The Titans head up to Washington on Sunday to take on the Redskins. Both teams are struggling in the early going under a new head coach. Both teams have spent significant time with their back-up quarterback under center. HogHunter of Hogs Haven was nice enough to answer some questions about his team leading up to the game.
1. Who is your quarterback when RG3 is 100% healthy?
This would have been a different response if Kirk Cousins was playing the Jaguars 5 weeks in a row, and he had 4 wins as a starter this year instead of 4 losses. But that's not the way it worked out, and while Cousins has played some decent football, he hasn't played decent football when it counted. Third downs and the 4th quarter have been bad times to be a Redskins fan over the last month.
Robert Griffin III returned to practice today to do individual drills and throw to his receivers. Jay Gruden made it very clear in his presser today that once RGIII is ready, he is stepping back into the starting job. When that will be is the main question. There were reports recently that the goal wasnext Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, but that seems like an unrealistic goal to me. They have one more game after that, and then the bye. I thought the earliest he would be cleared to return would be following the bye, but you never know with the Redskins.
2. Break down Kirk Cousins for us. What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Kirk Cousins can get the ball out very quickly, he's been hitting DeSean Jackson with the deep ball, and he can make most of the throws you want your starting QB to make. He could be a low end starter/quality backup in the league, but at this point he's a much better reliever than starter. Cousins is effective until you start pressuring him, and then he panics and starts to try to force things. The Redskins third down conversion rate has been terrible this year, and some of that blame falls on Cousins. When the 4th quarter rolls around, he has been pretty consistent with turnovers at heartbreaking moments. Cousins can move the ball up and down the field and has a control of the offense, but the mistakes have just wiped all the good things away. He's throwing a ton a yards, but when you end 3 or 4 drives in a quarter with an interception it's meaningless.
3. How are fans feeling about the start of the Jay Gruden era?
Starting the season 1-5 will bring a lot of criticism on a new head coach. The Redskins were 3-13 last season and had a lot of problems that were going to take more than one draft and a few free agents to fix. Realistic fans were hoping for a respectable season with at least double the wins from last year. Delusional fans expected a 1 year turnaround and a division title with a returning Robert Griffin III, a newly signed DeSean Jackson, and all the other offensive weapons the team had.
The team has had a lot of significant injuries at key positions. They've lost their starting QB, TE, NT, CB, and had an injury list in the double digits for the majority of the season. The secondary and offensive line has been a mess forever, and the Redskins retained both of the coaches from last season to retain continuity. I'm not sure why you would want to continue anything from a 3-13 season, but that was a major strike for Gruden early in his time here.
The biggest complaint besides losing has been the lack of a running game, which is the bread and butter of Redskins football. There are multiple reason for this, but playcalling is a part of it. The team is putting the ball in the QBs hands too much, and needs to establish the run, and continue to run when you have a back like Alfred Morris.
4. The Redskins are 5th in passing yards per game but 23rd in rushing yards per game. Had that been a product of the type of game they have been in, or something else?
Continuing from the last question, there are a lot of reasons for the run game not working. Gruden kept 4 out of the 5 starters from last year's offensive line. The only new starter is former Browns LG Shawn Lauvao who replaced Kory Lichtensteiger. Lichtensteiger shifted over to center to replace Will Montgomery. They kept the OL coach, and are still running the zone blocing system, but also adding in some power running. Alfred Morris has not been as effective this year, and is also not getting enough carries in some games. The blocking on the line, at the second level, and by WRs has been inconsistent this year. The cutback lanes are not as big as they had been the last few years, and teams are really focusing on stopping the Morris and the run game. They know if they can get the game in Cousins hands, they have a much better chance of forcing mistakes and winning the game.
5. Write the headline in Monday's Tennessean.
Titans Fall in Washington 27-24