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Need to Know: Shanahan says Redskins' offense did not change for Cousins

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Need to Know: Shanahan says Redskins' offense did not change for Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 17, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Nickel coverage

Five notes and quotes from Mike Shanahan’s press conference on Monday

1. Shanahan was asked how the Redskins managed to get through the game with only one sack. Note how he mentions nothing about the offensive line doing anything different. “Like I said, what you’re doing is you’re looking at that film and you’re studying it and you’re making sure you do go through the proper footwork, the proper reads, and the better off you are, the more success you have.”

2. Shanahan said that the offense did not change from Robert Griffin III to Kirk Cousins. I don’t know but I saw a lot more bootlegs from Cousins than from Griffin. “You have the same dropback, you have the same ability to run quarterback keeps or half-rolls or bootlegs, waggles, different types of screens depending what the defense is giving you, so that’s part of our offensive scheme.”

3. Darrel Young was active against the Falcons after missing three games with a hamstring injury. He played only seven snaps before aggravating the injury and leaving. With two games left, it might be time to put Young on injured reserve and bring in someone who can block for Alfred Morris. “He set himself back a little bit. I’m hoping it’s not as serious as it was before. We’ll test him out here over the next couple of days and get a better feel for him.”

4. When asked to talk about how Cousins’ success should be weighed since it came against one of the league’s worst pass defenses, Shanahan turned the subject to sample size. “We’ve had one game. Let’s not get carried away with numbers, OK? We’ve had one game where we lost the game.”

5. I’m not sure why you would ask Mike Shanahan how the Redskins will decide whether to trade Kirk Cousins this offseason or keep him since he probably won’t be here to make that decision. But someone did. “I think that’s what you do is you sit down as an organization, as a staff, as an ownership, and you decide what’s best for the organization, but that’s part of your plan in building a football team.”

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Stat of the day

—Going into the Atlanta game the Redskins were in the middle of the pack in the NFL in turnover ration with a minus-two. After going minus-4 against the Falcons Washington is now 27th in the league at minus-8. With the exception of last year they have been negative in turnover ratio every year that Shanahan has been the coaching them.

Timeline

—Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants 12; Opening Sunday 2014 season 265

—Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

In case you missed it

Shanahan assesses Cousins’ play 

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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

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Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

The Redskins and Cardinals highlight the Week 13 schedule with a showdown in the desert with heavy NFL playoff implications on the line.

If the Redskins (6-5-1) can score a victory over the Cardinals (4-6-1), the team can move closer to solidifying one of the top two Wild Card spots in the NFC playoff race.

Depite the Redskins' difficult Week 12 loss to the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins is playing the best football of his career as of late, and earned the NFC Player of the Month honors for his efforts.

While running back Robert Kelley did have a slip-up against the Cowboys, the team's run game still looks vastly improved from the early season, which allows the passing game to thrive even more. Jamison Crowder continues to impress, and although Jordan Reed will miss the Cardinals game with an injury, Vernon Daivs has proven to be an excellent option for Cousins.

The most entertaining matchup of Week 13 might be Redskins DB Josh Norman vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, but the most important matchup will undoubtedly be the Redskins defensive line vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. 

RELATED: NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS HEADING INTO WEEK 13

Johnson trails just DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott -- who finished with 83 yards and one TD in Week 12 -- in total rushing yards with 920 and trails just Elliott and Legarrett Blount in rushing touchdowns with 10. The Redskins rank 25th in rushing defense, and have given up an average of 108 rushing yards in their last five games.

Redskins vs. Cardinals kicks off at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 4 on FOX. Redskins Kickoff gets things started at 3:00 p.m. ET on CSN Mid-Atlantic. (Channel Finder)

CSN is providing all the live updates, stats, scores, highlights, videos and analysis from Redskins vs. Cardinals. Got a comment on the game? Be sure to let us know in the comment section and join Santana Moss and Sebastian Salazar at halftime for the Facebook Live Q&A.

RELATED: BEST & WORST REDSKINS ALTERNATE UNIFORMS

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates

PREGAME:

10:30 AM: Game Preview: The five things you need to know before Redskins vs. Cardinals.

1. Keep it moving
2. Missing in action
3. Consider the source
4. Problems don't go away
5. Harder they fall

10:15 AM: Be sure to follow CSN Insiders J.P. Finlay and Rich Tandler, who are at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Ari. Also, give our CSN Redskins Twitter account too. Come for the analysis, stay for the dank memes.

10:00 AM: Welcome to CSNMA's live updates blog of Week 13 Redskins vs. Cardinals. As always, I am Troy Machir and today I will be your online guide to Redskins vs. Cardinals football in the painted desert of the southwest. If you have an issue with me, you can cuss me out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. It's fun.