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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington looks to make NFC East moves

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington looks to make NFC East moves

Sure it's only mid-October, but for the Redskins, Sunday's matchup against the Eagles marks a pivotal game in the run for the NFC East title.

Dallas is a win ahead of both Washington and Philadelphia, but the victor between the 'Skins and Eagles will be in the thick of the race.

The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at FedEx Field, but the coverage starts on CSN at noon. The forecast calls for clear skies and pleasant temperatures, perfect weather for tailgating.

LIVE BLOG: WEEK 6 REDSKINS VS. EAGLES

Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. The read on Reed - Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is arguably the best player on the team, and certainly the centerpiece of the offense. QB Kirk Cousins has targeted Reed on nearly 25 percent of his throws this season, but Washington will be without the tight end against the Eagles as he deals with a concussion sustained last week. Reed leads the team in catches and receiving yards. It's hard to overstate his importance to this team, and in his absence, what the offense will look like. 
  2. More for DeSean? - With Reed out, Cousins must throw the ball elsewhere. While veteran Vernon Davis is an able fill in, and perhaps more, expect more passes to DeSean Jackson. Jay Gruden joked this week of Jackson,"When I wake up at 5:30 in the morning or 4:00 and he is standing outside my garage with a baseball bat, I think I better get him the ball." While that's a joke, Gruden admitted Jackson deserves the ball more, and though his personal vendetta against the Eagles has dimmed with Chip Kelly gone from Philly, it's highly likely Jackson would still enjoy scoring against his former team.
  3. The gang in green - Newsflash: The Eagles are pretty good. Counted out before the season began with a rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz has looked strong for Philly through four games, and head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich are playing to the QB's strengths. Wentz is completing 67 percent of his passes, has thrown seven TDs to just one interception. Washington's defense better be ready, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry knows it, "[Wentz's] got all the tools, he’s got the skillset, and they’re doing a great job coaching him and calling plays for him."
  4. Bring him down - In just four games, Wentz has been sacked seven times, and this week against the 'Skins, the Eagles will be without a top offensive lineman. Right tackle Lane Johnson begins a 10-game suspension this week, and starting in his place will be fifth-round rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has never been active for an NFL game. Washington's group of pass rushers, starting with Trent Murphy but including Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Chris Baker, must get to Wentz, and the weakness on the right side is something the 'Skins must try to exploit. 
  5. Kirk Likes That - Kirk Cousins has started 30 games in his NFL career, and there is no team he's performed better against than the Eagles. In three games against Philadelphia, Cousins is averaging 360 yards per game to go along with eight touchdowns and just one interception. Last season, Cousins and the 'Skins swept the Eagles, including an NFC East clinching win on the road at Lincoln Financial Field. The Redskins offense is yet to fully click, though if history is any guide, Sunday against Philly might be the breakout.

Numbers & Notes

  • The Redskins rank first in the NFC and third in the NFL in total pass completions with 130.
  • The Redskins rank first in the NFC and are tied for first in the NFL with 13 field goals made, and 14 field goals attempted. 
  • The Redskins defense ranks first in the NFC and are tied for first in the NFL with eight forced fumbles.
  • Trent Murphy is tied for third in the NFC and tied for seventh in the NFL with 4.5 sacks.
  • Josh Norman ranks second in the NFC and tied for third in the NFL with eight passes defensed.
  • If Pierre Garçon catches a touchdown pass on Sunday he will become the 15th player in Redskins history to post 20 touchdown receptions with the team.

Want more? ​Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 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.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201