Redskins

Redskins

The Redskins laid an offensive egg in their season opener. Kirk Cousins and his crew mustered only 10 points against the Eagles, and the quarterback specifically blew an important scoring opportunity with a red zone interception. The team turned the ball over four times in total, and while the defense impressed, overall it was a terrible effort. 

Want some good news? That was just one week. 

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Each of the past two seasons, the Redskins dropped their opening game. And each of the past two seasons, the Redskins competed for a playoff spot and finished with a winning record. 

That does mean, however, the Redskins really need to win this weekend in Los Angeles. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Numbers game - In 2015, the Redskins opened the year 1-1 and made the playoffs with nine wins. In 2016, the Redskins opened the season 0-2 and finished the season with eight wins. Further, the statistics overwhelmingly show that teams with an 0-2 record don't make the playoffs. In the NFL, the postseason is what matters. Washington needs a win this week to give themselves a chance at playing in January.
  2. Return of the Mc - Sean McVay, the new head coach of the Rams, should be plenty familiar to Redskins fans as he ran the team's offense the last two seasons. Only 31-years-old, McVay is a football savant and led the Rams to a rousing 46-9 win over the Colts in the season opener. Jay Gruden said all the right things about facing McVay this week, as the two have a close relationship. Cousins went one step further and credited McVay for his career as a QB. For all the platitudes this week, and there were plenty, the Rams will likely hold an edge on Sunday because of McVay's familiarity with the Washington offense. How much that edge means remains to be seen. 
  3. 3rd and forever - The Redskins defense definitely looked improved against the Eagles. They handled the Philly run game well and were able to pressure Carson Wentz, though they struggled to bring him down in spots. Unfortunately, the Washington defense continued to struggle on third down. The Eagles converted 7 of 13 third down opportunities. And what's worse, five of those conversions came with eight yards or more left for the first down. Rams QB Jared Goff does not seem to have the escapeability that Wentz has, and the 'Skins pass rushers need to do a better job off not diving for sacks. Rookie defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and linebacker Zach Brown had great chances for repeated sacks, but Wentz was able to escape. Gruden is counting on his pass rush for better third down defense: "Got to rush the passer. You can play different coverages, there’s going to be a hole in a zone if you play zone, man-to-man you’re going to have to buckle down and play good, tight man-to-man. At the end of the day, you’ve got to rush the passer."
  4. Been a while - The Redskins haven't played in L.A. since 1994. Bill Clinton was president and the most of the nation had never heard of the internet. Truthfully, playing in new environs should not be a big deal for pro athletes, and the Skins are no exception. West coast travel can be a bit of a burden, but the team will head to California after practice on Friday to acclimate to the time change. One thing to watch: USC will play Texas on Saturday night at the L.A. Colliseum, less than 24 hours before the Redskins face the Rams. Keep an eye on that field. 
  5. Turn it off - Despite the poor offensive effort last week against Philly, the Redskins still had a chance to beat the Eagles in the fourth quarter. Cousins' second fumble, the one that was returned for a TD, buried the 'Skins. In LA, Washington absolutely must protect the ball better. In four straight season opening losses for Jay Gruden, his teams have had at least two turnovers. The goal against the Rams should be protecting the football, and in turn, giving their squad a much better chance at a win.

News & Notes

  • Kirk Cousins threw for just 240 yards in Week 1. He hasn't had consectuive games with less than 250 yards passing since October of 2015.
  • The Redskins hold a 25-13-1 record against the Rams all-time.
  • Beyond Sean McVay, the Rams have a number of former Redskins coaches on the LA staff including Joe Barry, Matt LaFleur and Aubrey Pleasant. 
  • Preston Smith recorded his first ever NFL sack in his first ever NFL game, as a rookie in 2015. That season he finished with 8 sacks. Last year, his first full sack didn't come until Week 7, and he finished the year with just 4.5 sacks. Smith recorded a sack last week in Philly. 
  • Rams QB Jared Goff played great last week against the Colts. He passed for more than 300 yards and completed 72 percent of his passes. But last season, Goff was a 54 percent passer that threw more INTs than TDs. 

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