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Need to Know: Redskins vs. Patriots a big opportunity for Cousins

Nov 4, 2015, 5:06 AM EDT

Cousins-passing-vs-Jets-2

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, November 4, four days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Patriots

—After the Patriots lost left tackle Nate Solder for the season a couple of weeks ago, they flipped right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, a seven-year veteran, over to the left side. Not many coaches would make a move like that but according to Bill Belichick, Vollmer is doing fine. “He’s done a great job of making that transition over there the last couple weeks,” said Belichick. “We’ve really needed him to do that. Sebastian is one of the best teammates, a guy who always puts the team first as much as anybody we have on our team.” A mostly-effective Vollmer is probably the best option to protect Tom Brady’s blindside.

—The pass rush has been getting to Brady, with and without Solder. He has been sacked 18 times this year, 5.9 percent of his dropbacks (20th in the NFL). But if the Redskins get to him they had better sack him. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s been under pressure on 96 of his 311 dropbacks this year but when he has been able to get the pass off his passer rating is a 118.2. Yeah, that’s a lot better than most quarterbacks are when they have plenty of time to throw.

—The raw stats say that teams have had a reasonable amount of success running against the Patriots. They give up an average of 4.2 yards per carry, 21st in the NFL. The thing is, they don’t have very many rushing attempts against them, presumably because they are averaging 3 points per possession and 35 points per game on offense so the teams are trying to catch up. But if the Redskins can finish drives with touchdowns, the ground might be a promising route.

—This will be an interesting test for Kirk Cousins. He made a strong case for being the starting quarterback of the future, or at least at the start of 2016, with the comeback against the Bucs. But he could give back a lot of the capital he earned in that game if he is unable help keep the Redskins competitive. If he presses and goes on an interception binge, his stock will go down considerably. Should Cousins maintain his composure, minimize turnovers, and make proper decisions, he can add some value to his stock.

—The Redskins are 14-point underdogs. The last time they were double-digit dogs they went into Dallas on a Monday night last year and beat the Cowboys with Colt McCoy at quarterback. What’s that I smell? Is it an up—, oh, never mind. That Dallas team was a flawed group that was on a roll. These guys are better coached and better put together from the top guy on the roster down to the 53rd. A Redskins win is not impossible but it is highly unlikely.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 4; Saints @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Panthers 18

In case you missed it

  1. Skulb - Nov 4, 2015 at 5:40 AM

    I have a friend who was repairing his motorcycle years ago and then got on it for a test drive when he was done. But because he had forgotten to connect the break wire and a part of the steering he drove right into his own garage without being able to stop, at just the right amount of speed to hurt and be comical without causing serious harm.
    This away game is a bit like watching my friend do that. Inevitable yet somewhere between terrifying and amusing as well.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:09 AM

    If we lose by less than 29 points and score more than 7 we will perform better than Miami. Anything better than that is a win in my books. If cousins can lose in this fashion without becoming the desperate INT beast after we are down 21 points, that is a huge win. If we can walk away from this game without increasing our injured list, that would be a huge win.

    But to actually win this game, is not even on the table. IF it were to happen, our team could find a fire that could spur a division push. My expectations are very low. A coping mechanism that following this team creates after 45 years of being a devoted fan. Under promise over deliver. My mind and gut say this is a 100% guaranteed loss, and if any of the things above happen I will feel lucky walking away from this game. My hope and prayer is for that 1/1,000,000 shot of a possible upset. HTTR

    • hail74 - Nov 4, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      I’ll be ok if cousins throws some picks if we’re down 21, say in the second half. Eventually he’d have to start taking chances. Just not like that giants game tho

    • hk2000 - Nov 4, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      That’s exactly how I feel about it. If we lose by less than 36 points (score 2 TD and allow less than 50 pts) I will have no complaints about this particular game.

  3. colmac69 - Nov 4, 2015 at 7:06 AM

    I xpect patriots come out three wide…force skins into nickel package (prob without top three corners) and run ball just like last three games and test if defense has made adjustment…..if the defense tighter vs run then go with quick passing attack against our 4th, 5th, 6th corners……that’s tough challenge even with healthy defense

    Got to pressure and sack brady with front four….u won’t obviously stop him entirely but history has shown that he can make rash decisions(not very often)when under duress…u blitz too much your toast

    Offense has to run ball somehow…if we can then. if Jackson. back should open up some passing lanes esp for reed..Garcon. .crowder on crossing routes esp…..but you got to b looking at least 24-28 pts to have chance imo

    Worst case scenario we lose we only one game behind at halfway point…..as for cousins it’s conceivable he could go for 250 and 3tds and team still lost or he could go 150 and 2 ints and team wins….whatever outcome this game won’t decide anything regarding what the skins think of him

    Just remembered last time we played in foxboro gibbs was coach and we lost 51-7….

    In 2011 we were 4-8 vs 9-3 patriots and they won by 7 (if not for slight push off by moss could bn overtime)….incidentally Roy helu (remember him)went for 130+ in that game and hall/doughty couldn’t tackle gronkowski on sideline

    • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      Last time the Patriots and Tom Terrific lost at home in November – November 6, 2011 against the Giants 24-20. They’re overdue.

      • sidepull - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        bang you are bringing the optimism and cup half full view. I like it. No chicken little sky is falling trash. We have nothing to lose as fans by being optimistic. HTTR

        • warpath1 - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:55 AM

          ill second that

        • hk2000 - Nov 4, 2015 at 12:39 PM

          If I were to compete in a hopeless match-up, I’d definitely have confidence and optimism because I’m in control- I do that all the time playing chess against the computer, I select the highest difficulty level and I lose every time, but I keep doing it, in this case however, you’re asking we have confidence wherein we have no control, that’s a whole other story.

  4. sidepull - Nov 4, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    The Patriots could very well go undefeated and win the Superbowl. Cant go around games on he schedule, gotta go through them. I just want them to show up ready to compete. I mean already every game has had a “must win” feel to it. I don’t feel that with this game. They have been in all the games this year but one. Gruden is not going to outsmart Belichick so the players have to execute and hold on to the ball. I hope Gruden and Barry have some new wrinkles because predictability may do them in here. This team is not like Gibbs old team where everybody knew counter tre was coming and the defenses could not stop it. HTTR

    • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:42 AM

      This is one of those “house money” games. As difficult a game this is for the B&G, it is equally the same for Philly and the Giants. (Dallas has already lost 30-6.) Win here and you take a decided advantage in common games within the division and you send Patriots on a loss to the G-men next week. Opportunity is knocking.

      • sidepull - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:49 AM

        Like it bang. Man that would be a win for the ages.

  5. skinsgame - Nov 4, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    I remember the 52-7 debacle when Gibbs was coaching. It was mid 4th quarter, the score was 45-0 and Tom Brady Was still throwing the ball for a TD to make it 52-0. It was the most merciless beating I can recall watching the Redskins receive. Humiliated. And that was a Redskins team that was built for playoffs, full of veterans and a hall of fame coach. Campbell fumbled, literally, every time he was sacked and the Patriots scored TD’s off of each of those. This game has all the makings to be like that game. The defense has to play better and the offense can’t turn the ball over. Do those two things and anything can happen.

    • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      If memory serves me (which is less each year), that was Sean Taylor’s last game as he left injured in the 4th.

      • ajbus1 - Nov 4, 2015 at 5:54 PM

        Still makes me sad.

        • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:17 PM

          Absolutely devastating. The whole direction of the franchise was changed by that injury. (But the injury occurred against the Eagles the following week.)

      • colmac69 - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:11 PM

        Your nearly correct ben…..he played following wk vs jets then eagles and got inj in second half

        Missed games vs dallas and tampa and was shot just after tampa game

        Anniversary of his death is around 26,27 November I believe

        • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:22 PM

          Yep. Correct. I made the Eagles correction but erroneously called it the next week. Memory doesn’t serve me very well, does it? Then again, I was following the games from Bangkok then – usually on the internet at 1:00-4:00AM (after daylight savings time) on a work night. It could be the old grey matter or it could be that I was nearly sleep deprived. Nonetheless, I was wrong and appreciate the correction.

  6. gonavybeatarmy - Nov 4, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    This Belichik-coached team may be a hair (slightly) behind the ’07 offensive juggernaut he coached. But overall it may be a better team as the defense looks solid.

    Cousins and the rest of the team could play a perfect game and they’d probably still lose. That said, the Patriots don’t have a stellar top-notch 9-route receiver to game plan around, and New England crushes defenses with a game-long steady diet of crossing routes, dig routes and drag routes. So, it would be nice to see the Skins go single-high safety Sunday and crowd the box, not to stop the run but because the Patriots view their short passing philosophy as an extension of the run game. The DBs and cover LBs need to play a violent brand of football and risk a few PI, holding and illegal contact penalties. As a side, it’s perplexing as hell why NFL defensive coordinators don’t instruct every defensive lineman to get their hands up high every time Brady drops back. His average release time is 2.04 seconds so, unless you have a player like Greg Hardy, a defense is unlikely to pressure him constantly, and it could create a few tipped balls given their short passing game philosophy.

    • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      i see them giving our defense a steady dose of LaGarret Blount.

      • sidepull - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        I want to see whose gonna man up and not miss a tackle on Gronk. But true. Blount is gonna try and bring it.

        • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:28 AM

          You preach being a physical team; this is where you bring it. Hopefully it will be the Keenan Robinson wrap and drop physical type instead of the Brandon Merriweather throw you body at the pile physical type. Both are physical but both aren’t successful.

  7. timwillhide - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    This is a game we really need Pot Roast to push the Pocket and provide pressure. Brady is bad against rushes up the middle. If we do that, establish the run, and shut down the slants we have a chance to pull out a win which I think we can do.

  8. renhoekk2 - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    Let’s just call it what it is. It’s a no win situation for Cousins. If they are losing big and he’s throws INTs fans, and apparently media, will criticize him for that. If he’s stays conservative and protects the ball, they’ll criticize him for not taking chances to bring the team back. Everyone can see the handwriting on the wall. The injured Skins defense will not be able to stop Brady and the Pats. It will make the Skins offense one dimensional. Under those circumstances most offenses and QBs will struggle. The Cousins bashing will return in full force.

    • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      The only thing I agree with is that with a loss, “the Cousins bashing will return in full force.” This is not an indictment on Cousins but Redskin fans that dislike him. These same fans give the ‘skins no chance to win. This is a golden opportunity for Cousins to sling the ball and pull out a victory. With all the injuries, the Redskins defense is incapable of playing as it did earlier in the season. They’re best stratagem right now is to not give up quick scores but instead force offenses to go the length of the field and then stall in the red zone. I’d like to see at least one onside kick by the ‘skins and attack the Patriot’s defense with everything in their playbook.

      • timwillhide - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:43 AM

        I don’t like Cousins as our starter because of inaccurate passes, interceptions, and inability to throw consistently accurate passes down field. ( most of his passes are within 10 yards ) and I still think we can win.

        I don’t have an issue if a ball is intercepted due to a tip or a great defensive play or taking chances when a we are down multiple scores late in a game. I do have an issue with passes thrown directly to the defender, passes constantly high or behind the WR, and passes 5 to 10 yards off target.

        • timwillhide - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:44 AM

          Accuracy issues like this can not be fixed

        • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:39 AM

          Accuracy issues are frustrating but certainly can be improved upon. As far as short passes, that is the state of the NFL these days. Here is how Cousins was in his last game in passes downfield: “When you’re leading a comeback like Cousins did, it helps to hit some deep balls; Cousins went 5-of-7 for 127 yards on throws that traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage.” (From FO’s quick reads week seven)

          Here is how Aaron Rodgers was perceived ten years ago. Bottom line: perceptions can change.
          http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/203116571.html

        • John - Nov 4, 2015 at 2:47 PM

          Accuracy comes down to footwork. That can be fixed. Short passes are the norm for a west coast offense. Short throws = runs. Lots of teams do that these days. Very few Air Coryell offenses out there these days. Regarding the line, Cousins makes the line better by moving in the pocket to help set the blocks, sets the protection prior to the play and gets the ball out in under 3 seconds. We could always trot clueless Bob out there, watch him get hurt and get stuck with a $16 million salary cap hit. No thanks. Colt has also been found to be wanting. He was replaced by Brandon Weeden in Cleveland. Weeden was no good there and replaced by Matt Cassel in Dallas. Cousins is our best option now and for the foreable future. Not much to be excited about in free agency or in the draft. The team is in the hunt at present but will probably end up 7-9, not because of Cousins innacurate throws or interceptions but because they don’t have the talent teamwide and don’t stop anybody on defense and have horrible special teams.

      • timwillhide - Nov 4, 2015 at 1:26 PM

        ???? What at all in that arrival has to do with accuracy compared to Cousins problem? Also Cousins has bin doing this healthy with an improved Oline ( 31st in Pass Blocking last year to 3rd in Pass Blocking so far this year according to Football Outsiders )

        • John - Nov 4, 2015 at 2:55 PM

          Stats are irrelevant. Look at how many times RG3 was sacked vs Cousins. Cousins helps the line because he knows what he is doing (setting protections, moving in the pocket and getting the ball out quickly). He throws short because of the west coast style of offense and without a deep threat, the safeties move up to stop the run game and clog the passing lanes.

        • timwillhide - Nov 4, 2015 at 8:27 PM

          Kind of funny that they replace the right side of the Oline and there is Drastic improvements. He’ll if it is all because of Cousins why replace the guys they had? Or maybe just maybe the Oline was the cause of all the sacks, inaccurate passes, interceptions..

          No deep threat??? Guess Crowder and Ross can’t get deep. I know by nature the west coast offense is full of short passes but teams do take shots down field in that offense

        • John - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:22 PM

          Tim,

          Sure the guys on the right side of the line have changed. I’d take a look at the difference in sack ratio between RG3 and Cousins last season. They both played behind the same line and Cousins took fewer sacks for the amount of comparable number of passes. You should go back and check out Cooley’s film breakdown for the Tampa game last year. He would not give the receivers, backs or line grades because RG3 had absolutely any clue what he was supposed to be doing. Kirk may make mistakes from time to time but at least he has a clue.

        • timwillhide - Nov 5, 2015 at 2:31 AM

          I did watch that game a couple times the Oline was Horrible. When the coach is calling mostly 5 & 7 step drops. The Defense is going to Tee Off on him. Put that with Moses’s horrible play that game as a full in what do you expect. How come he played good against the Vikings when given time?

        • John - Nov 5, 2015 at 10:03 AM

          Tim you really need to look up the Washington Post article by Dan Steinberg (Chris Cooley: RGIII was so bad, I can’t assess the rest of the Redskins’ offense), 11/19/14. Cooley breaks it down plain as day. Easy reads and RG3 blows it time and time again.

          I realize people want the team to get back to winning like 2012 but everyone needs to realize that RG3 is not the answer to getting this team on the right track.

    • hk2000 - Nov 4, 2015 at 12:50 PM

      But you’re only offering two scenarios! why can’t he take chances deep and make those throws? Why does it have to be either interceptions or short, conservative throws? Isn’t a good to above average QB supposed to be able to do that? Having said that, contrary to the misconception here, I’m not a cousin’s basher, I’m a Gruden basher, and that will not change regardless what happens in this game.

      • John - Nov 4, 2015 at 3:13 PM

        Throwing it deep us one thing. Having someone like Jackson with his speed and ability to track the ball is another thing all together. Ross gets in for only a handful of plays. Garcon, Crowder and Roberts are all best in short to intermediate routes. In a west coast offense like they run, you get a lot of short passes. Lots of teams go west coast with short passes to supplement the running game. Its not “checking down”. Short passes = runs in west coast. The 49ers back in 1981 were a perfect example. They had no run threat. Bill Walsh developed the short passing game to supplement the run and to help Montana stay upright and complete more accurate throws. Short passes to receivers who catch and run for extra yards.

    • ajbus1 - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:14 PM

      Lots of good comments guys. I agree with pretty much all of it. I think we have to find a groove in the run game and get some play action going. Hopefully Jackson is making plays on Sunday. Not sure what to say about the D. I agree with bangkokben that their best bet is to play a bend but don’t break style and keep them from scoring quickly. I really just want to see the team fight hard and not get discouraged if it’s a blowout. Regardless of opinions on Gruden, the team has been fighting hard every week and that’s a good sign. I’m gonna say the game is in the neighborhood of 40-23 with us losing. Sucks but I think it’s the reality of the match-up.

      Also agree with the Cousins comments from bangkokben and John. A cautiously optimistic point of view is what we should all try to have with Cousins. He does seem to be improving. Doesn’t automatically mean he’s the long term answer but he is improving. This will be a good test as the Pats will be trying to trick him into some of the “bad Kirk moments”. Hopefully he starts to throw it away instead of into coverage or lurking DBs.

  9. 226thebeatdontstop - Nov 4, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    Are you kidding me Rich? Tampa is not s measuring stick for Cousins development that team is horrible

    Cousins must win division games and road games I’m so sick an tired of the hype . His performance against New England is very important he must show progress against good teams, he must be able to rally his team to victory I’m hostile environment’s.

    I don’t see Cousins as the long term solution at quarterback nor do I see Gruden the answer at coach.

    • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      “Cousins must win division games and road games…”

      I’ll concede the division games but road games? That sounds reasonable on the surface but when your team is a touchdown plus dog on the road maybe you should rethink your bar.
      @NYG -3
      @ATL -7 (COVERED)
      @NYJ -7.5
      @NE -14
      @CAR -?
      Which of these teams was Cousins and Gruden supposed to win? Each of the teams have better records and only the Giants don’t have a winning record.

      • renhoekk2 - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:46 AM

        I was hoping CAR would have a big divisional game following the Skins so we could maybe catch them in a “trap game”, but no such luck.

        • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:31 AM

          Sandwiched between the Titans and Cowboys is great spot to be overlooked by a team that is coasting. Maybe not ideal but a helluva lot better than a team coming off a bye.

    • Rich Tandler - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:14 AM

      No, I’m not kidding. The Bucs are 3-3 and beat the Saints and won in Atlanta. They’re not the Patriots, they’re not even the Giants, but they have improved from last year.

      And the Redskins have played dozens and dozens of games against bad teams and have fallen behind bad teams. But few QB’s have had a game as good as Cousins did.

      And I’m glad you have your mind made up, always makes for an interesting point of view.

    • mjthomas85 - Nov 4, 2015 at 4:44 PM

      You may not see Cousins as a franchise QB or long-term solution, but you have to keep in mind that we are working off of a small sample size. Also, until there is something better than Cousins, we should stick with him since he is, currently, our QB.

  10. garg8050 - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    They need to be unconventional, take chances, play loose. Just the way the Cowboys did against the 11-0 Redskins back in 1991. Go for 4th downs, onside kicks, no-huddle offense. Playing conservative and not to lose will result in a blowout.

    • sidepull - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      That would be fun to watch, only if BB didnt have his team prepared for that. Now a Harbaugh coached team we could slip by some okey doke……

  11. bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    Football Outsiders gives the Redskins a 1.9% chance to play in the NFC championship game and 0.4% chance of winning it. Conversely they give the ‘skins a 2.2% chance to pick in the top 3 and 0.2% chance to have the top overall pick.

    • colmac69 - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:52 AM

      Unless they have complete meltdown they won’t b picking top 3 in draft….I b willing to wager they won’t pick in top 10

      Said it earlier we lose sun we one game behind at halfway point….bad division or not there was no one who would predicted that 8wks ago…….

      Jackson gets back healthy our offense has potential to b explosive and could carry team to 4,5 wins with full complement available

      It’s defense I believe where we will fall dwn and should b focus in close season

      • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 12:09 PM

        Once again defensive injuries jeopardize a reasonable start. I agree. We won’t be picking in the top ten barring Kirk Cousins getting appendicitis and Trent Williams going down for an extended period of time. Even with that kind of calamity the other 17 teams with worse or equal records actually have to win games.

        • mjthomas85 - Nov 4, 2015 at 4:51 PM

          Agreed. There is very little chance of a top 10 pick, let alone a top 3 pick. Like you said, even if we have a collapse an only win 1-2 games, the other teams still need to win. Right now, there are 16 teams with the same or worse record than the Redskins, so it seems pretty reasonable that we will be pick somewhere around 12-20 in the draft if things more or less stay the same.

        • John - Nov 4, 2015 at 5:27 PM

          There will still be a quality player available, when the Skins pick. Probably not a full blown impact player. Just whoever that best available player may be. Drafting for need generally gets you a lesser player.

        • bangkokben - Nov 4, 2015 at 5:57 PM

          Agreed. This fan base has to get away from the one person as a savior mentality. Darrel Revis was picked within that range. So high quality can be found.

        • ajbus1 - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:20 PM

          In total agreeance again here. Thanks for the interesting stuff from Football Outsiders bangkokben.

  12. John - Nov 4, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    First and foremost, as soon as one of the Patriots receivers catches the ball, they need to be tackled. Yards after the catch will kill us otherwise. Disrupt Gronk at the line with a linebacker, then pick him up in coverage with a safety. Disrupt Brady by knocking him off his spots.

    On offense operate 4 wide, Reed with Garcon, Jackson and Crowder and alternate Jones and Thompson in the backfield. Run up tempo. The defensewill have a tough time, so the offense will have to pick up the slack. I look for the Patriots to try to take away Reid, so Garcion and Crowder and Thompson should be able to make plays but they have to beat single coverage. It all comes down to execution.

    • hk2000 - Nov 4, 2015 at 12:56 PM

      And stop their run game- our defense have been letting running backs slip past 2nd and 3rd levels UNTOUCHED, that needs to change.

  13. JOHNNY B - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    I am sorry but we need at least 21 or better. We probably won’t be able to stop Brady too often our defense is just not that good. But their defense is not perfect either. We will have Dejax and Reed healthy. With that combo playing it will open up the run game, Garson, and Crowder . We can say that we have improved if we can put 21 on the board. I personally will not be happy if we can’t. This is a prove it game. It doesn’t matter if we lose or win just prove that we are better. Too many of the fans already would have us forfeit. I say show them who the new Redskins are and kick their buts. HTTR

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