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Skins Stats & Snaps: Redskins @ Cowboys (Defense/ST)

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A look at the stats and snap counts for every defensive and special teams player on the Redskins in the team’s Week 17 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys

NFL: DEC 29 Redskins at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NFC Least- The four teams in the NFC East finished with a combined record of 12-29 against teams outside of the division. Per Pro Football Perspective, the resulting .293 winning percentage in non-division games ranks third-worst for any division since the 1970 merger.

The Washington Redskins have lost 10 consecutive games to teams in that same division. This was their fourth winless season against NFC East opponents in team history and their third since 2009. They also lost six or more division games in 1993 (7) and 1998 (6), back when there were eight division games per year.

The Redskins’ -93 point differential against the NFC Least this season was their second-worst such mark in franchise history (-107 in 1993), and the seventh worst differential ever posted among all four of the divisions current members.

Snaps- Greg Manusky’s defense was on the field for 72 plays, 75 snaps and 34:15 of the game clock. The play and snap totals were both the fourth-highest totals against the Skins this year.

Only the Cardinals (1,080) and Lions (1,094) had more plays run against their defense’s this year than the Redskins did (1,079). Those three teams were also tied for the most defensive snaps played in the league (1,133). Finally, no team had the ball possessed more against them than the Skins did this past year (08:50:38).

Takeaways- Washington was unable to intercept any of the opposition’s passes for the fourth straight game, but they did recover exactly one fumble for the sixth time in their last seven games. The club’s 22 takeaways on the year was tied for 15th in the league. They forced at least one turnover in all but three games and multiple takeaways five times, including two contests with four of them.

Believe it or not, but the Skins actually had a plus-one turnover margin in 2019. They were the only team that didn’t have a negative margin and won fewer than seven games. By contrast, the Eagles were the only club with a negative margin (-3) and a winning record (9-7).

3rd Down- The third-down defense struggled yet again. The D allowed conversions on eight of the 15 third downs they faced (53.3%), which marked the third straight game in which the opposition topped a 50% success rate on the money down and the eighth time it had happened this season. The Cowboys took advantage of the third downs that were not of the “and long” variety, as they converted on 7-of-9 such plays (77.8%) and averaged 17.4 yards on them (157 yards).

The team’s 48.9% third-down conversion percentage on defense ranked last in the NFL. That is the worst third-down clip allowed in franchise history and the fifth-worst season-long performance by any defense on third down in recorded history (data since 1991).

So, the Redskins somehow found a way to be the worst third down team on both offense and defense. The last, and only other time on record, a team finished last in both third-down offense and defense was in 1991, the first year that third down data was tracked. That team was the 1-15, Jeff George led Indianapolis Colts. The Redskins were 0.3 percentage points better on defense (48.9% to 49.2%) than those Colts, but they were over two percentage points worse on offense (29.1% to 31.3%).

Red Zone- The Dallas offense scored touchdowns on two of their three trips to the red zone. This was the sixth time in the last eight games that the Skins’ opponent has scored on at least two-thirds of their red-area possessions. The team allowed multiple red-zone tuddies in 14-of-16 contests this season (87.5%). It felt worse, but somehow their 61.0% clip only ranked 24th in the NFL. Even so, it was still Washington’s second-worst showing inside their own 20-yard line in the last 16 years (63.3% in 2013).

QB Pressure- The pass rush was only able to generate pressure on 29.7% of Dak Prescott’s dropbacks, which was their worst such clip since Week 9 (26.1% pressure rate at Buffalo). However, three of the 11 dropbacks they generated pressure on ended up resulting in sacks (27.3%) and several more of them produced QB hits.

It may not have felt like it, but the Redskins’ pass rush was actually quite effective in 2019. The team notched 46 sacks for the second consecutive season, which was the tenth-most sacks in the league and was their best total since they put up 50 of them in the legendary 1991 Super Bowl season.

Their sack rate of 7.85% ranked eighth in the NFL this year and was their second-best clip, behind only their 7.89% last season, in just shy of 20 years (8.88% in 2000). They also finished fourth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate with a percentage of 8.3%, their best showing in the 24-year history of the metric.

Rushing Defense- Washington was decimated on the ground once again. Zeke Elliott and friends racked up 223 yards, nine first downs and a touchdown against them on 36 rushes (6.19 YPC).

That was the highest such yardage total against the team this season and the fourth-highest figure in the last five years. In fact, the Skins have only allowed 200-plus rushing yards seven times since 2015, and three of those contests took place this year, including one in each of the last two weeks.

The same can almost be said regarding the averages they’ve been giving up on the ground. Four of the 13 times an opponent has averaged over 6.0 yards per carry against them occurred this season, three of which took place in the last month.

Elliott rushed for 100 yards against the team for the second time this season, and became the fourth straight starting running back to put up 100 rushing yards, gain at least 120 yards from scrimmage and score a touchdown against the Skins (Weeks 14-17).

The Redskins allowed the fourth-most rushing first downs in 2019 (120) and only the Bengals gave up more carries (493) and rushing yards (2,339). They also ranked 24th in rushing DVOA (-0.3%) and 26th in yards per carry allowed (4.74).

The 2,339 yards they allowed was the fourth-highest rushing total surrendered by the team in franchise history and the most since 1998 (2,436). The 4.74 YPC average was almost as bad; it was the seventh-highest clip ever posted against the Redskins, with only one of the worse averages being recorded after 1960 (4.83 in 2015).

Yards- For the second week in a row a division opponent gained over 500 yards against Manusky’s unit. This time around Dak Prescott and company dropped 517 yards on them, which was the second-most yards gained by the Cowboys’ offense and allowed by the Redskins’ defense this season.

The Burgundy and Gold D allowed 6,162 yards and an average of 34.9 yards per drive, which gave them rankings of 27th and 29th in those respective categories. The only other time a Washington defense gave up more yards was in 2010, when the Mike Shanahan led club got pasted for 6,228 yards, which is 66 more yards than the team allowed this season.

Yes, it somehow gets worse. The Cowboys outgained the Skins by a season-high 246 yards, which marked the fifth time they had been bested by 200 yards in 2019. The team was outgained by 1,767 yards this season, that is both a new franchise record by 94 yards and ranks dead last in the league by a whopping 363 yards. It was also the ninth-worst differential by any team in the last 30 years.

Points- Unfortunately, for any Redskins fans reading this, the points section is very similar to the yardage one. The Cowboys scored 47 points, which was a season best for them and a season worst for the Redskins; the same goes for the 31-point margin. It was the eighth game in which the Skins had surrendered 30-plus points and a league-high ninth time they lost by 10 or more (tied with Miami).

The defense ranked 27th in points allowed (435) and 30th in points allowed per drive (2.38). The only club with a worse point differential (-169) was the Miami Dolphins (-188). More disturbingly, that is the third-worst margin in Redskins’ history (-218 in 1961 and -225 in 1954).

Overall Advanced Metrics- The introductory pain is almost done, but we’re not there quite yet. The Redskins -10.8 SRS is their fourth-worst score in team history (-12.9 in 1959, -15.7 in 1961 and -19.7 in 1954). The only times they’ve posted a worse Football Outsiders’ team DVOA (dates back to 1986) than their -25.7% this season were in 2014 (-26.3%) and 2013 (-29.5%).

Injured Reserve Redskins- To say that the Redskins were plagued by injuries in 2019 would probably be something of an understatement. They finished the year with 24 players on some type of injury list (22 on IR) and had the most cap room tied up to players on injured reserve.

They had the third-most man games lost to injury and they were most impacted relative to the career quality of the injured players who missed said games.

This was not some new phenomenon, either. This was the third year in a row that the team placed 20-plus players on IR and they finished in the bottom ten of Football Outsiders’ adjusted-games-lost metric. Clearly, there was a trend here, which is probably the primary reason that head trainer Larry Hess was fired after 17 years with the team and replaced with former Carolina Panthers trainer Ryan Vermillion.

Jack Del Rio- Jack Del Rio was hired to be the team’s new defensive coordinator. Unlike his predecessor, Greg Manusky, Del Rio has quite a gaudy resume. Del Rio’s defenses have had an average ranking of 13.0 yards allowed, 14.8 in points allowed and 14.1 in DVOA, which is a major improvement over Manusky’s clips of 19.2, 19.0 and 18.3.

The only times Manusky defenses have ranked in the top ten of any of those categories was in 2009 when his 49ers’ D ranked fourth in points and fifth in DVOA and 2013 when the Colts ranked ninth in points allowed. Del Rio, on the other hand, has had four of his defenses finish in the top five of two or more of those metrics on four occasions.

In the four seasons when he was just a coordinator and not a head coach, his defenses were absolutely elite. In three of those four years, his units finished in the top five in both yards allowed and DVOA (top 5 in points allowed twice). Those teams never won fewer than seven games, averaged 11.3 wins per year and put up a .703 winning percentage.

Ron Rivera- The big boss himself, the 30th head coach in the history of the Washington Redskins, Ron Rivera.

If you want to talk more about rankings, then consider that Rivera’s average rankings in yards allowed (12.8), points allowed (14.3) and DVOA (12.7), are all actually better than the ones we just talked about Jack Del Rio posting.

You more of #winz guy, well consider that the East Coast version of Ron Burgundy won 11 games three times over the course of his nine seasons as the Panthers’ head man. He was also the DC for three other teams that won 11 or more times. Winning more than 10 games may not sound like a big deal, but it’s something that the Redskins have never once done in their 21 years under Dan Snyder (every other team has done it at least once in this span).

In one of those winning seasons down in Carolina, Rivera’s Panthers actually won a whopping 15 games and made it all the way to the Super Bowl. The only other coaches who have led their teams to a 15-1 season are Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Mike McCarthy, Dennis Green, Mike Ditka and Bill Walsh. There are three other coaches who have won more than 93% of their games in a season, but couldn’t hit 15 wins, because their teams didn’t play that many games (Don Shula, Paul Brown George Halas). Six of those nine men I just mentioned are Hall of Famers.

What about awards? Well, Riverboat Ron has got you covered there, too. He won the Associated Press Coach of the Year Award in both 2013 and 2015. Only ten other coaches have won this award multiple times, they are: Bill Belichick (3), Bruce Arians (2), Dan Reeves (2), Bill Parcells (2), Mike Ditka (2), Joe Gibbs (2), George Allen (2), Don Shula (4), Chuck Knox and Allie Sherman (2). Of those ten coaches, eight of them are Hall of Famers. By the way, I googled this Coach of the Year information because Dan Snyder told me to.

Look, Ron Rivera isn’t perfect; I could’ve discussed multiple negatives/cons, but ultimately, I think this is a good hire and I shared so many depressing statistics over the year that I wanted to close this out on at least something of a positive note. This much I can promise you, though: the defense will be better under Rivera. He is the first defensive-oriented head coach of the Redskins since Marty Schottenheimer and in all likelihood, he will be the first defensive head man to lead the Redskins for multiple seasons since Jack Pardee and George Allen roamed Washington’s sidelines in the 1970s. The product on the field is going to reflect this change.


DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Defensive Line (5 Players)
Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap %
Jonathan Allen * 55 73%
Daron Payne 51 68%
Matt Ioannidis * 44 59%
Treyvon Hester 15 20%
Tim Settle 13 17%

Matt Ioannidis- For whatever reason, Ioannidis played on a season-low 59% of the defensive snaps, yet that didn’t stop him from putting up some decent numbers in the last game of the year. He notched three tackles, three hurries and somehow what was the first pass defense of his career. On top of that, Matty I would’ve been credited with a strip-sack fumble, had the team not accepted a Dallas holding penalty to move the Cowboys further away from field goal range at the end of the first half.

The Ioan Man’s 85.2 PFF rating was both the second-best grade on the team and in his entire career (92.2 in Week 1 of 2018 at Arizona).

This was a nice capper to an absolutely fantastic year for Ioannidis, who had the best season of any player on the Redskins’ vaunted defensive line. He led the Redskins in sacks (8.5), QB hits (8), total pressures (55) and TFLs (11). The Temple product also led all Washington linemen with 37 defensive stops and a 72.5 PFF grade.

Ioannidis wasn’t just one of the best D-linemen on the Redskins’ roster, though; he was one of the best pass-rushing interior defenders in the entire NFL. Just check out some of his rankings among all qualifying interior defenders: ninth in pass-rush win rate (13%), ninth in PFF pass-rushing grade (77.6), seventh in pressures (55), fifth in sacks (8.5) and fourth in pass-rushing productivity score (7.7).

Daron Payne- Payne, unlike Ioannidis, was not able to finish 2019 on a high note. He recorded three tackles on the day, but only one of them was a solo takedown and the Cowboys gained at least two yards on each play (gains of 2, 4 and 8 yards).

He finished with exactly 56 tackles for the second consecutive season, which made him just the seventh defensive lineman in the past decade to make 50-plus tackles in each of their first two seasons (DeForest Buckner, Jurrell Casey, Jabaal Sheard, Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and J.J. Watt).

However, he recorded four fewer stops (30 to 34) and three fewer TFLs (3 to 6) than he did as a rookie. Those small declines may have had something to do with the fact that he played in 15 instead of 16 games this year (38 fewer snaps). On a more positive note, he did finish 12th among all interior defenders with an 8.7% run stop rate.

The big Alabama nose tackle’s streak of games with multiple pressures was snapped against the Cowboys, as he was only able generate one hurry as a pass rusher. He was limited to one pressure or less and without a sack in six of his 15 games in his second pro season. He registered four fewer pressures and three fewer sacks than he did in 2018.

Jonathan Allen- The third-year Bama boy led the team with a career-high tying seven solo tackles and eight total takedowns, which was his third-best total as a pro, and five defensive stops. This was his eighth outing with five or more tackles in 2019. His 68 tackles this season are the most by a Washington defensive lineman since Cornelius Griffin made 70 takedowns back in 2004. Griffin, Tim Johnson, and Charles Mann are the only D-linemen in team history who’ve made more tackles in a single season than the founder of the Alabama Wall just did.

Allen, DeForest Buckner and Danielle Hunter are the only defensive linemen in the NFL who have put up 60-plus tackles in each of the last two years.

He also notched three pressures in Week 17, including a 4-yard sack on a 3rd-and-1 play in Washington territory. That sack pushed his total up to 6.0 on the year. He has recorded over five sacks and 30 pressures in each of the last two seasons.

Tim Settle- Settle did not record a tackle for the 10th time in his 15 games this season. He was, at least, able to hurry Prescott once, which made this his fourth game with a pressure in the last five weeks (6 pressures in that span).

The youngest player to suit up for the Redskins in 2019 finished his second year in the pros with 13 pressures and 14 tackles. Five of his pressures were either sacks (2) or QB hits (3) and 13 of his takedowns were counted as defensive stops (6 for a loss or no gain).

Treyvon Hester- Treyvon Hester out-snapped Tim Settle (15 to 13) for the first time in a game they both played in, but that didn’t do anything for Hester’s production.

He did not record a single stat or pressure of any kind against the Cowboys. This wasn’t anything new for Hester though, as it was his 10th game without a tackle and 12th one without a pressure (out of 15). He earned a 39.7 PFF rating for the game, which was his second-worst grade of the season and among all defensive players on the team this week.

The veteran lineman is not under contract for 2020 and will turn 28 in September. With the team switching to a base 4-3 defense next season, they won’t even need to roster more than four D-linemen anyways.


OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Outside Linebackers (4 Players)
Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap %
Ryan Anderson * 64 85%
Montez Sweat * 51 68%
Nate Orchard 23 31%
Chris Odom 9 12%

Montez Sweat- Montez Sweat saved his best for last by having what was easily the most productive outing of his rookie season in the team’s Week 17 finale.

The freakishly athletic first-round pick tied a career high and led the team with four pressures, two of which went for sacks (7 yards), giving him another career high (2.0). He forced a fumble for his second time as a pro on one of those sacks and watched as the ball was recovered inside Dallas’ red zone to pave the way for an easy field goal. Sweat also scored a QB hit right outside of Washington’s red area. This was his first game with both a sack and QB hit.

On a single three-play drive, Sweat made a 1-yard TFL on a Tony Pollard run, recorded one of his aforementioned sacks and shut down a wide receiver screen by using his other-worldly wingspan to clog the passing lane. He basically forced a Dallas three-and-out all by himself. The Cowboys failed to gain yardage on four of the five plays he made a tackle on and lost a total of four yards on those plays.

This game made Sweat the second rookie in recorded franchise history with the sack, TFL, FF and tackle totals that he put up in this game. The other one was Brian Orakpo back in 2009. Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith would join the list as well if the TFL and tackle restrictions were eased. Max Crosby is the only other first-year player who matched or bested Sweat’s stat line from this game over the course of the last two seasons (Week 11).

The 26th overall pick in the 2019 draft certainly got off to a slow start this year by notching just 1.5 sacks and 11 pressures in his first eight games. He dramatically turned things around in the second half of the season with 5.5 sacks and 20 pressures.

His seven sacks were the fourth most by a rookie in franchise history. Orakpo (11 in 2009), Smith (8 in 2015) and Kerrigan (7.5 in 2011) were the only ones with more sacks in their first seasons. Additionally, Smith and Kerrigan were the other Washington rooks with five-plus sacks and two or more forced fumbles. Orakpo, Kerrigan and Smith, yeah, these are the kinds of Redskins’ edge rushers you want to hear Sweat get compared to. Just imagine what Montez Sweat could do when he steps into more of a full-time role (64% snap share) and is kept at defensive end instead of being used in coverage (63 snaps, 8.7% of his 724 snaps).

Ryan Anderson- After a surprising month-long statistical explosion from Ryan Anderson, the third-year outside backer finally regressed back to his normal level of play, which is to say that he was subpar at best.

He recorded four tackles, including one stop for no gain, but failed to register multiple pressures since Week 9 (0 pressures at Buffalo). Luckily for him, his lone pressure was a QB hit on third down; unluckily for him, Dak Prescott threw a touchdown on the play. That was one of several touchdown plays that he was involved with, and no, I’m not talking about him blocking for rushing scores as a fullback on offense.

In what was perhaps a final troll job and middle finger to the Redskins’ fanbase, Greg Manusky had Ryan Anderson drop in coverage seven times against the Cowboys, and those plays went as you would expect. Anderson was targeted three times and gave up three receptions for 51 yards, three first downs and two touchdowns on those catches. The 32-yard score he surrendered was especially painful as it was the Cowboys’ fourth-longest play of the game and it came on a third down. Anderson allowed five receiving touchdowns this season, the second-most receiving scores allowed by any player on the team.

And for good measure, he jumped offsides on a 3rd-and-9 play, which allowed Dak Prescott to take advantage of the free play and hit Amari Cooper on a 48-yard bomb, which was Dallas’ longest play of the contest.

Yes, at least half of his sack (100%), TFL (75%), forced fumble (80%), fumble recovery (50%) and pressure production (50%) came in one five-week stretch (Weeks 12-16), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t or shouldn’t count. Anderson smashed his previous career highs in every one of those categories and finally started producing like the Redskins hoped he would when they drafted him in the second round of the 2017 draft. His franchise-record tying five forced fumbles were especially impressive (tied Ken Harvey in 1995, Bruce Smith 2000 and Ryan Kerrigan in 2014).

The only question is how he will be utilized in Ron Rivera’s 4-3 defense. There is no major defensive contributor currently on the roster whose role on the new defense is more uncertain than Anderson’s is.

Nate Orchard- Nate Orchard got 23 defensive snaps and a 30% snap share, his highest playing-time totals since his debut with the team in Week 13 (42 and 58% at Carolina). He recorded two tackles for the second consecutive week (1 solo), with one of them stopping a Tony Pollard run for no gain, and missed a tackle in the running game. Orchard was unable to register a single pressure on any of his 11 pass-rushing snaps, which marks his fourth consecutive game without one.

All six of his pressures, including his only sack and QB hit, this season came in his first game of the year (Week 13 at Carolina). He also made a couple of big plays last week, with a blocked punt and a pass defense. That was the story of his season, a game changer or virtually non-existent. Orchard was signed to a 1-year deal and is slated to hit free agency this coming Spring.

Chris Odom- Odom, much like Orchard, made a pair of tackles against the Cowboys and generated his only pressures of the year in his season debut in Week 13; Odom scored the first and only two sacks of his three-year career in that game. The main difference between Orchard and Odom has been that Odom has only played 18 defensive snaps since the aforementioned game, while Orchard has played 76 snaps in that span. Perhaps Odom would produce more if given more of an opportunity.

Odom might get that chance because he is a better fit size-wise to play defensive end in a 4-3 than Orchard is (1 inch taller and 11 pounds heavier), is a year and a half younger than Orchard and, most importantly, he is under contract for next season.


INSIDE LINEBACKERS

Inside Linebackers (4 Players)
Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap %
Jon Bostic * 68 91%
Cole Holcomb * 58 77%
Shaun Dion Hamilton 24 32%
Josh Harvey-Clemons ST Only 0%

Jon Bostic- Washington’s MIKE linebacker made six tackles on the day (4 solo), but the Cowboys had already picked up first downs prior to half of those takedowns and gained at least eight yards on all but one of those plays. Further diminishing the value of his tackles, four of them were made after receptions that he had given up.

Prescott threw into Bostic’s coverage five times and all five of those passes resulted in completions and produced a combined 35 yards and two first downs. He missed a pair of tackles for the second time this year, as well. Sadly, his 42.7 PFF grade for the game was only his third-lowest such mark of the year; it was fifth time he posted a score under 50.0.

Bostic ended up ranking second on the team in snaps from scrimmage (1,031), total tackles (105) and stops (40). He also topped 100 tackles for the first time as a pro (105). Yes, he was durable and a tackling machine, but he just didn’t make big plays and didn’t get it done in coverage.

He got all that PT but didn’t force or recover any fumbles and only recorded one sack, three TFLs, one interception and one additional pass defense. He gave up the most targets (66) and receptions (52) on the team and surrendered more yards (502) than any Redskin besides Fabian Moreau (504).

Bostic is no longer under contract, and while the Redskins’ ILB corps isn’t overflowing with depth, I just don’t see the journeyman finding his forever home in Washington. He is more likely to spend his age-29 season on his fifth new team in the last five years.

Cole Holcomb- Like his fellow starting inside backer Jon Bostic, the rookie former UNC Tar Heel made four solo and six total tackles, with only one of those coming within four yards of the line of scrimmage. However, in contrast to Bostic’s showing, Holcomb didn’t allow any receptions on his 27 coverage snaps and defended a pass for the first time in his career.

His six takedowns on the day were just enough to get him over 100 tackles (101) for the season and to rank second in franchise history in rookie season tackles; only Darrell Green had more tackles as a first-year Redskin (109 in 1983).

This made Holcomb just the third player ever drafted with the 150th pick or later in the draft to top the century mark as a rookie (Chris Cash with 100 in 2002 and Zach Thomas with 154 in 1996). Telvin (104) and Al Smith (100) join the cohort if the constraint is changed to fifth round or later. Holcomb also made the third-most starts by a rookie (15) selected in the third-round or later in recorded franchise history (Alfred Morris, Bashaud Breeland and Derek Smith with 16).

The uber-athletic 23-year-old (97.8% SPARQ) was great as a tackler, but his work in coverage left much to be desired. He gave up receptions on 42 of the 49 targets thrown his way (85.7%) for 412 yards (9.8 YPR) and three touchdowns. The only player on the Redskins with a worse passer rating when targeted was Josh Norman (122.1 to 133.3) and his 8.0 coverage snaps per reception allowed was the worst such clip on the team.

Shaun Dion Hamilton- Shaun Dion Hamilton got on the field for 25 defensive snaps and a 33.3% snap share, which matched up almost perfectly with his season-long averages of 24.2 and 34.2%. And as he’s been known to do, SDH made some big plays despite getting little playing time.

His biggest impact was felt when he recovered the fumble forced by Montez Sweat at the Dallas 16-yard line and set the team up to kick a chip shot field goal four plays later. It was not just the first recovery of his pro career, it may have been his first one ever in an organized game, as he had no recoveries in college and I did not find any record of him having any in high school, either.

SDH hurried Dak Prescott on one of his two blitzes and made four tackles (2 solo) against the Cowboys. One of those takedowns went for an 8-yard TFL after a reception he had allowed. Hamilton was targeted twice on his 11 coverage snaps, but that was the only catch he gave up.

His plus-showing in coverage shouldn’t come as a shock, because his 89.7 PFF coverage grade this season ranked second in the NFL behind only Lavonte David’s 91.4 and just ahead of Luke Kuechly’s 86.2. Hamilton also ranked sixth among all inside backers in passer rating when targeted (77.1) and led all players at the position with a 0.42 yards-per-coverage-snap average allowed.

He led all players on the team with an 87.2 PFF grade against the Cowboys and ranked second among all defenders on the club behind only Quinton Dunbar (87.6) with a 74.9 overall rating this season. His snap count between his rookie and second years literally tripled from 129 to 387 and a similar trend may continue in 2020. With the change to the 4-3 a new starting spot opens for an off-ball linebacker, and SDH is currently the best man on the roster for the job.

Josh Harvey-Clemons- After being a healthy scratch for each of the last three games, Harvey-Clemons finally got some run in this game. However, just as it was in each of his previous games this season, all of JHC’s playing time came on special teams.

Harvey-Clemons played 93 defensive snaps as a rookie and on 196 of them last season, but did not play a single snap on defense in 2019. He also set a new career low with 153 special teams snaps, which was 53 fewer than his previous career low. The former seventh-round pick has one year left on his rookie deal and it remains to be seen if the new coaching staff has any interest in using him more than the old one did.


CORNERBACKS

Cornerbacks (6 Players)
Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap %
Aaron Colvin * 74 99%
Coty Sensabaugh * 72 96%
Kayvon Webster * 48 64%
Breon Borders 2 3%
Dee Delaney 2 3%
Josh Norman Inactive N/A

Aaron Colvin- Sadly, Aaron Colvin was the longest tenured Redskins cornerback who played in this game. I say that it’s sad because A) five corners saw action for the team in this game, B) Colvin was signed in Week 2. Where was he in Week 1, you ask? Well, he was with the Texans then. And why was he no longer in Houston after that game? He left because he got cut for doing the same thing he did in Week 17, which was getting absolutely annihilated in coverage.

In his first game of the season, Colvin had the following receiving line dropped on him: 10 targets-9 receptions-126 yards-7 first downs and 2 touchdowns (158.3 passer rating). He fared only slightly better in his last one. On 37 coverage snaps and 9 targets, he allowed 8 receptions, 125 yards, 5 first downs and a touchdown. He was responsible for two of Dallas’ third-down conversions and their longest gain of the contest (48 yards); the Cowboys scored two plays after the long gainer. Dak Prescott had a 155.8 passer rating when throwing to the players Colvin was covering in this game.

Three of Colvin’s four tackles were made after receptions that he had allowed and he whiffed on a season-high two tackles.

Colvin was literally one of the worst cover men in the entire league from an efficiency standpoint in 2019. He allowed the third-highest yards-per-coverage-snap average (2.21) and the second-highest passer rating when targeted (156.8) among all of the 300-plus players with 100 or more coverage snaps.

Coty Sensabaugh- Sensabaugh made his second consecutive start for the Redskins at slot corner and played on 72 snaps, his highest total since Week 1 of the 2016 season (Rams at 49ers).

The 31-year-old actually acquitted himself quite nicely in this one after getting roasted in coverage last week. He was only targeted twice and did give up receptions on both plays, but only one of them went for a first down, an 18-yarder on a 1st-and-17 play. He made the tackle after giving up a 2-yard grab on a 3rd-and-3 pass. That stop was one of Sensabaugh’s four tackles.

Kayvon Webster- Webster played in what was just his fourth game in the last two years and made his third start in that span. Webster played Robin to Colvin’s Batman, in that they both got lit up in coverage, Webster just did so to a lesser extent.

The seventh-year DB surrendered four receptions, 80 yards, two first downs and a touchdown on the five targets thrown into his coverage. Two of the catches he gave up went for gains of 32 and 45 yards on third-down passes and represented the Cowboys’ second and fourth-longest gains of the day.

On the bright side, Webster did defend a pass on third down and recorded a 3-yard TFL after a reception he had given up. He notched a PD and TFL for the first time since 2017 and 2016, respectively.

I was surprised to see that Webster is listed as under contract with the Redskins next season according to both Over the Cap and Spotrac. Even so, like Colvin and Sensabaugh, I don’t see him as anything more than an old mercenary that was brought in to be a warm body for a defensive backfield desperately in need at the end of a lost season.

Breon Borders- Borders, who was signed five days prior to the game, played three snaps on defense in his debut with the team. He was not targeted and did not record any statistics.

Dee Delaney- Delaney, like Borders was signed on Christmas Eve, was in for three snaps, wasn’t target and did not crack the stat sheet.

Josh Norman- Josh Norman was inactive because of an illness. Inactive or not, he probably would not have played in this game unless almost all of the other active corners on the roster had been injured during the contest. A total of 12 corners ended up taking snaps for the Redskins this season, and it was plainly obvious that by the end of the year, if given the chance, the coaches would have rolled out any of the other 11 players instead of Norman.

The artist formerly known as “J-No” only played defense in two of the team’s last six games this season and played just 12 total snaps during that stretch (including special teams). His 603 snaps, 12 games played and 8 starts were all the second-lowest totals of his career, behind only his second season (102 snaps, 7 games and 0 starts). Adding to that, he was out-snapped by 11 Washington defenders this season, and yet he still gave up the third-most receiving yards (472) and the most touchdowns on the team (8).

As a matter of fact, the only players in the NFL who allowed more TDs than Norman were rookies Nik Needham and Byron Murphy (9 TDs each). However, Norman stood all alone with the highest passer rating allowed in his coverage among all qualifying corners (133.3). His career-worst 45.6 PFF grade ranked 118th out of the 210 corners who played 300 or more snaps this season.

There has been some talk that a reunion with former coach Ron Rivera could spark a resurgence for Norman and that perhaps the team would let him play out the final year of his deal. But I just don’t see how any individual or organization, even this one, could consider all of the facts I just presented to you and come to the conclusion that it would be in their best interests to retain Josh Norman for his age-33 season instead of releasing him and saving $12.5M against the salary cap in the process.


SAFETIES

Safeties (5 Players)
Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap %
Jeremy Reaves * 75 100%
Kenny Ladler 69 92%
Maurice Smith * 8 11%
Troy Apke Inactive N/A
Landon Collins Inactive N/A

Maurice Smith- Free safety Maurice Smith started for the first time in his career and played what were his first defensive snaps of the 2019 season. Smith made his only tackle of the game and the year when he took down Ezekiel Elliott after a 2-yard gain on a 4th-and-1 play. Smith suffered a concussion on the play and exited the game.

Jeremy Reaves- Jeremy Reaves had only played 37 career snaps on defense coming into this game, but made his third start as a pro and was in for all 75 defensive snaps against the Cowboys.

With the increased run on defense, came less time on special teams. The backup strong safety, who had led the team in specials snaps seven times this season and never played on fewer than 11 such snaps in any of his other 10 career games, was limited to a career-low four teams snaps. Nevertheless, his 79 total snaps in the contest was nearly double his previous record of 40 (Week 11 vs. New York Jets).

He didn’t just break new ground in terms of playing time, either. Reaves notched the first QB hit of his career on the opening play of the game and later scored his first pass defense. He also set a new career high with four total tackles (2 solo).

On the downside, the first missed tackle of his career proved to be especially costly. The young strong safety failed to take down Michael Gallup after a gain of three on a 3rd-and-2 play, and watched as Gallup ran an additional 29 yards all the way to the end zone. Reaves was not charged with allowing a reception on that play or any other one, though; the only play he was officially targeted on was the one he recorded his PD on.

Reaves is under contract for 2020 and will turn 24 just prior to the start of the season.

Kenny Ladler- The injury to Maurice Smith forced Kenny Ladler, who was signed to the team two days before the game, to come in and play a career-high 69 snaps on defense (20 career snaps prior). Ladler was the seventh safety that played for the team on defense this year and he looked the part too, as he was absolutely atrocious in this game.

He recorded four tackles (all solo), but he whiffed on almost the same number of them. He had a team and career-high three missed tackles, and a couple of them led to big Dallas gains. First, he whiffed on an attempted tackle of Zeke Elliott at the Washington 20-yard line, which opened the door for Elliott to go 33 yards for a touchdown, which was his longest run of the year. Then a quarter later, he was on the receiving end of a Dak Prescott stiff arm that gave the Cowboy signal caller an extra 12 yards on a 23-yard read-option rush on a 3rd-and-2 play.

Ladler was only targeted once and didn’t give up a catch on the play, but was flagged for a DPI penalty against a player that wasn’t targeted on the play in question (declined).

He earned a team and career-worst 35.6 PFF grade for his showing in Dallas, with most of that being the product of an atrocious 26.4 tackling grade. Ladler flashed a bit of potential with the Redskins in the 2018 preseason, but after this game, I think I’ve seen enough.

Troy Apke- Troy Apke missed his first game of the season because of a knee injury. He played 210 defensive snaps this season after not getting any action on that side of the ball as a rookie, made two starts, recorded two pass defenses, intercepted a pass and registered two pressures.

Landon Collins- I knew that Collins would be out as I was writing his section for the Week 16 article, so for this section only, I’m going to refer you that post rather than just repeat myself here. What I will do is update you on where Collins ended up ranking on the team in several season-long statistics.

  • 1st in total tackles (117)
  • 1st in solo tackles (78)
  • 1st in defensive stops (41)
  • t-1st in stops for no gain (13)
  • 2nd in TFLs (9)
  • 1st in missed tackles (41)
  • 1st in defensive snaps, snaps from scrimmage and total snaps (1,057)

He put up some impressive numbers, but as you probably noticed, they are almost all tackling stats. I have two issues with that: 1) believe it or not, but Collins is a safety, so you’d like to see him put up solid numbers in, you know, pass defense, and 2) being one of the highest-paid players in the league at his position puts an onus on him to make big, game-changing plays, and he did not do that with any consistency (0 INT, 0 FR, 2 FF, 0 TD and 1 sack).


ALL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS

All Defensive Players (24 Players)
Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap % Player (* - starter) Snaps Snap %
Jeremy Reaves * 75 100% Shaun Dion Hamilton 24 32%
Aaron Colvin * 74 99% Nate Orchard 23 31%
Coty Sensabaugh * 72 96% Treyvon Hester 15 20%
Kenny Ladler 69 92% Tim Settle 13 17%
Jon Bostic * 68 91% Chris Odom 9 12%
Ryan Anderson * 64 85% Maurice Smith * 8 11%
Cole Holcomb * 58 77% Breon Borders 2 3%
Jonathan Allen * 55 73% Dee Delaney 2 3%
Daron Payne 51 68% Josh Harvey-Clemons ST Only 0%
Montez Sweat * 51 68% Troy Apke Inactive N/A
Kayvon Webster * 48 64% Landon Collins Inactive N/A
Matt Ioannidis * 44 59% Josh Norman Inactive N/A

SPECIAL TEAMS

Special Teams Players (35 Players)
Player Snaps Snap % Player Snaps Snap %
Shaun Dion Hamilton 22 65% Nate Orchard 9 26%
Michael Burton 21 62% Tim Settle 9 26%
Kenny Ladler 21 62% Ryan Anderson 8 24%
Wendell Smallwood 21 62% Darvin Kidsy 8 24%
Cam Sims 19 56% Chris Odom 8 24%
Jeremy Sprinkle 18 53% Nick Sundberg 8 24%
Kelvin Harmon 17 50% Tress Way 8 24%
Kayvon Webster 16 47% Montez Sweat 7 21%
Josh Harvey-Clemons 15 44% Coty Sensabaugh 5 15%
Hale Hentges 14 41% Tony Bergstrom 4 12%
Cole Holcomb 14 41% Geron Christian 4 12%
Josh Ferguson 13 38% Ereck Flowers 4 12%
Matt Ioannidis 13 38% Wes Martin 4 12%
Breon Borders 11 32% Morgan Moses 4 12%
Dee Delaney 11 32% Timon Parris 4 12%
Steven Sims 10 29% Jeremy Reaves 4 12%
Treyvon Hester 9 26% Jester Weah 2 6%
Dustin Hopkins 9 26%

Snaps- Washington’s special teams unit tied the season high they originally set in Week 16, by getting exactly 34 snaps for the second game in a row.

Shaun Dion Hamilton (22 snaps) led the team in specials snaps for the fourth time this season and for the first time since Week 7 (vs. San Francisco). Michael Burton, Kenny Ladler and Wendell Smallwood were right behind him with 21 teams snaps a piece.

SDH and Smallwood ended up finishing the year with the second and third-most special teams snaps in 2019 (264 and 243). Troy Apke ended up with the most snaps (323) even though he didn’t play in this game.

Dustin Hopkins- Dustin Hopkins connected on field goals from 31, 42 and 28 yards out in this one; he hit on his lone extra point, as well. Three of his five kickoffs went for touchbacks, with the other two kickoffs being returned for gains of 27 and 30 yards out to the 25 and 27-yard lines, respectively.

Just as he had in three of his four previous years with the Redskins, Hop only missed one point after this season (21-of-22, 95.5%). Things didn’t go quite as well for the veteran kicker outside of that department, though.

He made 25 of his 30 field goal tries, which represented both his second-fewest number of field goals made and his second-most misses in a season. Hopkins missed his first ever kick from inside 30 yards and also failed to connect on just his third try from inside 40.

On the kickoff side of things, Hopkins posted the second-lowest touchback rate of his career (70.6%) and the returns of his kickoffs averaged a career-worst 25.8 yards.

Tress Way- The newly minted Pro Bowler punted the ball away four times for 227 yards in Dallas, which gave him an average of 56.8 yards per punt, the third-highest clip of his career.

The primary reason this number was so high was his 70-yard boot that went for a touchback at the end of the game; it was Way’s third-longest punt in the pros. He also had a 61-yarder that pinned the Dallas offense at their own 12-yard line, that is until the Cowboys were flagged for holding and moved back to their own six. The two punts that were returned lost a yard and gained seven on their way to the Dallas 30 and 47-yard lines, respectively. This left Way with a net average of 50.3, which was his fifth-highest career average.

For the first time in his career, Way led the league punting average (49.6) and longest punt (79 yards). He finished second in total punting yards (3,919) and fourth in net average (44.1), as well. All of the numbers just referenced were unsurprisingly new career highs for the seventh-year veteran and, even more impressively, the net average was almost three yards better than the franchise record Way set last season (41.5) and the regular average was the second-best clip in team history, behind only Sammy Baugh’s mark of 51.4 all the way back in 1940.

He pinned the opposition inside their own 20-yard line 30 times this season and only kicked four touchbacks. This was the third straight year in which he’s had 30 inside-the-20 punts and had more than five times as many such kicks as he had touchbacks. His 5.1% inside-the-20 percentage was the second-best such mark of his career (0% in 2018).

The All-Pro Way or the Redskins’ Way- Tress Way is truly one of the best punters in the entire league and he was finally recognized for it this season, first with a Pro Bowl nod and then by being named second team All-Pro.

He was the only player on the team who received a single All-Pro vote this season and is the first Redskin to be named second team All-Pro by the Associated Press since Trent Williams was in 2015. The only other Washington players to receive this honor in the past decade were Alfred Morris (2012) and London Fletcher (2011 and 2012). The last first team All-Pro the Redskins had was also a punter.

Matt Turk was a first-teamer for the Skins in 1996, 23 years ago. Washington is the only franchise without a first team All-Pro since 1997. The other 31 teams in the league have had an average of 12 different players be named to the first-team All-Pros a combined average of 20 times in that span.

No other club has had fewer than four players receive this honor (Cleveland Browns) and had their players combine for fewer than nine such nominations (Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals). I say again, the Redskins have not had single player named first-team All-Pro a single time since 1996 and every other team has done so a minimum of four and nine times during that stretch. Perhaps Tress Way or this guy will soon be able to finally reverse the curse.

Kick Coverage- Darvin Kidsy tackled Tavon Austin at the Dallas 30-yard line on a punt return that lost a yard and then stopped him for no gain at the 12 on another return. Those were the first specials tackles of Kidsy’s career.

Wendell Smallwood made a pair of specials tackles too, which marked the second time this year he had done so. He stopped an Austin punt return at the Dallas 47 after a gain of seven yards and took down Tony Pollard at the 27 to finish off a 30-yard kickoff return. Smallwood finished the year with five tackles and two fumble recoveries on special teams.

Fullback Michael Burton took down Pollard at the 25 after a 27-yard kickoff runback. Burton’s six specials tackles this season (3 solo) were the third-most on the team. Only Deshazor Everett (8 total and 6 solo) and Troy Apke (11 total and 5 solo) recorded more special teams takedowns for the Burgundy and Gold in 2019.

Punt Returns- Steven Sims did not return either of the Cowboys’ two punts. He caught the first one at the 29-yard line and watched as their second and final punt, a pathetic 18-yarder, was downed at the Dallas 44. This was Washington’s second consecutive game without a punt return and their third such game this season (Week 8 at Minnesota). The last time the team went two games in a row without a punt return was in Weeks 10 and 11 of 2018.

Steven Sims, who was supposed to improve the team’s punt return game, only gained 26 yards on his six returns. That gave him an average of just 4.33 yards per runback, which is actually more than a half yard worse than the clip posted by Trey Quinn (4.88-yard average from 78 yards on 16 returns). Among all players with a dozen or more punt returns, Sims’ average would rank 31st out of 32 players if he qualified. Trey Quinn comes in at 29th.

As a team, the Redskins took their 22 returns for 104 yards and a 4.73-yard average. Those yardage and average figures ranked 31st and dead last in the NFL. The 104 yards is the third-lowest total in franchise history; the fourth-worst amount was posted last year (110 yards). The team should really think about figuring something out here.

Kickoff Returns- Former Redskins’ kicker Kai Forbath set a career high with eight touchbacks against the Redskins, which was also the most touchbacks kicked against Washington this season.

Wendell Smallwood fielded a short kickoff at the 12-yard line and returned it 14 yards out the 26; it was his first return since Week 3 of last season. Steven Sims took Washington’s only other kickoff runback of the day for 20 yards out the 18.

You’d think that one of the Redskins’ coaches would have told Sims to run out just one more kick, because he ended up finishing the year just seven yards shy of passing Cordarrelle Patterson and leading the NFL in kickoff return yards (819 to 825 yards). He finished the year ranked seventh in return average (25.6 yards) and was one of seven players to return a kickoff for a TD this season.

Sims 819 return yards were the third-most by a Redskins rookie in franchise history and his 25.6-yard average was the third-best clip by a first-year Washington player since the merger. The last Redskin who gained more yards on kickoffs, regardless of whether they were rookies or not, was Brandon Banks in 2011 (1,174). Devin Thomas was the only Washington player with a better average (28.0 yards) in the last decade.

Nate Kaczor- Nate Kaczor, who was in his first year as coordinator of the Redskins’ special team, saw his unit finish the 2019 season with the sixth-best DVOA in the NFL (3.7%). This was quite the departure for Kaczor, as his six other years as a specials coach produced the following DVOA rankings: 26th, 20th, 28th, 20th, 29th and 29th.

His strong showing this season and his relationship with new DC Jack Del Rio, whom he worked under with the Jaguars between 2008 and 2011, are likely the primary reasons that he was retained for at least the 2020 season.


*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*

Poll

Who was the Washington Redskins’ 2019 Defensive Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Jonathan Allen
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Daron Payne
    (0 votes)
  • 77%
    Matt Ioannidis
    (52 votes)
  • 0%
    Ryan Kerrigan
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Montez Sweat
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Ryan Anderson
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Jon Bostic
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Cole Holcomb
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    Quinton Dunbar
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Fabian Moreau
    (0 votes)
  • 11%
    Landon Collins
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Montae Nicholson
    (0 votes)
67 votes total Vote Now