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Need to Know: Can Redskins' rushing defense turn it around vs. Giants?

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Need to Know: Can Redskins' rushing defense turn it around vs. Giants?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 25, four days before the Redskins host the New York Giants.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

—If the Redskins were getting set to play a random 5-5 team with middling rankings on both offense and defense at home, I’d have pretty strong feelings that the Redskins could win. But the Giants seem to be a bad matchup for Washington, winning six of the last seven over three-plus years. I’m not predicting they’ll lose at this point but I know I’ll find it difficult to pick the Redskins because of the name on the side of the other team’s helmets.

—After getting five turnovers from the Redskins last Sunday, the Panthers are tied the league lead with a plus-13 turnover ratio. The team they are tied with is the Giants. They do well on both sides of the ledger with 23 takeaways (T-2nd in NFL, 14 interceptions, 9 fumble recoveries) and just 10 giveaways (T-1st, 6 interceptions, four fumbles lost).

—Will this be the week that the Redskins break a six-game streak of giving up at least 140 yards rushing? The Giants have not posted 140 yards on the ground in a single game this season. They have been over 100 only twice, with a high of 132 against the Cowboys in Week 7.

—I’m not in the camp saying that Eli Manning is an “elite” quarterback. For that term to have any meaning you have to be talking about no more than about 10 percent of the group. Since there are 32 starting quarterbacks that means three or four are elite and Manning isn’t one of them. But he’s very, very good and now that he has adjusted to offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system his completion percentage (64.6) is at a career high and his interception percentage (1.6) is at a career low.

—We’re not hearing as much out of Odell Beckham Jr. this year compared to his rookie year. That’s partly because the “new” has worn off and partly because he’s averaging 20 fewer yards per game. But he’s still very dangerous, averaging 86 yards per game and with more touchdown receptions (8) than all of the Redskins’ wide receivers combined (6).

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Giants @ Redskins 5; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Bears 19

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 25, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 15
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 22
—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 29

Last look at Redskins vs Giants

Defense is on again—The Redskins have not played well on defense the last couple of weeks, allowing a total of 72 points to the Vikings and Saints. But they had a solid game against the Giants, with some help from inaccurate Eli Manning passes and some drops. But the numbers are what they are and they say three points allowed (not counting the seven on the pick six) and 170 yards of offense for New York. It’s the second time this year the Redskins have held an opponent to 170 yards or fewer (Raiders got 128 in week 3). It’s the first time the Redskins have held two opponents to 170 or fewer in the same season since 2004. For the Giants, it was their lowest offensive output since 2013.

Kirk Cousins’ night—Is it fair to say that he had a solid outing? Or is that not enough? He did lead a drive to the winning touchdown in the latter half of the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Redskins have won five games and Cousins has fourth-quarter game-winning drives in four of them. On Thursday, he completed 61 percent of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and an interception that only the harshest critics (and there are many out there) would pin on him. Both of the TDs were special plays in their own ways. Cousins did take six sacks—those are not all on the makeshift offensive line—and he misfired on some passes. He deserves a solid B+ grade for the game.

Hall sits—A lot of people were alarmed by what they saw out of DeAngelo Hall in New Orleans, especially in the late going as Drew Brees got hot. Apparently, the Redskins’ coaches were among them. Even with starter Montae Nicholson sidelined with a concussion, Hall did not play a single snap on defense. It will be interesting to see if he is inactive when Nicholson is ready to play, possibly as early as next Thursday.

On a streak—No, not in the big wins column. I’m talking about winning the opening coin toss. The Redskins have now won two in a row. In the nine games prior to that, the Redskins had extraordinarily bad luck, going 2-7 in the 50-50 proposition. It remains very much in vogue for teams to defer after winning the toss. That has been the choice of the winners of the toss in 10 of the Redskins’ 11 games. The only team that chose to receive after winning the toss was the Raiders in Week 3.

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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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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