ReFo: Redskins @ Falcons, Week 15
Both of these teams may already be out of the playoff hunt but if you tuned in Sunday you were treated to one of the best games of football this season. Momentum swings came by the play instead of the drive as there were multiple occasions with turnovers back-to-back. There was even a butt fumble, although this one looked significantly different, with Kory Lichtensteiger’s backside proving the culprit. You can’t really blame him though, what with Alfred Morris forcing himself to fumble by running into him. This game also featured Kirk Cousins taking over for the “injured” Robert Griffin III. It was an up-and-down performance from the Michigan State product who made some really impressive throws but also some costly mistakes resulting in an almost exactly average passing grade (-0.1).
Over on Atlanta’s side, it was a mixed game for many of their young players. There were mixed results for defensive ends Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman. Meanwhile, Paul Worrilow really struggled in contrast to Joplu Bartu who put in another solid performance. The same dichotomy was true at corner where Robert Alford really struggled but Desmond Trufant stood out. The latter even had the game-ending pass deflection. The Falcons are featuring so many young players these days it’s hard to mention them all but there were contrasting fortunes for Ryan Schraeder and Zeke Motta. The undrafted free agent offensive tackle graded in the green while the former Notre Dame safety had his second game graded in the red this season. Let’s take a look at some individual performances …
Washington – Three Performances of Note
Kirk Cousins (-1.4) performed exceptionally well in backup duty and his lone start in 2012. This year has been a different story, however, as he now has a –4.7 grade overall in 100 snaps. He certainly made some “wow” throws against the Falcons, including a long touchdown to Pierre Garcon on a double move where he got the safety to bite on the pump fake and then threw a strike deep down the left sideline for six (Q2, 6:44). There were a number of negative moments as well though such as his interception to Desmond Trufant late in the fourth quarter (5:45) when he had Garcon open on a post but threw it behind him. Pocket presence was another issue with Cousins who failed to step up a number of times leading to unnecessary pressure. Overall he was only charged with two hurries but his lack of composure cost the Redskins in the end when he left the pocket early on the failed two-point attempt which cut the field in half. Cousins actually only had a slightly negative passing grade (-0.1) but false start and delay of game penalties resulted in the -1.4.
In Form Chester
Chris Chester (+3.7) has really rounded into form of late grading in the green four times in a row now. Sunday was his best performance of the season as he pounded on the defensive tackles especially in the run game. Overall he had a +1.6 grade predominantly due to his consistency. There weren’t any highlight blocks but he showed nice strength on a double team early in the fourth quarter (13:42) to drive Peria Jerry off the ball. There were some negatives such as the tackle for no gain he allowed to Corey Peters midway through the first (Q1, 8:13). Finally, it was a perfect day for Chester in both pass protection and the penalty column. He didn’t allow anything on 46 dropbacks for back-to-back perfect games and a combined +3.9 pass protecting grade for the past two weeks.
It seems like there’s a new safety on the field for the Redskins every week and that was the case again with Bacarri Rambo once again demoted to special teams after struggling against the Chiefs. Unfortunately for Washington, their options are Brandon Meriweather (0.0), EJ Biggers (-0.5), and Reed Doughty (-1.7). A combined -2.2 grade was a good week for their standards but it was still below average. Merriweather graded in the red against the run (-1.3). He had particular trouble slowing down Steven Jackson who broke two of his attempted tackles. Overall he finished without a stop, four made tackles, and the aforementioned two missed. Biggers is actually a good corner but his struggles came against the pass (-1.1). He allowed three of four targets to be completed for 32 yards including two first downs. Biggers also had a holding penalty. Finally, Doughty struggled in every facet as he was beaten for a first down, sealed inside on a Falcon touchdown run, and failed to generate any pressure.
Atlanta – Three Performances of Note
Worrying Performance by Worrilow
Paul Worrilow (-5.0) had by far his worst game as a pro against the Redskins as he was unable to handle their zone running game. Run defense (-2.6) was the biggest problem as Washington’s linemen overpowered him at the second level. He recorded just two defensive stops in the run game with Trent Williams in particular winning battles against him. The undrafted inside linebacker simply couldn’t handle the quickness and power of the first-round offensive tackle especially on pitches to the outside. Worrilow also had trouble taking on lead blocks as he was sealed twice on consecutive plays by Logan Paulsen to begin the fourth quarter. There was only slightly better news in coverage (-1.9) where he allowed four of five targets to be completed for 51 yards including three first downs.
Alford’s Worst Game
Robert Alford (-4.2) has had an impressive start to his NFL career but had his worst game against the Redskins. He gave up completions on all nine targets for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Six of those completions either ended up as first downs or touchdowns. The lowlight was a long gain by Aldrick Robinson where Alford was beaten for pure speed (Q2, 10:38). He at least was able to stop Robinson short of the end zone but it was a bad play nonetheless. The touchdown which brought the game within a point was also scored against him as Santana Moss ran a simple quick out which generated the separation needed to set up the two-point conversion to decide the game. To top it all off, he committed a personal foul penalty after the Falcons recovered a fumble. It’s always tough for rookie corners entering the NFL but this will need to be a learning experience for the second-round pick.
With a combined five years of experience between them the right side of the Falcons’ line featuring Joe Hawley (+1.8), Peter Konz (+1.7) and Ryan Schraeder (+1.3) is going to take time to grow together. This was by no means the toughest test but it at least has them pointed in the right direction after a few tough outings this year. Overall in pass protection they combined to give up just a sack, hit and hurry in 128 drop backs (Konz played 35, the others 46) recording a grade of +0.8. Schraeder was especially impressive in only his second NFL start as he limited Ryan Kerrigan to just the solitary sack (he allowed the hurry to Perry Riley). Albeit it was a sack fumble but the strip was more due to the impressive work of the outside linebacker. It was in the run game where they unit did most of their damage, combining for a +3.1 grade. Hawley led the way (+1.4) winning the majority of his battles with Barry Cofield and the inside linebackers.
– The left side of the Falcons’ line gave up over twice as much pressure (eight combined) as the right side did plus Hawley.
– Matt Ryan attempted just one pass beyond 20 yards and it was picked off.
– Just 35 of Alfred Morris’ 98 yards came after contact.
It’s tough to pick with no real standout performances on the winning team. It’s worth mentioning Stephen Nicholas who had three stops and a forced fumble in just seven snaps but ultimately Chris Chester deserves the award.
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