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The good, the bad, and the ugly from Redskins vs. Browns

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The good, the bad, and the ugly from Redskins vs. Browns

Earlier today we looked at the individual players who had rising and falling stock in the wake of last night’s preseason game in Cleveland. Keeping in mind that it can be dangerous to project regular seasons performance based on these games, let’s step back and look at the big picture and see what aspects of the game were good, bad, and ugly.

The good

A clean game: The Redskins had just three penalties for 45 yards. Thirty five of those penalty yards came on one play, a pass interference call on Chris Culliver that perhaps should not have been called; in any case, it would have been hard to avoid. Kirk Cousins had to burn one time out to prevent a delay of game but overall it looked like the team was ready to play.

The rushing defense: Browns running back coach Wilbert Montgomery said earlier that it didn’t look like any of their backs wanted to take the job as the main running back. It sure looked like it last night as Johnny Manziel was the Browns’ leading rusher with 14 yards. The Redskins gave the tailbacks very little running room as the combined to rush for just 27 yards.

Pass protection: The various offensive line combinations allowed just one sack. This also showed that the quarterbacks were doing a good job getting rid of the ball and that the running backs and tight ends help up as well.

Third down defense: Cleveland was held to three of 13 first-down conversions, a 23 percent rate.

The bad

Special teams: There was no pop in the return game from Andre Roberts or anyone who lined up to return a kickoff or punt. Chris Thompson muffed one punt and looked uncomfortable fielding some others. Roberts turned it over once when he coughed up the ball on a return. That set up a Browns touchdown.

Kickoffs: Yes, I know they are part of special teams but they need to get singled out here. The Browns kicked off four times and three of those resulted in touchbacks. Washington had a total of 32 kickoff return yards. The Redskins kicked off five times with no touchbacks and they gave up 143 yards in returns. If they repeat that 111-yard differential in a regular season game it could well turn a possible win into a loss.

Turnovers: The Redskins lost two fumbles and Akeem Davis picked of a Browns pass. A minus-one in turnover ratio also could be a fatal flaw in a close game. The Redskins needs to force more takeaways.

The ugly

Injuries: An NFL team gets better by collecting players like Niles Paul. Losing him for the season hurts. Perhaps they can replace the production but not the special teams play and leadership that Paul showed. And even though Silas Redd was on the roster bubble he was very popular among his teammates. But that’s the way it goes and the Redskins aren’t expecting to receive any sympathy cards from the other 31 NFL teams.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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In case you missed it

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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