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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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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

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USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

The Redskins have not had a very good year when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback. They have 31 sacks for the season, 17th in the NFL.

They had a then-NFL best 32-game streak with at least one sack came to an end in Week 10 against the Vikings.

Ryan Kerrigan is doing well with 9.0 sacks to his credit. Preston Smith has five but only a half since Week 6. Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen were forming a solid interior pass rush tandem early in the year but Allen went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury and Ioannidis suffered a broken hand that limited his playing time and effectiveness.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

But the cure to the Redskins’ pass-rushing ills just may be coming to town on Sunday in the form of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Cardinals have given up 44 sacks on the season; that’s 31st in the NFL.

Things have gotten worse in the last couple of weeks, with Gabbert going down a combined 15 times against the Rams and Titans.

If you think that the Cardinals may have hit rock bottom, consider that two starters, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Earl Watford, won’t be playing due to injuries.

Will Holden, a rookie fifth-round pick, will start at left tackle and Evan Boehm, who lost his job to Watford earlier this season, will be the right guard.

Of course, the Redskins have to go out and make it happen. The entire Cowboys offense was slumping until they met the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. They can’t be a haven for a struggling unit once again.

In any case, it is an opportunity that is in front of the Redskins. It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

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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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

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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