One of the Redskins’ many troubles in Philadelphia, they converted only one-third of their third down opportunities.
In the first half of the 34-24 Monday Night loss, the Redskins needlessly complicated those opportunities, electing for long drop-back plays on third-and-short situations. The end result stifled otherwise flourishing drives.
“I think there were five third downs in the first half we didn’t convert, and on every one of them, there’s something there that the play is there to be made, but our execution wasn’t what it needed to be,” Kirk Cousins told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier during his weekly segment Tuesday — ‘Under Center,’ driven by the Lindsay Automotive Group.
“One was an all-out blitz and I treated my route to Jordan Reed to my right like it was my quick element, like I could get the ball out before the blitz got to me,” he said. “And clearly, that’s not what happened.
“I got hit and the ball went up in the air, so that play was kind of doomed by the pressure and not getting the ball out more quickly, or having a route to get the ball out more quickly.”
“There were just multiple plays like that, where we’re right there,” he said. “And we had been so productive on first and second down, and doing so many good things moving the ball, that we were getting in third-and-very-short, and then, because we didn’t execute the third downs, now we’re punting when we had been feeling really good about what our offense was doing, and what our offense could do, if we would have just stayed on the field.”
Washington’s running game was sparse to nonexistent, with Cousins, Chris Thompson, Robert Kelley and Jamison Crowder combining for 75 total yards. That, Cousins says, was by design.
“Part of the reason we didn’t run for as many yards is because we felt like that wasn’t the way to attack their defense,” he said. “Right away we started moving the football. We got down, kicked a field goal, then scored a touchdown.”
“So while they are a good defense and have a lot of ability,” he said, “we felt like we could move the ball on them, and we did move the ball on them. But again, the problem was, if you don’t convert third-and-1, third-and-2, all that you do on first and second down doesn’t matter.”
“And one of the touchdowns drives we had that ended with Chris Thompson scoring, we didn’t even have a third down on that drive,” he noted. “It was just first down, second down; first down, second down — all the way down the field and we stayed out of third down.”
“So I think that shows that we were capable of moving the football,” he added, “but in this league, you have to convert third downs to stay on the field.”
Cousins doubled down on post-game remarks establishing confidence in wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who did not start the game and didn’t make his first appearance on the field until the Redskins’ third offensive series.
“We absolutely have confidence in him,” Cousins said. “I think it just becomes a numbers deal.”
“When you look at, you can only have five eligible receivers on any given play,” he said, “and you’ve got Chris Thompson, Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Jamison Crowder — that’s four guys right there that, on last year’s offense, were extremely productive and guys that we really trust.”
“And now you have a No. 1 pick in Josh Doctson, and Ryan Grant, who’s been in this offense for four years,” he further noted. “You just have a lot of players there who you believe in and have confidence in as well.”
“Josh, we didn’t know what were going to have with Josh as far as his health going into this season,” he said. “And so we didn’t know if we were going to get him for the entire year as our starting X, or if he was going to be on IR.
“And, as a result, you’ve got to have a plan, but once Josh has been able to kind of get comfortable, and get more reps, and prove that he can stay healthy and his body’s holding up, I don’t see a lot of reason for him to be standing on the sideline, if you’re the No. 1 pick who’s continued to show improvement.”
“It just becomes a numbers thing,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of players to get in and get the ball to, and I think that sometimes, because of the rotations, a guy can be the odd man out here and there.”
How have you guys gotten off to good starts on offense? You guys, each week it seems, are marching down the field scoring on your opening drives. Is that that scripted ‘first 15’ that we always hear so much about that’s laminated? — Albert in D.C.
“It definitely starts with the first 15,” Cousins said. “I mean, that’s a great job by our coaches — by Jay and [offensive coordinator Matt] Cavanaugh — planning that out a day in advance, and having a plan for what we want to hit early.”
“It has been productive,” he said. “You can go all the way back to some of the first games of the year and how we were able to move the ball early. When we have these night games, we have a walk-through in the hotel at about 11 a.m. the morning of the game, and we go through those first 15 plays.
“We walk through them in a big conference room in the hotel room. We have a plan. We talk through it and we really make sure we’re on the details and that those plays, there’s no confusion, no questions. Everybody has their bases covered, and I think it’s shown in the way we move the ball early.”
“I do want to credit our offense with the way guys come out in a hostile environment now twice, against the Chiefs and the Eagles, and move the football right away, and come with a mindset and an attitude that’s ready to play in a tough environment against good football teams,” he said. “I was pleased with that and that’s not easy to do.”