Washington Redskins: Thoughts and Observations Heading into Week 16
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By John Manuel:
Here are my biggest observations after the Washington Redskins win in Cleveland:
1- First place! Once again, first place!
No one could expect the Redskins to be sitting in first place with only two games, especially after the Carolina loss. But the team holds full control on winning the NFC East by beating the Eagles and Cowboys. Not only that, but a win over the Eagles this week and lots of help and they could clinch at least a wild card spot. Winning the final two games would most likely set up a match-up at home, yes at home with the Seattle Seahawks. Pitting two of the NFL’s hottest teams both led by rookie quarterbacks having stellar seasons. There is a lot of work to be done but today is a good day to be a Redskins fan.
2- Have to give a big hand to Kirk Cousins after yesterdays performance.
Cousins struggled the first few possessions but then got it going much like Robert Griffin has all season. You couldn’t ask for more from Cousins and how me moved the offense Sunday. The Shanahans deserve a lot of credit as well for the way they prepared Cousins for the Browns. Both the Shanahans and Cousins stayed the course even after the early interception. Usually it has been the defense adjusting at the half in past weeks, but yesterday a lot of credit should go to the offensive staff. No need to discuss Kirk Cousin’s trade value yet, he is here and we may still need him.
3- When Brian Orakpo went down in week two it looked awful for the foreseeable future at the outside linebacker position opposite Ryan Kerrigan. But no player has stepped up in recent weeks like Rob Jackson.
Jackson continues to make big plays when big plays are needed like yesterday’s interception. Obviously I want Orakpo back in his normal position but Jackson and also Lorenzo Alexander have made the loss of Orakpo less of a major hit. I really hope Alexander, like Darrel Young get Pro Bowl nods this season. Both are very deserving to represent the NFC for special teams and fullback. The overall defense has shown improvement each week and Jim Haslett should be off the hot seat as well.
4- Before the season I was stilled worried that we didn’t have the pass catchers a rookie QB would need to be successful early on.
Then Pierre Garcon went down followed by Fred Davis but others have stepped up. The team just doesn’t lose when Garcon plays and his big play ability has rubbed off on others. Aldrick Robinson has been quiet as of late, but Leonard Hankerson made both his catches count with 2 touchdowns including the perfect toss by Cousins. I am very thrilled that Shanahan held onto Santana Moss as well. I am guessing Shanahan is also. Santana has been consistently taking advantage of his opportunities all season. As for the loss of Davis, Logan Paulson is not the pass catcher Davis is, but the run stats do not lie and he has to be a factor in that.
5- I mentioned that I hope both Darrel Young and Lorenzo Alexander make the Pro Bowl this season but here are a few others who should get consideration as well.
Obviously Robert Griffin III should be in contention. I would figure that Aaron Rodgers is a lock to return. It probably comes down to four guys battling for two spots. Griffin, Brees, Ryan and Wilson all deserve to be there based on their play and what RG3, Wilson and Ryan have done with their teams. Its a tough call but you have to figure Griffin will do well with both fans and players.
As for running back Alfred Morris should be close. After Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin it will come down to Morris and Marshawn Lynch. Morris will most likely get the first alternate spot. I think its almost a lock now that Trent Williams will be going. His play has been superb and he has been getting talked up a lot. Kai Forbath came on too late to make the team but has been great too.