Redskins vs. Falcons: Final Game Grades and Analysis for Washington

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Redskins vs. Falcons: Final Game Grades and Analysis for Washington
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Despite this being a game between two terrible teams, the Falcons and Redskins were able to at least keep it entertaining. But in the end, Washington's seven turnovers were entirely too much to overcome and the Falcons prevailed at home. 

Stay tuned for final game grades for Washington. 

Final 

Redskins - 26
Falcons - 27

Washington Redskins Grades
Position Unit 1st Half Final
Passing Offense B+ B-
Rushing Offense B+ C+
Rushing Defense B+ A
Passing Defense C+ B-
Special Teams C C
Coaching B- B-

vs. Falcons / Week 15

Second-Half Analysis for Washington 

Passing Offense: It started off much better than it finished. But at the end of the day, Kirk Cousins finished with two interceptions, a lost fumble and the Redskins lost the game.

Cousins made some great throws, but others were not so great. He showed good command and footwork in the pocket, which was a change from what Redskins fans are used to, and he looked fiery in the huddle encouraging his teammates.

Cousins’ composure to end the game was impressive for a guy that never plays.

The offensive line was far from perfect, but Cousins' presence in the pocket helped the unit. Although we usually talk about a mobile quarterback helping the performance of his offensive line, it was Cousins’ footwork and decisiveness that helped them today.

Pierre Garcon was Cousins’ primary target today, making valuable snags for all four quarters and finishing the game with 129 yards and a score on seven catches.

Veteran Santana Moss also provided Cousins with some valuable hands, but amid his eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, Moss lost two very costly fumbles.

Cousins finished the game with 381 yards on 29-of-45 passing, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Rushing Offense: Alfred Morris’ stat line should look pretty nice until you scan over to his turnovers. Morris committed two fumbles on the day to add to his team's disastrous total of seven.  

The lackadaisical ball security we saw from him today is out of character for Morris, and although the blocking was inconsistent throughout the game, Morris’ turnovers were mostly on him.

To note, however, Morris' one fumble came with Tom Compton in at left tackle (Trent Williams missed some plays) and the second-year lineman was pushed back toward Morris, ultimately knocking the ball loose. 

For what the Redskins need out of the run game, it was effective today in helping to create opportunities for Kirk Cousins through the air. But turnovers, regardless of how or where they come from, will kill you every time.

Rushing Defense: Falcons running back Steven Jackson finished the game with two rushing scores, but both were short-yardage plays to finish Atlanta’s drives, which were mostly comprised of efficient passing against a porous Redskins secondary.

Overall, the Redskins held the Falcons in check on the ground, limiting Jackson to just 38 yards on 15 carries.

Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan were strong off the edge, while Chris Baker made a lot of plays along the defensive line and Perry Riley Jr. helped to plug running lanes.

Passing Defense: It was an efficient day for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (29-of-38) and it was a result of lax coverage in the secondary.

Without Washington’s seven turnovers on the day, we’re probably not talking about the passing defense the same way. Not only did they hold Ryan to just one touchdown pass on the day, but they were also heavy with their pressure and able to pick off Ryan late in the second quarter to help give the Redskins three points before halftime. 

Special Teams: Another disappointing game from the Redskins special teams unit. But at least they didn’t cost Washington the game...?

The bright spot for the special teams was that Sav Rocca only needed to punt three times and he was adequate with each one. The dark spot was the lateral punt returns, the spotty coverage and everything else in between.

Another day, another typical Redskins special teams performance. 

Coaching: There’s plenty to nitpick when it comes to Mike Shanahan and the Redskins' play-calling in this game. But after a one-point loss in which we could’ve easily seen the game go into overtime, this coaching staff can expect criticism regarding their two-point conversion attempt with 18 seconds to go.

Does the call really matter? In a season where wins don’t really matter, I guess not. But what about morale? What about the players respecting coaches’ decisions and the positions in which they put their team?

The Redskins were somehow able to stay in this game despite their seven brutal turnovers. Yet, when it came down to giving it one last hurrah in overtime to try and steal a victory on the road, Mike Shanahan quickly deflated the balloon.  

On the flip side of that, given the team has committed seven turnovers and wins statistically don't matter, is risking injury in overtime even worth it? 

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

First-Half Analysis for Washington 

Passing Offense: Early protection issues had Washington fans perspiring, unsure if Kirk Cousins could make it through an entire four quarters without having a limb torn off. But since then, Cousins has received decent enough protection and the No. 2 quarterback is delivering passes that you’d expect out of your No. 1.

From a quarterback mechanics standpoint, Cousins looks well ahead of Robert Griffin III in that department. Cousins has better awareness, better pocket presence and much better throwing mechanics; he steps into his throws and delivers with good velocity and accuracy.

We’ve only seen a half, so no need to get crazy. But with all eyes on Cousins, he has looked much better than Griffin did (albeit returning from reconstructive knee surgery) through the first 14 weeks of the season.

At the half, Cousins is 13-of-20 for 248 yards and two scores. 

Rushing Offense: It didn’t necessarily start fast, but the Redskins rushing game has taken shape as the game’s gone on and Alfred Morris has shown great patience to take advantage of his chances and rack up 75 yards in one half.

So long as the ground game can keep the defense honest, this offense is working the way it should. Especially when you look at the standard play of the offensive line, the Redskins passing game (and ultimate offense) relies on Morris and his ability to move the chains.

Rushing Defense: Despite Steven Jackson’s rushing touchdown to give the Falcons their early 7-0 lead, the Redskins have been stout against Atlanta’s rushing attack. Guys like Brian Orakpo and Chris Baker are quick to the ball and they're finishing their tackles.

Passing Defense: While the Redskins have given receivers plenty of room in coverage—thus leading to Matt Ryan’s high passing accuracy through one half—the pass rush deserves credit for getting after the Falcons quarterback and creating turnovers.

Special Teams: Can we just not talk about the Redskins special teams unit anymore? Week in and week out, this unit embarrasses itself, one way or another, and it costs the team.

In the first half, Santana Moss touched the ball on a punt return and was unable to haul it in, resulting in a recovery for Atlanta. And when the veteran receiver does get his crack at a return, he’s ineffective, running laterally and receiving minimal blocking.

In a game where the Redskins have a chance to win, let’s hope the special teams unit doesn’t commit anything too costly.

Coaching: Coverage in the back end seems extremely loose, but that’s nothing different than what we’ve seen from defensive coordinator Jim Haslett lately, as he’s cautious and careful to keep receiving targets in front of his guys. Problem is, it allows the opposing offense to move the football. And the Falcons have done that.

Kyle Shanahan has called a nice game through one half and a successful ground attack by way of Alfred Morris has done its job in opening up play action, which was responsible for the Redskins’ first score.

The Redskins were able to pick off Matt Ryan with a little more than 40 seconds in the half and the offense had their chance to get some points before halftime. But once again, the Redskins' clock management with 30 seconds to go at their opponent's 30-yard line was beyond atrocious. This sort of thing continues to be a major issue. 

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