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Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles—Can the D rattle Wentz?

Need to Know: First thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles—Can the D rattle Wentz?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 12, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Lions 11; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 18

First thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—This is the biggest game for the Redskins since, well, their last big game. If they win and the Cowboys lose to the Packers they would be tied for first in the division. Last year their sweep of the Eagles was the key to winning the NFC East. If they want to do that again they likely need at least a split with Philly and defending their home turf would be the best way for the Redskins to get that done.

—Last week the Redskins played the defense that was ranked No. 1 in the Ravens. This week they face the second-ranked defense. In fact, the Eagles are just 11 yards behind the Seahawks for the top spot. The Philadelphia pass rush is fierce; they are one of two teams (Broncos the other) who are scoring sacks on over 10 percent of their opponents’ pass attempts. It would not be surprising if the Redskins had to try to win again with fewer than 20 points on the board.

—The news that Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game PED related suspension will be upheld is not at all surprising. The suspension is effective immediately so he will miss the game on Sunday and the game in Philadelphia in Week 14. They have had plenty of time to plan for his absence. Johnson is arguably their best offensive, however, so there will be a drop off when the substitute either rookie Halapouliavatti Vaitai, a fifth-round pick, or move veteran guard Allen Barbie from guard to right tackle. In the bigger picture, Johnson is their plan for the future at left tackle when Jason Peters retires and since another PED violation (this is his second suspension) will send Johnson to the sideline for multiple seasons there has to be some long-term concern beyond if Vaitai can hold down the job.

—Is five games of tape on Carson Wentz enough for Joe Barry to figure him out? Maybe but that’s only part of the battle. The rookie is calm and cool in the pocket; his football IQ is off the charts. The Redskins have not been very good at rattling rookie QBs this year. Dak Prescott never batted an eye at what the Redskins threw at him and the Browns didn’t lose to Washington because of Cody Kessler coming apart at the seams. Perhaps turning up the head on the pass rush would bother Wentz but so far the Redskins have not shown that they have the ability to do that consistently and Joe Barry seems reluctant to dial up blitzed to make it happen.

—The Eagles are fifth in the league in rushing yards with a true committee approach. Ryan Mathews is the leading rusher with 146 yards followed by three plays, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Kenjon Barner, who have between 85 and 100 yards. Wentz is mobile but he has only 35 yards rushing.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

https://audioboom.com/boos/5147074-episode-9-redskins-best-the-ravens?t=0

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

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: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

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?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<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 iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<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!