Washington Redskins Week 6 Stock Report: Who's Up/Down Following Loss to Eagles
The Washington Redskins came out of their bye week atop the NFC East and poised to bury the struggling Philadelphia Eagles. Washington's defense looked to maintain form, while the offense looked to find its footing for the long haul of the season.
Instead of a strong return, the Redskins floundered on offense and wore down on defense against their reeling division rivals.
Falling to 3-2 doesn't mean the Redskins are doomed for the season, but it does set an awful precedent. While the defense has been stout, the offense has been up and down. With that in mind, here is the Redskins week 6 stock report.
Down: Ryan Torain, Running Back
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Ryan Torain made his season debut against the St. Louis Rams in week 4 to the tune of 135 yards and a touchdown. Coming out of the bye week as the starter, many expected him to run roughshod over the Eagles defense, which had given up over 100 yards in each of its first six games.
Instead of building on his success, Torain struggled for 22 yards on 10 carries.
With Tim Hightower nursing a shoulder injury, Torain has a few weeks to assert himself as the unquestioned starter. However, rookie Roy Helu could be getting more touches if Torain doesn't perform.
Failing to find success against the woeful run defense of the Eagles doesn't instill confidence in a running back, regardless of the limited number of carries he received.
Up: Roy Helu, Running Back
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Tim Hightower is being held out of action due to a shoulder injury and Ryan Torain struggled on 10 carries for 22 yards in his first start of the season. At this rate, Roy Helu could be seeing a bigger role on offense.
Helu is dynamic back with good hands out of the backfield, and could provide the spark on offense that the Redskins have lacked this season.
Play calling has been a big issue for Washington's offense, with Kyle Shanahan reverting to his old ways of abandoning the run early in the game. Helu would be useful in situations where Shanahan shies away from the run, since he is a capable receiver and can get yards after the catch.
Down: Tim Hightower, Running Back
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Three weeks ago, Tim Hightower was the unquestioned starting running back for the Washington Redskins. Though he had yet to achieve the standards he set for himself in preseason play, it was expected that he'd eventually break out.
One big game by Ryan Torain, a nagging shoulder injury and a bye week have Hightower's value in the toilet.
If Hightower's injury persists, the Redskins have no problem splitting carries between Torain and Roy Helu while he recovers. To this point, Hightower has averaged just 3.5 yards per carry on 67 carries with just one rushing touchdown.
Hightower needs to produce this season to give the Redskins a reason to sign him long-term. For now, Mike Shanahan won't play Hightower until he is healthy.
Up: Graham Gano, Kicker
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Graham Gano was everyone's favorite scapegoat last season, where he missed 11 of his 35 field goal attempts. So far this season, Gano has been dependable despite limited attempts. He has hit on 7-of-10 field goals, and been perfect from beyond 40 yards.
With the new kickoff rule, Gano has consistently boomed it out of the back of the endzone to limit return yardage.
More than anything, Gano just looks more confident. He made it through the pseudo-kicker competition during the preseason, and has been solid when called upon to put the Redskins on the board.
Turnovers by the offense inside the 30 have limited Gano's chances to score, and a blocked kick tarnish his otherwise improved season. Without Gano, the Redskins wouldn't have scored at all against Dallas.
Down: Kevin Barnes, Cornerback
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The Eagles lined up for a 4th-and-2 play inside the red zone during their second drive of the first quarter. Kevin Barnes was lined up on slot receiver Jason Avant, and gave up an 18-yard completion on a simple slant that extended the drive and led to the first touchdown of the day.
Barnes had solidified himself as the nickel corner, but Phillip Buchanon is due to make his return whenever he is called upon.
The Redskins needed a big stop early in the game to halt the progress the Eagles made off of Rex Grossman's first interception of the game. Barnes took a bad angle in his back pedal, and failed to break up the pass. It is one mistake in one game, but with a veteran like Buchanon lying in wait, it might not take much to convince Jim Haslett to make a change.
Buchanon isn't the best option for the Redskins, but he has experience and can sometimes create turnovers.
Up: Fred Davis, Tight End
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Fred Davis has been the best receiver for the Redskins through the first five games. He's fought for yards after the catch, made catches in traffic, and provided a necessary consistency on an otherwise struggling offense.
With the injury to Chris Cooley, Davis will see even more passes come his way.
Davis is the leading receiver for the Redskins, but has not seen much action in the red zone. Whether by design or oversight, Davis needs to get more scoring opportunities. Rex Grossman's poor performance has robbed the Redskins offense of scoring opportunities, which is why Davis hasn't scored more than one touchdown.
Since the Redskins receiving corps has failed to impress, Davis becomes the primary target in the passing game. He's too fast for linebackers and too big for safeties, creating favorable match ups week in and week out.
Down: Chris Cooley, Tight End
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Chris Cooley broke his left hand against the Eagles after one catch that went for minus-1 yard. He has been battling with Fred Davis and a knee injury for time on the field, and hasn't factored much into the Redskins offense.
Cooley's hand will require surgery, which will either limit him or keep him out of the next couple of games entirely.
Thus far, Cooley's presence on the offense has been negligible. He is a better blocker than Davis, but that means he's not available for routes. His nagging knee injury has limited his mobility, making him an easier target for defenders to cover.
Not to jump the gun, but could this be the beginning of the end for Cooley in Washington?
Up: Terrence Austin, Wide Receiver
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Terrence Austin has been largely forgotten this season, both on special teams and on offense. With Brandon Banks returning kicks and the Redskins offense being fairly vanilla, there is no room for Austin in either position.
With his first catch of the season, Austin put the Redskins in position to score their first touchdown of the game against Philadelphia.
Though it is a small contribution, Austin's lone catch could be enough to convince coaches to give him some time on offense. With Anthony Armstrong limited by injury, and Leonard Hankerson being eased into things, there is no reason why Austin shouldn't have a bigger role on offense.
If John Beck can recreate the preseason connection he and Austin had, it could make for a new wrinkle in an otherwise flat offense.
Down: Rex Grossman, Quarterback
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It was only a matter of time before Rex Grossman shed the trappings of being called a "solid starter" following the Redskins 3-1 start and fell into the comfort of his career role as momentum killer. His experience in Kyle Shanahan's offense could only carry him so far before his habitual turnovers caught up with him.
Grossman was rated as one of the worst starting quarterbacks heading into this season, and has achieved that status in week 5.
Most, if not all, of Grossman's interceptions have come after he tentatively pump fakes and then slings the ball into coverage. That second of hesitance is enough to tip his hand and give defenses plenty of time to adjust to the pass. Against the Eagles, he threw four interceptions before being benched in favor of John Beck.
It remains to be seen if Grossman's benching is long term or just for this week, but his yards per game have fallen dramatically since week 1 as his turnovers have increased.
Up: John Beck, Quarterback
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John Beck was built up to be the starting quarterback for most of the offseason, and through most of the preseason. When Rex Grossman was announced as the starter, there was more than an inkling of doubt from fans and experts alike.
It only took four interceptions in one game for Grossman to get benched in favor of Beck.
Beck's first appearance this season didn't get off to a good start, but he recovered with a couple of clutch throws leading to a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Though it was too little too late, Beck showed good mobility in moving out of the pocket and running for a first down.
It is uncertain whether or not Beck will be named the starter for next week, but it would be a travesty to think Grossman retains the starting job after four interceptions in one game, and multiple turnovers in four of the five games this season.