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Week 15 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 15, Washington Redskins 20
What you need to know
Finally, mercifully, the Cardinals were eliminated from playoff contention Sunday. While that had been a foregone conclusion for much of the season, Sunday’s confirmation allows management to begin truly looking towards 2018 and beyond. The franchise is very much at a crossroads, with a lack of talent apparent throughout the roster and age at the most vital positions (including the coaching staff); the organization has many questions in need of answers. While the present outlook for 2018 and beyond is not terribly optimistic, the offseason promises far more excitement than this dull, uninspired regular season provided, so at least there is something to look forward to.
When Washington is struggling to control the line of scrimmage the offense isn't able to move the ball. Kirk isn't at his best facing pressure so the conditions need to be ideal for him to produce. The injuries on the offensive line have contributed to Kirk's struggles and have a domino effect on the entire offense. Defensively, if Washington can minimize the big plays and generate a pass rush they can be problematic for offenses. Overall, injuries have taken their toll on both sides of the ball for Washington.
|QB Blaine Gabbert, 85 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 41 - 189 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 28 - 0|
For the second straight week the Cardinals offense was unable to find the end zone, instead going a perfect 5-5 in field goal opportunities. Unlike last week, however, those field goals proved not enough in overcoming an opponent that is nearly as anemic. At the center of the struggles was QB Blaine Gabbert
, whose sub-50% completion percentage and fewer than 5-yards per attempt average stalled the offense all afternoon. As has been the case all season, there was blame to be spread around. The offensive line struggled to protect and aside from Fitzgerald, the offensive weapons leave much to be desired, but Gabbert’s struggles were too apparent to be ignored. He missed on touchdowns and first downs, fumbled early leading to a quick Washington touchdown, and failed to convert a single red zone opportunity. Simply put, he is still the same Blaine Gabbert
he has always been, despite how many flowery quotes Coach Arians uses when speaking about him. His one true great ball of the day, a 41-yard bomb to J.J. Nelson
coming off a play-action roll-out, was immediately followed by a stall-out red zone drive resulting in one of the team’s many field goals.
The run game was a lone bright spot early in Sunday’s game, with the Cardinals finding a lot of success early running between the tackles. Williams was the primary ball carrier early on, notching the majority of his 17 carriers all before half. But the pain of the broken ribs he had been playing with became too much, forcing Elijah Penny to finish out the contest. Collectively their numbers were not bad, producing over 100-yards on a hair shy of 4-yards-per-carry, but trailing early and often prevented a full commitment to the run game, and Gabbert’s inability to provide much through the air left for a fairly unbalanced attack. Williams is an easy player to root for and his performance through the struggles of the last several weeks a lone bright spot. It would be shame to see him have to sit out the remainder of the season as well.
Fitzgerald kept his “consecutive games with a catch” streak alive on Sunday, and once again led the team in both targets and receptions, but beyond that, there is little to say about the future Hall of Famer. Fitzgerald amassed 60 total yards on Sunday, absurdly accounting for just under 1/3rd of the team’s total receiving yards, but with little impact worth mentioning. In fact, Fitzgerald dropped his final target of the afternoon, a pass that would have prolonged the Cardinals comeback efforts but instead ended their afternoon. A surprising end to an uninspiring offensive performance.
|TE Troy Niklas, 79 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (6 targets)|
With an injured Jermaine Gresham
out, Troy Niklas
took on a prominent role in Sunday’s offense. Niklas was serviceable but inconsistent in his more robust role, providing a vital outlet for Gabbert when he was unable to push the ball downfield, but failed in the end to secure a catch which would have likely led to a Cardinals victory. Trailing by five late in the 4th quarter, Niklas ran a seam-route up the numbers and Gabbert hit him right in the hands. The catch, had he not ended up scoring, would have had the Cardinals on the 2-yard line, with many opportunities to convert. Instead, the Cardinals failed to convert a 4th-down play and the just like that the game was over.
|QB Kirk Cousins, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 26 - 196 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0|
didn't have a big day in the box score but did enough to get the win. The offense got off to a quick start as Kirk capitalized off an Arizona turnover. Kirk was able to get possession of the ball already in the red zone where he found Jamison Crowder
on a drag route. He had twenty six attempts on the day but was wildly inaccurate throughout much of this game. The second touchdown Kirk threw came on a screen pass that went for thirty-six yards. Kirk still had trouble converting third downs, but he had zero turnovers. Kirk was able to manage this game well enough to secure a win as Washington's defense continued getting Kirk the ball back. This was one of the more conservative games that Kirk has played all year.
|RB Samaje Perine, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 37 - 0, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (2 targets)|
played a steady roll in this game but didn't contribute significantly. He had sixteen total touches for less than seventy yards. The running game has suffered with the offensive line being banged up, so this has directly affected Samaje's production. His longest rush in this game went for six yards.
|RB Kapri Bibbs, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 47 - 1 (4 targets)|
played a significantly role in the passing game today as the change of pace running back. He had four receptions and scored one of the two touchdowns scored on offense. He wasn't used much in the running game but as a passing down option he will be valuable for Washington's offense the last couple of games.
had one carry in this game and was not a factor on offense. His role has been minimized with the addition of Kapri Bibbs
got back on track this week as the leading receiver for Washington. He led the team in receptions and yards as he scored one of only two touchdowns on the day. Jamison's score came on the team's first possession as Kirk found him on a crossing route in the end zone. Crowder's longest completion went for twenty-four yards but the offense was fairly inconsistent throughout the game. Crowder had an opportunity to have a bigger day but Kirk struggled to connect with Jamison on a few inaccurate passes.
|WR Josh Doctson, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (4 targets)|
had a quiet day in the Washington offense. He tallied two receptions but didn't get involved in the game much at all. The inability to sustain drives hurt his chances to get going in this game.
|WR Ryan Grant, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets)|
didn't make an impact in this game as he only recorded two receptions. The offense was stalled all day which hindered Ryan's opportunities.
|TE Vernon Davis, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (4 targets)|
wasn't able to get going in this game as he only had two catches for less than twenty yards. The Cardinals paid close attention to Vernon as he has been a steady contributor all year. The offense couldn't get in a rhythm and that ultimately minimized Vernon's opportunities to contribute.
|TE Niles Paul, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)|
was a non-factor in today's game as he only recorded one reception.