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5 observations from Redskins' 42-24 win over Packers

5 observations from Redskins' 42-24 win over Packers

Here are five observations from Redskins 42, Packers 24:

—These Redskins aren’t just tough, they’re talented. Kirk Cousins, their $20 million franchise tagged quarterback is capable tossing deep dimes in on a cold, windy night. Josh Norman, $15 million per year cornerback forced a fumble that let his team seal the game. Two receivers, veteran Pierre Garçon and second-year player Jamison Crowder, caught a few of Cousins deep passes and they each went over 100 yards receiving. Jordan Reed chipped in with some key catches. DeSean Jackson, who hasn’t been heard from much lately, caught a pass for the game’s first touchdown. And Rob Kelley, the undrafted rookie, got his first 100-yard rushing game since high school. Yes, they win by being scrappy but they also win because they have some pretty damn good football players.

—Jay Gruden showed that he has great onio—, well, intestinal fortitude. With the game on the line with just over six minutes left and the Redskins leading by five Gruden decided to go for it on fourth and one at the Washington 41. If they don’t get it, Aaron Rodgers, who had led long Packers touchdown drives on each of his team’s two previous possessions, would have had a short field to work with. Gruden would have opened to door to all manner of criticism. But Cousins got it on a sneak. Three plays later Cousins dropped one of those dimes into Crowder, who was tripped up at the one after a 53-yard gain. Rob Kelley scored on the next play. Gruden said that it was just a half a yard and the he didn’t want to punt into the wind.

—Somehow Garçon has been thought of as the forgotten man on the offense even though he came into the game on pace to catch 75 passes for about 800 yards. But that notion is now exposed as a myth as he hauled in six passes for 116 yards including a 70-yard touchdown. He’s now one reception behind Reed for the team lead and about 45 yards behind team leader Crowder in receiving yards. If he ever really was overlooked he is forgotten no more.

—Kelley keeps on being a difference maker. In three games as the starter he has 321 yards on the ground, a 4.9-yard average per carry, and four touchdowns. Oh, and no fumbles. You keep on thinking that the magic might wear off at some point and early in the game when he was caught for a few negative carries—something he had rarely done even before he became a starter—it looked like it might not be his day. But he recovered from the slow start and clinched the game with a 66-yard run, a gallop that set up his third rushing touchdown of the day. He has a firm grip on the starting job. “It would be tough to get him out of there now,” said Gruden.

—I’m not sure how much of a “jinx” playing in prime time really is for the Redskins. The whole concept reached the point of near absurdity this past week when some younger Redskins players were being asked by the media to analyze the results of games that were played when they were in grade school. I have a feeling that as long as this team continues to improve their record in night games also will get better.

MORE: Cousins to Redskins GM: "How you like me now?"

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Daunting early run in Redskins 2019 schedule reveals that survival requires a fast start

Daunting early run in Redskins 2019 schedule reveals that survival requires a fast start

The Redskins face four 2018 playoff teams in their first five games of 2019.

If that sounds hard, that’s because it is.

Washington opens in Philadelphia before hosting the Cowboys. Then the Bears come to FedEx Field. All three of those teams made the playoffs last year, and will be considered contenders for the NFC championship this season.

<<CHECK OUT THE REDSKINS FULL 2019 SCHEDULE HERE>>

In Week 4, the Redskins travel to New York to take on the Giants. While that might look like a win for Washington, historically it’s been tough to get victories in the Meadowlands.

After that, the Patriots come to town. Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. A bunch of Super Bowl trophies. Yep, those Patriots.

Add it all up and the early season looks very tough for Jay Gruden’s team. After three straight non-playoff seasons, surely the pressure is on to make the playoffs in 2019.

With those first five games, Washington must win two simply to stay alive for the long run.

It’s overly naive and simplistic to make schedule assumptions, especially in April.

The NFL is hard enough to predict week to week, when injuries and starters are known quantities, let alone five months away from real game action.

With that noted, still, the Redskins' opening stretch is hard. NFC East games are always hard, and the Burgundy and Gold will play three division contests by Week 4.

The Patriots are the greatest dynasty in the history of the sport. To say the least, that’s a tough game.

The Bears won 12 games last season and their defense gave up fewer than 18 points-per-game.

If the Redskins can survive the early portion of 2019, things look more forgiving later.

But survival is key.

The Redskins have never been a fast starting team under Gruden, although he did notch his first Week 1 win last year.

2019 won’t be about Week 1. It won’t be about Week 5. But it will be about not getting into a large hole between Weeks 1 and 5.

The Redskins, even with a litany of questions, cannot afford a 1-4 start. They certainly cant afford a start worse than that.

In the NFL, the pressure is always on.

In Washington, it just doesn’t relent.

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The five games you need to circle on the Redskins' 2019 schedule, and why you should circle them

The five games you need to circle on the Redskins' 2019 schedule, and why you should circle them

Every game on the Redskins' 2019 schedule is equally important, but not all of them are equally interesting.

Redskins vs. Bills in Week 9 for example? Sure, it's going to matter for Washington as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015. But no one's wasting any ink circling that one on their calendars (unless you're a fan of breaking furniture, and if that's the case, circle away).

There are some very intriguing matchups on the 'Skins slate this season, though. These five stand out in particular.

Week 3 vs. the Bears (Monday Night Football)

If the Redskins' schedule was a golf course, it'd be one where the opening stretch was littered with endless, difficult Par 4s, lots of water and no catch-your-breath holes.

Washington certainly doesn't get to ease into the season, and they may very well need to turn around their struggles in Monday night home games (struggles that have seemingly lasted for roughly 200 years) against the Bears in order to stay relevant early.

Whoever their starting QB is at this point will face a loaded Bears defense led by Khalil Mack, while the Burgundy and Gold defense will have to bottle up Tarik Cohen. This could be an uplifting victory — or a loss that triggers lots of questions.

Week 5 vs. the Patriots 

Jot this one down as a loss, right? Sure. Probably.

But maybe not.

New England does tend to have issues pre-November. The Redskins, meanwhile, boast a stacked defensive line, which is paramount when trying to limit Tom Brady.

It's not going to be easy. It likely won't happen. But this is the NFL, a league where Nick Foles wins Super Bowls and Jason Garrett somehow holds onto a job for eight-plus campaigns. Don't assume anything.

Week 8 at the Vikings

It's the Redskins' first trip to US Bank Stadium!

Just kidding. You know why this one matters. Moving on.

Week 14 at the Packers

Lambeau Field late in the year is always interesting because there could be four feet of snow and the temperature might be 20 below zero.

Not only that — this contest could have NFC Wild Card implications.

Not only that — Aaron Rodgers might have alienated his new head coach already.

Not only that — Preston Smith will have a chance to go up against the likes of Trent Williams and Adrian Peterson.

There's a lot to look at here. Hopefully Washington is still in contention. 

Week 15 vs. the Eagles

Because of what happened in the 2018 finale, there'll be a lot of attention on what the crowd looks like at FedEx Field for this NFC East affair. This will also mark the start of three straight divisional games to close out the regular season.

Josh Rosen and the Redskins could be looking to guarantee a spot in January. Or, (random free agent passer) and the Redskins could be 4-9 and trying not to get Jay Gruden fired. 

It's hard to imagine what'll be going on at this point in the schedule. But it's a point of the schedule you'll absolutely need to see, just like the other four points in this blog.

FOR THE EIGHT MUST-SEE NFL GAMES OF 2019, INCLUDING BROWNS VS. PATRIOTS (WEIRD, YES) HEAD HERE.

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