LOS ANGELES—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 17, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.
Today’s schedule: Redskins kickoff 3:30 CSN; Redskins vs. Rams 4:25
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 7
—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 16
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 42
Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Rams
—Kirk Cousins has laid down stinkers in each of his three season openers. He has thrown for one touchdown and five interceptions in those games. Cousins’ passer rating rolls up to a 71.7, more than 20 points lower than his career average. In the games following the 2015 and 2016 openers, he was better, with two touchdowns and one pick and a combined passer rating of 96.1. He should be better today against the Rams than he was against the Eagles.
—The Redskins are 1-1 in those Week 2 games with Cousins and Jay Gruden. In the win, which was against the Rams at home in 2015, they ran the ball 37 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Last year in a home loss to the Cowboys the Redskins ran 17 times for 82 yards. I don’t think you need a statistical breakdown beyond that to see why they are 1-1 in those games. Washington will have to run the ball early and often to win this game. You will have a pretty good indication of how the Redskins will do at halftime. If they have 60 or more rushing yards at halftime they are in good shape. If they have 30 or so, they are in trouble.
—Sean McVay made Jared Goff an effective quarterback last Sunday after his awful 2016 performance. What helped him was a lot of play action passes like this 23-yard completion to Robert Wood. They key was that running was a credible threat. Todd Gurley ran 19 times for 40 yards. The important thing here was not the 40 yards or the 2.1 per carry average. It’s the 19 attempts that mattered. Even though the run game wasn’t working well, they stuck with it and it paid dividends in the passing game. It makes you wonder if McVay got away from the run too often last year of his own accord or if he was influenced by his head coach. It’s a small sample size but it’s worth keeping an eye on, especially today.
—The task of the Redskins defense will be to keep Gurley bottled up while reacting to the play-action passes. After a very good rookie season, Gurley has fallen off considerably. He hasn’t gained 100 yards in a game since December 13, 2015. The 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft has only gained as many as 70 yards in a game just once since Week 5 last year. Can they rely on the line and inside linebackers Zach Brown to bottle up Gurley and dare Goff to win another game with his arm?
—It’s not a must-win game but they sure don’t want to start 0-2. Gruden outlined the key for the Redskins in a press conference this week when he emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback on several occasions. They should be able to both get to Goff and, unlike with Carson Wentz last week, bring him down.
Redskins 21, Rams 14
Prediction record this year, 0-1
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In case you missed it
- Five Redskins who are under pressure against the Rams
- The Redskins week that was—Gruden low key, ref's 'gut' call
- Redskins vs. Rams Preview: Too early for a must win?