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Need to Know: Do the Redskins have enough of a running game to get by?

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Need to Know: Do the Redskins have enough of a running game to get by?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 15, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears

—The Redskins sort of got their running game going on Sunday, They came a mere yard short of hitting the 100-yard mark, picking up 99 yards on 33 carries. They would like to do better, of course, but a hundred yards a game is about in the middle of the NFL pack in terms of an average on the season. They need to have at least a token threat to keep the defense off balance and to make defenses honor play-action fakes. A hundred yards a game represents that token level of a running game.

—Kirk Cousins targeted 11 different players against the Bears, including Pierre Thomas, who has been on the roster for a little more than 48 hours. He has done a pretty good job of distributing the ball this year. Nine different players have been targeted at least 20 times and seven have over 200 receiving yards.

—Joe Barry has put together a pretty good bend but don’t break defense. Yesterday the Redskins were outgained by three yards (377 yards to 374). But they allowed just two touchdown drives, not counting the 21-yard Bears drive after Cousins’ interception. That’s after allowing 2 TD’s to the Giants and one to Dallas, with the one against the Cowboys coming after a 15-yard drive following DeSean Jackson’s fumble on an ill-advised punt return. They are 21st in the league in yards allowed but ninth in takeaways with 21.

—Not that Matt Jones didn’t make a mistake when he tossed the ball aside after his third-down catch with four minutes left, but Jamison Crowder goofed a bit, too. He came up behind Jones when the back was on the ground and tagged him, just like a defender would make contact to get a runner who had gone to the ground on his own down. Jones couldn’t see Crowder so he made an assumption that he perhaps should not have made, thinking he was down and the flipping the ball to the side. Fortunately he got the ball back. Bottom line was there was no harm and perhaps two rookies learned valuable lessons. Jones needs to hold on to the ball until he hears the whistle and Crowder needs to make sure he’s not imitating the actions of a defensive player in a situation like that.

—I looked at the playoff position in some detail yesterday. Now that we have the result of the Giants game I’ll do a deeper dive sometime later today or early tomorrow. My gut feeling is that they will go 2-1 in their last three games. Barring some big upsets like the Giants beating Carolina, that should be enough to make them an 8-8 division champion.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings; no media availability

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Eagles 11; Redskins @Cowboys 19

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—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 ballThe 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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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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.