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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns—An end to red zone woes?

Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns—An end to red zone woes?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 2, seven days before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Browns @ Redskins, 1 p.m., CBS

Days until: Redskins @ Ravens 7; Eagles @ Redskins 14; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 28

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Browns

—Is this the game that the red zone woes start to fade away? The Browns are 24th in the red zone defensively. And at some point the Redskins are bound to revert to the norm. Washington has scored touchdowns on 21.4 percent of its trips to the red zone this year. Over each of the past three seasons the teams with the worst red zone conversion percentages for the NFL season had rates between 36 and 43 percent. You have to figure the Redskins will get at least to that level, which means that a streak of red zone success is inevitable at some point.

—There is a lot of talk about the need to stop Terrelle Pryor but the Redskins had better not sleep on tight end Gary Barnidge. Last year he made the Pro Bowl with 79 receptions for 1043 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s off to a slow start this year with just nine receptions for 103 yards but they still need to keep a close eye on him.

—I’ve said a few time this week that if Arie Kouandjio, after coming in as a fourth-round pick and spending two offseason programs, two training camps, and many hours in practices and meetings under Bill Callahan's tutelage, can’t handle a game or two at guard the drafting and coaching involved need to be questioned. They have to start Kouandjio. And if it turns out he can’t handle it the Redskins could always shift back to the alignment they had in the second half last week with Trent Williams at left guard and Ty Nsekhe at left tackle. But that is only a “break glass in case of emergency” option. I think that Kouandjio will be fine and Williams will stay in place and Nsekhe will be on the bench.

—The Browns have given up 109 rushing yards per game this year, around the NFL average of 104 per game. They have been tested a bit with the Eagles rushing 34 times against them and the Ravens and Dolphins 26 and 25 times, respectively. The point here is that some are automatically assuming that the Redskins should get their running game going because they are playing an 0-3 team. Cleveland’s rushing defense may be too good for the Redskins to go out and take what they want on the ground, especially with their modified offensive line. The Redskins' ideal game plan would be to build a lead through the air and spend the last 20 minutes of the game chewing up clock and yards on the ground. But that's their formula nearly every game and it rarely seems to work out that way.

—In 2008 a Rams team that was 1-4 and would go 2-14 came to FedEx Field to play a 4-1 Redskins team. The Redskins were in control and driving for a second quarter score when a Jason Campbell pass was batted into the air. The ball fell into the arms of Washington guard Pete Kendall, who instinctively caught it. As he tried to get a few yards the ball was knocked out of his arms and Rams safety O.J. Atogwe scooped it up and went 75 yards for a touchdown. The Redskins never were able to recover and they lost the game. Something like that would have to happen for the Redskins to lose to the Browns today. Barring a fluke the Redskins should make it to the red zone like they have been but they should cash in when they get there.

Redskins 28, Browns 10

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Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Will the Redskins go with a defensive player in the first round of the 2017 Draft?

Finlay: The Redskins haven't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 when the franchise grabbed Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick. In fact, the team has only drafted five defensive players in the first round over the last 15 years. 

History suggests Washington will stay away from a defensive player, but sources in Ashburn have suggested otherwise. Assuming the talent is there when the 'Skins pick at No. 17, Scot McCloughan would like to bolster the team's defensive line specifically. 

Things will get complicated should Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook slide to 17. Rich Tandler certainly would like to see the Burgundy and Gold add a top-flight running back.

Tandler: Many fans believe that conducting a draft is like going into a grocery store with a list. Defensive lineman is at the top of the list so you go to aisle 12 and put a DL in the cart. Safety is next on the list so you push the cart over to that aisle and pick out one of those.

No, a draft is much more unpredictable. There might not be a defensive lineman who is close to worthy of the No. 17 pick when the Redskins are on the clock. Talk of taking the best available player is like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. But if you’re reaching for need in a draft, you’re losing that draft. Sure, if a player in a position of need is just a spot or two down from the best available you think about it. Still, staying true to your board is the way to build a team.

The other thing to consider here is that we haven’t gone through free agency yet. Needs will shift after that. Suppose the Redskins sign two starting-caliber D-linemen and lose both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agency? Defensive line is no longer a five-alarm priority and receiver will be. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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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Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Twice in the last five seasons Pierre Garçon logged more than 1,000 yards receiving as a member of the Washington Redskins, including the 2016 season. He's caught 376 passes in Washington for 21 touchdowns over 74 games.

Outside of a foot injury that cost his six games in 2012, Garçon has been arguably the Redskins most durable wide receiver, and he's known to be a hard worker in the weight room and the practice field. 

Despite all that, Garçon doesn't know that he will be back with the Burgundy and Gold once free agency opens. In fact, that uncertainty led the 30-year-old wideout to post a simple question on his Instagram page.

#YallHiring?

A post shared by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

The top of the Redskins offseason questions remains QB Kirk Cousins. Garçon and fellow wideout DeSean Jackson are headed for free agency, as is standout defensive lineman Chris Baker. Reports show that the team has made little to no contact with any of the players or their representatives, though many conversations could be planned for the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis later this month. 

Garçon's question seems simple, but the answer remains a mystery. 

<<<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!