Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 5, 23 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.
—The Redskins last played a game 177 days ago. It will be 69 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.
—Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 10; Preseason opener @ Falcons 37; Final roster cut 60
The Redskins week that was
—The Redskins threw 30 touchdown passes last year (Kirk Cousins 29, Colt McCoy 1). That was the most they have had in a season since 1991. But they also gave up 30 TD passes, making three of the last four seasons where they have allowed 30 or more touchdowns through the air. If you have to put on your best offensive performance in 25 years just to break even with what the other side is doing, something has to change. That’s why they wrote out the big check for Josh Norman.
—On Facebook, Keith Murphy asked me if I thought that Norman would live up to expectations. I have to say that I’m reasonably confident about him living up to the deal for the first two or three years, at ages 28-30. He’s healthy, has a lot of tread left on the tires (he had only 22 starts in his first three NFL seasons), and, at least this year, he’s highly motivated to show the Panthers that they made a huge mistake. Later on in the contract, however, I’m a bit more dubious about him living up to the cap hits in the last two years, which are slated to be $14.5 million and $15.5 million. I don't necessarily expect him to fall off a cliff but it will be hard for him to maintain a level of performance that justifies those salaries. But let's get through the first couple of years of the deal before making any grand pronouncements.
—Let’s take one from Twitter.
John is one of the more optimistic Redskins fans on my Twitter feed and I have to say that I don’t think that any Redskins will get such high honors this year. I don’t think that the team is there yet. But in the spirit of fun and taking them in order least likely to most, I don’t think Doctson will play enough to early rookie of the year. A pure corner hasn’t won DPOY since Mel Blount did in 1975 and I don’t see Norman making enough of an impact to break a 40-year skid. If the Redskins win 12-14 games both Cousins and Gruden would have a good shot at winning MVP and COY honors but I don’t think they’re ready to make that leap yet. If they can put it together I’d give Gruden a better shot at the individual honor because there is a lot of competition for the MVP award. A 12-4 mark would almost automatically make Gruden a very strong COY candidate.
In case you missed it
After missing the last eight games, the Redskins brought back place-kicker Dustin Hopkins from the injured reserve and waived Nick Rose.
Hopkins became eligible to return from the IR this week and took part in practice all week. Jay Gruden wouldn't commit to one kicker or the other when he spoke earlier in the week, but the decision came down on Saturday.
Rose played well in Hopkins' absence, making 10 of 11 field goals including a 55-yarder. The rookie Rose had some struggles with extra points, missing two of his 20 attempts, though neither snap/hold combination was totally clean either.
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Hopkins has the stronger leg and is capable of booting the ball out of the end zone on seemingly every kickoff. With Rose as kicker, at times the Redskins deployed a different strategy where kicks were aimed for the goal line, forcing a return.
Washington's kicker for parts of the last three seasons, Hopkins has a career 84 percent field goal conversion rate and 94.6 percent conversion rate on extra points in 36 games.
The Redskins sent Hopkins to the IR after a Week 6 win over the 49ers with a right hip rotator muscle injury.
MORE REDSKINS: SLOW STARTS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE REDSKINS
For the second consecutive game, the Redskins got blown out on the road. First in Dallas, then in Los Angeles, Jay Gruden's team is reeling with mounting questions and pressures about 2018 and beyond.
The best way to calm down the flames? Get a win.
Washington will have that chance on Sunday at 1 p.m. (full coverage on NBC Sports Washington at noon) when they host the Arizona Cardinals. Getting the victory won't be easy, however, no matter how bad the Redskins need it.
- Turn the page - The Redskins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 68-27. The results have been terrible, and the outcome in Los Angeles could have been much uglier had the Chargers not pulled starting QB Philip Rivers. Still, those games are over, and Washington needs to focus on the Cardinals. Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot "wallow" in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come.
- Get it going - Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense had by far their worst statistical output last week in LA. The offense must get back on track, and that means a better performance from Cousins and the 'Skins run game. Against the Chargers, Washington generated only 201 total yards and just nine first downs. Nine, their second worst total since having only 15 first downs against the Cowboys the week before. At this stage of the season, the Redskins defense will not win this team any games. The offense must do it, and that means improved play from the line, the quarterback and the skill positions.
- Make a play - Turnovers can win or lose games, and in their last two blowout losses, it's no surprise the Redskins have been on the wrong end of the ledger. Washington has five turnovers in their last two games, and has generated only one takeaway in that span. (It can be argued that shouldn't even count, as it came on an interception from Chargers backup Kellen Clemens in the final minutes of a blowout.) Washington ranks dead last in the NFL in points per game allowed, and that won't improve with linebacker Zach Brown out this weekend. Generating turnovers, particularly against Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert, should be the defensive focus.
Quote of the Week: Jay Gruden, asked about preparation before the Chargers game-
We didn't spend last week playing checkers.
News & Notes:
- Gabbert has been sacked 15 times in the Cardinals last two games. Washington comes into Week 15 with the 13th most sacks in the league.
- The Cardinals defense ranks in the Top 10 in yards per play, yards per game, and rush yards per game. Despite that, Arizona's defense ranks 25th in points allowed.
- D.J. Swearinger, who played for Arizona last season before signing in Washington as a free agent, is tied for fourth in the NFC in interceptions.
- Jordan Reed won't be playing this week, or the remainder of the season. Washington moved Reed to the injured reserve this week.
- Arizona coach Bruce Arians was a college quarterback at Virginia Tech from 1972 to 1974.
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