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.
—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)
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
- New #RedskinsTalk Podcast - Duke Ihenacho opens up about playing time
- Redskins without two key players at Thursday's practice
- Cousins shuts down report that he's affected by criticism
- D-Hall appreciates B-Mitch's response to Stephen A. Smith
- NTK: Despite four-game win streak, Redskins don't think they've d...
- Redskins' record hinges on a few plays
- Redskins one of the best preventing long plays
- Cravens a full go in practice but status for game still uncertain
- Gruden doesn't think Reed hid concussion