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Divisional Playoff Grades, Evaluations, Questions

The divisional playoff game is in the books and now we take a look at how the entire team fared against the Packers. The Redskins had their brief postseason come to a grinding and abrupt halt. Early in each half there were reasons to be hopeful, but the final result was not as we had expected. So now it is time to make some sense of it all as BBQ hands out grades and evaluations. Feel free to offer your own grades, evaluations, and opinions. Also, we have some questions to close out the divisional playoffs. Two other notes: BBQ will hand out grades for the entire 2015 season later this week. The following week will see the offseason edition of BBQ return with looks at free agency and the draft.

Let’s take a look at the grades.

Was it playoff jitters? A lack of experience in the playoffs? Was it returning to old habits? It was likely a combination of all three, but BBQ does not rule out that Kirk Cousins has yet to master playing well against elite teams. There were flashes of brilliance, but it was mostly dreadful – lackluster passes (five interceptions were possible if the opposing defense didn’t have the dropsies and butterfingers), happy feet, indecisiveness, and poor judgment.
Grade: D+

Running Backs:
The running game had familiar struggles, but did produce a few respectable rushes. Chris Thompson was the lone bright spot with nearly ninety yards receiving and a nifty run for twenty-five yards.
Grade: C+

Wide Receivers:
Other than Pierre Garcon, the receivers had a horrible day. They had trouble with separation from defenders and looked as if they were running with cement shoes on their feet. The routes seemed unpolished and the overall play was unspectacular.
Grade: D-

Tight Ends:
Jordan Reed set new records this season and in the playoff game. He did all he could do to carry this team on Sunday and did a fine job. Alex Smith had a catch for sixteen yards.
Grade: A

Offensive Line:
It was a struggle throughout the entire contest. Trent Williams was beaten regularly. Kory Lichtensteiger continued what he did early in the season – provide good blocking in the run game and struggled with pass protection. The right side did well in the stacked formations, but had a few issues in passing schemes when tight ends ran a route.
Grade: D-

Defensive Line:
The opposing quarterback made this unit look like they were stuck in the mud of FedEx Field. Other than the first quarter, the game was all but decided by the Packers offensive line’s domination of the Redskins defensive line. The opposing offensive line was absent a starter and was considered a weak link. Not so on Sunday.
Grade: F

The defensive line did them no favors and opened very few pass rushing lanes, but this group struggled in pass coverage and was unable to stop several long runs.
Grade: D+

We could give a low grade to this unit – a “guilty by association”, especially with other parts of the defensive structure underperforming. However, with all of the injuries plaguing the corners, it is a miracle that they were able to actually have a fairly decent game.
Grade: B-

The safeties were very active – for the right reasons and the wrong reasons. Deangelo Hall struggled from the strike position while Dashon Goldson held his own. Being asked to help in the passing game is to be expected. Being asked to help in the running game really made the safeties do more than their fair share – we’re looking at you, front seven.
Grade: C+

Special Teams:
The special teams had a good, but uninspired game. Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point, but the field conditions were less than ideal. Tress Way had a few good punts, but nothing more. The returns were fairly good and penalties were kept to a minimum.
Grade: B

The offense started well, but not getting into the end zone and settling for a field goal hurt – poor play calling with first and less than a yard was horrible. Other than a very good drive to start the second half, the offense struggled in every phase of the game. Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson can only do so much. The coaches should’ve stuck with the offensive line that created four straight wins in the regular season – the chemistry, although not perfect, was important. Making a change for the playoffs was a mistake. The defense started off fantastically and suddenly changed directions. The coaching staff rarely called the blitz (Note: Aaron Rodgers has struggled of late and passed for just 210 yards in this game) and did little to recognize that their running game was suddenly energized. The offense and defense had the answers in the first quarter, but was clueless thereafter (the lone exception was the first series in the second half). The coaching staff on both sides of the football did not make the adjustments necessary and failed to recognize the changes before it was too late. Stubbornly sticking to a game plan rarely works in the playoffs. The special teams had a good day.
Grade: D-

How would you grade each position and the coaching staff? Given what we just saw from Kirk Cousins, is he still worthy of an elite contract? Does Jordan Reed deserve to have his rookie contract voided with a new, well paid deal one year early? Has Will Compton earned the right to start heading into training camp? What role will Quinton Dunbar play when all of the starters and regulars return? Has Mason Foster earned a roster spot heading into camp? Have we seen the last of DeAngelo Hall?

Later this week (Thursday), BBQ will post seasonal grades for the team and coaches. On Friday, BBQ will do a self-evaluation of season and divisional playoff predictions. At that juncture we will conclude our coverage of the 2015 season.

See you again in a couple of days.

Hail to the Redskins!
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