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Reed could help Redskins spring upset

Reed could help Redskins spring upset

Here are five things to watch in the Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys matchup plus a prediction.

1. We’ve seen Jordan Reed make some catches (he’s tied for fourth on the team with 13) and score a touchdown (a nice grab in the end zone against the Packers). But we haven’t yet seen the Reed that played at Florida, a tight end who was a threat to take it to the house whenever he got his hands on the ball in space. Given the success that Broncos tight end Julius Thomas had against the Cowboys (9 rec., 122 yds., 2 TD) last Sunday we could see the Redskins try to get Reed untracked by hitting him with some quick slants on the move or with routes down the seam.

2. Prior to last Sunday Tony Romo had passed for over 400 yards four times in his career. The next week he has averaged 265 yards passing with a high of 321 and a low of 218. In those week-after games he threw for an average of two touchdowns and 1.25 interceptions. Dallas went 0-4 in his 400-plus-yard games and 1-3 the game after them. We will see how he follows up his first game with over 500 yards.

3. I’m not going to predict a “breakout” game for Robert Griffin III but someone whose opinion I respect thinks he’s headed in that direction. Evan Silva of Rotoworld posted the following in his fantasy preview of the game:
The Week 5 bye came at a perfect time for Robert Griffin III, a film junkie who undoubtedly pored over his shoddy early-season mechanics during the open date while simultaneously getting further removed from January's knee reconstruction. He's a candidate to take off statistically over the Redskins' final 12 games.
4. Will we see more of Roy Helu Jr.? He played quite a few snaps in the first three games but he only got six touches. That changed against the Raiders when he carried the ball 13 times and had two receptions. And, by the way, the Redskins won. Kyle Shanahan said that he wanted to get Helu the ball more but it’s unlikely that he will want to cut into Alfred Morris’ touches (Morris left the Oakland game early with a rib injury). The key for Helu to get more touches is that the offense needs to sustain drives and then get the ball to Helu in some of the “extra” plays.

5. The defense should vary the looks and the pressure it send on Romo. One snap rush four, the next rush three and drop eight into coverage, and occasionally bring the house and run a cover zero. It’s not like they’re going to confuse the veteran Romo but they could create doubt in the minds of the offensive line. They’re not going to sack Romo a lot but they can keep him off balance enough to force him into some turnovers and other mistakes.

Prediction: I think the Redskins have a real shot at winning this game. They should come in with confidence after beating the Cowboys twice last year. Griffin should come in playing better than he has all year. Still, it’s hard for me to see the Redskins winning this one. I’ll believe their offense can get into gear and score the 30+ point is it likely to take to win this one when they do it.

Cowboys 30, Redskins 27

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back