The Redskins and their fans thoroughly enjoyed the team’s domination of the Raiders on Sunday night football.
As spectators’ voices return to normal and the team’s high settles into the routine of getting ready for the next game, it will be time to wonder what’s next?
Is what the Redskins did last night sustainable? Or will it end up being one of a few pleasant memories during another frustrating campaign?
There is no crystal ball that can give us the answer here.
The NFL is a week-to-week league and we often see a team show up for one game that bears little resemblance to the one who puts on the uniform the following week.
But there were some common traits from the Redskins’ last two games, both wins, that will help them going forward. Among them are:
MORE REDSKINS: FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE BIG WIN
— Speed on defense — In particular, the additions of linebacker Zach Brown and rookie safety Montae Nicholson have given the Redskins a dimension they have lacked in the last several seasons. They say that speed doesn’t take a game off; it’s always there. If Nicholson and Brown show up for every game this year the defense has a chance to be great on a given day.
— Pass rush — The Redskins have at least one sack in their last 27 games and they have at least two sacks in every game this year. Pass defense starts with pass pressure and while the rush hasn’t been dominant throughout those 27 games, often they at least get some hurries and hits on the quarterback and over time those are nearly as effective as sacks. In that 27-game sack streak, the Redskins are 16-10-1, a .611 winning percentage.
— Quality cornerback play — Per Pro Football Focus, in three games Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland have played a combined 116 snaps in pass coverage and have allowed a total of 10 receptions for 117 yards. Throw in nickel corner Kendall Fuller, who has an interception and a forced fumble on his ledger, and you have a group that can limit the damage done by opposing wide receivers. That often forces teams out of their comfort zones.
— Pass protection — Kirk Cousins has been the starting quarterback since the start of the 2015 season. In those 35 regular season games, he has been sacked zero or one time in 19 of those contests. If your quarterback has time, you have a chance.
— A good running game — For right now, this is the most problematic element of their recent success. Running the ball depends on, well, running the ball. If Jay Gruden sticks with it, the running game can help the team dominate time of possession and help the defense by keeping them off the field. Their ability to keep the ball on the ground is dependent on Cousins picking up third downs when necessary by throwing the ball and on the defense keeping the score close enough to allow for rushing to be a sound strategy.
The Redskins are unlikely to bring all five of these elements with them every week. But if they have three or four of them working they can expect to be competitive.
And on the occasions when they have all five you can get games like the one last night.
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