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Need to Know: Redskins will work through Jamison Crowder's return issues

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Need to Know: Redskins will work through Jamison Crowder's return issues

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 26, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins press conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 10
—Vikings @ Redskins (11/12) 17
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 28

State of the Redskins, Week 8

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 8 of the NFL season.

Top three storylines:

Walking wounded—It’s gotten worse since this was a top storyline last week (and the week before). Trent Williams is barely hanging on with his knee injury, three other offensive line starters are dealing with injuries, Jonathan Allen is out for the season, and Preston Smith could miss the coming game. The good news is that it looks like Josh Norman is ready to go.  

Pryor demoted—Terrelle Pryor has been a disappointment. Other than a play here and there he has had almost zero impact. That’s not what the Redskins were hoping for when they signed him in the offseason. He went from playing an average of 53 snaps in the first five games to 30 against the Eagles. It looks like they will give Josh Doctson an extended chance to make something happen now.  

Punt return problems—Jamison Crowder is having problems with punt returns. Most importantly, he has now put the ball on the ground three times. Two muffs earlier this season were recovered by the other team. On Monday, it was good fortune that a fumble after he was hit was recovered by the Redskins. And when he holds on to the ball he averages just 5.8 yards per return, 21st among the 24 players with enough attempts to qualify. Gruden said on Tuesday that they don’t really have anybody else to return punts. Apparently, all they can do is hope Crowder puts his problems behind him.  

Record: 3-3, T-2nd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 0-2
vs. NFC: 2-2
vs. AFC: 1-1
Home: 2-1
Away: 1-2

Rankings  and changes from Week 7

Offense (yards/game): 369.2 (8th, -1 from Week 6)
Defense (yards/game): 325.2 (12th, no change)
Points for: 141 (11th, +3)
Points against: 147 (25th, -6)

Passer rating offense:  107.2 (3rd, no change)
Opp passer rating: 88.9 (16th, -7)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.1 (18th, -1)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.0 (17th, No change)
Third down conversions: 39.5% (17th, -5)
Opp. Third-down conversions: 41.8% (24th, -4)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 15.2% (9th, -3)
Playoff chances per FO: 39.2%, -12.5 percentage points from last week

Trending in the right direction: Well, nothing, really. The passing game is keeping things afloat on offense as the passer rating is staying even and as Kirk Cousins keeps on throwing for 300 yards every week. But the numbers are empty if they can’t run and their average yards per rush attempt has tumbled from the top 10 to below average.

Trending in the wrong direction: Carson Wentz and the Eagles put a dent in just about every defensive category. And a Redskins team that was second overall in DVOA just a few weeks ago is now trending out of the top 10.

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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There was literally a 0.4% chance of a Redskins loss vs. the Saints — and then the Redskins lost

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There was literally a 0.4% chance of a Redskins loss vs. the Saints — and then the Redskins lost

Despite losing their best player to a terrible knee injury, and despite playing on the road vs. a team on a seven-game winning streak, and despite making crucial mistakes including a major blunder at the end of the first half, at one point, the Redskins had more than a 99 percent chance of beating the Saints Sunday.

And, well, you know what happened.

After a holding penalty on the Saints' fourth quarter drive that followed a Kirk Cousins to Jeremy Sprinkle touchdown pass, Washington's odds of winning the matchup were set at 99.6 percent.

In case simply reading that number isn't painful enough, here's a graph that'll make it painful-er:

MORE: LATEST 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT

Following the flag, all the Saints would do is go on to score on that drive, score on their next drive, convert on the two-point conversion, hold the Redskins twice and then kick the game-winning field goal in overtime, a sequence of events that, according to ESPN, had a less than 1/100 chance of happening.

Since we're talking about numbers, here's another one for you: As of this post, the Redskins have 99 hours until they have to turn around and play the Giants on football. So that's nice.

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Redskins blow major opportunity in embarrassing OT loss to Saints

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Redskins blow major opportunity in embarrassing OT loss to Saints

NEW ORLEANS —The Washington Redskins were in familiar territory on Sunday, on the road against a red-hot opponent.

The Redskins had been here two weeks ago in Seattle against a Seahawks team that had won four straight.The Redskins won.

In Week 11, the Redskins traveled to New Orleans to take on the Saints, winners of seven games in a row. The Redskins we're two minutes away from a win.

The Redskins did not win.

Here are my observations made during the Redskins’ 34-31 overtime loss to the Saints, focusing on the Redskins’ ability to run the ball on offense and slow down Drew Brees on defense.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

FIRST HALF

Redskins Offense

—After the Redskins got the ball at the Saints 47 following an D.J. Swearinger interception, they got a short, mixed drive for a field goal. Samaje Perine ran twice for six yards (three years up the middle on each carry) and Kirk Cousins passed three times.

— The Redskins got Perine going in their second possession. He got runs of seven and 30 yards to get them into the red zone. The rookie did a good job of breaking some tackles and following blockers on the thirty yarder. The Redskins got into the end zone on a touchdown pass from Cousins to Chris Thompson.

—The Redskins have 83 rushing yards at halftime, usually a good sign for them. Perine has 57, coming up on his career high, but he got only six in the second quarter. It would be good if they could use him to eat some clock on a couple of drives since it looks like the Saints are going to put up some more points.

—The offense has been balanced, 15 rush attempts by running backs and 14 passes.

Redskins' Defense

—Brees threw a sort of desperation pass on third and 18 on the Saints’ first possession. It never had a chance and D.J. Swearinger picked it off right before going out of bounds just on the Saints side of midfield. That set up a Washington field goal.  

—The Redskins were defending Brees well but a third-down incompletion negated a third-down incompletion. Then the defense broke down, allowing a 26-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. and a 36-yard touchdown run by Mark Ingram. 

—These comments are really under special teams. The Redskins had a good drive going into Saints territory but it stalled at around the 35. Then a couple of little things went wrong. First there was a false start that made a 51-yard field goal try into one from 56. Gruden decided to punt and Josh Holsey almost downed it inside the one but his heels were just on the goal line when he caught the ball. The Saints had the ball at the 20 and drove for a field goal to make it 17-13 at halftime.  

RELATED: CHRIS THOMPSON CARTED OFF THE FIELD

 

SECOND HALF

Redskins Offense

— We’re back to special teams again, although this time it’s a positive. On fourth and one at the Washington 15, the call was for a fake punt. The snap went to up back Niles Paul, who barreled up the middle for five yards and a first down. That sparked a drive that was composed of some smart passes and a few Perine runs. ON third and seven at the 40, the Saints went Cover Zero and Ryan Grant was wide open for the TD. Cousins delivered it to him despite getting pounded right after he released the ball. The Redskins had an 11-point lead at the end of the third quarter. The fake punt will go down with the plays of the year in they hang on to win.  

— Redskins started a key drive from their own 25 leading by eight with about nine and a half minutes left. Cousins has time, throws a strike down the right sideline for 36 yards to the New Orleans 35. Then Perine ran for nine and 17 yards, setting up first and goal at the nine. That pushed him over 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career. Two plays later Jeremy Sprinkle’s first NFL catch was for a touchdown and the Redskins were up 31-16 with just under six minutes left.

—On third and one at their own 29, the Redskins needed one more first down to be able to kill the clock. They didn’t get it as Perine was hit for a loss. They had to punt the ball back to the Saints, giving Brees and company one last chance.

—The Redskins had 1:08 to try to win it in regulation. Two passes to Crowder picked up 22. Then came the big one, Cousins to Crowder for 19 to put them in log field goal range. But intentional grounding on a mixup make it second and 20 with a 10-second runoff. The Saints first sack of the game knocked the ball out and we go to overtime.

Redskins Defense

— The Redskins almost did the unthinkable. A tackle for a loss and a sack left the saints with third and 22. Brees threw a short pass to Kamara, who slipped some tackles and wasn’t tackled until he was just three yards short of the first down. No harm, the Saints punted. But it was too close.

— Key series for the Redskins after a 24-yard punt return put the Saints at their own 49. The Redskins had done a good job keeping Alvin Kamara under wraps up to that point with just 16 yards on five carries. But he popped one off the right side for 24 yards. That was all the Saints needed to set up a 42-yard field goal to pull within eight at 24-16.

—The Saints got the ball with 1:53 left at their own 12. The Redskins had 88 yards of field to defend. They got an interception on the first play but a hands to the face penalty negated it. They couldn’t get much of a pass rush and two throws got the Saints into Redskins territory. Brees to Fleener for 35 got it into the red zone. On th next play, Alvin Kamara bobbled and then caught a short pass from Brees and rolled in for a touchdown.

—The Saints still needed a two-point conversion to tie it. The got it on a pitch to Kamara. He skirted around the left side to tie the game at 31 with 1:05 left.

—A loss seemed inevitable after the Redskins went three and out in their first possession of overtime. It took just two plays for them to get down to a first and goal.