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Redskins schedule preview: Week 10 vs. Buccaneers

Redskins schedule preview: Week 10 vs. Buccaneers

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Week 10 November 11, Raymond James Stadium

2017 Bucs: 5-11, fourth in NFC South 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 6.5

Early line: Redskins +3.5

Key additions: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, C Ryan Jensen, DT Vita Vea, DE Vinny Curry 

Key losses: RB Doug Martin, DE Chris Baker

Biggest questions: 

  • The Bucs added to a strong defensive line by drafting Vea and signing Curry. Can they find a way to utilize all of their talent?
  • QB Jameis Winston had better numbers last year than he did in 2016, but the Bucs won four fewer games. Will he put it together in his fourth year as the starter?
  • Former Redskins WR DeSean Jackson did not live up to expectations, averaging just 13.4 yards per reception and scoring three touchdowns. Will he rebound at age 31?

Series history

The all-time series is tied 11-11; the Redskins have won three of the last five meetings.

Series notables

The first time: October 19, 1977, Tampa Stadium—This has to be one of the dullest games in Redskins history. The Redskins scored all of the game’s points in the first quarter with a 44-yard Mark Moseley field goal and a six-yard touchdown run by Mike Thomas. They proceeded to fumble away many subsequent scoring opportunities, but the second-year Buccaneers never threatened to score themselves and the Redskins left town with an ugly 10-0 win.

The last time: October 25, 2015, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden called this a “Code Red” game as the 2-4 Redskins were on the verge of sliding out of the NFC playoff picture. Initially, the Redskins played more like something that is brown and after Kirk Cousins, who was struggling to hold on to his job as the starter, was sacked and stripped, the return for a touchdown made it 24-0 midway through the second quarter. 

You know the rest of the story. The Redskins and Cousins got things going. Cousins ran eight yards for a touchdown before halftime to get on the board. The key sequence of the game came in the third quarter. It was Cousins to Ryan Grant for a touchdown followed by a surprise onside kick executed to perfection. The Redskins maximized the strategy win by moving to a TD pass to Jordan Reed.

The teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter before the Redskins finished off the rally. Cousins capped an 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon with 24 seconds left to take the 31-30 win.

The best time: September 9, 1982, Tampa Stadium—In a game played in a virtual monsoon, the Redskins outlasted a game Bucs squad. With the Tampa Stadium playing surface resembling prime Florida swampland, the Redskins relied on the legs of John Riggins, who carried 34 times for 136 yards.

Before conditions got too bad, the Redskins jumped to a 9-0 lead on an eight-yard pass from Joe Theismann to Charlie Brown and Mark Moseley’s 35-yard field goal. The Bucs came right back on a 62-yard touchdown bomb from Doug Williams to Kevin House. The point after attempts following each team’s touchdown drowned in the saturated turf.

In the second quarter, the Redskins got some breathing room with another Moseley field goal and then broke it open when Curtis Jordan blocked a punt and splashed down on top of the ball in the end zone for an 18-6 halftime lead.

As conditions worsened, scoring slowed considerably in the second half, with Tampa Bay scoring on a seven-yard James Wilder run and the Redskins responding with a 19-yard Moseley field goal. For most of the final 30 minutes, it was Riggins moving the chains and keeping the clock running. He carried to last seven plays of the game to burn off the final three and a half minutes as the Redskins win 21-13. After the game, Joe Gibbs called the ending sequence The Riggo Drill and that strategy and catchphrase that would stick all the way through the Redskins’ win in Super Bowl XVII.

The worst time: NFC Divisional Playoff Game, January 16, 2000, Raymond James Stadium—In 36 previous playoff games, the Redskins had never held a 13-point lead and go on to lose, but that’s what happened in this game. The Buccaneers made the clutch plays in the late going and the Redskins didn’t, eliminating Washington from its first postseason action in seven years.

The Redskins built their lead on a pair of Brett Conway field goals sandwiched around a 100-yard kickoff return by Brian Mitchell. He took the second-half kickoff at the goal line, found daylight as he cut to his right, dismissed kicker Martin Gramatica with a stiff arm and outran the rest of the Bucs into the end zone to complete what was then the longest kick return in NFL playoff history.

The Bucs, though, turned an interception and a fumble into two touchdowns and a 14-13 lead. Washington had a shot at retaking the lead as they lined up for a 52-yard field goal attempt with 1:17 left. The snap, however, rolled back to holder Brad Johnson and Conway never got the kick away.

Redskins schedule series

More 2018 Redskins

- Wheeling and dealing: The biggest moves of the offseason
- Tandler’s Take: What are reasonable expectations for 2018?

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

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Washington Redskins, Alex Smith work to balance patience and aggression in pass game

Washington Redskins, Alex Smith work to balance patience and aggression in pass game

Alex Smith finished the Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts by averaging 6.3 yards-per-pass attempt on 33 completions. Those numbers aren't particularly good, and while they're not bad either, it clearly did not produce enough opportunities for points in the home opener. 

The Colts defense had a lot to do with that too. Indianapolis deployed a soft zone coverage system, forcing the Washington Redskins to look underneath for short gains and eschewing many chances at deep shots down the field. 

That's fine when the team is able to run the ball well, like the dominant Week 1 win in Arizona. But when Washington can't run the ball, like the embarassing Week 2, the short passing game looks too conservative. 

"I mean I think every guy on the team, certainly every guy on offense went through the game and what plays could I have done differently to help us," Smith said Wedneday. "Could I have taken a shot here? You know, all week we talked about being patient. The way they play defense, be patient. Let the shots present themselves."

The shots rarely presented themselves. 

Smith did put two passes in positions for chunk gains, but Josh Doctson was unable to bring in a deep ball on the sideline, and later in the game, Paul Richardson could not corral a big gain over the middle. Neither drop was devestating, but a catch in either situation could have turned momentum in the game. 

Prior to 2017, Smith had a reputation as a quarterback that rarely went down the field. Last season, he disproved that with his best ever statistical campaign and a number of highlight reel plays down the field in the Kansas City offense. 

Redskins fans are starting to wonder if they got the 2017 version of Smith, or the earlier version. 

Truth is the sample size is much too small to determine that answer. In Week 1, Smith didn't need to air the ball out. In fact, he still tried, barely missing a deep completion to Richardson on a play flagged because the receiver was held. 

There are other factors too. The offensive line had a poor performance in Week 2, and Richardson played the game dealing with a shoulder injury. 

Still, there were times it seemed Smith had chances down the field he didn't take, instead opting for the safer check-down pass.

Running back Chris Thompson finished the game with 13 catches but for just 92 yards. Much of that production came late in the second half when the Colts had taken a substantial lead.

"In the second half, very apparent, I mean they were not going to let anything get over their head or get behind them. It was so soft. Hence, a lot of the underneath stuff was open," Smith said.

What version of Smith will show up Sunday against Green Bay?

Much of that will have to do with the offensive line and Jay Gruden's game plan. But plenty will be determined by Smith too. 

The veteran QB does not turn the ball over, which is a big bonus. The Redskins need points though if they're going to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. 

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Redskins vs. Packers then and now

Redskins vs. Packers then and now

Here is a look ahead and a look back at the Redskins vs. Packers series.

Week 3, Sunday, FedEx Field

2017 Packers: 7-9, third in NFC North; 1-0-1 in 2018

2018 statistical leaders:

Passing yards: Aaron Rodgers, 567 yards
Rushing yards: Jamaal Williams, 106 yards
Receiving yards: Randall Cobb 172

Deciding factors

  • The Packers haven’t had much of a running game so far this year and the Redskins can’t let it get healthy on them. It’s hard enough to deal with Rodgers when all he can do is pass. If a viable rushing attack is in the mix, Rodgers is nearly impossible to stop. 
  • Offensively, the Redskins will have to stay aggressive. We saw what happened on Week 1 on Sunday night when the Bears couldn’t take advantage of some chances to put the Packers away. There are plenty of reasons to doubt that the Redskins would be able to kill the clock by running the ball—they couldn’t against the Cardinals—and Alex Smith will have to keep throwing. 

Key matchup: Redskins C Tony Bergstrom vs. Packers NT Frank Clark—It looks like Chase Roullier will have to move to left guard and Bergstrom will have to take on Clark, a tough, athletic nose tackle. 

Redskins-Packers series history

The Packers lead the all-time series 14-12; the teams have split their last four games including the playoffs.

Series notables

The first time: November 28, 1937, Griffith Stadium—In their first season in Washington, the Redskins needed a win to have a shot to play for the Eastern Conference title the following week. The home team trailed 6-0 at halftime, but the Redskins weren’t done. Cliff Battles ran for a touchdown, Sammy Baugh threw for another and the Washington defense held for a 14-6 win. 

The last time: November 20, 2016, FedEx Field—In one of his career highlight games, Kirk Cousins passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns. The game was close at halftime with Washington leading 13-10. Then they exploded for 29 second-half points with the highlight coming on a 70-yard TD bomb from Cousins to Pierre Garçon early in the fourth quarter of the home team’s 49-24 win. 

The best time: December 24, 1972, RFK Stadium—The Redskins were hosting their first playoff game since 1942. The highlight play was a 32-yard touchdown pass from Billy Kilmer to Roy Jefferson. But the game was won with a five-man defensive line that George Allen designed to stop the Packers’ powerful rushing attack. Green Bay mustered just 78 yards rushing as the Redskins won 16-3 putting them a win away from their first Super Bowl.

The worst time: October 17, 1983, Lambeau Field—It was a highly entertaining game, still the highest-scoring game in the history of Monday Night Football. Joe Theismann passed for 398 yards, but Lynn Dickey nearly matched him with 387 yards. The game was back and forth the entire way with five lead changes. The fourth one came with 2:50 left to play with a five-yard TD pass from Theismann to Joe Washington. But the Redskins still couldn’t play defense and the Packers drove to a field goal to take a 48-47 lead. Mark Mosely had a shot at stealing the win, but he missed a 39-yard field goal try as time ran out.  

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