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Need to Know: Redskins will have their hands full with Bills QB Taylor

Dec 16, 2015, 5:16 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 16, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Buffalo Bills.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Bills

—Don’t believe for a second that this game doesn’t really matter to the Redskins’ playoff chances. Record in common games could come into play if there is a tie between the Redskins and Giants when the season is over and Buffalo is a common opponent. The Giants beat them so if the Redskins don’t they will lose a game in that category. Only a few combinations of possible results will have the tiebreakers going that far down the line but the way this year has gone, the unlikely scenarios may be the ones that come into play.

—You look at the list of quarterbacks with a passer rating over 100 and you see some Super Bowl winners like Wilson and Brady, players who have made multiple playoff appearances such as Palmer and Dalton and—Tyrod Taylor. Yes, the former Virginia Tech star who sat on the bench behind Joe Flacco for four years is having himself a very good season. In terms of passer rating he is the second highest ranked quarterback the Redskins have faced this year, behind only Tom Brady. Looking at ESPN’s QBR, Taylor is behind only Drew Brees in that metric among the quarterbacks the Redskins have faced.

—The Bills cut popular running back Fred Jackson just before the season started, highlighting a power struggle between GM Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan. A couple of months ago receiver Sammy Watkins complained to the media that he wasn’t getting the ball enough. Last week there was a report that Whaley’s future with the Bills is up in the air. Now that they have lost three of their last four and are 6-7 and on the brink of elimination from the playoff chase, things could get louder in Buffalo. Meanwhile, it’s pretty quiet in DC.

—Rex Ryan has not brought his trademark brand of tough defense to Buffalo at this point. They are 20th in terms of yards allowed and even worse, 24th, in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA. That represents a major drop off from last year when they were fourth in yardage and second in DVOA. They have suffered a few injuries but no more than most NFL teams.

—The Bills offense is solid. Watkins is happy now as one of Taylor’s favorite targets. He averages 18.4 yards on his 39 receptions and has scored seven touchdowns. Leading the way on the ground is a familiar face in LeSean McCoy, who is averaging 4.5 yards a carry.


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

Days until: Bills @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Eagles 10; Redskins @Cowboys 18

In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    Redskins are going to have their hands full every game down the stretch. I think winning out all three for a team that has not won 2 in-a-row is a tall ask. Not even sure it is possible for our team. Frankly, we will need Eagles and Giants to lose this week and for the Redskins to win to have a chance at these playoffs. It will be next to impossible to win both Eagles and Dallas in a row on the road after beating the Bills.

    We almost always split inter division games. Lose to Dallas, beat them in the second matchup. Beat Eagles lose in second match up.

    So I see us losing to the Eagles and beating Dallas, which means we have to win this week with the Bills and we need panthers to beat Giants and Arizona to beat eagles to have a true chance at this.

    I see us in our final game against Dallas having to win, us having to watch our division rivals having to lose, and some obscure unrelated game of 2 past opponents playing where we need one to lose to break a tie breaker to get into these playoffs. It has just been one of those years.

    I really see very little chance of us winning all 3 out. It will come down to the final game played in the NFL by some tie breaker outside of our division to get.

    Redskins fans start coating your stomach now with Gaviscon. Gonna be a long 3 weeks…


    • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      You play them one at a time for a reason and like our chances one at a time.

    • Skulb - Dec 16, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      I like this finish. If the Skins can’t beat at least two of these three teams they have no business in the playoffs. Buffalo lead the league in penalties, Philly are wildly erratic and Dallas a wasteland it still shocks me that we managed to lose to last time.
      And if the Giants can beat Carolina and/or the Vikings/Eagles they deserve a playoff game. I would have no problem with that; it’s a tough schedule for anybody. Similarly, if the Eagles can beat Arizona and/or the Giants/Redskins they will deserve their spot. The perfect way to decide it. You wanna be a playoff team? Now is the time to earn it.

      • firesnyder - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:18 AM

        Man, I don’t like this… got a bad feeling. Just read Karlos Williams will be back for Buffalo, so now the Skins will have to contend with McCoy and Williams. I got a chance to watch Williams a few weeks ago, and he a SERIOUS playmaker. Great hands, amazing runner. Ugh!! If he could stay healthy, I think he’s better than McCoy.

      • ET - Dec 16, 2015 at 12:57 PM

        “I like this finish. If the Skins can’t beat at least two of these three teams they have no business in the playoffs. “

        Agree. I doubt they can run the table, but two out of three is both realistic and necessary for the Skins to get to the post-season. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d choose the NFC East games to win, but they’re all important at this juncture. As Ben mentioned, taken individually, the Skins have a reasonable shot in each contest.

      • nathansworldorder - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:11 PM

        They don’t have any business in the playoffs regardless. Nobody from the NFC east

        • Skulb - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:04 PM

          Who would you replace them with from the NFC though? Atlanta? Tampa? St Louis? Chicago?
          If you say that whichever wins the East is the sixth best team in the NFC I’d buy that.

          I could see the argument better in the AFC since either the Jets or the Steelers will probably miss the playoff. And both seem obviously better than the NFC East teams.

          But then you’d have to change the structure of the NFL to do anything about that. And I can’t see it happening. Too many traditions and rivalries would be broken up.

  2. garg8050 - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    The Bills have been a tough match up for the ‘Skins ever since the Super Bowl. They have dynamic players on offense. The defense will need to account for Taylor on scrambles or designed runs, they’ll need to try to have Breeland on Watkins as much as possible; we’ve already seen that Blackmon has a target on his back in the red zone, and the ‘Skins are all too familiar with McCoy.

    I’m surprised to see how poorly the Bills defense is ranked, but rankings can be deceiving. I see Ryan coming at Cousins with all sorts of blitzes and try to confuse him and force him into mistakes, especially with pressure right up the middle. Anyone who saw the Dallas game can see how effective the A-gap blitzes were.

    I hope the players aren’t overlooking this game and already focusing on the Eagles game. With how unpredictable this season has been, they can’t afford to just look past a game, not at this point in the season.

    • sidepull - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:50 AM

      There not good enough to look past anybody. McCoy and Taylor equals a lot of playmaker. They both are shifty and break down defenders. Redskins need to lay the lumber.

    • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 7:44 AM

      Redskins need to simply score more points than the Bills. As far as notes from the Dallas game, did anyone see what Green Bay took out of the Dallas game? That you can run over Dallas if you execute. Interesting. As for importance of the Bills game. It is important in continuing to have control over your own destiny but of the three remaining games it is the “easiest” to overcome. That doesn’t mean that winning isn’t paramount. Regardless of Sunday’s results – provided that Carolina continues it’s road toward perfection – the Redskins must win in Philly to control its destiny.

    • Mr.moneylover - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:22 AM

      If jay gruden is smart he should know that Rex Ryan gonna try to blitz kirk cousins a lot so he can throw a pick…let’s see how the play calling be this week.. Cause its been up and down since week 1. And you can’t make it into the playoffs like that

      • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 9:41 AM

        “Ryan gonna try to blitz kirk cousins a lot'”

        Hope they find a lot more successful solution to the problem of being heavily blitzed vs. Buffalo than they did the Cowboys!

        But because they were seemingly caught off-guard by the Dallas’ blitzes, while Ryan’s blitzes are a staple of his defenses, it stands to reason they will, right? Right?

        • firesnyder - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:23 AM

          Excellent point. They will blitz the crap out of Kirk. They better have a two man backfield going with Darryl Young in there blocking, and they better roll Kirk out more.

        • ET - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:04 PM

          Darrel Young in the backfield would be welcome, but maybe new TE Alex Smith makes some contributions? He’s primarily a blocking TE, and he’s already somewhat familiar with Gruden’s offensive scheme. Regardless, let’s hope the offensive brain trust plans for the blitz better than they did during the Dallas game.

  3. sidepull - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:47 AM

    You know a Buddy Ryan offspring is gonna dial up the blitz on Cousins. Come on Redskins get another Ryan fired. Both Rex and Rob in the unemployment line! HTTR.

    • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 9:45 AM

      Unfortunately, THIS Ryan has proven himself to be many times the coach that his l’il bro is. (But then, that designation might not be too difficult to achieve.)

  4. colorofmyskinz - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:50 AM

    Eagles against panthers is a much more important game to us. We need them to lose. If eagles dethrown both undefeated teams this year, beating the eagles will be next to impossible. Especially since we always split those 2 inter division games and we already have our win.

    If eagles win this week we will have our hands full. All about panthers this week.

    • garg8050 - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:55 AM

      Eagles play the Cardinals and the Giants have the Panthers, right?

      • Mr.moneylover - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:17 AM

        The eagles don’t play the panthers the giants play the panthers and the eagles play the Arizona cardinals

    • John - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      Giants vs. Panthers
      Eagles vs. Cardinals

  5. colorofmyskinz - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:54 AM

    If the eagles beat the panthers, our hopes are all but over. There will be no way to beat the eagles if the panthers lose.

    • Race - Dec 16, 2015 at 7:27 AM

      The Eagles do not play the Panthers and the Patriots had already been beaten by the Broncos

    • sidepull - Dec 16, 2015 at 7:47 AM

      garg8050 is right color:
      Eagles vs Cards
      Giants vs Panthers
      One game at a time. On any given Sunday. You never know. HTTR

    • Mr.moneylover - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      The eagles don’t play the panthers the giants play the panthers and the eagles play the Arizona cardinals

      • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 9:48 AM

        Colorofmyskins …. SEE WHAT YOU STARTED?! LMAO!!!

  6. Mr.moneylover - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    They need to take care of business…tyrod Taylor is small he can see over big D-linemen so they try to spread out the D-line so he scrambles left or right to see down field sometimes…plus the bills are the number 1 team in the NFL that has the most penalties they O-Line hold alot …but redskins need to for us on they self…if they stop shooting they self in the foot they can win this week and next week against the eagles

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:37 AM

      More on those penalties.

      I think if we can limit our own penalties and turnovers, we will win this game.

      • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:17 AM

        Good information. I also checked the source ( and was surprised to see that the Redskins opponents have been flagged for three more accepted penalties and 77 more yards than our boys. Also disappointed to see that like the Bills, the Redskins get most of their penalties called on them at home. Of the 89 accepted penalties against the Redskins, 53 have come at home. The Bills offense had 10 offensive penalties called at home Sunday against the Eagles. Whoever that crew was, we can’t have them officiating the next couple of games.

    • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 9:57 AM

      Tyrod Taylor is gonna be tough!

      I mean, a guy who can stand in the pocket when given time and find the open man with accuracy, and, if not, escape the rush and be elusive — turning near-sacks into big gains — plus expertly run the read-option at anytime — giving a defense one more thing to always be worrying about.

      A combo like that is hard to stop. Joe B’s gonna have his hands full game-planning Taylor.

      • sidepull - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:17 AM

        For crying out loud Jay Cutler on the move threw the D for a loop. He made some nice throw on the move. I truly was surprised by Cutler.

        • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:35 AM

          The best I’ve ever seen from Cutler. It only takes how many years? And if anyone wants to defend the Shanahan Cutler pairing, go right ahead. Apparently it wasn’t strong enough to keep Shanahan and his two Lombardis employed in Colorado. You’d think that with time and patience Shanahan, Marshall, and Cutler could’ve been something. Could’ve they got back into the Super Bowl in the 2013-14 season? Probably not but something.

        • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:00 PM

          “The best I’ve ever seen from Cutler.”

          Cutler certainly looked like the “good Jay” much of last Sunday! Kinda wonder wonder about the cause and effect of that outcome, tho; was it that he was due to have one of his great games, or that the defense faltered in big spots, making accomplishing that easier for him.?

          (That said, the Skins did seem to put good pressure on him from time to time, no? I liked the sacks by Pot Roast and Kerrigan — and LOVED that strip-sack/fumble recovery by Murphy!! Made me feel there was real hope for his development. But just like any young player who is learning a new position — a la Preston Smith also — achieving consistency make take time.)

        • ET - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:21 PM

          I was pretty stoked about Murphy’s strip-sack, too! Unlike many Skins fans, I’m not down on Murph or Preston Smith at all. Both are smart, strong, good against the run. Quickness alone doesn’t win the day, not consistently. As they learn and the pass rush becomes more balanced / opportunistic, I think both young OLBs have the the potential to break out.

        • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 2:46 PM

          True, ET.

          I’ve seen it pointed out frequently that except for a few rare cases, it takes a young NFL player a while to master his craft. We do often seem to forget that and demand that these kids step right it and excel, especially if they were drafted in the first few rounds. That’s usually unrealistic. Let them develop, even tho it means they take some lumps.

          That said, I’m keeping an eye on the development of some young players the Skins gave up on REAL quickly (imho), especially Bacardi Rum,bro (who we’ll see this weekend!) and David Amerson. (Also along those lines, I see the Falcons have parted ways with ex-Skins 2nd rounder, Leonard Hankerson. Guess Hank still hasn’t been able to conquer his injury and “drops” bugaboos. Ouch.)

        • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 2:50 PM

          Ooops! Hank was a THIRD- rounder. Exponentially lower expectations for 3rd-rounders! LOL

  7. Mr.moneylover - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:14 AM

    The redskins got after the eagles QB a lot and they shut down Darren sproles so they showed they can beat them but they also showed they can beat themselves as well…this bills game will show us if they fix they play calling issues

  8. skinsgame - Dec 16, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    As much as I want the Redskins to make the playoffs, they don’t stand a chance unless they get there by winning their own games, not because Philly or NY lost again. This team needs to see what a winning streak takes. If the Redskins can win their next 2 they’re in and if that doesn’t motivate them to execute on each play, what will? Yes, Taylor is a dangerous player but if the defense executes, they should be able to keep the score down. Execute, fellas.

    • sidepull - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:21 AM

      I am with that right there skinsgame. Forget all the convoluted what if scenarios. If they want to go to the playoffs then dammit Redskins take care of your own games.

  9. goback2rfk - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:25 AM


  10. timwillhide - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    I’m wondering who they are using on the scout team to mimic Gyros Taylor in practice

    • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      Gotta love autocorrect. Good idea for lunch. It would appear that they have the perfect guy to be this week’s scout QB.

      • timwillhide - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:03 AM

        You would think but being so close to end of the year might be McCoy or someone else. They might not want to risk the injury this close to end of season

        • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:22 AM

          I thought about that too. Who knows what they do? I’m sure they don’t wrap up or take shots. Maybe they have Rashad Ross play it. Griffin would be ideal but who knows.

        • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:06 PM

          “Griffin would be ideal”

          Griffin would be ideal, ben??!!

          Griffin could probably “out-Taylor” Taylor! LOL

    • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      Mmmmm ……. gyros!!!

  11. bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    The Bills defense last year had 54 sacks. This year they have 19.

    • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 2:13 PM

      I hear dat! Good point.

      Fat Francesa, up in my area, was blowing hard recently (does he do it any other way?) about how the Bils’ defense was in revolt over the changes Rex made in their scheme that they feel has reduced their sacks, and that he was losing the locker room cuzza that.

      Haven’t heard much from him on it recently (because the Bill’s haven’t playing a NYC team, maybe?) but if the O-line can exploit that, and continue doing a good job of giving Cuz ample time to throw, that should go a long way toward moving the ball through the air.

  12. troylok - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    You beat a Rex Ryan football team by being the baddest on the field. He tries to instill this bully mentality and the Redskins job is to smack them in the chops.

    They are not all that in pass defense. Hopefully Pierre Thomas will be able to carry plenty of the load because I think passes to the running back are a vulnerability. Gruden should throw some empty backfield out there as well and don’t forget the deep pass. I look for Reed to have another beast of a day.

    On defense, the Redskins have to pass rush and force Tyrod into mistakes. Keep in mind that he isn’t all that tall so he needs passing lanes opened up for him by his offensive linemen. Anything the Redskins can do to disrupt that – stunts, overloads, etc – will make it challenging for Tyrod to find his receivers. Kerrigan is peaking at the right time and he should have a great game.

    • bangkokben - Dec 16, 2015 at 11:25 AM

      I noticed that they still had Kerrigan crash down the line and then had Compton fill his spot on possible read-option plays after the first one. That would be good if Taylor keeps it but could open up a big hole for McCoy.

      • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 2:32 PM

        “Kerrigan crash down then had Compton fill his spot”

        To me that is so key to the success of the Skins defense; having someone who can guard the edges after the DE/OLB hybrids crash in!

        When that happens, the 3-4 becomes virtually a 5-2 — leaving the 2 ILBs with a lot of work to do, covering the middle as well es the edges. If the Skins are caught in the wrong defenses at those times, they can be easily exploited by sweeps, screens, draws, etc. — especially if the safeties are kept busy with coverages.

        Obviously, great play by the Skins ILBs is crucial whenever Kerrigan/Murphy/Smith rush the passer, which is very often. I’m starting to have hope that Compton will develop into that kind of player. (And I still have a lot of hope for Keenan as well, and this a just one washout of a season for him!)

        • colmac69 - Dec 16, 2015 at 3:54 PM

          Nice having two inside guys being in right spots to clean up…no coincidence our last two games have bn two of best vs run

          In general tho defense has bn doing basics well over last 3 wks…what tackling issues one asks these days!!!!

          Agree bout robinson….think inj hindered him to certain extent….he gets full health think he b fine…..however no guarantee he b back as he free agent after season

          Sunday game is dwn to us getting basics correct….no t/overs…few pens…gd tackling…..let bills bt themselves considering they averaging bout 15 pens a game….Yeh they blitz but 19 sacks in 13 games would suggest cousins gets protection should b big opportunity in passing game….their best corner went on IR (gilmore )…..defense know all bout Eminem after his yrs in detroit (sorry philly )….contain him….double Watkins should get job done

          I’m actually more confident with this game than chicago….

          We win sunday it means we will have something at stake in dallas game even if we lose to eagles on the 26th

        • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:23 PM

          “defense know all bout Eminem after his yrs in detroit”

          Marshall Mathers is playing in the NFL now?! Whatzee, one of those diva WRs? Bet he spits mad trash when he gets heated. (Sorry)

    • ET - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:26 PM

      Wonder if Gyros Taylor’s lack of height (I’m calling him that from now on!) will mean Preston gets more snaps? He’s got the height and arms for it.

  13. mauriceatwood - Dec 16, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    Things are pretty quiet in DC? LOL That’s the misstatement of the day. Half the fan base is not happy and it’s quiet in DC? Winning these next three games would definitely shut the critics like me up, but until that happens we will continue to speak out against this under performing coaching staff and the hot and cold preparation the team is given week in and week out as measured in their on the field performance.

    • brucefan1 - Dec 16, 2015 at 6:26 PM

      You were expecting a lot better from this team at the start of this season, maurice? Just askin. Archives

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