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Need to Know: Redskins vs. Saints tale of the tape

Need to Know: Redskins vs. Saints tale of the tape

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 5, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking Points

Here is a comparison of the elements of the Redskins and Saints as they prepare for their game on Monday night. 

Quarterback
Alex Smith has top-10 stats this year but Drew Brees’ numbers are in the top five all-time. The Saints’ quarterback isn’t slowing down at age 39, getting off to a sizzling start. He has completed 75 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Smith has been efficient, and he got the deep passing game going last week but he still is a few notches below the elite status that Brees shares with just a few other quarterbacks. 

Strong advantage Saints

Running Back
This is a similar situation to quarterback. The Redskins have two good running backs in Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. But the Saints’ Alvin Kamara has 100 yards either rushing or receiving in three of the Saints’ four games. And New Orleans will get back Mark Ingram, who rushed for over 1,100 yards last year. 

Strong advantage Saints

Wide receivers/tight ends
The Saints will have the best receiver on the field in Michael Thomas, who has more receptions through four games than any other player in NFL history (42). Paul Richardson of the Redskins will be the second best, although Ted Ginn of the Saints still has a few deep balls left in him. The best tight end on the field will be Washington’s Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis also is better than the Saints’ starter, Benjamin Watson. This is close, but Thomas tilts the balance to the home team. 

Advantage Saints

Offensive Line
While it would be a mistake to underestimate the Saints’ offensive line, they aren’t quite up to the level of the Redskins’ group. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are one of the better tackle tandems in the league and Brandon Scherff has Pro Bowl credentials. The Saints group is, from left to right, Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, and Ryan Ramczyk. Their strength is that there really isn’t a weak link on the line. 

Advantage Redskins

Defensive Front
Both teams have a top edge rusher. Both Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan and Washington outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had 13 sacks last year. This year, however, it’s a different story as Jordan has four sacks and Kerrigan has none. The Saints are third in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, but the fact that the New Orleans pass defense has been very leaky has teams throwing the ball more and running it less. 

The Redskins’ young defensive line of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis is already living up to its potential. The Saints traded away next year’s first-round pick to take DE Marcus Davenport, who is being worked into the lineup. Washington has a slight advantage in the non-edge linebackers as Mason Foster and Zach Brown have better playmaking potential than the Saints’ Manti Te’o, A.J. Klein, and Demario Davis.  

Slight advantage Redskins

Defensive Backs
Last year, New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. So far this year he has not been playing up to that level, allowing 75 percent completions on passes thrown into his coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He is part of a secondary that has given up an adjusted net yards per pass average of 9.9 yards. It’s a passing league this year but compare that to the league ANY/A of 6.5.

The Redskins are giving up 4.3 adjusted net yards per attempt, second best in the NFL. If you prefer the traditional passer rating metric, Washington opponents have compiled a 77.0 rating, third in the NFL, while the Saints’ opposing quarterbacks have rolled up a rating of 128.7, which is 31st in the league. 

Strong advantage Redskins

Special Teams
Neither team has done much outstanding on special teams. The Redskins’ Dustin Hopkins has a better touchback rate than New Orleans’ Will Lutz but Washington has difficulty returning kickoffs (last in the NFL at 14.6 yards/return) so that doesn't make much difference. The Saints are 31st in punt returns with a 3.9-yard average. It appears that this game will be decided on offense and defense. 

Even

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The Agenda

Today: Practice 12:15; Jay Gruden news conference and open locker room after practice, approx. 2:00

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 3 days; Panthers @ Redskins 9; Cowboys @ Redskins 16

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Redskins sign former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to boost secondary

Redskins sign former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to boost secondary

The Redskins signed former Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby to a one-year contract on Sunday.

Darby, a second-round pick by the Bills in 2015 who played college ball at Florida State, grabbed six interceptions in three years playing in Philadelphia but dealt with major injuries throughout his time there, including an ACL tear in 2018. The deal was first reported by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Washington needed to sign another cornerback after trading away disgruntled CB Quinton Dunbar last week.

With the new addition, expect the Redskins to let Kendall Fuller start on one side of the field and Darby and fourth-year pro Fabian Moreau compete for the starting spot on the other side of the defense. Jimmy Moreland projects as the inside slot corner.

The money on this deal won’t break the bank for the Redskins, but with two corners added in free agency and significantly more cash spent on Fuller, the Redskins 2020 secondary is starting to come into shape.

Washington probably feels somewhat comfortable with Fuller, Darby, Moreau and Moreland and will likely draft another corner in April. The team also signed Sean Davis from Pittsburgh with the intention to pair him with stalwart Landon Collins at the two safety spots.

For Redskins fans pushing for a reunion with former draft pick Bashaud Breeland, the Darby signing could end that possibility. Team sources said for weeks that Breeland wasn’t a strong consideration anyway.

Interestingly, Washington has now signed three defensive free agents in the secondary all with local ties. Darby grew up in Oxon Hill and played at Potomac High, Fuller went to Good Counsel High School and Davis grew up in D.C.

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Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': This scene is a prime example of Ron Rivera's integrity

Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': This scene is a prime example of Ron Rivera's integrity

Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode six, "That's How Football Works."

When an NFL team fires a head coach, they almost always try to move on like they're closing an Internet tab; just hit the 'X', get rid of the window and move on.

But when the Panthers parted ways with Ron Rivera last December, it was a totally different process. Rivera held a 30-minute press conference after the news broke. Veterans labeled it the worst day they had ever been a part of in the league. He even came back to the area a few months later to hold a yard sale, which ended up acting as a goodbye event that 3,000 people attended.

Yes, the coach was very successful during his tenure with the Panthers, but that kind of send-off doesn't happen for someone just because of division titles and a Super Bowl appearance. Those kinds of farewells are reserved for the people who are revered for their integrity, character and impact on everything, not just their impact on the field.

And in episode six of Amazon's 2018 edition of All Or Nothing, viewers were shown an example of what separates Rivera from most who share his position in the sport.

The early part of this installment focuses on Devin Funchess' inconsistent season and includes a flashback to an earlier practice where the receiver confronts then-QBs coach Scott Turner for being too slow with his play calling. 

After that incident, Funchess, Rivera and Turner step away to hash things out, at which point Funchess reveals his cousin had been killed the week before and the funeral had just taken place. Funchess apologizes repeatedly for his behavior. Turner then hugs him and does his best to calm him down.

Rivera, though, wants to take more time with the wideout to further talk to him and show his support. So, he brings Funchess to a bench, sits him down and puts his arm around him for an emotional one-on-one.

"I don't know what you're going through, but I can feel for you, all right?" Rivera says. "I appreciate you sharing that with both Scotty and I right now."

"If you ever have situations like that or something like that, you need to talk about stuff like that," he continues. "You know you can always talk to me all right?"

A few seconds and a few more encouraging remarks later, the two stand up, with Funchess returning to action and Rivera walking slowly behind him. Just before the scene ends, the latter sighs and appears to wipe a tear away.

In a show filled with crunching tackles and slow-motion touchdowns laid under triumphant music, this quiet exchange was easily one of its more powerful moments. It also was all one needs to see to understand why so many in Carolina were so affected when Rivera was fired.

So much about being a winner on the sidelines in the NFL is about schemes and creativity and strategy and risk-taking. But relating to players and supporting them and earning their trust is arguably more crucial than any system or depth chart decision ever could be.

Rivera's interaction with Funchess was a strong illustration of that second point. The Redskins aren't just getting an impressive coach; they're getting an impressive person. He's going to look out for his roster in every way, and in turn, that roster will likely do all it can for him.

Links to past reviews:

Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits

Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions

Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron

Episode 4: Young Redskins will have a chance in 2020

Episode 5: Rivera goes off, and you'll want to see it