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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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In case you missed it

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

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Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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