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Instant Analysis: Redskins finish strong, snag first win of season over the Rams

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Instant Analysis: Redskins finish strong, snag first win of season over the Rams

LOS ANGELES—The Redskins picked up their first win of the season, against Sean McVay's Rams team, despite a number of injuries to key offensive players. Here are Rich Tandler's observations by quarter. 

First quarter

—Rookie Montae Nicholson saw his first snaps of the year on defense early. He was in for the first couple of plays before Deshazor Everett came in for him.

—On their first possession, the Redskins called seven passes (including a sack) and six runs. Rob Kelley picked up 23 yards, only seven fewer than he had for the entire game last week. They converted three third downs, as many as they had the entire Eagles game. The result was a 41-yard Hopkins field goal.

MORE REDSKINS: Must See Photos NFL Week 2: Redskins 27 Rams 20

Second quarter

—The Redskins drove 65 yards on six plays, all of them on the ground. Kelley got things started with runs of 19 and 21 yards. Chris Thompson ran for nine and then seven, diving in for a touchdown on the second carry. After two possessions, the Redskins had 82 yards rushing,

—On the Rams’ first play from scrimmage after the touchdown, Josh Norman stripped Todd Gurley and Terrell McClain recovered at the Los Angeles 30.

—The Rams forgot to cover Thompson coming out of the backfield on the next play and he scampered down to the eight. But a run and two incompletions forced the Redskins into a field goal try. Hopkins made it to put the Redskins up 13-0.

—About 18 minutes into the game the Redskins had outgained the Rams 143-31 and had nine first downs to one for Los Angeles. They had 93 rushing yards to 11 for the Rams.

— Goff scrambled and found Gerald Everett for 69 yards down to the Washington 6. Goff had too much time to throw, a receiver was bound to break free. The QB found him and threw a strike. Zach Brown ran him down at the six but three plays later Todd Gurley scored and suddenly, the Redskins’ failure to get into the end zone after the Rams fumble looked big.

—A well-designed play got Gurley wide open on a third and four and he rolled to the Redskins’ 29. In the first quarter the Redskins got pressure on Goff. But as the second quarter wore on, he had more and more time to throw. He took advantage of it and got the Rams down for a field goal to make it 13-10.

—The Redskins scored quickly, answering the Rams field goal. Chris Thompson ran a draw with perfect timing and scampered 61 yards for a touchdown. Thompson made all 75 yards on the drive, catching two passes for 14 yards before taking the handoff and darting up the middle for the score.

—The Redskins finally got to Goff as they tried a two-minute drive. Preston Smith got him on first down and Ryan Kerrigan knocked the ball out on third down. The Rams recovered but we’ll see if a tone was set for the second half.

—Cousins had an unimpressive first half. After completing his first four passes he was 5-11. He finished the half with 9-15 for 81 yards, a 74.6 passer rating.

—The Redskins still had a huge edge, with 225 net yards to 148 for the Rams. But after converting their first three third downs they were 0-4 the rest of the half. The good news is that the Rams only converted three of seven, too.

Third quarter

—A moment to mark on the Redskins’ first possession of the second half came when a good Cousins pass slipped through the hands of Thompson, who was running down the middle at full steam. If not a touchdown, it’s at least a first down in the red zone for the Redskins. Instead, they ended up punting.

—No, the pass rush momentum generated at the end of the first half did not carry into the second. Goff had plenty of time to convert a third and 5 on a pass to Sammy Watkins and then a pass to Everett. A few plays later they got pressure but Goff got off a pass to Todd Gurley, who hurdled a defender and then extended the ball over the goal line to make it a tight game again.

—The Redskins moved on their next possession, getting three second-down conversions on a 17-yard pass to Crowder, a pass interference flag, and an 11-yard Perine run. But a 51-yard Hopkins field goal attempt went off the right upright and the Redskins not only came away empty but they left the Rams with good field position at their own 41.

—The missed field goal didn’t hurt that much except in terms of field position. The Rams went three and out but the Rams downed Johnny Hecker’s punt at the six.

Fourth quarter

—The Redskins missed another opportunity on a third and four when Cousins scrambled and tossed to Thompson just before crossing the line. But the pass was just too long for Thompson to handle and the Redskins again had to give up the ball while nursing just a three-point lead.

—A pass on a fake punt turned a punt from the Washington 45 into a first down at the 17. It was fourth and six and Johnny Hekker passed to Josh Reynolds for 28 yards and a first down at the 17. An offensive pass interference play negated a goal to go situation. The Rams had to settle for a game-tying 40-yard field goal. Still, Sean McVay’s gamble paid off for three points.

—The Redskins got into a hole when trying to answer that field goal when a holding penalty set up second and 18. But a draw to Perine gained 12 and a pass to Crowder picked up eight and the Redskins kept possession.

—A couple of Perine runs and a 23-yard pass to Pryor got the Redskins into the red zone with two and a half minutes left. On third down at the 12, Cousins threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Grant near the left sideline in the end zone. After the play survived video review, Hopkins kicked the PAT to put the Redskins up 27-20. Cousins went 3-3 on the 10-play drive, making up for a so-so game up to that point. It was Grant’s first catch of the day and the biggest of his career. The clock showed 1:49 and two timeouts left for the Rams.

—The Rams’ attempt to tie the game lasted exactly one play. Mason Foster picked off Goff’s pass to the right flat and the Redskins ran out the clock.

—The Redskins didn’t make it easy, surviving some key mistakes. But the defense rose up when it had to, the offense did the same, and Washington came out with the W.

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

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10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No. 4: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

In a way, the Redskins are quite lucky. Not every team in the NFL has an unequivocal No. 1 corner. Washington has that in Josh Norman

His interception numbers in 2017 did not get the job done, but he still played quite well. Norman got targeted significantly less than the league average, which means NFL quarterbacks actively chose not to mess with former All Pro. 

Still, Norman needs more interceptions than last year. He grabbed none, and he will admit that he must create more turnovers. 

Regardless, Norman is not the Redskins question mark at cornerback. What happens after Norman is the question. 

Washington moved quick this offseason to lock up Quinton Dunbar off restricted free agency. Dunbar has size and range, and has looked quite capable, in spots. He doesn't have a ton of experience, however, and will be asked to start this fall. The team also signed veteran Orlando Scandrick - from the Cowboys - as a likely nickel/slot corner. 

Second-year man Fabian Moreau will be expected to take a significant step forward this fall. The Redskins would like very much to be able to primarily rely on Norman, Moreau and Dunbar while asking less of Scandrick. 

Don't forget Washington lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason. Fuller got moved to Kansas City as part of the Alex Smith trade, and Breeland remains a free agent.

Redskins coaches won't tell the exact truth, but the the team would love for Moreau to emerge opposite Norman and let Dunbar play in the slot. Or maybe let Moreau emerge in the slot, like Fuller did in 2017, and Dunbar opposite Norman. Scandrick hasn't played a full season since 2013, and the 'Skins brass can't expect that in 2018 for the 31-year-old corner. 

Josh Holsey, Adonis Alexander and Greg Stroman will provide depth at the bottom of the roster. That's two seventh-round picks and a supplemental sixth round pick. While each player provides reasons for optimism, it's hard to think any of the three young players will provide immediate help. They're better focused fighting for a roster spot than a starting spot. 

In 2017, cornerback ranked as a strength for the Redskins. 

In 2018, it's a big question. Elite play from Norman could change much of that equation. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 22, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview: Offense

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the offense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. 

Alex Smith

The subheadline here doesn’t need any elaboration. The Redskins gave up a top-100 draft pick, a promising player, and $71 million in guaranteed money to get him. When asked about the timetable for Smith picking up the offense, Jay Gruden said, “He has got to get it down by the first game.”

That first game is seven weeks from today. Of course, the process has already started as Smith appeared to have a solid grasp of things in the offseason practices. There is every reason to think that he will look good in Richmond. 

The question is, how much will the coaches push him? Will they focus on him having success on shorter, easier throws to build his confidence? Or will they call plays that test his ability to throw deep? Last year in Kansas City his ability to hit on long passes helped transform him from being an above-average quarterback to an MVP candidate. The Redskins need him to be effective deep starting Week 1 and training camp needs to be the starting point. 

The running back rotation

This is primarily about Derrius Guice, who is the most anticipated rookie running back in team history. The Redskins were 28th in rushing yards last year and they bring back the same offensive line (although hoping for better health) and three of the same running backs. They are counting on Guice to be the difference maker. 

But Guice can’t do it by himself. Gruden will be wary of overworking his rookie, who has an aggressive running style and who was banged up for a lot of his last year at LSU. He also may give Guice a light load if he struggles in pass protection early on. Chris Thompson’s role is set. Where do Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine line up? Does one or the other take most of the first-team reps when Guice is getting a rest? 

The difference between being the third back and the fourth is big. The fourth back on the depth chart is unlikely to be active most game days. The active back could get five to 10 carries per game.

Who’s at left guard?

Is Shawn Lauvao going to be the left guard? It doesn’t seem logical that they would put all their eggs in Lauvao’s injury-prone and frequently ineffective basket. Will Ty Nsekhe line up there? Do they think that Tyler Catalina or Kyle Kalis can push for the starting job? Is a trade in the offing? 

Jordan Reed’s health

This does not need much explanation if you’ve been paying attention the last several years. It would be both a good sign and a major surprise if he starts camp healthy and doesn’t miss any time due to injuries. If he’s out there, there is no question that he and Smith will quickly develop chemistry. 

Wide receiver depth chart

The stakes at wide receiver are similar to those at running back. The top backup behind the three starters, who could be any of Maurice Harris, Robert Davis, Brian Quick or Try Quinn, will have a regular role in the offense line Ryan Grant had last year. The fifth guy will rarely play, the player who has the sixth spot will rarely play, and the seventh won’t have a job. 

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

Tandler on Twitter

Apparently, some teams are worried that their players are playing too much of the video game Fortnite. No, seriously.

Timeline 

Happy birthday to Redskins running back Quinton Dunbar, who was born on this date in 1992.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 4
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 18
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 41

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 49 days. 

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