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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins-Jaguars

Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins-Jaguars

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 14, the day the Washington Redskins open their home season against the Jaguars.

Final thoughts on Redskins-Jaguars

Jim Haslett said the Redskins will be OK with five defensive linemen active and so did Jay Gruden. I’m not so sure I believe them, especially when the two backups are Clifton Geathers and Frank Kearse. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see if they do anything to disguise or cover for the weakness like using Trent Murphy or even Brian Orakpo as an end in situations that don’t call for the nickel.

—Duke Ihenacho probably won’t be ready to play much at safety; as Haslett pointed out he has just six real practices in this defense under his belt. That means that Bacarri Rambo will be the starter at strong safety. During training camp, Raheem Morris said that Rambo had “demons” in his head when it came to making open-field tackles. Last week certainly did nothing to clear those out and we’ll have to see what happens if a similar situation comes up.

—I don’t think that Gruden will forget about getting the ball to Alfred Morris again. You can’t let a guy who’s averaging 6.5 yards a pop get only 14 carries, especially when all you’ve got going in the passing game is the short stuff. I'll put the over/under at 23.5 carries for No. 46.

It was first reported by John Keim of ESPN that there would be no need for the Redskins to sign Zach Hocker or any other kicker for today’s game. Kai Forbath will be good to go despite being questionable with a right groin injury. Although I wanted Hocker, the stronger leg, to make the original 53 over Forbath, it would be disruptive to make a change now.

—The chances are good that we’ll see Robert Griffin III launch a deep pass for DeSean Jackson at some point during the game today, if only to show that they can do it.

—One thing you can almost certainly bank on? Pierre Garçon will catch at least five passes. He did that in every game last year and again against the Texans giving him 17 straight games with no fewer than five receptions. That’s one behind the Steelers’ Antonio Brown for the longest active streak in the NFL. That’s the longest such streak ever by a member of the Redskins and it’s four off of the NFL best of 21 by Jimmy Smith of Jacksonville.

Check out the game preview by Tarik El-Bashir and my game prediction.

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Jaguars, 1:00 p.m., CBS

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 7; Thursday night Giants @ Redskins 11; Monday night Seahawks @ Redskins 22

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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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Redskins-Cowboys Week 7 preview: A storyline, a stat and a player to watch

Redskins-Cowboys Week 7 preview: A storyline, a stat and a player to watch

This Sunday, for the 117th time, the Redskins and Cowboys will meet. 

Dallas will bring its 3-3 record into FedEx Field and face off with a 3-2 Washington squad. The winner of the contest will guarantee themselves a share of the NFC East lead heading into Week 8.

Here's a storyline, stat and player to watch for the next installment of this rivalry. Once you're done reading those, you can officially start preparing yourself for some sketchy fourth down decisions by Jason Garrett. 

Biggest storyline

Since his tidy but effective game vs. the Packers, Alex Smith turned in a disconcerting performance in New Orleans and a lukewarm effort (albeit a winning one) against the Panthers. Overall, Smith has looked very in control at times but also uneasy and ineffective at others so far in 2018.

So, the biggest storyline in this edition of the series has to do with Smith. If this game calls for it, can he lead the 'Skins to a victory?

That could be difficult vs. the Cowboys. The QB will be without Jamison Crowder again, and on Friday, Jay Gruden listed Paul Richardson as doubtful. Chris Thompson, meanwhile, is questionable.

So, it's likely Smith will be without two of his most talented weapons and possible that he'll be missing three. And on top of that, he'll be operating behind an offensive line that's had issues, which is contributing to his sometimes shaky feet in the pocket.  

To make things even harder, the Dallas defense allows the second-fewest points-per-game in the league and boasts a defensive line that Gruden is very worried about because it employs a scheme that involves a lot of movement. The Colts D-line uses a lot of stunts and movement, too, and they held the 'Skins to just 9 points in Week 2.

Smith has yet to top 300 yards this season or throw for more than two touchdowns in a single outing. He's had no problem winning when the team jumps to an early lead and the running game is going, sure, but he can't count on that each time he starts. 

At some point, his right arm is going to have to be mainly responsible for a Redskins W. And there'd be no better time for that to happen than in his first shot against his new franchise's most-hated opponent.

One key stat

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott don't know what it's like to play an NFL game vs. Washington and leave that game as the loser. Prescott is 4-0 in his four starts, while Elliott suited up in three of those triumphs. 

Elliott has been a big-time problem for the Redskins in their run-ins. The RB has scored five times against the burgundy and gold and averages 110 yards per appearance. 

Come Sunday around 7:30 or 8 p.m., when Elliott's day is done, odds are you'll be able to look at his stat line and judge the outcome of the game solely based on it.

If Greg Manusky and his defense, particularly his young stars up front, are able to bottle up Zeke, you have to like the Redskins' chances of beating the Cowboys for the first time since the 2015 season finale.

The Redskin to watch

Charley Casserly identified Fabian Moreau as a key Redskin for Week 7 (full video above). Another one worth watching is DJ Swearinger.

Swearinger terrorized Cam Newton last week and really flew around the entire field. He'll need to be as active against the Cowboys and, most importantly, be a sure tackler.

Elliott is going to churn out a few seven- and eight-yard runs. It'll be on Swearinger, plus fellow safety Montae Nicholson, to not let those become 20- or 30-yard gains. 

A lot of the attention, and deservedly so, will go toward what Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are doing on Sunday. But if Swearinger can take smart angles, get Elliott to the ground and make a few plays in pass coverage, that'll go a long way vs. a limited Dallas offense.

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