Snaps- The Washington Redskins’ defense was on the field for 70 snaps and 65 plays in Sunday’s home opener against the Dallas Cowboys. This was the second straight game in which the D has been on the field for 70 or more snaps (75 in Week 1). Despite that high total, only 14 of the team’s 26 defenders played more than 13 snaps in the game.
Penalties- Three of Washington’s eight total penalties were committed by the defense, but one of them was declined and the other two only cost the defense 6 yards of field position. The only problem was that both of those infractions were committed in the red zone on the same Dallas touchdown drive.
Red Zone- The Burgundy and Gold defense gave up touchdowns on three of their four red zone stands. The primary reason the Cowboys didn’t find the paint on all four drives was that they committed a pair of penalties on one of those possessions; the Dallas offense had a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line before they shot themselves in the foot with the aforementioned infractions.
The Redskins’ D has now allowed the opposing team’s offense to score touchdowns on at least half of their trips to the red area in seven of the last eight games.
3rd Down- Washington allowed the Dallas offense to convert on 7 of their 11 third-downs (63.3%) this past week. Things were a lot easier for the Cowboys considering they only had to gain more than five yards on two of those plays; however, the results probably would’ve relatively the same even if that weren’t the case because the defense got walked all over on the money down to the tune of 10.5 yards per play (six plays of 8-plus yards).
This was the second straight game in which the under-performing defense let the opposition move the chains on roughly 64% of their third downs, which is why the Redskins rank dead last in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage allowed (64.3%). The only other team with a defensive third-down rate within even 12 percentage points of the Redskins’ mark is the lowly Miami Dolphins (59.1%).
Takeaways- The defense notched it’s first takeaway of the year on an interception midway through the first quarter. The pick was returned 23 yards and the Skins’ offense scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Prescott had never thrown an interception against the Redskins in his career prior to Sunday.
QB Pressure- The Skins’ pass rush pressured Dak Prescott on the play he threw the interception on. However, outside of that, the defense was only able to generate any pressure on five other Prescott dropbacks, including one sack and one hit. In all, the D could only muster a lowly 18.2% pressure rate. Perhaps, things would’ve been different if Greg Manusky had dialed up blitzes on more than 21% of the Dallas dropbacks.
Any way you slice it, the defense did not do enough to contain Prescott and the Cowboys’ passing attack. Dak completed 18 consecutive passes in the game and had almost as many touchdown passes (3) as he did incompletions (4).
Rushing Defense- The Cowboys ran the ball down the Redskins’ throats with 34 carries for 213 yards (6.26 YPC), 11 first downs and a touchdown. Here’s how some of those figures rank in the 82-game Jay Gruden era (since 2014): carries (12th-worst), rushing yards (6th-worst), yards per carry (10th-worst) and first downs (4th-worst).
Seven of the Cowboys’ runs gained at least 10 yards, which is exactly how long the Redskins’ longest rush of the year was. Excluding Dak Prescott’s kneel down, Dallas’ rushing attack posted a 57.6% rushing success rate in the game.
Here’s how the Redskins’ defense ranks so far in every major rushing efficiency statistic: 31st in yards per game allowed (168.0), 25th in yards per carry (5.17), 29th in first down percentage (30.8%), 30th in PFF grade (48.8), 29th in DVOA (10.5%) and 32nd in success rate (60%).
Yards- Over the course of 65 plays, Washington’s defense gave up a whopping 474 yards of total offense to the Cowboys (7.3 yards per play). They have only given up a yardage total and/or average that high on three other occasions since the start of the 2017 season, with the last two of those occurring in Weeks 9 (vs. Atlanta) and 10 (at Tampa Bay) of last season.
The defense ranks 29th in yards per play (6.7), 30th in yards per game (455.0) and last in yards per drive (50.6).
Points- There was virtually no improvement in this department either, as after giving up 32 points to the Eagles in Week 1, the Cowboys came into town and dropped 31 on the Burgundy and Gold.
Perhaps things wouldn’t be so bad in this department if the team could find a way to stop anybody in the second half. Literally every drive ran against the Redskins’ in the second half this season has ended with a touchdown (5), a field goal (2) or a clock-killing QB kneel down (2).
|Defensive Line (6 Players)|
|Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %|
|Daron Payne *||64||91%|
|Matt Ioannidis *||60||86%|
|Tim Settle *||33||47%|
Daron Payne- The 2018 first-round pick may not have personally put up big numbers, but he made plays that helped others to do so. Payne led the team with 3 pressures (all hurries), which is not particularly impressive in and of itself, until you consider that two of those hurries were instrumental to other Washington defenders recording a sack and an interception. In other words, the team’s only sack and takeaway in the game probably don’t happen if Payne isn’t there first to hurry and disrupt Dak Prescott.
The big Alabama product chipped in with 3 assisted tackles, as well. He helped to shut down a Zeke Elliott screen for no gain on one of those takedowns and limited Elliott to a 2-yard rush on 1st-and-10 on another one of them.
Payne led all the Washington front-seven players with 64 defensive snaps played and a 91% snap share against the Cowboys; both numbers are the second-highest such figures in Payne’s career.
Matt Ioannidis- Like Payne, Ioannidis had only been in for more defensive snaps and/or played on a higher percentage of the team’s snaps one other time as a pro; in his case, it just happened to be last week. The Ion Man had never played on more than 105 combined snaps in back-to-back games until the last two weeks when he was on the field for a total of 125 of them.
You would’ve expected him to be able to pick up some more of the slack for the pass rush with all the additional playing time, but that wasn’t the case, as Ioannidis was only able to muster a single hurry on his 28-pass rushing snaps in the contest.
He was, at least, able to contribute as a tackler by leading all Redskin D-linemen with 4 solo and 5 total tackles. Two of his tackles were made within two yards of the line of scrimmage on first down and were counted as stops.
Tim Settle- The youngest player on the team made his first career start and played just under half of the defensive snaps. Settle was relatively quiet in this one, though. He only registered one pressure, a hurry, and he didn’t record his lone tackle, an assist, until the third to last play of the contest.
Jonathan Allen- Allen sat out with a sprained MCL. He did individual work during today’s practice and has a decent shot at being able to suit up for next Monday’s game against the Bears.
Other Defensive Linemen- Treyvon Hester and T.Y. McGill combined to play just 2 total snaps. Hester accounted for both snaps (1 defensive and 1 special teams) and did not record any stats.
|Outside Linebackers (4 Players)|
|Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %|
|Montez Sweat *||51||73%|
|Ryan Kerrigan *||50||71%|
Ryan Kerrigan- The Redskins’ longest tenured defender was easily the most effective pass rusher on the team in Sunday’s home opener. Kerrigan scored a QB hit on a goal-to-go play and recorded an 8-yard sack on a third down to force a Dallas three-and-out. The Heartbreak Kid was the only Washington player with a hit or a sack in the contest and he is the only one on the team who has generated multiple pressures in both games this year.
If only Kerrigan had fared better as a tackler. The only other takedown he made besides his sack was an assist that came after Ezekiel Elliott picked up a first down on a 3rd-and-1 rush. What’s worse, Kerrigan tied a career high with 2 missed tackles, which is a figure that matches his total from the last 38 games combined.
Montez Sweat- Sweat was on the field for 51 defensive snaps for the second straight game, which was good enough to lead all Washington outside backers in snaps this week.
This was also the second consecutive game that he rushed the passer over 20 times in and finished with just one QB hurry. Sweat would’ve been credited with another pressure had he not committed a roughing-the-passer penalty in the red zone that negated the play.
Again, like last week, he did his best to compensate for his pass-rushing woes by making a few plays in the running game. Sweat recorded 4 tackles, 2 stops and a 1-yard TFL on an Ezekiel Elliott run. However, three of his four takedowns were made with less than 11 minutes left on the clock, when the game was realistically out of reach.
The Redskins traded a valuable 2020 second-round pick to move up into the first round and draft Montez Sweat, and at least so far, that deal has failed to pay any dividends.
Ryan Anderson- Ryan Anderson’s 28 snaps and 40% snap rate represented his highest and second-highest such figures as a pro, respectively. Even with that being said, he still failed to generate his first QB pressure of the season.
Anderson was at least able to record 3 tackles, two of which were counted as defense stops. He helped to shut down a Tony Pollard run for no gain on a 2nd-and-4 play and then made back-to-back sole takedowns two drives later, the second of which was made at Washington’s own 4-yard line after a gain of just one.
Cassanova McKinzy- Things did not go as well for McKinzy as they did last week, when he recorded a pressure and a sack for the first time in his career. For starters, his snap total dropped from 19 to 11. He also failed to crack the box score and to register any pressures.
McKinzy did not practice on Wednesday because of a hip injury, which likely at least partly explains the addition of our next player.
Noah Spence- The former second-round pick and Tampa Bay Buccaneer was signed by the Redskins today. Spence got off to a promising start by notching 6 sacks, 6 hits, 40 total pressures and 3 forced fumbles as a rookie. However, since then his playing time (292 defensive snaps) and production (1 sack, 0 hits, 12 total pressures and 0 forced fumbles) have fallen off a cliff.
|Inside Linebackers (5 Players)|
|Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %|
|Cole Holcomb *||63||90%|
|Jon Bostic *||55||79%|
|Shaun Dion Hamilton||22||31%|
|Josh Harvey-Clemons||ST Only||N/A|
|Tanner Vallejo||ST Only||N/A|
Jon Bostic- The Redskins’ MIKE linebacker bounced back from a subpar Week 1 outing and put up some respectable numbers in the middle of the Washington defense. His snap rate did drop from 87.8% to 78.6%, but his tackle total jumped all the way up from 2 (both assists) to 7 (3 solo) this past Sunday. However, he wiped some of that goodwill out by tying a team high with 2 missed tackles.
Bostic played a bit better in coverage, as well. After surrendering 3 catches and a touchdown to the Eagles a week ago, he only allowed a single reception in this game, an 8-yard reception by Amari Cooper on 2nd-and-9.
Cole Holcomb- Cole Holcomb started once again and even led all Washington linebackers in snaps for the game (63). However, he failed to recapture the magic he had against the Eagles and played quite poorly in the Skins’ home opener, especially in coverage.
After only giving up one reception for 6 yards last week, Holcomb led the team in both targets (7) and receptions (6) allowed. The Cowboys gained 48 yards, picked up a pair of first downs and scored a 2-yard touchdown (Jason Witten) when targeting players Holcomb was covering. That’s not all, he also committed a holding penalty in coverage (declined) and missed a tackle after a Dallas completion.
Half of the rookie inside backer’s 6 tackles (2 solo) were made after catches he allowed. The one saving grace for Holcomb was that four of his takedowns were made within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage, including a stop for no gain on and Elliott reception and a 1-yard TFL after a Jason Witten catch.
His 39.3 PFF grade for the performance was the second-lowest such mark handed out to any player in the game.
Shaun Dion Hamilton- The second-year linebacker’s snap rate was cut from 41% to 31% (31 to 22 snaps), yet despite the reduced PT, he somehow found a way to put up better number than he did in Week 1.
Hamilton allowed catches on both of the snaps he was targeted on, but only gave up a total of 4 yards between the two receptions and finished each of those plays off with solo stops. In all, he recorded 5 tackles (4 solo) and a game and career-high 4 defensive stops.
SDH also set a new personal record and led all players in the game with an 89.9 grade from Pro Football Focus. If he keeps playing like this, then his playing time needs to start going up, not down.
Josh Harvey-Clemons- JHC worked exclusively on special teams for the fourth straight game. He hasn’t played on more than eight defensive snaps since last year’s Thanksgiving Day game against these same Cowboys (18 snaps).
Tanner Vallejo- Vallejo has also been limited to a special-teams-only role through the first two weeks of the year. He actually got on the field for 145 defensive snaps over the course of his last six games with the Browns in 2018.
|Cornerbacks (7 Players)|
|Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %|
|Josh Norman *||70||100%|
|Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie *||55||79%|
Josh Norman- Josh Norman’s struggles continued, as the 31-year-old corner allowed 3 receptions, all of which went for Dallas first downs, a touchdown and a team-worst 78 receiving yards. He should consider himself extremely lucky to have that awful stat line, because those numbers would’ve been even worse had Dak Prescott not under thrown Michael Gallup on what should’ve been an 81-yard touchdown due to Norman’s horrific coverage on the play.
The touchdown against Norman was scored by Devin Smith, who had not caught a regular season pass prior to this TD since 2016 and had not scored since 2015. It was just the 11th reception and the second touchdown of Smith’s five-year career. This was the second time in as many weeks that Norman surrendered a touchdown of exactly 51 yards, which is tied for the fifth-longest reception he’s ever allowed and was the longest play in this game. He was also embarrassingly beat for an 18-yarder by 37-year-old Jason Witten.
J-No has now given up touchdowns in back-to-games for the fourth time in his career (once in each year with the Redskins) and has given up more yardage in the last two weeks (170) than he has in all but one other two-game span during his eight years in the league. If you add the 2018 finale against the Eagles in, then we’re looking at 232 yards allowed in his last three contests, which is easily a career-high for him.
He is tied for the second-most touchdown passes and the third-most receiving yards allowed by any player in the league, and quarterbacks have posted a near-perfect 151.4 passer rating when throwing into his coverage. Simply put, Josh Norman is playing horrible right now.
Quinton Dunbar- Quinton Dunbar’s new knee injury kept him out of Sunday’s game and he reportedly wasn’t even close to being able to play, which certainly casts doubt on his availability for Week 3, as well. He has now missed 10 of the team’s past 18 games (55.6%).
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- DRC started at right corner in place of the injured Dunbar and arguably played just about as poorly as fellow aging cornerback Josh Norman did. He gave up a catch on all six of the passes thrown his way and allowed 66 yards and a team-high 4 first downs. Three of the four tackles he made came after he had already surrendered a reception on the play. His 42.8 PFF rating for the performance represented his worst grade since 2017.
This will probably end up being the final game of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s career, as the veteran corner suffered a torn ankle ligament on Sunday and was placed on IR today. He’s already retired once before and at 33-years-old he was already the sixth-oldest defensive back to play in a game this season.
DRC had a fairly impressive list of accomplishments in the NFL. He made two Pro Bowls, was named the Defensive Player of the Week on three occasions, was on the All-Rookie team, was second-team All Pro in 2016 and recorded the ninth-most pass defenses (146) since the NFL started tracking them as an official statistic in 1999.
Jimmy Moreland- Moreland didn’t start again this week, but with Dunbar and Moreau out of the lineup he did see his snap percentage increase from 75% to 86%.
The People’s Corner started out strong by defending a third-down pass to Michael Gallup on the Cowboys’ first drive and forcing a three-and-out. That, however, was easily the high point for Moreland, who had an otherwise rather poor showing.
He allowed 5 receptions for 46 yards and 2 first downs on 6 targets and 30 coverage snaps. The worst part about his difficulties in coverage was that both of the first downs he gave up came on third downs. He was flagged for a holding penalty on a third-down play in the red zone, as well. The Cowboys scored touchdowns on both of the drives Moreland was responsible for allowing money-down chain movers on.
The rookie JMU product did double his tackle total this week with six of them, but he also whiffed on a team-high-tying two tackles.
Simeon Thomas- The second-year corner played 3 snaps in what was his first career regular season game. All three of those snaps came on Dallas rushing plays; Thomas assisted on a tackle inside Washington’s 5-yard line on one of them.
Aaron Colvin- The Redskins signed Aaron Colvin just two days after he was released by the Texans and two days before this game. Colvin, who gave up a touchdown and a career-worst 117 yards on 9 targets and 8 receptions for Houston in Week 1, was active against the Cowboys but did not play a single snap.
Fabian Moreau- At least in my experience, I haven’t found there to be a lot of big Fabian Moreau fans out there. I have to wonder how his detractors are actually missing him after the last two games.
Moreau led all Washington cornerbacks last season in passer rating allowed (105.8), coverage snaps per target (8.7) and coverage snaps per reception (13.2). He might not be a difference-making, high-impact player, but like it or not, his presence on the defense has been missed. He did individual drills in today’s practice and there is a legitimate chance he will be able to return to action in Week 3.
|Safeties (4 Players)|
|Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %|
|Landon Collins *||70||100%|
|Montae Nicholson *||61||87%|
|Troy Apke||ST Only||N/A|
Landon Collins- Collins bounced back from a mediocre showing in Week 1 with a solid effort against the Cowboys this past Sunday. His 9 solo and 12 total tackles both were the most on the team and were tied for the fourth-highest totals of his career. Three of those takedowns went for stops, including a 2-yard TFL of Ezekiel Elliott.
Perhaps more importantly, Collins was targeted just once and only allowed a single reception, a 4-yarder, in the game. He tackled Randall Cobb short of the sticks after surrendering the catch on what was the Cowboys’ second offensive play of the game and watched as Dallas punted the ball away two snaps later.
Collins also posted a 79.9 PFF grade for the game, which ranked second on the team. Yes, he played well, but the Redskins aren’t paying him $14M for that; they are paying him $14M to ball out and play great. They need him to start making impact plays and to do so in a hurry. Collins has yet to record a pass defense, force a turnover or a generate any pressure. This will need to change for the Redskins to see a legitimate return on their investment.
Montae Nicholson- It was a career day for third-year safety Montae Nicholson. His 7 solo and 9 total tackles both ranked second on the defense and were new personal records for him.
Nicholson also intercepted a pass for just the second time as a pro and for the first time since Week 3 of his rookie season (2017 vs. Oakland). He picked the ball off at the Washington 39-yard line and returned it 23 yards to the Dallas 38; the offense scored the first points of the game with a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
The last time he had a longer return was in his sophomore year at Michigan State in 2015 (30 yards). His interception on Sunday represents the Redskins’ first and only takeaway of the season. The pick gave him a pass defense for the second straight game, which is something he had never accomplished in college or the pros before this.
And to top it all off, the only catch Nicholson gave up on his 29 coverage snaps was a 6-yarder on the first play of the drive he recorded his interception on.
However, it should be noted that while he has not officially been credited with giving up any touchdowns this season, this was the second game in a row in which a touchdown pass of over 50 yards has been thrown to his side of the field. As the Redskins’ free safety and the defense’s “last line of defense,” Nicholson bears at least some of the responsibility for those plays.
Deshazor Everett- Everett logged 13 snaps on defense this week, which was the second-most snaps he’s played on that side of the ball since the start of last season (69 snaps in Week 16 vs. Philadelphia).
Unfortunately for him, he was not able to make the most out of the opportunity. Everett was only targeted once in the game, but gave up a 10-yard touchdown to Amari Cooper on the play. He also missed a tackle in the running game and wasn’t able to record a single traditional stat.
Everett’s poor performance earned him a 26.0 PFF rating, which was the fifth-worst grade earned among all NFL players in Week 2. Ouch!
Troy Apke- The 2018 fourth-rounder only played on special teams and has still yet to take a single snap with the defense.
ALL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
|All Defensive Players (26 Players)|
|Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %||Player (* - starter)||Snaps||Snap %|
|Landon Collins *||70||100%||Shaun Dion Hamilton||22||31%|
|Josh Norman *||70||100%||Deshazor Everett||13||19%|
|Daron Payne *||64||91%||Cassanova McKinzy||11||16%|
|Cole Holcomb *||63||90%||Simeon Thomas||3||4%|
|Montae Nicholson *||61||87%||Treyvon Hester||1||1%|
|Matt Ioannidis *||60||86%||Aaron Colvin||0||0%|
|Jimmy Moreland||60||86%||T.Y. McGill||0||0%|
|Jon Bostic *||55||79%||Troy Apke||ST Only||N/A|
|Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie *||55||79%||Josh Harvey-Clemons||ST Only||N/A|
|Montez Sweat *||51||73%||Tanner Vallejo||ST Only||N/A|
|Ryan Kerrigan *||50||71%||Jonathan Allen||Inactive||N/A|
|Tim Settle *||33||47%||Quinton Dunbar||Inactive||N/A|
|Ryan Anderson||28||40%||Fabian Moreau||Inactive||N/A|
|Special Teams Players (32 Players)|
|Player||Snaps||Snap %||Player||Snaps||Snap %|
|Troy Apke||21||88%||Tress Way||7||29%|
|Deshazor Everett||21||88%||Robert Davis||6||25%|
|Ryan Anderson||19||79%||Jimmy Moreland||6||25%|
|Josh Harvey-Clemons||16||67%||Steven Sims||6||25%|
|Wendell Smallwood||16||67%||Montez Sweat||5||21%|
|Tanner Vallejo||16||67%||Daron Payne||4||17%|
|Jeremy Sprinkle||13||54%||Tony Bergstrom||3||12%|
|Kelvin Harmon||12||50%||Geron Christian||3||12%|
|Casanova McKinzy||12||50%||Ereck Flowers||3||12%|
|Shaun Dion Hamilton||11||46%||Montae Nicholson||3||12%|
|Simeon Thomas||11||46%||Brandon Scherff||3||12%|
|Cole Holcomb||9||38%||Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||2||8%|
|Matt Ioannidis||8||33%||Donald Penn||2||8%|
|Tim Settle||8||33%||Trey Quinn||2||8%|
|Dustin Hopkins||7||29%||Treyvon Hester||1||4%|
|Nick Sundberg||7||29%||Morgan Moses||1||4%|
Dustin Hopkins- Dustin Hopkins hit on each of his three extra-point kicks, but did not attempt a field goal in the game.
He booted the Redskins’ first three kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Hop sailed the final kickoff over the Cowboys’ special teamers, who were expecting an onside kick, and down to the 2-yard line before Randall Cobb scooped the ball up and returned it 11 yards to the 13.
Tress Way- Tress Way did Tress Way things in Sunday’s game. He punted the ball away four times for a total of 198 yards (49.5-yard average). The Cowboys gained just 4 yards between their two returns in the game, which gave Way a net average of 48.5 yards per punt, his third-best such mark as a pro.
He pinned the Dallas offense at the following yard lines inside their own 20 on his four kicks: 10, 10, 3 and 17. This was the first time in Way’s career that he punted four-plus times in a game and every one of them pinned the opposing offense inside their 20-yard line. With his third punt of day, Tress Way moved past Matt Turk and into first place for most punts inside the 20 in franchise history (135).
And, of course, he did not punt for a touchback for the 20th straight game.
Kick Coverage & Snaps- Deshazor Everett shut down the only Cowboy kickoff return at the 13-yard line and finished their first punt return with a takedown at the 10 after a gain of 4 yards.
Fellow backup safety Troy Apke got in on the fun when he stopped Dallas’ second punt return at the 15 after a gain of 10. However, the Cowboys were flagged for holding on the play, which negated all of that yardage and brought the ball back to the 3-yard line.
Everett and Apke, who rank first (3) and second (2) on the Redskins in specials tackles this season, were tied for the most teams snaps (21) for the second consecutive week.
Punt Returns- The Cowboys only punted twice, so Trey Quinn didn’t get many return opportunities in this one. Quinn fielded Chris Jones’ first punt at the Washington 35 and returned it 9 yards out to the 44-yard line. The second and final Dallas punt of the game was fair caught by Quinn at the 26.
Kickoff Returns- Five of Brett Maher’s six kickoffs on the day went for touchbacks. Washington return man Steven Sims caught the lone kickoff he fielded a yard deep in the end zone with 13 seconds left in first half and returned the ball 20 yards out to the 19. That was the longest return of the year for Sims, who is averaging just 16.5 yards per return.
*All statistics are courtesy of ESPN, Football Outsiders, NBC Sports, NFL.com, NFL Gamebooks, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Redskins.com, Sharp Football Stats and The Washington Post*
How much longer will Josh Norman be with the Redskins?
This poll is closed
He will be cut or traded during the season
Norman will be cut or traded in the offseason
He sticks around until his contract runs out at the end of next season
He’ll get a contract extension and be here for the foreseeable future