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Redskins-Vikings: Five keys and a prediction

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Redskins-Vikings: Five keys and a prediction

Here are five keys to the Washington Redskins-Minnesota Vikings game plus a prediction.

1. The Redskins are on the road playing against a 1-7 team in a building that can get very loud if the home team is doing well but can get very quiet if the Vikings are down. It would seem to be important for the Redskins to get on top early in this one and get the crowd out of the game. Kyle Shanahan agrees. “I haven’t played there in a few years, but the last time I was there I barely could hear myself think,” he said. “It can get real loud and those people can get going. And the crowd will be a factor. It’s always going to be a factor on third downs and crucial situations, and the better you can get off to a start, the quieter they get. It’s something we’d obviously like to do.”

2. On the defensive side, one thing the Redskins would obviously like to do is to get after Christian Ponder. He’s been sacked 15 times in his five starts and that was with a healthy offensive line. Injuries will force to Vikings to sit right tackle Phil Loadholt (concussion) and probably left guard Charlie Johnson (elbow). That will break up an O-line combo that has started every game since the start of the 2012 season. If they can take advantage of the backups, look for a multi sack game from Ryan Kerrigan and possibly Barry Cofield.

3. The Redskins could jump out to a fast start and get pressure on Ponder and then have Cordarrelle Patterson undo all of the good they’ve done. He’s averaged 36.7 yards on 22 kickoff returns; that’s a big chunk of field position. And you can’t stop him by kicking deep in the end zone. One of his TD’s was a 109-yard runback so it’s obvious that he’ll run it out from anywhere. Kai Forbath either needs to boom it into the first row of the stands or pooch it with hang time down to the 10. If I’m the Redskins I’ll take my chances with Ponder and even Adrian Peterson with decent field position over a quick six from Patterson.

4. Yes, we all know that the Redskins are 10-1 when Alfred Morris gets 20 or more carries in the game. But it’s not all that simple. If it was, then Kyle Shanahan would simply call for Robert Griffin III to hand off to Morris on the first 20 snaps of the game and call it a day. For Morris to get to 20 carries, the passing game has to be working so the defense doesn’t stack to box to stop him. It also helps if Griffin can get his wheels moving to give the defense something else to guard against. In any case, the numbers don’t lie. In 2012 Morris had 20 or more carries three times in the Redskins’ first nine games. The team’s record was 3-6 (2-1 in Morris’ 20+ carry games). In the final seven games he carried at least 20 times in every game. The Redskins, of course, went 7-0.

5. No matter what the pass rush, special teams, and Morris do, it’s going to be hard for the Redskins to win unless Griffin can, for the first time this year, put up a second solid game in a row. Since the bye he has twice completed 50 percent or less of his passes and has posted the two worst single-game passer ratings of his career. Not surprisingly, the Redskins lost those two games. He has twice has a completion percentage of 62 or better and passer ratings of over 85. The Redskins are 2-0 in those games. They are not good enough to overcome a bad game by their quarterback.

It says here that the Redskins rack up five sacks of Ponder, Morris gets his 20 carries and Griffin plays well enough for the Redskins to pull out the win:

Redskins 24, Vikings 14

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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

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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3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend

3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend

Ryan Kerrigan, Jordan Reed and Brandon Scherff will skip next week's Pro Bowl in Orlando a team spokesman confirmed to CSN. All three players dealt with injuries late in the season, most notably Reed, and playing in the exhibition game is not in the cards. Trent Williams, however, is still slated to play in the game. 

Reed suffered a separated shoulder on Thanksgiving playing against the Dallas Cowboys. For the rest of the season, Reed played through significant pain and his production dipped.

Kerrigan played much of the season with an injured elbow and hurt his finger in the final game against the Giants. Scherff played with ankle pain and was listed on the injury report much of the season's final four games.

For Reed and Scherff, this year marked their first Pro Bowl. The recognition was deserved for both players, and shows that the guard and tight end are gaining national spotlight for their play.

Kerrigan played in the Pro Bowl following the 2012 season. He finished this year with 11 sacks, 2.5 short os his career high 13.5 in 2014. 

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