The Washington Redskins did a few things on Sunday. Most obviously, they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 27-20 despite playing on the road, suffering several injuries and facing former offensive coordinator/play caller and wunderkind Sean McVay. Turns out that the Redskins could indeed thrive despite McVay knowing everything about coach Jay Gruden’s thoughts and feelings, or whatever the narrative was entering the pivotal Week 2 matchup.
- Watching a Redskins team run and run and run some more was a throwback to the John Riggins era and when the NFL had a team in Los Angeles. Oh, wait, never mind. Robert Kelley (78 yards), Chris Thompson (77) and Samaje Perine (67) all had their moments as Washington had three players rush for at least 65 yards for the first time since 1957.
- Kelley, on his way to a monster performance, exited in the first half with a possible fractured rib. Losing “Fat Rob” even for a little bit would be a blow and could lead to the Redskins elevating Mack Brown to the active roster on game day. However, the real intrigue from Sunday involved the effective run-blocking from the line and tight ends plus Gruden’s commitment to the ground game. Perhaps the latter was a mere one-off, Gruden’s way of crossing up his former protégé McVay. Regardless, if those two scenarios remain in play, the Redskins have a good chance for success Sunday night in Week 3 against a Raiders defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry thru two games.
- Kirk Cousins struggled completing passes of 20 yards or more in the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia. By struggling we mean he didn’t complete any, none. Good news: He solved the problem Sunday – by not throwing a single pass over 19 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. Ha, that’s sarcasm folks, though effective enough against Los Angeles. The passing game remains a work in progress, which is problematic considering it was the offense’s strength over the past two seasons. There’s a chance for more problems depending on tight end Jordan Reed’s shoulder injury update.
- Three played all 50 snaps on defense: Safety D.J. Swearinger, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and inside linebacker Mason Foster, who did so despite dislocating his shoulder. Foster had the shoulder popped back into place and then helped the Redskins move into a first place tie in the NFC East with a game-clinching interception.
- Cornerback Josh Norman (44) and inside linebacker Zach Brown (46) likely wouldn’t have missed as snap for a second week in a row, but both were among the players banged up Sunday. Norman roughed up Rams running back Todd Gurley with his patented “Peanut Punch,” causing two forced fumbles. For all the legitimate hype with his cover skills, Norman’s willingness and effectiveness in the run game remains vital. Perhaps that’s his way to land new haters.
- Gruden was telling the truth. Josh Doctson did indeed play more in Week 2 even though the wide receiver was limited all week in practice with a tight hamstring. Doctson received 29 snaps, just one less than Ryan Grant and not terribly far behind starter Jamison Crowder (38). Oh, he also had more targets this week. Well, target as in one, his first of the season, on yet another unsuccessful fade pass around the goal line. Doctson did play more, perhaps played through an injury and contributed as a run blocker. Progress, at least a little.
- Preston Smith registered a sack for the second consecutive week. The edge rusher had only 4.5 sacks last year and his first one didn’t come until Week 7.
- Training camp Superman remains in Clark Kent mode. Terrelle Pryor’s 23-yard catch and run on the final possession set up the game-winning touchdown. It was only his second reception of the day as his percentage of Washington’s overall targets plummeted from Week 1. The Redskins need more for the talk of no more DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to go away.
- Pro Football Focus gave defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis the best overall grade among all Washington defenders Sunday thanks to four quarterback pressures on just 19 pass rush attempts according to PFF. Reminder: The Redskins released their 2016 fifth-round pick before Week 1 last season and then added him to the practice squad where any other team could have snagged the former Temple standout. Lucky for Washington, nobody did.