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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Steelers

Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Steelers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, September 12, the day the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins Kickoff, 6:00, CSN; Steelers @ Redskins, 7:00, ESPN

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 246 days ago. The wait for another one ends today

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Browns @ Redskins 20; Redskins @ Ravens 27

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Steelers

Will the Redskins get their running game going? The Steelers were fifth in rush defense DVOA last year and there is no reason to think that they will be significantly worse. The Redskins were 32nd in offensive rushing DVOA and have essentially the same personnel back. It’s not impossible to see the Redskins winning without much success on the ground—they did win three games last year when rushing for less than 100 yards (lost six). But a running game will improve their chances. They were 6-1 when the did rush for over 100.

—Will the Redskins come out with something different? Something different on offense, like a lot more of the no-huddle attack? Some wrinkles to get Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson open? A blitzing defensive scheme? I’d be surprised if anything like that happened. I think that Jay Gruden would rather spend this year consolidating the gains the team made in 2015 and not stray too far off of that successful path. But the whole idea of doing something like that would be that it would be a surprise, right?

—The absence of WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder) is a big deal for the Steelers if only because of the cumulative effect of them missing so many offensive weapons. The Steelers gained 6,327 yards last year. They are without the injured Wheaton, the retired TE Heath Miller, and the suspended RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Martavis Bryant. Those players accounted for 2,605 yards from scrimmage, 41 percent of the Steelers’ total. That’s a pretty substantial chunk of total offense torn out of the lineup. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger has a way of finding ways to get it done and to make productive players out of ordinary ones but at some point the losses get difficult to overcome.

—Compared to past offseasons there has been relatively little focus on the Redskins’ quarterback position this year. That’s because Kirk Cousins is the unquestioned starter and there is no controversy. But the focus is about to change. His every move will be under the microscope, every incompletion, every (gasp!) interception will be closely scrutinized. I don’t think that Colt McCoy will become the most popular guy in town if the Redskins lose a couple in a row but Cousins’ $20 million salary means that the adage that the QB gets too much blame for losses will be magnified, starting tonight should they lose.

—I’ve been trying to come up with a prediction for this game ever since the schedule came out. The Steelers are the better team and that may not be offset by much of a home field advantage (I was there in 2008). But the Steelers’ injuries and other absences are something of an equalizer. I think this is a winnable game for the Redskins and if I had any confidence in their ability to run the ball I might pick the upset. But I don’t so . . .

Steelers 24, Redskins 21

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Redskins release Dashaun Phillips, again

Redskins release Dashaun Phillips, again

Cornerback Dashaun Phillips had a very short return to the Redskins’ active roster.

Phillips, who started the season as the nickel cornerback before being benched and eventually released and moved to the practice squad last month, was re-signed to the roster on Friday. He made the trip to Arizona but he was inactive for the game. The Redskins announced today that he has been released again.

It is possible for Phillips to return to the practice squad if he clears through waivers.

The transaction clears a roster spot for the return of offensive tackle Trent Williams, who has been suspended for the last four games.

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Jamison Crowder's touchdown dance was better than his touchdown

Jamison Crowder's touchdown dance was better than his touchdown

Among all the darkness and depression that has followed after the Redskins' 31-23 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, one bright, shining light has emerged: Jamison Crowder's touchdown celebration.

Late in the third quarter, the second-year wideout was on the receiving end of a 26-yard Kirk Cousins strike, which put his team in the lead on the game's scoreboard by three. However, it's what he did post-catch that put his team in the lead by a far larger margin on the swagboard.

Feast your eyes on this dance, and if you've already seen it, feast your eyes on it again. And again. And AGAIN:

Do you see how much Juju he put on that beat? And did you catch how he gave the ref a little somethin'-somethin' right at the end of the sequence? Calling that flawless would be an insult to Crowder.

Apparently, Jay Gruden was heard screaming at his players in the locker room as they were processing the matchup's result Sunday night. Is it possible he was just loudly complimenting Crowder's moves?

MORE REDSKINS: BARRY, COUSINS BOTH COOL OFF IN OUR REPORT CARD