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Need to Know: It looks like the Redskins are peaking at the right time

Dec 22, 2015, 5:08 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 22, four days before the Washington Redskins travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles.

Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bills

—It looks like the Redskins are peaking at the right time. Against a Bills defense that is more pedestrian than awful they posted their second highest total yards of the season and their most total passing yards. The defense is playing well; the final numbers on Sunday weren’t pretty but they didn’t give up much until it was 28-3. The Bills had one possession, their first one, with a chance to tie or take the lead. The Redskins not yet the team nobody wants to face in the playoffs but in a couple more games they could be.

—The Redskins appear to be back on track when it comes to converting third downs. After a three-game stretch where they went a combined 12 for 40 on third down (30.0%) they have converted on 14 of 23 (60.8%) over the last two games. On the season they have a conversion rate 43.6 percent, sixth in the NFL. That is a quantum improvement on their 31.5 percent conversion rate they had last year, which was 30th in the NFL.

—One reason for the solid improvement on third down is the play of Kirk Cousins. In the last two games is nine for 12 on third down for 100 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. That is a 127.1 passer rating. However, that isn’t all that impressive considering his rating on all passes over the last two games has been higher than that, a sizzling 131.6.

—I don’t normally get riled up over play calling especially in a game they won comfortably but I was a bit annoyed with the calls in the latter stages of the fourth quarter with the Redskins trying to run out the clock. When it was apparent that the Redskins weren’t going to be able to run the clock out by keeping it on the ground Gruden and McVay kept trying. The defense had been on the field a lot but a futile run was called twice in third and four situations. Certainly a pass to Jordan Reed or Pierre Garçon would have moved the chains and given the defense the rest of the day off. A small complaint in the big picture but if the game was a bit closer it could have been an issue.

­—Losing to the Redskins doesn’t make the locals happy. Here is the start of my friend Vic Carucci’s rant in the Buffalo News:

Rex Ryan promised his team wouldn’t quit. He lied. On the way to officially eliminating themselves from postseason contention for the 16th consecutive season, the Bills gave a pathetic effort, especially on defense. There was no point in this game where it even felt as if the Bills would be able to stop Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ offense, which produced touchdowns on its first three possessions. Cousins is a solid starter, but the Bills made him look like an absolute superstar.

At least Rex won’t get fired like his brother Rob did after his Saints defense was shredded by the “solid” Cousins.


Today’s schedule: Player meetings; no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 4; Redskins @Cowboys 12; start of NFL playoffs 18

In case you missed it

  1. skinsgame - Dec 22, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    The defense is erratic but seems to be timely. This team will be in a state of, “Prove it!” until they win a playoff game but it is stunning that they might be in the playoffs in this, a rebuilding year. Kudos to them! The early line I saw was Redskins +4.5 so they are still getting no respect but it feels like the Redskins should be favored and it’s a little surprising they aren’t.

    The injuries this week were big and the OL injuries could be impactful but none are more worrisome than Goldson, in my opinion. While he isn’t getting All-Pro consideration, he has been more than just a stop gap. I’m guessing he is staying on board next year in spite of his cap number but a broken rib is going to affect his physical style and might make him a liability. Deangelo Hall looks out of sorts at safety so far.

    • bangkokben - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      I love the Redskins as an underdog. 0-1 as the favorite this year. They will make a play to keep Goldson but I can’t see it at $8M. I doubt ANY team would carry a cap hit of $8M on him, however, the Redskins and Goldson seem like a good fit and they should find a way to make it work. Then again $8M is tied for 6th highest cap hit for safeties and there are 16 safeties with cap hits over $6M next year so savings might be minimal. Hall should have a good chance to make the full transition next year to FS and if the organization is pleased with his progress he could be the reasons to let Goldson go. At this moment, that seems silly but projecting growth in the future and the cost of doing business that may be a solution. Hall is a cap hit of $5M next year but releasing him is just $3M in savings.

  2. garg8050 - Dec 22, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    In my opinion, two keys to getting a win. Limit turnovers on offense and DO NOT let Sproles beat you on special teams.

    If the ‘Skins can do that, I have confidence they will win. The offense should be able to move the ball and put up points. Bradford will give the ball up a couple of times. I see something like 31-23 ‘Skins….

    • Skulb - Dec 22, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      Min are in no particular order:

      Score early
      Pressure Samantha
      Stop the run

      If they can manage these three things we can also add “cause Murray to throw a sideline tantrum” and “make the producers zoom in on Chipedidoodah for most of the second half”. If we can get these two bonus goals achieved it should be an easy win.

    • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:35 PM

      You know the Eagles are gonna wanna come out and bust the Skins in the mouth early; either by rattling Cuz on defense or scoring a quick-strike TD on offense or a big special teams play.

      Even tho the Skins beat em in FedEx, I doubt the Eagles are gonna want to see that as just a glitch that occurred before they were able to finally get their sea legs under them.

      And that may have been the case had they won the Phoenix game. But how deeply they really, really, REALLY feel that now HAS to have been affected by the can o whoop-ass the Cards opened on em.

      IF the Skins let the Eagles feel like they got their swag back, that could spell trouble. But if the B&G come out with the focus AND the authority they showed at Chi and vs. Buff, NYG and NO, it could cause Philly to start wondering about themselves even more. And even a little self-doubt could make a big difference.

      • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:39 PM

        Errr … I mean “I doubt the Eagles are gonna want to see that as MORE THAN just a glitch”

        Honey …. where’s the Wite-Out ??!! LOL

  3. bk70 - Dec 22, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    Need another safety on the 53 man roster, too thin due to injuries to Goldson and Johnson. Only Hall and Jarrett healthy. I don’t know if any of the 5 CBs can play safety in an emergency.

    There’s enough depth on the OL to get past Sunday’s injuries. Short turn around with game on Saturday.

    • troylok - Dec 22, 2015 at 8:48 AM

      I agree that they need another safety but remember that Jarrett was drafted as a safety. He can play the position as well.

      • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:12 AM

        “He can play the position as well.”

        Yeah but can he play it “well”?? There’s the rub.

        I missed Goldson being injured! (A fractured rib, eh. An extra layer of tape should fix that up nicely, no? I mean — he played with it v Buff, no?! Jk…jk.)

        He has been a champ for this team, especially lately. BIG loss if he can’t go!

  4. colmac69 - Dec 22, 2015 at 7:55 AM

    Sounds like there gd chance eagles b missing at least 3 starters from defense…..ej Biggar vs d jack anyone…

    Redskin offense has to b confident going into this game….opportunities should b there for lot pts….avoid mistakes don’t believe the eagles can score enough to win game

    Just like 2005 when we clinched playoff spot away to philly wk 17 I think we get the division on sat night

    • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      I LOVE the thought of facing Biggers on Boxing Day, mac!

      Every Eagle fan’s heart has ta SINK wherever he’s got to play a key role in their secondary. (I know mine did when he was playing for the Skins! LOL)

      But I know the Eagles can put up yards and points when they get on a roll, so the D definitely has their work cut out for themselves.

  5. murphsman - Dec 22, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    Ok Rich i know this is irrelevant, but i just read Washington has decided not to pick up RGIIIs option, meaning he will definitely be a free agent. Can you provide any insight?

    • babyteal1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      They already picked up his option you dope.

      • voice4thefans - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:58 AM

        and they can and will rescind it , you really think they are going to pay him 16 million ,that money goes to Cousins

        • babyteal1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:09 PM


      • voice4thefans - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        RG Diva is not hurt so he have no contract for next year , unless he get hit in the head with a brick in Philly and have major brain damage that part of the contract is over

        • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:20 AM

          “RG Diva”

          Merry Christmas, idiot.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        They have the option, but that doesn’t mean they’ll exercise the option.

        In fact, they probably will not (they can avoid exercising it as long as RGIII isn’t injured).

        I’d guess that is what murphsman is referring to.

      • murphsman - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:41 PM

        Is the name calling necessary?

    • Rich Tandler - Dec 22, 2015 at 5:15 PM

      Not sure how much insight I need to provide, it’s pretty cut and dried. I’ve seen a few here talk about Griffin staying but there is zero chance it will happen unless something changes drastically. From the moment Cousins was named the starter, Griffin’s departure has been inevitable.

      • murphsman - Dec 23, 2015 at 8:36 AM

        Thought maybe you might know something about his destination. But thanks

  6. abanig - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    I for one am not going to get overexcited. In 05, 07 & 12the skins peaked at the right time and went in winning streaks heading into the playoffs only to face a Seahawks team that was also peaking in each season and was better coached and seemed hungrier each time.

    If the skins make the playoffs this year it appears they’ll be playing the defending champion Seahawks who are playing their best ball of the season and what Russell Wilson is doing from the pocket makes what Cousins is doing look pedestrian.

    • babyteal1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:16 AM

      Thanks for being optimistic!!….now back to Philly you go.

      • abanig - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:19 AM

        It’s more like realistic. Some people try to live in reality

    • colmac69 - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:13 AM

      Yeh your right to b realistic….win div is unexpected bonus….playoffs is gravy

      If it’s seattle so b it….I happen to think they might win it all the way their playing…

      As for game in 12 we dominated them in first qtr till rgiii got inj just before second td pass….at that point he should bn removed from game but rest is history (actually defense that night played outstandingly)

      Just win Saturday will take care of itself

    • John - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:42 PM

      Wilson should fare well against the Skins, assuming they beat Philly. Cousins played well against the LOD last year but then, the defense gave up 3 long TDs to Percy Harvin that got called back. Funny how the defense thought they “held their own” against the champs. The game was close in score only.

      In the playoff game in 2012, the Skins got the early lead, then once Seattle caught up and went ahead, it was all over.

      While the Skins are playing well, I can’t see them getting past Wildcard Weekend.

  7. metalman5150 - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    Philly’s going to be a hostile environment. Our men need to tune out the hatred, watch out for flying batteries, and above all else, remain composed in the face of evil that is Chip Kelly. If we can win Saturday in Philly, then maybe we do really belong in the playoffs?

  8. voice4thefans - Dec 22, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    WE just need to score a lot of points because our D is not playing that well , we should have won the last 2 games easily but our D makes it interesting every game

  9. bangkokben - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    Saturday is Code Red. If Tom Terrific didn’t throw that 100-yard pick six and play with a bunch of guys down against the Eagles. the Redskins could already look forward to game planning for Seattle. Then again, had we beat Dallas at home, the same could be said. Instead, the Eagles have more than a punchers chance to win the division. Our ‘skins simply need to score more points which is easily in the realm of REALITY. Score 50! None of this score four touchdowns and then stop throwing on 3rd down. That is so Steve Spurrier-esque. At least we waited a bit longer before trying that strategy last week, but Rich is spot on, the defense could’ve had the rest of the afternoon off and perhaps avoid an injury to Goldson. Score 50, then run. As for Seattle, there is no reason for us fans to concern ourselves over Seattle. The ‘skins have to win Saturday first and who knows Wilson might sprain his ankle at Arizona in week 17. Crazier things have happened.

  10. brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    Thanks for harshing our buzz, adam!! LOL

    While I usually back your play, I can’t do so in this instance.

    Really … whoever realistically expected the Skins to be anywhere near .500 — not to mention in playoff contention at the start of the season?? NO ONE. To be a little giddy now is not unexpected.

    But who is being “unrealistic”, i.e., making proclamations such as the Skins are gonna crush Philly & Dallas — and then steamroll thru the playoffs?! NOBODY here … that I’ve noticed. They seem to be taking things as they come — no crazy predictions.

    I think these commenters as a whole have been very realistic and even-tempered during this surge, and based their opinions on what has been before their eyes … not some pie-in-the-sky fantasies. And characterizing them as such comes off as unfair at best …mean-spirited at worst … as well as a little pouty .

    Don’t go Scrooge on us man — we need you! ;^}

    • bangkokben - Dec 22, 2015 at 11:58 AM

      “Really … whoever realistically expected the Skins to be anywhere near .500 — not to mention in playoff contention at the start of the season?? NO ONE. To be a little giddy now is not unexpected.”

      Au contraire. Below is my response to Rich’s “Bold Predictions” column. As you can see from the beginning of my list that it took me a little bit to catch the right “spirit.” I have also been predicting 7-9 or better since February.

      bangkokben – Sep 12, 2015 at 12:59 PM
      Andre Roberts will lead the team in receptions.
      The Redskins will improve on their sack total from last year by ten but will have no one with double digits.
      The defense will score two TDs this season; special teams none.
      The team will have a new placekicker after the bye week.
      Either the Cowboys or the Eagles will fail miserably and replace the ‘skins in the NFC East cellar.
      The Redskins will still have a mathematical chance for a playoff spot on Christmas day.

      • Skulb - Dec 22, 2015 at 3:46 PM

        I almost accidentally reported your comment in my excitement just then. I had no idea it was horn-tooting time already! Allow me to toot mine:

        “Cousins w(ill) spend the first five games finding his stride before becoming a top 15 QB” Skulb, September 2015

        I could find more horn music, but apparently I talk too much.WordPress won’t show me anything I wrote this summer and I am too bummed from pulling a tooth earlier in the day out to dig for Tandler’s old articles right now.

        • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:01 PM

          “Cousins w(ill) spend the first five games finding his stride before becoming a top 15 QB”

          Ya called that one when many of us were doubting (one TOOT! LOL) — but to the topic of my reply to Adam; did you predict a .500 won/loss record … or a playoff chance this late in the season? THAT would be be a two-tooter!

          (Btw, I didn’t make a prediction)

        • Skulb - Dec 22, 2015 at 5:09 PM

          No. I predicted 6-10 deliberately to not set the goals too high and get disappointed, and also because I thought that would be the safe spot for Gruden and Cousins for stability purposes.
          I did say that 9-7 would be the ceiling and that they would have an outside chance at the playoffs if the other three teams were weak.
          I guess this doesn’t count though. Too much hedging.

      • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 3:53 PM

        “Either the Cowboys or the Eagles will fail miserably and replace the ‘skins in the NFC East cellar.
        The Redskins will still have a mathematical chance for a playoff spot on Christmas day.”

        Awesome predictions! That definitely deserves a coupla horn toots!! Tooot – TOOOOOT!! LOL

        So … now for the question everyone asking, ben; whatta ya got for Saturday night?! ;^}

        • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:15 PM

          (Btw ben, that was typically honest of you to include the predictions that you got WRONG in your reply — like Roberts leading the team in catches or the defense surpassing 2014’s sack total by 10. I probably woulda edited them out! LOL! Good man!)

        • bangkokben - Dec 23, 2015 at 6:25 PM

          I’ve got our ‘skins winning Saturday. Our team has been really good historically in games where they must win to get in – only losing twice and only one of those resulting in missing the playoffs. Of course, all off season I have ‘us’ just missing the playoffs. So I’m right either way if we’re trying to be technical (or you could say I’m changing my position) but I have us winning Saturday because I think the Redskins are a better team although like all Redskin fans and fans of Washington sports teams, you can’t but wonder if those naysayers of Cousins or Gruden get their comeuppance and the rug gets pulled out from under the optimistic and the ‘skins fail to close the deal.

  11. firesnyder - Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    Was at the Buffalo game. It was a phenomenol atmosphere with many many many chants of “You like that!” After each of Cousins’ touchdowns. His 13 yard run for TD was the manliest play I’ve seen ANY Redskins player make this year. Cousins is simply on fire now and you can actually feel his confidence. That said, there were a few injuries that concerned me and since we are truly a rebuilding team, the depth is not there if we sustain any more. Only complaint about FedEx is that there were quite a few empty seats which I don’t understand and was kind of shocked to see during AN ACTUAL RUN FOR THE PLAYOFFS!!

    Against the Eagles, I think DJax will be extra hungry against the team and coach that jilted him. Kelly knows this and will probably double him which *should* open up the run game a bit if Jones/Alf can get to the second level. Reed, Pierre and Crowder should have big games as well resulting from extra focus on DJax. Our defense needs to keep up the pressure on Bradford who took an absolute BEATING against Arizona. Couple good hits and Bradford will get the yips!!!

    Go Skins!!

  12. Mr.moneylover - Dec 22, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    Rich I got a question who you think they will promote from the practice squad???? Is the big 6’4 230 pounds WR LaRon Bryd ready to play or do he still needs work

  13. Mr.moneylover - Dec 22, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    Seem like kirk cousins still feel like hes not wanted when asked about his contract situation…. My concern about this eagles game is the fact that I’m worried if we will stay hungry because he have a history of letting game slip by when we shouldve won the game

    • firesnyder - Dec 22, 2015 at 1:16 PM

      Kirk definitely feels the love from the fans as evidenced by constant “you like that” chants in the stands. Kirk is damn smart… He’s not going to say a single word about staying here until this season is over. He’s letting his arm dictate his contract value and he’s keeping a poker face regarding how he feels about Washington DC. However, as any QB knows, your chances of success go down when you are forced into a new system with a new coach. I believe Kirk will want to continue with this team, this system, and this coach because he does not want to regress by having to learn new stuff all over again. Kirk will sign as long as our offer is fair. Plus, Washington has the poker chip of the franchise tag.

    • brucefan1 - Dec 22, 2015 at 4:04 PM

      “have a history of letting game slip by when we shouldve won”

      Sounds like another hurdle to clear. Add it to the list!!

  14. metalman5150 - Dec 22, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    I just noticed something in the articles flavor image!!!
    BaCarri Rambo getting beat by Jordan Reed!

  15. mauriceatwood - Dec 22, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    I have to admit that I have been down on this coaching staff due to the inconsistency of the team. They finally put a game plan together that gave them back to back games of solid performance. Hope that continues this weekend where we will win the division with a win. HTTR!

  16. wvredskins - Dec 22, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    What scares me the most about this up coming game is the fact that it is a Prime Time game. I would definitely feel much more at ease at winning this game if it was a 1:00 game on Sunday. We have lost both prime time games this year and quite frankly haven’t looked good. This is a another milestone for me. Can Cousins lead the Redskins to win on Saturday Night with Millions of people watching? Not to even mention with the playoffs being on the line. Going to be exciting but DAM im nervous just for the fact on how this team has previously played on the big stage! Lets get it!!!! HTTR

    • Skulb - Dec 22, 2015 at 3:54 PM

      I’m done underestimating them. After the last two weeks I truly believe they can win any game. They can probably also lose almost any game, but the improvements are undeniable on both sides of the ball. Can you imagine if Crowder had not dropped the punt in the second quarter, and the Skins had gone up 28 to nothing? Buffalo would have collapsed completely and it might have been 35 to nothing at half time. This is not what teams typically do to the Buffalo Bills. They have been inconsistent but they haven’t been terrible.

      I takes a good team to so utterly destroy them as the Skins nearly did in the first half on Sunday. Ergo the Skins must be a good team. I first had this novel thought back in October and have been thinking it and not thinking it every other week since then. That is until they smashed the Bills. Now I’ve been thinking it for going on two weeks. If they can now beat the Eagles it is official, at least to me, that they are in fact a good team. Who knew?

      • wvredskins - Dec 22, 2015 at 5:46 PM

        Yeah I agree. If they can beat the Eagles on the big stage in Philadelphia in the kinda fashion that they beat the Bills I will too, think they are a good team. The kinda team that could possibly play Seattle in the 1st rd of the playoffs and beat them. First thing is first tho and that is us going to Philadelphia taking care of business. No matter what happens though in this game or on past this game, I can say Scott, Jay and company have this team going in the right direction. The kinda direction that this franchise has needed since I was a lil boy! HTTR!

        • Skulb - Dec 22, 2015 at 6:33 PM

          Amen to that brother. I was more optimistic than some folks back in August but this is beyond what I was even considering. Not the record necessarily but how well they are actually playing. It they had been able to start the season out like this they might be 10-4 right now. There is no way Miami, Atlanta or the Jets beat this team the way it is playing. The confidence of that offense on Sunday was amazing. They all looked as if they thought nobody could stop them. As it turned out the Bills sure couldn’t.

  17. JOHNNY B - Dec 22, 2015 at 6:23 PM

    When was the last time that you heard that one of our QBs were solid . When we played the Eagles earlier this year their offense was not playing well and our defense was not playing well. Now they are playing better and so are we. I think that it will be a good game but we will win 35 to 24. We will have 1 td from a turnover this game and Alf and Jones will have a total of 180 yards rushing. Finally we have a qb to utilize our weapons. HTTR.

    • JOHNNY B - Dec 22, 2015 at 6:24 PM

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