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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important games in 2015

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Need to Know: The Redskins' five most important games in 2015

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 9, four days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

The five most important games on the Redskins schedule

The Redskins are unlikely to be competing for playoff spot this year (although you never know). But there are still some important games on their schedule. Looking at it just a few days before things get underway, here are what could be the five pivotal games in 2015.

Week 2 vs. Rams—St. Louis came to FedEx Field last December and manhandled the Redskins 24-0. Shaun Hill, a 35-year-old journeyman QB put up a 133 rating on them and the Rams defense sacked Redskins quarterbacks seven times. Oh, and coach Jeff Fisher trolled them by making the game captains the players they drafted with the picks from the RG3 trade. If they are not much more competitive this time around there could be very early calls for Jay Gruden to be replaced.

Week 5 @ Falcons—Like the Redskins, the Falcons are trying to work their way back to respectability. This will be a tough road test for Washington. There are plenty of familiar faces in Atlanta with Chris Chester starting at guard, Tyler Polumbus and Leonard Hankerson as backups, and Raheem Morris coaching the secondary and Kyle Shanahan serving as the offensive coordinator. Losing is bad enough; losing to a bunch of familiar faces would not go over well.

Week 7 vs. Bucs—This game is important for two reasons. First, the Bucs, who had the worst record in the NFL last year, came in to FedEx Field last November and thumped the home team 27-7. Josh McCown passed for 288 yards and rookie Mike Evans caught two touchdown passes. If the Redskins are indeed a better team they need to have a better showing against the Bucs, who are still among the league’s worst teams. And this is the last game before the bye and two weeks of general discontent on the airways and in the blogosphere might be too much to bear.

Week 12 vs. Giants—The Redskins had a tough time in the division last year, winning just two games. This is only a little earlier than that but it will only be their third division matchup. New York should be a cut above the Redskins this year but not so much better that the Redskins don’t have a legitimate shot of winning a home game against them.

Week 15 vs. Bills—The 2015 Redskins want to be pretty much what the 2014 Bills were, a team that utilized the running game and strong defense to have a respectable record despite spotty play from the quarterback position. Now that Rex Ryan is the coach in Buffalo there will be even more emphasis on defense and “ground and pound” running. It will be interesting to see if the Redskins can beat what they hope is a mirror image of themselves.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

—It’s been 255 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 4 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 15; Eagles @ Redskins 25

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Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

Redskins' decision on Su'a Cravens doesn't change much immediately

When the Redskins announced that safety Su’a Cravens has been placed on the reserve/left team list, ending his 2017 season, some things changed. But mostly, in the short term anyway, things stayed the same.

Before diving into this, let’s acknowledge that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Cravens was going to show up at Redskins Park today and the Redskins put him on the reserve/left team list “out of the blue” and without the five-day notice that the team is required to give the player before putting him on that list. A grievance is a possibility. We will follow that aspect of it carefully but for now, we don’t know much about it and will let Florio’s report stand on its own.

What does not change now is the Redskins’ roster. Since he was on the exempt/left team list he did not count against the 53-man roster. The Redskins started Deshazor Everett at strong safety Week 1 against the Eagles and rookie Montae Nicholson got the nod Sunday against the Rams. It is likely that one of those two gets the start for the rest of the year.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Had Cravens reported the Redskins would have had to make a roster move to make room for him. When he left the team right after final cuts were made, offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings was picked up on waivers. He presumably is the 53rd man on the roster but he is safe for now.

So, what changes? The Redskins save some money. Cravens was slated to make $651,408 in salary this year. The money was guaranteed; however, leaving the team voided that guarantee. The team also could send him a bill for $335,631, the one-year prorated portion of his $1.422 million signing bonus he got last year.

It should be noted that the financial aspects of this are pending any grievance proceedings. If the Redskins did not give Cravens proper notice and he reports for work, he could make the case that he is entitled to his money. But, again, that is something that we’ll see about in the coming days and weeks.

MORE REDSKINS: INJURY LIST LONG, PAINFUL BUT NONE SERIOUS

Cravens’ status will be a topic of discussion during Jay Gruden’s podium session and in the locker room on Wednesday. But after that, the focus will return to playing the Raiders and the whole saga will go on the back burner.

What happens after this year? As far as I can gather, the reserve/left team list only applies to the 2017 season. If Cravens follows the terms of his contract and reports for work when required in 2018 the Redskins would have to either let him play, release him, or trade him.

But that is down the road. For now, the Redskins will move on as though he is out for the season with an injury and play with the guys they have.

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.

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 19, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 13
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (11/23) 24
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 40

Last look at Redskins vs. Rams

—Before the game, I confidently told someone on Twitter that Ryan Grant would get about as many targets (6) against the Rams as he did against the Eagles. But as it turned out, Grant was targeted just twice. The second time was on the game-winning touchdown in the last two minutes. A big difference between this week and last was that Kirk Cousins attempted just 27 passes against LA compared to 40 vs. the Eagles. That led to fewer opportunities for receivers and Grant was one of those who saw his chances drop the most.

—Cousins started well and finished strong but he didn’t do much in the middle. It seems that he was rolling along well until he misfired on a fade pattern to Josh Doctson and then on another throw to Chris Thompson. That ended a goal to go opportunity in a situation where a touchdown would have given the Redskins a commanding 17-0 lead. The next time the Redskins had the ball Cousins was sacked on his first passing attempt and he fumbled a snap a little later. In the third quarter and early in the fourth he completed some passes but many of them were for a minimal gain. To his credit, he didn’t panic and force a turnover. And, of course, he came through on the final drive, completing three of three passes for 42 yards including the 11-yard game winner to Grant.

—During the week leading up to the game, Jay Gruden emphasized the importance of getting to the quarterback. It didn’t play out as well as I’m sure Gruden would have liked. They got two sacks of Jared Goff, one by Preston Smith and one by Ryan Kerrigan, both in the Rams’ possession late in the first half. They pressured Goff on other occasions but overall their pass rush possibly was not as good as it was against the Eagles. Then, they at least got to Carson Wentz even though they had issues bringing him down. Too often, Goff had plenty of time to operate and that helped keep the Rams in the game until near the end.

—Chris Thompson has been the Redskins’ offensive MVP so far. He has improved each year and yesterday he was at his peak. What you really had to like on the 61-yard touchdown run on the draw play was his patience. He was almost standing still as he took the handoff from Cousins as he carried out the pass-blocking fake and chose his path for when he got the ball. He said that the play was designed for him to go one way but his read took him someplace else. It took him to the end zone for the second time that game.

—One surprise early in the game was that Montae Nicholson started at strong safety in place of DeShazor Everett. Nicholson made no glaring errors before he left the game with an AC joint sprain. The depth chart here apparently is set after the team announced that Su'a Cravens, the starter until he left the team to contemplate retirement, will not return this season. 

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.

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