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Redskins season ends after 35-18 home loss to Packers

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Redskins season ends after 35-18 home loss to Packers

The Redskins’ 2015 season came to an end at FedEx Field today as they lost to the Packers 35-18 in a wild card round playoff game.

The Redskins jumped out to an 11-0 lead on a safety, a field goal, and a 24-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Jordan Reed. But then Aaron Rodgers heated up and Green Bay scored on five straight possessions in the second, third, and fourth quarters and it was more than the Redskins could overcome.

The defense wore down under the relentless Packers no-huddle attack. They only sacked Rodgers once after he had been sacked 14 times in the previous two games.

On offense, the Redskins were unable to establish a consistent ground attack and while Cousins wasn’t way off, he was not as sharp as he had been while leading the Redskins to four straight victories to close out the season.

The Redskins finished the regular season at 9-7 they won the NFC East title. But they extended their skid without a playoff win to 10 years and they are still looking for their first home playoff win since after the 1999 season.

Key play: The Redskins were leading 11-7 in the second quarter and were driving in Packers territory. But the drive came to an abrupt end when Kirk Cousins was sacked and stripped of the ball by Packers lineman Mike Neal, who also recovered the fumble. The ensuing drive resulted in a Packers field goal, and what had been a back-and-forth affair swung to the Packers’ advantage.

Injury Update:

G Spencer Long left the game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. He returned to the game in the second half.

Scoring drives:

First quarter

Safety Rodgers sacked in the end zone by Smith

Drive: --

Key plays: The Packers started deep in their own territory after a punt and a penalty. After a false start penalty, Preston Smith sacked Rogers in the end end zone for the two points.

Redskins 2, Packers 0

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FG Hopkins 25

Drive: 10 plays, 48 yards, 5L36

Key plays: The Redskins started in good field position after the free kick. A 16-yard pass from Kirk Cousins to Alex Smith got them into Packers territory. Alfred Morris ran twice for another first down and then it was Cousins to Jordan Reed for 11 yards to the 15. On the next play, Cousins threw to DeSean Jackson, who was streaking across the middle. He went out of bounds just short of the goal line. Two runs and an incomplete pass left the Redskins needing to settle for three.

Redskins 5, Packers 0

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Second quarter

Reed 24 pass from Cousins (kick failed)

Drive: 7 plays, 64 yards, 3:22

Key plays: This drive got started when Jordan Reed made a stunning one-handed grab of a Cousins pass a rolled for 20 yards to convert a third and three. Then it was Cousins to Pierre Garçon for 13 yards. On third and 11 from the 24, Reed got behind the defense and Cousins found him in the end zone for the TD. The conversion attempt bounced off of the right upright.

Redskins 11, Packers 0

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Cobb 12 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick)

Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards, 3:58

Key plays: The Packers went no-huddle and got the drive jump-started with a 34-yard Rodgers pass over the middle to James Jones. A Randall Cobb run set up a first down at the 12. On second down from there, Rodgers took advantage of a free play with too many men on the field on the defense and fired a touchdown pass to Cobb in the end zone.

Redskins 11, Packers 7

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FG Crosby 43

Drive: 8 plays, 30 yards, 3:11

Key plays: This drive started with a takeaway, a sack and strip of Cousins with Mike Neal recovering the fumble. Rodgers went to Cobb for 18 yards into Redskins territory at the 43. On third and two from the 25, Quinton Dunbar knocked down Rodgers’ pass to force the Mason Crosby field goal.

Redskins 11, Packers 10

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Adams 10 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick)

Drive: 6 plays, 60 yards, 1:54

Key plays: The Packers started at their own 40 with no timeouts and hustled in for a score. A Rodgers to James Starks pass got them into Redskins territory at the 49. On third and two at the 30, Rodgers went to Davante Adams for 20 yards to set up first and goal at the 10. On second down from there, Rodgers found Adams wide open in the end zone for the touchdown with 28 seconds left in the first half.

Packers 17, Redskins 11

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Third quarter

Cousins 3 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 9 plays, 73 yards, 5:19

Key plays: The Redskins took the second half kickoff and got some points on the board. It started with Cousins throwing to Garçon for 21 yards and then Alfred Morris went up the middle for 19 yards to the Packers 33. The Redskins went for it on fourth and one at the 24 and Cousins rolled and flipped a pass to Jordan Reed, who battled down for a first and goal at the seven. On third and goal from the three, the receiver spread the field and Cousins ran the QB draw right up the middle for an easy touchdown.

Redskins 18, Packers 17

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Starks 4 run (Crosby kick)

Drive: 11 plays, 80 yards, 5:29

Key plays: The Packers answered the Redskins’ third-quarter score with one of their own. Eddie Lacy mae two big plays. First he converted a fourth and one with an 11-yard run and on the next play he cut across the grain for 30 yards down to the Redskins four. Then James Starks took a handoff, went around right end, and make it into the end zone.

Packers 24, Redskins 18

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Fourth quarter

Abbrederis Starks 2 run (Rodgers pass to

Drive: 10 plays, 76 yards, 5:39

Key plays: The Packers expanded their lead to two scores with a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. A pass from Rodgers to Randall Cobb was good for 15 yards to midfield then James Starks ran for 11. A few plays later it was Starks again for 22 yards down for a first and goal at the two. On the next play, Eddie Lacy ran up the middle of a tiring Redskins defense into the end zone. The two-point conversion put the Packers up by two touchdowns.

Packers 32, Redskins 18

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FG Crosby 29

Drive: 4 plays, 6 yards, 0:19

Key plays: The Packers took over on downs at their own 15 after sacking Kirk Cousins. They played it conservatively, running three times and then sending in Crosby

Packers 35, Redskins 18

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

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.

 

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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