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Need to Know: Redskins are lost away from home

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Need to Know: Redskins are lost away from home

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons.

Lost away from home

Among the issues the Redskins must solve before they can be considered a competitive NFL team is their inability to win on the road.

Under Jay Gruden, the Redskins are doing a better job of sending the FedEx Field fans home happy. They are 5-6 at home since the start of the 2014 season. That is a .454 winning percentage, certainly not where they want to be. But it is an improvement on the 12-20 home record (.375) they posted in four years under Mike Shanahan.

But Gruden has plenty of work cut out for him when it comes to games on to road. The Redskins are 1-8 away from FedEx Field under him, a dismal .111 winning percentage. With Shanahan in charge they were 12-20 on the road, the same .375 winning percentage they had at home.

Over the years in the NFL, home teams (going back to 1966), home teams have won 57.3 percent of the time, meaning that to be average on the road you need a winning percentage of .427. The Redskins aren’t there.

“I don’t what the reason is, to be honest with you,” said Gruden. “We’ve just been outplayed on the road for whatever reason. I guess the only game we’ve won was Dallas on Monday night. I don’t really have a reason for it. I don’t have an answer. We just have to come out of the tunnel and start fast and try to get some momentum on our side and take the crowd out of it. A lot of times, we go on the road, like the Giants game for instance, we weren’t able to maintain the momentum and quiet the crowd. We’ve got to try to figure out ways to do that. That’s forcing turnovers. That’s obviously protecting the football and making some plays on special teams.”

The thing is, this is not a team that forces many turnovers, protects the ball particularly, and makes plays on special teams, the kinds of things that take a crowd out of a game.

But another thing that can blunt the home team’s momentum and lull a crowd to sleep are long, time-consuming drives by the visiting team’s offense. The Redskins are pretty good at these. They have 13 drives of 10 plays or more, the most in the NFL. Those drives have consumed an average of just under six minutes of clock time and 11 of them have finished in scores (6 touchdowns, 5 field goals).

If they can get a few of these going, and avoid the mistakes that had them back on their heels from the start against the Giants, they might have a shot in the dome in Atlanta on Sunday. But since they have not demonstrated the ability to get it done on the road, the best course is to remain skeptical until they do.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:15; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 12:30

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 2; Redskins @ Jets 9; Bucs @ Redskins 16

In case you missed it

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

MORE REDSKINS: Kevin O'Connell to be hired as QB coach

What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

 

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The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Josh Norman INT makes for Redskins 7th best play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and at the 10 worst.

No. 7 best play of 2016

Redskins vs. Browns Week 4

6:37 left in Q4, Browns ball at their own 30, 2nd and 2, Redskins leading 24-20

Cody Kessler pass short middle intended for Terrelle Pryor INTERCEPTED by Josh Norman at CLV 25. Josh Norman to CLV 24 for 1 yard (Andre Hawkins).
PENALTY on WAS-J.Norman, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at CLV 24.

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: Sometimes you have a great win, sometimes you dodge disaster. This one went in the latter category. The Redskins couldn’t quite shake the feisty Browns and Kessler for three and a half quarters. Then Norman stayed in Pryor’s hip pocket as the receiver ran a slat. Norman lunged in front of Pryor as the ball arrived and made the interception. He did draw a penalty for doing a bow and arrow celebration but the Redskins overcame that and drove in for the clinching touchdown in their 31-20 win.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: Josh Norman was the story of the Redskins offseason, and this game came one week after playing, and beating, Odell Beckham in New York. The spotlight was burning bright on Norman, and he made a crucial play when the Skins really needed it. Washington got out to a big lead early in this game only to let the Browns climb back in, mainly on the strength of Isaiah Crowell and th Cleveland run game. Losing at home to an awful Browns team would have completely derailed the modicum of momentum Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins established with the Week 3 win over the Giants, and Norman's INT made sure that didn't happen. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!