, if Bruce Allen isn’t fired after the shitshow that has marked his tenure to date, then he will never be fired. Bruce Allen has won out yet again.
That’s the tragedy of seeing the three marketing guys sacked (and one other resign). It’s what it signals — the eternal bungling rule of the sycophant.
I’ll be cheering on the Redskins players on Sunday, but with a deep level of misgiving about what won’t happen on Monday, when it won’t be announced that Bruce Allen has been thanked for all he has done for the franchise and relieved of his duties.
That’s why the players, who deserve better, will end up playing the finale at home in front of a lot of Eagles fans instead of cheering, loyal Redskins fans. Because of Dan & Bruce.
I hope for a good performance by each of the Redskins players, but despair at the newest low point in the Redskins ownership and executive offices.
Should Redskins fans boycott the final game of the season against the Eagles?
This poll is closed
Yes, send a message to Snyder — the only kind of message he is likely to understand
No, the players deserve support from the fans no matter what