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Need to Know: Will Redskins' tempest carry over into tonight's game?

Need to Know: Will Redskins' tempest carry over into tonight's game?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 25, the day the Washington Redskins host the San Francisco 49ers.

What effect will will the controversy have on the field?

Does apparent dysfunction and disarray like the Redskins had this week make it difficult for players to focus on the task at hand? Or does it draw them closer together?

The team has been under fire for about a week and a half. It started out of the blue when Darrell Green questioned the leadership ability of Robert Griffin III despite, as he told Dan Hellie, not knowing anything about the situation.

Then there was the loss to Philly and there is no need to rehash what Griffin, Mike Shanahan, and Santana Moss said over the few days after that. Suffice it to stay that they didn’t appear to be reading from the same book, much less the same page.

For a few days it appeared that the crisis has passed. Griffin said all the right things his Wednesday press conference. Moss blamed the media for the issues. London Fletcher stepped in and praised Griffin.

Move along, nothing to see here.

But the whole thing exploded again on Sunday, when Mike Silver of the NFL Network reported that Griffin had asked that the team not show his negative plays during team film sessions (and that the request was flatly rejected). Shanahan took the unusual step of responding to a media report the day before a game to say that the report was “completely false”.

Silver also reported that some “inside the building” (Redskins Park) say that Griffin appears to be insecure in regards to backup QB Kirk Cousins and that Griffin had talked negatively about Shanahan to his teammates.

What’s the truth? Silver did not stay employed at Sports Illustrated for 13 years and then six more at Yahoo! Sports and then get hired by the NFL Network by making things up. If the story about Griffin not wanting to see what his mistakes in front of the team is false, his source made it up, not Silver.

As far as talking about Mike Shanahan negatively to his teammates, who knows what the heck that means? Was he blowing off some steam about the boss to his co-workers, something that is done daily around every water cooler in virtually every business in the country almost every day? Or was he trying to somehow turn his teammates against the coach? It could have been something in between and there is a lot in there that is pretty innocuous.

Is Griffin worried about Cousins taking his job? He could be, or he could have at least formed a perception in his mind that Cousins is a threat. It’s tough to find much negative there. Athletes find every reason they can to push themselves to practice harder, study that extra hour of film. If Griffin is using Cousins as extra motivation, why not? Some “inside the building” might think it’s odd but if it works for Griffin, who cares?

One aspect of NFL Network report that did not get as much play as the more sensational parts was Ian Rapoport saying that Shanahan and Griffin had met to clear the air and that there was “an air of positivity” after the meeting.

So is this a case of all’s well that ends well? Or are there still issues lingering out there? Most importantly, will all of this make any difference when the Redskins take the field to play the 49ers tonight?

There is the saying that goes, that which does not kill me makes me stronger. The tempest that surrounded the team this week does not appeared to have fractured them. We will see if this will strengthen them in any way, especially if the 49ers prove to be too much for them and they lose their third straight game.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins are tied for fifth in the league with 22 sacks given up. However, they have lost 193 yards on those sacks, more than all but nine teams.

Timeline

—Days until: Giants @ Redskins 6; Chiefs @ Redskins 13; Redskins @ Falcons 20

—Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. 49ers 8:30 p.m.

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.

Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.

The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.

The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.

Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.

The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.  

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NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:

  1. The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
  2. It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
  3. Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous. 
  4. While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.

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