Examining how the Redskins did in their loss to the Cowboys at FedEx Field.
The Redskins fell to 0-2 with a 27-23 loss to Dallas on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 18, 2016). Below is how they did.
Passing Game: C-
Kirk Cousins was bad for a second consecutive game.
Let’s start with inaccuracy, which plagued him again:
Redskins’ first offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter punt…Kirk overthrew an open Jamison Crowder on a third-and-seven shotgun incompletion that should have resulted in a touchdown
Redskins’ third offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out…Kirk overthrew an open DeSean Jackson on a third-and-15 shotgun incompletion
Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in Matt Jones’ early-second-quarter 14-yard touchdown run…Kirk threw short to an open Pierre Garcon on a first-and-10 shotgun play-action incompletion…there was pressure on Kirk, but had he just maneuvered himself in the pocket a bit, he may have been able to get more on the throw
The drive that resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ late-third-quarter 22-yard field goal…Kirk threw short on a third-and-goal-at-the-4 shotgun incompletion intended for Garcon, who has held from behind by Morris Claiborne…still, the throw didn’t end up where it likely was supposed to be
Kirk had a super costly pick and several near-picks:
The biggest play of the game came early in the fourth quarter…on a third-and-goal at the Cowboys’ 6, Kirk, operating out of the shotgun, made a horrible decision, trying to force the ball to Garcon…the result was an end zone pick by Barry Church
Later in the fourth quarter…a fourth-and-one for the Redskins at their 44 after the two-minute warning…Kirk had a shotgun incompletion that was nearly picked off by Justin Durant on a throw that was intended for Garcon
The Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ late-second-quarter 36-yard field goal…Kirk had a second-and-10 shotgun incompletion that was nearly picked off by Sean Lee on a throw that was intended for Jordan Reed
The drive that resulted in Jones’ early-second-quarter 14-yard touchdown run included a late-first-quarter no-play thanks to a five-yard holding penalty on Claiborne…before knowing whether there was a penalty or what it would be, Kirk made a shotgun throw that was well off the intended receiver (Jackson) and actually hit Claiborne’s body
Kirk also appeared to miss things. Reed was open twice but not thrown to on four-yard completions to Vernon Davis and Jones on the drive that resulted in Jones’ early-second-quarter 14-yard touchdown run.
Kirk did use his legs more in this game, though he still doesn’t seem ultra-comfortable in the pocket. He had a first-and-10 10-yard scramble off an under-center play-action boot on the drive that resulted in Hopkins’ late-second-quarter 36-yard field goal. And Kirk had a first-and-10 10-yard under-center play-action scramble on which he hesitated to run but still got the big gain and also a big pop from the FedEx Field crowd, which seemed to be cheering his willingness to run as much as the first down. That play came on the drive that resulted in Hopkins’ third-quarter 29-yard field goal.
Kirk’s final numbers: 28-of-46 for 364 yards, a touchdown, a pick, two sacks and a Total QBR of 61.7.
Kirk in the red zone last season: 50-of-78 for 22 touchdowns and no interceptions. Kirk in the red zone so far this season: 5-of-17 for one touchdown and two picks.
What makes the grade not as bad as you may think it should be is the work of Redskins pass catchers, who were terrific.
Crowder had six receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, including a terrific leaping catch with his arms outstretched on a third-quarter second-and-10 11-yard touchdown reception and a diving fourth-quarter second-and-10 nine-yard reception on a Kirk throw that was off
Reed had five receptions for 70 yards on seven targets, including a leaping and twisting late-first-quarter first-and-10 25-yard reception and a late-second-quarter third-and-seven nine-yard reception with his arms outstretched over his head
Davis had five receptions for 51 yards on five targets, including a third-quarter first-and-10 32-yard reception on which he produced major YAC
Jackson had three receptions for 40 yards on five targets, including a first-quarter second-and-four 28-yard reception that included major YAC
Josh Doctson had just one reception on five targets, but the catch was an early-fourth-quarter first-and-10 57-yard reception on which he was wide open on the left thanks to Jackson drawing so much attention on the right
Garcon had two receptions for 25 yards on seven targets, including a nice leaping catch on a third-quarter second-and-six 16-yard reception
Niles Paul was targeted just once, but the result was a late-third-quarter first-and-10 16-yard reception
Running Game: B
Jones looked quite good, consistently generating yardage after contact and displaying good vision and patience. He finished with 13 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Among Jones’ better runs:
Early-second-quarter 14-yard touchdown run…also on that drive was a first-and-10 seven-yard under-center-handoff run on the first play of the second quarter
The drive that resulted in Crowder’s early-third-quarter 11-yard touchdown reception included a second-and-10 seven-yard under-center-handoff run
The drive that resulted in Hopkins’ late-third-quarter 29-yard field goal included a second-and-four seven-yard under-center-handoff run and a first-and-10 five-yard under-center-handoff run
The Redskins called 48 pass plays versus 15 run plays in this game, bringing the season totals to 92 pass plays versus 26 run plays over two games.
Two Redskins had really nice games: Josh Norman and, believe it or not, Trent Murphy.
Norman did a good job on Dez Bryant when covering him, including punching the ball loose for an incompletion on a fourth-quarter second-and-11 incompletion …Norman finished with a team-high three pass defenses and big forced fumble, as he punched the ball loose on a late-third-quarter Ezekiel Elliott fumble that was recovered by Dashaun Phillips…the Redskins interestingly had Norman essentially travel with Dez starting in the fourth quarter, a departure from Norman being deployed on the right and Bashaud Breeland being deployed on the left…Norman impressively has registered four pass defenses on the four targets he has defended of Dez and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown this season
Murphy had his best game in three seasons as a Redskin, finishing with 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble, which came on a fourth-quarter fumble by Elliott
Otherwise, the Redskins’ defense stunk for a second straight game. They allowed the Cowboys to go 6-for-12 on third downs and convert a big fourth down (a late-first-quarter fourth-and-one 28-yard reception by Geoff Swaim). Dak Presscott went 22-of-30 for 292 yards. Dez had seven receptions for 102 yards on 12 targets. Cole Beasley had five receptions for 75 yards on six targets. The Redskins held the Cowboys to an average of 3.4 yards per carry but also allowed three touchdown runs, including a go-ahead fourth-quarter four-yard touchdown run by former Redskin Alfred Morris. Watching him do the end zone home-run swing as a Cowboy at FedEx Field was sickening.
Among the many bad moments for the defense:
Opening drive of the game…resulted in Dan Bailey’s first-quarter 22-yard field goal…Kedric Golston got knocked out of the game with a hamstring injury on the Redskins’ very first defensive play…we soon got Dez wide open in the middle of the field on a third-and-eight 18-yard reception…Breeland got beat by Dez on a third-and-nine 17-yard reception…Phillips and David Bruton Jr. missed on tackles on a second-and-12 28-yard reception by Beasley
The Cowboys’ second offensive drive…resulted in Elliott’s late-first-quarter one-yard touchdown run…Jason Witten was wide open off a play-action boot on a first-and-10 29-yard reception that included Swaim blowing up DeAngelo Hall…Elliott had two nine-yard runs…Ryan Kerrigan had a five-yard neutral-zone-infraction penalty…Swaim had his fourth-and-one 28-yard reception, which came off another play-action boot…Breeland committed a six-yard defensive-pass-interference penalty on Beasley on a first-and-goal at the Redskins’ 7
The Cowboys’ third offensive drive …resulted in a second-quarter punt…Dez had a first-and-10 15-yard reception on which he beat Breeland and on which we saw a read-option play-action drift route similar to what we saw so often from Robert Griffin III in 2012
The Cowboys’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in Bailey’s second-quarter 31-yard field goal…Lance Dunbar was wide open on a third-and-four 16-yard reception…Elliott had a third-and-one seven-yard run
The Cowboys’ sixth offensive drive…Kerrigan got fooled by a play-action boot on a first-and-10 14-yard reception by Witten…Elliott had runs for nine, five and 21 yards…Dez had a third-and-11 16-yard reception…no Redskin touched Dak until he got right near the goal line on a second-and-goal six-yard shotgun scramble for a touchdown in the third quarter
The Cowboys’ ninth offensive drive…resulted in Morris’ go-ahead four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter…Dez had a second-and-14 21-yard reception…Beasley had a first-and-10 14-yard reception and a third-and-11 12-yard reception…Mason Foster had a second-and-six 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty and Norman had a second-and-nine five-yard illegal-use-of-hands penalty
Special Teams: B-
Hopkins went 3-for-3 on field goals of 36, 29 and 22 yards. Four of his six kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
Crowder had a second-quarter 21-yard punt return but also made a questionable decision in not fielding a punt that was downed at the Redskins’ 10 late in the fourth quarter.
The Redskins allowed a 33-yard return by Lucky Whitehead on the kickoff that followed Hopkins’ late-third-quarter 22-yard field goal.
The Redskins’ offense played this game without:
Nate Sudfeld (inactive for a second straight game)
Rashad Ross (inactive for a second straight game)
Arie Kouandjio (inactive for a second straight game)
Derek Carrier (on the physically-unable-to-perform list due to a torn right ACL and MCL suffered in the Week 14 win at Chicago last season)
Silas Redd (suspended indefinitely without pay for multiple violations of the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse)
Kedric Golston suffered a season-ending hamstring injury on the Redskins’ first defensive play of the game. They placed him on injured reserve on Monday (Sept. 19).
The Redskins’ defense played this game without:
Kendall Reyes (inactive due to a groin injury)
Martrell Spaight (inactive due to a concussion)
Kendall Fuller (inactive for a second straight game)
Anthony Lanier (inactive for a second straight game)
Junior Gallette (placed on the non-football-injury list on July 28 due to a torn right Achilles tendon; it was a torn left Achilles tendon that cost him all of the 2015 season)
Steven Daniels (on injured reserve due to a torn labrum suffered during training camp)
Ripping play-calling normally is the lament of the loser, but it’s justified in this game. Jay Gruden and Sean McVay did not have good games:
The second-half fixation with the end zone fade bordered on the absurd…four times the Redskins tried end-zone fade passes; four times they failed…the first came on a first-and-10-at-the-Cowboys’-11 incompletion intended for Doctson on the drive that resulted in Crowder’s third-quarter 11-yard touchdown reception…the second came on a second-and-goal-at-the-4 incompletion intended for Doctson on the drive that resulted in Hopkins’ late-third-quarter 22-yard field goal…the last two came in succession on the drive that resulted in Kirk’s early-fourth-quarter end-zone pick to Barry Church: a first-and-goal-at-the-6 incompletion intended for Doctson and a second-and-goal-at-the-6 incompletion intended for Reed
The Redskins’ third offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out…Jones, who had just looked quite good on the drive that resulted in his early-second-quarter 14-yard touchdown run, didn’t touch the ball once, as Chris Thompson had a first-and-10 one-yard pistol-handoff run…then on the next play, Reed, who’s not exactly exemplary as a pass blocker, got blown up by Jack Crawford on a sack for a six-yard loss
The Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ late-second-quarter 36-yard field goal…the Redskins had a fourth-and-one at the Cowboys’ 18 with 31 seconds left in the half, then called timeout, but then kicked the field goal…if you were going to kick the field goal, why did you call the timeout, leaving the Cowboys ultimately with 26 seconds to work with?…the ensuing drive yielded nothing more than a four-yard run by Dunbar, but still
The Redskins had a penalty problem for a second consecutive game, finishing with eight accepted penalties. Among the worst ones was Kory Lichtensteiger’s first-and-10 five-yard false-start penalty on the final drive of the game, resulting in not just the lost yardage but also a 10-second runoff. The next play ended up being the last of the game, as Kirk threw a shotgun desperation heave out of the end zone. The Redskins lead the NFL with 12 accepted pre-snap penalties through two weeks.
Garcon’s reaction to Kirk’s early-fourth-quarter end zone pick to Church was understandable but not good. Garcon stomped his feet and shook his arms like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. His competitiveness is part of what makes him desirable, but that kind of showing up of a teammate never comes off well. Could you imagine if Kirk reacted that way to a negative play by Garcon? Perhaps not so coincidentally, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk said later that night on NBC’s Football Night In America that, “The grumbling is beginning in the locker room. Multiple offensive player [are] saying that they’re not happy with Cousins’ lack poise, indecisiveness and just erratic play.” Florio also said that it may not be long before “the calls come from within the organization for Colt McCoy to get his shot.”
Duke Ihenacho, off being a surprising inactive in the Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh, was active for this game but did not play on a single defensive snap. Bruton, who has struggled in each of the first two games, played on 100 percent of the defensive snaps in this game off playing on 97 percent of the defensive snaps in the loss to the Steelers.
Spaight being inactive due to a concussion is scary given that he missed the rest of last season after suffering a concussion in the Week 1 loss to Miami.
Robert Kelley was active but did not play at all for a second straight game.
I could have lived without three Wizards showing support for the Cowboys during this game. You had John Wall at the game wearing an Emmitt Smith jersey. You had Bradley Beal on social media celebrating Elliott, who went to high school in the St. Louis area, where Beal is from. And you had Markief Morris tweeting out a photo from the game with the hashtag “CowboysNation” (he’s a Cowboys fan).