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Monday six pack: Redskins' turbo offense very efficient

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Monday six pack: Redskins' turbo offense very efficient

My six pack of observations from the Washington Redskins’ 45-41 win over the Bears on Sunday:

1. The Redskins’ defense was not good yesterday but it was not as bad as it looked. There is no reason to celebrate giving up 41 points, 140 yards on the ground and to have Josh McCown, who last threw a pass in the 2011 season finale, throw for 204 yards, post a 119.6 passer rating, and scramble 4 times for 33 yards. But if you look at the 41 points, you can point the finger directly at the special teams for seven of them on Devin Hester’s punt return. Another Bears touchdown came two plays after Charles Tillman picked off a Robert Griffin III pass and returned it to the 10 yard line. And, while we’re at it, Chicago had to move just 18 yards to get into position for a field goal after the Redskins had to punt from inside their one yard line. So that makes 27 points that the defense was really responsible for. Throw in the fact that the defense scored a TD on Brian Orakpo’s first interception at any level of football and it’s not as bad a defensive showing as it appears to be at first glance.

2. It’s not a coincidence that Alfred Morris had his best rushing game of the year on a day when Griffin was so effective on the ground. And, of course, Morris’ effectiveness opened room for Griffin to roam, giving the game a decided 2012 feel on offense. Morris got his season high in carries with 19, and his second-highest yardage total of the year with 95. The key was that the Redskins never got away from him. The Redskins had 12 possessions in the game and Morris got at least one carry on all but two of them. One of those possessions lasted just one play, Griffin’s first-down pass that Charles Tillman intercepted.

3. How good was Jordan Reed? He only played about half of the snaps (40 of 76) but he still was Griffin’s favorite target. Reed was targeted nine times and he caught nine passes. Many thought that the fade had been taken out of the Redskins’ playbook but Reed and Griffin executed it to perfection. Reed lined up wide right and was being covered by safety Chris Conte. He took a quick jab step to the inside and then headed for the corner. Griffin’s rainbow pass was perfect and Reed managed to get both feet in before falling out of bounds. That is the kind of play that will help boost the Redskins’ red zone percentage. They had four touchdowns in five red zone possessions yesterday after going 0-3 against the Cowboys. Reed has two good things going for him. For one, he’s highly confident without being cocky. And, he used to be a quarterback so he’s smart and has a deep understanding of the game.

4. The Redskins had 73 offensive snaps yesterday and, going off of the NFL play by play, they ran 13 of them out of the no huddle or “Turbo” offense. The snaps came in four different drives although they did not run the no huddle during the entirety of any possession. Still, they scored a touchdown at the end of every drive where they went to the Turbo at some point during the possession. On those 13 plays they gained a total of 149 yards, an average of 11.5 yards per play. Doing the math, since the Redskins gained 499 yards of total offense they gained an average of 5.8 yards on their other 60 snaps. This doesn’t mean that they can or should go to the Turbo full time. They can’t change personnel while they are going no huddle so they have to stay in the base formation they started the drive with. And utilizing a zone-blocking scheme you could just as easily wear out your offensive line going Turbo full time as you could wear down the defense. Still, as Griffin gets more experience running it we could see it more and more.

5. I’ll admit that I’m not much of an expert on special teams X’s and O’s but it seemed to me that Devin Hester’s TD Punt return was the result of Sav Rocca’s 53-yard line drive punt, Niles Paul going out of bounds as he went downfield for coverage so that he ended up chasing Hester from the side instead of slowing him down by coming straight on, and the other 10 players failing to contain. Rocca may have outkicked his coverage to some extent but the hang time was 4.9 seconds, respectable for a kick that distance. I had a feeling that the Bears were going to try an onside kick as they huddled before the kick (no, I didn’t say or tweet it so you’ll have to take my word for it). It was just sheer blind luck from Eric Weems being slightly offside, not a heads-up play by the special teams unit, that kept the Bears from stealing an extra possession in a game where every possession mattered.

6. Did the win save the Redskins’ season? Only time will tell. It was certainly a great boost for the offense to gain 499 yards and put up 38 points (subtracting the seven from the Orakpo touchdown). They had scoring drives of 60, 80, 74, 83, 80, and 80 yards. Yes, the Bears have a pretty bad defense (bottom third of most statistical categories except for takeaways) but the Redskins will face a lot of bad defenses the rest of the way. The defense, as noted, didn’t play as poorly as many think. Special teams will have to be fixed, perhaps by just booting every kick out of bounds to prevent a big play. Last year, my pat answer going into any game and in almost any situation during a game was, “if they have RG3, they have a chance”. Now that the Redskins have that Robert Griffin back, the pat answer is back.

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Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

The Redskins moved the ball well against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but continued red zone woes again sent Washington home with a loss. While the late November schedule proved brutal for the 'Skins, playing two games in five days, now the Redskins come to Arizona for an early December game with fresh legs and ample rest. Played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, weather will not be a factor for the 4 p.m. EST kick, but all the action starts on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at 3 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Keep it moving - Kirk Cousins showed he likes to get hot in the second half of the season during 2015. The quarterback's play late last year won the 'Skins the NFC East, and while a division title is out of reach with the Cowboys already at 11 wins, Cousins again looks to be on a heater. In three games since the bye, Cousins has thrown for more than 1,000 yards to go with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 1 story for the 'Skins is Cousins, and if he keeps his hot streak going, Washington should find itself in position to win in Arizona.
  2. Missing in action - This will be the final game of a four-game suspension for left tackle Trent Williams, and the Washington offensive line has performed admirably in his absence. Arguably more important this week will be the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in Dallas. What's wild about Reed - he came back to play in the second half against the Cowboys - and score two touchdowns - while playing with a separated shoulder. Reed did not practice this week, and Jay Gruden said his range of motion in the shoulder is just too limited to go against the Cardinals. 
  3. Consider the source - The Redskins offense might be the most potent group in this game, but Washington would be foolish to sleep on the Cardinals. Arizona was widely considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, and though they are in the midst of a disappointing year at 4-6-1, a win against the Skins could get the Cards back on the playoff track. Arizona running back David Johnson is the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL with 921 yards on the ground, not to mention an additional 613 yards receiving. Gruden on Johnson, "He is probably the best all-around back there is in the National Football League right now as far as being able to move outside, be a great route runner but also run between the tackles and run outside with his speed. So it’s going to be a matchup problem." Defensively, the Redskins ranks 25th in the NFL at stopping the run. Watch out for David Johnson.
  4. Problems don't just go away - Look at just about any metric on the Redskins offense, and the results are impressive: No. 2 in yards-per-game, No. 2 in yards-per-play, No. 2 in pass yards-per-game. But for all the yards, the 'Skins don't score at a corresponding clip as they rank 9th in the NFL in points. The culprit? Red zone troubles. "There are so many good things we’re doing on offense to put a damper on what they’re doing offensively with the red zone. It’s hard to do, but it’s something that is a glaring weakness of this football team right now," Gruden said of his team. The best road to wins for the Redskins is by scoring, ideally at least 30 points, and that will require some success inside the 20s.
  5. The harder they fall - If the Arizona offense has an Achilles heel, it's their offensive line. Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times in the Cards last four games, and the 'Skins need to focus on bringing Palmer down. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy - who will be playing in his hometown - have been the leaders at getting sacks for Joe Barry's defense, and Preston Smith could be in line for another big game. Getting to Carson Palmer should be among the defense's top priorities, as that can slow Larry Fitzgerald and the Cards pass game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • DeSean Jackson's 67-yard reception in Dallas was a season long and his longest since a 77-yard touchdown vs. Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2015 season.
  • Kirk Cousins' 3,540 passing yards in 2016 now rank 10th-most in a single season in team history, and he still has five games left to play.
  • The Redskins offense ranks first in the NFL in percentage of fewest 3-and-out drives at 9.5 percent.
  • If Pierre Garçon can gain 137 receiving yards on Sunday, he will pass Michael Westbrook for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history.
  • With nine sacks, Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from becoming the fifth member of the Redskins (Dexter Manley, 4; Charles Mann, 4; Andre Carter, 2; Brian Orakpo, 2) to post multiple 10-sack seasons since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.

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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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances