Here are my give takeaways from the Redskins’ 26-24 win over the 49ers.
A win is a win but . . . I’ve covered every one of Jay Gruden’s games in Washington, and I’ve never hear him say that there was any degree of disappointment in a win until today. “You can see that we’re starting to turn the corner a little bit when you’re not quite as ecstatic as you normally would be after a win,” he said. It’s clear that they had at least a couple of different chances to put them away but they almost let a rookie quarterback throwing his first NFL passes beat them. Against the Chiefs they got ahead and couldn’t apply the clinching blow. They didn’t get away with that against a very good team. Today, they survived but it’s unlikely that they can play like they did today and win any of their next three games against the Eagles, Cowboys and Seahawks.
Better a close win than a blowout? Maybe the Redskins are better off by having to scrape by over the winless 49ers than they would have been had they blown them out. The praise would have been flowing in, and this is not necessarily a team that can handle prosperity well. A two-point win and a rout count the same in the standings. They will go into Philadelphia next Monday night at 3-2 and with, as Gruden said, plenty of things to work on. That may be better for them.
So much for limiting Chris Thompson’s touches — Thompson started the game, and while I don’t have official snap counts, I’d say he was in for at least 50 of Washington’s 71 offensive plays. He had 16 rushing attempts and he caught four passes. I’m not sure if 20 touches is a career high, but it’s close. But the thing is, the Redskins needed him. Cousins is still having issues connecting with his wide receivers, and until that gets ironed out he will continue to rely on Thompson when he needs a big play.
The defense is taking a step back — The Redskins defense peaked while allowing the Raiders fewer than 100 yards before they picked up some in garbage time. The Chiefs piled up yards and points against them. In Week 6, they allowed a rookie quarterback to drive 75 yards against them after the two-minute warning and had a broken coverage that gave up a 45-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that made it a two-point game. The other TD wasn’t their fault, coming after a turnover that gave the 49ers the ball at the Washington one. They were becoming a force to be reckoned with and a group that was fun to watch. Now you want to close your eyes when they are on the field. To be sure, injuries have a lot to do with it.
A football season doesn’t always go like you think it will — Sunday, Matt Ioannidis had a sack and a half, including a big one that knocked the 49ers out easy of field goal range (they missed the kick) in the third quarter. Ryan Grant had some key receptions. Many fans would not have batted an eye if one or both of these players had been cut during the offseason. In fact, some would have cheered. But here we are in mid-October and the two fifth-round picks are contributing in wins. So is rookie safety Montae Nicholson, who many thought was a huge reach on the fourth round (I am sheepishly raising my hand). But you just don’t know how a season is going to play out and how much guys can take a leap in between seasons.