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.
Daron Payne, nose tackle
Washington’s defense has been abysmal, but give Payne some credit for getting his job done. The second-year pro has five hits, five hurries, one knockdown and a batted pass, and he has yet to miss a tackle. His eight defensive stops — a metric based on whether an opposing player is held to fewer than 40 percent of the yards needed to move the chains on first down, fewer than 50 percent of the yards needed on second down or is denied a first down or touchdown on any third or fourth down — are the highest on the team and tied for 10th most at the position. That’s no small feat considering the Redskins are allowing opponents to convert a whopping 63 percent of third downs, the highest figure in the NFL.
Quinton Dunbar, cornerback
Dunbar intercepted Giants quarterback Daniel Jones on consecutive throws in the second quarter Sunday, both targets to New York’s No. 1 wideout, Sterling Shepard. Dunbar also prevented tight end Evan Engram from catching the only pass thrown his way when Dunbar was in coverage. The converted wide receiver has held opposing receivers to just 1.1 yards per snap in primary coverage this season, per Pro Football Focus, and opposing quarterbacks are managing a mere 29.9 passer rating when they test him in the secondary. For context, an incomplete pass earns a quarterback a 39.6 passer rating. Every other Redskins cornerback, including supposed star Josh Norman, has allowed a passer rating of 112.0 or higher this season.
Chris Thompson, running back
There are big personalities on the team at running back. Adrian Peterson is a future Hall of Famer and Derrius Guice, who has been out since Week 1, was a highly touted draft pick in 2018. Yet the little-noticed Thompson remains the most consistent performer of the group.
Thompson, in his seventh season with the Redskins, has 16 carries for 46 yards and 20 catches (out of 28 targets) for 251 yards, giving him 297 yards from scrimmage. Peterson is second among Washington running backs with 94 total yards.
Eight of Thompson’s catches have resulted in a first down. Only Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey (13 on 25 catches) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekeler (11 on 24 catches) turned catches into first downs more frequently among NFL running backs. And only Ekeler has produced more yards per route run at the position than Thompson.
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