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Need to Know: Redskins losing the turnover battles, winning the wars

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Need to Know: Redskins losing the turnover battles, winning the wars

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 18, five days before the Washington Redskins travel to Detroit to play the Lions.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Lions 5; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 12; Vikings @ Redskins 26

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

—This is one game that is going to be hard to put in the past since the Redskins played so well in so many facets of the game. The running game was spectacular, the defense was solid, and there were some good plays passing. But life in the NFL moves on quickly and the Redskins are already focusing on the Lions. We might take another look back here over the next day or two but the team is moving on.

—How good was the running game? The Redskins had five running plays of 15 yards or longer. They now have 10 such plays through 16 games this season. All last year they had 13 runs of 15 yards or longer. Pounding it out three or four yards at a time can be fun, depending on the circumstances. But if you have backs who take a handoff and roll 57 (Matt Jones) or 46 (Robert Kelley) yards, then you have something. The Redskins are averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt, fourth in the NFL and more than a full yard than what the averaged last year (3.7).

—For two straight weeks, the Redskins have lost the turnover battle and still won the game. Their only takeaway in those two games came when the defense wasn’t even on the field, the C. J. Mosley fumble after he picked off Cousins against the Ravens. So, for all of the talk when the team was 2-2that the defense was reliant on takeaways, not considered to be a sustainable way of stopping the other team, now they have allowed 10 and six points in the last two weeks without any real benefit of takeaways.

—If Jay Gruden wants to find something from this game for his team to work on besides pooch kickoff coverage he can look at penalties. The Redskins were flagged nine times for 75 yards. The most damaging was the celebration penalty on Vernon Davis. He also had a holding penalty. The others were a mixed bag off illegal blocks, false starts, and the like. None besides the celebration were game-changing but still something the team needs to work to clean up.

—Is there a changing of the guard at strong safety? Against the Eagles, Duke Ihenacho, who started the game, had 17 snaps. Donte Whitner, who has been in town for about two weeks, played 40. It doesn’t seem like Ihenacho did anything wrong during his time in there and he played pretty well last week. But that’s a big disparity in snaps; this will be something to monitor in the coming weeks.

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

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Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.