At some point prior to Sunday's matchup against Los Angeles, head coach Jay Gruden scrolled through his Spotify, found Ghostface Killah's 2004 release The Pretty Toney Album and put the song "Run" on an infinite loop. Channeling the game plan from a week 2 matchup versus the Rams from 2015, Washington pounded the ball with a whopping 39 rushing attempts for over 200 yards. Mercurial signal caller, Kirk Cousins, was asked to game manage with very few throws longer than ten yards and he was able to engineer the game-winning drive and touchdown pass to Not Josh Doctson aka Ryan Gruden aka Ryan Grant.
So who else deserves the praise for the must-win in week 2? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the second of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame based on the outcome into pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the win).
-Terrelle Pryor Sr. Saying he "did not contribute" is probably a little harsh. He did chip in with a solid catch-and-run on the final drive. But, two catches for 31 yards on four targets is simply not good enough for a "number one WR."
-Fade Routes. There were back-to-back attempts in the first half that were woefully executed. These passes can be extremely effective when done well, and with the size of Pryor and Doctson, Washington must do better in this area.
-The L.A. Coliseum turf. Having hosted USC-Texas mere hours before this contest did no favors to the health and safety of the players. Every other play ended in an injury stoppage as shoulders and arms were readjusted. But, with Thursday night games, a suspect concussion protocol and absolutely no evil marijuana allowed, the NFL definitely puts player health first!
Washington fans: 1%
I can personally attest to this: it was loud. Or rather, as loud as it could possibly be for a road team in a half-empty stadium. Skins fans traveled in droves to support and the atmosphere surely drove the dozens of Rams fans there nuts.
Tress Way: 2%
How about a little love for the special teams? Dustin Hopkins almost made the pie, but his 51-yard miss allowed the game to be closer than necessary. Way boomed his four punts of the afternoon, averaging over 50 yards per kick, including a 62-yard beauty that was downed inside the 20.
Josh Norman: 5%
He did not record a pick or a pass breakup, but he did force two fumbles with his perfected "Charles 'Peanut' Tillman ball punch" tactic. Washington did not recover either fumble, but his impact in the secondary continues to be felt each week. Norman had a 99.9 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus.
Kirk Cousins: 12%
Captain Kirk was not asked to do much this week, but when called upon late in the fourth, he made the most of it. The Alex Smithification of the offense worked against an inferior opponent, but his mettle will soon be tested in the upcoming weeks. More than anything, he played mistake-free football and that was good enough.
Jay Gruden/Bill Callahan: 15%
The game plan was simple: be the opposite of Kevin Hart and show commitment. Gruden showcased the run early with Rob Kelley and late with Samaje Perine to spectacular results. Third downs continue to be a problem as the Skins are now 8/24 on the season in conversions, but Gruden must be saluted for being unwavering in his schemes to run the rock. Kirk attempted few passes and virtually nothing down the field, but his protection was solid most of the afternoon. For that and the road-grating run blocking, a tip of the cap goes to offensive line coach, Bill Callahan. Speaking of..
The Offensive Line: 20%
This unit took a lot of guff--some even from its quarterback--after last week's performance, but they shored up and showed out yesterday. Trent Williams was his usually spectacular self on the left side, but the pulling of RG Brandon Scherff was particularly impressive. RT Morgan Moses received the highest Pro Football Focus overall grade on the team.
The Linebackers: 20%
It is very difficult to single out just one to highlight, because they all contributed so much. Zach Brown continues to be everywhere on the field and confound Buffalo Bills fans as to why he was let go. Ryan Kerrigan recorded a sack and a pressure and was mixing it up, while Preston Smith has become a menace on the opposite side. Rookie Ryan Anderson even chipped in with a tackle for loss. But, the champ of the unit for Sunday was definitely Mason Foster, who recovered from a couple of blown assignments early and diagnosed the play on Jared Goff's fateful interception that sealed the win. The front seven as a whole has gone from a liability to a strength in short time.
Chris Thompson/Rob Kelley/Samaje Perine: 25%
The MVPs of week 2 were simply outstanding as a unit. Making up for his deficiency in the speed department, Kelley ran extremely hard and was decisive in the gaps before being injured. Perine faced more eight and nine man fronts as the Rams started to cheat in run defense, but he still showed why he was a wrecking ball at Oklahoma last year. Finally, there was Thompson, the most slept-on back in the league. His ability to turn mundane inside run plays into ridiculous gains is an asset Washington would struggle without. It also keeps defenses off balance as his durability to contribute in the pass game can assist in disguising offensive tendencies. We'll see if Gruden continues to ride this underrated group of position players.
#SundaySlices will be served following the Kansas City Chiefs game. If you have slice suggestions, send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter.