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Need to Know: A light workload for Redskins' offense vs. Eagles

Need to Know: A light workload for Redskins' offense vs. Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 13, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 11; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 19

Injuries of note:
LB Compton (PCL sprain), LB Cravens (muscle flexor), RB Brown (concussion)
Latest injury report

Last look at Redskins vs Eagles

A good (not great) quality win—I’m getting a laugh out of fans who think that a five-point road win in the division is somehow inadequate. The Redskins were favored by just a point and the people who set those lines don’t draw them out of a hat. Washington is better, but not by that much. It’s not a huge win over another playoff contender but it shouldn’t be taken for granted, either. The Redskins aren’t good enough for that yet.

Working part time: The Redskins ran just 48 offensive plays against the Eagles. According to Pro Football Focus that is the fewest snaps they have had in a game since at least 2006 (that’s as far back as their records go). For perspective, the NFL average this year is about 64 snaps per team per game. Considering that, it is somewhat remarkable that they managed 334 yards of offense and scored four touchdowns. Kirk Cousins was the model of efficiency with just 14 pass completions good for 234 yards (16.7 yards/completion) I’m not sure if it’s a formula for success that they can replicate but every once in a while it comes in handy.

The Everett hit: Deshazor Everett will almost certainly get fined for his hit on Darrel Sproles. I doubt that a suspension will be coming. To paraphrase my friend @BurgundyBlog from Twitter, it certainly was a reckless play by Everett. He was out of control. But it was flat out stupid of Sproles not to call for a fair catch. The Eagles fans and media who want Everett to be banned or put in jail need to get a grip.

Should Thompson have taken a knee? Fans could have been spared a ton of anxiety if Chris Thompson had taken a knee somewhere inside the five-yard line instead of scoring on his 25-yard run just after the two-minute warning. The Redskins could have run down the clock (the Eagles had just one timeout left) and taken a field goal attempt as time expired. But there was too much risk involved. Thompson mentioned to me Dustin Hopkins’ short miss against the Bengals in London. And other stuff, anything from a fumbled quarterback exchange to a bad snap on the field goal try, could go wrong, too. It was better for Thompson to finish the play and make the Eagles get a touchdown for the win. The fact that they nearly did doesn’t make scoring the TD a bad idea.

Hodgepodge: Jordan Reed played just 10 snaps. It was good for the Redskins to be able to win essentially without him . . . The Eagles put the ball on the ground two other times before Wentz’s final fumble in the last minute. This is what I wrote last week about how they are not recovering fumbles at the same rate they were last year . . . The most underrated offensive play of the game for the Redskins was the 33-yard pass from Cousins to Crowder that got the game-winning drive jump-started. Nice touch on the thrown a difficult catch executed by Crowder, and a good decision to challenge by Gruden. If the incomplete ruling had stood, the Redskins would have been facing third and 10 at their own 23 and who knows what would have happened after that.

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Ryan Kerrigan will play less in 2020 but could produce much more

Ryan Kerrigan will play less in 2020 but could produce much more

The Redskins drafted Chase Young with the second overall pick and reality dictates that the rookie will take snaps away from veteran pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan.

That could actually be good news for Kerrigan.

For the first nine years of his NFL career, Kerrigan never missed a game. That’s incredible. In 2019, his streak of 139 straight starts ended as a concussion and a heel injury forced him to miss four games.

Expected back fully healthy this fall, the question now becomes what will Kerrigan’s role be in a crowded group of pass rushers that includes Young as well as 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat.

"You're fired up for having all of these guys, but then they can't all go on the field at the same time," Redskins defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said about his glut of pass rushers. "So that is part of it, like being able to deal with that aspect of it, having guys understand, 'Hey, you're not going to play all the time.' Or, 'You're not the starter.' Those are things to me, that always get settled best with competition and once guys earn what they've earned I think everybody in the room pretty much understands that."

Here’s the thing - even at 31 Kerrigan keeps himself in elite physical shape. He’s two years removed from a 13-sack season and in three of the previous four seasons he registered at least 11 sacks.

Even though he logged just 5.5 sacks last year, the four-time Pro Bowler can still play, and in the new defensive scheme Del Rio and head coach Ron Rivera intend to deploy, Kerrigan can play to his strengths too.

"We're going to ask our guys to be more penetrating and disruptive," Del Rio said. 

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For the first time in his career Kerrigan likely won’t be the focal point of the Redskins defensive front. In fact, with Young, Sweat, Ryan Anderson and a gang of talent rushing from the interior like Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis, Kerrigan might be a bit of an afterthought.

That’s a great place for him to be.

Focused just on rushing the passer and without being asked to chase running backs and tight ends downfield in pass coverage, Kerrigan can play to his strengths. And strength is his strength.

"The other part about coaching is kind of keep guys out of positions that they're not good at," Del Rio said. "Accentuate the positives and try and keep your guys out of situations that they are not good in and put them in more of the situations that they are good at."

If offensive tackles are constantly dealing with the speed and athleticism of Sweat and Young, then Kerrigan comes in for clear passing situations with his patented bull rush and rip move, the results could be formidable.

Of course 2020 has also become a contract year for Kerrigan. The previous regime might have already worked toward an extension, but Rivera has been clear since his arrival in January that things will be run differently.

It’s possible with consecutive first-round picks spent on pass rushers that Rivera does not consider Kerrigan part of his long-term rebuild. The opposite is also possible, that Rivera will want Kerrigan around for the long haul as a third-down pass rusher and veteran leader for the team. Kerrigan doesn’t say much but he works extremely hard on the practice field and in the weight room. That has a lot of value.

Questions for 2021 aren’t important yet. Kerrigan can go out and prove Washington needs him next year with solid play this year.

There will be fewer snaps, that’s obvious, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be production.

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Redskins' Chase Young among NFL players featured in video requesting league condemn racism

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Redskins' Chase Young among NFL players featured in video requesting league condemn racism

Following the murder of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, many around the world have made their voices heard about the racial injustices in America. That includes athletes of all sports, along with their respective teams and leagues.

However, some statements came across as disingenuous due to the vague language and misunderstanding of what the protests are truly about. The NFL released a statement Saturday expressing condolences to the families of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, but it didn't touch on the racism that black Americans are constantly faced with.

Frustrated with that notion, several players teamed up to release a video voicing what they want to hear from the NFL on the matter.

Posted on Giants running back Saquon Barkley's Twitter, the message featured some of the biggest names in the sport. Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and others all shared the common messaging of wanting the NFL to explicitly address the racism and problems the country currently faces. Redskins rookie Chase Young was also part of the statement.

The video begins with the players wondering what it will take for the league to seriously commit itself to change in the future, feeling the current statements were inadequate. 

"What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality?" the players said.

"What if I was George Floyd?" the players asked.

Those questions were followed up with the realization that their standings as professional athletes don't separate them from those who have been victims of police brutality. 

"I am George Floyd, I am Breonna Taylor, I am Ahmaud Arbery, I am Eric Garner, I am Laquan McDonald, I am Tamir Rice, I am Trayvon Martin, I am Walter Scott, I am Michael Brown Jr., I am Samuel Dubose, I am Frank Smart, I am Phillip White, I am Jordan Baker," they said. 

Then, the players submitted their call to action for the NFL. They will continue to peacefully protest, and demand the league shows support and solidarity right alongside them. No more cookie-cutter statements, but an admittance of past mistakes and accountability for the future.

"On behalf of the National Football League, this is what we, the players, would like to hear you state: 'We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,'" they said. '"We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter.'"

A powerful and moving message, the stars of the NFL made one thing clear: It's time for the league to make real change. They will no longer accept the bare minimum, and instead, demand support and action.  

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