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Yes, the Patriots are better than the Redskins, but we already knew that

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Yes, the Patriots are better than the Redskins, but we already knew that

RICHMOND—Last year, the Redskins and their fans got a reminder of just how little preseason games mean. They went 4-0 during the practice games and looked pretty good in doing so. That was followed by a thud of a 3-13 regular season.

Here’s a pro tip for you—joint training camp practices mean even less than preseason games do.

Yes, what you have been hearing out of here about the Redskins-Patriots joint practices is largely true. Tom Brady is moving his team’s offense through the Redskins defense like the proverbial hot knife through butter most of the time during 11 on 11 scrimmages. And Robert Griffin III has been uneven in directing the Redskins’ offense. The third-year quarterback has thrown some excellent passes in rhythm; he also has looked hesitant and unable to figure out what to do with the ball at times.

In fact, Brady looks like a quarterback who has been playing in the same offense for 15 years. That’s because he is. Griffin looks like a third-year quarterback who is learning a new offense. And, of course, that’s because that is what he is.

It would be a mistake to read too much into where Griffin and the Redskins are by comparing them to the Patriots. New England is the league’s model franchise. Jay Gruden, Griffin, and the organization are just taking the first steps down the road trying to build something like what the Patriots have.

Also, be careful not to overanalyze what happens during these practices. There are many differences between them and what actually happens during an actual game. There is no game planning. The quarterbacks wear no-contact jerseys and that means that the pass rush is throttled back considerably. There are no adjustments made as the game rolls on, no coaches observing from up in the booth to come up with counter moves, no using one play to set up something else later in the game.

It’s vanilla on vanilla and that favors a team like the Patriots, who have been drafting players into their system for 15 years, over the Redskins, who are starting over.

This isn’t to say that the Redskins should shrug their shoulders, tip their helmets to the Patriots, and move on. They need to use the practices as a learning experience and as a motivational tool.

But the fact that the Patriots look sharper than the Redskins right now, in early August, should not lead to a conclusion that the Redskins will struggle this year like they did in 2013. It does mean that the Redskins have a lot of work to do if they are ever going to get to where the Patriots are but we already knew that.

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Need to Know: Do the Redskins need a big day from Cousins to win?

Need to Know: Do the Redskins need a big day from Cousins to win?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 6, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 14; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 19; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 26

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Postgame injury report

Last look at Redskins vs. Cardinals

Turning point: I have feeling that Sunday was a pivotal point in the season. When it’s all over the Cardinals game will either be looked at as the beginning of the end of their playoff run or as the low point that preceded a streak that got them into the playoffs.

A one-man show? One question raised on Sunday is whether the Redskins can win without a stellar performance from Kirk Cousins. His completion percentage of 56.8 on Sunday was his worst in any game this season. He made some nice passes but all in all he was not the guy who has carried the team for the past six weeks. If they are going to make the playoffs and perhaps do something when they get there the defense and running game are going to need to pitch in.

Pass happy play calling: The Redskins’ first four plays were passes. Then Rob Kelley went up the middle for 13 yards. The next five plays were passes. It was foreshadowing; during a game they never trailed by more than one score the Redskins called 39 passes and 17 runs. Kelley got 63 yards of 14 carries and Chris Thompson got 24 yards on two. Doing the math, the running backs averaged 5.4 yards per carry. I’m not one to nitpick the play calling but perhaps a few more handoffs would have helped move the ball more effectively.

Snap count spot check: Vernon Davis played every offensive snap but one. On defense, Duke Ihenacho played 64 snaps, his second-highest total of the season. They were in nickel a lot—Kendall Fuller played 55 snaps—but Su’a Cravens played only 37 snaps, about half.

Potpourri: If Dustin Hopkins was in a slump it looks like he’s out of it after booming a 53-yard field goal and pounding all six of his kickoffs for touchbacks . . . Although Davis did catch five passes for 47 yards with Jordan Reed out, he is missed as a second option when Reed can’t play . . . With Tyrann Mathieu, who usually covers the slot receiver, out Cousins tried to go to Jamison Crowder but he caught just three of the eight passes targeted to him . . . Like many games, we could stop all analysis of this game after seeing that the Redskins turned the ball over twice and didn’t manage to take it away.  

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Redskins release Dashaun Phillips, again

Redskins release Dashaun Phillips, again

Cornerback Dashaun Phillips had a very short return to the Redskins’ active roster.

Phillips, who started the season as the nickel cornerback before being benched and eventually released and moved to the practice squad last month, was re-signed to the roster on Friday. He made the trip to Arizona but he was inactive for the game. The Redskins announced today that he has been released again.

It is possible for Phillips to return to the practice squad if he clears through waivers.

The transaction clears a roster spot for the return of offensive tackle Trent Williams, who has been suspended for the last four games.