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Need to Know: Redskins key to the game—A big day from Cousins

Need to Know: Redskins key to the game—A big day from Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 21, two days before the Washington Redskins travel to Detroit to play the Lions.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30 p.m.

Days until: Redskins vs. Bengals in London 9; Vikings @ Redskins 23; Redskins @ Cowboys on Thanksgiving 35

Injuries of note:
Did not practice—Jackson (shoulder), Doctson (Achilles), Reed (concussion)
Full—Cravens (concussion)
Thursday injury report for details

Key to the game—A big day for Cousins

It’s time for Kirk Cousins to crank it up.

He has played respectably for the first six games of the season. A quarterback has to be doing something right for a team to win four straight games. Over the four games Cousins has completed 65 percent of the passes, averaging 250 yards per game and 7.3 yards per attempt. Again, that’s perfectly respectable.

But Cousins is capable of more. Last year the Redskins won six games with Cousins passing for more than 300 yards. In three of those games he threw four touchdown passes.

Before you go straight down to the comments to start ripping me for somehow thinking that there is something wrong with winning with a good running game and some solid defense, hold on. Wins are tough to come by in the NFL and a team that gets four in a row deserves credit, no matter how they get there.

But if the Redskins are going to keep winning and improve on what the did last year they need to be able to get it done in a variety of ways. The running game couldn’t get going against the Ravens (60 yards) so they needed Jamison Crowder’s punt return for a touchdown to provide the winning points. They relied on turnovers to bolster a shaky defense against the Giants and Browns. Those went away the last two games but better tackling helped the defense play effectively anyway.

There will be times this year that the passing game will be all that is available to them to try to win a game. It’s like a stool that you’re sitting on. If it has one leg and that leg is taken away you’re sitting on the floor. With two legs, if one is taken away you’re still sitting but your balance is precarious. The better NFL teams have legs to spare so that if you take away one or even two of them they can still stay upright and remain competitive in a game.

I don’t think that you can call the passing game a leg at this point, at least not one sturdy enough to be relied on. In each of the last three games Cousins has thrown an interception. One was returned for a touchdown, another gave the other team a short field that they turned into a touchdown and the other was essentially handed back to the Redskins just before the defender scored a touchdown. They won’t win against the good teams coming up on their schedule if that happens.

It might take just one game for Cousins to get rolling. He didn’t throw for 300 yards in a win until Week 7 last year, in the comeback win over the Bucs. That started a roll where he passed for 300 yards in a win six times in the team’s last nine games.

Detroit is the perfect place for Cousins to get started. The Lions are 23rd in the league in passing yards allowed. No team has allowed more than the 17 touchdown passes the Lions have given up. Opposing passers have lit them up for a passer rating of 119.3. That means that the average quarterback facing the Lions this season has had a better passer rating than league-leading Matt Ryan has had. Last week Case Keenum got on a roll, passing for 321 yards and three touchdowns, with a passer rating of 126.7.

The Redskins probably can win this game without Cousins having a big day. The Lions are severely hampered in the running game (23rd in yards/attempt) with their top two running backs sidelines and their rushing defense (27th in yards/attempt) also is suspect.

But if the Redskins are going to improve on last year, when they went 9-8 including a one and done in the playoffs, Cousins has to get going. And there is not time better for him to start than Sunday.

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In case you missed it

https://audioboom.com/posts/5189338-episode-13-get-to-know-duke-ihenacho?t=0

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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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.