If there is one player the Redskins’ defense has to worry about on Monday night it’s Eagles’ wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Since he came into the league in 2008, Jackson has been a thorn in the Redskins’ side. He has four touchdowns from scrimmage that covered more than 50 yards. Two of them were on passes from Michael Vick, one on a Donovan McNabb. The other one came on a 67-yard run on an end around.
Jackson also returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown against the Redskins as a rookie in 2008.
Last year the Redskins bottled him up pretty well in the first meeting between the teams with Jackson catching two passes for a grand total of five yards. But quarterback Nick Foles was making his NFL debut in that game so that certainly was a factor. Jackson was on injured reserve for the rematch in December.
The Redskins’ secondary may not be much better on Monday night than it was last year when the Redskins had the 30th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Rookie Bacarri Rambo is starting at free safety for the Redskins and it will be a challenge for him to be the last line of defense against Jackson.
The pass rush could help. Last year the Redskins racked up nine sacks against Philly (out of their season total of 32) and they didn’t have Brian Orakpo for either game. Then again, the Eagles had Foles, not the more mobile Vick, at QB, they didn’t have left tackle Jason Peters in the lineup at all last year and they added right tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth pick in the draft. Both the rushers and the blockers should be better.
Given that the Redskins should be able to put up some points against a suspect Philly defense, one long touchdown to Jackson probably won’t damage them that much. But if Vick and Jackson connect on multiple long passes the Redskins could be in trouble.
As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 6 worst play of 2016
Redskins at Cardinals Week 13
3:47 left in Q4, Cardinals ball at their own 34, 4th and 1, Cardinals leading 24-23
David Johnson up the middle to ARZ 48 for 14 yards (Josh Norman).
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Tandler: What's worse than a punch in the gut? A gut punch you don't see coming. The Redskins had pulled to within a point with plenty of time left to get a winning score—if the defense could get a stop. When Bruce Arians sent out his offense on fourth and one, the Redskins had to watch for Carson Palmer to try to draw them offside. In fact, Joe Barry told the Redskins not to expect a snap and to be sure not the jump. But they did snap the ball and Johnson ran for the easiest 14 yards up the gut you’ll ever see. The air was out of the Redskins’ comeback balloon and Palmer all but put it away a few plays later with a 42-yard TD pass to J.J. Nelson.
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Finlay: This is not the first 4th Down conversion on our list of bad plays, but perhaps the most important one. Washington desperately needed this stop, and the defense thought they had it on the 3rd down play prior. Only Arians did not flinch about going for it, much to Barry's surprise, and the 'Skins D had no shot at Johnson. This play illustrated the weakness of Washington's defensive front perhaps better than any other run all season.
10 best plays countdown
10 worst plays countdown
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Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.
Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.
Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards.
The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.
Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.
It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade.
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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!