Quick Links

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

kerrigan-eli-manning.png

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

Like Real Redskins on Facebook!

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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!

Quick Links

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

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.