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Need to Know: Redskins have uneven special teams play vs. Patriots

Need to Know: Redskins have uneven special teams play vs. Patriots

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 9, nine days before the Redskins host the Browns on preseason Monday night football.

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A look back at some notes and quotes from the Redskins preseason game against the Patriots before the final days of training camp start up.

—Some think that Jay Gruden is a pass-first coach but that’s not how he sounded about the Redskins’ ball control (39 minutes of possession time) offense. “It’s important. Our offensive line did a good job blocking, obviously. Both our fullbacks in the game did a nice job,” he said. “Of course the receivers blocking downfield, getting those tough yards. Those yards after contact instead of those three-yard gains, you’re getting four or five yards. It was good to see some cutback runs. Some guys made some physical runs and all sorts of things.”

—Robert Griffin III probably would have preferred to attempt more than the four passes he threw. But he knew what Gruden wanted to do and that it made his offensive line happy. “I think he wanted to get his guys in and out and keep us healthy,” said Griffin. “We’ll move on to the next game and we’ll get some more snaps. And those offensive linemen like to run the ball. Let them get their hands dirty in there for a couple plays and get [running back] Alfred [Morris] some touches. We played off that really well.”

—Griffin liked his coach’s demeanor as well. “He was funny, getting the plays in and out to us,” he said. “He enjoys it and that’s the great thing about it. You enjoy the process, you enjoy game day. He’s out there with us on game day. When we have a bad play, he has a bad play. When we have a great play he has a great play. That’s great to see from a head coach.” Note that Griffin later clarified that Gruden did not tell “knock-knock jokes” into the headset while he was making the calls.

—One area that was uneven for the Redskins on Thursday was special teams. There was a 46-yard field goal attempt that was both wide and short, a kickoff out of bounds, and a play that looked bad (long kickoff return) then turned good (recovered fumble) but ended up bad (turnover negated by offside penalty). Then there was a Patriots kickoff return that went 47 yards before rookie kicker Zach Hocker made a nice tackle. “Yeah, that was different,” said Hocker of making the tackle. “The touchback would have been great, but getting to convert the tackle and, you know, I had to make a couple tackles in college and finally getting that one NFL tackle out of the way definitely boosts my confidence the next time they bring one up to make the play.”

—When talking to Mike Shanahan after games, he would never give names of players who played well. After giving the caveat that he need to watched to watch the film, Gruden was happy to name names. “Obviously, [running back] Silas Redd had some physical runs, and was impressive, and then [running back] Lache Seastrunk came in there had a couple splash runs, which was good to see,” he said. “From a receiver standpoint, [Rashad] Ross had another big catch. He’s made some big catches all along. [Wide receiver] Aldrick Robinson, he just continues to make play after play after play. Then defensively, it was good to see [linebacker Brian] Orakpo get a sack and some of the safeties fly around. Not only on defense, but on special teams, like [safety] Akeem Davis. I saw him make a big hit on special teams and do a good job.”

If you have any questions about what's going on at training camp, 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

—Former Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams was born on this day in 1955.

Today’s schedule: Practice 2:15; Jay Gruden media availability after practice; players available coming off of the field.

—It’s been 222 days since the Redskins played a game; in 30 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Monday night preseason vs. Browns 10; Final cuts 23; Home opener vs. Jaguars 37

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Week 14 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots can earn playoff byes

Week 14 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots can earn playoff byes

Just when you thought it was going to stay tight in various NFL divisions, 2016 Week 13 came along. We saw DALLAS gain a firm 3-game lead in the NFC East, DETROIT jump out to a 2-game lead over Minnesota and Green Bay in the NFC North, SEATTLE maintain its 3-game lead in the NFC West and NEW ENGLAND vault to a 3-game lead in the AFC East.  Other division races remain either tied (NFC South, AFC North and AFC South) or within one game at the top (AFC West).

That separation in various divisions has us looking at three division title clinching scenarios this week and Dallas and New England can first-round playoff byes, with Dallas also having a shot at claiming homefield advantage throughout the playoffs as the #1 seed.

Before we get to those scenarios and one involving Oakland gaining a playoff berth, let's recap Week 13.  With DALLAS' win over Minnesota last Thursday and Washington's loss at Arizona, the COWBOYS clinched a playoff berth.  Week 13 is the earliest DALLAS has clinched a playoff spot since 2007 when they clinched playoffs in Week 13, Division title in Week 14, a playoff bye in Week 15 and homefield advantage Week 16.  That was also the year the 10-6 NY GIANTS beat the 13-3 COWBOYS on the road in the Divisional Round 21-17. :-)

Two teams were also eliminated from playoff contention during Week 13 as JACKSONVILLE's loss to Denver was the Jaguars final nail in the coffin and the NY JETS loss on Monday Night at home to Indy spelled their playoff doom.  Jacksonville has failed to make the playoffs since 2007 and the NY Jets haven't seen Postseason since 2010.  That leaves 28 teams in Super Bowl contention with four weeks to play which is 5th best in last 9 years, but 3 off last year's record number of 31 teams in contention.

QUIZ TIME: Which NFL team hasn't made the playoffs in ANY YEAR since the League realigned in 2002?   Answer Below (and it might surprise you).

HERE ARE YOUR 2016 WEEK 14 OFFICIAL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS: 

DALLAS COWBOYS
   Dallas clinches division title:
    1) DAL win
   Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
    1) DAL win + DET loss or tie
    2) DAL win + SEA loss
   Dallas clinches homefield advantage throughout NFC playoffs:
    1) DAL win + DET loss or tie + SEA loss

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
   Seattle clinches division title:
    1) SEA win + ARI loss or tie
    2) SEA tie + ARI loss

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
   New England clinches division title:
    1) NE win + MIA loss or tie
    2) NE tie + MIA loss
   New England clinches a first-round bye:
    1) NE win + MIA loss or tie + PIT loss or tie

OAKLAND RAIDERS
   Oakland clinches a playoff berth:
    1) OAK win + MIA loss or tie
    2) OAK win + DEN loss
    3) OAK tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie
    4) OAK tie + MIA loss + PIT loss or tie  

MORE NFL: SHOULD THE REDSKINS' OL TAKE SOME OF BLAME FOR RECENT LOSS?

OAKLAND's situation is interesting as the Raiders have two-team tiebreaker advantage over both New England and Miami (whichever one doesn't win the division when looking at playoff berth clinching scenarios). You then have to look to see if eitehr Miami or New England can use Kansas City or Denver to jump over Oakland in this exercise.  Miami loses tiebreaker to Denver based on common opponents and canít use Kansas City since there is no scenario where the three-way KC-OAK-DEN tie ends with DEN finishing first, KC second and OAK third.  Kansas City would win the AFC West in that tiebreaker in this scenario no matter what happens in future games after this Thursday.  However, Miami CAN use Kansas City if Denver ties this week instead of loses and Denver wins division at 11-4-1 and KC and OAK tie at 11-5.  New England can beat KC and jump Oakland in that same Denver division winner scenario.  THUS...the need for a DENVER LOSS with an OAKLAND WIN as one clinching option this week.

TIEBREAKER NOTES AND ANECDOTES:
- If DALLAS were to clinch the #1 seed this week, not only will it be interesting to see what the COWBOYS do with playing time for Tony Romo and the Rookies, but it will also mean that DALLAS won't have "must-win" motivation when they face TAMPA BAY Week 15 and DETROIT Week 16...two teams firmly in the Playoff hunt.
- If NEW ENGLAND clinches the AFC East title this week, it will be the EIGHTH consecutive division title for the Patriots and 13 titles in the last 14 years.  Amazing.
- If DALLAS were to clinch the #1 seed in week 14, it will be the earliest any NFL team has accomplished that since the 2009 Indianapolis Colts (who also did the same thing in 2005). No NFC team has clinched the #1 seed with three weeks to play since the 1985 Chicago Bears.  Super Bowl Shuffle anyone? 

QUIZ ANSWER: THE BUFFALO BILLS have not made the playoffs since realignment in 2002 (only NFL team) and haven't made the playoffs since 1999 which be remembered as the year Buffalo lost to Tennessee in the Wild Card Playoffs 22-16 in what is known as the "MUSIC CITY MIRACLE".  Can you say Frank Wycheck?

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS FOLLOWING WEEK 12:
SEED    AFC                NFC
1    New England Patriots        Dallas Cowboys
2    Kansas City Chiefs        Seattle Seahawks (jumps ATL for #2)
3    Pittsburgh Steelers        Atlanta Falcons
4    Houston Texans            Detroit Lions
5    Oakland Raiders            New York Giants
6    Denver Broncos            Washington Redskins (need to go 3-1 vs. TB 2-2)

Enjoy Week 14 and best of luck to your favorite team!

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Need to Know: Do the Redskins need a big day from Cousins to win?

Need to Know: Do the Redskins need a big day from Cousins to win?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 6, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 19; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 26

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Postgame injury report

Last look at Redskins vs. Cardinals

Turning point: I have feeling that Sunday was a pivotal point in the season. When it’s all over the Cardinals game will either be looked at as the beginning of the end of their playoff run or as the low point that preceded a streak that got them into the playoffs.

A one-man show? One question raised on Sunday is whether the Redskins can win without a stellar performance from Kirk Cousins. His completion percentage of 56.8 on Sunday was his worst in any game this season. He made some nice passes but all in all he was not the guy who has carried the team for the past six weeks. If they are going to make the playoffs and perhaps do something when they get there the defense and running game are going to need to pitch in.

Pass happy play calling: The Redskins’ first four plays were passes. Then Rob Kelley went up the middle for 13 yards. The next five plays were passes. It was foreshadowing; during a game they never trailed by more than one score the Redskins called 39 passes and 17 runs. Kelley got 63 yards of 14 carries and Chris Thompson got 24 yards on two. Doing the math, the running backs averaged 5.4 yards per carry. I’m not one to nitpick the play calling but perhaps a few more handoffs would have helped move the ball more effectively.

Snap count spot check: Vernon Davis played every offensive snap but one. On defense, Duke Ihenacho played 64 snaps, his second-highest total of the season. They were in nickel a lot—Kendall Fuller played 55 snaps—but Su’a Cravens played only 37 snaps, about half.

Potpourri: If Dustin Hopkins was in a slump it looks like he’s out of it after booming a 53-yard field goal and pounding all six of his kickoffs for touchbacks . . . Although Davis did catch five passes for 47 yards with Jordan Reed out, he is missed as a second option when Reed can’t play . . . With Tyrann Mathieu, who usually covers the slot receiver, out Cousins tried to go to Jamison Crowder but he caught just three of the eight passes targeted to him . . . Like many games, we could stop all analysis of this game after seeing that the Redskins turned the ball over twice and didn’t manage to take it away.  

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