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Defense earns best grade yet vs. Vikings

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Defense earns best grade yet vs. Vikings

Defense
Grade vs. Vikings: B+
Comment: Although it may have seemed that the Redskins’ defense got pushed around in the first quarter as Vikings kicker Blair Walsh finished off consecutive drives with short field goals, in fact, keeping Minnesota out of the end zone early likely proved to be the difference in the game.

Three times, Christian Ponder and the Vikings had the ball inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line. But instead of seizing a 21-0 lead, they settled for a 9-0 edge that was quickly erased by Washington’s high-octane offense.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett also deserves kudos for making significant changes to his personnel. After struggling to produce an adequate pass against the Falcons and Buccaneers, Haslett introduced special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander (season-high 27 snaps) to the rotation of linebackers and scaled back playing time for Chris Wilson (2). Recently signed Mario Addison also played 11 snaps.

Of course, the Redskins still miss two-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Brian Orakpo. But his absence was much less noticeable Sunday with Alexander enjoying a breakout game. Alexander’s fumble recovery at the Minnesota 6-yard line led to a touchdown. He also recorded 1-½ sacks of the team’s season-high four sacks.

Haslett also increased Jordan Pugh’s playing time at safety and reduced DeJon Gomes’.

“We’re going to always try to play the best players,” Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. “So if a guy like Lorenzo has a great game, we’re going to try to find ways to get him into the football game.”

The defense also produced a touchdown – again. Madieu Williams’ 24-yard interception return for a touchdown was the Redskins’ fourth defensive score of the season.

It wasn’t a flawless performance by any means. Ponder passed for 352 yards, Percy Harvin hauled in 14 receptions for 133 yards and Adrian Peterson ripped off an early 32 yard run. But the unit produced three turnovers and, although it bent in the fourth quarter, it did not break, which should give the Redskins something to build on entering next week’s NFC East opener in New York.

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Snap Chat: Preston Smith makes the most of his limited playing time

Snap Chat: Preston Smith makes the most of his limited playing time

Here is my weekly look at playing time for the Redskins during their win over the Raiders:

—Defensively, the Redskins were in nickel a lot. Slot corner Kendall Fuller played 46 of the 51 defensive snaps. That generally means that they are playing fewer defensive lineman and indeed, nose tackle Ziggy Hood played only 18 snaps.

Junior Galette played only 15 snaps, down from 19 against the Rams. He did get half a sack.

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM THE REDSKINS' WIN

—It was surprising to see that Preston Smith got only 23 snaps. That is by far a season low but it’s hard to argue with the strategy. He was very effective with his limited snaps, getting a sack and tackling Marshawn Lynch for no gain on a third and two play.

—Rookie OLB Ryan Anderson is getting worked into the lineup more and more. He got 24 snaps on defense, one more than he had in the first two games combined, and another eight on special teams.

—The two defensive players who were in for 100 percent of the 51 defensive snaps were S D.J. Swearinger and ILB Zach Brown. CB Josh Norman played 47 snaps and ILB Martrell Spaight, Fuller, and CB Bashaud Breeland played 46 each.

—On offense, Josh Doctson (36) got more playing time than Ryan Grant (34) for the first time this year.

RELATED: CAN THE REDSKINS SUSTAIN THEIR SUCCESS?

—Between Kirk Cousins and the five starting offensive linemen, only Shawn Lauvao missed any of the 68 plays run. Lauvao came out for one play to have his helmet fixed.

—TE Jeremy Sprinkle made his NFL debut, getting seven snaps.

—Besides Colt McCoy, the only player who was active who did not get into the game was rookie ILB Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 26, six days before the Washington Redskins play Chiefs in Kansas City.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 27
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 33

Last look at Redskins vs. Raiders

—I could fill up this entire post with numbers that demonstrate just how dominant the Redskins defense was on Sunday. Here’s one that impressed me—with the exception of two series that started with turnovers deep in Washington territory, the Raiders ran one play on the Redskins’ side of the field. Early in the second quarter, Derek Carr threw a short pass that Marshawn Lynch turned into an eight-yard gain to the Washington 48. On the next play, Kendall Fuller picked off Carr’s pass. That was it until Jamison Crowder muffed a punt, giving Oakland the ball at the Washington 21 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter.

Kirk Cousins passed for over 350 yards with three or more touchdowns and no interceptions for the fourth time as a Redskin. It is the first time Washington quarterback to do that more than once; Joe Theismann did it in 1982 and 1983. Colt McCoy and Mark Rypien did it once each. Cousins is the only one of the group to complete over 80 percent of his passes in such a game; he was 25 of 30, 83.3 percent.

RELATED: UPDATED WEEK 3 NFL POWER RANKINGS

—Again, there are plenty of numbers but what set this game apart was the confidence and attitude on display, particularly on defense. The images that stick in my mind are plays like D.J. Swearinger leveling Marshawn Lynch, Preston Smith just dismissing a Lynch stiff arm to get the stop on third and two, Montae Nicholson getting a textbook legal hit on Michael Crabtree and Zach Brown sending ball carriers to the ground with a vengeance.

—Some are wondering if Mack Brown should be the main backup at running back when Rob Kelley returns from his rib injury, which could be this week. Samaje Perine seemed to miss some openings and at times he seemed to go down with a one-arm tackle. And he fumbled the ball away. But on Sunday night Jay Gruden said that once Kelley is back, Perine will be the backup and Brown is likely to return to the game-day inactive list.

—Let this sink in for a minute—prior to last night’s Cowboys-Cardinals game, the Redskins were fifth in the NFL in rushing attempts (90) and sixth in rushing yards (409). They are on pace to have 480 rushing attempts for 2,180 yards. Last year they ran it 379 times for 1,696 yards.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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