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Need to Know: Five questions about Redskins vs. Texans

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Need to Know: Five questions about Redskins vs. Texans

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 3, four days before the Redskins open their season against the Texans.

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Here are five questions about the Redskins-Texans matchup this Sunday

How will they control J. J. Watt? The $100 million man probably is going to pressure Robert Griffin III on multiple occasions but the Redskins aren't completely helpless. Jay Gruden’s Bengals did pretty well against him. In three games, one regular season and two in the playoffs Watt recorded two sacks of Andy Dalton. Gruden will have a plan for dealing with him. But the best way to control a pass rush from any player? Run the ball.

Can they exploit QB Ryan Fitzpatrick? The last time Fitzpatrick faced the Redskins was one of the best days of his life. On October 30, 2011 he signed a big contract extension with the Bills and they he went out and led Buffalo to a 23-0 win over Washington. Things haven’t been so good for him since and now he has a tenuous hold on the Texans starting job after they traded for Ryan Mallett over the weekend. Fitzpatrick is known for putting the ball up for grabs (3.6 percent career interception rate) and the Redskins, who did not get a takeaway by their first team during the preseason, would love to take advantage.

What about Arian Foster? He had a lost season in 2013, missing the last eight games due to a back injury. He didn’t play at all during the preseason so this will be his first game action since November 3, 2013. Will Foster, who rushed for at least 1,200 yards each season from 2010-2012, be rusty or will he be refreshed? Foster said yesterday that he is feeling “wonderful” physically. We will see.

What can Jadeveon Clowney do? The first overall pick in the draft made some hits during this time at South Carolina that made you recoil and feel the pain no matter how many times you watched them. He may not know what he’s doing yet as he adjust to the NFL game but he appears to be capable of doing some damage while he’s learning. Keep your head on a swivel, RG3.

Will Andre Johnson ever age? They say that Father Time is undefeated but the 33-year-old Johnson is fending him off pretty well. Last year, with Matt Schaub and Case Keenum (both of whom are now ex-Texans) throwing him passes he still managed to catch 109 passes for over 1,400 yards. This is one of those “you can’t stop him you can only hope to contain him” situations. DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson will try.

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. I'll answer all questions as soon as I can get to them. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Timeline

Today’s schedule: Open locker room player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00 open to media for first 30 minutes; Jay Gruden news conference after practice (approx. 3:00)

—It’s been 248 days since the Redskins played a game; in four days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Home opener vs. Jaguars 11; Redskins @ Eagles 18; Thursday night Giants @ Redskins 23

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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 24, 36 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.

Timeline

Days until:

NFL free agency starts 44
—NFL Draft 93
First Sunday of 2017 season 229

Gruden's fate rests on Manusky, McCloughan

In his press conference the day after the Redskins lost to the Giants to end their season, Jay Gruden talked about the decision-making process that would unfold if there were changes in the coaching staff.

“Ultimately I would think it is my call – our call,” he said. “Bruce [Allen] will have some input, Dan [Snyder] will have some input, Scot [McCloughan] will have some input, but from a staff standpoint, I like to think I have a lot of pull on that one.”

That doesn’t make it sound like he was completely free to replace the fired Joe Barry and new Rams head coach Sean McVay with whomever he chose. Others could make suggestions and have input and possibly veto power.

The decision to make Greg Manusky the defensive coordinator likely was influenced by and/or had the approval of, McCloughan. Manusky ran the defense in San Francisco when McCloughan was the GM there. McCloughan was instrumental in getting Manusky to come to the Redskins to coach the outside linebackers a year ago, after he was fired as the Colts’ defensive coordinator.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Greg Manusky

Having McCloughan’s approval for the hire provides Gruden with some degree of security. If it doesn’t work out, if the Redskins upgrade the talent on defense and still don’t get better results, the heat will be on McCloughan as well as Gruden.

Still, Gruden will be the one in the spotlight this season. When the annual media lists of coaches on the hot season in 2017 come out, Gruden is sure to be atop many of them. It’s simple math, really. In Gruden’s three seasons the team has gone 4-12, 9-7, and 8-7-1. A return to double-digit loss territory would be a regression and there would be legitimate concern over whether Gruden is the guy who can make progress and then maintain it and build on it.

Did Gruden get his first pick for the job? Probably not. It seems that Gus Bradley was the favorite, having built the aggressive Seattle defense and having ties with McCloughan from there and with Gruden and Allen from Tampa Bay. But he decided to head west and take over the Chargers’ defense, perhaps wondering about Gruden’s job security. If Bradley didn’t top the list, then Gruden’s top choice probably was Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. But he is under contract and the Bengals denied permission for him to talk about making a lateral move.

More Redskins: Redskins stay in house

Wade Phillips decided to go to the Rams, who have decidedly better defensive personnel than the Redskins, before he had a chance to meet with Washington. We’re not sure how seriously Gruden pursued Phillips but it’s possible that he would have taken him over Manusky if he had the chance. That means that Manusky was at best Plan C or Plan D.

But that’s water under the bridge. Gruden’s fate now lies in the hands of Manusky and in the hands of McCloughan, who must set out to get the new defensive coordinator a significant talent upgrade. If Gruden gets a better defense and can maintain a top offensive attack (given Kirk Cousins’ contract status, he needs McCloughan’s help there, too) and the Redskins can take the next step he should be expecting to start serious extension talks in 2018.

If the Redskins spin their wheels and end up around .500 again or if they regress and post double-digit losses like they did for five out of six years from 2009-2014 they could be cleaning house and starting over again. That wouldn’t be a good scenario for anyone. The organization is counting on Manusky, who was Plan C, and McCloughan to help Gruden get things on track.

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The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

On Monday morning, the Redskins made several new coaching hires official, including Jim Tomsula as the new defensive line coach.

Tomsula was out of football in 2016 after serving as the 49ers head coach for the 2015 season in which the team finished 5-11.

Despite struggling as a head coach, Tomsula gained an odd, if not heavy cult following. It made little sense considering he has the look and demeanor of someone who was put on this earth to coach football and coach football only. But through the glories of the internet came this:

The Jimmy Tomsula rap song.

RELATED: MOST IMPORTANT REDSKINS' FREE AGENTS

It's just a demo, and I suppose the full version could be out there somewhere since this song is over a year old. But there's something hypnotizing about 60 consecutive seconds of "Open up my shirt like im Jimmy Tom-Sula."

How long before we begin hearing this song at FedEx Field on Sundays?