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A simple answer to the Redskins’ home vs. road mystery

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A simple answer to the Redskins’ home vs. road mystery

It’s been a feast and famine season for the Redskins. Everyone knows it. They eat well at home. The Redskins are 5-1 at FedEx Field with five straight wins after a season-opening loss to the Dolphins (which gets to be more of a head-scratcher as the season goes on). On the road, they starve, with a record of 0-5.

Rarely does a press conference or locker room media scrum go by without the subject of the home vs. road records coming up. It’s been the subject of countless blog posts and talk radio segments. But the disparity between the Redskins’ home and road record is no great mystery. In fact, it’s pretty simple.

By almost any measure, they have played better teams on the road than they have at home—much better, in fact.

Let’s look at the simplest measure of a team’s quality, their win-loss record. The six teams the Redskins have played at FedEx Field are the Dolphins (4-7), Giants (5-6), Eagles (4-7), Bucs (5-6), Saints (4-7), and Rams (4-7). That comes to an aggregate record of 26-40, a .394 winning percentage.

On the road, they’ve gone up against the Patriots (10-1), Jets (6-5), Giants (5-6), Panthers (11-0), and Falcons (6-5). That rolls up to at 38-17 record, a .691 winning percentage.

In short, the average road opponent is 8-3. The average home opponent is 4-7. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in football analytics to figure out the Redskins’ road schedule has been brutally tough while the home schedule has been relatively soft.

But if you want to dive into some other measures of how well or poorly a team is playing, let’s do it. Here some other stats with the average of the Redskins’ home and road opponents in each of them.

*Through Week 11

The last set of numbers may explain Kirk Cousins’ great split in his performances at home and on the road. At FedEx Field, facing pass defenses that are worse than average (the average NFL passer rating is 88.4) Cousins has 74.7 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions and a passer rating of 113.0. Playing on the road against pass defenses that are better than the norm in the league, Cousins has completed 61.9 percent of his passes, thrown five touchdowns and eight interceptions and posting a passer rating of 69.8.

The Redskins will go the rest of the regular season without playing a quality team at home. Their two remaining home opponents are the Cowboys (3-8) and Bills (5-6). That’s a winning percentage of .364. If they make the playoffs they likely would host a team that would test their home-field advantage but we will see about that down the road.

But if they finish the season winless on the road, they won’t be able to say they lost to all quality opponents. If they can’t get a win in Chicago (5-6), Philadelphia (4-7), or Dallas (3-8) you can genuinely say that something isn’t right when this team hits the road. In fact, it would be fair to question their roadworthiness if they don’t win two out of those three.

 

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
:
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.

RELATED: BIGGEST UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS-GIANTS

There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.

MORE: THIS ONE THROW SHOWS HOW COUSINS IS EVOLVING

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

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Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

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USA TODAY Sports

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."

MORE: ALL OF THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE THANKSGIVING WIN

Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.