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Game Preview: Giants at Redskins

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Game Preview: Giants at Redskins

What: Giants (7-4) vs. Redskins (5-6)

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

One of the enduring images from the forgettable first half of the Redskins’ season was Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz performing a celebratory salsa in the end zone in the waning moments of the teams’ Oct. 21 meeting.

Moments earlier, Cruz had raced through the heart of Washington’s secondary and hauled in a 77-yard, game-clinching touchdown without so much as being touched by a defender. As a result, certain victory had been snatched from the Redskins’ grasp.

“We were supposed to win that game,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said this week. “The good thing is we get another opportunity, and we’re still right in the mix.”

Indeed, the NFC East rivals meet again on Monday Night Football in a pivotal matchup for both teams. A Redskins’ win would catapult them back into the race for the division and wild card. A Giants’ win, however, would give them a commanding three-game division lead with four games left to play.

"We understand where our record is and what we have to do," Coach Mike Shanahan said. "Our goal is to win the NFC East, and to do that, we have to play well."

And like the teams’ first encounter, big plays – both for and against – will be paramount for the Redskins, who will be hosting their first meaningful game in December since 2007.

Obviously, the defense must eliminate long plays from scrimmage for Eli Manning and Co. Another touchdown like Cruz’s – or Dez Bryant’s 85-yarder on Thanksgiving – could, in fact, end the Redskins' season.

On the other side of the ball, Washington’s offense will aim to extend a recent run of producing long, game-changing plays. In the past two games – season-saving victories over the Eagles and Cowboys – Robert Griffin III has thrown a team-record eight touchdowns. Four of those passes have come from 49 or more yards out. He had only two such scoring passes the previous nine contests.

New York’s defense, meantime, ranks 25th in passing yards allowed per game (253) and 30th in yards per reception (12.8). So the opportunity to go deep should be available to Griffin and his resurgent corps of receivers.

“We’re hitting things that we weren’t hitting earlier in the year,” Griffin said this week. “We’re able to do things were weren’t able to do [because] our receivers are playing at a high level. We’ve [also] added some elements to the passing game that make us more dangerous, so they’ll prepare for that and we'll see what happens.”

Here are the other storylines the team at www.csnwashington.com will be monitoring throughout the game:

1-Rookie running back Alfred Morris needs only 18 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Only 10 running backs in franchise history have reached the plateau and it’s only been done 22 times by a Redskin. Morris would also become the first to accomplish the feat since Clinton Portis in 2008 and only the second rookie.

2-Takeways, as always, will be “crucial,” according to nose tackle Barry Cofield. In each of the past two victories, the Redskins defense has forced three turnovers. In the losses to Steelers and Panthers, the unit forced none.

“It’s definitely not a coincidence. For me, our two worse losses were the Pittsburgh and Carolina games,” Cofield said. “That’s a stat Coach Shanahan put in front of us. Turnovers can cover up out shortcomings on defense and are something that can propel the offense.”

3-Although Pierre Garçon lined up for only 29 of the offensive snaps against the Cowboys, the wide receiver’s contributions were undeniable. He had four receptions for 86 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown.

“It helped me to be more comfortable and more confident,” said Garçon, who added that his foot injury continues to improve and that he’s learning to cope with – and perform despite – the discomfort. “It’s getting better; there’s progress.”

4-Milestone watch: If London Fletcher’s ailing left ankle allows him to suit up, as expected, he’ll extend his league-leading consecutive games streak to 236. …If Griffin rushes for 65 yards, he’ll break Cam Newton’s record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback (706). …An interception for DeAngelo Hall would be his 40th and make him one of only six active players with as many. ...The Redskins will be seeking to end a 10-game losing streak at home on Monday night.

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What has Bruce Allen noticed so far about Jim Tomsula? His snot

What has Bruce Allen noticed so far about Jim Tomsula? His snot

By signing free agents Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, Bruce Allen handed new Redskins defensive line coach Jim Tomsula two pieces that the assistant apparently had his eyes on.

"He gave us specific instructions of the type of defensive lineman he was looking for and who he thought could fit our new defensive scheme," Allen told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay in a lengthy 1-on-1 interview at the owner's meetings in Phoenix.

So, after crossing those two names off of Tomsula's shopping list, what should Allen buy now for Tomsula? Well, after hearing the next part of Allen and Finlay's conversation, it sounds like a bunch of tissues would be appropriate.

MORE REDSKINS: THE TEAM SAYS THEY WANT TO KEEP COUSINS, BUT DO THEY MEAN IT?

"Have you seen any of the Tomsula clips from the Combine?" Finlay asked Washington's team president, referring to the drills that Tomsula led in very intense fashion. "He's got some scary looking eyes."

"I saw it from watching on the field," Allen responded. "If there's a close-up of him, I'm sure they saw some live snot somewhere in there."

Tomsula has been a part of the Redskins organization for barely more than two months, and he's already intentionally collided with one draft prospect and also impressed/shocked/worried one of his bosses with the amount of mucus his nose produces.

Long live Jim Tomsula.

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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3 key takeaways from Bruce Allen interview: McCloughan, Cousins, D-line improvement

3 key takeaways from Bruce Allen interview: McCloughan, Cousins, D-line improvement

Bruce Allen opened up about all things Redskins on Sunday. He was forthright in spots and diplomatic in others, but like many powerful people, there is much to decipher from Allen's first on camera interview since the firing of general manager Scot McCloughan. 

Kirk Cousins' future 

  • It's no secret the 'Skins seem unable to reach a long-term deal with their quarterback. Bruce Allen said that he is still "hopeful and confident" the team could reach a multi-year contract before the July 15th deadline. Listening to Allen, however, it seemed the Redskins organization already views their current setup as a multi-year deal. Cousins signed his franchise tag for 2017, so he is under contract, and Allen specifically said the team has an option for 2018. That means another tag could absolutely be in play between Washington and Cousins. It's hard to imagine the franchise would lay out the cash for a third-straight franchise tag, but the transition tag remains an option. That would mean around a $28 million one-year deal for Cousins in 2018, but perhaps most importantly, it would let the 'Skins match any offer the QB receives from elsewhere around the league.
  • Takeaway: Even without a long-term deal, Cousins could be staying in Washington for the foreseeable future.

Scot McCloughan's future

  • The demise of McCloughan's tenure as Redskins GM was beyond sloppy. It played out publicly and poorly, and there is blame to be spread all around in how things unfolded. On the football side of things, Allen's revelation that McCloughan was free to go work anywhere else in the NFL struck a chord. Most NFL front offices are hunkered down in draft preparations, but in about six weeks that will be done. When, or if, McCloughan lands with another NFL team will be a telling moment.
  • Takeaway: McCloughan's ouster in D.C. had many complex layers, but if the talented personnel evaluator does not join another front office, the picture becomes more clear.

Defensive improvement?

  • The Redskins lost their best defensive lineman in free agency when Chris Baker signed with Tampa. Then the team cut Ricky Jean-François, arguably their second best D-lineman. To offset those losses, Washington signed Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee. Neither player has a particularly impressive resume, and it's hard to distinctly state that the 'Skins defensive front has improved by the change in personnel. Allen explained that McGee and McClain were specifically targeted to play for new D-line coach Jim Tomsula. Considering that, perhaps the moves make more sense. 
  • Takeaway: The Redskins think having Tomsula coach the D-line, and the type of players he wants on the line, will lead to rapid improvement. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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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!