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Five observations from the Redskins' unanticipated loss to the Vikings

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Five observations from the Redskins' unanticipated loss to the Vikings

The Redskins' offense played well, but the defense had no answer for a red-hot Case Keenum.

The end result was a 38-30 loss to the Vikings in Week 10.

Here are five takeaways from the unanticipated loss.

A Hot Hand:

Case Keenum obviously got the word that Teddy Bridgewater is back.

Apparently the journeyman wants to hang on to his starting job. It will be tough to replace him if he has more games with four touchdown passes and over 300 yards. The Redskins started to get to him in the fourth quarter with two interceptions but they just couldn’t get enough pressure to rattle him.

A week after the Redskins’ pass rush chased Russell Wilson all over the CenturyLink Field turf, they rarely made Keenum break a sweat.

Inconsistency, Thy Name is the Redskins:

Why have the Redskins be around .500 for the last two and a half year?

It’s because they can’t string together many winning efforts in a row. After catching the eye of the league last week, they are back to being that same old Redskins team. D.J. Swearinger talked about the team not having a good practice on Friday.

Why can’t a group of professionals get that done consistently? The Redskins will continue to bounce up and down and hang around .500 until details like this get nailed down.

Cousins Had Another One of Those Games:

You can’t really blame Kirk Cousins for the loss and the offense did put up 30 points (although seven were the result of an interception returned to the two yard line).

But he really didn’t do enough to lift the team to a win.

He’s had a few games like this (both Eagles games and the Cowboys game come to mind) where he wasn’t bad but not good enough to give his team a boost when the game still was winnable.

It Was Good to Have the Starting O-line Back:

But they didn’t seem to be 100 percent, which perhaps was to be expected.

They didn’t get beaten for a sack until late in the game but the running game sputtered (81 yards, shy of the 90 they usually need to win). They should be better next week, assuming that they can recover physically after playing a full game for the first time in a few weeks.

Maurice Harris a Bright Spot:

He was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday, his 25th birthday.

Today he celebrated it with a circus catch for a touchdown the first time he was thrown the ball.

He grabbed the ball with one arm while lunging towards the goal line.

What made it different from the one-handed catches you see multiple times every Saturday and Sunday was that the arm with which he caught the ball caught most of the force of him landing on the ground. Apparently the referee right there couldn’t believe it because he called it incomplete but Jay Gruden successfully challenged the call.

Harris can play all three receiver positions so he can be a valuable member of the unit. Especially if he can make plays like that TD.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The next time Jonathan Allen plays for the Redskins will be next year, and that's the right move

The next time Jonathan Allen plays for the Redskins will be next year, and that's the right move

When Jonathan Allen first suffered his Lisfranc injury back in Week 6, there was a belief that the Redskins' first-round pick could return to the team in late December to help with a playoff push or gain more on-field experience.

But now that there is no playoff push to be had and only two games remaining on the schedule, Jay Gruden and the organization have decided that Allen will not see meaningful snaps again until next season.

"I don’t think we’re going to do anything with Jonathan," the head coach said Monday in Ashburn after Washington beat Arizona in Week 15. "I think by the time he gets back out to practice and gets in shape, I think the season will be over. He’s in good shape, but I think in football shape is a little bit different and we’ll probably just get him ready for the OTAs."

The move is absolutely the right one to make here. If the Burgundy and Gold still had four or five contests to play, they could get No. 95 back into all-important football shape and allow him to get valuable regular season reps in their final few matchups.


But the rehab from his foot injury — an injury that can linger and one that affects athletes in various ways — hasn't progressed at a fast enough pace for him to ease himself into a return. And with the organization this close to 2017's finish line, it's best not to rush him or force a comeback with what looks like a defensive building block.

Since Allen's departure from the starting lineup, the 'Skins defense has taken more than a few steps backward. He isn't the only person coordinator Greg Manusky is missing, of course, and his individual numbers weren't huge, but Allen was like a key part of a car engine: You may not have much of an idea of how crucial he is when he's suiting up, but the second he stops, you'll find out quickly how necessary he is. 

"He was off to a good start, really," Gruden said of the ex-Alabama lineman. "I think his strength at the point of attack was outstanding, his ability to play the run was good and then we used him in nickel situations also, which he was pushing the pocket extremely well. Sack production didn’t really tell the story about how productive he was. I think he played very well."

The question with Allen when the Redskins drafted him was never his ability to play. Rather, it was his ability to stay healthy. As he heads into his first offseason as a pro, he'll look to improve as much as he can when it comes to the latter. And the Redskins are smart in letting him focus on that immediately.


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How Redskins' injuries are plunging Kirk Cousins' stats

How Redskins' injuries are plunging Kirk Cousins' stats

Kirk Cousins just did something he has never done before, and it’s not something good.

The Redskins quarterback passed for 196 yards against the Cardinals on Sunday.

That comes on the heels of a 151-yard passing performance against the Chargers. This marks the first time that Cousins has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in consecutive games since he was named the starting quarterback just before the start of the 2015 season.

The closest he has come to posting sub-200 yard games before came in his first two games as the starter, when he threw for 196 against the Dolphins and 203 against the Rams the next week.


Cousins has finished with fewer than 200 yards in seven games in the last three years, but there should be an asterisk next to one of those games. In the meaningless 2015 season finale in Dallas, he threw for 176 yards before departing the game midway through the fourth quarter.

Cousins’ lack of yardage in a given game does not necessarily spell doom for his team. The Redskins are 4-3 in Cousins’ “off” games, including 1-1 in the last two weeks.

What has the issue been with Cousins the last couple of weeks?

Against the Chargers, he was off-target on some basic throws, and the offense never got going. In the Cardinals game, he was more accurate, completing 69 percent of his passes. But he kept his throws short as the Redskins got up 14-3 in the second quarter, and they were not aggressive on offense.


But in both games, what was showing was the lack of offensive talent Cousins has around him due to injuries and free agency. Against the Cardinals, he was operating with just two of the Week 1 starters on the offensive line. Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed did not play in either game. This season's replacements for DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon — the two 1000-yard receivers who departed as free agents — have not been adequate. Chris Thompson, Cousins’ security blanket, has been on injured reserve for a few weeks.

The replacements have been playing hard, and they have made a few plays. But consistency is the key, and the substitutes haven’t been able to provide it. Cousins has had four games with more than 300 yards passing this year, but given the current state of things, it would be surprising if he got another one of those this year.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.