Sunday’s game against Dallas was one of the more enjoyable contests I can remember watching from our squad in years! It was about as complete of a game as we have played in a LONG time, and it vaulted us right back into the thick of things in a horrible NFC East heading into a much needed bye week.
Many have questioned the moves this staff has made over the first seven games of the 2020 season, but I doubt you’ll find anyone who will question the decisions and results in this contest - even the decision to go for it on fourth and goal from inside the one yard line in the first quarter.
Anyway, let’s move right into my Studs and Duds of the game; followed by some notes.
Kyle Allen - Allen was an efficient 15-25 for 192 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers. He was only sacked twice on the afternoon. He wasn’t asked to do a lot through the air, as the running game was really clicking, but when he was, he was decisive and accurate.
Antonio Gibson - The rookie running back broke out in a big way, and had the game all fans were waiting for. He galloped for 128 yards(6.4 YPC), and a touchdown. He did not catch any passes(he actually dropped his lone target - a quick screen), but he really didn’t need to as the offense was incredibly efficient as it was.
Terry McLaurin - F1 continues to dazzle. He was targeted 11 times, and hauled in seven receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown(a 52 yard deep pass from Kyle Allen). he nearly had another touchdown early in the game but just missed getting the ball over the goal line.
Logan Thomas - I have been hard on Logan Thomas, and the whole tight end position for that matter, all season. Look, I know Thomas is never going to turn into George Kittle, but his play was very good Sunday. He hauled in four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Maybe, just maybe, he can be a competent TE 2 moving forward.
The Offensive Line - YES, you are reading this correctly! The ENTIRE offensive line were STUDS Sunday. Part of this was the removal of both turnstiles Wes Martin(a fan favorite coming into the 2020 season) and Geron Christian Sr., who has struggled, albeit not as bad as Martin, this year. Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses were absolute beasts. Roullier was his normal, solid self. Both Schweitzer and Lucas looked incredibly in sync playing next to one another for the first time this season. Lucas was VERY solid locking down the left side, and showed well in both run blocking and pass protection on the afternoon. I hope Rivera leaves this unit intact after our bye week!
Montez Sweat - Sweat is having himself one heck of a season, and his exceptional performance continued on Sunday against the Cowboys. On the afternoon, Sweat collected three tackles, two sacks(for a loss of 20 total yards), a forced fumble on one of his sacks, two tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits. He now has five sacks(should be 6) and two forced fumbles over seven games.
Chase Young - Young didn’t record a sack for the third consecutive game he played in, but he had a MAJOR impact again Sunday. He tied for the team lead in tackles with six, had one for a loss, and multiple pressures.
Cole Holcomb - Holcomb was a complete lightning rod for this defense, flying all over the field and making plays. He played 70 percent of the defensive snaps, and registered five tackles, one for a loss, a sack, two quarterback hits, one interception and a pass defended. If he can start putting things together, we just may have something!
Ron Rivera - The man has fought cancer and still is on the sidelines for each game! His treatments are finally over and prayers go out to him that he’s beaten the disease.
Jon Bostic - Bostic’s play this year has been VERY suspect, but on Sunday, his dirty play was what stood out most. On an Andy Dalton scramble up the middle in the third quarter, Bostic lower his head and shoulders while Dalton was giving himself up on a slide which was short of the first down marker, and delivered a vicious blow to the head of the quarterback - knocking his helmet off and sending him out of the game with a suspected concussion. The play resulted in Bostic being ejected(a small price to pay for his egregious act). There is NO place in the game for that type of hit, and I hope he loses his spot in the starting lineup, and money from his wallet, for that play!
Dustin Hopkins - Defend the guy all you want...but I am DONE! He’s horribly inaccurate over 40 yards. He’s cost us games in the past, and he’ll continue to do so in the future. I know the grass isn’t always greener...but at this point, especially with a bye on our schedule, I’m willing to take that chance!
- Some of the decisions this staff made to start the season were head-scratching, but it looks like they are coming back down to reality. Pulling guys like Wes Martin and Troy Apke were moves that HAD to be made, and now that they have been, we are seeing more competent play from those positions. Inserting Cole Holcomb at linebacker really gave this defense some buzz. Heck, even Cam Sims at wide receiver is paying dividends.
- I know it’s REALLY easy to pile on Scott Turner when things are not going well, but understand that the pieces are NOT in place for us to be successful against the better teams in the league. As you can see from Sunday, this offense works when players execute.
- I gave the entire O-Line Stud status above, and for good reason, but I do want to single out the play of Lucas at left tackle - which I feel was pretty darn good! In his first start of the 2020 season, the veteran looked right at home, and did a hell of a job in both pass pro and run blocking. He needs to remain in the starting lineup moving forward!
- McKissic ran hard against the Cowboys, and caught both of his targets for 16 yards. He was a nice compliment to Gibson on the afternoon.
- Tim Settle continues to make his presence known up front. He only played 36% of the defensive snaps, but he recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and plugged up run lanes when he was in the game.
- Ryan Kerrigan looked like he was simply going through the motions out there(I commented about this on Twitter) until he collected a sack later in the game. He had two tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a quarterback hit on the afternoon.
- Ronald Darby continues to play well, both in coverage and run support. Many were worried when we signed the veteran as a free agent, but he’s done nothing but impress so far through seven games.
- Landon Collins was playing well, including a strip-sack that resulted in a safety for Washington, until he exited the game with a torn Achilles that will end his 2020 season.
- Deshazor Everett is starting to play very well in place of Troy Apke at safety. One thing I can say, is when he comes down-hill to hit you, he REALLY brings the hammer...unlike Apke who prefers to RIDE his man to the ground.
- Kamren Curl looked good playing as a two-deep true safety when Collins left with injury. It looks like the rookie can take over in Collins’ absence, and if his play so far this season is any indication, we all may be in for a pleasant surprise.