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Preview: Do the Redskins have an answer for McCoy and Taylor?

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Preview: Do the Redskins have an answer for McCoy and Taylor?

What: Bills (6-7) at Redskins (6-7).

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

Watch: Redskins Kickoff on CSN Mid-Atlantic (12 p.m.); Redskins Postgame Live (4 p.m.).

My five storylines/matchups to monitor:

1-Next step? Last week in Chicago, the Redskins snapped a league-worst nine-game road losing streak and, in the process, avoided setting the franchise record for road futility. This week, they’re aiming to accomplish something else they not have done in a while: win back-to-back games. In fact, they’ve managed to win consecutive games only once since 2012. To earn a spot in the playoffs, though, they’ll likely need to go back-to-back during the final three weeks. So why not start a streak Sunday? “The back-to-back thing is something that we’re obviously going to have to do to get to the division championship,” Coach Jay Gruden said. "I think everybody knows what's at stake, and knows we've had trouble putting back-to-back wins together. Hopefully, they'll be ready and understand that." If the Redskins do manage to beat the Bills, they’ll wrap up their home slate with a record of 6-2. That would equal their third best home mark since 1990 and their best record in Landover since 2005.  

2-Home cookin’. Kirk Cousins has been at his best in the comfy confines of FedEx Field. In his last six games there, he has thrown for 1,655 yards 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, rushed for three touchdowns and posted a 118.1 passer rating. Cousins should find opportunities against a Bills' pass defense that has allowed 24 passing touchdowns (tied for 21st). Surprising stat of the day: Cousins’ four rushing touchdowns are the third most among quarterbacks behind Cam Newton (7) and Jameis Winston (5). Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is fourth (3).

3-Stopping ‘Shady’. LeSean McCoy has produced 100 or more yards from scrimmage in each of the Bills’ last seven games, including 74 yards on 20 carries and 35 yards on four receptions in last week’s loss to Philadelphia. The Redskins’ run defense has been better in recent weeks, limiting the Giants, Cowboys and Bears to an average of 72 yards. And it will need another game against the elusive McCoy, who has forced 33 missed tackles (tied for eighth most), according to ProFootballFocus.com.    

4-Thwarting Tyrod Taylor. Few players pose the challenge that Taylor does. He’s completing 63.5 percent of his passes, while also tossing 18 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. The first-year starter is also one of five quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or better (Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Tom Brady are the others.) Taylor, meantime, has been just as dangerous using his legs. He’s third in rushing yards (371) among signal callers behind Cam Newton (480) and Wilson (456). “When coverage is great and things break down around him ,” Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said of Taylor, “he can stick his foot in the ground and run. We’ve got to be conscious [of Taylor] because they’ve got weapons all over the place but especially the guy that handles the ball on every play.” Gruden added: “He’s a much better passer than I think people have given him credit for. But he’s also very good with his legs; he can run the ball extremely well out of the pocket and throw on the run.”

5-More injury concerns. DeSean Jackson (bruised knee) and Jason Hatcher (neck, knee) should be good to go Sunday. Jeron Johnson (hamstring) is iffy, at best. Gruden also said he’s concerned about third down running back Chris Thompson, who has a torn labrum in his shoulder and missed last week’s game because of it. If Thompson is out again, could that mean more Pierre Thomas? Perhaps. Thomas caught one pass for 12 yards and played four snaps in his debut but is getting more comfortable. “He has a great understanding of the offense already, a lot more now than I would have anticipated,” Gruden said of Thomas. Meantime, new tight end Alex Smith figures to make his debut against the Bills. The 11th-year veteran will replace Derek Carrier, who was lost last week to a knee injury. Gruden announce the status of all the injured players later Friday.

 

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

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:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198