In one of the less publicized Week 10 matchups, two struggling teams played a competitive game that ended with one continuing a sudden winning streak and the other continuing its now-predictable losing streak.
It’s hard to believe that the Rex Grossman-led Washington Redskins were viewed as possible contenders a month into the season. Coming in at 3-5, they haven’t won a game since, and the 1-7 Miami Dolphins did not oblige. Despite Mike Shanahan switching dink-and-dunk minded John Beck with Rex, the offensive problems continued, as Miami’s defense held them to three field goals and forced two turnovers. The Dolphins also turned the ball over twice, but Matt Moore and the running game were still able to produce enough plays to get their second victory of the season.
Redskins: Three Performances of Note
Despite another below-average season, Redskin fans can at least be happy that 2010 fourth round pick Inside Linebacker Perry Riley seems, at first glance, to be another solid starter for this rebuilding team. Replacing the maligned Rocky McIntosh (-9.4 overall) who has had trouble against the run and in coverage, Riley impressed in his first start, earning a +2.9 overall grade which is better than any of McIntosh’s games this season. Riley was solid in all aspects by disrupting Miami’s running game, getting a QB hit and pressure in just nine blitzes and, while he did allow all three passes against him to be completed by Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush, the total yardage of those completions was a seven yard loss. He did have a 15-yard penalty for a horse-collar tackle, but with six stops on the day, Riley make a strong case to remain the starter through the rest of the season.
Same old Rex
Rex Grossman’s return to the line-up saw an improvement in the offense, but was not enough to come away with a victory. Grossman completed 21 of 32 passes for 215 yards as he moved the ball more consistently than John Beck, but also threw two picks, which surprises no one. It could be argued that the first interception was not on him, as Leonard Hankerson fell down on the route. The second interception, however, was all on him, and was the turning point of this game: the Redskins were at Miami’s 10-yard-line early in the fourth quarter, down 9-13 with a chance to take the lead or at least reduce the deficit to one point, when Grossman stared down Jabar Gaffney over the middle and then got picked off by Karlos Dansby. Yet another devastating turnover that most likely ended Washington’s very slim playoff hopes.
A mixed bag for the rookie
Rookie outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan continued to show promise, while also showing there are indeed aspects of his game that need to be improved. Kerrigan was his usual reliable self as a pass-rusher, earning the best grade of this unit (+2.0 pass rush) with two sacks and two pressures, along with two forced fumbles on those sacks, one of which was recovered by the Redskins and set up the offense in Miami territory. However, the rookie was comfortably handled in the run game, earning his worst grade in this department on the season (-1.8) and also drew a personal foul flag for unnecessarily hitting Daniel Thomas on an incomplete pass. The biggest blemish came on Reggie Bush’s 18-yard TD run with 6:17 left in the fourth quarter – before the game was out of reach – as he failed to get off tight end Anthony Fasano’s block to set the edge. Kerrigan has to be disappointed by getting neutralized by a TE, even as good a blocker as Fasano, and will look to improve this part of his game.
Miami: Three Performances of Note
Miami’s bottom-tier pass blocking (-14.5) has been one of many reasons for their putrid record, but they made huge strides in improving this weakness the previous week against the Kansas City Chiefs, giving up just one hit and no sacks or pressures, and last week they continued in this positive direction. The dominant Jake Long showed up, holding stud OLB Brian Orakpo to just two pressures. RT Marc Colombo was once again the weakest link, but was not terrible, giving up a sack and two pressures. Center Mike Pouncey, RG Vernon Carey, and LG Richie Incognito meanwhile combined to give up only a hit and two pressures, usually giving Matt Moore a comfortable pocket to work in. This unit also got after the Redskins in the run game, with only Colombo grading negatively (-0.4) and Incognito performing the best at +1.8. Their day can be epitomized by one block on Bush’s one yard TD run with 8:25 left in the first quarter; Incognito pulls left and nails edge defender Laron Landry, who has been above-average in run defense, allowing Bush to run untouched into the end zone before then throwing Landry to the ground.
Nice Performances on the Inside
Both ILBs Kevin Burnett (graded red in five of the first six games) and Karlos Dansby (red in three of the first six games) struggled in the beginning of the season, but have since stepped up their game and that trend continued this week. Both did their best to make sure the Redskins’ non-existent running game remained so (+1.6 run defense each), while also contributing to the game in other ways. Burnett was thrown at three times but only allowed one of those passes to be caught for nine yards, while Dansby was tested a bit more, allowing four of six passes to be caught for 55 yards but also had perhaps the coverage play of the game, picking off Grossman in the red zone. Dansby also disrupted the passing game with a sack and a pressure in 12 rushes. If these two continue to make plays they’ve shown they are capable of making, Miami has a good chance to pile up some more “W”s this year.
Tight Ends contributing
Miami’s Tight Ends also contributed significantly in this victory. Former Dallas Cowboy Anthony Fasano, earning the highest overall offensive grade (+3.7), was coming off a two-touchdown performance, and continued to show off his impressive receiving ability by catching three of four passes for 60 yards. Watch him stretch to make a leaping one-handed 21 yard catch at 8:59 in the fourth quarter. He was also a solid pass blocker (no pressures given up in seven attempts) and run blocker (see his block on Kerrigan that helped spring Bush’s second TD, referenced above). Charles Clay, serving mostly as a full back but also catching a pass, and Jeron Mastrud, who stands up and neutralizes Orakpo on Bush’s first TD run, also helped this squad get its second win of the season.
– Kerrigan once again played every snap and has not missed one all year.
– Grossman’s NFL passer rating was higher when pressured (77.5, no picks) than with no pressure (50.2, two picks) while Moore was dramatically better with no pressure (98.4) than he was when he felt pressure (13.9, one pick).
– Bush allowed a QB hit in just two pass blocking attempts, while rookie Daniel Thomas also gave up a hit, but in 12 pass-blocking attempts.
PFF Game Ball
It has to be the former Cardinal Karlos Dansby. He was all over the field in this one with a team-leading eight tackles, notching a sack and a pressure along with five other stops, a batted pass, and an interception at his own 5-yard-line that swung momentum back to their side.