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Can RG3 do it again in St. Louis?

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Can RG3 do it again in St. Louis?

If the Redskins are going to go on the road and win in a hostile dome again, it would help if Robert Griffin III can come close to duplicating what he was able to do last Sunday in New Orleans. But history shows that it difficult for a rookie to repeat a stellar stat line such as the one Griffin posted against the Saints. In fact, its hard to even come close.In his NFL debut Griffin passed for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Since 1990, just five other rookie quarterbacks have passed for 300 yards or more in a game (any game during their rookie seasons) with at least one touchdown and no interceptions. And none of them came close to duplicating that performance the following week.Here are the quarterbacks, dates, opponents, and yards-touchdowns-interceptions for their statistical gems and then what they did the following week.Andy Dalton91811@DEN332-2-0
Andy Dalton92511SF157-0-2Sam Bradford112810@DEN308-3-0
Sam Bradford12510@ARI187-0-1Matt Ryan101208CHI301-1-0
Matt Ryan102608@PHI277-2-2Byron Leftwich10503SD336-2-0
Byron Leftwich101203MIA256-0-3Chris Weinke122301STL312-1-0
Chris Weinke123001ARI223-1-1In those first weeks, the five rookie quarterbacks averaged 318 yards passing and 1.8 touchdowns. The week after the average was almost a hundred yards less at 220 with only Ryan (2) and Weinke (1) throwing touchdown passes. All five threw at least one interception with the average coming in at 1.8.This doesnt mean that Griffin will automatically throw an interception or will fail to throw a touchdown against the Rams. Thats a fairly small sample size there so anything could happen. But based on the evidence we have, the other teams defense is likely to have something ready for him.A good day by Griffin would help the Redskins beat the Rams but he shouldnt have to pull the freight by himself. He could be a little off from his historic debut and the Redskins could still pull out a win.St. Louis has upgraded its pass defense by signing veteran Courtland Finnegan to a free agent contract and by drafting Janoris Jenkins with the second-round pick they got from the Redskins in the trade for the Griffin draft pick. But their rushing defense, 31stlast year in terms of yards allowed, remains suspect.That could mean good opportunities for Alfred Morris with perhaps Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr. against the Rams. And even Griffin might get in on the act and kick in 40 or 50 yards on the ground.Defensively, the Redskins have to do what they did to the Rams last yearkeep the pressure on Sam Bradford. They sacked him seven times last year with Brian Orakpo getting credited with 2.5.Despite that, the Redskins had a difficult time putting away the Rams a year ago because they couldnt score points and Rex Grossman threw two interceptions. This offense seems to have some more life in it even if the new triggerman isnt quite as efficient as he was a week ago.Redskins 30, Rams 17

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Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Some NFL players ooze confidence. They thrive on emphasizing what they do well and not speaking about weaknesses. In a game as tough and physical as pro football, some players need to feel bulletproof to survive.

Chris Thompson is not like that. He was one of the stars in the Redskins’ 27-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. He rushed three times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 29 yards. And while he enjoyed the win, he did not revel in his performance as he made a glaring mistake.

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN NOT INCREASING THOMPSON'S WORKLOAD

In the third quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw him a perfect pass over the middle. The speedy Thompson had nothing but green grass and white stripes in front of him. But he dropped the pass, turning what likely would have been a 62-yard touchdown into an incompletion.

That play stuck with him despite his touchdown runs of 61 and seven yards.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “On the plane ride, getting dressed after the game, this morning watching film, when I was outside at practice, I was thinking about that one play. My first thing I wanted to do when I got out there in individuals with the quarterbacks was to run that route again and catch the ball.”

FANTASY: TO START CHRIS THOMPSON OR NOT?

Instead of reliving his glory, he went to work to correct one mistake.

This is not a lone instance of Thompson focusing on negative plays that he made. He said that mistakes stick in his mind more than good plays. During a few minutes talking to reporters on Wednesday, he recalled going the wrong way on a choice route against the Dolphins in 2015, costing a possible touchdown, making a similar mistake against the Browns last year, and errors that led to sacks of Cousins last year and of Robert Griffin III a few years ago.

“All of those things that I look back at that I did wrong, it helped me become a better player this year,” said Thompson. “I’ve been able to go back and look at that and see what went wrong and fix it now. As of late as I’ve become more confident in what I’m doing and more confident in my abilities I’m able to play better.”

Whatever Thompson is doing to become a better player is working. He signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. Jay Gruden sings his praises whenever he’s asked about him. His teammates almost universally admire and respect him. In his fifth NFL season, many analysts around the league are starting to recognize him as a main cog in the Redskins’ offense.

It is unlikely that he will change his approach.

“I had to mess up a lot in order to get where I am now,” he said. Thompson will continue to perfect his game by putting his imperfect moments under the microscope. 

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Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

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In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

READ MORE: KIRK COUSINS' HITS AND MISSES FROM WEEK 2

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!