LANDOVER, MD — Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ impressive 27-11 win over the Broncos.
No meaningless games — Fans and media are certainly welcome to call a Week 16 game between two non-contenders meaningless but the Redskins’ players and coaches would disagree. They competed for pride, for their teammates, for themselves and because, well, they’re competitors. The defense nearly went a second straight game without allowing a touchdown but the Broncos managed a garbage time tally. It would have been something they have not done in at least 47 years.
Have to take advantage — Some would suggest that if the Redskins had kept the Broncos out of the end zone that the two-game TD-less streak should have carried an asterisk give that it would have come against QB’s Blaine Gabbert and Brock Osweiler. But they have played a lot of bad quarterbacks in those 47 seasons and they still have not managed the back-to-back no-TD trick. So give the defense some credit for bending and not breaking against Arizona and hardly bending at all against the Broncos. From the start of the second half until it was 27-3 with about four minutes left, the Broncos gained just 36 yards.
End of the line for Kirk? — Cousins was asked a few different times in a few different ways if he thought about this possibly being his last home game at FedEx Field. He continued to say what he said before the game today, that his focus is on ending the season strong and then sorting out where he will play his home games in 2018 starting on January 1. If it was his last Redskins game at FedEx Field he finished off strong, with 299 yards passing and three touchdowns. It should be noted that he had an ugly pick after throwing into triple coverage in the end zone but he played well enough before and after that for it to be overlooked.
Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan showed what they can be — The Redskins bookend edge rushers got two sacks each and Smith added in a forced fumble. Today’s performance shows what the two can do and what kind of effect it might have on the Redskins defense. They got a turnover, ended some drives and stopped others before they ever got started. Yes, Denver does have a suspect offensive line and Osweiler is a statue in the pocket but you have to take advantage of such situations. Kerrigan and, especially, Smith haven’t always done that in the past but they did today.
Jay Gruden’s job is safe, period — I’m not sure how much danger there ever was of the head coach losing his job, but after blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers the chatter started to grow. If there had been two more games like those he may have been in serious trouble. But after getting his team to respond and play with pride these last two “meaningless” games, he is not going anywhere.