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Need to Know: Five Redskins who are under pressure to perform against the Browns

Oct 1, 2016, 5:29 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, October 1, one day before the Washington Redskins host the Cleveland Browns.


Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park; no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Ravens 8; Eagles @ Redskins 15; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 29

Five Redskins under pressure against the Browns

QB Kirk Cousins—Yes, they got the win against the Giants and Cousins protected the ball and he threw some good passes. But as long as the red zone woes continue Cousins remains on this weekly pressure list in Sharpie. In addition, his completion percentage is down six percentage points from last year, a sign that he’s off a bit.

RB Matt Jones—Jay Gruden didn’t exactly call him out for his running style in the first three quarters of the Giants game. But saying, “in the first three quarters there are some runs he didn’t cap off like we want him to,” as Gruden did on Thursday when asked about Jones isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. Jones needs to look at the film from the fourth quarter and copy that running style from snap No. 1 on Sunday.

G Arie Kouandjio—There’s always pressure in your first NFL start. He was never really in the race to start at left guard during the offseason and now is his chance to show that he belongs in the league. It may be his only chance so he needs to make the most of it.

S David Bruton—His play has come under fire from fans and media. There is a particular reason for concern in this game. Brown running back Isiah Crowell has runs of 85, 25, and 20 yards this year. A missed tackle when he gets to the second level could result in the kind of game-changing play the underdog Browns will need if they are going to pull off the upset. Bruton needs to be sure to wrap up.

DE Preston Smith—He has yet to live up to the breakout season hype that followed him ever since his hot finish to the 2015 season. It’s certainly not too late for him to have a very good season but he needs to get going at some point and Sunday against a rookie quarterback seems like as good a time as any.

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Oct 1, 2016 at 5:44 AM

    Totally agree here. I you could have 6, I would place Long. He needs to show he can just at least manage accurate snaps in this game. No missed exchanges between him and Kirk are critical. He will do much better than Kory with blocking. But No offsides, delay of games, or bobbled snaps is critical.

    I think we see breakout games for Jones and Kirk this game. We will see our offense come alive in this game. Just a hunch.

    I think Blackman will show much stronger than Dhall at safety. I would like to see Nacho for Bru the second we see a missed tackle if they are going to let him start.

    I think Ioannidis is on the hot seat to show something. If he is active he needs to take his chance to show why he was drafted.


    • redskins12thman - Oct 1, 2016 at 8:21 AM

      x 2. Great list Rich. I didn’t examine Jones’ running style throughout the Giants game and will try to do so.

      Coaches bear most of the blame on Bruton’s hot seat, because it’s not been one game but three games. Either Ihenacho plays more poorly more of the time (I guess possible but hard to imagine I know) or Bruton’s had way too much time to prove himself. Safety and nickel play has been very costly.

      Will be watching Breeland and Phillips’ subs closely, whether it’s Dunbar, Fuller and / or Toler (imagine all three will play today). Both Pryor and Hawkins have serious speed.

      Long and Blackmon are excellent selections for hot seat this week too.

      I don’t think Ioannidis is on hot seat this year; team wasn’t expecting much from him, at least not until the end of the season.

      LBers will have hands full too. Besides the Browns’ excellent running attack, Johnson and Barnidge (TE) are adept are catching passes, and Crowell, while less of a target, is capable as well.

      Lastly, I think players taking on C and RT are under pressure to produce. The starting center will be out, due to lingering effects of pulmonary contusion against the Ravens; last week, guard slid over and this week it will either be that guard or Austin Reiter playing center which would be fine by me. RT Austin Pastor has a couple of false starts, as well as both more holding penalties and sacks allowed. The Browns have these weaknesses and the Redskins lining up opposite them have to exploit it. I’m expecting a lot from these Redskins players!

      Browns have an OLB out as well as some DBs out / potentially out versus Redskins including Joe Haden; their back-ups have been holding their own however.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 1:00 PM

      Ioannidis was already cut once. They have to have some sort of expectations for him if he’s going to be on a hot seat.

  2. garg8050 - Oct 1, 2016 at 5:58 AM

    Pretty good list. Cousins has been a little “off” all season, but I attribute the drop in completion percentage to more shots downfield, and fewer short passes. His YPA are way up compared to last year.

    Even though he’s not a player, I think Barry is on the hot seat, pretty much every week. The defense needs to come out aggressively and force Kessler into mistakes. They need to load up the box and dare the Browns to throw. I’d still like to see Norman on Pryor. Why not? Just because he’s not at the level of Bryant or OBJ? So what?! He’s their best WR so let’s take him out of the game. Double Barnidge and see what else the Browns have on offense.

    • redskins12thman - Oct 1, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      The coaching staff is on the hot seat because the team was unprepared to start the season, relative to most other NFL teams. I’m only hoping that this approach keeps the team “fresher” — by not wearing them out at the beginning of the season, they’ll play better at the end of the season. Still, with the importance of racking up a win against either the Steelers or the Cowboys, this approach proved costly.

      Most noticeable has been how poorly the safeties and nickel back have played — i.e., trotting them out to perform at a level that wasn’t NFL calibre was unacceptable.

    • sidepull - Oct 1, 2016 at 8:41 AM

      I always ask myself “who would BB take out of the game?” No Josh Gordon. So I would say that Pryor is the guy that needs to be held in check. He is a versatile player and competitor. Big, fast and a lot of heart. I think the kid will do anything the coach asks. Nullify his effect. Stop Crowell and the run. Pressure Kessler. The Redskins offense is going to score enough points to win. The defense needs to perform and keep a desperate Browns team from coming in here and getting a W.

      • dj5501 - Oct 1, 2016 at 12:42 PM

        bb would eat that young qb alive. whenever there is a rookie qb under center bill always goes after him and makes him uncomfortable in the pocket. and tho your right he always preps to take out your best player its dif when hes facing a young qb. he welcomes him to the nfl with a knockout punch lol

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 3:22 PM

          Yeah. Pressuring a young QB is a no brainer. But Bellichick also figures out how to adjust his defense to best get that pressure. He won’t just run a 3-4 or 4-3 and say “go sack the QB.” He assesses the opponent’s strength and schemes to beat it. He will go with a 3 man front, 4 man, 5 man, 1 man, 12 man, man coverage, zone coverage, pattern match coverage, whatever works. If you want to be like Bill you have to be willing to put your favorite scheme aside and just play whatever gives you the best chance to win. I would not expect that kind of innovation from our team.

    • mattphillipsdc - Oct 1, 2016 at 2:43 PM

      I agree about Barry. If he doesn’t get a lot more aggressive, especially against third string rookie QB he should lose his job. I normally don’t like players jawboning the coaches, but I believe Baker had no choice but to call the coach out for not making adjustments, because Gruden certainly wasn’t going to. Hopefully, the coaches realize the need to make adjustments to win a lot games.

  3. redskins12thman - Oct 1, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    With four injuries — Breeland, Lauvao, Phillips and Doctson — only looking for three more inactives.

    Redskins may try to “mix it up” this week. I hope Murphy plays.

    I’ll go with Sudfeld, Reyes and either Ioannidis or Lanier (although this would be a great week to see what both Ioannidis or Lanier can contribute). One of the few players Ioannidis could beat in the pre-season was Reiter.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 2:13 PM

      That’s not a very ringing endorsement for Reiter or Ioannidis.

      • bangkokben - Oct 1, 2016 at 6:21 PM

        Ioannidis beating Reiter in practice is the equivalent of ALL the fantastic catches Taylor Jacobs made IN PRACTICE — utterly irrelevant. Ioannidis played poorly during the preseason while Reiter played well. The skins should’ve kept him and cut Sudfeld. You can always find another QB that is YEARS away from taking a meaningful snap.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 2, 2016 at 4:13 AM

          I agree with that last part about Sudfield but I don’t know about all that with Reiter. He didn’t particularly impress me. But I’ll get a good look at him against real competition tomorrow. I’m just going to reserve judgement until I see a little more.

  4. redskins12thman - Oct 1, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    The Browns ranks 4th in both total and average rushing yards per game. We must stop the run (Crowell, Johnson and Pryor), not allow Pryor and Hawkins to beat us deep, cover Johnson, when he slips out of backfield, and Barnidge tightly and not commit turnovers on offense or special teams; that would get us a W, and since the Redskins have ruled out a trap game, they’ve prepared themselves for this game.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 1, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    Jay Gruden.

    Sure we’re banged up, but the Browns have it far worse. If he can’t get the team off their classic under-performace in these types of games, then maybe head coach is above his proper pay grade.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 2:15 PM

      I might agree with that. We will see how they play. But at what point do we hold the players accountable? They’re grown men. Go do your job. Why do they need the coach to hold their hand and get them to take a game seriously?

      Wouldn’t it theoretically work better if the players policed themselves and allowed the coaches to just worry about the game plan? I know it’s not that simple but the players need to step up in this area too. Specifically the team leaders.

  6. Eli - Oct 1, 2016 at 10:14 AM

    Not to jinx it, but two players not on this list: Tress Way and Dustin Hopkins.

    How long has it been since the Skins had consistent quality at both the kicking positions? Washington is still a couple of draft classes away from being a very good team in my humble opinion, but it seems like having both a quality punter and PK is a staple of the best organizations.

    As an aside, how many of us were concerned when the Skins waived Forbath? I was.

    • redskins12thman - Oct 1, 2016 at 10:37 AM

      I was okay with waiving Forbath although I was unsure whether Hopkins would be the answer that he is; I was surprised that there were not more kickers in preseason competition but Hopkins was only released 9 days before the Redskins picked him up, the day after Forbath missed a 46 yard field and continued to struggle with kick-offs.

    • dj5501 - Oct 1, 2016 at 12:47 PM

      honestly i believe gruden is the problem. altho im not a skins fan i would collectively put the team in the top 10 in the nfl if the right man was calling the shots.

      • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 2:12 PM

        We have a top 10 offense (probably. Kind of depends on Cousins) but the defense is too bad for Washington to be a top 10 team. It’s headed in the right direction. Most of us are happy with where we’re headed. But too soon for top 10.

        And it’s not lost on me that Gruden has been part of this turnaround. It’s hard to take a perineal loser and turn them around. It’s not just about the roster. I don’t know that Gruden is a good head coach (think he’s a great OC) but I don’t know that he’s bad either. Think he needs more time.

        • bangkokben - Oct 1, 2016 at 6:12 PM

          Part of the reason the offense has that potential is Gruden. Sure there are the run issues and not calling the run in certain situations but he deserves more credit for the successful parts. We had two years where quick kicking seemed like the best play on third down.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 1:16 PM

      Wait a minute. Can we clarify something? Are you saying that right now the Redskins don’t have a good kicker and punter? And that Way and Hopkins should be on the hot seat?

      Because I personally think Hopkins was the MVP of the first half of the season last year and is arguable the MVP of the first 3 games. He kind of won NFC special teams player of the week (and I think maybe the month) after nailing 5 FGs for us and basically winning the game.

      Way is a great punter. I don’t even feel like looking uonhis stats for how long he punts. But he’s a good punter. Outkicks his coverage from time to time. But he’s a good punter.

      • Eli - Oct 1, 2016 at 1:51 PM

        Apologies. To clarify, Way and Hopkins are two players that are NOT on this NOR should they be. It just seems like it has been a very long time since the Skins have had stability and high performers at these two positions simultaneously.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 1, 2016 at 2:08 PM

          Lol. I kind of thought so but I wanted to put up for them anyway because I appreciate having them so much. It has been a while. It’s great and it’s amazing what just two players can do for special teams.

          And it did make me kind of nervous to cut Forbath because the devil you know and all that. But he also drove me nuts with his weak leg.

  7. dj5501 - Oct 1, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    altho a good game by the skins would boost moral there is no way 1 can judge how well they play against the leagues lonely blacksheep in cleveland. you can however judge how bad they really are if somehow the browns upset them.

  8. bangkokben - Oct 1, 2016 at 6:27 PM

    Great start/continuation by the defense in forcing fumbles. “Forcing” fumbles has a lot to do with intent. Archives

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