Redskins find themselves in playoff contention
A six pack of observations from Sunday’s 38-21win over the Browns:
—The Redskins’ offense did look different with Kirk Cousins in there instead of Robert Griffin III but one thing remained the same—Pierre Garçon was the QB’s favorite target. Cousins threw 12 passes his way, twice as many as went to Santana Moss, his second-favorite. As has been the case since he returned from a toe injury, Garçon justified his quarterback’s faith in him with six catches for 65 yards. He should have had a seventh but what seemed to be a questionable replay review deprived him of a 22-yard catch.
—For a while this season, it looked like age might have been catching up with London Fletcher. He was missing a lot of tackles and he appeared to be a liability in pass coverage. Fletcher isn’t practicing much these days with an ankle injury but he’s getting it done on the field. Yesterday he got his fourth interception of the year, a total that is tied for the team lead and is tied for the NFL lead among linebackers. Oh, and seven tackles, one for a loss, to go along with the pick. It seems he has regained his stride at 237 consecutive games played and counting.
—But Fletcher has not been the outstanding linebacker on the team, at least in terms of big plays. All Rob Jackson did yesterday was pick off a pass giving the Redskins a very short field to take the lead for good in the third quarter, force a fumble and get in on six tackles, two of them for a loss. He now has three picks on the year to go with several other key defensive plays during the Redskins’ current winning streak. Jackson wasn’t going to get off of the bench much before Brian Orakpo went out with a season-ending injury and he’s done well with his opportunity.
—Cousins completed a few passes off of the bootleg while needing to loop them over an unblocked, onrushing defender. One was on the shorter touchdown to Hankerson, another to Logan Paulsen to convert a third down. I’m not sure how much they work on that at practice but it can’t be easy to execute even if the receiver is wide open.
—Richard Crawford did not do anything spectacular returning punts yesterday with 18 yards on two returns. But his 9.0-yard average was better than Brandon Banks’ season average of 6.8 yards. If Crawford just keeps going forward after fielding the ball he will break another long one before long.
—The emergence of Alfred Morris as an every down running back has diminished the role of Evan Royster but the second-year back made a few good plays on Sunday. With the game tied at 7-7 in the second quarter, the Redskins lost a challenge, wiping out what looked like a 22-yard completion from Cousins to Garçon. No problem, on the next play on third and nine, Royster caught a swing pass from Cousins, slipped and tackle, and scooted up the right sideline for 25 yards to the Browns 28. That set up a field goal to give the Redskins a 10-7 lead. He also scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.