Tha Sports Junkies 101

Washington Redskins Week 3 Preview: Back On Track

Jay Gruden


Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman, and the rest of the Washington Redskins are at a major crossroad. An 0-3 start would all but end Washington’s chances at a consecutive division title. With the season pretty much in the balance the Redskins have to win in a place that they haven’t won since 2011.

After an 0-2 start, the Redskins appear to be the same sad song. Led by Jay Gruden,  they seem to be a dysfunctional team, marred in drama and controversy. There was heavy optimism around the team prior to the start of the season and for good reason. Now not so much. Like the great Mike Tyson once said, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

In 2015, Kirk Cousins led Washington to a 2-4 start after six games. At that point, many believed it was only a matter of time before Cousins was benched and Gruden was fired. The year before that, Kirk Cousins was a turnover machine. He was benched after a five-game stretch that included 11 turnovers. (nine INT’s and two fumbles). His head coach Jay Gruden, was busy openly bashing his other starting quarterback.

Both Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins rebounded from those situations but they now face the daunting task of avoiding an o-3 start. The Redskins were resilient a year ago when it came to rebounding after tough losses. Working in a market like Washington D.C. can test one’s resiliency. The Redskins are on a standing eight count right now. With a win on Sunday, the Redskins can salvage their season early on.

Will the Real Kirk Cousins Please Standup?

During halftime of the game against the Cowboys, Pam Oliver caught up with Jay Gruden for his thoughts on the first half. Gruden emphatically stated, “I can tell you who needs to play better our quarterback.” The Redskins desperately need Kirk Cousins to play at a high level. Yes football is a team game, and Cousins isn’t solely responsible for the 0-2 start. However, the Redskins could very well be 2-0 had Cousins played better the first two games, especially within the red zone.

An anonymous player expressed frustration with Kirk Cousins after his performance against Dallas. Stating that at least backup Colt McCoy would at least “play with more poise.” After Cousins was intercepted by Barry ChurchPierre Garcon was vividly upset. This week, defensive linemen Ricky Jean-Francois defended Cousins and openly called out the source.

Cousins shared his views of the criticism as “understandable” and rightfully so. Although he’s fourth in the NFL in passing yards (693)  Cousins has a quarterback rating of 72.9. Cousins has completed under 19.4 percent of his passes in the red zone. He also has the worst passer rating in the red zone among quarterbacks in the NFL.

For his career, Kirk Cousins is 1-3 against the New York Giants. He’s thrown three touchdowns compared to six interceptions. He’s also been sacked five times and lost two fumbles. In his one victory against the Giants, he was an efficient 20/29 with 302 yards, a touchdown, and more importantly no turnovers.

Formula for Success

Of the nine wins from a year ago, the Redskins ran the ball at least 30 times in six of those wins. Mike Shanahan has expressed that he feels Kirk Cousins needs a run game to be successful. The Redskins desperately need to get balance on offense.  Last week, the Saints had a run-pass ratio of 13 to 44. That ratio plays into the strengths of the Giants defensively. The Redskins desperately need balance within their offense. Gruden and co. are at a 25/75 run/pass ratio.

The Giants have invested heavily into their defensive line. Adding Olivier Vernon and Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Through two games, the Giants rush defense is fourth in the NFL. With Jonathan Hankins paired inside with Harrison, the Giants are stout up the middle. Running against the front of that defense is easier said than done, but Jay Gruden has to show a true commitment to running the football.

Matt Jones, has looked better through his first two games. He’s averaged 4.3 ypc, up nearly one full yard from his rookie season. Adding Robert Kelley to the mix can only add variety to the Redskins rushing attack. Gruden spoke with reporters this week about his confidence in Kelley.

“But I’d like to get him [Kelley] some touches this week and I do feel comfortable. I think he’s got great vision, got a great, low center of gravity. He’s like in between Chris and Matt. He’s not as big as Matt and he’s not as quick as Chris, but he’s got great vision and he’s a big solid running back and I’d like to see what he can do and hopefully that’ll come Sunday.”

Running backs coach Randy Jordan offered his take on his group this week. “Four more and get more” is what Jordan expresses to his backs. The rushing attack for Washington just has to be effective and consistent. Gruden and his staff should at least game plan for 30 carries.

Bulletin Board Material

Yes the Josh Norman vs Odell Beckham feud is surely to be under the microscope. The two engaged in a childlike banter all offseason, now all of the talking is irrelevant. For what its worth, Norman has been as good as advertised. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the number one corner in the NFL. Much was also made of the Redskins defensive strategy being leaked out but in honesty in shouldn’t matter. When you are 0-2 and desperate for a win, you put your best players in position to help you win.

Former Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson blasted his former team. Saying that last year was a “fluke” and that guys normally “point fingers after a loss” when he offered his take on a report of players being frustrated with Kirk Cousins. DeAngelo Hall quickly responded to Robinson stating that he “didn’t even know Robinson was that team.”

Two weeks ago, Victor Cruz offered his opinion on Josh Norman after the Redskins loss the Steelers. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins offered one of the more uninspiring scouting reports on Desean Jackson. Saying he was essentially a one trick pony.

Last year Jay Gruden did a good job of using bulletin board material to motivate his team to a division championship. Unless players rally around each other, and play with a sense of urgency, 0-3 is in their immediate future. I think players understand that, and the scoreboard will reflect that. New York 28 Washington 31.