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Redskins-Chargers: Five keys and a prediction

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Redskins-Chargers: Five keys and a prediction

Five keys to the Redskins-Chargers game plus a prediction.

1. The Chargers are 23rd in the league in total defense but they are ninth in points allowed. That can often indicate a team that’s good taking the ball away. That’s not the case here as San Diego has just four takeaways all year, the fewest in the league. But the Chargers are the seventh-best defense in the red zone, allowing opponents to score touchdown on just 47 percent of their trips inside the 20. The Redskins will need to find a way to get into the end zone when they have the opportunity.

2. Which version of Robert Griffin III are we going to get? The one who completed 49.2 percent of his passes combined against the Broncos and Cowboys, posting the two worst passer ratings of his career in the process? Or one more like the QB we saw against the Bears who posted a 105 rating and led a last-minute drive for a game-winning touchdown? The Chargers’ defense has allowed opposing passers a rating of 102.1, 29th in the NFL so Griffin should have a chance at having a solid game.

3. Chargers QB Philip Rivers is second in the NFL with a passer rating of 111.1. The schedule makers have done the Redskins no favors so far this season when it comes to facing quality quarterbacks. By the end of Sunday’s game the Redskins will have played eight games and five of them will have been against quarterbacks with passer ratings currently ranked in the top nine. In addition to Rivers, they have already gone up against Peyton Manning (119.4 rating, 1st in NFL), Aaron Rodgers (108.0, 4th), Tony Romo (101.7, 5th), and Matthew Stafford (94.7, 9th). Fortunately, the only top-10 passer they face for the rest of the year is the rematch with Romo and the Cowboys in Week 16.

4. As they do every game, the Redskins will go into this contest with stopping the run on the top of their defensive priorities list. The Chargers are an OK running team ranking 15th in terms of overall yardage and 20th in yards per carry with 3.8. Ryan Matthews has been healthy and while he may never justify his selection with the 12th overall pick in the draft (2010) he has been productive, gaining 446 yards on 110 carries (4.1 per carry). His backup, Danny Woodhead, gains most of his yardage via the pass; he has 40 receptions for 314 yards.

5. Can the Redskins regain their home-field advantage? They dropped their first two home games this year before sending the crowd home happy after the Bears game. If they want to make a playoff run they are going to have to make some hay at FedEx Field. With home meetings with the 49ers and Chiefs upcoming, the Redskins need to grab this home game.

I don’t think that it will be easy but I think that Griffin will come through with a solid performance, the defense will bottle up the run and they will survive the dink and dunk attack of Rivers.

Redskins 28, Chargers 24

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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 24, 36 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.

Timeline

Days until:

NFL free agency starts 44
—NFL Draft 93
First Sunday of 2017 season 229

Gruden's fate rests on Manusky, McCloughan

In his press conference the day after the Redskins lost to the Giants to end their season, Jay Gruden talked about the decision-making process that would unfold if there were changes in the coaching staff.

“Ultimately I would think it is my call – our call,” he said. “Bruce [Allen] will have some input, Dan [Snyder] will have some input, Scot [McCloughan] will have some input, but from a staff standpoint, I like to think I have a lot of pull on that one.”

That doesn’t make it sound like he was completely free to replace the fired Joe Barry and new Rams head coach Sean McVay with whomever he chose. Others could make suggestions and have input and possibly veto power.

The decision to make Greg Manusky the defensive coordinator likely was influenced by and/or had the approval of, McCloughan. Manusky ran the defense in San Francisco when McCloughan was the GM there. McCloughan was instrumental in getting Manusky to come to the Redskins to coach the outside linebackers a year ago, after he was fired as the Colts’ defensive coordinator.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Greg Manusky

Having McCloughan’s approval for the hire provides Gruden with some degree of security. If it doesn’t work out, if the Redskins upgrade the talent on defense and still don’t get better results, the heat will be on McCloughan as well as Gruden.

Still, Gruden will be the one in the spotlight this season. When the annual media lists of coaches on the hot season in 2017 come out, Gruden is sure to be atop many of them. It’s simple math, really. In Gruden’s three seasons the team has gone 4-12, 9-7, and 8-7-1. A return to double-digit loss territory would be a regression and there would be legitimate concern over whether Gruden is the guy who can make progress and then maintain it and build on it.

Did Gruden get his first pick for the job? Probably not. It seems that Gus Bradley was the favorite, having built the aggressive Seattle defense and having ties with McCloughan from there and with Gruden and Allen from Tampa Bay. But he decided to head west and take over the Chargers’ defense, perhaps wondering about Gruden’s job security. If Bradley didn’t top the list, then Gruden’s top choice probably was Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. But he is under contract and the Bengals denied permission for him to talk about making a lateral move.

More Redskins: Redskins stay in house

Wade Phillips decided to go to the Rams, who have decidedly better defensive personnel than the Redskins, before he had a chance to meet with Washington. We’re not sure how seriously Gruden pursued Phillips but it’s possible that he would have taken him over Manusky if he had the chance. That means that Manusky was at best Plan C or Plan D.

But that’s water under the bridge. Gruden’s fate now lies in the hands of Manusky and in the hands of McCloughan, who must set out to get the new defensive coordinator a significant talent upgrade. If Gruden gets a better defense and can maintain a top offensive attack (given Kirk Cousins’ contract status, he needs McCloughan’s help there, too) and the Redskins can take the next step he should be expecting to start serious extension talks in 2018.

If the Redskins spin their wheels and end up around .500 again or if they regress and post double-digit losses like they did for five out of six years from 2009-2014 they could be cleaning house and starting over again. That wouldn’t be a good scenario for anyone. The organization is counting on Manusky, who was Plan C, and McCloughan to help Gruden get things on track.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

On Monday morning, the Redskins made several new coaching hires official, including Jim Tomsula as the new defensive line coach.

Tomsula was out of football in 2016 after serving as the 49ers head coach for the 2015 season in which the team finished 5-11.

Despite struggling as a head coach, Tomsula gained an odd, if not heavy cult following. It made little sense considering he has the look and demeanor of someone who was put on this earth to coach football and coach football only. But through the glories of the internet came this:

The Jimmy Tomsula rap song.

RELATED: MOST IMPORTANT REDSKINS' FREE AGENTS

It's just a demo, and I suppose the full version could be out there somewhere since this song is over a year old. But there's something hypnotizing about 60 consecutive seconds of "Open up my shirt like im Jimmy Tom-Sula."

How long before we begin hearing this song at FedEx Field on Sundays?