Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 31, three days before the Washington Redskins travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys.
Five thoughts on the playoff-bound Redskins
—At this point there is really no way of telling when the Redskins will play their first-round playoff game. There are no set criteria for which game is played in which time slot. When the seeds are set or nearly set the league and the networks will get on a conference call and hash it out. The playoff schedule will be announced sometime Sunday evening, perhaps during the Vikings-Packers game.
—It’s really amazing that Quinton Dunbar is out there every week lined up opposite the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins, and Jordan Matthews. And nobody is even nervous about it. Per Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks have a 70.1 pass rating when throwing at Dunbar, who came to training camp as a wide receiver. Like most, I figured that he would be a project who would spend the year on the practice squad learning the new position. But when injuries struck the secondary he emerged off of the practice squad and lined up against Beckham.
—Everything I’ve seen makes me think that Kory Lichtensteiger will start at center when the Redskins start the playoffs. All indications are that he is healthy; he will have had 12 weeks off (he last played in Week 5) to rehab his neck injury by the time the playoff game comes around. I’m not sure if he will immediately make a big difference in the Redskins’ run blocking but he probably won’t hurt.
—I think that the issue of playing or resting the starters isn’t of huge concern to the players. “If they need me to play, I’ll be ready,” said Trent Williams. “I get paid to do what [the coach] says.” Williams is not worried about losing momentum if he and some other starters do sit out. “I don’t believe in that,” he said. “We’re all professionals, we’re all grown men. I don’t believe in the whole getting rusty thing . . . In my opinion I don’t think you get rusty sitting out one Sunday.”
—With one week left in the season, the Redskins’ special teams are third in Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA metric. The weighted index counts recent games more heavily to try to reflect which teams are playing better now. In terms of regular DVOA, which measures the whole season equally, the Redskins are fifth. However you measure it, an impressive improvement from last by a mile in 2013 and a sub-mediocre 29th last year.
—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30
—Days until: Redskins @Cowboys 3; start of NFL playoffs 9
In case you missed it
- Can they rest their starters?
- Redskins Cousins wants to start vs. Cowboys: 'I want to play'
- Injuries alter Redskins practice
- Redskins' DeAngelo Hall has own theories about Chip Kelly firing
- State of the Redskins Week 17: Start 'em or sit 'em?
- Kirk Cousins sends special swag to Michigan State
- Redskins are not NFC East's Team Turmoil, for a change
- Cowboys did not treat 2014 finale vs. Redskins like a meaningless game