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Need to Know: Redskins should stick to the script vs. Falcons

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Need to Know: Redskins should stick to the script vs. Falcons

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 7, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Falcons

—After facing three top punt returners in four weeks, the Redskins will dodge facing perhaps the best of all time. The Falcons’ Devin Hester, who has 14 punt return touchdowns in his career, has been placed on injured reserve with the designation to be able to return with a turf toe that has sidelined him for the first four games. That will put him on the shelf for at least eight weeks and, obviously, will keep him out of Sunday’s Redskins game.

—If there ever was a game where the Redskins need to stick to their script, it’s this one. Atlanta allows 4.4 yards per rushing attempt, 27th in the NFL. The Falcons are fifth in rushing yards allowed but nobody really has run on them. The Giants had 23 rushing attempts against them, the most they have faced all year. The 77 opponent rushing attempts against the Falcons are the fewest of any team that has played four games. With Alfred Morris and Matt Jones, Washington will provide a more severe test for Atlanta’s ability to stop the run. They will try to run as much clock as they can in order to keep the Falcons’ potent offense off of the field.

—There was plenty of chatter that the Redskins had their eyes on Julio Jones when they held the 10th pick in the 2011 draft. We’ll never know if the talk was serious because the Falcons moved up to draft him sixth overall. The Redskins may wish they had made the move when Sunday rolls around. He’s on pace for 152 receptions for 1,912 yards. If I’m Joe Barry I try to take him out of the game as much as possible and see if Matt Ryan can beat me throwing to an aging Roddy White, Jacob Tamme, and Leonard Hankerson.

—Many fans thought that the Redskins should have addressed the offensive line later in this year’s draft and gone for a pass rusher like Vic Beasley with the fifth overall pick last April. He ended up with the Falcons and he leads the team with two sacks. His play against the run is suspect and it’s easy to see the Redskins testing him early and often. Beasley will be lined up opposite Trent Williams, who outweighs the 235-lb. Beasley by about 80 pounds.

—I don’t see any particular advantage for either side with Kyle Shanahan running the offensive side of things for the Falcons. If Jim Haslett was still the Redskins’ defensive coordinator there might be cause for concern since Shanahan went up against him in every practice and every training camp session for four years. And perhaps if Robert Griffin III was behind center, Shanahan might be able to tip off Dan Quinn on some nuances of his game. Shanahan might have some insight into Kirk Cousins but not much. And I don’t buy that Shanahan will want to get revenge against the organization that fired him and his father at the end of the 2013 season. If he’s working any harder on this game than on the 15 others there is something wrong.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 4; Redskins @ Jets 11; Bucs @ Redskins 18

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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.

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

More Redskins

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.