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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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The Redskins’ inconsistency is a consistent issue

The Redskins’ inconsistency is a consistent issue

A home loss to a team that was 4-12 a year ago, 0-1 this year, has a rookie head coach, and is clearly in rebuilding mode is more than just a mark in the “L” column. In the case of the Redskins’ loss to the Colts on Sunday, they also lost an opportunity. 

The Eagles lost Sunday, and the Redskins’ loss cost them a chance to have sole possession of first place in the NFC East. That doesn’t mean much two games into the season, but it would have been a psychological boost for the team and its fans. Instead at 1-1, they are in a three-way tie with the Eagles and Cowboys. 

What’s worse for the Redskins, however, is what is ahead.

They will be decided underdogs at home to a Packers team with an apparently healthy Aaron Rodgers on Sunday. After their ridiculously early bye, they travel to New Orleans, the scene of their worst loss of 2017, a game where they blew a 15-point lead late in the game and lost in overtime. The Saints have been struggling but they will be solid favorites. Then the Panthers come to town and the Redskins have not beaten them since Cam Newton become their quarterback (0-4). 

If coming events follow form, the Redskins will go into their Week 7 game against the Cowboys at 1-4. If they had won Sunday that could have been a much more palatable 2-3. 

But just like it was futile to predict that the Redskins would steamroll the Colts, tread carefully if you want to buy a parlay ticket on Washington going 0-3 between now and the end of Week 6. They have looked good and they have looked bad. It would not surprise me in the least if they came out for the Packers game playing at a very high level. 

The Redskins are not the only inconsistent NFL team. The Ravens and Jets posted impressive Week 1 wins and lost in Week 2. It works both ways. The Falcons couldn’t get anything done in the red zone in their opening loss to the Eagles. Yesterday they were 4-4 there and beat the Panthers. 

Still, the egg they laid at home in concerning. Following an impressive win with a deflating loss isn’t an occasional thing with this team, it’s a pattern.

Since 2015, the team has had two four-game winning streaks, one to close out the 2015 season and one in Weeks 3-6 the following year. Other than those, they have not had a winning streak of longer than two games and they have had just three of those. 

Simple math will tell you that a team will have a tough time making the playoffs if it can’t string together an extended winning streak or at least multiple two-game streaks in a season. 

So, while losing to the Colts isn’t the end of the season for the Redskins, it is an indication that they still are having problems stringing wins together. If they are going to contend for the playoffs, something that needs to happen if they are going to fill FedEx Field and if Jay Gruden is to stay employed, they will need to do better than win one, lose one. 

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Colts

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Colts

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, September 18, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers.

Talking points

One final look back at the Redskins’ loss to the Colts. 

—Looking back at it, this one was over about midway through the first quarter. The Colts had their way with the Redskins on the opening drive. Jay Gruden said that took some of the energy out of the team. After getting the ensuing kickoff, the Redskins did an end around to Jamison Crowder that was good for 75 yards. But after three plays the Redskins were punting. The Redskins were far from out of it on the scoreboard, but they didn’t seem to have much life the rest of the way. 

—The more I look, the more I find it hard to cast a substantial amount of the blame for this loss on the defense. Not counting a kneel down possession at the end of each half, the Colts had 10 drives. They went three and out on five of them and punted after four plays on another. They got two takeaways. Andrew Luck had a 77.2 passer rating, a performance on the low side of mediocre. 

—Alex Smith didn’t have a terrible game and a couple of key passes were dropped, but he still had a hand in the defeat. He missed a few passes, in particular a fade to Josh Doctson in the end zone that would have made it a four-point game in the third quarter. It wasn’t an easy throw, but it was one that a veteran with his experience should be able to make. 

—Late in the first quarter, the Redskins had driven into Colts territory and Chris Thompson lost three yards on a third and one. Gruden said that “we didn’t have a puller” on the play. I asked him to clarify and he said, “we blocked it wrong,” essentially saying that someone blew an assignment. That is not encouraging news. 

Injuries of note

Rob Kelley left the game with a toe injury and it appears to be somewhat serious. Gruden said that “he hit it pretty good” and he could require surgery. “Could be a month, month and a half type of deal.”

The agenda

Today: No media availability

Upcoming: Packers @ Redskins (Sept. 23) 5; Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 20; Cowboys @ Redskins 33

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