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Need to Know: Redskins will try to continue DeMarco Murray's 2015 struggles

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Need to Know: Redskins will try to continue DeMarco Murray's 2015 struggles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, October 4, the day the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles.

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Eagles

—I do think that Chris Culliver will play today. However, that thinking is based on talk in the locker room from earlier in the week and on thinking that it’s a pain issue with the knee, not a structural one, and players frequently play through those. But there certainly is doubt that will last until the inactive players are announced. The promotion of corner Deshazor Everett to the 53 increases that doubt slightly but it was a smart precaution since Frank Kearse was going to be inactive anyway. The inactives are announced around 11:30, stay tuned.

—I don’t give fantasy advice but I would make no lineup decisions in this game based on previously expected heavy rains. Barring an unexpected twist in the weather there is only a 10 percent chance of rain. It may be a bit soggy because it’s been chilly and damp but I wouldn’t, say, go all in on Matt Jones because you believe he’s a mudder.

—Running back DeMarco Murray (hamstring) is questionable for the Eagles but per Adam Schefter he will play. If I’m the Redskins, I’d rather see him play. Ryan Mathews actually got things going on the ground for the Eagles last week, picking up 108 yards on 24 carries against a tough Jets defense. The more carries the Eagles invest in trying to get Murray (22 carries, 11 yards) going, the fewer Mathews will get.

—This is a good matchup for the Redskins in a lot of ways but a bad one in one key category. The Eagles are good when it comes to taking the ball away; they are third in the NFL with eight takeaways. The Redskins have problems protecting the ball with six giveaways on their ledger. Not to be Capt. Obvious here, but the Redskins will have a tough time winning a game if they turn the ball over more than once.

—The Redskins can’t let Sam Bradford get into any sort of rhythm. He has looked like a fish out of water in Chip Kelly’s offense so far, with his completion percentage declining each game down to 50 percent (14-28) against the Jets. Philly has some talented pass catchers in Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, and slippery running back Darren Sproles.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Eagles at Redskins, 1 p.m., FOX

Days until: Redskins @ Falcons 7; Redskins @ Jets 14; Bucs @ Redskins 21

 

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.