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Game Preview: Eagles at Redskins

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Game Preview: Eagles at Redskins

What: Eagles (3-6) vs. Redskins (3-6)

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Fox WTTG-5

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet noon and 4. 

Mike Shanahan called the Redskins’ last game a ‘must-win.’

In reality, though, this week’s contest against the Eagles is far more important to his team’s faint playoff hopes.

At 3-6, the Redskins still have a puncher’s chance of rallying down the stretch and making the postseason for the first time since 2007. But such a scenario likely would require  "winning out," as nose tackle Barry Cofield put it. Or, at the very least, winning six of the season’s final seven games.

Either way, that run must begin at home against a Eagles’ team that hasn’t won a game since September and will have a rookie backup quarterback, Nick Foles, making his first career start in the place of Michael Vick (concussion).

Historically, the Redskins have failed to beat rookie signal callers. In fact, they’ve lost eight straight games, a drought stretching back Vince Young in 2006. (Their last win against a rookie was over Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Rams in 2005, according to STATS Inc.)

From an Xs and Os standpoint, the key to preventing ninth consecutive letdown figures to be effectively disguising alignments and confusing the 23-year-old. But Cofield chose to keep it simple when asked about the challenges of facing a young quarterback for the first time.

“Complacency is probably the No. 1 issue,” the recently-elected defensive captain said. “You go against a guy who you think is going to be at a lower level. Then you go out and not play your best ball, and they look like a Pro Bowler.”  

Foles “can make all the throws,” according to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, and he’ll be facing the NFL’s third worst pass defense. He'll also have plenty of weapons at his disposal, including standout wide receivers DeSean Jackson (16.3 yards per catch) and Jeremy Maclin (team-high four touchdowns) as well as tight end Brent Celek (8 receptions of 20 or more yards). And don't forget running back LeSean McCoy, who ranks 11th in the league with 705 yards and has the third most runs over 20 yards (7). Given the Redskins’ susceptibility to big plays, keeping McCoy from breaking off large chunks of yardage will be critical.

It’s probably too much to ask the Redskins’ reeling defense to shut down both the run and pass. But if they can contain one, they should have a chance. 

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris must get the Redskins’ previously potent offense going again. The team averaged more than 26 points per game through the season’s first seven games, but has tallied a meager 12 and 13, respectively, in the past two.

Whether it’s a lack of complementary playmakers, opposing defenses catching up to Shanahan’s innovative offense, penalties and other mental miscues, or some combination of the three, they’re going to need more than a single touchdown to beat the Eagles and breathe life back into their staggering season.

“The rest of the NFL definitely helped us out by having teams in our division lose,” Griffin said. “I don’t think [the playoffs are] an unrealistic goal. But for us, the biggest thing is you don’t look into the future because you have to take care of what’s in front of you.”

Here are three other areas the team at csnwashington.com will be monitoring:

1-Will wide receiver Pierre Garçon play? He’s missed four straight games with a plantar plate tear in his right foot, but he’s practiced this week like a player who wants to suit up.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also hinted that the team is okay with their No. 1 wide receiver playing at less than 100-percent, saying, “We would definitely rather have him out there than not have him at all. We think he can help regardless of what [percent] he is.”

2-How about safety Brandon Meriweather? He reported soreness in his twice-sprained left knee earlier this week and has been limited in practice. But the veteran has been working with the first team and, barring a setback, is expected to make his season debut.

“He can do a lot of different things,” Haslett said. “He’s an ex-corner, so he can cover. He’s got good rush ability. There’s a lot things you can take advantage of – if he’s healthy.”

3-The Redskins’ margin for error on any give Sunday is slim enough without self-inflicted wounds. Against the Steelers, receivers dropped 10 passes. Against the Panthers, they were whistled for a season-high 13 penalties. Entering the Philadelphia game, the Redskins are tied with the Cowboys for most penalties per game (8.3), according to www.teamrankings.com. 

Will having last week off result in a physically fresher, mentally sharper Redskins’ team? Is this is a bad time to mention they’re 0-4 coming off the bye since 2007?

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Kirk Cousins tweets about signing an extension – but don't get your hopes up Redskins fans

Kirk Cousins tweets about signing an extension – but don't get your hopes up Redskins fans

From February to July of 2016, Redskins fans anxiously waited for news that quarterback Kirk Cousins would agree to a contract extension with the franchise. It never happened. It's late April, and Cousins and Washington are on the same track in 2017. 

While fans grow wary of the lack of movement towards a new deal, some league sources think contract talks will heat up as the calendar draws closer to the July 15 deadline. 

That doesn't mean Cousins can't have a good sense of humor about things.

To be clear, this is another year of Cousins working to promote the Holland Hospital in his hometown in Michigan. This is not an extension with the Redskins. And it gave a number of Redskins fans an outburst of excitement before a stark realization. Below are a few Twitter responses:

Considering how testy the contract talks between the 'Skins and Cousins representatives have been at times, it's good to see the club's all-time single season passing yards record holder be able to laugh about things. 

It doesn't, however, mean much about the actual negotiations between Washington and Cousins. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Impossible to probable? Draft day slide could land Redskins a steal

Impossible to probable? Draft day slide could land Redskins a steal

For months Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was widely considered a lock to land in the top five of the 2017 NFL Draft. There was even some argument if Allen could not oust Myles Garrett from the overall No. 1 spot.

Now, just days before the NFL universe will gather in Philadelphia for Thursday's draft, it appears injury concerns could push Allen not just out of the Top 5, but out of the Top 10. 

And that could be great news for the Redskins.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com released his latest Mock Draft on Tuesday, and the personnel scout has Allen landing with Washington at the 17th pick. From NFL.com:

Allen could slide a little bit based on some medical concerns. He would be a steal at this point in the draft.

Allen at 17 represents an absolute steal. Many Redskins fans are optimistic that off-field red flags could send fellow Alabama defender Reuben Foster to the 'Skins at 17. For many weeks, Foster was projected to go in the Top 10, or at least the Top 15.

While Foster would be a great value for Washington, he will also enter the NFL in the substance abuse program after a diluted urine sample at the NFL Combine. That will give teams real pause, understandably.

Allen enters the league with no baggage, outside of possible issues with his shoulders, including possible concerns about arhtritis. With 22.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Bama, not to mention winning one national championship and playing for another, Allen has the exact pedigree teams dream of taking in the draft. The 'Bama big man has explained that doctors don't expect any issues with his shoulders for at least 15 years, likely well after his NFL career ends.

Add to that his 6-foot-3, 286 lbs. frame, Allen is the exact force the Redskins need to boost their defensive line. And not for nothing, he grew up about 10 minutes away from Redskins Park in Ashburn, so this would be a true homecoming story.

If Allen lasts to the 17th pick, the Redskins need to sprint - not jog, not run, sprint - to the podium and make the selection. It's rare that need and best player available sync up, but this could be that scenario. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!