Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. It’s been a pretty busy week, but I’ve finally got some time to look back at Washington’s Week 11 victory against the Bengals, a team that I’ve actually never seen Washington beat before. The last time this team had beaten Cincinnati was in 1991 when Gerald Riggs rushed for three touchdowns en route to a 34-27 win. That’s pretty wild that I was barely a figment of my parents’ imagination the last time this team won a game against the Bengals, but when you think about it, these teams only play once every four years so there’s only been five contests since that 1991 meeting.
It wasn’t necessarily a pretty performance for the Football Team, but it’s hard to complain about a victory after this team essentially botched two very winnable games against the Lions and the Giants. Also the team gets brownie points for winning in those absolutely gorgeous throwback jerseys. I seriously love when they play in these jerseys. If they just fixed the helmets it’d be perfect.
The 20-9 win puts Washington just a half game back of first place for the division lead, which they can possibly take if they beat the Cowboys tomorrow on Thanksgiving. Talk about a game for all the marbles, if the marbles equated to a division lead at 4-7. Those are some marbles, man. Wowie.
I’ll write about that game in a few days, but let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about this Bengals result.
The pass rush responded well after the Detroit loss
This defensive line, particularly Chase Young, has taken a great deal of flack the last couple of weeks for failing to live up to expectations and generate the pressure that was expected of them before the season. Have they had some clunkers? Hell yes, but they’ve also had some really solid performances. The Detroit game last week was without a doubt a clunker.
Matt Stafford took just one sack and absolutely torched the defense without ever really taking much pressure in the pocket. Chase Young also took a huge amount of criticism for a Roughing the Passer call that gave Detroit the opportunity to win the game on the final play. It was a terrible play for sure, but the criticism somehow shifted toward his play in general, with some even throwing out the bust label. I have a legitimate feeling that those people haven’t actually watched this team play much or they’re just laser focused on sacks as a tell-all stat. Chase hasn’t exactly lit it up with his sack totals, I get it, but the amount of attention that kid draws from opposing teams is insane. When I’m watching a game live, I generally follow the edge rushers specifically, and I can tell you right now that he is constantly dealing with double-teams on the pass rush.
Luckily, both Young and the line in general stepped up in a big way. They didn’t record a sack on Joe Burrow before his injury (praying for his recovery by the way), but they were constantly collapsing the pocket and getting pressure on him. Young even had one of his best plays of the season when he made a phenomenal (and clean) hit on Burrow to force a fumble on fourth-and-goal that left the Bengals empty-handed. Look at how much attention Young receives before he follows Burrow outside the pocket at the goal line.
If anything, it shows just how poised Burrow is in the pocket. He was incredible before he got hurt. He goes through his reads incredibly quick and gets the ball out before the pocket completely falters. He was just annihilating our linebackers in coverage, and honestly if he didn’t suffer a horrendous injury, he probably would’ve finished with one helluva statline.
When Ryan Finley came in to relieve Burrow, it was obvious he just didn’t possess the kind of read-and-react ability that Burrow has. He received the same pressure Burrow got, he just couldn’t go through his reads quick enough to get the ball out of his hands. He got sacked four times by five different players and ended up stunting the Bengals offense in the process.
Can we also give a quick heap of praise to Ryan Kerrigan? The 32-year-old edge rusher has gotten 50% of defensive snaps just twice this season yet he still leads the team in sacks with 5.5. That’s a franchise-leading 95.5 career sacks for the Purdue standout for all the stat junkies out there. His sack on Sunday was just flat out impressive. He still shows good bend on the edge and uses his hands really effectively to take a lineman out of the play. May he never leave us.
The offensive line is finally starting to click
It’s crazy how good an offense looks when the line doesn’t collapse before the ball even gets in the quarterback’s hands.
The line has been really quite decent since the Dallas win which wasn’t something I expected. It helps that Cornelius Lucas and Wes Schweitzer are now firmly locked in as starters on the left side, but Lucas was actually out this week. David Sharpe, who we traded for in September, made his first start of the season and ended up playing admirably.
The line held up really well though. Smith took two sacks, but generally had a clean pocket and was able to run the offense efficiently enough. The run game on the other hand was fantastic, the best it’s been since Week 7. Antonio Gibson was given actual room to work with and he thrived with it, rushing for 94 yards on 16 carries along with his eighth touchdown run of the season. J.D. McKissic had a nice performance as well, rushing for his second highest rushing total of the season with 43 yards on six carries. The line even made Peyton Barber look good. Peyton Barber! The one-yard wonder himself.
I didn’t expect this line to hold up anytime soon this season, but I’ve been really impressed with it. Credit to offensive line coach John Matsko for getting the best out of this group and allowing the rest of the offense to run significantly smoother than it did earlier in the season.
Troy Apke sux
This is a scheduled tweet. He sucks, I do not like him, he’s bad at his job. Next.
Ronald Darby has turned into a major steal
When Washington signed Ronald Darby in the offseason to a one-year, $4 million contract, I thought it was a solid low-risk move, but Eagles Twitter thought otherwise, bashing the move after Darby’s dreadful final season in Philadelphia. I’d like a handwritten apology from those Eagles fans if possible (I won’t get it, but hey I tried).
I haven’t mentioned Darby much in these Robservations, and I think that’s a good thing for a cornerback. If you’re not getting picked apart, and you’re not getting toasted on a deep ball on a weekly basis, it probably means you’re doing your job pretty well. Well I noticed Darby a lot in this game, but it was for all the right reasons.
The Bengals game plan was apparently to target Darby early and often, but he handled the attention extremely well, denying two scoring opportunities and nearly coming away with an interception in Cincinnati’s endzone.
It was definitely his best game in Washington. Kendall Fuller is getting most of the praise in the secondary, but Darby has been a really underrated addition this season.
Let’s all laugh at Thomas Davis
I’ve been giving a lot of praise to this team today, so let’s get back on our usual track and do a little more criticism, this time towards 37-year-old geezer Thomas Davis.
Look, I like Davis, he’s had a really impressive career and I liked the signing because of his veteran presence and familiarity with Ron Rivera’s coaching style, but he really shouldn’t be seeing the field. He’s clearly just lost a step, and the fact that he’s in his 16th season in the NFL as a linebacker is definitely a feat not easily achieved, but he is just way too slow.
This sentiment can be backed up by this play in the third quarter where quarterback Ryan Finley put on “the jets” and outran Davis for a 19-yard run on a third-and-18. I mean come on man. Look at this dude run.
I had to check Finley’s 40-time in the 2019 combine and he ended up running a 4.74 which is faster than I thought but what does that mean for Davis? I’m thinking something like a 4.90 if he ran it today. Is that really what Jack Del Rio wants out on the field? Our linebackers have struggled enough with Davis on the sideline, but adding him to the equation just makes for chaos.
The off-topic section
Anyone ever see the movie Molly’s Game? The Aaron Sorkin-directed biopic about Molly Bloom and her underground poker empire is a movie I haven’t seen or really been aware of since it came out in 2017, but a conversation with my brother about it piqued my interest.
If you’ve seen the movie, this probably isn’t news to you, but apparently a bunch of high-profile celebrities would join in on these games and put up just insane amounts of money on poker. One of those celebrities is Tobey Maguire, played by Michael Cera in the film, who is apparently a massive piece of shit. Yeah, Spider-Man is a high-stakes gambler and a garbage human being. THIS MAN RIGHT HERE.
My childhood is ruined. Unreal. Thanks, Molly. I grew up idolizing that character and Tobey’s portrayal of him. He’s the right blend of dorky and lovable that I just immediately connected with, but I’m not sure I can look at him the same way. It probably says a lot about his acting chops though because I believed.
Also this meme doesn’t hold up nearly as much as it used to now.
More like “carefully, he’s a jackass” amirite, fellas?
It shouldn’t be a big deal, I know that, but it just taints a classic piece of nostalgia for me just a little bit. I’ll still watch the movies, but in the back of my mind I’ll be seeing Tobey use his manipulative ways to his advantage in a million-dollar game of poker. Sad days.
Alright that’s all I’ve got for you. Washington plays tomorrow on Thanksgiving which should be a pretty fun game. I’ll have Robservations out for that probably on Saturday or Sunday so we can break that one down before the end of the week. Enjoy the holiday everyone!