RUSSELL: Redskins grade out well vs. Jaguars

Chris Russell
December 16, 2018 - 8:21 pm
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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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The Redskins won a game! Yes, you read that right! 16-13 in Jacksonville over the Jaguars, who were in the AFC Championship last year.

Time to print your playoff tickets, baby!

Well, I would hold off but after a month of self-inflicted wounds and unlucky breaks, it was a much-needed win and a chance at the NFL playoffs.

Now our week 15, game 14 report card:

Offense: B : Josh Johnson was far from beautiful, but he was effective, especially in the second half. Damn effective.

His mobility was a huge factor on an early third-quarter drive that led to a field goal. Overall, Johnson had 49 yards rushing on nine attempts.

On the Redskins game-tying touchdown drive, Johnson got a huge break on a 33-yard completion to Jamison Crowder that was a terrible throw, on 3rd-and-15, but perhaps the football gods were shining for once on a Redskins quarterback this year?

Johnson came right back with a play-action boot to Jeremy Sprinkle for a huge completion and then a touchdown toss to the former Arkansas tight-end, who was in more of a featured role this week because of Jordan Reed’s injury and Vernon Davis getting banged up.

Johnson was 16-for-25 so his accuracy wasn’t awful by any means and on the game-winning drive led by Adrian Peterson, Johnson hit the future hall-of-fame running back on a seven-yard screen to the left flat for his only attempt.

Peterson was neutralized all day long but with a gassed Jaguars attack that was on the field for just shy of 31 minutes before the game-winning drive started, ripped off runs of 15, 7, 4 and 4 to pace the attack, kill the clock and set up Dustin Hopkins for the win.

Penalties were still a major problem for Washington, as they ruined four first-half drives.

Defense: A : It helped that Cody Kessler was the opposing quarterback. It certainly was a bonus that the Jaguars offensive line resembled shredded mozzarella in terms of injuries.

However, six sacks and two takeaways were just what the doctor ordered. Jonathan Allen had two sacks and a couple of big run stops. Ryan Kerrigan had a couple of sacks and a forced fumble. Zach Brown had a takedown on a third-down rush and Allen helped create a split sack by Preston Smith and Shaun Dion Hamilton.

Fabian Moreau came up with a huge interception and return to the Redskins-45 which set up the game-winning field goal and Kerrigan had the other forced takeaway.

Special Teams: C : A punt return for a touchdown allowed just before the half was very bad. Byron Marshall pushed a Jaguar blocker out-of-bounds instead of tackling the returner, Dede Westbrook. Tress Way, who has been great all year, out-kicked his coverage by about 11 yards to add to the problem.

Dustin Hopkins connected on a couple of huge field goals throughout and the game-winning kick as time expired. This was with a new long-snapper who was just signed Saturday.

Coaching: A : Jay Gruden was terrific on Sunday. He managed the clock perfectly at the end of the game forcing Jacksonville to use all of their timeouts and then whittled down the clock even more to allow no time left on Hopkins kick. That’s not a strength of Gruden’s but on Sunday it was.

His play-design and play-calling, especially in the second half, was very sharp. Gruden likes to run his full offense, regardless of situation, opponent and faults of his own group. Some of that was still present today, but some well-designed screens to Marshall and Peterson yielded good results. The play-action boot and sell by the offense on the pass to Sprinkle set up that key score. Earlier, he designed a pick and a quick-out to Jamison Crowder for a first down and in the second half, used Crowder as a natural pick/rub player to free Vernon Davis behind him for a slant and a key first down.

Greg Manusky’s defense did a lot well, as mentioned above, but it helped that Washington didn’t seem to blitz much which allowed his unit to play more sound, gap discipline football for the most part. They did yield a total of 172 rushing yards but only 192 net yards. 

 

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