Quick Links

Preview: Redskins and Saints meet in a momentum-turning matchup


Preview: Redskins and Saints meet in a momentum-turning matchup

Jay Gruden did not issue a ‘code red’ for the second time in three games.

But maybe he should have.

Because if the Redskins (3-5) are going to have any hope of making a move in the NFC East, it’s got to start Sunday against Drew Brees and the Saints (4-5). Why? Cam Newton and the undefeated Panthers will be waiting in Charlotte a week later.

“This is a big game for us,” Gruden said this week. “It’s a home game. We always stress our home games. We’re playing another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees and an excellent Coach in Sean Payton. We have to come out fast.”

It’s also a pivotal matchup for the Saints, who boast the league’s No. 1 offense and its second worst defense. They’re coming off a 34-28 loss to the Titans.

“There’s a great sense our urgency at this point of the season,” Brees said, “because there’s no margin for error.”

Indeed, both teams have already used it all up.

Be sure to catch Redskins Kickoff on CSN Mid-Atlantic at noon and Redskins Postgame Live at 4.

Here are Tarik’s five areas/matchups to monitor:

1-It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but the Redskins’ run defense continues to be a significant problem for the Redskins. In the first four games of the season, they allowed an average of 78 yards per game. The last four? How about a whopping 187 per. Although there are many variables causing the repeated breakdowns, missed tackles have been a constant. Last week against the Patriots, credited the Redskins’ defense with a season-high 22. The Saints’ No. 1 running back, Mark Ingram, ranks 17th in yards per game (64.9) and has only one 100-yard game this season.

2-Again, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Redskins’ run game is not getting it done, eitherr. Over the past four games, here are the rushing yards totals: 51, 34, 50, 37. Not pretty. I fact, 172 yards marks the fewest in a 4-game span in franchise history. The previous low was 192 rushing yards back in 1961. This might be kinda obvious, but it’s tough to win if an integral part of your offense is performing at a historically bad rate. Gruden has said that Alfred Morris (3.3 yards per carry) and Matt Jones (three fumbles) will continue to split the workload but that he’s looking for better performance from the backs and an injury-ravaged offensive line, which now features exactly one starter from last season (Trent Williams). New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan-led defense, meantime, ranks 25th in rushing yards allowed per game (122.9) and 28th in yards per carry (4.7).  

3-In his first game back from a significant hamstring pull, wide receiver DeSean Jackson made very little impact against the Patriots, hauling in three passes (on six  targets) for 15 yards. Look for him to have a more productive day against a Saints’ pass defense that ranks 30th in yards allowed per game (292) and last in passing touchdowns allowed (24). “We do have high expectation for DeSean when he’s rolling,” Gruden said. “And we’ll get him rolling again. [Sunday] wasn’t his day; it wasn’t our day as an offense. But hopefully [against the Saints] we’ll see more balls flying his way and he can go get ‘em.”

4-There could be as many as three changes in the starting lineup. Center Brian de la Puente, signed on Tuesday, could replace Josh LeRibeus, who has struggled in run blocking and with shotgun snaps. It’s also possible, if not likely, at this point that Jeron Johnson will start at strong safety, replacing Trenton Robinson. Will Compton, meanwhile, could get the nod at inside linebacker, where Perry Riley’s performance has slipped and Keenan Robinson is nursing some nagging injuries. Compton posted a team-high 10 tackles against the Patriots.

5-Thursday marked the healthiest the Redskins have been in weeks. In fact, all 53 players on the roster participated in some capacity. Sure, that doesn’t make up for the key players lost to season ending injuries (Shawn Lauvao, Junior Galette, Duke Ihenacho, Adam Hayward and Niles Paul, to name a few) but it marks progress. “I had to re-read that a couple of times,” Gruden cracked after looking at the injury report. “It’s good to have a full group. You can practice a little longer, which is good. You’re not stressing out the guys who are healthy [because] they have to  take a lot of reps. It’s good to get some guys some rest but also get a lot of work in. That’s been a big benefit this week.”    

Quick Links

10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?


10 Questions in 10 days: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

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. 

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

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

It might be hard to remember now, but there was a week late last season for the Redskins where most informed people considered Kevin O'Connell on his way out. The talented young quarterbacks coach was being pursued by Chip Kelly to be offensive coordinator at UCLA, and the smart money suggested O'Connell would take the job. 

Except he didn't. 

O'Connell decided to stay with the Redskins and continue to work on Jay Gruden's staff. In turn, Washington promoted O'Connell to passing game coordinator, a new title that likely means much more involvement in game-planning. 

Working for Gruden comes with some perks. Sean McVay ran the offense for Gruden for a few seasons and landed a prime head coaching job with the Rams. McVay has plenty of his own talent, but throughout the NFL, Gruden's offense is widely respected. 

How will O'Connell's influence shape things this fall?

Consider that he deserves some credit for Kirk Cousins improved play out of the pocket in 2017. Now combine a coach that schemes plays for QBs on the move with new Washington passer Alex Smith, a strong runner and serious athlete, and this offense could look much more mobile in 2018. 

Gruden still has the final call on gameday, but O'Connell's voice will matter this year, more so than before. Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh retain their roles and prominence in the offensive game-planning, for sure, but as Washington imports more run-pass option plays and QB movement, know that O'Connell is playing his part. 

Things will look different with Alex Smith running the Redskins offense than they did with Kirk Cousins at the helm. 

Just remember, O'Connell didn't turn down a job in Hollywood for no reason. 



Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.

Quick Links

Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The best receivers the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 17, nine days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best pass catchers the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the pass catchers are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 receiving yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teams and quarterbacks

Julio Jones, Falcons—Somehow the perception is that he had an off year in 2017 even though he still had 1,444 yards receiving. His touchdowns were down; his total of three TDs was a career worst for a full season. Still, he’s a beast to try to cover and even if you have him perfectly covered he can still make the catch on you. 

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans—Despite working with some shaky quarterbacks, Hopkins has managed to gain over 1,100 receiving yards in three of the last four seasons. He is a highlight show regular and his 13 touchdowns led the league in 2017. 

Michael Thomas, Saints—The third-year player doesn’t have high name recognition outside of New Orleans and maybe fans of the other NFC South teams. Defensive coordinators certainly don’t sleep on him. Thomas is as consistent as they come, posting nine games with 80 or more receiving yards last season. 

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals—I keep wondering when he will show signs of his age (he’ll be 35 before the season starts). He didn’t last year, posting 109 receptions despite the fact that his quarterbacks were an aging Carson Palmer plus journeymen Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. 

Mike Evans, Buccaneers—At 6-5, he is able to physically beat most cornerbacks. Evans will turn 25 just before the season starts and he got a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension. He is worth every bit of it. If Jameis Winston gets a big contract (something that is up in the air right now), he owes a good chunk of it to Evans. 

Best of the rest: T.Y. Hilton, Colts; Davante Adams, Packers; Alvin Kamara (RB), Saints; Zach Ertz (TE), Eagles

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

Tandler on Instagram

Post is up on #Redskins

A post shared by Rich Tandler (@richtandler) on


Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 9
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 23
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 46

The Redskins last played a game 198 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 54 days. 

In case you missed it