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Redskins-Saints First Take

Redskins-Saints First Take

The Washington Redskins have their work cut out for them on Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints come marching in to FedEx Field fresh off of a 24-20 win over Tampa Bay. The Saints scored on a 42-yard pass from Drew Brees to Reggie Bush midway through the fourth quarter to take the lead and they held on when linebacker Scott Fujita spiked a late Bucs rally with an interception at the New Orleans 20 with about 40 seconds left.

Brees and Bush were the top offensive stars for the winning team and they are the players that the Redskins will have to slow down to win the game. Brees averaged well over 10 yards per pass attempt, going 23 for 32 for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Bush caught eight of those passes for 112 yards and he had 14 rushing attempts for another 51.

A little side note here: Many Redskins fans look at Brees with envious eyes, wishing that the Skins had a young veteran quarterback who could pass for over 300 yards in a win and have it be nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps, then, they might be well served to display a bit more patience with Jason Campbell. After three years and 27 starts for the Chargers he was mediocre and seemed to be regressing. The Chargers stuck with him, perhaps against their will—an extended holdout prevented Phillip Rivers from competing for the job—and they were rewarded with a breakout season in 2004, his fourth year in the NFL. Jason Campbell came into his fourth NFL season with 21 starts on his resume.

The New Orleans defense was good but not dominant. Tampa Bay racked up 352 yards, getting good production on the ground out of Earnest Graham (10 carries for 91 yards) and Warrick Dunn (9 for 54). Jeff Garcia was not very efficient, needing 41 attempts to get 221 yards. He was sacked twice.

You can't always tell much from one game, but on first look, it appears that the Redskins will have to post a score in the 20's in order to win on Sunday. For an offense that isn't quite there yet, that will be tough to do.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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