Time for our weekly review of the Washington Redskins snap counts, plus some big picture thoughts after that brutal 40-16 Week 14 home loss against the New York Giants.
♦ Quarterbacks – Mark Sanchez (33 of 62), Josh Johnson (29 of 62), Alex Smith (0 of 62)
Smith receives a mention because all that’s gone wrong in his absence – on both sides of the ball. Yes, the injury-fueled changes at quarterbacks are playing a factor in the defense’s notable dip.
We know Smith wasn’t posting prodigious statistics, the kind that keeps scoreboard operators busy and fantasy football owners thrilled. He was helping put the defense in advantageous situations by avoiding turnovers.
Washington committed nine turnovers in its opening 10 games, finishing a plus-12 in turnover margin. In the last three games since Smith’s brutal leg injury, seven turnovers and minus-5 differential.
Keeping possession wasn’t the only positive factor with Smith under center. In the nine games Smith started and finished, the Redskins won the time-of-possession statistic five times. In those five games, Washington went 4-1.
In the last three games, the Redskins lost the clock each time, significantly against the Cowboys and Eagles. Considering the heavy usage for Washington's main defensive linemen, having them on the field more isn’t a good thing.
We must note injuries to the offensive line in the previous stat. The run game faded after Washington lost both starting guards for the season. Not coughing the ball help with regularity helped as well.
Let’s circle back to the two available quarterbacks. It remains wild that the team landed on Sanchez when the Redskins searched a Smith replacement. This isn’t about a side by side comparison to Johnson, who was much sharper upon entering in the second half. New York played soft coverages with a 40-point lead and Johnson took advantage. Don’t expect as many clean looks against an aggressive Jaguars defense Sunday.
Drops and numerous penalties didn’t help Sanchez. He also appeared timid especially when Washington started drives deep in its territory.
This Brian Mitchell hot take doesn’t seem that crazy, to be honest.
♦ One look at the wide receiver and running back snap totals show what kind of game unfolded on Sunday:
Wide receivers – Josh Doctson (55 of 62), Jamison Crowder (54), Maurice Harris (35), Michael Floyd (31), Jehu Chesson (1)
Running backs – Chris Thompson (25), Adrian Peterson (19), Byron Marshall (18)
Trailing by a bazillion points in the first half led to lots of passing and subsequently more three and four-receiver sets. That Jordan Reed suffered a toe injury in the first quarter also led to more receiver-heavy looks. Crowder’s blazing 79-yard touchdown reception stood out, obviously, and we all understand the limitations with the current quarterbacks. It’s just hard looking at that unit and feeling inspired even when factoring in a healthy Paul Richardson. The Redskins need more next season. Adding a tough guy wideout, the kind who a QB can target on 3rd-and-8 would help.
Meanwhile, this was only the second game of the season that no running back played in at least half of the offensive snaps. Peterson played 46 percent of snaps in the Week 9 blowout loss to Atlanta.
Marshall’s presence dropped Kapri Bibbs to the inactive list. Bibbs did not take an offensive snap in the Week 13 loss at Philadelphia.
♦ Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played in 100 percent of the defensive snaps (64) for a fifth consecutive week. The man he replaced, Montae Nicholson, didn’t take the field defensively for the third game in a row. During those five weeks, the second-year safety received four snaps.
This scenario requires a deeper dive, but this exchange doesn’t appear to be working, or at least not to the degree Washington hoped when shipping a fourth-round pick to Green Bay for the veteran.
Don’t consider those numbers all about the safety change or even on Clinton-Dix necessarily. All we know for sure is there haven’t been many personnel changes on defense this season. This was one of them.
"I think he's finding his way,” Jay Gruden said of Clinton-Dix Monday. On whether he’d consider going back to Nicholson, Gruden said, “Yeah, we have to look at Montae again. I think nobody gave up on Montae, we traded for a good player, a Pro-Bowl type player in Ha Ha and we wanted to give him every opportunity to come in and play.”
♦ Stacy McGee (28) played more Sunday than rookie Tim Settle (20) did for a second consecutive week.
♦ Zach Brown and Shaun Dion Hamilton each played exactly 28 snaps. Hamilton became the surprise inside linebacker starter over Brown and he likely tops the veteran in snaps if not for a shoulder injury suffered in the game. Gruden claimed the lineup change stemmed from Brown missing practice time during the week due to illness.
“We were just going to start Shaun Dion in base just to get it started. Then as the game went on, we were going to see how Shaun Dion did and then move on from there,” Gruden said.
It’s worth noting this change occurred the week after the Redskins claimed Reuben Foster off waivers. Beyond the controversies surrounding Foster, adding Foster is a sign the Redskins are looking for more at ILB. Then they went with Hamilton over Brown. With three weeks remaining, it will be interesting to see if the coaches want to see more from the rookie in this role -- and how Brown reacts if they do.
♦ Offensive lineman Zac Kerin was the only player not to receive any action Sunday. If unfamiliar with Mr. Kerin, don’t fret. He only arrived last week. I wasn't sure if it was "Zac" or "Zach" initially.
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