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Need to Know: Five things to watch for tonight in Redskins vs. Browns

Need to Know: Five things to watch for tonight in Redskins vs. Browns

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, August 13, seven days before Washington Redskins play the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.

What to watch for

CLEVELAND—Here are five things to watch during the Redskins’ preseason game against the Browns:

Robert Griffin III—Yeah, this one is pretty obvious. He should play more than he did a year ago in the preseason opener against the Patriots (10 snaps, four pass attempts). Griffin has looked much better in training camp this year that he did in 2014, his first season working in Jay Gruden’s offense. But it’s a big leap from training camp to a full speed, live contact preseason game.

The backup quarterbacks—Jay Gruden said that the competition between Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins will be decided in the preseason games. Cousins gets first crack at it, taking over after Griffin plays for about a quarter. McCoy will probably take over in the fourth quarter. Both will have to do quality work with some players who are unlikely to make the team.

The rushing attack—We’ve heard a lot about more power running and we’ve seen a lot of it in Richmond. It has worked pretty well but the Browns will test it tonight. It also will be fun to see Matt Jones get some physical contact and finish off some runs.

An attacking defense—Joe Barry is bringing an attacking, one-gap scheme to the defense. The problem with such a scheme is that it can lead to some big plays by the opposing offense if it’s not executed correctly. They will have to be fundamentally sound and stick with their assignments from the starters, who should play about a quarter like their offensive counterparts, to the reserves.

Talent at tight end—Jordan Reed and Logan Paulsen both are out for tonight’s game and Niles Paul will play briefly, if at all. Gruden said that the TE snaps will primarily go to Je’Ron Hamm and Chase Dixon. Paulsen’s toe injury could be more than a short-term deal so this is a chance for both Hamm and Dixon to make their cases for roster spots.

Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame linebacker Chris Hanburger was born on this date in 1941.

Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Browns, preseason, 8:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet

—It’s been 227 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 32 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Lions @ Redskins 7; final cuts 23; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 42

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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.