Here is what you need to know on this Monday, December 28, six days before the Washington Redskins travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys.
Five numbers of note from the 2015 Redskins
137—In 2014 the Redskins were outscored by 139 points, scoring 301 and giving up 438. Through 15 games this year their point differential is minus-2 (354 scored, 356 allowed). That is a remarkable 137-point improvement, the equivalent of nearly 20 net touchdowns in one season.
63.6—The percentage of their red zone opportunities that the Redskins turn into touchdowns. That is the sixth best in the NFL and a substantial improvement over their 2014 red zone conversion rate of 47.9 percent.
120—The number of passing yards that Kirk Cousins needs to become the Redskins’ all-time single season leader in passing yards. He has 3,990 yards and the team record is held by Jay Schroeder, who passed for 4,109 yards in 1986.
5—The number of receptions that Jamison Crowder needs to set the team rookie record for receptions in a season. Crowder has 54 and Art Monk (1980) holds the record with 58. Crowder needs just two catches to pass Charley Taylor (55 in 1964) for second place. (Note: I am using the NFL’s definition of the term rookie here. In 1985 Gary Clark caught 72 passes in his first year in the NFL but he had played in the USFL so the league does not recognize him as a rookie).
47—The number of touchbacks on kickoffs that Dustin Hopkins has 14 games into his Redskins career. It also happens to be the exact same number of touchbacks that Kai Forbath had as the Redskins’ kicker in three years from 2012-2014.
—Today’s schedule: Players off, no availability
—Days until: Redskins @Cowboys 6; start of NFL playoffs 12
In case you missed it
Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24
Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants
Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.
Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.
Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.
Keys to winning
- Run the ball—The Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
- Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
- Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.
Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.
Redskins 31, Giants 13
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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In case you missed it
The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game.
Let's be honest: the call was terrible.
Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation.
We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.
The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan).
Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.
If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong.
You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.
Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.