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Is 3-1 déjà vu or something new?

Is 3-1 déjà vu or something new?

Here we are again.

For the third time in the last four years, the Redskins have started a season at 3-1. In 2005 and 2007 the Skins also reached the quarter pole with a .750 winning percentage.

Three years ago the Redskins opened up with an ugly win over the Bears and then played horribly in Dallas for 55 minutes before lightning in the form of Brunell to Moss struck twice and the Redskins pulled out an improbable win. After a ridiculously early bye week they beat Seattle in overtime before dropping one in Kansas City.

Last year an awful Dolphins team took the Redskins to overtime before the Redskins won. In Philly the next week, it took a late goal-line stand to preserve a win that it seemed the Redskins should have locked up much earlier. Their first loss came the next week when they blew a lead and then failed to finish a comeback against the Giants. After another early bye, they waxed the Lions at home.

We all know what happened during the middle half of those two seasons under Joe Gibbs. Two wins and six losses, pushing the team to the brink of playoff elimination. Some losses were agonizingly close (36-35 to the Bucs in '05, 17-16 to the Bills last year) and some were blowouts (36-0 in the Meadowlands, 52-7 in Foxboro).

Both of those seasons the Redskins managed to put together playoff runs that are the stuff that legends are made of. But you'd rather be spending December fighting for home field advantage and not for survival.

Is there any reason to believe that this year will be different?

The big difference is, of course, that Jim Zorn is coaching the team rather than Gibbs. It would be folly to suggest that Zorn is the superior coach. But he may—may—be a better coach for this team right now. It's possible that his style is more suited to the modern game than was Gibbs' style.

But we don't know yet. Gibbs coached 248 regular-season games and another 24 games in the playoffs. Zorn has coached four.

Certainly, it looks like the Redskins have the opportunity to avoid the swoon this year, at least in the second quarter of the season. After a tough road trip to Philadelphia, they face three teams with a combined record of 1-10. If they take care of business against Cleveland, Detroit, and St. Louis they will be no worse than 6-2.

The Redskins haven't made a habit of taking care of business against bad teams, however. Look at the '05 loss to the Raiders or last year's heartbreaker against the Bills for evidence of that. Even the wins over the dregs of the league often have been shaky (ref. OT wins vs. Dolphins and Jets last year). If the Redskins can go 3-0 against the bottom feeders this year and do so in dominating fashion, we will have some concrete evidence that something exceptional may be in the air.

The true test will come in November when Dallas, Pittsburgh, and the Giants come to town and the Skins pay a visit to Seattle. But that's getting a little ahead of things.

The same media folks that buried the Redskins after the opener are making them one of the teams to beat after the win in Dallas. They were jumping to conclusions in early September and they're in a rush to judgment again in early October.

The advice here is enjoy what's happening now but take a deep breath, relax, and wait another month to see if we have something truly special here or if it's a rerun from seasons past.

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Redskins coaching staff believes backups on O-line will be 'ready to roll'

Redskins coaching staff believes backups on O-line will be 'ready to roll'

All signs point to the Redskins starting Arie Kouandjio at left guard this weekend against the Eagles, and the coaching staff knows it's a big chance for the second-year man.

Incumbent starter Shawn Lauvao injured his groin last week against the Cardinals, and has not practiced all week. Assuming he doesn't play, this would mark Kouandjio's second start this season. He also got the start against the Browns in Week 4.

Washington coach Jay Gruden did not speak glowingly of Kouandjio's play against Cleveland, but it wasn't a negative review, either.

"He’s played one game, he played OK," the coach said. "He has another great opportunity for him. He’s waited his turn, done what’s asked of him. Practiced hard, played hard, and it’s a great opportunity.”

With center Spencer Long currently in concussion protocol and backup John Sullivan started to go in the middle of the Redskins offensive line, the group will have a number of new faces against the Eagles. The right side of the line, with guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Morgan Moses, will be the same as its been all year, though both of those players are nursing ankle injuries. 

"We have confidence in the guys that if some of those guys that are backups need to step up and be ready to roll," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. 

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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One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

The Eagles defense is on a big-play streak, but not one that defensive coordinators will like very much, and it could be very good news for the Redskins and DeSean Jackson. 

At this stage of his career, Jackson is a well-known deep threat. While much of the 2016 season has been disappointing for Jackson, in back-to-back weeks, the vertical passing attack has worked. In Arizona last Sunday, Jackson only caught one pass, but it went for 59 yards. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Jackson hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins as part of his season-high 118 receiving yards.

"What he brings to this football team, he brings something that not a lot of people can bring, and that’s obviously the speed and the big play ability," 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden said of Jackson.

The last two games moved Jackson's yards-per-catch average back in normal range with the rest of his career at 16.5. Halfway through this season, Jackson was averaging below 14 YPC, which would have been by far the worst of his career.

"A lot of people think that we haven’t utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team," Gruden said. "His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He’s been a major influence for this football team in a good way."

Beyond just the big plays, the Eagles defense has given up 645 passing yards in their last two games. Cousins has historically played well in Philadelphia, and should be in good position to do the same this weekend.

And based on the Eagles' past six games, expect Jackson to have another big game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

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!