Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Five Redskins bright spots on a humiliatingly bad team

Wide receiver Terry McLaurin and guard Brandon Scherff are two of the bright spots. (Alex Brandon/AP)

By Neil Greenberg
Oct. 1, 2019 at 10:33 a.m. EDT

Another week, another loss for the Washington Redskins. The 24-3 drubbing at the hands of the New York Giants on Sunday dropped Washington to 0-4, its worst start since 2001. A win in Week 5 against the New England Patriots is also unlikely, and it has been hard to find bright spots in a dismal season.

Yet there have been some standouts, starting with rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin.

McLaurin, a third-round pick in April’s draft, has been a revelation for the offense. The Ohio State product, who missed Sunday’s loss with a hamstring injury, has caught 16 of 24 targets for 257 yards in three games. He is the only player in the Super Bowl era with five or more catches plus a touchdown in each of his first three games. McLaurin is also the deep threat the Redskins have been missing for years, with his average target coming more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. That’s almost double the distance for any other wideout on the roster, including speedster Paul Richardson Jr. (who has an average depth of target of 8.5 yards), and the 10th highest figure in the NFL.

Washington’s quarterbacks have a 141.8 passer rating when targeting McLaurin. Their next-best passer rating comes when targeting Richardson (86.4). The league average is 92.7.

McLaurin’s absence Sunday perhaps offered a partial excuse for Washington’s season-low scoring output. It’s not yet clear whether McLaurin will be on the field Sunday against the Patriots.

Here are some other high-quality performers on what has so far been a bad team.

Brandon Scherff, right guard
Offensive linemen, other than left tackles, tend to go unnoticed, but Scherff has quickly, and quietly, become one of football’s best guards. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound stalwart has earned two Pro Bowl nods in four seasons and is once again one of the highest-rated guards in the NFL, per the game charters at Pro Football Focus. According to their grading system, only Philadelphia’s Brandon Brooks, Baltimore’s Marshal Yanda and Pittsburgh’s David DeCastro are having a better season at right guard than Scherff, who has allowed one sack and three hurries in 195 snaps. Detroit’s Graham Glasgow is the only right guard who has earned higher marks for run blocking.

Perhaps most importantly, Scherff has been flagged for just two penalties, both during passing plays. Washington committed 12 penalties for 58 yards Sunday and has the second-most offensive holding penalties, behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Scherff also is battling an injury, an ankle sprain that kept him out against the Giants — another possible explanation for the offensive struggles. Scherff is in the final season of his rookie deal and has yet to agree to a contract extension.

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