Black-boxing the Redskins’ worst loss of the season.
Week 15: Redskins fell to 7-6-1 with a loss to Carolina on Monday Night Football (Dec. 19, 2016)
Passing Game: D
Kirk Cousins was mixed for a third consecutive game, and he was not helped out enough by those around him.
Kirk went 32-of-47 for 315 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. He was sacked once, but the result was a costly lost fumble. His Raw QBR was 49.6, which is his third-worst mark of the season.
The Redskins faced a Panthers defense that was without linebacker Luke Keuchly and defensive end Charles Johnson and yet went a woeful 2-for-12 on third downs. The Skins’ longest pass play in this game went for just 23 yards.
The Redskins had one offensive drive on which Kirk truly looked sharp: their second offensive drive, which resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ first-quarter 43-yard field goal. Kirk had a third-and-four eight-yard shotgun completion to Pierre Garcon and a first-and-10 23-yard shotgun completion to DeSean Jackson as the Skins were going Apache (no-huddle) on the next play. Otherwise, there was way too much bad from Kirk.
- Redskins’ third offensive drive…Kirk was late delivering the football to Vernon Davis on a late-first-quarter first-and-10 shotgun interception to Kurt Coleman, who returned the ball 37 yards to the Redskins’ 24…the ensuing Panthers drive resulted in former Redskin Graham Gano’s early-second-quarter 23-yard field goal that gave the Panthers a 13-3 lead
- Redskins’ first offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Kirk was way off on a third-and-four shotgun incompletion intended for DeSean
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ first-quarter 43-yard field goal…Kirk did not throw to an open Jordan Reed on a third-and-nine shotgun incompletion that was essentially a throwaway
But I will remember this game as much for Redskins not named Kirk Cousins failing the passing game as much I will for his struggles. The Redskins were guilty of a pass-protection FUBAR, an inexcusable ejection and six drops by my count.
- Redskins’ eighth offensive drive…was the opening drive of the second half…the first play of the drive: Davis got pushed back big time by Wes Horton on his first-and-10 sack-strip-recovery on Kirk, giving the Panthers’ the ball at the Redskins’ 1…the ensuing Panthers drive resulted in Cam Newton’s third-quarter second-and-goal one-yard I-formation play-action touchdown pass to Mike Tolbert, helping to put the Skins down 20-9
- Redskins’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ early-fourth-quarter 26-yard field goal…Reed was ejected from the game for throwing a punch at Coleman, resulting in a late-third-quarter first-and-10 15-yard unnecessary-roughness penalty that gave the Skins a second-and-goal at their 27
- Redskins’ 13th offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ fourth-quarter 34-yard field goal…Davis had a drop on a Kirk first-and-goal-at-the-7 shotgun incompletion…two plays later: Chris Thompson had a drop on a Kirk third-and-goal-at-the-16 shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ 12th offensive drive…resulted in a fourth-quarter punt…Davis had a drop on a Kirk third-and-10 shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ ninth offensive drive…was their second drive of the second half…resulted in a third-quarter three-and-out…DeSean awkwardly cradled his arms as opposed to extending them for what I call a drop on a Kirk third-and-four shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out…Thompson had a drop on a Kirk third-and-eight shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ sixth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter three-and-out…Pierre Garcon had a drop on a Kirk third-and-two shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ 14th offensive drive…what was garbage time with the Redskins trailing 26-15 late in the fourth quarter…Jamison Crowder had a lost fumble on a Kirk second-and-12 five-yard shotgun completion
The only saving grace for the passing game was the presence of some nice moments by pass catchers.
- Redskins’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ early-fourth-quarter 26-yard field goal that cut the Skins’ deficit to 23-12…DeSean made a sensational catch on a Kirk second-and-four 17-yard under-center play-action completion, going low while sliding into the sideline on a play that was initially ruled an incompletion but then reversed via replay…seven plays later: Crowder took a wicked shot from safety Tre Boston but held onto the ball on a Kirk fourth-and-two eight-yard shotgun completion
- Redskins’ 13th offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ fourth-quarter 34-yard field goal that cut the Skins’ deficit to 23-15…DeSean made another terrific catch on a Kirk first-and-10 22-yard shotgun completion, again going low while sliding into the sideline on a play that was initially ruled an incompletion but then reversed via replay…the funny part is that DeSean actually botched his route, but he adjusted and made the catch
- Redskins’ fifth offensive drive…resulted in Rob Kelley’s second-quarter first-and-goal five-yard under-center-handoff touchdown run…first play of the drive: Garcon made a nice catch of a high throw on a Kirk first-and-10 20-yard under-center play-action completion…Kelley then had back-to-back chunk-yardage receptions on screens: a Kirk first-and-10 17-yard under-center completion and a Kirk first-and-five 22-yard under-center play-action completion…two plays later: Thompson provided good YAC on a Kirk second-and-16 nine-yard shotgun completion…the next play: DeSean forced missed tackles by Coleman and linebacker Thomas Davis on a Kirk third-and-seven 17-yard shotgun completion
Running Game: F
The Redskins had the worst rushing offense in the NFL last season according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and no game epitomized that more than the 44-16 loss at Carolina on Nov. 22. Matt Jones and Alfred Morris combined for seven carries for zero yards in that game. Kelley and Chris Thompson combined for 11 carries for 18 yards in this game.
The Redskins’ fifth offensive drive was capped by Kelley and the Skins’ offensive line demonstrating great second effort on his second-quarter first-and-goal five-yard under-center-handoff touchdown run. The Redskins’ first offensive drive, which resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out, included a Thompson a second-and-10 six-yard shotgun-handoff run. You take out those two runs and Kelley and Thompson combined for nine carries for seven yards.
Among the many bad moments for the ground game in this game:
- Redskins’ 10th offensive drive…resulted in a third-quarter three-and-out…Kelley had a first-and-10 one-yard under-center-handoff run and a third-and-two shotgun read-option run for no gain
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ first-quarter 43-yard field goal…the first play of the drive was a Kelley first-and-10 one-yard under-center-handoff run on which Spencer Long missed…four plays later: a Kelley first-and-10 under-center-handoff run for minus-one yard
- Redskins’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ early-fourth-quarter 26-yard field goal…Kelley had a third-quarter first-and-10 two-yard shotgun read-option run
The two aforementioned Kelley “read-option” runs technically were “read-option-looking” runs as opposed to actual read-option runs. I point this out because Kirk took criticism for not keeping the ball on each run.
The Redskins once again allowed an offense that had been struggling this season to get right. The Panthers entered Week 15 just 20th in passing offense and 21st in rushing offense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. And yet the Skins…
- Allowed Cam to go 21-of-37 for 300 yards and two touchdowns
- Allowed Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart to combine for 27 carries for 145 yards
- Totaled no takeaways
Among the many frustrating moments by the defense:
- Panthers’ 13th offensive drive…resulted in Gano’s game-icing 41-yard field goal that put the Skins down 26-15 with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter…first play of the drive: a Stewart first-and-10 34-yard offset-I handoff run…two plays later: Josh Norman got dragged for extra yardage on a Tolbert second-and-seven 10-yard shotgun read-option run
- Panthers’ third offensive drive…happened in the first quarter…first play of the drive: Ziggy Hood missed on a tackle on a Stewart first-and-10 seven-yard shotgun read-option run…next play: Trent Murphy missed on a tackle on a Stewart second-and-three 15-yard under-center-handoff run…two plays later: a Cam second-and-eight 10-yard shotgun completion to Kelvin Benjamin, who beat Norman on a slant…the play after that: a Cam first-and-10 14-yard shotgun completion to a wide-open Corey Brown…two plays later: a Stewart second-and-10 six-yard pistol-handoff run…the play after that: Donte Whitner had a badly blown coverage on a Cam third-and-four 30-yard shotgun touchdown pass to a wide-open Ted Ginn Jr. in the end zone
- Panthers’ 10th offensive drive…resulted in Gano’s third-quarter 23-yard field goal…Will Blackmon had a terrible missed tackle on Ed Dickson on a Cam third-and-one 28-yard under-center play-action completion, which came despite an unblocked Murphy crushing Cam…next play: Greg Toler committed a first-and-10 facemask penalty that gave the Panthers the ball at the Redskins’ 11
- Opening drive of the game…resulted in Gano’s first-quarter 35-yard field goal…the second offensive play of the game was a Cam second-and-five 31-yard shotgun completion to a wide-open Greg Olsen on a deep cross…next play: a Cam first-and-10 18-yard shotgun read-option play-action completion to Ginn on a slant
- Panthers’ 12th offensive drive…resulted in Gano’s fourth-quarter missed 38-yard field-goal try…Cam had a third-and-five eight-yard shotgun completion to Ginn…two plays later: Preston Smith did a bad job in coverage and then had a missed tackle on a Cam second-and-nine 15-yard shotgun completion to a wide-open Tolbert
- Panthers’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in a fourth-quarter punt…Breeland fell down, resulting in a wide-open Ginn who then had a drop on a Cam second-and-four shotgun play-action incompletion; this prompted ESPN’s Jon Gruden to say that he had “no idea what Bashaud Breeland is doing;” Breeland responded to this on Twitter after the game…next play: Martrell Spaight was way too slow in coverage and actually somersaulted in pursuit on a Cam third-and-four 25-yard shotgun completion to Fozzy Whittaker
- Panthers’ fifth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…first play of the drive: Spaight was in position to make a pick but fell down and then Norman had a missed tackle on a Cam first-and-10 27-yard shotgun completion to Olsen…two plays later: Duke Ihenacho and Trent Murphy missed on tackles, Ryan Kerrigan gave up contain and then Norman and Chris Baker had missed tackles on an incredible Stewart second-and-10 11-yard under-center-handoff run that should have resulted in a loss
The Redskins did hold the Panthers to 4-of-15 on third downs and 1-of-4 in the red zone. The good moments included:
- Panthers’ ninth offensive drive…resulted in a third-quarter punt…Norman nearly had an end-zone pick in covering Ginn on a Cam third-and-12 shotgun incompletion
- Panthers’ sixth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…Spaight and Cullen Jenkins tackled Stewart for a one-yard loss on a first-and-10 I-formation-handoff run…next play: Breeland provided good coverage on Ginn on a Cam second-and-11 offset-I incompletion…play after that: Murphy and Baker combined on a third-and-11 sack of Cam for a 10-yard loss
- Panthers’ seventh offensive drive…resulted in a late-second-quarter punt…Smith tipped the pass on a Cam third-and-11 shotgun incompletion intended for Olsen
- Panthers’ second offensive drive…resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out…Kerrigan blasted and rattled Cam on a second-and-10 shotgun incompletion…next play: Baker tackled Stewart for a four-yard loss on a third-and-10 shotgun-handoff run
- Opening drive of the game…resulted in Gano’s first-quarter 35-yard field goal… Quinton Dunbar provided good coverage on Devin Funchess on a Cam second-and-six shotgun read-option play-action incompletion…next play: Breeland provided good coverage on Olsen and deflected the pass on a Cam third-and-six shotgun incompletion
- Panthers’ fourth offensive drive…was the ensuing drive off Kirk’s late-first-quarter interception to Coleman…resulted in Gano’s early-second-quarter 23-yard field goal…Breeland tipped a Cam third-and-three shotgun pass that was caught by Olsen for a two-yard loss
Cam actually finished with zero net yards rushing for the first time in his NFL career.
Special Teams: D
Hopkins went 3-for-3 on field goals of 43, 26 and 34 yards but missed the extra-point attempt that followed Kelley’s second-quarter first-and-goal five-yard under-center-handoff touchdown run.
Blackmon decided to return the opening kickoff of the second half from three yards deep in the end zone but went just 17 yards in only getting to the Redskins’ 14. The ensuing possession resulted in the Horton first-and-10 sack-strip-recovery on Kirk, giving the Panthers’ the ball at the Redskins’ 1.
Mack Brown committed a late-second-quarter 10-yard illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty on a Crowder punt return, giving the Redskins the ball at their 23 off the Panthers having punted from back at their 26. The ensuing possession resulted in a three-and-out.
The kickoff that followed Hopkins’ fourth-quarter 34-yard field goal that cut the Skins’ deficit to 23-15 included them committing a five-yard illegal-formation penalty, giving the Panthers the ball at their 30. The ensuing possession resulted in Gano’s game-icing 41-yard field goal that put the Skins down 26-15 with 1:07 left.
Thompson muffed the catch of the kickoff that followed Cam’s third-quarter second-and-goal one-yard I-formation play-action touchdown pass to Tolbert. The ensuing Skins possession began at their 20 and resulted in a three-and-out.
Tress Way averaged 47.7 yards but just 37.8 net yards on six punts.
Crowder averaged just 4.7 yards on three punt returns.
The Redskins’ offense played this game without:
- Kory Lichtensteiger (inactive)
- Vinston Painter (inactive)
- Matt Jones (inactive for a seventh straight game and a healthy inactive for a sixth straight game)
- Rashad Ross (inactive for a fifth straight game)
- Nate Sudfeld (inactive for a 14th straight game)
- Josh Doctson (placed on injured reserve on Oct. 21 due to a left Achilles injury that dated back to the spring and had limited him to having played in just the first two games of the season)
- Silas Redd (suspended indefinitely without pay for multiple violations of the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse)
Ryan Kerrigan suffered a left elbow sprain.
Quinton Dunbar suffered a concussion in the third quarter.
Houston Bates suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday (Dec. 20).
The Redskins’ defense played this game without:
- Will Compton (inactive due to a PCL sprain suffered in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia)
- Sua Cravens (inactive due to a right brachialis strain suffered in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia)
- DeAngelo Hall (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 27 due to a torn right ACL suffered in the Week 3 win at the Giants)
- Kedric Golston (placed on injured reserve on Sept. 19 due to a hamstring injury suffered on the Redskins’ first defensive play of the game in the Week 2 loss to Dallas)
- Anthony Lanier (placed on injured reserve on Dec. 13 due to a lower-leg contusion suffered in the Week 12 loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving)
- 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)
The Redskins fell to an inconceivable 2-16 at FedEx Field on Monday Night Football and 1-16 at FedEx Field on Monday Night Football since the start of the 1998 season.
This loss caused the Redskins’ playoff chances to fall from 49.6 percent to 20.8 percent according to Football Outsiders and from 53 percent to 25 percent according to FiveThirtyEight.com.
The Redskins got a big break from the officials on two occasions.
- Panthers’ fifth offensive drive…resulted in a second-quarter punt…Murphy was not called for a hit to the head on a Cam third-and-nine shotgun scramble…what was called was a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Cam for throwing the football at Murphy
- Panthers’ 11th offensive drive…resulted in a fourth-quarter punt…referee Walt Coleman and his crew initially called a pass-interference penalty on Mason Foster but then got together and announced that the ball was uncatchable, and so there was no penalty on what ultimately was a Cam third-and-eight shotgun incompletion intended for Olsen
Play-time observations: DeSean played on 89 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps as compared to Garcon playing on just 69 percent; Crowder played on 86 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps…Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao each played on every Redskins offensive snap off missing the Week 14 win at Philadelphia. Long suffered a concussion in the Week 13 loss at Arizona; Lauvao dealt with a groin injury in that game…Blackmon played on 52 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps off being inactive in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia due to a concussion suffered in the Week 13 loss at Arizona…Kendall Fuller played on 18 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps off not playing on a single defensive snap in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia…Deshazor Everett, off having an end-zone interception in the win at the Eagles, played on just four defensive snaps in this game.
It’s pretty clear that Reed should not have played in either of the last two games off suffering the Grade 3 left AC-joint separation in the loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving. He was inactive for the Week 13 loss at Arizona but then had one reception for 10 yards on one target in playing on just 21 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia and had one reception for six yards on one target in playing on just 29 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps in this game, during which he was ejected late in the third quarter for throwing a punch at Coleman. Reed was in all kinds of pain during this game, especially after Kelley’s third-quarter third-and-two shotgun read-option run for no gain. Reed was ineffective on this play in blocking defensive end Mario Addison, who was in on the tackle. Why Reed in his condition was asked to block is beyond me.
Kirk did break his own team record for passing yards in a single season of 4,166, set in 2015. He now has 4,360 passing yards this season.