Thoughts and Observations: Redskins vs Jaguars
Note: I will talk about Robert Griffin III’s injury plenty in the coming days, but will just talk about it in general terms here
1. Injuries are piling up:
-It’s extremely impressive that the Redskins were able to put up 41 points in this game and their defense was able to dominate as they did. Sure the Jaguars aren’t exactly a great team, but the Redskins were dealing with a number of injuries on both sides of the ball, and that can lead to your team having some bad games. The Redskins though responded to the injuries and played their most complete game in years. They won in ever facet of the game and just flat out controlled this game from start to finish.
This game did cost the Redskins though as they saw 5 key offensive players go down with some sort of injury. Third down back Roy Helu Jr. suffered a quad strain, starting LG Shawn Lauvao suffered a mild knee sprain, and fullback Darrel Young suffered a back sprain. All three injuries right now appear to be minor and if they do force the players to miss any time it will be pretty brief. The two more significant injuries were WR DeSean Jackson who suffered an AC joint sprain and QB Robert Griffin III who suffered a dislocated ankle. Those two injuries both are far more serious, not only because the players are more talented, but because they could both miss significant time. Jackson is very likely to miss this next game versus Philly and it’s possible that it could be a 2-4 week type of injury, even if it is a lower grade sprain. RGIII‘s injury is even worse and at the bare minimum looks to be a 6-8 week issue, and at the worse could have Griffin out until next summer. This will be clarified today, but we are talking about an injury that is going to play a significant role on Griffin’s future. Even if he can come back this year, his mobility will likely be compromised.
Unfortunately those aren’t the only injuries the Redskins are dealing with as they already have starting TE Jordan Reed, starting NT Barry Cofield, 3rd corner Tracy Porter, back-up DE Kedric Golston and back-up LB Akeem Jordan all on the injury report. Some of those players may be back soon (possibly this week), but Cofield won’t be able to return until after the bye. The Redskins were a relatively healthy team last year, particularly in the first half of the season, but right now their depth is being seriously tested.
2. The Pass Rush could be very good this year:
-Yes it was against the Jaguars offensive line, which is young, unproven and without a lot of really high ceiling guys, but the Redskins pass rush just dominated the game against the Jaguars. Brian Orakpo, Jason Hatcher, and Ryan Kerrigan all played extremely well and were living in the Jaguars backfield. If they weren’t getting the sack they were putting pressure on Chad Henne and forcing some really bad throws. It wasn’t just the big three pass rushers that got into the mix, as the Redskins were bringing pressure from everywhere and completely disrupting the Jacksonville game plan.
3. Better offensive and defensive game plan this week:
-Speaking of game plans, the Redskins game plans were close to perfect. On defense Jim Haslett was doing a great job stopping the run early and getting penetration in the backfield on most plays. This led to a number of 2nd and 3rd and long situations that allowed him to dial up blitzes and unleash the hounds on the Jaguars offense. The Redskins defense dictated the game when they were on the field and it led to them having more sacks (10) than the Jaguars had first downs (8). That also led to the offense having just fantastic field position all game.
The offensive game plan was also much better than it was a week ago. Last week with the run game dominating the Redskins ignored it and tried to throw short passes all game. This week the Redskins were committed to the run early, but when Jacksonville started bottling it up some, it opened up some things down the field that the Redskins were able to take advantage of. After a week where the Redskins more or less avoided challenging down the field and using any read option, it was clear that both of those were in the game plan at the start of the game (though the read option changed significantly with Griffin out). They had the Jaguars on their heels all game, with their offensive game plan, and when Jacksonville stopped one thing the Redskins responded by beating them elsewhere.
4. Redskins depth stepping up:
–Kirk Cousins, Andre Roberts, Niles Paul and Ryan Grant all stepped up in a big way on offense. Cousins came in and was just brilliant for the rest of the first half, and led the Redskins to jump out to a big lead. His play wasn’t as good in the 2nd half, but he still played good football and didn’t make any costly mistakes. What Cousins did was pick the Jaguars apart by throwing to three somewhat unheralded players. Andre Roberts is the Redskins slot receiver so he’s not exactly an unknown, but after the Redskins signed DeSean Jackson this offseason, it appeared that Roberts would be somewhat of an afterthought in this offense, and well behind Pierre Garcon, Reed and Jackson. Roberts came up big though for the Redskins making 4 catches for 57 yards and adding an end around for another 19 yards. Rookie Ryan Grant stepped up as well and added 57 yards on a couple pretty impressive catches. The big unsung hero was TE Niles Paul. After fumbling a week ago inside the 10 yard line, Paul made up for it with an eight catch 99 yard and 1 TD performance. In a game where Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon combined for just 2 catches, the Redskins offense didn’t miss a beat because of these guys.
5. Questions in coverage?:
-Overall the defense played great, but there were some question marks on the backend of the defense. The Jaguars lone TD came on a blown coverage from safety Bacarri Rambo, but he wasn’t the only defensive back who made some mistakes. On the Jaguars first drive they could have had a TD if rookie Allen Hurns doesn’t drop the ball after blowing past DeAngelo Hall. Hall was victimized a couple other times in the game as well. Overall it didn’t matter much given how well the rest of the Redskins looked, but this could be an issue to watch going forward. What happens when the Redskins are facing more top end QB’s and better receiver corps? Those types of mistakes can be exploited big time, so the coverage really needs to tighten up.
6. Offensive line still a work in progress:
-The biggest concern on the offense (outside of the injuries) was the play of the offensive line. Both Tyler Polumbus and Shawn Lauvao were pushed around and victimized for much of the game. The Redskins again gave up 3 sacks in this game, and saw more penetration in the backfield than they’d like to see. Penalties were also an issue for the offensive line as they committed a combined 5 penalties. This week those things didn’t cost the Redskins, but in other games that might not be the case.
7. Penalties an issue:
-The offensive line was a big part of the problem with penalties, but they weren’t the only ones at fault. Overall the Redskins committed a combined 12 penalties (3 were either offset or declined), including 5 on offense, 2 on defense and 5 on special teams. That is a really bad number and something that will come back to bite you in closer games. The special teams penalties were perhaps the most troubling, given just how few special teams plays there were to commit so many fouls. Special teams penalties were a big issue last year and it bears watching to see if this becomes a trend.
8. Final Thoughts:
-This was a great game to watch or be at as a Redskins fan as we saw this team come together and dominate from start to finish. That hasn’t happened too often in recent years so this was a fun game overall, but obviously the injury issues loom large over this game and the rest of the season. Also for as great as this team looked yesterday, there is still the matter of sample size and the strength of the opponent. There are definitely reasons to temper overall expectations, but this game did show the potential of this team when they get everything clicking.