ReFo: Redskins @ Giants, Week 17
Was there any game of the final weekend that meant less than this one? I don’t think it got more than four or five plays on “Redzone” as the rest of the NFL world exploded with excitement around it. Washington didn’t even have a first round draft pick to “fight” for – that given away some time ago in a still to be evaluated trade with St. Louis.
All that said there is always something at stake in an NFL game with particular players having a lot on the line (including potentially lucrative contracts). A number played like that, so at a time when many Redskins and Giants fans may be dealing with a seasonal melancholy, let’s dwell on only positives from this game (well at least until we get to the notes).
Washington – Three Performances of Note
In Name As Well As Performance
The selection process for the Pro Bowl is as flawed a process as can be found in the modern world (what genius thought fans wouldn’t just vote for their own players regardless of performance?) but at least Trent Williams (+4.2) was a worthy selection. I’m sure that sounds strange giving we didn’t select him but if we had no compunction about only picking left tackles he’d be among our picks too. A single hurry was all he allowed and his run blocking was good too. He’s one of the few left tackles that can regularly be trusted to get to the second level and be effective.
There are few more frustrating players to watch than Brandon Meriweather (+3.8). His head-down, kamikaze approach to hitting can make him a missed tackle machine but he also has the skill set few others possess. After his return from early season injury it looked like another debacle was in the cards as he performed poorly in all phases of play, but since Week 12 he’s actually played pretty well. He topped that off with as good a day as he’s had in five years; close to the ball, closing fast and making sure tackles – five of his eight tackles being stops. He was also solid in coverage, the highlight being a hit on Louis Murphy that caused a drop.
Second round draft pick David Amerson (+3.0) has had an in-and-out year with unfortunately a bit more out than in. He was toasted against Green Bay, San Diego and in the second Philadelphia game and despite playing only 65% of snaps had still allowed 673 yards. However, there is good news – that includes only one TD to go with two interceptions and five passes defensed. Here he went much better when on 28 coverage snaps he only gave up two of seven targets for 11 yards with two PDs.
N.Y. Giants – Three Performances of Note
Solidifying the right side
The offensive line has had problems all year but a major success story has been the play of first-rounder Justin Pugh (+5.4). He’s only played very poorly once (his beating at the hands of the Panthers’ Charles Johnson in Week 3) which is good for a veteran, never mind a rookie. One mulligan a year is standard fare and, that aside, he graded a +12.1.
In this game he equaled his best pass blocking return of the year – allowing only a single hurry – while showing good strength at both the point of attack and skill at the second level, not grading negatively once as a run blocker.
Needs Playing Time
After Week 11 Jerrel Jernigan (+4.0) had only 49 snaps on offensive despite playing in every game. In the last two weeks of the year he’s caught 170 yards worth of passes including two touchdowns and if extrapolated to a qualifying number of snaps his 2.25 Yards per Route Run would see him nestled in 11th position – just between Vincent Jackson and A.J. Green. He’s clearly a man in need of playing time and certainly one to watch next year.
A quiet success story for Big Blue has been the play of Trumaine McBride (+5.4). He’s played well since his promotion to the starting line-up in Week 5 and finished strong with a career day in this game. In 53 coverage snaps he was targeted 12 times, allowed only two receptions for 20 yards while knocking down four passes and intercepting another two.
– How badly do the Giants need a runner? Despite reasonable blocking, the two top backs gained 69 yards on 30 carries and didn’t break a single tackle.
– Can the Giants please start using their rookies a little earlier? In only 195 snaps this season Jonathan Hankins has put together an excellent +8.0 grade.
– The Washington Redskins had by some margin the worst special teams group in the NFL. Of every non-kicker/punter only one player graded in the green – Josh Hull.
PFF Game Ball
While McBride’s play was exceptional it was a defensive day and only one offensive skill player stood out. For his game-winning touchdowns, my final game ball of the year goes to Jerrel Jernigan.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil