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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Packers

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Packers

Here is what you need to know on Wednesday, September 19, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers  

Talking points

The Redskins are taking on the Packers on Sunday and here is a look at what I found out taking a first look at them. 

It’s all about Aaron Rodgers

You can argue about who the best QB in the game is, but you can’t argue that the Packers are a Super Bowl contender with Rodgers and a sub-.500 team without him. No player carries his team to the extent that Rodgers does. We will see what pops up on the injury report regarding Rodgers after that Week 1 knee injury, but it would be foolish to expect anything other than him taking every snap. 

The Packers’ offensive line is a notch below that of the Redskins

They have a pair of quality tackles in LT David Bakhtiari and RT Bryan Bulaga. But they don’t have a Brandon Scherff equivalent on the inside. Between the line and Rodgers’ mobility (which is somewhat in question due to the condition of his knee), they manage to avoid sacks so don’t look for a pass rush that has been struggling to get better against Green Bay. 

Green Bay’s leading rusher is averaging 3.4 yards per carry

Jamaal Williams in the only Packer who is has more than seven rushing attempts. In two games, Green Bay’s 2017 fourth-round pick has 31 carries for 106 yards with a long run of 11. They use converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery as a change of pace back; he has seven carries for 38 yards (5.4 ypc). 

There are solid players on every level of the Packers’ defense

At age 32, Clay Matthews is not the player who made six Pro Bowls and posted double-digit sacks four times from 2009-2015. But it would be inaccurate to say that he’s a shadow of his former self. He has had trouble staying on the field the last couple of years but when he’s healthy, which he is now, he gets pressure. The Redskins wanted to sign DL Sheldon Richardson, a top-notch run stuffer, this offseason but he went to Green Bay. At safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has 12 interceptions in four-plus years in the league, including one off of Kirk Cousins last week. 

Ball control will not be enough

The conventional wisdom when it comes to beating the Packers is to control the ball with runs and short passes and keep Rodgers on the sideline. Well, that formula didn’t work for the Redskins against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Washington had the ball for 33 minutes, but red zone problems doomed them. They will have to score touchdowns to win on Sunday. Since the start of the 2016 season, the Packers have only one loss in a game that Rodgers started and finished where their opponent scored fewer than 30 points. As the fight song goes, the points will have to soar if the Redskins are going to have a chance to hail victory. 

Injuries of note

RB Rob Kelly was put on injured reserve with a toe injury. He is a candidate to return from injured reserve after he misses at least eight games. 

The agenda

Today: Alex Smith press conference 12 noon; Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 3 p.m.

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 4; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 19; Cowboys @ Redskins 32

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into 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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If Josh Gordon ends up signing with Washington, expect OC Scott Turner to have something to do with it

If Josh Gordon ends up signing with Washington, expect OC Scott Turner to have something to do with it

Entering the 2020 season, Washington has plenty of question marks at the wide receiver position. Those questions only grew on Tuesday, when second-year wideout Kelvin Harmon announced he had torn his ACL and will miss the entirety of the fall campaign.

Should Washington look to the free-agent market to find a replacement for Harmon's roster spot, there are two talented pass-catchers still available: Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon.

On Tuesday, the latter of them commented on an Instagram post about Harmon's injury with the 'eyes' emoji, which led Washington passer Dwayne Haskins to reply back.

While this might not be anything more than comments on an Instagram post, there actually is a connection between Gordon and Washington.

That connection? Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who served as Gordon's wide receivers coach in Cleveland for one season in 2013.


After a solid rookie season with the Cleveland Browns in 2012, Gordon emerged as one of the league's best wideouts a year later. In just 14 games (after missing the first two due to suspension), Gordon led the NFL in receiving with 1,646 yards, while totaling a career-best nine touchdowns. The pass-catcher was named to his first Pro Bowl and also selected to the NFL's All-Pro squad.

After Gordon's spectacular year in 2013, Turner departed from Cleveland, taking the quarterbacks' coach position in Minnesota. Gordon, who has had well-documented off-the-field troubles, has never returned to his 2013 form.

In an interview with Cleveland.com in 2014, Gordon explained that his relationship with Turner, as well as Turner's father Norv, helped him stay clean during his incredible 2013 season. Gordon admitted that he was personally hurt when both Turners, along with Rob Chudzinski, were fired following the 2013 season, and that led him down the wrong track once again.

"It definitely is (hard),'' Gordon said. "When I first came in, I wasn't sure how long Pat (Shurmur) was going to stay. Three years, three coaches, it's difficult for anybody. You want to get close to them on a personal level and become friends, and we have, but the fact that they're taken away that quickly, you realize it's strictly business -- just about."

In late August of 2014, Gordon was suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy for the fourth time. Since then, he's been indefinitely suspended by the league twice and is still currently seeking reinstatement from the NFL.

Gordon's best season since his time with Turner in Cleveland came in 2018 with New England, where he amassed 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns. None of those marks are even half of what he did in Cleveland that season.


If Gordon is reinstated -- and that's still a huge if -- Washington would make sense as a landing spot. Gordon and Turner previously had a close relationship, and the wideout thrived the most under Turner's watch.

Plus, the team was already thin at wideout and is even thinner with Harmon's injury. Even with a healthy Harmon, Washington's No. 2 wide receiver spot was full of uncertainties. Adding a veteran to the group later on was still much in play, even prior to Tuesday.

So, if the Burgundy and Gold do end up taking a shot by signing Gordon, it'll be a low risk, high reward signing that the new offensive coordinator likely had something to do with. 

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Former DE Charles Mann believes keeping Washington's colors is a must but isn't as attached to the band

Former DE Charles Mann believes keeping Washington's colors is a must but isn't as attached to the band

Washington's football team may not have its new name today, but eventually, it will. And when the team does land on that choice, it'll also have to decide what to do with some key staples that became popular under the previous brand.

The two main things that'll need to either be kept or also moved on from are the franchise's color scheme as well as its band. Proceeding with the pair would be a way to merge the past with the future, while dropping each would give the organization a chance to totally restart.

Charles Mann, though, doesn't view it as a both or neither scenario. The four-time Pro Bowler and team legend is far more attached to one tradition than the other.

"I hope we keep the Burgundy and Gold," Mann told NBC Sports Washington in a recent interview. "Don't change those Burgundy and Gold colors. You've got to keep that."

According to reports, it seems like Mann will get his wish on that front. That's something that'll no doubt please ardent followers of the squad, too.


The longtime defensive end wasn't as worried or fixated on the band's future (or the continuation of the fight song), which was intriguing. Most diehards who want the colors to stay are adamant about that feature and its classic tune remaining as well, yet he didn't seem particularly concerned.

"The fight song... you know, it's the fight song," Mann said. "Maybe they can change the lyrics, you've got all these lyrical masters. As far as the band -- I'm probably going to get it on this one -- but I could see us moving on from the band."

Mann is the second beloved ex-defender to come out in these last few days and demonstrate that he's not completely committed to keeping everything from Washington's past alive. 

On Monday, Darrell Green said this to ESPN: "I've got jerseys and helmets. Hey, I'm ready to throw them away. Give me another helmet. Give me the new helmet, because when I ran down the field in Chicago and I chased down [Tony] Dorsett or whatever the case may be, those things were for the team that was in Washington, so it didn't really matter. It still happened."

There hasn't been much indication on what Dan Snyder is thinking about the band and the song, but if he were to leave them behind -- and again, there hasn't been any reports suggesting he will -- that would be quite an adjustment to the gameday atmosphere.

Mann, however, clearly wouldn't feel too, too bad about that switch-up. Instead, he's much more enticed by the idea of another change to the team's home contests.

"I'm not really hardpressed on anything," he said. "I just want to see us win. I just want to see us win. At the end of the day, winning fixes everything. So just win."