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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up to beat the Packers

Jan 8, 2016, 5:14 AM EDT

Pierre-Thomas-vs-Eagles-2

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 8, two days before the Washington Redskins host the Green Bay Packers in a wild card playoff game.

Five Redskins who have to step up to beat the Packers

QB Kirk Cousins—He is not just the straw that stirs the drink; he is the whole cocktail on offense for the last 10 games. The Redskins’ formula for success lately calls for scoring 30 points or more and they can only do that if Cousins has a big day.

RB Pierre Thomas—The veteran is kind of an X-factor for this game. He’ll almost certainly be active. I’m backing off of my prediction that Matt Jones will be able to go. He did not look too good in drills yesterday and time is growing short. Thomas is a fresh pair of legs and he looked good both rushing and receiving against the Eagles. The Redskins will need some semblance of balance on offense to be successful and Thomas may need to provide it.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Aaron Rodgers was sacked 13 times in the Packers’ last two games. Kerrigan can be the main force in getting to him on Sunday. The Redskins’ backfield will be stressed by Rodgers’ scrambling. If Kerrigan can corral him a few times the Redskins will be able to keep the Packers offense (four touchdowns in last three games) in low gear.

ILB Will Compton—The Packers’ offense is not a one-man show. Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined to rush for 1,359 yards this year so they will need to be contained. Compton and Mason Foster will have to plug the holes to keep them under control. The two runners both average 4.1 per return so it’s not like either is a home run threat. Good recognition and solid tackling will do the trick and those are right up Compton’s alley.

FS Dashon Goldson—Compton relays signals to Goldson, who gets the secondary set straight. When they get into nickel and dime situations Goldson will have to direct players such as rookies Quinton Dunbar, Dashaun Phillips, Deshazor Everett plus veteran Cary Williams who was just signed on Tuesday. He will have to get them in position and then, if James Jones or Randall Cobb gets past them, Goldson will need to be the last line of defense.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:55; Jay Gruden and Sean McVay news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:15

Days until: Redskins vs. Packers in wild card playoff game 2; NFL divisional playoffs 8; Super Bowl 50 30

In case you missed it

  1. garg8050 - Jan 8, 2016 at 6:44 AM

    Can’t argue with any of those. Probably add Hopkins and Preston Smith. Last home loss Hopkins missed a makeable FG and left that last kickoff short. Smith should have an advantage against whoever lines up at LT for the Packers. He needs to get pressure on Rodgers AND keep his contain.

    Start strong, play disciplined, ie watch the hard counts, jumping offsides, holding penalties, etc., limit turnovers and I have a good feeling about the game. Still thinking a 27-17 or 30-20 sort of game in favor of the ‘Skins.

  2. cpst123 - Jan 8, 2016 at 6:48 AM

    This has the makings of a shootout. We need some turnovers and 0 dropped passes.

  3. colorofmyskinz - Jan 8, 2016 at 6:53 AM

    Rich I think Morris will be the key. If Jones is not coming to the show, we need Morris to shake that rust off that he has been wearing all year. Last game against Dallas was the first game I saw the Morris of last year. He has really struggled this year. If he wants an extension of any sort with this team, he needs to show he can contribute in the playoffs. And not just contribute but drive the LOS. I think he can step up. But if everyone on the team we need to see 4-6 yard carries, not 1-3. If Morris gets over 100 yards we win. It used to be our Xfactor. I know Thomas is key for screen dumps and 3rd downs and he needs to step up for those, but this is a make-or-break game for Morris. He needs to show the team can count on him when it counts.

    We know Kerrigan will be solid. But, we don’t know if Preston will be. He has been the last 8-10 games, but this is the playoffs. I want to see him step up and show us playoff play because we know Kerrigan will. I also want to see Murphy potent. If Kerrigan is typical solid, it is all about the other side. If the combination of Preston and Murphy are overwhelming, then All 3 get sacks. I think if Murphy (the now rotating in backup to Preston) is fierce, it will open up opportunities for Preston and Kerrigan.

    My money is on Compton. He is a genius MikeBacker. I trust his vision, could be most studied in the league. Learned huge study habits and film review at Nebraska and will get our defense lines for perfection. He rules!

    HTTR!

    • brucefan1 - Jan 8, 2016 at 3:13 PM

      I agree about Morris being a key, color. It should help things that the Packer run defense is ranked near the bottom 10 in most categories. (Unfortunately the Skins’ run OFFENSE lives in a similar neighborhood … the low-rent district. Here’s hopping that an upgrade at center will help them move on up — to a DELUXE apartment in the sky!)

      And yeah the pass rush has to come up big, whether its Kerrigan, Murphy OR Smith — or hopefully all. We all know that it’s crucial to contain Rodgers and not let him buy extra time to wait for receivers to come free. I also do think the ILB’s can help in that area with a few well-executed blitzes. Whatever; gotta swarm that bro!

      Now, I’ve seen some posts here that claim blitzing Rodgers is asking for trouble, but read elsewhere that the Pack has been vulnerable to the blitz this season. Go figger. Hopefully Joe B and his assistants will sort it out and find a scheme that mostly keeps Rodgers in the corral.

    • skinsgame - Jan 9, 2016 at 11:33 AM

      If Morris gets going, we make a playoff run.

  4. sidepull - Jan 8, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    Big fan of Thomas. Hope he has a big day. I hope Hatcher steps up and has a great game. He had the week off and if hes feeling good I would like to see him be a real force.

  5. troylok - Jan 8, 2016 at 7:53 AM

    Don’t forget Lichtensteiger. He returns from injury and needs to pick up where he left off. I expect the shotgun snaps will be more on target but I also look for an improvement in blocking for the run game. Washington ran for more yards when Lichtensteiger was in there vs not, so let’s see if he can be a catalyst for Alfred Morris having a great day.

    • hitmeimopen - Jan 8, 2016 at 8:53 AM

      Especially getting out in the wide zone-blocking runs. I bet Lickty helps most on those.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 8, 2016 at 8:53 AM

      The entire offensive line, for that matter.

      With Lichtensteiger back and everyone healthy, they can show what they can do in both the run game and pass-blocking.
      ~

  6. kenlinkins - Jan 8, 2016 at 8:22 AM

    The Redskins Pass Rush in general will have to step it up as the Redskins DB’s are the weak link going against a two time NFL MVP QB! This will be a very fun game to watch where anything could happen. Could be a shoot out or a low scoring Field Goal contest. I would love to see the Redskins dress in the old 1967 road uniforms, White tops, gold pants and spear helmet to get the home fans into the game early. I do like the Redskins chances this week against a Green Bay team that is on the decline. This could be the game that proves the Redskins are back, a dangerous team that can score points fast if the coaching staff plays like it has nothing to lose. Either way, just getting a home play off game and having a winning season at 9-7 works for me. IMO the Redskins are a major success in 2015 no matter what happens on Sunday, but it sure would be nice to add a play off win to the list of things crossed off the “To Do” list.

    • brucefan1 - Jan 8, 2016 at 3:26 PM

      “it sure would be nice to add a play off win to the list of things crossed off the “To Do” list.”

      That would be awesome, ken. But to do so another item on this season’s bucket list will have to be knocked off; beating a team with a winning record! But I think we all have come to accept that the Redskins CAN do this, but just haven’t gotten a opportunity to do so since they started to put it all together.

      So that is one the two frequently-mentioned marks against the Skins that we’re hearing a lot; 1) they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record and B) that they have very little playoff experience especially as compared to the Pack.

      But me, I don’t want to hear about what ANY team has done in the PAST, I wanna know how they are performing right NOW! And I agree with the many who think the B&G have got GB beat in that department, hands down.

  7. 214hof - Jan 8, 2016 at 9:51 AM

    Had a good read on blecher report. Here’s the link. http://m.bleacherreport.com/articles/2605673-overlooked-kirk-cousins-has-studied-his-way-to-the-top-of-the-game

    I was pretty amazed at the work ethic and attention to detail that Kirk has. I knew he was a Professional, but he takes it far beyond expectations. In was excited when Kirk got his chance to start, and I wouldn’t want any other QB to be directing this team right now. He is a true Pro, and I think it was just a matter of time before he got his shot. His preparation over the last 3 years is nuts. RG may fall outta bed with more natural talent then Kirk, but nobody will out work him. That’s something you cannot teach.

    • sidepull - Jan 8, 2016 at 6:19 PM

      Thats a really great comment!

  8. bangkokben - Jan 8, 2016 at 10:54 AM

    Be the first to five – five touchdowns wins this game.

    Jamison Crowder needs to step up in both punt returns and receiving. With Green Bay having a good pass defense, Crowder should have some good opportunities to make plays as attention will be on Jackson, Reed, and Garcon.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 8, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      Bullock has a good piece on the GB pass D.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/football-insider/wp/2016/01/06/a-closer-look-at-the-green-bay-packers-defense/

      It’s going to be up to Kirk to avoid falling for the traps and make smart throws.
      ~

      • bangkokben - Jan 8, 2016 at 12:18 PM

        Thanks. Since the Redskins have been in the Red zone a bunch and successful there more often then not, the one area Bullock fails to address is how the Redskins attacked eight-man coverages in the Red zone. Surely they faced some but how did they do?

        • colmac69 - Jan 8, 2016 at 1:57 PM

          Don’t like putting hex on anything but I’m sure cousins has never thrown a red zone int

          Feeling real gd bout Sunday. …get the tickets ready for arizona nxt saturday (seattle will bt vikings)

        • bangkokben - Jan 9, 2016 at 8:48 AM

          Definitely hasn’t this year.

  9. metalman5150 - Jan 8, 2016 at 11:27 AM

    becoming more and more anxious as sunday approaches. fingers crossed for some good old fashioned ‘skins football!

    • warpath1 - Jan 8, 2016 at 12:17 PM

      Why anxious? We werent even supposed to be here. There is not as much pressure on us as there is on Green Bay.

      • bangkokben - Jan 8, 2016 at 12:23 PM

        Agreed. Green Bay has to win – especially after they hit the self-destruct button in last year’s NFC Championship game. On the other hand, I do understand why some of our fans are anxious but I think it’s more based on the past and on how hard it was to move on from those disappointments rather than looking at this game from a match-up perspective.

        • brucefan1 - Jan 8, 2016 at 3:39 PM

          And I am delighted to add that the betting line has moved this week from the Skins minus 1, to even, to Skins plus 1! Yay!

          I gotta guess the betting public as a whole don’t quite know what to make of the Skins’ improvement and/or the Packs’ regression, and old habits are making them say “stick with the familiar … the Packers”.

          But the Skins are just were I want them to be; 1 or 2 point “dogs”, with that 3pt home-field bonus in their back pocket. It’s served them well lately — and I think it will do so again!

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jan 8, 2016 at 5:06 PM

          It’s a bet few actually want to make either way. The swing on the spread is probably to encourage more to bet in favor of the Redskins.

        • brucefan1 - Jan 8, 2016 at 5:42 PM

          Oh absolutely — Vegas wants more action on the Skins.

          The allure of Aaron Rodgers is hard to resist for most bettors!!

        • skinsgame - Jan 8, 2016 at 8:23 PM

          Yes folks, this week redskinsname has assumed role of expert oddsmaker. Wait for more genius insight just after Sunday’s game where he’ll recap things that only he saw.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jan 9, 2016 at 1:50 PM

          And you skinsgame have assumed your normal role of expert trolling

        • skinsgame - Jan 9, 2016 at 2:01 PM

          Just getting started where you’re concerned. Any more analysis on Vegas or is it just the regurgitation here?

  10. 214hof - Jan 8, 2016 at 12:24 PM

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2605673-overlooked-kirk-cousins-has-studied-his-way-to-the-top-of-the-game

    A good read I found on Blecher Report, I have been in Cousins corner since day one when he was named starter… I am also guilty of calling for an open competition over the off season. With that said I’m not for one QB over the other, I was more fed up with “Bobs” play or lack thereof. I noticed that it almost seemed like the whole team played below their potential when Griff was under center last year and in PS and it was just a matter of time before Kirk got a shot. I had what some would call “blind faith” that Cousins would play at a high level with more reps. This article proves all the talent in the world means nothing without the proper drive, determination and work ethic. Bottom line, Kirk is a FREAK (and maybe a lil’ O.C.D. lol). No mater what happens this Sunday (and I am pretty fired up) and going forward, with a guy like Cousins the sky is limit. This article just cements everything I thought about Kirk and backed it up. Dudes’ a consistent overachiever that is constantly looking for ways to elevate his game. If you’re still a Cousins detractor after everything he’s done this season ( I know many have stopped posting on here)… I seriously suggest reading this interview.

    • hail74 - Jan 8, 2016 at 1:44 PM

      Good read, thanks for the post!

    • squawonthewarpath - Jan 9, 2016 at 9:53 PM

      Thanks for sharing this article. Great insight. I think the majority of us fans were (rightfully) skeptical of Cousins abilities at the beginning of the season. I am just glad that the coaching staff decided to give him a shot and thrilled that he made the most of the opportunity. I still find it difficult to believe that any fan of this team would be a detractor after his accomplishments this season, considering very few held any high expectations (me included). He far exceeded them for sure.

  11. skinsgame - Jan 8, 2016 at 8:57 PM

    Lichtensteiger should be on this list. The fact that Lerebius has been imperfect doesn’t suddenly make Lichty an asset. Since Lichty went down, the offense has taken off and while it isn’t likely his fault that the offense wasn’t clicking before, it certainly isn’t due to him that they have. The offensive line is a unit and he’s been out of it for a long time. Frankly, he want very good while he was in it and spends a lot of time getting shoved backward. Really don’t agree with the switch. We’ll see.

  12. gene1c - Jan 11, 2016 at 12:03 PM

    I can’t believe I just read 50 comments on a football site and saw nothing but informed and courteous posts and replies. Washington fans you’re a class act. This site does your team proud.
    -Gene C., Madison, WI

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