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Need to Know: The Redskins' five pivotal plays

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Need to Know: The Redskins' five pivotal plays

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 5, eight days before the Redskins visit the Cowboys on Sunday night.

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With the Redskins on their bye, the newsy nuggets that usually reside in this space are non-existent. For something a little different, let’s look at five pivotal moments from the first four games. We’ll go through them chronologically:

1. Alfred Morris loses a fumble on the Redskins’ first play from scrimmage of the year—Washington led 7-3 when Morris lost the handle on the ball on his first carry. The Eagles immediately scored a touchdown and the Redskins never held a lead for the rest of that game or at any point in the next game.

2. Aaron Rodgers throws a 35-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth and three—The Redskins were hanging with Green Bay even though the offense was still scuffling. But with two and a half minutes left in the first quarter the Packers went for it on fourth and three and Rodgers converted big with the TD pass to Cobb, who dashed through the middle of the field to the score. It started a run of 21 points in about seven minutes and the game was over before halftime.

3. Robert Griffin III’s 57-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson against the Lions is overturned on replay—I suppose this moment should be more accurately be described as Robinson dropping Griffin’s sure touchdown pass. If Robinson had held on it would have given the home team a four-point lead with nine minutes to play. The way the Redskins’ defense has been playing that certainly would not have guaranteed a win but it sure would have increased the chances.

4. David Amerson’s 45-yard pick six against the Raiders—Even though the Redskins had just pulled the no-huddle offense off of the shelf to drive to a field goal, they still trailed 14-3 early in the second quarter and were very much in danger of falling to 0-4. But the rookie cornerback jumped in front of the Matt Flynn pass and dashed in for the touchdown that pumped new life into the team.

5. Griffin’s five-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon in the third quarter of the Raiders game—Even though Amerson had kept them alive, the Redskins still had to punch the ball into the end zone to win the game. They finally did late in the third when Griffin dropped back on third and three at the five and fired to Garçon on a slant. The receiver lunged over the goal line and his emphatic spike celebrated the team’s first second-half lead of the season.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 8; Bears @ Redskins 15; Redskins @ Broncos 22

—The Redskins are on their bye, no availability this week.

TE coach McVay talks about his position

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Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

Eagles coach's comments on effort create a stir in the locker room

The day after the Eagles 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Doug Peterson said that he didn’t think that all his players played hard.

Not everybody, and that’s the accountability that I talk about,” Pederson said, via the Birds 24/7 blog. “I hold coaches accountable for that; I hold myself accountable for that because it all starts with me. I pride myself each week to make sure the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player. This is a business where we have to be ready to go every single weekend because every team in the league — there are some teams that are better than others, but for the most part anything can happen any weekend.”

This sort of vague shot fired at the team did not sit well with the players. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the most respected voices on the team, said that the comments put players in a bad spot.

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with every day, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’”

Some in the media in Philadelphia surmised that two of the players Pederson was talking about were tight end Zach Ertz and safety Rodney McLeod. One on play it looked like Ertz failed to block Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play,” said Ertz. “I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past.”

It didn’t look like McLeod did everything he could to keep Bengals running back Jeremy Hill from scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter.

“I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane,” said McLeod. “Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.”

You can see both of the plays in question here.

We don’t know if Ertz and McLeod are among the players that Pederson was talking about when he spoke of issues with effort. Leaving things vague like that doesn’t do much for the coach’s credibility in the locker room. And when that starts to be in doubt the coach gets asked about his job security. Pederson said that owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman have been supportive.

“From both of them, it’s been 100 percent support on everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week and we discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things. Every week, it’s very positive,” Pederson said. “I just don’t think you can base a guy’s career on one season. I think you got to give it time to develop.

But the fact that these questions are being asked after he has been in his job for a dozen games is an indication that he is facing at least a minor crisis as his team prepares for four games that are likely to be meaningless in terms of the playoff picture. We will see if he can get the train back on the tracks by Sunday.

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins?

As usual, answer the poll and either rely on Twitter or come back here and hit the comments section.