Examining how the Redskins did in their win at the Bears.
Week 16: Redskins improved to 8-6-1 with a 41-21 win at Chicago on Christmas Eve
Passing Game: B+
Kirk Cousins played well.
Kirk’s Raw QBR for the game was a season-best 96.6. He threw for 270 yards on just 29 pass attempts (9.31 yards per pass attempt), accounted for three touchdowns, did not commit a turnover, was not sacked once and led an offense that scored 41 points, went 8-for-13 on third downs and 4-for-7 in the red zone and put up 478 total net yards.
Kirk was off on a decent number of throws. But this was his best game since the loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving.
The good from Kirk:
- Redskins’ third offensive drive…Kirk beat the blitz with a nifty dump-off on a late-first-quarter third-and-nine 17-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Chris Thompson, who benefited from a great block by Pierre Garcon on safety Adrian Amos
- Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in Dustin Hopkins’ second-quarter 29-yard field goal…second play of the drive: a Kirk second-and-seven 25-yard shotgun completion to Pierre Garcon on one of the Skins’ favorite plays, 72 Dusty…three plays later: Kirk fired a perfect throw on a hitch-and-go on a third-and-one 46-yard shotgun completion to Garcon
- Redskins’ seventh offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s third-quarter second-and-goal one-yard offset-I quarterback-sneak touchdown run…third play of the drive: Kirk had a third-and-six eight-yard shotgun scramble on which he showed little hesitation and shot up right through the A gap…six plays later: Kirk did a great job of buying time on a third-and-five 13-yard shotgun completion to Vernon Davis on a play on which Kirk was hit by Deiondre’ Hall
The bad from Kirk:
- Opening drive of the game…resulted in a first-quarter punt…fourth play of the drive: Kirk should have held onto the ball for just a bit longer, as Jamison Crowder came open on a second-and-six shotgun throwaway…next play: Kirk overthrew an open Crowder on a third-and-six shotgun incompletion
- Redskins’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in Hopkins’ second-quarter 29-yard field goal…Kirk made multiple big throws on this drive, but he did a poor job of working off-schedule on a second-and-seven shotgun throwaway, as he backpedaled too much as opposed to reestablishing a pocket
- Redskins’ fifth offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s late-second-quarter first-and-goal nine-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run…first play of the drive: Kirk overthrew an open DeSean Jackson on a first-and-14 under-center play-action incompletion
- Redskins’ seventh offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s third-quarter second-and-goal one-yard offset-I quarterback-sneak touchdown run…second play of the drive: Kirk threw wide onto the sideline on a second-and-six shotgun deep incompletion intended for DeSean
- Redskins’ third offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s late-first-quarter third-and-nine 17-yard shotgun dump-off to Thompson for a touchdown that beat the blitz…the previous play was Kirk appearing to overthrow an open Ryan Grant on a second-and-nine shotgun incompletion on an end-zone fade
DeSean became the first Redskin since Santana Moss in 2005 with three straight 100-yard receiving games, finishing with five receptions for 114 yards on seven targets but also suffering a jaw contusion.
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in Thompson’s first-quarter third-and-two seven-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run…DeSean made a nice leaping catch of a high throw by Kirk on a second-and-10 21-yard shotgun completion
- Redskins’ third offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s late-first-quarter third-and-nine 17-yard shotgun dump-off for a touchdown to Thompson…second play of the drive: DeSean generated terrific YAC, running by Tracy Porter and Deon Bush on a Kirk second-and-five 57-yard under-center play-action completion
- Redskins’ fifth offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s late-second-quarter first-and-goal nine-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run…DeSean drew a third-and-11 28-yard pass-interference penalty on Porter
But also on that drive was DeSean going down on purpose on a Kirk third-and-10 29-yard shotgun completion. That’s the kind of thing you never see Garcon do.
Two other bad moments for Redskins pass catchers:
- Redskins’ eighth offensive drive…resulted in a late-third-quarter turnover on downs…a wide-open Davis in the end zone should have laid out on Kirk’s fourth-and-one offset-I play-action-boot incompletion on which he was pressured heavily…the ball went off Davis’ fingers
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…resulted in Thompson’s first-quarter third-and-two seven-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run…Rob Kelley had a drop on a Kirk first-and-10 under-center incompletion
Running Game: B+
Kelley, Thompson, Kirk and Mack Brown combined for 35 carries for 208 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers look a little better than they should, as they were padded by Brown’s garbage-time 61-yard touchdown run and two lengthy scrambles by Kirk. But Jay Gruden clearly was committed to the running game in this game, and that commitment was rewarded against a Bears defense that entered Week 16 just 27th in the NFL in run defense per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
Among the highlights:
- Redskins’ 11th offensive drive… Brown provided a terrific exclamation point to the victory: a third-and-four 61-yard under-center-handoff touchdown run, helping the Skins to a 41-21 lead with :57 seconds left in the fourth quarter
- Redskins’ second offensive drive…happened in the first quarter…first play: Kelley forced multiple missed tackles on a first-and-10 five-yard under-center-handoff run…next play: a Kelley second-and-five eight-yard under-center-handoff run…six plays later: a Thompson third-and-two seven-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run
- Redskins’ fifth offensive drive…happened in the second quarter…second play of the drive: a Kelley second-and-14 four-yard under-center-handoff run…four plays later: a Kelley first-and-10 six-yard under-center-handoff run…next play: a Kelley second-and-four five-yard shotgun-handoff run…next play: a Kelley first-and-10 15-yard under-center-handoff run on which he suffered a knee sprain…next play: Kirk properly read Pernell McPhee and then out-ran him on a first-and-goal nine-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run
- Redskins’ seventh offensive drive…resulted in Kirk’s third-quarter second-and-goal one-yard offset-I quarterback-sneak touchdown run…fifth play of the drive: Thompson showed great burst on a second-and-10 nine-yard under-center-handoff run…next play: a Kelley third-and-one one-yard I-formation handoff run on which the Skins may have received a generous spot…five plays later: a Kelley second-and-eight six-yard shotgun read-option run
The Redskins showed more read-option looks in this game than in any other game so far this season.
If it’s possible for a defense to have five interceptions but still play poorly, this was it. The Redskins intercepted Matt Barkley on the Bears’ first four second-half possessions but also…
- …allowed the Bears to go 7-for-10 on third downs
- …allowed the Bears to put up 458 total net yards of offense
- …allowed Jordan Howard to rush for 119 yards on just 18 carries
Yes, some of this was done in garbage time. But the majority of it was not.
That said, you can’t ignore the interceptions. The Redskins’ five interceptions were the team’s most since having five in a 41-3 blowout of the Phoenix Cardinals in Nov. 1992.
- Bear’s third offensive drive…Bashaud Breeland had a pick at the Redskins’ 1 on the first play of the second quarter, as Barkley threw deep into triple-coverage off an under-center play-action boot
- Bears’ sixth offensive drive…was the opening drive of the third quarter…Josh Norman did an awesome job of breaking on the ball in making a second-and-16 interception on which he charged and fell forward to make the catch of a Barkley second-and-16 shotgun pass intended for Alshon Jeffery…also on the play was heavy pressure by Preston Smith, who hit Barkley
- Bears’ seventh offensive drive…happened in the third quarter…first play: Norman provided terrific coverage on Cameron Meredith, tipping a Barkley first-and-10 shotgun pass that was caught by Breeland for his second interception of the game
- Bears’ eighth offensive drive…second play of the fourth quarter…Will Blackmon made about the easiest interception you can ever have on a horrible second-and-10 shotgun pass by Barkley and then generated a 79-yard return
- Bears’ ninth offensive drive…Norman registered his second interception of the game, catching a Barkley fourth-quarter first-and-10 shotgun deep pass intended for Jeffery at the goal line and then generating a 35-yard return…Smith again provided heavy pressure on the play
Breeland and Norman gave the Redskins multiple players with multiple interceptions in a single game for the first time in records available dating back to 1960.
Smith had his second-best game of the season, finishing with a sack, two quarterback hits and a blocked field-goal attempt. His only other game that was better was the Week 10 win over Minnesota, during which he had a pick and two sacks.
Another nice defensive moment came on the Bears’ first offensive drive, which resulted in a first-quarter three-and-out. Will Compton, while on his stomach, grabbed Howard by an ankle on a second-and-eight one-yard under-center-handoff run.
But, once again, there was way too much bad from the defense.
- Bears’ second offensive drive…resulted in Smith’s block on Connor Barth’s first-quarter 22-yard field-goal attempt…Breeland committed a second-and-10 15-yard pass-interference penalty…next play: Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois missed on a tackles, though Duke Ihenacho did not on a Howard first-and-10 offset-I-handoff run for minus-eight yards…two plays later: a Barkley third-and-18 18-yard shotgun completion to Deonte Thompson…next play: a Barkley first-and-10 18-yard I-formation play-action completion to Jeffery…two plays later: Ihenacho missed on a tackle and Toler lost contain on a Howard first-and-10 23-yard shotgun-handoff run
- Bears’ fourth offensive drive…resulted in Jeremy Langford’s second-quarter first-and-goal one-yard I-formation-handoff touchdown run…Norman got beat on a Barkley third-and-seven nine-yard shotgun completion to Jeffery…next play: Mason Foster appeared to run away from contact and Ihenacho committed a 15-yard horse-collar-tackle penalty on a Howard first-and-10 13-yard pistol-handoff run…three plays later: Blackmon had a missed tackle on a Barkley third-and-eight 32-yard shotgun completion to Meredith
- Bears’ fifth offensive drive…happened late in the second quarter…Foster committed a first-and-10 five-yard illegal-use-of-hands penalty, negating a sack by Smith…next play: Norman got beat on a Barkley first-and-10 37-yard shotgun completion to Jeffery…play after that: a Barkley first-and-10 21-yard shotgun touchdown pass to Meredith
- Bears’ sixth offensive drive…was the opening drive of the third quarter…resulted in Norman’s second-and-16 interception on which he charged and fell forward to make the catch…third play of the drive: Breeland took a bad angle that allowed for first-down YAC on a Barkley third-and-seven 11-yard shotgun completion to Meredith…two plays later: Kendall Fuller got lost on a Barkley second-and-15 14-yard shotgun completion to Jeffery
- Bears’ eighth offensive drive…resulted in Blackmon’s interception on the second play of the fourth quarter…first two plays of the drive: Howard first-and-10 shotgun-handoff runs of 12 and 16 yards; Ihenacho had a missed tackle on the first run; Toler had a missed tackle on the second run…two plays later: Toler had a missed tackle on a Barkley second-and-10 13-yard shotgun completion to Thompson on the final play of the third quarter
- Bears’ ninth offensive drive…resulted in Norman’s fourth-quarter interception…the play that preceded the pick was Fuller getting beat on a Barkley third-and-10 13-yard shotgun completion to Meredith
Special Teams: C+
Smith blocked Barth’s first-quarter 22-yard field-goal attempt.
Hopkins went 2-for-2 on field goals of 29 and 20 yards.
Tress Way averaged just 41.5 yards and 40.0 net yards on two punts, though he did place each inside the 20.
Terence Garvin committed a nine-yard illegal-block-above-the-waist penalty on a Breeland kickoff return in the second quarter. That and a maddening four-yard illegal-substitution penalty on the next snap gave the Redskins the ball at their 5, but the drive resulted in Kirk’s late-second-quarter first-and-goal nine-yard shotgun read-option touchdown run.
The Redskins also allowed a two-yard run on a fourth-and-one fake punt in the third quarter, though that drive resulted in Norman’s first pick.
Rob Kelley suffered a knee sprain in the second quarter.
DeSean Jackson suffered a jaw contusion in the third quarter.
The Redskins’ offense played this game without:
- Jordan Reed (inactive for the second time in four games due to the Grade 3 left AC-joint separation suffered in the Thanksgiving loss at Dallas)
- Matt Jones (inactive for an eighth straight game and a healthy inactive for a seventh straight game)
- Kory Lichtensteiger (inactive for a second straight game)
- Vinston Painter (inactive for a second straight game)
- Nate Sudfeld (inactive for a 15th 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)
Bashaud Breeland suffered a sprained ankle.
Donte Whitner suffered a quad strain.
The Redskins’ defense played this game without:
- Sua Cravens (inactive for a second straight game due to a right brachialis strain suffered in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia)
- Quinton Dunbar (inactive due to a concussion suffered in the Week 15 loss to Carolina on Monday Night Football)
- 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)
- Houston Bates (placed on injured reserve on Dec. 20 due to a torn ACL suffered in the Week 15 loss to Carolina on Monday Night Football)
- 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)
This win clinched the Redskins having back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97.
I did not like Jay having Kirk take a knee to concede the Redskins’ sixth offensive drive, which resulted in the end of the first half. The Skins had a first-and-10 at their 25 with two timeouts left in a half in which they put up 317 total net yards of offense. Be aggressive.
Another thing I didn’t get from Jay: why was Kirk still in the game with the Redskins leading 34-21 with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter?
The Redskins (6,170) broke 6,000 net yards of offense for the season, reaching the mark for the fourth time in team history (1983, 1989 and 2012). The franchise record is 1989’s 6,253.
Kirk broke his own single-season franchise records for completions and pass attempts in this game off doing the same for passing yards in the Week 15 loss to Carolina on Monday Night Football. As great as Kirk’s 2015 was, his 2016 in many ways has been better. His Total QBR (which is Raw QBR adjusted for quality of opponents) (74.9 vs. 71.0), Total EPA (98.4 vs. 82.6) and yards per pass attempt (8.11 vs. 7.67) are all better. The only major area in which Kirk is substantially off as compared to last season is red-zone production: 36-for-80 with 13 touchdown passes vs. two picks this season; 50-for-79 with 22 touchdown passes vs. zero picks in 2015.
Playing-time thoughts: Davis played on 96 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps…Crowder played on 84 percent of the Redskins’ offensive snaps; Garcon was in on 66 percent…Despite this game becoming a no-doubter, Norman played on 99 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps…Compton returned from a one-game absence caused by a PCL sprain suffered in the Week 14 win at Philadelphia and played on 57 percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps…Deshaun Phillips played on nine percent of the Redskins’ defensive snaps off being signed back to the active roster from the practice squad on Dec. 22. A corresponding roster move was waiving Rashad Ross.
According to ESPN Stats & Info prior to this game, the Redskins had a 45 percent chance of making the playoffs with a win and less than a one percent chance with a loss.