The Washington Redskins desperately needed a victory over the Chicago Bears on Saturday. Sitting just outside the NFC playoff picture, Washington won convincingly 41-21. In this game, Kirk Cousins played exceptionally throwing for 9.3 yards per attempt, but it was Matt Barkley’s poor performance that solidified the game for the Redskins. He threw five interceptions to a Washington defense that has struggled the entire season.
A major theme of this game was the poor decision-making by Barkley. This is perfectly illustrated by his first interception when the Bears were down 14-0 at the start of the second quarter.
Chicago runs a flood concept off play-action. Barkley takes the snap and launches the ball deep to wide receiver (11) Josh Bellamy on his post-route. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that two of the Redskins’ defensive backs are covering Bellamy well while a third follows.
Barkley simply can’t make this throw. Although nobody seems initially open, he has eight yards of space between himself and the nearest defender, which would have given him plenty of time to move onto his next read and wait for another receiver to get open.
His second interception was almost as bad as his first. Washington second-year edge rusher Preston Smith beats left tackle (72) Charles Leno on a speed rush. You can tell instantly that Leno was going to get beat. After he gets out of his stance, he is off-balanced by Smith’s speed around the edge. As Barkley was getting taken to the ground, he carelessly launches the ball into the air. It predictably falls flat allowing for Norman to undercut the pass to make the diving interception.
Speaking of Josh Norman, he had a fantastic game. He broke up multiple passes and ended the game with two interceptions. In Barkley’s third interception, Norman was the underneath sideline zone defender in the Redskins Cover 2. The quarterback targets (81) Cameron Meredith on his quick-in route, but Norman breaks up the pass allowing Bashaud Breeland to intercept the pass on the deflection.
The last two interceptions that Barkley threw were due to inaccuracy. Versus the Washington Tampa 2 defense, he attempted to find the hole between the deep left defender and the underneath sideline defender throwing it well over the head of his receiver. Safety (41) Will Blackmon fields the interception easily returning it for 79 yards.
Barkley’s final interception was an inaccurate, backfoot throw to Alshon Jeffrey. Jeffrey had inside leverage on Josh Norman but the pass was so poorly thrown that it sailed outside the intended mark. Norman intercepted the pass bringing it back for 35 yards.
Five interceptions in a single game is one of the worst performances all season and it continues to prove why Barkley fell out of the first round in the NFL Draft. While Russell Wilson matched this number versus the Green Bay Packers, only New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick “beat” this prestigious record by throwing six picks versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.
As we learned last week with Jonathan Stewart, the Redskins run defense is horrible. Based on this, you might have assumed that running back Jordan Howard would have been a bigger factor to keep the game close. In this game, he actually gained over six yards per carry and totaled 119 yards on the ground. However, by the time he gained most of his yards, Washington was already up by more than two scores.
In order for the Redskins to make the playoffs, they need to defeat the New York Giants next week and need to root for the Dallas Cowboys to defeat the Detroit Lions on Monday night. If the Cowboys win, the Lions will fall to 9-6, which means the loser of the Lions-Packers game in Week 17 won’t make the playoffs.
As far as the Seattle Seahawks are concerned, Washington make the playoffs as the 6 seed, the Redskins should play the Seahawks in the opening round. In their last three playoff games, Seattle came out victorious winning all three in 2005, 2007, and most recently in 2012.
Looking at the tape, both teams are extremely inconsistent. It’s very difficult for me to project how the Seahawks defense will hold up against the Redskins offense or if Thomas Rawls will be able to take advantage of the Washington’s poor run defense. Regardless, it should be a fun match.