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Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

Five takeaways from the Redskins’ narrow win over the Cardinals

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 20-15 win over the Cardinals.

Turnovers are important: Part of the Redskins’ problems in their last two non-competitive games was a lack of turnovers. Their only takeaway against the Cowboys and Chargers came on an interception in LA long after the outcome had been decided. Today, the Redskins got one three plays into the game, giving them an extremely short field (six yards) and a 7-0 lead a minute and a half into the game. That proved to be critical on a day when the offense operated well only in fits and starts.

RELATED: Must see photos from Redskins-Cardinals

Kendall Fuller might go to the Pro Bowl: Well, maybe he won’t because not many cornerbacks on 6-8 teams with low-ranked defenses get picked. But he is very, very good. Sunday he was all over the place and finished with eight tackles, including one in the middle of the line on a running play, something you don’t see a corner do often. He also knocked down two passes. The Redskins hope that some of their players who are now rookies can take the same leap that Fuller has between his first and second seasons.

Bad call, Jay: I’m not usually one to bang on Jay Gruden for his play calling but the end around to Josh Doctson late in the third quarter was just awful. They had a five-point lead first down at their own 32. A nice steady drive to any kind of score makes it tough for the Cardinals. But instead of sticking with what was working, Gruden called for an end around the Josh Doctson. It was the wrong play call at the wrong time to the wrong player. Doctson lost 14 yards on the play, which killed the drive. The Cardinals took possession after the punt and got back within two points on a field goal. Not good, Jay.

Special teams still struggle: There were three separate special teams gaffes in the second half. The Cardinals did a pooch kick on the second-half kickoff and they recovered it after the ball took an odd bounce. Then Jamison Crowder let a punt hit the ground and roll all the way back to the six-yard line, costing about 15 yards of field position. Finally, the Cardinals hit a 54-yard field goal but AJ Francis was called for using leverage to try to block the kick, giving the Cardinals a first down. Fortunately, they survived all of the miscues. The defense held Arizona to a field goal after the kickoff, the offense managed to drive for a field goal after getting the ball at the six, and the Cardinals kicked another field goal after the penalty on Francis. Still, the special teams can’t rely on getting bailed out all the time.

A needed win: The Cardinals did manage to put a big scare into the Redskins by driving down to the Washington 21 in the last minute. But the home team held on, averting disaster in the process. Had they lost due to a late drive engineered by Blaine Gabbert, who completed 39-percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 43, things would have become very ugly. A win is a win in the NFL so the fact that a couple of passes went just off the fingertips of receivers inside the 10 on the final drive won’t matter. They will celebrate and go into the week to prepare for the Broncos in a much better frame of mind.

MORE REDSKINS: Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

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

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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