BLUE CHIP STOCK OF THE WEEK
Offensive Line – These big cats are on a roll. The line absolutely dominated Chicago’s front seven, allowing no sacks and pacing the running game to 208 yards and 5.9 yards per carry. The tackles, Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, were particularly dominant. Williams, in fact, looks fresher than ever at this time of year; it appears the 4-game suspension has been good for him. Dominant performances are not exactly new for the line, which has been the strongest part of the team most games this season. Even against the Panthers, where the line was dominated in the run game, it gave Kirk Cousins plenty of time to throw. In fact, in the last two games, Cousins has attempted 76 passes and been sacked once. Washington’s elite offense isn’t powered by its fine quarterback or its stable of flashy receivers, it is the offensive line — once again — that is the heart and soul of the Redskins.
DeSean Jackson – After going 8 straight weeks without reaching 100 receiving yards in a game, DJax has now hit that mark four times in the last five games. In those four games he has never averaged less than 22.8 yards per reception and has catches of 80, 67, 59 and 57 yards. In other words, the old DeSean Jackson is back in a big, big way. He now has 54 catches for 971 yards on the season and should go over 1000 yards for the second time in three years in Washington.
Preston Smith – Saturday’s win over Chicago marked Smith’s best game of the year, by far. That’s not saying much, since the OLB has had a disappointing sophomore season. Smith had one sack, another called back on a dumb penalty by ILB Mason Foster, a blocked field goal and it was Smith’s pressure on Barkley that led to the first interception of the game, by CB Josh Norman. Smith’s pressure later in the game also forced Barkley to throw with no power, leading to Norman’s second interception of the game. It would be nice if Smith’s big game was followed up by more like that because Washington’s defense sure needs his pass pressure.
Kirk Cousins – The signal-caller bounced back from his second-worst game of the year with one of his best. Cousins ripped Chicago for 270 yards and a touchdown pass, averaging an impressive 9.3 yards per pass. Cousins also ran for two more touchdowns, making him one of only two players in NFL history to have back-to-back seasons of throwing for at least 4000 yards and rushing for at least 4 TD. The only other player to do it? Aaron Rodgers.
Defensive Backs – Five interceptions on Saturday. Sure, some of them were due to pressure — that’s usually the case — and some of them were basically gift-wrapped by Matt Barkley, but the secondary actually caught footballs on Sunday, rather than letting them bounce off their fingers, as is usual. Making the plays that are there to be made — that’s progress. Josh Norman, in particular, excelled on Saturday.
Chris Thompson – My favorite player on the team had another fine game pass-blocking, but there wasn’t too much work for him otherwise. So why is he on this list? Well, he touched the ball four times and turned two of those touches into first quarter touchdowns. For the season, Thompson has 351 rushing yards at 5.4 yards a pop, 43 catches for another 312 yards (7.3) and five total touchdowns. He may never be a workhorse running back, but he’s incredibly productive when he’s on the field.
Defense — Washington gave up 458 total yards of offense to the Chicago Bears, despite the fact that Chicago committed five turnovers. Chicago ran for 140 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and racked up an incredible 31 first downs. In addition, the Bears were 7 of 10 on third downs, 1 of 1 on fourth down and converted two of their three red zone opportunities to touchdowns. It’s just another bad performance in a year of bad performances. The only thing that makes up for it is the aforementioned five interceptions.
SELL! SELL!! SELL!!!
Redskins planning on firing Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry after season. Team feels issue isn’t exclusively personnel.
— NFL_DRAFT_Bites (@NFLDraftBites) December 26, 2016
I think it is unfair to blame all of Washington’s defensive woes — which are legion — on Barry. The talent is poor. In my opinion, only Josh Norman, Ryan Kerrigan and Chris Baker are players who would start on a good defense. That leaves eight starters who should not be starting and you can see why Barry’s defense is so bad. However, coaches are paid to get more out of their talent than the other guy did and Barry isn’t doing that. He may or may not be making Washington’s defense worse, but he is clearly not making it better.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills just fired head coach Rex Ryan and his fatter brother Rob, with one week to go in the regular season. Rex Ryan may not be much of a head coach (61-66 record and zero playoff appearances since 2010), but he knows how to build a good 3-4 defense. The Skins run (mostly) a 3-4 defense that is very, very far away from good. Team owner Dan Snyder loves big name coaches and with Ryan sitting out there looking for work, the temptation to make a big splash early in the offseason by bringing him aboard will be strong.