If "all good things must come to an end" like the cliche says, then this Washington season would extend into eternity. The Skins mercifully concluded their campaign on New Year's Eve, dropping their final game 18-10, to the previously two-win New York Giants. The offense stunk. The defense mostly stunk. The special teams held true to form. It was the final ingredient for the shit-kabob stew that was the 2017 season. Who and what contributed to this particular loss, exactly? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the final, sixteenth of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious 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 loss)
-Ryan Kerrigan. If the stakes are low, his motor stays high. I'm sorry, that was a cheap shot. Another solid season for #91. His consistency should be praised.
-Preston Smith. He can smell that second contract after next season and his campaign to get paid has begun early.
-Kapri Bibbs. The one-man warrior of the offense put in work in this glorified exhibition game.
he Run Defense: 25%
Spaight, Vigil and Swearinger had the lion's share of tackles on the afternoon, which was great. The problem was that these stops occurred on average nearly seven yards down the field. The Giants rushed for 260 yards Sunday with little to no resistance from the beleagured defense. Orleans Darkwa, who sounds like a made-up player name in Madden, ran like Spike from the Little Giants movie out of the power-I. If this was Greg Manusky's final game as coordinator, he'll want to leave it off his resume.
Kirk Cousins: 75%
I thought one 1/4 slice for each interception seemed about right. What to do with Kirk in the offseason? The (way too many) million dollar question. I will have many thoughts in the coming months, but let's take some quick inventory:
-While reaching the 4,000 yard mark for passing in three straight years was impressive, Cousins did not throw for more than 300 in any of the final six games (he did get to 299 once).
-Washington's record decreased for the second consecutive year, the first time since 2009.
-The offense finished a dead-middle 16th in points and yards. Injuries and new personnel's fault? If you'd like to make that argument, sure. Counterargument: highest-paid player on the team has to overcome that for the betterment of the unit.
-The Skins won only one game when the defense allowed more than 20 points, a barely countable squeak W against the then-winless 49ers. Basically, if the defense was not amazing, the offense and their leader could not overcome. Conversely, the Skins won three games where they did not score more than 20. Which unit carried which?
-Of the top 10 QBs in salary cap value for 2017, only three of their teams (Falcons, Panthers, Saints) made the postseason.
-In the month of December, as the Skins sputtered to 2-2 while playing only one team with a winning record, Cousins had six TDs against five interceptions. In 2016, with the Skins still in the thick of the playoff hunt, the team went 2-3 while also only playing one team with a winning record, coincidentally the Giants, who were playing for nothing and rested starters in the second half. Cousins had five touchdowns against five interceptions. Is it fair to only cherry pick games from December? Not really. But, when you're asking to be the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL, the last taste in the franchise's mouth should not be the most bitter.
UNTIL NEXT SEASON...
Thank you riding along the roller coaster of emotions that is experiencing a Skins season. We here at Fifty Gut were more than happy to share in the highs and many lows of the year and look forward to feeding you more slices in 2018.