Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 12, the day the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
—Today's schedule: Redskins Kickoff, 6:00, CSN; Steelers @ Redskins, 7:00, ESPN
—The Redskins last played a game that counted 246 days ago. The wait for another one ends today
—Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Browns @ Redskins 20; Redskins @ Ravens 27
Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Steelers
—Will the Redskins get their running game going? The Steelers were fifth in rush defense DVOA last year and there is no reason to think that they will be significantly worse. The Redskins were 32nd in offensive rushing DVOA and have essentially the same personnel back. It’s not impossible to see the Redskins winning without much success on the ground—they did win three games last year when rushing for less than 100 yards (lost six). But a running game will improve their chances. They were 6-1 when the did rush for over 100.
—Will the Redskins come out with something different? Something different on offense, like a lot more of the no-huddle attack? Some wrinkles to get Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson open? A blitzing defensive scheme? I’d be surprised if anything like that happened. I think that Jay Gruden would rather spend this year consolidating the gains the team made in 2015 and not stray too far off of that successful path. But the whole idea of doing something like that would be that it would be a surprise, right?
—The absence of WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder) is a big deal for the Steelers if only because of the cumulative effect of them missing so many offensive weapons. The Steelers gained 6,327 yards last year. They are without the injured Wheaton, the retired TE Heath Miller, and the suspended RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Martavis Bryant. Those players accounted for 2,605 yards from scrimmage, 41 percent of the Steelers’ total. That’s a pretty substantial chunk of total offense torn out of the lineup. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has a way of finding ways to get it done and to make productive players out of ordinary ones but at some point the losses get difficult to overcome.
—Compared to past offseasons there has been relatively little focus on the Redskins’ quarterback position this year. That’s because Kirk Cousins is the unquestioned starter and there is no controversy. But the focus is about to change. His every move will be under the microscope, every incompletion, every (gasp!) interception will be closely scrutinized. I don’t think that Colt McCoy will become the most popular guy in town if the Redskins lose a couple in a row but Cousins’ $20 million salary means that the adage that the QB gets too much blame for losses will be magnified, starting tonight should they lose.
—I’ve been trying to come up with a prediction for this game ever since the schedule came out. The Steelers are the better team and that may not be offset by much of a home field advantage (I was there in 2008). But the Steelers’ injuries and other absences are something of an equalizer. I think this is a winnable game for the Redskins and if I had any confidence in their ability to run the ball I might pick the upset. But I don’t so . . .
Steelers 24, Redskins 21
Tandler on Twitter
Oops, Dak just threw an incomplete pass. Jerry’s back on the phone to Romo’s doctor. https://t.co/hLHEqbKchd— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) September 11, 2016
In case you missed it
- Redskins vs Steelers Preview: Big chance for Washington
- Tandler takes a Redskins-centric look at NFL Week 1
- NTK: 5 who must step up for the Redskins to win