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Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Saints

Need to Know: Final pregame thoughts on Redskins vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 8, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.  

Talking points

Here is my last look at tonight’s game between the Redskins and Saints. 

Run the ball but don’t rely on the run

I’m hearing a lot of talk that the key will be for the Redskins to run the ball and control the clock, keeping Drew Brees on the sideline. Well, I heard a lot of that before the game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. And the Redskins won by 14 despite having a two-minute disadvantage in time of possession and running 11 fewer offensive plays than Green Bay. Yes, they also got 166 rushing yards, so the ground game helped. But they need to score however they can, whether the drive takes two minutes like their first TD drive against the Packers did, or six minutes like their second one did. 

Get off to a fast start

The Redskins have outscored the opposition 49-10 in the first halves of their two wins. Getting off to a fast start will be even more important tonight. That Superdome gets loud when the Saints are rolling. The visitors won’t have to jump out two a two-touchdown lead. Last year, the Redskins kept the fans nervous with an early D.J. Swearinger interception and by taking first-half leads of 10-3 and 17-10. They didn’t get really loud again until, well, you know when. 

It’s better if Josh Doctson (questionable, heel) plays

Whenever I tweeted an update about Doctson’s injury I got replies saying that it didn’t matter, the 2016 first-round pick hasn’t done much this year anyway. And it’s true, Doctson has barely made a dent with his five receptions for 48 yards. 

But it is a mistake to say that the Redskins are better off without him. If Doctson's out, the Redskins would have to get by with Maurice Harris, who has 12 career receptions, Brian Quick, who had six catches last year, and Michael Floyd, who has had just a couple of weeks on the field to learn the offense. It’s a matter of depth and the Redskins don’t have much at the wide receiver position without Doctson. 

A strong finish?

As I have noted a few times this week that the Saints’ pass defense is not very good. They allow more yards per pass attempt (9.6) than Brees gains per pass attempt (8.0). You have to think that Alex Smith will be able to take advantage of this. And I think that the Redskins’ secondary, in the top five in key defensive metrics, will contain Brees. By that I mean he won’t go off for around 400 yards like he has twice this year.

If the game unfolds like that, it will come down to two things. First, can they contain Alvin Kamara, who is averaging 153 yards from scrimmage per game? And can they finish what they start? They weren’t able to do either last year and they saw a big lead melt away. Will things be different this year? 

I think they will. I’m calling the upset. 

Redskins 31, Saints 27

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The agenda

Today: No media availability 

Upcoming: Panthers @ Redskins 6 days; Cowboys @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Giants 20

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Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

Four factors that could prevent Brandon Scherff from signing a big deal with the Redskins

With less than a week to go until their July 15 deadline, "there isn't much optimism" that the Redskins and Brandon Scherff will be able to nail down a long-term contract, per an ESPN report.

If the two sides can't come together, then Scherff will play out the 2020 season on the franchise tag.

On the surface, there's obvious reasons for both the team and the player to commit to a multi-year agreement.

For the former, the reason is that Scherff is a very useful asset on the offensive line, making him a very useful asset for another very useful asset, Dwayne Haskins.

For the latter, the reason is that Washington is where Scherff wants to spend the rest of his career, which is according to Scherff himself.

If things keep tracking the way they appear to be going, though, then that one-year pact will kick in and some drama will follow after that. 

Here are four factors that could be to blame, should that conclusion come to fruition.

A lack of familiarity 

Thanks to the pandemic, Scherff and Ron Rivera haven't had a chance to really get to know each other as well as they normally would. That matters. 

Rivera is clearly in control of the Burgundy and Gold now, meaning he has a very strong influence on how hard the organization is trying to lock up the 28-year-old. Perhaps there's some uncertainty on his end because he simply isn't that familiar with Scherff. The same could be said for Scherff, too.

The previous regime clearly valued Scherff from the day they selected him fifth overall in the draft. This new one, unfortunately, just hasn't had the opportunity yet to build up the same appreciation.

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Uncertainty about 2020

This is another pandemic-related one, and it's something that could be particularly affecting Scherff.

While the NFL clearly plans to go full-speed ahead with its schedule, there's tons of skepticism that they'll actually be able to pull off a season. Just look at how much trouble the other leagues are having, then think about how football — with its large swath of large men and constant contact — may have the most difficult time of all.

Does now seem like the most solid ground for Scherff to sign on the dotted line? When it's still so unclear what 2020 will look like? Not exactly.

Injury history

Factor No. 3 is one that surely is having some impact on the Redskins' viewpoint.

Scherff ended both 2018 and 2019 on injured reserve, due to a torn pec and then elbow and shoulder injuries, respectively. To take it a step further, he's missed 15 contests out of a possible 48 since 2017.

For the team to ink Scherff to a hefty contract, they're going to want to feel confident he'll be on the field to earn it. Right now, that confidence may not be there.

Money

People seem to care about this green stuff, right?

While Scherff would no doubt find security in a potential multi-year deal with the Redskins, he may simply have more interest in just accepting the franchise tag, which will pay him $15 million in 2020. That's a huge number that could be dissuading him from negotiating much.

As for the team, because of things like the staff's newness and the concern for Scherff's health, they may rather see Scherff for an (albeit expensive) season before deciding whether they want him on the roster for the rest of the rebuild.

These back-and-forths are always complicated, but this time around, there seems to be more variables than usual. The NFL is known as a "deadline league," but the above factors could prove to be too much to overcome before the July 15 buzzer.

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Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

Eagles 'threatened to fire' DeSean Jackson over Instagram posts, per Stephen Jackson

A part of a series of statements defending DeSean Jackson following the wide receiver's posting of anti-Semitic comments falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler, Stephen Jackson revealed he received a call from the distressed veteran after the incident. 

According to Stephen, DeSean said the Eagles were threatening to release him without an apology. 

"My whole reason for supporting D-Jack was, before I got on Instagram, he called me on the phone and told me that they was threatening to fire him," Jackson said. "But they didn't do that to [Riley] Cooper. And I was like, 'You're right, you shouldn't have to apologize if they didn't make him apologize."

Riley Cooper was caught on video saying the n-word at a concert in 2013, and after the now-retired receiver made his apology, the Eagles fined him an undisclosed amount. He was then re-signed to a five-year extension in 2014, though he'd eventually be released two years later. 

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DeSean ultimately apologized, saying his posts were, "definitely not intended for anybody of any race to feel any type of way, especially the Jewish community."

The Eagles then released a statement condemning their wide receiver's actions, calling the messages he shared, "offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling." They were not clear on what Jackson's punishment would be in their statement. 

RELATED: REDSKINS MINORITY OWNERS REPORTEDLY COULDN'T GET SNYDER TO SELL

This, of course, was not all Jackson said in defense of DeSean. The 14-year NBA veteran claimed Jackson was speaking the truth through the messages he shared.

"He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he's speaking the truth. Right? He's speaking the truth,” Stephen Jackson said. “You know he don't hate nobody, but he's speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others."

Jackson played three seasons with the Redskins from 2014-16 after then Eagles head coach Chip Kelly cut him following the 2013 campaign. He then returned to Philadelphia before the 2019 season by signing a three-year contract with the franchise who drafted him.

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