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Need to Know: First look at Redskins vs. Ravens—Is it a rivalry?

Oct 5, 2016, 5:30 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 5, four days before the Washington Redskins go up the road to play the Ravens in Baltimore.


Today’s schedule: Practice 1:00; Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Lions 18; Redskins vs. Bengals in London 25

First thoughts on Redskins vs. Ravens

—Every leap year the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. gets decided and the debate about whether or not the Redskins-Ravens series is a rivalry is hashed out. I don’t think that it is a rivalry for the players. If the players don’t get worked up over a game against the Cowboys any more than they do any other divisional game it’s hard to see how they would get overly excited about playing an AFC team just because it’s 40 miles up the road. Some fans get worked up about it so there’s that. But if call this a “rivalry” you have to come up with another word for events like Auburn-Alabama, where as far as the fans are concerned there is that game and the 364 days until the next one. There is a bit more juice to the atmosphere surrounding the game because of the geographical proximity but that’s about it.

—Although the Ravens are 3-1, Joe Flacco’s numbers indicate that he is struggling so far this season. He has four touchdowns and four interceptions and has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 6.3 yards per attempt. Flacco’s passer rating of 79.3 is 26th in the NFL. If you prefer more advanced analysis his DVOA is 31st in the league. But he had helped rally the Ravens to two of their wins and that is what they are paying him to do. After getting carved up pretty well by two rookie quarterbacks in their first four games, the Redskins won’t sleep on Flacco.

—Justin Forsett was released yesterday, a good sign the running back Kenneth Dixon, the Ravens’ fourth-round pick this year, is ready to make his NFL debut. He has missed the first four games with an MCL strain. He should get some carries but the prime back will be Terrance West, who gained 113 yards on 21 carries against the Raiders last week. That was a career high for the third-year veteran and his second career 100-yard rushing game. So we’ll see if he can do it again. And yes, against the Redskins’ 30th– ranked rushing defense take the over.

—So far this year the Ravens are a top-10 defense, perhaps even top five. They are first in total yards allowed, third in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards. Going again to the advanced stats, they are fourth in the NFL in defensive DVOA. They have nine sacks, one more than the Redskins, and Terrell Suggs, despite that fact that he is nearly 34 and coming off of a torn Achilles, has three of them. It will be tough to move the ball against them.

—Speaking of ageless wonders, WR Steve Smith is 37, also coming off of an Achilles tear, and he is leading the team in receptions (24) and receiving yards (281). Will the Redskins have Josh Norman trail him like he did Odell Beckham and Terrelle Pryor? It may depend on if Bashaud Breeland is ready to return from his ankle injury. If he can go they might just play sides. If not, they might not trust Quinton Dunbar to be able to cover Smith. In any case, they could start off playing sides and see how it goes, moving Norman with Smith if it becomes necessary.

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Oct 5, 2016 at 6:02 AM

    Wow. Those are some stats. This will be a true test for our offense. I think our offense is up to the challenge. We have the talent and they are starting to gel. Just hope Suggs keeps his paws off Kirk. Trent we need you big.

    Now our defense. OMG we are in a desperate situation. We have Kerrigan that has been pretty much non existent, and now hurt. On the other side we have Preston in a full fledge rookie slump, lumbering in straight up and down. Then you have Murphy as the only bright spot at OLB. Wow. And that does not even bring into play the horrible nonexistent line. I would be willing to bet that the 5th, 6th, and 7th place in the depth chart of the Ravens Dline could beat out every Dlinemen we have. We need to give Lanier a shot. We have nothing to lose.

    Why they don’t move Baker into the middle of the line is bewildering? He is our best DT/NT option on the team that could help sure up the run, and they place lightweight Ioannidis in there. That guy is like 294. Baker has the spare tire that all DT/NTs have around the waist. And you never see a DE with that spare tire. I love Baker but he would never make DE for the Ravens or any top 10 defense. The fact that he is our best option to sure up the run and we continue to keep him outside the tackles is just plain stupidity.

    Then our middle linebackers. What the hell happened to the gel Foster and Comp were having last year? Comp can’t get people in place quick enough. Barry can’t get plays into him. What the hell is that? You should at least be able to get the plays in and get lined up right, those are your controllables. There are some major issues there. Foster has lost that tackling thing he did last year. I think we need to sub Martrell in for foster. He is the best tackler on the team hands down. We have to get him on the field.

    We could make a few changes that could have major impact for our defense. Move Baker to the middle, clog the run up. Sub Spaight for Foster. Place Cravens at SS, get Bruton off the field. These 3 changes alone could make a huge difference for stopping the run.

    We need drastic major out-of-the-box type changes to get a drastic changes in our defensive production.

    Let’s beat these dirty birds. HTTR!

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 5, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    I didn’t realize the Ravens D was doing that well, I thought they had declined.

  3. redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:48 AM

    It’s a local / regional rivalry, a little more heightened than Panthers, but no where close to the divisional rivalries — Cowboys, Eagles, Giants. Can impact winning or losing some fringe fans to primarily support the other team.

  4. sidepull - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:59 AM

    From what I see at games, talking with friends in Baltimore its not so much a rivalry for the Redskins as it is for the Ravens. Ravens always get psyched up for playing the Redskins and I don’t expect there to be any let down this game. From my own personal experience, man I want the Redskins to light the Baltimorons up.

    This is going to be a bruiser and with two trash talkers like Norman and Smith? Well if Steve Smith wasnt an old man who might not even be a Raven by the next time these two teams meet, this could have helped to forge a rivalry. Norman egged on Odella to make Redskins vs Giants now a big pre game media hype. Steve Smith does not need egging on, hes ready from the jump. Steve Smith has been known to throw a punch. The ol man just dont care. He will go if you try him. Should be an interesting match-up to say the least.

    Flako is a well seasoned vet and Suggs is gonna get his. Redskins offense needs to be precise and Kirk needs to step up this game. If Kirk gets shaky it could be a long day. I hope they can run against Bmore. Bmore is gonna try to kill our rushing defense. There has to be acceptable tackling. I swear its a minor miracle they beat the Browns with the horrific tackling I witnessed. Prediction: I guarantee Harbaugh will cry about something.

  5. redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    Cooley’s grades on defense (everyone had missed tackles; at least 18 missed tackles

    Cravens 7.7
    Dunbar 7.5 / B
    Hood 7.4 (doing what he’s supposed to do)
    Fuller 7.4
    Ihenacho 7 (believes he’s rusty from lack of snaps; plays with urgency; sees upside)
    Baker 6.9 …. frequently doubled-team but Cooley felt there was an occasion or two where he didn’t play to whistle
    Murphy 6.8 (plays faster, lower this season)… seems to be helped by new OLB coach
    Compton 6.5 (competent LB but misplay of some crossing routes; trouble with A gap runs don’t know if missed assignments or coaching; needs better support from d-line)
    Foster 6.3
    RJF 6.2 (consistently jumps out of gaps; needs to fill them) …. why is this happening? Anyone?
    Smith 6.1
    Norman 6 (his worst grade this year) … I jinxed him…. sorry
    Jenkins 6
    Blackmon 4.5 (not a safety / a corner / nickel player)
    Bruton 4.2 (doesn’t know how to tackle) … should have been pulled no later than after Cowboys game … relegate to special teams
    Reyes 3.9 (unacceptable) … if not playing hurt, release

    Dunbar and Fuller graded well; interesting to see how they do at CB against Ravens
    Safeties: It has to be Ihenacho and either Cravens, Everett (who may need more time to develop) or sign a player; anything else you choose to do is wrong!

    1. Hope Cravens, Kerrigan and Breeland are ready to contribute against Ravens
    2. It’s code red for safeties; must bring a couple players in to roster and / or practice squad.
    3. Smith needs to step game up
    4. Need one dominant DL to improve play

    • bangkokben - Oct 5, 2016 at 9:16 AM

      Reyes has been cut.

      • colorofmyskinz - Oct 5, 2016 at 11:32 AM

        Do we have anyone left on the DLine? Maybe we just place a bunch of Dbacks out there? We have the worst DLine configuration in the league and we wonder why we are last place o stopping the run…LOL

        • bangkokben - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:29 PM

          “Maybe we just place a bunch of Dbacks out there?” That is apparently what got Baker so ticked off in the Giant game. Reyes played all of 37 snaps so I’m not sure how much that needs to be replaced. Anyone can do the same job. Might as well cut him and see if someone else picks him up so that we’re not on the hook for his entire salary.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 6, 2016 at 3:07 AM

          Wait, what got Baker worked up in the Giants game? Too many defensive backs?

        • bangkokben - Oct 6, 2016 at 2:18 PM

          He was apparently upset that they were in nickle on that run for a Giant TD in the first half.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 6, 2016 at 2:37 PM

          Interesting. I’ll have to go back and rewatch.

          I would be very interested to hear what our D-linemen think of our 4-man front compared to our 3-man front. Because we don’t necessarily have to be in nickel to run that 4-man front.

          I get why we’re in nickel so much though. And it might have to stay that way until we get better player and (hopefully) more versatile players. If we had more players like Murphy and Cravens out there then they could switch alignments in seconds without substitutions. The play before Murphy has a down linemen now he’s an OLB in a 3-4 front. Cravens was an extra DB and not he’s the Mo backer.

          Just to be a broken record I want to again reemohasize how much Galette’s injury screwed us. We could have Kerrigan at LOLB, Baker at LDE, Hood at Nose, Murphy at RDE, and Galette at ROLB. And I mean the beefed up Murphy. I would have liked to see that front.

        • bangkokben - Oct 6, 2016 at 2:54 PM

          I’m with you 100% on the Galette injury. Once again that put this defense behind the eight ball.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 6, 2016 at 5:42 PM

          It’s depressing for so many reasons.

          I really wanted to see what Kerrigan would look like with a true speed rusher capable of double digit sacks opposite him.

    • Trey Gregory - Oct 5, 2016 at 1:53 PM

      I don’t understand some of Cooley’s grades. I’m going to have to find him on demand and listen to his explanation. Because I thought Ihenacho was pretty bad. Rust or not. I just have Cooley credit for not sugar coating his opinions or allowing outside factors to play into his evaluation. So I can’t figure out how Ihenacho isn’t a -2.

      Didn’t he also give Kouandjo and reasonably favorable grade? I thought he was pretty bad too. Finally got to go back and rewatch a little. Kouandjo’s technique is atrocious. Even if he was still in college this would be bad technique.

      But what’s happening with RJF? I don’t know. He could be thinking he sees an open lane (or something else that isn’t there). He could be trying too hard to make a play instead of being gap disciplined. He needs to fix it though. He should be a pretty good rotational player for us. But that’s not how it’s working out.

      • redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:31 PM

        Interesting observations.

        Here’s some of Cooley’s color on Ihenacho:

        “He played pretty well but had some really bad missed tackles…. No one plays faster than Duke Ihenacho other than Su’a Cravens. He missed a couple of tackles, but hey, he hasn’t played football in a month…. Duke Ihenacho had three unacceptable missed tackles in this game; I’m not going to make excuses. It’s hard to tackle if you haven’t played, but at least he’s there to make tackles. He’s not whiffing, he just is getting shed. He had great run fits when he played…. He is an instinctual run player… and blitzer off the edge…. He forces the ball in run…. He does what he’s told to do in the run game. The missed tackles hurt, but he’s a guy that can play. I expect him to be better.”

        Two observations: 1. He is giving Ihenacho a slight pass because of his lack of snaps; and 2. It can also be part of a reaction to how bad Bruton, Hall and Blackmon are as safety options (basically not NFL safety level); Chris isn’t grouping him with these three and he feels the only safety options are Cravens, Duke and the players being brought in. I think Cooley inferred that Everett is most likely like Ioannidis, a little too green for NFL defensive snaps right now.

        I thought Cooley went easy on Kouandjio too; as I’ve said before Kouandjio beat out neither Lauvao nor Long at Left Guard; he’s clearly the 4th guard on this team. Without a doubt Cooley said that Kouandjio can play in this league, and that with time, Cooley expects Kouandjio to clean up / reduce mistakes and penalties. Cooley is also giving Kouandjio (like Ihenacho) a little pass due to his lack of snaps; I don’t think this is impacting Cooley’s grades, but it is definitely part of his color commentary.

        • redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:34 PM

          I forgot to add that Cooley said Duke Ihenacho would have been B+ / A – (I know he’s switching scales) without the missed tackles.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 6, 2016 at 2:47 AM

          I don’t know if you’ve seen me say that I love out of market and don’t get to hear Cooley every day. But I have made a point to watch the video and audio clips of him that come across my feed. I saw him campaigning pretty hard for Ihenacho to play instead of Bruton. Can’t help but think that may have influenced his grade. I haven’t rewatched the game yet. I’ll go back and do that to see if I missed something. But I’m not so sure Cooley’s relentless campaign for Ihenacho to play didn’t cause bias in his assessment. We’re all imperfect.

          Kouandjo though, I paid close attention to him. He was bad. He played like someone who doesn’t belong in the NFL. He played like a rookie on day 1 of OTAs. His hands were awful. An easy rule to remember in the trenches is that usually the guy with his hands inside wins. Kouandjo seem to instinctively bring his hands out like he wanted to hug the linemen and they ended up 1) slow because of the wide rout he took to get there and 2) on the shoulder pads which can lead to holding penalties or just getting taken advantage of. He got pushed back too easy for a guy his size. That had to be poor hand and hip technique. He needs to square his hips when he’s run blocking.

          Now, all of these are correctable. So maybe that’s why Cooley isn’t too concerned. He has to build and strength to be a linemen. But that’s like saying that any big guy can play in the NFL because we can teach them technique. It’s a bad sign that his instinct is to hug a blocker rather than shoot his hands in their numbers. He’s worth keeping around to develop, but this isn’t rocket science. PUT YOUR HANDS INSIDE NOT OUTSIDE. If he can’t understand that in his second year then we may have issues. I mean really, it doesn’t get much more simple than that.

        • redskins12thman - Oct 6, 2016 at 9:53 AM

          Kouandjio has been around long enough to learn this; if he hasn’t learned it by now, I think he is unlikely to learn it. Kouandjio is part of the team for emergency purposes only; i.e., the only reason Reiter made the 53 at the beginning of the season.

        • redskins12thman - Oct 6, 2016 at 9:57 AM

          Cooley did not address Ihenacho in pass defense at all; you believe Ihenacho will struggle in pass defense right? How will Whitner do in pass defense?

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 6, 2016 at 12:16 PM

          I’m not sure. Honestly for such a big name guy I don’t know a ton about him. Guess I was too busy watching other players because I did watch a lot of those 49ers games.

          But I doubt you make it to a pro bowl (let alone 3) without the ability to cover at least a little bit. So we’ll see. Even if he was good in coverage 5 years ago, it doesn’t mean he’s good now. That’s one concern I have with him. Just how much does he have left? But I’m more than happy to give him a chance to prove himself.

  6. bangkokben - Oct 5, 2016 at 9:14 AM

    WTF? Cooley gives Reyes a 3.9 and 20 minutes later Jones is tweeting that the skins have cut Reyes. Must’ve been a bad game.

    • sidepull - Oct 5, 2016 at 9:21 AM

      Finally. Joe Barrys guy gone. That took too long imho.

    • renhoekk2 - Oct 5, 2016 at 10:34 AM

      Watched him closely in the preseason games. Couldn’t believe he made the 53 man roster. When he wasn’t being driven into the ground or five yards down field, he just stood there dancing with the OL. Never, ever got off of a single block.

      • bangkokben - Oct 5, 2016 at 11:01 AM

        Yep. Yet they cut Paea first.

        • chimps000 - Oct 5, 2016 at 12:51 PM

          egregious mistake by the GM.

          Was listening to mike lombardi on bill simmons podcast talk about how he couldn’t understand the redskins front office- how they made almost no improvements from last year on defense outside of norman.

        • bangkokben - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:23 PM

          I with the theory that says the GM is trying to push money into to next year to get the best value as well as to make the necessary expenditures for 2017. If Galette doesn’t get injured this defense looks different in the back end — theoretically, at least.

      • chimps000 - Oct 5, 2016 at 12:53 PM

        yet he was paid 2.5 million based on what? Joe Barry saying he was good 3 years ago?

        Joe Barry’s evaluation of talent is atrocious. Maybe he is great at scheme and teaching technique, but man is his evaluation poor.

      • redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:38 PM

        Agreed. From what I’ve heard, Reyes probably should have been pre-season cut too. It would be interesting to hear why the Redskins put off that decision.

    • mtskins - Oct 5, 2016 at 10:45 AM

      Addition by Subtraction. Any word who they are replacing him with on the 53?

      • Trey Gregory - Oct 5, 2016 at 1:23 PM

        They just signed Whitner. He’s not a pro bowl safety anymore but I have to imagine he’s an upgrade.

        • mtskins - Oct 5, 2016 at 2:00 PM

          Looks like they sent Bruton to I.R. and signed Whitner. Wishing Bruton all the best for a full recovery but I don’t think it’s a downgrade at the position. Still leaves Reyes’ spot open for someone to take. Will your Pot Roast campaign come to fruition already? A practice squad add?

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 5, 2016 at 2:35 PM

          I will gladly table my pot roast campaign if someone can come up with a better option. I don’t personally see any better options but I don’t have a multi million dollar scouting department like Scot so, I do trust him there. I just want some kind of reinforcements who could actually play, maybe start, and be a reasonable upgrade. That’s a tall task this time of the year. But a PS guy probably isn’t going to do it.

        • mtskins - Oct 5, 2016 at 3:46 PM

          Looks like Josh Evans took Reyes’ spot. Doubling down at the Safety spot with a 25 yr old reserve type player and a 31 year old vet. Sigh

        • redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:39 PM

          Reyes and Bruton out; Whitner and Evans in.

      • ET - Oct 5, 2016 at 1:51 PM

        It may be subtraction, but it’s helpful subtraction. Reyes was a stiff.

        Can’t figure out why Paea was cut before Reyes, though. Paea was overpaid and uninspiring, but at least he ‘s competent. The Reyes experiment should’ve never made it past preseason.

        • Trey Gregory - Oct 5, 2016 at 1:56 PM

          I have a hard time disagreeing with that. Paea was not playing great or up to his contract. But you have to replace guys with someone equally as good or better.

  7. mtskins - Oct 5, 2016 at 9:19 AM

    Here’s to hoping Cravens, Kerrigan, and Breeland are eady. Would be a good time for Smith to show up on the stat sheet. Ronnie Stanley might be out or at the very least less than 100% and is a rookie (albeit a high draft pick).

    I think you can forget the idea of having a “dominant” DL. Need to cover their gaps and make tackles and the run D would be passable. It’s been said many times over this week but better tackling should be the goal.

    Will Blackmon said after Sunday that “We are as talented as we believe, but we need to play more disciplined and more consistent and keep playing fundamental football.” I think he needs to correct that to “start” playing fundamental football on D.

  8. chad - Oct 5, 2016 at 10:06 AM

    I live 30 mins from ravens stadium in b more in a town called north east, md. trust me, there isn’t a hint of this as a rivalry. I’m a huge redskins fan and I work in a restaurant. not one person ever has spoken of this game as anything more then another game. some friendly rib poking maybe.
    reason 1. they are different divisions 2. don’t play each other enough. 3. game has no more meaning then playing another afc team.
    rivalry it is not

    • renhoekk2 - Oct 5, 2016 at 10:30 AM

      Same thing here in Philly. Seems out of market media try to build up the Eagles vs Steelers into some sort of rivalry. It’s not. Flyers vs Penguins is because they used to play in the same NHL division for years and there is true hatred there. But that is the only true PIT v PHI rivalry.

    • bangkokben - Oct 5, 2016 at 11:05 AM

      I think it’s only a rivalry for folks who live or are from points between the two cities. Not a rivalry anywhere else.

      • Trey Gregory - Oct 5, 2016 at 12:59 PM

        The battle of the beltways! Basically the same thing as “the battle of the Bays!” When Tampa and Greenbay play. One team has been really good the past 10-20 years, the other has not. That’s really what makes a rivalry. Good teams playing good teams.

      • redskins12thman - Oct 5, 2016 at 7:40 PM

        This is how I view it. Archives

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