Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 11, four days before the Washington Redskins host the New Orleans Saints.
Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Saints
—Drew Brees is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL but the Redskins are getting him where he plays his worst—outside. In his career Brees has played 107 games outdoors and 104 in a domed or retractable roof stadium (remember his first five years in the league he played in an outdoor stadium in San Diego). His teams posted a winning percentage of .606 in domes and .542 outside. As far as his personal stats, his completion percentage is 5 points lower outside, his passer rating is 12 points lower, his passing yards per attempt drop 10 percent, and his passing yards per game drop 19 percent.
—The Redskins have had problems running the ball the last four games, as you well know. But in those four games they have faced the top three rushing defenses in the NFL in terms of yards given up per game. The Jets are first, the Falcons second and the Patriots third. Their other opponent in that stretch was the Bucs, who are right in the middle of the pack at 16th. A strong defense will not be a factor this week. The Saints give up an average of 122.6 yards per game, 25th in the NFL. If they can’t get a running game going this week they might want to look at going with the Run and Shoot attack on offense.
—There is some buzz that Jeron Johnson may replace Trenton Robinson at strong safety and that Will Compton could take Perry Riley’s place at inside linebacker. Johnson could help against the run and Compton could provide better pass coverage. The possible return for DeAngelo Hall, who has missed the last five games with a toe injury, could help, too. They will need all the help they can get as the Saints are the top-ranked offense in the NFL, gaining an average of 422 yards per game.
—Has Kirk Cousins broken out of his propensity to throw the ball to the other team? He has just one pick in his last nine quarters of play and even the most ardent Cousins skeptics admit that that one was on Pierre Garçon for having a very catchable pass go through his hands. The Bucs and Patriots aren’t among the league leaders in interceptions; New England is 11th with 2.9 percent of the opponents’ passes picked off and Tampa Bay is 21st with 2.2 percent. So it’s not like Cousins has been facing a group of ball hawks. The Saints are even worse at interceptions with 1.2 percent of opponents’ pass attempts, 28th in the league.
—Most figured the Redskins would have to score in the 30’s to beat the Patriots. That turned out to be true, at least in theory. Using static analysis, they would have won if they had scored 30 points, although in reality Tom Brady and the Patriots probably could have cranked it up and scored another touchdown or two if they had needed to. The Redskins will probably need to be somewhere close to 30 to win this one. The Saints have scored 26 points or more in five of their last six games. It’s notable, though, that the only game where they failed to score that many points was the only game in that stretch that was played outdoors; they scored 17 in their loss at Philadelphia in Week 5.
—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30
—Days until: Saints @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Panthers 11; Giants @ Redskins 18
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