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Skins will need a fast start on Sunday

Skins will need a fast start on Sunday

There is one line of thinking that says that the Washington Redskins will have to run the ball well in order to beat the New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field on Sunday. The game plan needs to be Portis right, Portis left and Betts up the middle. The objective is to keep the pressure off of Jason Campbell, let him pick his spots, and to shorten the game to keep the ball out of the hands of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and company.

Another line of thinking is that the Redskins need to come out of the tunnel passing and to keep it up throughout the game. The game plan needs to be deep to Moss, intermediate to Cooley, and short to whoever breaks open. The objective here is to take advantage of the weak link on the Saints, their pass defense and keep the pressure to produce on Brees, Bush, and company.

The line of thinking here is that whatever the Redskins do they need to start doing it quickly.

The Redskins offense can't start off slowly again this week. A sack on the game's opening series would quickly get the team into a "here we go again" frame of mind. A couple of three and outs out of the gate will bring out a strong undertone of boo-birds. A slow, hesitant pace, even in the early going, will rekindle thoughts of the "what, me hurry?" offense the team displayed in the fourth quarter in the Meadowlands.

This doesn't meant that Campbell needs to launch a deep one to Moss on the first play or that Portis needs to break off a long one in the early going. It does mean that Jim Zorn's scripted first 15 plays need to work. They need to be imaginative calls that are well executed by the players. Those 15 plays must take place over about a drive and a half, not the first two quarters of play. One of them should result in a touchdown or, at a minimum, set up a field goal.

None of this will do any good, of course, if the Saints go up 10-0 by scoring on their first two possessions. If Brees throws for 300+ yards, something he's done 14 times as a Saint, it's unlikely that the Redskins will be able to keep up.

But Brees will get his and for the Redskins to keep the Saints from denting to scoreboard too often they will have to take advantage of opportunities. If a ball is rolling free on the turf they have to dive on it. If they have Brees in their grasp they need to bring him down. It goes without saying after last week that when a defender has two hands on a pass he needs to catch it.

Will the Redskins get off to a quick start and make the defensive plays necessary to win? It says here that while the defense might make its share of plays, the offense—and that's everyone from the quarterback to the receivers to the backs to the lie—isn't yet ready to operate in an efficient manner in the WCO.

Saints 17, Redskins 10

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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.

Timeline

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 493 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 Mathews 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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In case you missed it

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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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