The Birth of HOGS 2.0
If your new to the Burgundy & Gold Report welcome! At this point in the week most of you have probably read the same recycled Redskins columns. I’ll deliver a fresh Die Hard Skins Fan perspective, but never one sided. I love all things NFL and I can talk about any of the 32 NFL teams in depth. So any reader questions are encouraged and they don’t have to be Redskins related. I enjoy talking to different fans from around the league and breaking down their roster talent. So let’s get started! The Redskins run game finally got on track against the Rams and the running backs had a field day! The final score of 27-20, was not indicative of how competitive this game really was. The Skins definitely left yards on the field, but still had a dominate performance against a very good Rams defense. Chris “Mighty Mouse” Thompson juked through Rams defenders like he was in a video game! As I previously mentioned in the last B&G Report, the O-Line needed to step up and get the run game on track. Cousins also needed to trust his check-downs and that’s exactly what he did. Cousins played it safe for the most part and stuck to the short intermediate passes. This what Kirk needed to do in order to get his confidence back, after losing Garçon & Djax to free agency. Thompson’s impact in the run game was a surprise though, considering he’s always been more of a receiving threat. The defense played a lot better and didn’t miss many tackles compared their matchup vs the Eagles. The Skins defense did experience a few in-game injuries. Luckily, it didn’t spell doom for them. Below I’ll go through both teams offensive production, as well as the defenses performance against former Redskins O-Coordinator Sean McVay’s revamped offense. REDSKINS O VS THE RAMS D
Although Kirk Cousins had a mediocre day statistically (18/27 179 yard 1 TD) he came through when it mattered most. It was no surprise that the Skins recently extended Chris Thompson’s contract, but some are shocked by his productivity vs the Rams aggressive defense. On the last B&G Report I talked about how valuable a check down option Thompson is, but to my surprise the Skins game plan was “ground and pound”. Cousins didn’t take many risks and he went to his check downs early and often. Kirk definitely seems gun shy because he had multiple plays in which receiver Josh Doctson (6’2) was routinely seen running downfield, with one on one coverage against smaller DB’s. Kirk needs to trust his receivers more and throw more 50/50 jump balls, since the Skins have multiple receivers at 6’3 or taller! Kirk definitely stayed in his comfort zone going Jordan Reed early. Reed led the team with 6 catches for 48 yards, but he didn’t have his usual game changing performance. Reed is obviously not 100% healthy at this point. His presence did open up the field for other pass catchers though. Many times the Rams played quarters coverage on defense, in which they dedicated at least two defenders to Reed.
Last week I talked about how the middle of the Rams D-Line was susceptible to big gains. Offensive Line Coach Callahan knew he could exploit the smaller/athletic Rams D-line and that’s exactly what he did. The Redskins totaled 229 yards rushing for the day. Instead of shying away from All Pro DT Aaron Donald, many times they ran counters/traps strait at him. Gruden’s dedication to the run game was a thing of beauty. The Skins run/pass ratio was 27 passes to 39 runs for the game. One aspect of the game plan that really surprised me was the Skins using an unbalanced O-line on multiple runs & passes. Gruden had one particular formation in which he used an unbalanced line, putting RT Morgan Moses next to LT Trent Williams. This unbalanced line caused a lot of confusion for the Rams. Instead of running to the obvious Moses/Williams strong side, Cousins instead kept the ball and ran to the opposite side of the line for a nice gain. The Redskins Coaches seemed to be one step ahead of the Rams most of the day. The Skins final 11 play 70 yard game winning drive was something to behold! The scoring drive consisted of only 3 passes, compared to 8 runs. What was even more impressive was who had the most success running the ball! Rob Kelley previously left the game with a rib injury after totaling 78 yards on only 13 carries. Kelly had an impressive 6.5 average per run, but Thompson was the games feel good story. The former FSU RB ran wild on the Rams defense, running for 2 TD’s on the ground with an impressive 25.7 average on only 3 carries for 77 yards. Gruden then turned to rookie running back Samaja Perine in crunch time. All of Perine’s runs came out of shotgun/zone read formations, which is not typical of the Skins run scheme (since the Shani/Griffin days). It kept the Rams off balance though, wondering what the Skins would do. Perine ran out of the shotgun in college, so I believe this was Gruden’s attempt to ease Perine into the playbook and keep the Rams guessing. This led to the Rams having to adjust their game plan, effectively taking away their pass rush. At this point in the game Thompson & Kelly already gashed the Rams defense for over 150 yards. Now it was time for Perine to get going! Kirk had some great pass gains from Pryor & Crowder on the final scoring. Cousins refused unnecessary risks with the game on the line. Perine churned out a good chunk of his 67 rushing yards on the final scoring drive. Cousins capped off the 70 yard scoring drive, with a pin point pass to Grant in the end zone for a TD. The final drive took 5 minutes off the game clock, leaving less than 2:00 on the game clock. In the last B&G Report I mentioned Gruden’s obvious player crush on Grant and I’m anticipating that will only grow after Grant’s game winning touchdown! Grant just runs clean routes, but this was the first time he’s made a game changing play. I’m still holding out hope that Josh Doctson can be worked into the receiver rotation. That’s is, if he can stay healthy. Although Docston was only in the game for a few plays, I
rewatched the game and liked what I saw. The TCU product consistently ran free down down field gaining separation on his defender, at least three times. So it’s not out of the question to see the youngster make an impact very soon.
REDSKINS D VS THE RAMS O This was another “bend don’t break” performance for the Redskins defense, but they showed more hustle to the ball than previous years. The Skins had a decent day collecting 2 sacks and forcing 2 turnovers. Unlike years past, the Skins defense flew to the ball all day and frequently gang tackled the Rams offense. Once again ILB Zach Brown balled out and had a productive day, finishing with 10 tackles, with 8 of them being solo. He has shown he can run with most TE’s as well as RB’s in
coverage, something the Redskins have lacked since the retirement of ILB London Fletcher. Ryan Kerrigan was, well…Mr. Consistency as usual logging 1 sack, but his impact was felt in stopping the Rams run game. Preston Smith continues to show the potential that the coaches see in him by getting his second sack of the year, as well as a tackle for a loss. Although the Rams run game was held to less than a hundred yards on the day, Rams RB Todd Gurley looked special on one particular run. Gurley took the handoff and added a highlight real hurdle over Skins CB Breeland on his way to a TD. That run would end up being Gurley’s lone score of the day.
A name that didn’t show up on the stat sheet was rookie OLB Ryan Anderson. He wasn’t used as a pass rusher, but his presence was felt setting the edge in the run game. His former Alabama teammate has been quiet in the stat sheet as well, but he’s slowly making his presence known. Anderson wasn’t the only rookie to step up though. Another rookie, safety Montae Nicholson, brought extra toughness when he entered the game. Although he played mainly as a Dime Safety, his playing time will increase with Cravens on the exempt list for the year and possible retirement. Starting SS Deshazor Everett has not done much after being named the starter. I’m looking for the bigger and faster Nicholson to take over the starting strong safety spot in the near future. The defensive player of the game though was Mason Foster. Not only did Foster have the game ending interception, he dislocated his shoulder prior to the games final play and simply popped his shoulder back into place himself! Foster was tied for second on the team with 6 tackles and really has shown leadership and hustle every game. This defense is by far not a finished product, but the front line is starting to gain the reputation as true “grinders”. In the last two games Kerrigan & Smith have combined for 3.5 sacks. Junior Galette will join the party shortly, as he has been inches away from multiple sacks the first two games. FINAL THOUGHT This was the smash mouth type of Redskins game I hoped to see! It was a throwback type of football game with the Skins offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage. When the 4th quarter rolled around, the Rams defense was gassed. Gruden and Co kept the pedal to the metal in the run game, until the Rams pretty much gave up. I’ve read a few columns mentioning that the Redskins proved nothing vs the Rams. Although the Rams D-Line is undersized, they are arguably the quickest line in football. The notion that the game was more about the Rams lack of defense and less about the Skins dominating in the run game, is simply absurd! I’m seeing this O-Line grow leaps and bounds before my eyes! This is a team that loves to run block and their future success will depend on it. A report came out after the Eagles loss, that Gruden decided to meet with the O-Line one on one. Gruden asked the O-Line what they felt they could do best and they all pushed for this type of game plan. So in the end it’s very promising that we have a Head Coach that actually values his players input. The season is young, but going 0-2 could have been disastrous. The next meeting will be a Sunday Night Showdown at FedEx Field with the High Octane Raiders offense coming to town. They feature one of the best pass rushing defensive ends in the league in Khalil Mack. The Raiders pose a huge challenge for the Burgundy & Gold and should be a grudge match. Until next time Redskins Nation! HTTR!