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Six-Week Stretch Will Define Season

Six-Week Stretch Will Define Season

Forget about the Monday night opener and the return of Smootie and Brad “Whiney” Johnson. Never mind the prime-time affair six days later in Texas Stadium for the home debuts of the idiot kicker, Mike Vanderjagt and the idiot receiver, Terrell Owens. At this point, I don’t really care about the season ending clash with the Giants on the eve of New Year’s Eve. Just tell me how the Redskins will do in a stretch of five games in six weeks in October and November and I’ll tell you how the Redskins will finish the 2006 season.

It starts in Week 7 in Indianapolis with a game against the Colts. This is one that you have to put down as an “L” looking at it right now, but despite the prowess of Indy’s passing attack, I don’t think that you can underestimate the impact of the loss of Edgerrin James. After that, it’s the well-placed bye week. Certainly, the timing here is much better than last year when the well-deserved rest came after the second game of the season.

The week off gives the Redskins two weeks to prepare for the rematch with Dallas. We don’t know what state the Cowboys will be in by then. Besides the two idiots mentioned above, they have an immobile, aging quarterback, a supposed star running back who can’t stay on the field for more than half the season, an offensive line that is in the process of being rebuilt for the second straight year and a coach who hasn’t displayed an ounce of enthusiasm about the moves that Jones is making. To mix some metaphors, the team appears to be a toxic mix that could explode into a train wreck at any moment. Certainly if Dan Snyder had tried to pull together so many ill-fitting pieces he would be roundly laughed at for trying to build his own fantasy football team as he was in 2000. However, Jerry Jones is being hailed for having put together the last pieces of the championship puzzle. The main difference is that Deion Sanders was just an egotistical, arrogant hot dog while Owens is an egotistical, arrogant hot dog who is a proven team killer.

After that there are two straight road games, the first one in Philadelphia. The guess here is that with a healthy Donovan McNabb the Eagles will be better than the were last year but not the league powerhouse they were the three years prior to 2005. The Linc will be a tough place to win. Then it’s on to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the scene of two taught, controversy-filled games between the two teams last year. It wouldn’t be surprising if the 2006 regular-season contest between the two teams was another preview of a playoff matchup.

Then on Thanksgiving weekend there will be a game at FedEx Field against the Carolina Panthers. While there probably wasn’t a good way to do it, the NFL missed the boat by not putting the Skins and Panthers in the same division and guaranteeing twice-yearly games between the two teams. Before the Panthers came along in the late 1990’s, the Redskins were the team of the Carolinas and many Carolinians remain loyal to the Burgundy and Gold while sort of rooting for the teal and black. This game also has the potential to be loaded with playoff implications.

During this stretch, the Redskins will have ample opportunity to make some statements as to whether or not they should be counted among the NFL’s elite teams. A 3-2 record or better over the meat of the schedule would be evidence that the Redskins are indeed candidates for a long playoff run. A losing record in the five games doesn’t doom them to a year of watching the playoffs on TV, but the team’s aspirations for ’06 go beyond a one and done appearance or even a two and done for that matter and a sub .500 mark against the tough teams won’t bode well for postseason success.

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Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.


Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 4923 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Matthew had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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