What we learned in the Redskins' victory over the Browns

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

1 The Redskins are about more than just Robert Griffin III. Perhaps that wasn't clear enough in the previous four wins, but it was in No.?5. Their special teams have been steady in recent weeks, and they haven't been hurt (yet) by Kai Forbath's low kickoffs thanks to excellent coverage. The defense isn't a top-rated one, but it does make enough plays to change games -- London Fletcher's interception vs. Baltimore and Rob Jackson's pick vs. Cleveland. And the threat of the running game enabled the coaches to call numerous bootlegs and play-action passes vs. the Browns, helping rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins have success. The Redskins' game plan, after initial struggles, gave Cousins a chance for a good game. Then he executed.

2 The game plans consistently allow the Redskins to hit big plays, but so, too, does the talent of running back Alfred Morris. The Redskins ran the ball well at the end of last season, but oftentimes defenses did not gear up to stop the run. If defenses load up to stop the run -- Cleveland used numerous eight-man fronts -- there are big plays available. That will be true regardless of who is playing quarterback. The Browns oversold to stop Morris, and the play-action and bootlegs for Cousins had the same effect as the zone read option does for Griffin: It caused linebackers to get out of position on their pass drops, leaving receivers open downfield.

3 Meanwhile, the Redskins' receivers have been efficient at capitalizing on the big play opportunities, especially of late. They don't necessarily have a dynamic receiving corps in terms of catching many passes. Joshua Morgan is the leading pass catcher with 46 receptions, so there's a chance no Redskins player will finish with more than 50 catches. Of course, had Pierre Garcon stayed healthy all year that would have been different. But the Redskins do have four receivers with 20 receptions averaging at least 13.5 yards per catch. To put that in perspective, the Redskins have not done that since the 1992 season, when they had four who averaged 13.9 or more. Since 1981, there have been only two other teams that had four players averaging 13.0 yards or more -- 1983 and 1988.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner