CHICAGO--In summary: Reserve quarterback Kirk Cousins directed a late comeback Saturday night at Soldier Field. But their bid to stun the Bears came up just short when Robbie Goulds 57-yard field goal sailed through the uprights with 31 seconds remaining, sealing Chicagos 33-31 victory.Cousins, though, was the feel-good story on a night that left the Redskins hoping for the best with regard to a pair of key defensive players.Cousins, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs and had more than a dozen friends and family members in the crowd, torched the team he cheered as a youngster. The rookie out of Michigan State played the entire second half, connecting on 18 of 23 attempts for 264 yards, tossing touchdowns to Niles Paul, Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe.Cousins passer rating was 154.1, just slightly below a perfect mark of 158.3, while facing the Bears second and third string defenses.It was a good performance, but again, it was great play calls, guys making plays, Cousins said. I just saw the open guy and they made it happen.Injury update: It appears that both linebacker Brian Orakpo (left pectoral muscle) and safety Brandon Meriweather (left knee) will be further evaluated Sunday morning.Orakpo said the injury was to the same muscle he injured in the season finale last season.Its a little scar tissue, we hope, Orakpo said. I dont think its too serious at all. But we just have to play it by ear, get an MRI in the morning and see how it goes. It felt something that was very uncomfortable.Meriweather was less forthcoming about his status.Im okay, he said. Well see.Shanahan said Meriweather also will get an MRI on Sunday.Another safety, DeJon Gomes, was seen exiting the building wearing a boot on his left ankle.Defensive line Kedric Golston was held out with an elbow injury, Shanahan said.London ailing? On Thursday, linebacker London Fletcher did not practice and Shanahan said he wasnt feeling well. On Saturday night, Fletcher did not suit up and after the game Shanahan danced around the subject.Im not exactly sure why, Shanahan said. But any time London saud hes not feeling very good, then you know something is wrong. Hopefully he will feel better this week.Play of the game: Brandon Banks needed a big performance and the smallish playmaker delivered. He returned a punt in the second quarter 91 yards for a touchdown, cutting from he left hashes to the right sideline, then turning on the afterburners.Banks did not, however, line up at wide receiver.I was going to fair catch it, but David Jones a good job at the gunner spot holding his guy, Banks said. I seen daylight and open field and it was off to the races.By the numbers: Safety Madieu Williams made a team-high six tackles and defended a pass in two quarters of play.Breakthrough performances: Aldrick Robinson and Dezmon Briscoe are among a group of five receivers fighting for the final two wide receiver positions. Both were on the receiving end of touchdown passes from Cousins.He made a couple of great catches, Shanahan said of Briscoe, who finished with three receptions for 51 yards. Thats what you want.Robinson, meantime, made six receptions for 104 yards.My bad: Rookie Alfred Morris said he missed a block on the play where Robert Griffin III was stripped on the ball by Israel Idonije.I dont like people touching my quarterback, Morris said. That was on me. I take full responsibility.Quotable: I think all of starters wanted to go back in the second half after the half we had, Griffin said. We didnt play bad. We didnt play good either.Kicking battle finally begins, sort of: Neither kicker attempted a field goal in Buffalo, but Saturday Neil Rackers got two opportunities. He was 1 for 2, connecting from 28 yards and missing from 54.Graham Gano, however, still has not had a chance to kick a field goal.On the mend: Tackle Trent Williams said he did not have any adverse effects from the bone bruise he suffered last week in Buffalo. Guard Maurice Hurt also played after being limited in practice.Guard Chris Chester, though, did not play and was seen on the sideline, walking slowly with a slight hitch in his step.Did not play: Jonathan Crompton, Rex Grossman, Anthony Armstrong, Roy Helu Jr., Morgan Trent, Markus White, Fletcher, Jordan Black, Nick Martinez, Golston, Chester, Chris Campbell, Marlon Favorite, Richard Quinn, Lance Lewis, Beau Reliford and Kentwan Balmer.
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.
—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105
Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.
Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016
(originally posted January 28)
As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.
The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.
The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.
The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.
While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.
Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.
The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.
Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.
- Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy.
- Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
- Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.
Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.
See you Tuesday fam pic.twitter.com/NINvMBljUT— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) May 26, 2017
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