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Need to Know: A heavy workload for Perry Riley

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Need to Know: A heavy workload for Perry Riley

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 11, four days before the Redskins play the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Nickel coverage

1. Starting inside linebacker Perry Riley played 81 of the team’s 83 snaps on defense and then 16 more on special teams. Meanwhile, backup ILB Nick Barnett was active but did not play. I’m not sure why a healthy, active linebacker is sitting out special teams altogether while a starter playing against a hurry-up offense designed to wear down a defense is taking on extra duties covering kicks.

2. Riley was one of 13 defensive players who played more than 20 snaps. Barnett was one of seven active defensive players who played fewer than 10 snaps. For all of the talk about how deep this team is you’d think they might have utilized that depth a bit more against a team running the offense the Eagles did.

3. It looks like Pro Football Focus was more impressed with the Redskins’ offensive line than I was when I did my offensive grades. I gave the unit a D while PFF (premium content) gave all but Tyler Polumbus a positive rating and the right tackle was only minus-0.4. I did point out that two of the three sacks of RG3 came on blitzes and may have been the responsibility of backs who didn’t pick them up. Still, I just thought they didn’t look like they have their act together and Griffin faced consistent pass pressure up the middle. Perhaps we’re both right, they performed OK as individuals but they didn’t work as a cohesive unity.

4. It wasn't exactly stunning to learn that someone from the NFL telling Robert Griffin III to put his knee brace inside his uniform pants was the result of a "miscommunication". It just seemed dumb after he wore the brace on the outside last year. You have to think that the brace functions better when it's worn where it was designed to be worn.

5. Pierre Garçon is taking some heat for the Cary Williams interception, the play early in the third quarter that set up what proved to be the winning points for the Eagles. Some are saying that he should have come back to the ball instead of letting Williams dive and make the pick. Maybe he should have but I don’t think he expected Williams to come flying into the picture and grab the ball. Garçon wasn’t inclined to move up and meet the ball because he wanted to make sure he maintained enough yardage to convert the third and 11. It looks to me like Williams just make a heck of a play.

Stat of the day

—Griffin completed 25 of 36 passes in the last 29 minutes of play on Monday. In entire games last year he only had more attempts once (39 vs. Carolina) and more completions once (26 @ Bucs). Obviously putting the ball in the air that many times is not part of the Redskins’ game plan.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Packers 4; Lions @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Raiders 18

—Today’s schedule: Player availability in locker room 11:15; Practice 1:00; Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00)

In case you missed it

Little time to breathe for defense as Packers are next

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.

Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.

The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.

The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.

Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.

The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.  

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NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:

  1. The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
  2. It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
  3. Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous. 
  4. While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.

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