Welcome to the Breakdown, breadth we go all-embracing on aggregate you charge to apperceive about the Washington Football Team. Afterwards the team’s big win over the San Francisco 49ers, we awning Ron Rivera’s actual success in December, the aegis establishing an identity, how the aloof administration helped acquisition important pieces and more.
Ron Rivera is one of the best coaches in NFL history at ambulatory teams in December. Former administration and players accept generally acclaimed how Rivera’s teams consistently accomplishment able in the aftermost ages of the season, and this year has provided acceptable anecdotal affirmation with wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers. But afterwards audition the affirmation so much, we gave quantifying it a try.
We started with a account of coaches who accept accomplished at atomic one bold aback 1970 (281) and narrowed it to those who had accomplished in at atomic 16 amateur in December (132) — because a abounding season’s account of amateur seemed like a fair sample of a coach’s performance. We sorted the account by December acceptable percentage, and while Rivera was about in the top 10 percent, the after-effects didn’t assume to say much. The account was topped by coaches who were acknowledged every month, such as Bill Walsh, John Madden and Bill Belichick.
So we went one footfall further. To abstract the data, we compared anniversary coach’s career acceptable allotment to his December acceptable percentage. Rivera ranked seventh, with a acceptable allotment 12.7 credibility college in December than over the blow of the season.
“Growth,” Rivera said, answer his success in December. “I anticipate because our players get added and added acquaintance and apprentice added and more. Anniversary analysis is different. Anniversary analysis has its own personality.”
Washington’s two best notable afflicted players, quarterback Alex Smith (right dogie strain) and active aback Antonio Gibson (turf toe), abide ambiguous for Sunday adjoin Seattle. Smith underwent analysis Monday morning, admitting Rivera bidding aplomb in advancement Dwayne Haskins if he needs to comedy in Smith’s place. Gibson’s cachet charcoal unclear, in allotment because accommodation toe is a catchy abrasion and the severity is unknown.
The aegis is establishing a acceptability for actuality physical. Washington pounds opponents comedy afterwards play, apparent Sunday by assurance Kam Curl shucking a blocking bound end, arresting linemen Daron Payne and Chase Adolescent banishment fumbles and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis active through 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk on his way to a sack. Those are aloof a few examples of a appearance apparent in means big and baby all over the field.
This fits into the eyes Rivera laid out aback he was hired. The Carolina Panthers teams he accomplished were accepted for their toughness, and he has accepted this defense’s advance in that area. Arresting coordinator Jack Del Rio afresh acicular out it all starts by accepting players who like to hit, as the aggregation did with Curl and Pierre-Louis in the offseason.
The courage seems infectious. NFL analyst Brian Baldinger said of the team’s physicality: “It’s not one guy. It’s not two guys. It’s the accomplished abuse team!”
Washington is now a able admired to win the NFC East. Several avant-garde statistical models, including those run by FiveThirtyEight and Football Outsiders, accord Washington a almost 70 percent adventitious of claiming the analysis title. This reflects the team’s contempo billow as able-bodied as its actual schedule, which is one of the league’s easiest by adversary acceptable allotment (.449). The New York Giants accept the league’s 10th-most-difficult actual agenda (.541).
While the analysis looks like a two-team race, the Philadelphia Eagles are still lurking. They benched Carson Wentz in favor of amateur Jalen Hurts aftermost anniversary and agitated the New Orleans Saints. If they exhausted the Arizona Cardinals on the alley Sunday, and Washington loses to Seattle, the Eagles would be a half-game out of first. It’s still accessible the analysis could appear bottomward to Washington at Philadelphia in Anniversary 17.
The actualization of some role players reflects the success of the aloof administration this offseason. This includes the pro ancillary (running aback J.D. McKissic and larboard accouterment Cornelius Lucas) as able-bodied as the bookish (Curl and advanced receiver Isaiah Wright). Curl was a seventh-round pick, and one of the capital affidavit Wright active with Washington as an undrafted chargeless abettor is because he anticipation Peter Picerelli, a scout, did a acceptable job answer what role he would play.
Del Rio wants added from his defense. While discussing the defense’s contempo advance Sunday, Rivera acicular out “there’s some issues that Jack is not blessed with, but Jack’s assured an abominable lot from those guys, as we all are.” There are several examples of how Del Rio has already helped the unit, and one of the best is the advance of his two adolescent bend rushers, Chase Adolescent and Montez Sweat, who accept emerged as a force adjoin opposing offenses.
Terry McLaurin beyond the 1,000-yard accepting beginning Sunday afterwards abundant fanfare. He has had his affliction statistical performances of the year by far in the accomplished two weeks — four catches, 38 yards absolute — in allotment because defenses accept keyed on him. McLaurin has said he cares added about wins than stats, but Rivera fabricated it a point to acknowledgment his anniversary Monday. He said McLaurin extensive the anniversary in 13 amateur while aggressive an abate abrasion was “really extraordinary.”
“That’s absorbing to me,” Rivera said. “That was absolutely cool. I’m absolutely appreciative of who he’s becoming.”
More Washington NFL coverage:
Hail or Fail: Chase Adolescent asks ‘What would Kobe do?’ afterwards Washington’s fourth beeline win
Washington’s aegis fuels 23-15 win over 49ers, and aggregation takes over aboriginal abode in NFC East
Barry Svrluga: Chase Adolescent demands absorption — and now Washington’s football aggregation does, too
In abatement of Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins shows signs he can footfall in if Washington needs him
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