Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 21, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Five early thoughts on Redskins vs Bucs
—The Redskins are favored in this game by three and a half to four points, depending on where you look. Last year the Bucs came into Fed Ex Field on a five-game losing streak and were 7.5-point underdogs. They won 27-7, one of their two victories on the season. The game was the beginning of the end for Robert Griffin III, who threw two interceptions and drew the pubic scorn of Jay Gruden for his play.
—In 2012, many Redskins fans were upset when Bucs RB Doug Martin was chosen to the Pro Bowl as an alternate ahead of Alfred Morris. They were both rookies and while Morris rushed for 1,600 yards, Martin had 1,450 on the ground and another 450 receiving. After two injury-plagued seasons, Martin is rounding back into his rookie form. In five games (the Bucs are coming off of their bye) he has 405 yards rushing, seventh per game in the NFL, and another 94 receiving. The Redskins have had trouble with Devonta Freeman and Chris Ivory in the last few weeks and if they don’t turn things around defensively, Martin could go off and Washington will have a tough time winning if that happens.
—Without doing any advanced statistical analysis, I’d guess that Jameis Winston is probably the quarterback most statistically similar to Kirk Cousins in 2015. In five games as opposed to six for Cousins, Winston has one pick fewer than his counterpart on Sunday and has thrown one more touchdown pass. Cousins has a better completion percentage by about 10 percentage points but Winston averages a yard and a half more per attempt. Cousins has a 77.4 passer rating compared to 77.6 for Winston. It’s a pretty even matchup at QB.
—One thing Cousins has been able to do well this season is stay upright in the pocket, with help from the revamped (and, against the Jets, re-revamped) offensive line. He has dropped back 235 times and has been sacked just seven times, a sack percentage of 3.0. Something will have to give this week as the Bucs have sacked quarterbacks on 9.2 percent of the dropbacks, fourth in the NFL. Tackle Gerald McCoy leads the team with 4.5 sacks, followed by end Jacquies Smith, who has 4.
—If the Redskins are going to get their rushing game back in gear, this could be the week. The Bucs are giving up 120 yards per game on the ground and they have played only one team, the Panthers, better than 16th in the league in rushing. Of course, the Redskins fancy themselves to be one of the better rushing teams in the league but their dismal rushing performances in the last two games (85 yards combined) have dragged them down to 17th in the league with 107.2 yards per game.
—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30
—Days until: Bucs @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Patriots 18; Saints @ Redskins 24