LANDOVER, Md. — Chris Thompson is quickly becoming a matchup nightmare.
The versatile third-down back has four of the Washington Redskins’ seven offensive touchdowns this season and will be a handful for the Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) next Monday night. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and a touchdown plus 38 yards rushing in Washington’s 27-10 thumping of the Oakland Raiders (2-1) on Sunday night, a testament to coach Jay Gruden’s play-calling and his value to the Redskins’ offense.
“He can line up in the backfield, he can spread them out wide, he can catch the football,” receiver Jamison Crowder said. “He definitely gives you mismatches against the defense. He’s just a great player. He has the speed. He’s not that big of a guy, but he has the speed, the toughness and he just makes plays.”
Thompson has been a headache for defenses early in the season with 231 yards receiving and 119 rushing. Kansas City can only hope it limits Thompson like it did Darren Sproles in Week 2 when the Philadelphia back had two catches for 30 yards and 10 carries for 48.
Even though coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders were aware of what Thompson could do, they left him wide open at times, and he made them pay. Thompson had a 74-yard catch-and-run to go along with his 22-yard touchdown reception.
“Coach Gruden, he’s been doing such a great job at his play-calling and being able to get me in some good situations where I’m in 1-on-1 matchups, then it’s my job to win,” Thompson said. “They’re paying me to win my 1-on-1 matchups and to make plays, be a spark for this offense.”
Thompson has been the ultimate spark even with just 14 carries. Gruden knows the 26-year-old wants a bigger share of the workload, but he and quarterback Kirk Cousins don’t want to take away from Thompson’s multifaceted abilities.
“We have to make sure Chris stays healthy this year because it’s really hard to find a guy who can pass-protect, make people miss, help me with the pass game, catch the ball,” Cousins said. “He is the total package.”
Some things we learned in the Redskins’ 27-10 victory over the Raiders:
NO PANIC RAIDERS: In the aftermath of what quarterback Derek Carr called a punch in the mouth, he and Raiders teammates were eager to move on and think about visiting the Denver Broncos (2-1) on Sunday.
“This is Week 3, there’s no panic,” said Carr, whose streak of consecutive passes without an interception ended at 112. “Does it sting? Absolutely, because you never want to go out there and do something like that but at the same time, there’s no panic.”
REDSKINS RUN STOPPING: All of a sudden, the Redskins have a strong run defense after holding the Eagles to 58 yards on the ground, Los Angeles Rams to 97 yards and Raiders to 32.
“Our goal was to stop the run and then get off on third down,” rookie safety Montae Nicholson said. “Even to do that, it is just a step in the right direction for us. Next up is K.C., so we will go in and just go to work again.”
The Chiefs present another challenge in Kareem Hunt, who has 229 yards rushing and three TDs and 126 yards receiving and two TDs.
WHOLLY RAIDERS: After allowing 18 sacks last season, the fewest in the NFL, the Raiders allowed four against Washington’s pass rush. For Oakland to have a chance in Denver, it’ll have to be way better than 0 of 11 on third down.
“We’ve got good people who care and work hard,” Del Rio said. “Days like this can happen. You just don’t want it to happen very often.”
D.C. DEPTH: Even without starting tight end Jordan Reed and running back Rob Kelley, the Redskins got things clicking on offense with the likes of Thompson and Vernon Davis. Rookie running back Samaje Perine left with a hand injury, as Davis had five catches for 58 yards.
“Vernon is a big asset to our team,” said Cousins, who threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns. “You know that Jordan is not always healthy. The fact that Vernon has the speed that he has and the experience and can make the plays with the last year and half — what an asset to our offense.”