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How the Redskins survived Thanksgiving with the Giants

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How the Redskins survived Thanksgiving with the Giants

The Redskins' survived a Thanksgiving night scare from the New York Giants in Week 12 at FedEx Field.

Here are my observations during the Redskins’ “a win is a win” 20-10 victory.

— Jamison Crowder made a diving, reaching catch that gained all of two yards. But it got the Redskins their initial first down of the game after two three and outs so it is noteworthy.

— But the series ended when Josh Doctson went out of bounds just before converting a third and 15. It looks like he could have and the other yard. Then Doctson dropped the fourth and one pass and the Giants took over at their own 41. The mistakes continue to mount and the Redskins continue to allow the Giants to stick around.

Brian Mitchell does not like the flow of the Redskins’ offense.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

— The Giants used a third and 15 conversion and a fourth and one conversion to drive to the first points of the game. There really is no excuse for the third and long as the Giants are severely depleted at receiver and on the offensive line.

— Crowder got lost behind the Giants secondary on third and eight and hauled in a Kirk Cousins pass for 39 yards to the New York 38. It was the first Redskins’ offensive jolt of the day.

— Redskins get first offensive jolt of the day with Cousins to Crowder for 39 yards to the Giants 38, converting a third and eight. But then he dropped a potential third-down conversion and the Redskins had to punt. Again, someone needs to make a play or the season will be over before we eat the first leftover turkey sandwich.

— The Redskins do dent the scoreboard but it’s only a field goal, set up by a pass interference penalty. A sack led to a red zone failure and they settled for three. At least they got to the red zone.

— After catching a 33-yard pass from Cousins, Crowder scored for the first time this year. Kudos to Cousins on the play for scrambling on third down and keeping it alive long enough for Crowder to get open. Redskins 10, Giants 3

— The Redskins are playing some good defense but the Giants offense is making plenty of mistakes. Manning has missed several open receivers. Evan dropped a third-down pass that was on the money. They are showing why they are 2-8.

RELATED: ALL THE UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS' WIN OVER GIANTS

—  It looked like Cousins’ toe got caught in the turf as he tossed a pass in the direction of Byron Maxwell. The field is not looking too good and that good be responsible for Cousins’ footwork problems. In any case, the ball bounced off of Byron Marshall’s hands and Janoris Jenkins turned it into a game-tying pick six.

— The Redskins got a drive going and moved from their own 10 into Giants territory. But the Giants’ fifth sack of the game ended it and Tress Way came in and punted.

— The Redskins lined up to punt on fourth and one at the New York 40 with about 10 left in the fourth quarter. But apparently Jay Gruden reconsidered and they called timeout and sent the offense back out. But the play clock expired while they were lining up and they had to punt. This is known as not having your act together.

— The Redskins finally untied the game. A holding call bailed them out of a third-down sack and then Cousins converted the next third down on a pass to Crowder. The touchdown was a thing of beauty, a well-timed left-shoulder pass from Cousins to Doctson.

— A fourth-down sack by Junior Galette, his first of the year, gave the Redskins the ball deep in Giants territory. Nick Rose came in and nailed the field goal from 33 yards out.

Fan analysis

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

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

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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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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