After a dispiriting loss in Dallas, the Redskins come to Los Angeles reeling. The team's playoff hopes are largely shot, and with a 5-7 record, the team is in real danger of their first losing record since 2014.
On the other side of the equation sit the San Diego Chargers, fresh off three consecutive victories and new life in the AFC West division race. If the Redskins were in the AFC West, they'd be firmly in the playoff hunt too, but that's not the case.
At various times this year it seemed Washington would have a lot to play for, though now, the spoiler role must capture their attention. Will that be enough? Here are three ways it might:
- Most valued commodity - Plenty was made about poor effort or schematics in the Redskins blowout loss to the Cowboys, but the simple truth is almost no teams win with four turnovers. Four. Turnovers. Want to win on the road? Protect the ball. Neither of Kirk Cousins' interceptions were particularly attributable to the quarterback, but his fumble was. Jamison Crowder had the worst game of his professional career. Those guys usually don't make those mistakes, and they can't to get a win in California. Protect the ball. It's the most simple football edict, and yet its simplicity conveys its importance.
- Ground game - For two games against the Saints and the Giants, it looked like rookie Samaje Perine finally emerged. He went for more than 100 yards rushing in each game and gave Washington their first back-to-back 100-yard rushers in a few years. In Dallas, however, the wheels fell off. Perine was held under 40 yards rushing and the entire Redskins offense was largely ineffective. Traveling to play the Chargers should be a chance to get Perine back on track. While Los Angeles has fierce pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and the 4th best defense in the NFL as measured by points allowed, the Chargers rank 31st out of 32 teams against the run. Jay Gruden will go to his run game early, and should some results follow, the 'Skins coach will likely stick with it. For the Redskins to win, Perine will need to have a big day. What better way to protect Cousins than let his offensive line drive block, and make Bosa and Ingram chase a running back downfield.
- It's not where you're from but where you pay rent - Forgive the obscure Outkast reference, but consider what it means. Starts don't matter, but finishing does. For the Redskins, that's been a problem. Greg Manusky's defense has only surrendered 33 points in the first quarter all season, a commendable effort. In the fourth quarter, however, that figure more than triples, as the Redskins have given up 110 points. The 'Skins D is ranked 30th in the league in points per game. In three of their last four games, the Redskins have given up at least 30 points. Injuries are undoubtedly an issue, but the Redskins slow descent from playoff contention coincided with the slow demise of their defense.
Quote of the Week: Asked to summarize tight end Jordan Reed's injury-marred 2017 season, Jay Gruden replied,
What do you want me to say?
News & Notes
- Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has a remarkable back story, and the fact that Lynn is coaching today is a miracle in and of itself. Back in 2005, early in Lynn’s first season as an assistant coach with the Cowboys, he was hit by a drunk driver while crossing a street. The impact was so violent that it’s a miracle he survived. The damage tally was extensive – two collapsed lungs, three broken ribs, major facial and shoulder damage that required four surgeries and temporary paralysis – yet despite it all, Lynn walked out of the hospital in less than two weeks.
- With TD grabs against the Giants and Cowboys, Josh Doctson became the first member of the Redskins to catch a touchdown in back-to-back games since DeSean Jackson in Weeks 11-12 of 2016.
- The Redskins have allowed only 14 points on opponents’ opening drives this season.
- Kirk Cousins ranks first in the NFL in passer rating against the blitz (113.15).
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