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Shanahan flips approach on coin toss


Shanahan flips approach on coin toss

One constant for the Redskins this season has been deferring the ball until the second half after winning the opening coin flip. 

That, however, changed Thursday.

Coach Mike Shanahan reversed course at Cowboys Stadium and elected to receive the opening kickoff. His reason? It’s playoff time, baby.

“What I always do in playoff time is always take the ball. I’ve always done that,” Shanahan told reporters. “I just said, ‘Hey, you go in the playoffs and everything else really doesn’t matter. It’s your last game and you’re playing for it all.”

Shanahan said he would have elected to receive the opening kick against Philadelphia, too. But the Eagles won the flip.

It’s a different approach for Shanahan, who had previously deferred the ball until the second half each of the six times the Redskins won the flip in Weeks 3-9. When asked about deferring last month, Shanahan explained that he was playing the percentages after being shown a statistic that suggested teams “that defer win well over 60-percent.”

The Redskins’ desperate situation, though, has forced the veteran coach to rethink that approach. It also meshes with comments he made last week about an increased sense of urgency around the team these days.

“We’re treating each game as your final game because you look at the records and know what you have to do,” Shanahan said. “That’s the way we approach it.”

The Redskins are 2-4 when electing to defer and 1-0 when choosing to receive (although they did not score on their opening drive against the Cowboys). 

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Preseason Week 2 Redskins vs Packers; 3 things to watch

Preseason Week 2 Redskins vs Packers; 3 things to watch

Remember that playoff game at the end of the 2015 season? Or the Sunday Night Football rout from last year? Well, Saturday night when the Redskins take on the Packers in the second game of the preseason, much less will be on the line, but that doesn't mean the game doesn't have plenty to watch.

All the coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on CSN, and will feature a 1-on-1 interview where Jay Gruden explains exactly what he's looking for from his team. The first preseason game in Baltimore was a poor showing for the Redskins, and Gruden wants to see his squad look much better at home against Green Bay. The weather looks perfect for an August evening, and here are three things to keep in mind in advance of the contest. 

  1. They're gonna play - Last season, Gruden unexpectedly sat many of his starters for the second preseason game. The move set off mild chaos, especially when Colt McCoy got the start over Kirk Cousins. It was just the coach resting players, reducing the risk of a preseason injury, but it was a big surprise. And it was also probably a mistake. This year, Gruden made clear the starters will play in the second preseason game, and Cousins will start against Green Bay. The starting offense only took six snaps against the Ravens last week, and generated zero first downs. While the first downs are no guarantee, expect the first unit to play more than six snaps, likely at least double, and some offensive production should follow suit.
  2. Well, not everybody - The long wait for Redskins fans to finally see Junior Galette on the field will continue. The pass rush specialist hasn't played since 2014, and has never suited up for Washington. He won't play Saturday night, and neither will star tight end Jordan Reed. A few others will likely miss the game, but many eyes will be on Josh Doctson. After a slight hamstring injury suffered in Richmond, the second-year wideout missed the Ravens game and a number of practices before getting back out there Thursday and catching a few passes from Cousins in team drills. Gruden said of Doctson, "we’ll get a look at him during pregame warmup and see where he stands and try to get him out there. We’ll see." On the Green Bay side, Aaron Rodgers is not expected to play either.
  3. The other side - Much of the focus has been on the offense needing to perform, particularly the run game. Keep in mind, however, the Redskins defense performed well in Baltimore. Greg Manusky's unit will look to keep the strong work going, especially from the first team. One change on the Redskins defense: free agent addition Zach Brown will move into the starting lineup and play alongside Mason Foster as the two interior linebackers. That means 2016 defensive captain Will Compton starts the game on the bench. Preston Smith should also be back on the field and starting opposite Ryan Kerrigan; Smith missed the Ravens game with a sprained ankle. No word yet on rookie linebacker Ryan Anderson, who suffered a stinger in Baltimore. Gruden on Anderson, "we’re going to let him dress in pregame warmup on Saturday and see where he is. He has total mobility now back, I think he’s fine, but we just want to make sure he has strength back."

News and notes:

  • Saturday marks the eighth time the Redskins and Packers have played in the preseason since 1961. In regular season and postseason play, the Packers hold a 20-15-1 record against the Redskins. 
  • In their last two meetings, the Redskins rocked the Pack 42-24 last November on Sunday Night Football. It was the high point of Washington's season, as the 'Skins skidded from there and missed the playoffs, losing four of their final six games. 10 months earlier, the Packers knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs in almost equally one-sided fashion. The game was early, but Green Bay proved to be too tough for Washington, and the Redskins lost on their home turf after a surprising NFC East title run. 


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Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Packers

Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure vs. the Packers

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, August 19, 14 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.


The Redskins last played a game 230 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 22 days.

Today’s schedule: Redskins vs. Packers, CSN, 7:30

Days until:

—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 29
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 36
—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 43

Five players under pressure vs. the Packers

QB Kirk Cousins—He will have enough time in the game to establish a rhythm and he needs to get the offense going. It’s not like he is in danger of losing his job or anything but the Redskins need to get some offense going and that means that Cousins will need to be sharp.  

RB Mack Brown—Brown didn’t get in until late in the game against the Ravens and he found tough sledding behind the Redskins third-team offensive line. He produced last year behind the bottom of the depth chart line so he should be able to do it this year. The second-year player is battling for a roster spot and, if he makes it, depth chart position.

S Deshazor Everett—Judging from Jay Gruden’s comments earlier this week, it appears that Everett does not yet have the total confidence of the coaches as he fills in with the starters at strong safety with Su’a Cravens out. A good performance will keep him in there until Cravens is ready. If he slips up, however, veteran Will Blackmon could get the assignment.

NT Phil Taylor—He is a repeater on this list from last week. It isn’t that he played poorly; in fact, he did a good job in his dozen snaps at nose tackle. But a player who has been out of the game for two years needs to provide the coaches with a bigger sample size if they are going to give him a roster spot. It will be a test every practice, every game for Taylor right up until the 53-man roster is settled.

ILB Mason Foster—After Will Compton held down the starting Mike linebacker position for most of camp and for the first preseason game, Foster gets his turn now. The coaching staff has a lot of faith in Compton’s ability to call and adjust the defense. Foster needs to earn similar confidence. He may not face Aaron Rodgers, which would be a big test, but he needs to perform well regardless. Foster called defenses during his four seasons with the Bucs so this is not totally new to him.

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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