So how did they get it done in the first of their three west coast trips this year? Here’s how, but it’s time to take a deeper dive into some of the more specific reasons why Jay Gruden’s group is now (1-1).
A lot of it has to do with Gruden’s creativity and patience.
On the final Redskins scoring drive, the Redskins took over the ball at their own 30-yard line with 7:13 left after a special teams penalty by the Rams. In the second half, before this drive, the Redskins had run the ball by my count only nine total times for 19 net rushing yards after a brilliant first thirty minutes on the ground. After a (20 – 167) attack before halftime, the Redskins only wound up having marginal success in the final half, with a (19 – 62) ground game.
As they wrapped up the game, after Mason Foster’s game-sealing interception, they had three attempts for five total yards and on the ultimate game-winning drive, Samaje Perine carried the ball seven times for 38 yards.
Essentially, that means that before the Redskins go-ahead march, there was absolutely no reason for Jay Gruden to stay with the running game or to be patient with it, and yet, finally, he and the Redskins were! What do you know? They had success and they won themselves a football game.
For all of the nonsense you hear about how you can’t run if you are not having success – oh really?? Why can’t you run if you are not having success but you can keep throwing all day long? Makes no sense to me.
On the Redskins final drive, Kirk Cousins was (4-4) for 51 yards passing by my count but one of those completions for nine yards was wiped out because of a Trent Williams penalty. In the final reality, Cousins was credited with three pass attempts, three completions and 42 passing yards as part of the overall 10-play, 70-yard drive.
Essentially, if you take away what Cousins helped the Redskins with on the final drive, he was (6-9, 56) in the second half prior to that point.
Clearly the passing game was better in the second half than the running game, in a battle of which one stunk less, but the point is that Jay Gruden surprisingly went back to the run game and it paid huge dividends.
This is the kind of Jay Gruden, play-caller part-deux that the Redskins so desperately need and they finally got it. The drive was similar in some ways to the Redskins clock-controlling drive at MetLife Stadium last year in another near must-win. In that win, after an (0-2) start to the year, Washington also put together a ten-play drive while only racking up 56 yards and a field goal but most importantly, they ran the rock eight-of-nine times on the drive and kicked a go-ahead field goal with 1:55 left.
The Redskins had controlled the clock for 6:02 in that sequence while their time of possession Sunday was 5:27.
Ironically, both games were finished off on defense for the Skins with interceptions. Last year, it was the now disposed of Su’a Cravens and this year, it was Mason Foster.
While I may have some strange theories, I do think you can connect the dots more often than people would like and the one near constant is that when the Redskins choose to run the ball and are patient with it, they almost always benefit.
When they choose not to run the ball or can’t run effectively, they have very little chance, especially against a good defense.
Give Gruden credit after he screwed up the play-calling elements in so many ways (despite some checks out of runs) in the season opening loss to Philadelphia.
A couple of other things – Ryan Grant’s route and go-ahead touchdown catch was a thing of beauty. From Kirk Cousins buying time by shuffling to his left, to Grant’s beautiful sell and flow, everything should be celebrated about that play.
Here’s the video and while he certainly has a long, long way to go – you can see why Redskins coaches constantly praise Grant even though Redskins fans can’t stand him.
**”Three-and-OUT” – Three quick-hit (maybe) items that take you beyond the box score and the highlights.
1 – Via ProFootballFocus.com (PFF, @PFF, @PFF_Washington) – Josh Norman is doing a hell of a job in run defense. He’s tops in the NFL according to PFF.
2 – It’s so clear to see Matt Ioannidis’ improvement from year one to year two. He’s started showing some signs of improvement last year and continued that with a strong showing in the preseason, but here are some numbers to put his progress into context.
Mark Bullock, a contributor to the Washington Post, had this good look at the Redskins 2 nd -year defensive lineman. Another view of Ioannidis on this snap as well, via Bullock.
3 – The Reskins creativity offensively and early, on the first drive is something that caught my eye.
On first down (pictured below), the Redskins used a triple tight-end set to the left, that set-up a five-yard gain by Rob Kelley.
On second down (pictured below), Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan moved Morgan Moses from the right tackle spot to the LEFT of Trent Williams, essentially as a tight-end compliment while putting two tight-ends on the right side of the formation, to the outside of Brandon Scherff. Essentially, a three-tight look with a very different spin on it.
On third-down (pictured below), also on the Redskins first series, Jay Gruden dialed up this formation with running-back Rob Kelley split wide to the right (lower) and two double-stacks (no, not burgers) of receiving options tight to the offensive line. The play goes for a first down.
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