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Redskins can't cool down red-hot Case Keenum; outgunned by Vikings

Redskins can't cool down red-hot Case Keenum; outgunned by Vikings

The Redskins were looking to string together quality wins with the Vikings at FedEx Field in Week 10. 

But the Redskins ran in to a red-hot Case Keenum and Adam Thielen, and did not have enough firepower to fight back.

The end result was a dissapoiting 38-30 Loss , which moves the team to 4-5, while the Vikings improve to 7-2, having now won five games in a row.

Here are Rich Tandler's observations made during the Redskins’ loss to the Vikings, focusing on the key matchups of the game with Josh Norman against the Vikings’ trio of receivers and the Redskins’ offensive line against the stout Minnesota defensive front.

First Half

Redskins offense
— The big news pregame was that Everson Griffen, the Vikings defensive end with 10 sacks to his name was inactive. On the other side of the ball, all of the Redskins’ first string offensive linemen were active. All started except for Spencer Long. Chase Roullier started at center in his place.

— On the first series, the line was able to open holes for both Rob Kelley (2 carries, 10 yards) and Chris Thompson (1 for 6). They also gave Cousins plenty of time to complete four of four passes to four different targets. Cousins had all day to put up a nice touch pass that Maurice Harris snagged with a diving, one-hand catch for a TD.

—On the Redskins’ third series, Spencer Long came in at center. That’s unusual, we will see if that is it for the game or if Roullier comes back in. Update: Roullier came in shortly after that and finished the game.

—Cousins stated to feel some pass pressure on the Redskins’ third possession. It was mostly from up the middle. But the drive was kept alive when tackle Linval Joseph was flagged for roughing the passer on a third-down incompletion. The protection held up well on a fourth and two play, giving Cousins plenty of time to complete a pass to Chris Thompson that was good for 27 yards to the eight. That got the Redskins a field goal.

—The Redskins got their running game going after Minnesota took a 14-10 lead. It was Samaje Perine in for the injured Rob Kelley picking up 26 yards on six carries. Chris Thompson also found some running room. A holding call nearly derailed the drive but the line gave Cousins time to find Jamison Crowder for 32 yards and first down. They finally were able to get just enough push on a QB sneak to retake the lead.

Redskins’ defense
— On the Vikings’ third play, Josh Norman was in coverage on Stefon Diggs. The receiver got a step on his defender and Case Keenum had plenty of time to loft a pass that Diggs hauled in for 51 yards down to the two yard line. Two plays later, the Vikings were in the end zone. They were playing in press coverage and Diggs got past him.

— Norman nearly came up with a pick of a pass intended for Laquon Treadwell. Keenum had lots of time but no receivers open. He threw low to Treadwell down the middle and Norman nearly made the diving catch. Later in the drive on third and goal at the four, Diggs made a nice move to get free of Bashaud Breeland in the end zone and Minnesota took a 14-10 lead.

— Adam Theielen had two big catches and they weren’t necessarily on the defensive backs. It looked like they were in zone coverage in both plays and it appeared that Zach Brown was not in position to make a play on either one. It’s hard to say for sure but don’t automatically assign responsibility for wide receiver catches to the defensive back who was the closest.

— Thielen got the touchdown on that drive, getting a well-thrown pass just out of the reach of Norman, who nearly batted the pass down.


Second Half

Redskins offense
— Down 35-17, the Redskins got moving in the third quarter. Again the line opened running room for Perine and Thompson and Cousins had time to throw. On third a four a 36-yard pass to Crowder he had plenty of time. He also had time to throw after the first and goal but the Turf Monster got Josh Doctson on what would have been an easy touchdown and Crowder dropped one in the end zone on third down.

—The Redskins got into the end zone on a two-yard drive following a Swearinger interception. It was a little scary as the Vikings defense got some push on first down and batted down Cousins’ first-down pass. Then Cousins made it into the end zone on a read option. He lost the ball after he scored and it was originally called a Vikings TD the other way. It was adventurous but the Redskins manage to make it a one-score game.

— The line was holding up well as the Redskins drove into Vikings territory. But on third and one at the 33, Chris Thompson was stuffed going up the middle. On fourth and one they tried to send Thompson wide right but Linval Joseph busted through the line and dropped the runner for a loss. That seemed to end the competitive phase of the game.

— The interior offensive line was an issue all day. In particular, nose tackle Joseph was a play killer, with some tipped passes and that key stop at the end. On the plus side, they allowed only one sack in the late going and the Redskins did get a bit of a running game going.

Redskins defense
— The Adam Thielen show continued in the second half. On the first series of the half Norman had tight coverage on a first and 10 play but he backed off just before the snap. Thielen got open deep anyway and Keenum lofted a perfect pass for a gain of 49. The Redskins have a killer combination of loose coverage and no pass rush going on right now.

— If you had D.J. Swearinger as the Redskins defender who was going to make a play, you win. Keenum threw his first bad pass of the day, off of his back foot under pressure from Ziggy Hood. The ball looped downfield and Swearinger got the pick at the 19.

— Double your money on that Swearinger bet. He jumped a pass intended for Kyle Rudolph at the Vikings 33 and returned it to the two. Two plays later Kirk Cousins scored on a read option and the Redskins were back within a score.

—In the end, it was Thielen who torched the Redskins, although Diggs did have his moments. Thielen had eight receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. Norman got burned his share of times but he also got to the Redskins when they were in zone defense. A lack of pass rush didn’t help. The Redskins rushed Keenum on occasion but they got no sacks and few hits or hurries. That’s not going to get it done.

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Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday


Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

In August, Redskins fans would freak out if they heard Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor would both miss a November game.

In November, that news doesn’t carry much worry.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced that Reed and Pryor, along with center Spencer Long, won’t play Sunday against the Saints.


Reed hasn’t played in a few weeks as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. It seemed he might have returned last week before a setback slowed down his progress.

In his place, Vernon Davis has proved to be a sturdy backup capable of some big games.

Long injured his knee and while he played last week, he did not practice this week.

Not having Pryor is a bit of a surprise. His ankle injury popped up this week and he will see a specialist next week to examine the joint. In the middle of a disappointing season, the Redskins offense won’t lose much with his absence.

Elsewhere on the injury list, a number of players will be questionable for Sunday’s contest against the 7-2 Saints.

Perhaps most important, Trent Williams is questionable but will probably play.


Receivers Ryan Grant and Brian Quick are expected to play after undergoing concussion protocol, but that will leave the Redskins with only three fully healthy wideouts: Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Maurice Harris.

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Redskins' Josh Norman earns Week 10 NFLPA community MVP


Redskins' Josh Norman earns Week 10 NFLPA community MVP

Redskins' Josh Norman is using his platform as a professional football player to help those in need, and this week it earned him NFLPA's community MVP.

The cornerback has been raising funds for youth enrichment programs in the D.C. area, as well as starting a campaign to help those affected in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. 

Norman's foundation, Starz24, provides backpacks and school supplies for children in need and creates initiatives for students at Jefferson Middle School Academy in D.C.. He recently raised almost $100,000 for Starz24's Imagination Team Rooms, a STEM-based "makerspaces" that will be placed in several inner city middle and high schools. 

Then, when Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria back in September, Norman started a social media campaign to help those affected. The campaign brought in $150,000. Norman also donated $100,000 of his own with part of the money going to the Boys & Girls clubs in Puerto Rico.

I look at it as I’m on this earth to help people and help them be the best that they can be,” Norman said. “I have the means to do so. I’m going to do that.

Every week during the regular season, the NFLPA selects a NFL player who is making a difference in their community. They are going to be making a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or a charity of his choice in addition to an in-kind donation on behalf of their supporting partner, Delta Private Jets.

I am so honored to be recognized by the NFLPA for my work in the community,” Norman said. “All of this work is bigger than football. I want to make an impact in the lives of children who need it most and to help develop those children to help change the future.