ReFo: Redskins @ Raiders, Week 4
Though it’s still early in the season, the “must-win” games creep up unexpectedly and that’s just what the Washington Redskins were facing as they headed to Oakland to take on the Raiders. With the possibility of an 0-and-4 start upon them, the Redskins responded with a 24-14 victory, though it took some time to get going as they quickly fell behind 14-0. The defense showed signs of life, though it certainly helped going up against an injury-laden Raiders team that was without starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor and lost its top two running backs, Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece, during the course of the game.
For the Raiders, they fall to 1-3 while the rest of the AFC West is out to prove they’re one of the strongest divisions in the league. The opposite is true in the NFC East as the Redskins’ identical 1-3 record has them in the thick of the race in perhaps the league’s weakest division. Neither team has been particularly impressive through four games, but different roads may lay ahead.
Let’s take a look at the top performances from the game.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
Three-Pronged Pass Rush
Only three players have consistently gotten to the quarterback for the Redskins during the first four weeks and that trend continued on Sunday as outside lineabackers Ryan Kerrigan (+2.7) and Brian Orakpo (+2.5) and defensive tackle Barry Cofield (+4.5) led the way. Cofield paced the group as he notched six pressures (two sacks, one hit, three hurries) in his 31 attempts. Had he not been moved out of the middle in the run game so often (-2.8 run defense grade), he’d likely be in the conversation for the PFF Game Ball. As for the outside linebackers, they brought consistent pressure off the edge as Kerrigan picked up seven pressures (two sacks, five hurries) on his 26 attempts and Orakpo notched five pressures (two sacks, three hurries) on his 23. The trio not only represents the top pass rushers for Washington this season, they’re also the only three starting defensive players grading in the green. They’ll need some help if the Redskins are going to make a run in the wide-open NFC East.
Fletcher Struggles Again
Perhaps it’s piling on at this point of his career, but London Fletcher has failed to live up to his tackling-machine hype in recent years and now it’s just getting to the point where we have to wonder how long he’ll continue his consecutive game streak. He finished at -1.8 for the day to drop to -11.9 on the season. Sure, there were some positives, as he flashed us back to his ability to run the seam with tight ends as he did at the 8:29 mark of the second, running step for step with TE Jeron Mastrud, but at the end of the day, it’s just Jeron Mastrud we’re talking about. Fletcher’s -2.4 coverage grade stemmed from two missed tackles on short passes and over pursuing another as he clearly struggled when playing in space. The missed tackles are the biggest concern after Fletcher lead all inside linebackers in the dubious category a year ago and he’s knocking on the door again with seven through four games.
RG3 Bouncing Back
The Redskins’ 0-3 start stemmed largely from ineffective play from QB Robert Griffin III, but he was back to form on Sunday grading at +2.8 overall. It wasn’t so much the big-time throws that he made, it was his taking what the defense was giving, particularly at the intermediate level where Griffin completed 6-of-8 passes for 120 yards and a +2.7 grade. Perhaps most importantly moving forward, the Redskins got back to their 2012 game plan as Griffin used play action on a league-high 42 percent of his dropbacks this week. Granted, the score of the game certainly dictated the strategy, but that’s the style Washington needs to play in order to take advantage of Griffin’s skill set.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Flynn Gets His Chance
After more than a year of waiting, QB Matt Flynn finally got his starting opportunity on Sunday with Pryor still dealing with concussion issues. Things didn’t go as planned as he graded at -5.0 overall, including a couple of game-changing mistakes. He lucked out at the 3:17 mark of the first as he faked the wide receiver screen and looked to throw the wheel route up the seam. Flynn didn’t see Orakpo dropping into coverage and nearly threw an interception on the forced throw. He wasn’t as lucky with 11:09 to go in the second as he once again misread the coverage, throwing late on a drag route, and rookie cornerback David Amerson jumped the route and took it to the end zone for an easy touchdown. To top it all off, Flynn dropped the snap on a 4th-and-1 QB sneak attempt to officially seal the end of the game for the Raiders. He graded at -2.8 with a QB Rating of 25.4 when facing pressure, and that’s not including the seven sacks he took.
Raiders’ starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins graded at -3.4 and -1.4 in coverage respectively as they were unable to slow down an efficient Washington passing attack. Porter got lost against the Redskins’ stack release with 5:05 to go in the third quarter as WR Leonard Hankerson came open on the slant route for an easy 3rd-and-3 conversion. For the day, he gave up four receptions for 65 yards on his eight targeted throws, three of which went for first downs. Jenkins gave up 4-of-5 catches for 47 yards including two first downs while also getting mauled on a screen block from fullback Darrel Young with 10:40 to go in the first quarter. Both cornerbacks graded positively against the run, but they were exploited in coverage throughout the afternoon.
Despite playing only 23 snaps, DE Jack Crawford made his presence felt as he graded at +3.5 overall including +1.9 against the run. He picked up two hits and a hurry on his seven rushes while dominating right tackle Tyler Polumbus for three stops in the running game. The 23 snaps were a season-high for Crawford who appears poised for even more time on the field.
In addition to Crawford, linebacker Kevin Burnett graded at +1.6 overall on his 38 snaps as he picked up three stops while also beating RB Roy Helu to get a hit on Griffin. Despite losing some playing time to rookie LB Sio Moore this week, Burnett remained productive and perhaps he’ll take to more of a part-time role moving forward.
– Redskins’ WR Santana Moss failed to catch a pass on his three targets including one drop.
– Raiders’ RB Rashad Jennings graded at +2.1 as a receiver as he caught all eight of his targets for 71 yards while also forcing four missed tackles.
– After playing a career-high 64 snaps in Week 3, Raiders rookie CB DJ Hayden saw the field for only 23 snaps, grading at -0.5 overall.
PFF Game Ball
With five pressures, including two sacks, a batted pass, and a pass defensed, Redskins’ OLB Brian Orakpo takes the game ball.
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