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Need to Know: Another special teams challenge on tap for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Another special teams challenge on tap for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 29, five days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

QB battle less than thrilling—For one of the few times this year the Redskins could field the better quarterback in a game. Kirk Cousins isn’t exactly tearing up the league but Sam Bradford has the same 3-4 touchdown to interception count as Cousins and has a worse completion percentage (Cousins 69.2%, Bradford 62.4 percent) and a lower yards per pass attempt average (Cousins 6.7, Bradford 5.8). Bradford just doesn’t look comfortable in Chip Kelly’s system at this point.

Protecting the quarterback—The Redskins have done a very good job of protecting the quarterback so far. Their four sacks allowed is tied for ninth best in the NFL. But the Eagles have allowed Sam Bradford to get sacked only twice. This could be an X-factor is the game; one of the teams could get an decided advantage by breaking through and racking up three or four sacks.

Containing Sproles—The Redskins did a good job of bottling up Rams punt returner Tavon Austin a week after he had returned a punt for a touchdown against the Seahawks. Now the Redskins face Darren Sproles, who took one back all the way against the Jets on Sunday. Sproles is also a threat from scrimmage, although he has been pretty well bottled up so far this year.

Lack of Eagles big plays—Reuben Frank, who covers the Eagles for our sister site, CSN Philly, tweeted out the following stat on Monday morning:

The Redskins have four plays that covered a third of the field so far. The Eagles’ big plays likely will come at some point; they had 21 of them last year. But you have to wonder if Chip Kelly doesn’t sometimes regret giving big-play wide receiver DeSean Jackson his walking papers in 2014.

Will Murray break out?—In his years with Dallas, the Redskins contained DeMarco Murray pretty well, holding him under his career averages in both yards per carry (4.8 career, 4.6 vs. Redskins) and yards per game (82.5 career, 74.4 vs. Redskins). Murray has become the poster child for futility in Philadelphia with 11 yards on 21 carries after being a big splash signing in free agency. The Redskins will need to keep him bottled up. If he gets rolling, even just to the extent of having his average game against the Redskins, it could get the whole Eagles offense rolling.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Falcons 12; Redskins @ Jets 19

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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

 

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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