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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 13, the day the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Five final thoughts about Redskins vs. Dolphins

—Jay Gruden knows about the schemes of Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle from Gruden’s days with the Bengals. They crossed paths as Coyle was the Cincinnati defensive backs coach during Gruden's first year as offensive coordinator there. Then after Coyle left to become run the defense in Miami, the Bengals played the Dolphins once in each of the next two years. But the addition of a dominant free agent takes away some of that familiarity edge. “But then you add a piece like [Ndamukong] Suh and it could change things drastically for your defense, the calls and what you are doing in short yardage and goal line,” said Gruden. “That’s something we’re trying to prepare for, a lot of different looks and assuming what they’re going to do.” Gruden said that adjustments will have to be made on the fly and the young right side of the offensive line will be challenged.

—Injuries will not be a factor, at least not coming in. The only player listed as doubtful is Dolphins backup tackle Jason Fox (concussion). Washington has two backup players, OT Tom Compton (calf) and OLB Jackson Jeffcoat (thigh), listed as questionable. All of the others on the report are probable, including Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert.

—Rookie Jamison Crowder will return punts for the Redskins. His only punt return in NFL competition consists of him fielding a punt during the Ravens preseason game and promptly slipping to the ground. What I’ll be watching for with him is if he makes good decisions on fielding the ball. Does he know when he should field a punt and when to back off? Can he determine when he should fair catch and when he should run it back? Popping a 40-yard return is nice but the wrong decisions on other punts during the course of the game can give back all of that field position and then some.

—Two underrated Dolphins offensive weapons are running back Lamar Miller and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Miller rushed for 1,099 yards last year on only 216 carries, an impressive 5.1 yards per play. Included in his body of work was a 97-yard touchdown run against the Jets. Landry is not a deep threat; he averaged just 9.0 yards per catch and his longest reception covered just 25 yards. But he is the player Ryan Tannehill goes to to move the chains and 48 of his 84 receptions resulted in first downs. Slot corner Justin Rogers will be primarily responsible for covering him.

—Looking back at the first point, the Redskins have a similar advantage on defense in that they have a new coordinator in Joe Barry and five new starters from last year. Among those new starters is Terrance Knighton, who gives the Redskins a true nose tackle for the first time since they started running the 3-4 defense in 2010. He may not have the impact of Suh but he is a very important addition. Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor (who was the Redskins’ QB coach during the Gibbs II era) really doesn’t know what to expect. The Redskins’ preseason schemes were of the traditional August vanilla variety and the Dolphins will have to figure out on the fly how aggressive the defensive front will be shooting the gaps and how Barry will utilize the pass rushers he has at his disposal.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Dolphins, 1 p.m., FedEx Field

—It’s been 259 days since the Redskins played a game. They play the Dolphins at FedEx Field today.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 11; Eagles @ Redskins 21

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 23, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles, 8:30 pm, ESPN

Days until:

—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 13
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 31

Final report on injures of note:
Out
: CB Josh Norman (rib),
Questionable: OT Trent Williams (knee)CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle),
See the full injury report and analysis here

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The first time these teams met, both scored defensive touchdowns. Ryan Kerrigan got the first Redskins points on the board with a pick six of Carson Wentz in the second quarter. With a minute and a half left, Fletcher Cox wrapped up the game for his team with a 20-yard return of a very controversial fumble. The difference tonight could well be a defensive or special teams score.

—In that game, the Redskins never let the Eagles get any sort of running game going. The Eagles rushed for 54 yards, the second-lowest total for a Washington opponent this year. And they had 24 attempts (2.4 yards per) so it wasn’t as though they didn’t try. The Redskins could use another strong effort against the run this time as well.

—I examined third downs in the first look at this game a few days ago. Since then, this was bought to my attention.

Third downs could be a fatal flaw for the Redskins. The Eagles’ ability to convert third and long situations was a key to them being able to survive without much of a running game in the opener. The Redskins need to hold the Eagles to 40 percent or less on all third downs and to 25 percent or less on third and long. And they will have to do it without Josh Norman, their best defensive back.

—In the first meeting, the matchup of the Redskins’ offensive line and the Eagles’ defensive front went decidedly in Philly’s direction. Washington rushed for just 64 yards and Kirk Cousins was sacked four times. There were plenty of concerns about the line, especially RT Morgan Moses, who gave up two sacks, and RG Brandon Scherff, who gave up four total pressures. Those two and the unit as a whole have been better since that game. The Redskins’ front will need to win that battle this time around.

Prediction: A Week 7 game is not really a must-win when you have a winning record. There is a lot of season left to be played. But if the Redskins are going to take the next step and stay in the thick of things for the ideal playoff seeding, they need to take this one. This year in the NFL, just when everyone thinks they have things figured out something happens to flip the script. Everyone now figures that the Eagles are the best team in the NFC and perhaps the best in the NFL. They are ripe for an upset.

Redskins 24, Eagles 20

Season prediction record: 2-3

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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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

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Trent Williams needs knee surgery eventually, but the timeline has many factors

PHILADELPHIA — Arguably the Redskins best player, all of the NFL knows that Trent Williams can still play at a high level while dealing with injury. 

How long Williams can play though injury seems the more important question though as reports emerged the left tackle will need knee surgery at some point. That could come in the next few weeks, or as Redskins fans hope, perhaps at the end of the season.

Currently playing with a torn medial patella-femoral ligament in his right knee, the six-time Pro Bowler has not practiced since sustaining the injury three weeks ago in Kansas City. He was able to gut out a strong performance last week against the 49ers, and is expected to do the same Monday night against the Eagles.

One factor that might be pushing Williams to play with such a damaged right leg is that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe is also out after having surgery on his core muscles. 

MORE: REDSKINS WEEKLY MVPS FOR EVERY GAME THUS FAR

Nsekhe is expected back relatively soon, but the timeline remains murky. When he can come back, perhaps Williams will reconsider his options. 

Surgery for the torn MPFL will leave Williams with a five or six-month recovery. 

It's obvious the Redskins' offense is best with Williams on the field. Nsekhe, however, proved a capable backup last season when Williams served a four-game suspension. 

Without Nsekhe, the Redskins would go to veteran T.J. Clemmings should Williams be unable to play. Nsekhe has not played since a Week 3 win over Oakland. The Redskins added Clemmings to the roster in early September, after their fourth preseason game. He spent the last two seasons with the Vikings. 

For now, the Redskins will continue to hope Williams can play through the pain.

"Trent is a tough guy, so we will see how it works, see how feels tomorrow and go from there," Jay Gruden said of Williams on Saturday. 

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