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Quick Snaps: Redskins Go Hollywood!

September 17, 2017
The Washington Redskins flew all the way to the west coast for the first of three-pacific time zone trips this season.and won a game that quite honestly, I did not expect them to win.

I thought they could win it and should win it, but I really had no faith that they wouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot, like they seemingly always do.

The Redskins beat the Hollywood Sean McVay’s AKA the Los Angeles Rams, 27-20 at sparsely attended Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, to improve to (1-1) and avoid a second straight (0-2) start.

Now, let’s take a look in “Quick Snaps” form why the Redskins won a game they absolutely had to have.

1 – Washington, under Jay Gruden, has shown a pattern late last season and at other times of responding very well to adversity. Suffer a bad loss and they usually win a game under adverse circumstances the next week.

Think about how they responded in Chicago late last year under brutal turn-around conditions and after an awful loss at home a few days before. Think about a huge road win in Philadelphia after two tough and sloppy road losses as the NFL tried and tried, as best they could, to destroy any chance Washington had with a completely unfair  schedule down the stretch. 

I could cite a lot of other examples but you get the point. The Redskins are not good at handling complacency.They suck at handling prosperity for the most part, as we warned many times last year leading up to the Giants season-ending loss.  It will be interesting to see how they perform this coming Sunday night, at home, on NBC national television, against the Oakland Raiders.

The Skins lost in bad fashion to Philadelphia last week at home and the Rams were flying high off a destruction of the Colts. The Rams and their coaching staff (Sean McVay, Wade Phillips, Joe Barry, Aubrey Pleasant) all know the Redskins extremely well and more important, know their personnel very well and should have had an advantage.

They might have but Jay Gruden’s team and staff, found a way to get a win. It was far from perfect, but they won a game they had to win. On the road, three-thousand or so miles away.

2 – Some big highlights were the Redskins go-ahead touchdown drive, capped off by a big throw from an inside-out pattern by Ryan Grant from Kirk Cousins.

Cousins was mostly efficient on the day but far from spectacular. However, on the final Redskins scoring drive, Washington and Cousins overcame a Trent Williams hold, converted on a 3 rd/6 to Jamison Crowder for 8 yards and hooked up with Terrelle Pryor for a 23-yard catch-and-brilliant run by Pryor, before dialing up another third-down completion for the score to Grant. Cousins did a great job shiftng his feet to the left and buying a better angle for the throw. I was also honestly surprised that Kirk's first read on the play wasn't Jordan Reed on the low side of a 3 x 1 formation. He was open too. 

A lot of credit should go to rookie Samaje Perine who had runs of 12, 5, 10 and 5 along with a couple of other smaller runs as part of a ten-play, 70 yard relative masterpiece. 

Grant continues to help the Redskins as we said he would in this space and Cousins dialed it up perfectly on a game-winning march.

Mason Foster’s game sealing interception off Jared Goff was a beauty.  I said this on twitter right after it happened, but how many of those type plays have the Redskins dropped or not caught in a big moment like that.

I can think of two others that were similar. Rob Jackson off Tony Romo to close out the 2012 NFC East title win and Preston Smith closing out a huge win over Minnesota last year.

Usually, the Redskins suffer from Carlos Rodgers, Brian Orakpo, Josh Norman stone-hands in a big spot disease but on Sunday in the shadows of Hollywood, they dialed up the perfect ending to the script.

3 – I wonder how the Redskins really won this game? Ohhhh! That’s right. They ran the ball. And ran it. And ran it. At least in the first half they did. Until the Rams adjusted and stopped them for the most part in the second half, but that was also without Rob Kelley and with Jordan Reed out of the lineup for the most part.

The Redskins ran for 229 yards in the win. That was the 2 nd-highest total in the Jay Gruden era (Week 6, 2016, 230).

Washington ran for 167 of the 229 in the first half. That was the most rushing yards in a first half of a game since a miserable loss at home to Tampa Bay in December of 2010.

The Redskins ran the ball 39 times for that 229 yards, the 2 nd most amount of rushing attempts in the Jay Gruden era. The last time they were above 39? Week 2, 2014 in a 41-10 trouncing of Jacksonville, in Jay Gruden home debut as head coach.

That game also officially started the clock on the end of the Robert Griffin era.

The Redskins destroyed the then St. Louis Rams in week two of the 2015 season at home by shoving it down their throat and using a bunch of three tight-end packages to get play-action and the passing game rolling. Two years later, they ran it all over the Rams before the break and took advantage of a Wade Phillips led defense that could be susceptible to the run moving forward.

Check out Chris Thompson's 61-yard run on a delay draw, something the Redskins should have tried last week. Phillips defense gets all the way up-field and the Redskins sell it perfectly. 

Phillips is an aggressive coordinator and last year, the Broncos, who he won a Super Bowl with in 2015, were 28 th in rushing yards per game allowed and 18 th in rushing yards allowed per play. Or maybe the Redskins just did their job and were committed to running the football?

When they are and when they do – they almost always win.

4 – The Redskins special teams nearly cost them the game. Dustin Hopkins missed a makeable 51-yard field goal attempt that bounced off the right upright and would have given the Redskins some extra cushion. 

The most damning play was a fake punt converted by the Rams Johnny Hekker, who has a long history of good fakes and throws, and yet the Redskins looked somewhat blindsided. A bad tackle attempt by rookie Fabian Moreau did not help, but it still would have been a first down. 

The Rams had essentially telegraphed the fake punt the time before by shifting a few times into a fake set and then backing out and punting it. Perhaps they did this on purpose so that the Redskins would not be expecting a fake the next time and that’s exactly what happened.

A 28-yard catch-and-run on the Redskins side of the field almost broke them as the Rams wound up with a first down at the Washington 17, but the Rams self-destructed with Robert Woods taking an offensive pass interference penalty and they also had a declined holding call on Rob Havenstein on a 3 rd/15 from the Redskins -22. Earlier in the drive, Woods had a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty so the Rams essentially killed themselves, before settling for a 40-yard field goal to tie up the game at 20.

Some fans (and I understand it) are questioning why Jay Gruden declined the penalty and forced the Rams Greg Zuerlein to kick a game-tying chip shot 40-yard field goal. Well…I get both sides of the argument but with the horror show that the Redskins have been on third-down defense over the last year-plus, how do you give the Rams another chance?

Sure, it would have been 3 rd/25 from the Redskins 32 but with Redskins karma, how do you take that chance? I didn’t have a major issue with it. Ideally, you would like to roll the dice but can you really trust that the Redskins would get off the field in that spot?

On the day, the Rams were 5-of-12 on third down including that failure on the declined third-down penalty.

5- Chris Thompson now has three touchdowns in two games. Two rushing and one as a receiver. He’s been simply terrific in every way for the Redskins over the last few years.

Ryan Grant did not surpass his 2016 total in catches or receiving yards, but scored his first touchdown since the final game of the 2015 regular season.

Zach Brown led the Redskins with ten combined tackles. Preston Smith had his 2 nd sack of the year, and really should be credited with at least three. Ryan Kerrigan is off to a great start this year. He also had another sack in the win. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com).  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN     


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