Statistics don't always tell the whole story, but here are four that helped shape the view of the Washington Redskins following Sunday's 26-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
The elusive Robert Kelley
* Second straight start for "Fat Rob" and another impressive one at that. The undrafted rookie had 97 yards on 22 carries. On those 22 carries, only one lost yards. That all happened without Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams and against a Vikings run defense that despite showing some vulnerability in recent games ranked among the top 10 in run defense.
The offensive line and Washington's passing game helped, but what's been the secret to Kelley's success? From Pro Football Focus:
In this contest, Rob Kelley forced 7 missed tackles on the ground, bringing his season total to 15 on 60 carries. In contrast, Matt Jones forced 12 missed tackles on 100 carries. For the moment it seems Jay Gruden made the right choice in benching Jones for the undrafted rookie.
Kelley told Breaking Burgundy over the summer that running behind Washington's O-Line makes him feel like he has "super powers." We'll assume Kelley doesn't have X-ray vision or can't leap a tall building in a single bound. We have witnessed his vision when seeking open lanes or the tiniest of cracks in the line. We have seen his constantly churning feet keep defenders at arm's length.
Mr. Smith Wows Washington
From Elias Sports Bureau
Preston Smith was the defensive star for the Redskins with a fourth-quarter interception and then a game-clinching sack, each with Washington protecting a lead of fewer than seven points. The NFL has been recording sacks for individual defenders since 1982, and over that period Smith is the only Redskins player to register both an interception and a sack in the fourth quarter of a Washington victory.
The stat is cool. That Smith performed at that level after a sleepy first half is the real story. The Redskins are tied for sixth with 25 sacks entering Monday night and that's with a slow start from the second-year linebacker.
Big Man On Campus
At 6-foot-8, Ty Nsekhe is the tallest player on the roster and nobody weighs more than the 335-pounder. For all that size and bulk, nobody noticed him in the moment Sunday during his first career start. For an offensive lineman, that's a good thing. According to PFF, Nsekhe allowed just a single hurry in 35 pass blocks and "was also above average in run blocking." That was good enough to be Washington's highest-rated player in the win, per PFF. He did that while facing the likes of pass-rushing force Everson Griffen. General Scot McCloughan previously stated Nsekhe was one of their five best offensive linemen. He was better than that Sunday. Williams won't back for three more weeks. He'll be missed, but based on what we've seen, Nsekhe can more than hold his own.
Cousins Gets It Done
This latest performance, like nearly all the games with Cousins under center, gives ammunition to both sides of the "Should the Redskins give Kirk Cousins a big deal" argument. The offense settled for four field goals in the second half. There were some dicey throws. There was also a win and scores on all four drives in the second half. Cousins produced without his left tackle and top deep threat in DeSean Jackson (shoulder).
At some point, we cannot keep judging the 27-year-old Cousins as some newbie. He's now started Washington's last 25 games. In that stretch, the numbers are impressive:
Completion percentage: second-best in the NFL (68.67)
* Drew Brees (68.89) leads all followed by Cousins, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan. Tom Brady is 10th. Eli Manning 18th. Aaron Rodgers 24th (61.64).
Passing Yards: fifth overall (6,882); ninth-best per game (275.3)
* Joe Flacco is 11th (271), Andy Dalton is 12th (266.6) and Rodgers is 21st (249.2).
Wins: Tied for sixth-most (14)
QB Rating: sixth (98.9)
* Carson Palmer is 9th (97.5), Rodgers is 16th (93.2) and Cam Newton is 18th (93.1).
Yards Per Attempt: 10th (7.67)
* Newton is 12th (7.57). Stafford 17th (7.29).
Some of the numbers, namely touchdown and interception percentage, are middle of the pack. The Redskins are still last in red zone offense. It's not all perfect. Neither is Cousins. But he's good. Based on some numbers, he's better than most.