Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 8, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.
Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences, open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.
—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 11
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 15
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 22
Winning without running an uphill battle for the Redskins
In their game against the Cowboys, the Redskins lost and gained only 51 yards rushing. That dropped the Redskins to 3-21 under Jay Gruden in games that they gained fewer than 90 yards rushing.
But they went off the script during their 17-14 win over the Seahawks. They ran for 51 yards, moving that record up to 4-21 when rushing for fewer than 90 yards. Perhaps they found a formula for being able to win without running the ball. But all four of the wins with a feeble rushing game had some unusual elements that are hard to duplicate.
Here is a look at those four games.
Redskins 31, Bucs 30, 10/26/15—This was the “You like that!” game, the one that put the Redskins and Kirk Cousins on the map that year. Washington had to come back from a 24-0 deficit to win, the largest in team history. The also got a considerable boost from 16 penalties flagged against the Bucs, costing them 142 yards.
Redskins 38, Eagles 24, 12/26/15—This was the closest to a “normal” game in the group. Cousins just had such a hot hand passing, 31 of 46 for 365 yards and four touchdowns, that they didn’t need much of a ground game to compliment it. The only odd stat was that Philly put the ball on the ground seven times (Redskins recovered two).
Redskins 16, Ravens 10, 10/9/16—This one had a couple of unusual plays that swung the balance of the game towards the Redskins. One was Jamison Crowder’s 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. This might be business as usual for many teams but no Redskin had returned a punt for a touchdown since 2008. Then in the third quarter, Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley picked off a Cousins pass and appeared to be headed to the end zone, or at least to a first and goal. But Ty Nsekhe forced a fumble that went out of bounds in the end zone, giving the Redskins the ball with their 13-10 lead intact. Without either one of those plays, the Redskins likely come out of Charm City with an “L”.
Redskins 17, Seahawks 14, 11/5/17—The Redskins fought hard and they should get lots of credit for the win. But they needed the first game-winning touchdown drive that started in the last two minutes of the game they’ve executed since at least 1999. They got some help from the Seahawks in the form of three missed field goals and 16 penalties for 138 yards. Also, they were outgained by 193 yards (437-244). Since 2012, teams getting outgained by 190 yards or more are just 18-136, a .117 winning percentage.
Looking at these games, the Redskins need a whole lot to go their way to win if they can’t get going on the ground. Gaining 100 yards on the ground is common and relatively easy to duplicate; a 24-point comeback, a trio of opponent field goal misses, a pile of laundry on the field working against the other team and the double-turnover trick are not.
If the Redskins are truly going to climb into playoff contention they will need to run the ball consistently. They will run out of rabbits to pull out of their helmets sooner rather than later.
Tandler on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TandlerNBCS/status/927882650995560448
In case you missed it
- 2017 NFL Power Rankings: Redskins jump thanks to upset
- Remember when critics tried to call Josh Norman a system corner?
- A scary Hail Mary nobody wanted to watch