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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Chiefs

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Need to Know: First look at Redskins-Chiefs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 4, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Five things you need to know about the Redskins-Chiefs matchup:

1. Alex Smith is a pretty good game manager. He averages 6.2 yards per pass attempt, among the lowest in the NFL. He is completing less than 60 percent of his passes and his passer rating is a mediocre 83.2.  But he has thrown 10 more TD’s than interceptions (16-6) and the Chiefs are 9-3. A lot of NFL teams would take a game manager like Smith if he could help deliver those results.

2. Smith is not a mad bomber by any stretch of the imagination. Their leader in receptions is running back Jammal Charles, who has 55 (452 yards, 8.2 ypc). The Redskins really haven’t played a team with such a productive pass catcher out of the backfield this year so it will be interesting to see how they handle him.

3. Kansas City is ninth in the league in scoring with 24.8 points per game. But before you go patting Smith, Charles and the rest of the Chiefs offense on the back, consider that their defense and special teams have scored an average of 4.7 points per game. They have scored eight touchdowns on returns. You also have to think that their 26 takeaways also have helped the KC offense start out in pretty good field position.

4. The Chiefs has what the Redskins would like to have—a pair of outside linebackers who rack up good sack numbers. Justin Houston, who lines up on the left side, has 11 and Tamba Hall has nine. The Redskins may catch a break as it looks like Houston will be out with an elbow injury. Still, Washington has given up 19 sacks in the last four games and even the presence of one threat like Hall is cause for concern.

5. The Redskins’ coverage teams have tightened things up lately but they face another dangerous returner this week in Dexter McCluster. He averages 9.7 yards per punt return and he has brought one back 89 yards for a touchdown. Look for a lot of angled kicks by Sav Rocca to prevent a big return.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins are being outscored by an average of 7.8 points per game (scoring 22.4, allowing 30.2). In 2009, Jim Zorn’s second and final year as the coach of the Redskins, they were outscored by an average of 4.4 points per game (scored 16.6, allowed 21.0).

Timeline

—Days until: Chiefs @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Falcons 11; Cowboys @ Redskins 19

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:50; Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III news conferences and player availability after practice (approx. 2:00)

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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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.