Behind Enemy Lines: Washington prepares to host Cardinals in Week 15

Dec 16, 2017, 6:25 PM
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The Arizona Cardinals make their first trip to the nation’s capital since 2011 when they visit the Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field.

It’s been even longer since the Cardinals won in Washington. Jake Plummer ran for three touchdowns and threw for two others in a 45-42 win over the Redskins in 1998. Since then, Arizona has lost seven straight to the Redskins in D.C.

Washington comes into this game at 5-8 and has lost four of its last five contests, including ugly back-to-back losses to Dallas and the Los Angeles Chargers. Like most teams in December, the ‘Skins are banged up and currently have 14 players on injured reserve, including four offensive linemen and three running backs.

All week long, we’ll take you to Washington to give a little insight into the Redskins’ preparation for a Week 15 matchup against the Cardinals.

It’s Behind Enemy Lines.

Saturday, December 16

Redskins activate kicker Dustin Hopkins from injured reserve, waive Nick Rose (Washington Post)

Hopkins, 27, a fourth-year player out of Florida State, was signed by the Redskins in September 2015. He was placed on injured reserve following the Oct. 15 victory over San Francisco with a right hip injury.

‘It’s just one big ‘if”: What exactly will the 2018 Redskins look like? (Washington Post)

With their playoff hopes scuttled, the Redskins can finish no better than 8-8 in Coach Jay Gruden’s fourth season. Sunday’s game against the Cardinals will serve as a test of the squad’s character. Will players show up prepared?

Week 15 Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: Show up, or get blown up (NBC Sports Washington)

Gruden spoke this week that his team cannot “wallow” in the past two losses. If the Redskins are looking back at their lost season, instead of looking squarely at Arizona, another blowout loss is likely to come.

Redskins looking to ‘get out of the doldrums’ against Cardinals (Washington Times)

Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland said the only receiver that made him feel like a rookie during his first year in the NFL is when he went up against Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald. That day — Oct. 12, 2014 — Fitzgerald had six catches for 98 yards in a 30-20 win.

Breeland said Fitzgerald used all sorts of veteran techniques that he wasn’t sure how to counter at the time.


Junior Galette says he’s still ‘top-tier’ rusher, wants more chances (ESPN NFL Nation)

Galette missed the past two seasons after hurting both Achilles. The fact that he has recovered from that to help has been impressive. But Galette feels he’s capable of more. On Twitter, he has used the hashtag #Free58 when discussing his chances.

Friday, December 15

Now dead last in points allowed, Redskins try to fix a faltering defense (Washington Post)

The problem for the Redskins’ defense has come during games, when breakdowns in assignments or confusion over responsibilities has led to back-breaking plays by opponents.

Five story lines to follow in Sunday’s Redskins-Cardinals game (Washington Post)

With their playoff hopes scuttled, the Redskins can finish no better than 8-8 in Coach Jay Gruden’s fourth season. Sunday’s game against the Cardinals will serve as a test of the squad’s character. Will players show up prepared?

Norman: I’m just trying to get this franchise back to glory days (Washington Times)

“I’m just trying to get this franchise back to its glory days,” Norman said. “There’s so many great people that come through here, so many legacies. … Man, they’re so proud, they’re so proud. To let these guys down, it’s gut wrenching to me. It’s hard to take and swallow a pill [of not making the playoffs] because you kind of feel their pain.”

Redskins have home-dirt advantage on Sunday (Washington Times)

The ugly condition of the field became a topic of conversation in an otherwise dreadful 20-10 win over the New York Giants — the big brown stain in the middle of the field looking particularly bad in the aerial shots on the national television broadcast.

The Redskins, in an email response to questions from the Washington Post, said the condition of the field was a “non-issue.”

Josh Doctson shows glimpses of talent, still must prove he can be top target (ESPN NFL Nation)

Doctson’s numbers aren’t gaudy, but some of that stems from opportunities. In his eight games as the starting X receiver, he’s received only 5.1 targets per game. Some of that is on him; some of that is on quarterback Kirk Cousins.

RG III still wants to play, denies narrative of days in Washington (ESPN NFL Nation)

Griffin was on several ESPN shows on Wednesday, including First Take and NFL Live. During his appearances he stressed again what he told 106.7 The Fan earlier this fall: that he did not tell then-coach Mike Shanahan before the 2013 season that he wanted only to be a dropback passer and didn’t want to run the zone-read option anymore (multiple sources have said the opposite).

Why ailing Zach Brown has plenty of incentive to keep playing (NBC Sports Washington)

Brown is leading the league in combined tackles and, probably, in injuries.

The team’s injury report says that he is dealing with four of them—toe, Achilles, and ankle with an illness piled on top of those.

Need to Know: Looking ahead at the Redskins’ 2018 depth chart on offense (NBC Washington)

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 15, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Thursday, December 14

Jay Gruden wants struggling Redskins to focus on the future instead of the past (Washington Post)

“We cannot — cannot — dwell on the past of the last two games. We can’t,” he stressed after Wednesday’s practice. “You’re going to wallow in it and you’re going to continue to suffer. We’ve got to move on and we will.”

Kirk Cousins and other NFL players say they’d want to take CTE tests while active (Washington Post)

Researchers are working on methods to diagnose CTE in living patients, but it currently can only be confirmed through posthumous examinations of brains. However, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recently said that if a test did exist, he would take it.

It doesn’t matter how poorly the Redskins play. Bruce Allen isn’t going anywhere. (Washington Post)

It doesn’t matter that the Redskins are 5-8 this season and 50-74-1 since 2010, Allen’s first full season presiding over the front office. He should have been let go long ago for poor performance that he once tried to counter with the embarrassing assertion that the team was “winning off the field.”

Reed could need toe surgery, Norman misses practice (Washington Times)

Reed was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after missing the last six games with a hamstring strain, but the tight end has been dealing with a fractured left toe since the offseason.

D.J. Swearinger stands by comments: ‘It’s not frustration, it’s facts’ (Washington Times)

“It’s not frustration,” Swearinger said. “It’s facts. … A lot of stuff has been said about what I’ve been saying, [but] it’s not going to change what I’ve been saying. That’s the facts of it — guys on this team have to practice better.

“And if we don’t practice better, we’re going to get the same results. Period.”

Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation (NBC Sports Washington)

It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse.

Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source (NBC Sports Washington)

Galette’s contract will expire once the 2017 regular season ends, and while the 29-year-old pass rush specialist appreciates the Redskins organization and fans, he wants to play.

Redskins deny name change to ‘Redhawks’ after internet hoax (

“This morning, the Redskins organization was made aware of fraudulent websites about our team name,” the statement said. “The name of the team is the Washington Redskins and will remain that for the future.”

James Taylor, candy and a stand-up desk: How Redskins coaches combat the grind (ESPN NFL Nation)

Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s day starts around 4:45 a.m. and lasts until nearly 9 p.m. He does his film work early because as the day wears on, many visitors enter his office: players, president Bruce Allen, vice president of football operations Doug Williams. But in those quiet moments later in the day, sometimes staying awake becomes difficult — for Gruden and others.

Josh Norman sits out practice; Redskins hope Montae Nicholson can return (ESPN NFL Nation)

Norman rested because of a sore knee, coach Jay Gruden told reporters. He did not think it was serious, but they wanted to give Norman a day of rest just to be sure. The Redskins want Norman available for Sunday’s game vs. Arizona to help covering receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, December 13

Su’a Cravens cleared to return to football. Will he do so with the Redskins? (Washington Post)

Washington Redskins safety Su’a Cravens plans to play football next season.

In a statement released Tuesday, Cravens’s agent, Fadde Mikhail, said his client “has received medical clearance to resume all football activities.”

The question now is: Will he be suiting up for the Redskins in 2018?

Jordan Reed’s season is over after Redskins place tight end on injured reserve (Washington Post)

The oft-injured Reed last played in Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys and has missed the Redskins’ last six games with a hamstring injury. He finishes the season with just 27 catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

Reed’s ‘incomplete’ season fails to pay dividends (Washington Times)

Asked last week to give an assessment of Jordan Reed’s season, Redskins coach Jay Gruden shrugged and threw his hands up to the side. It was the human version of this emoji: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Here are the reasons why the Redskins won’t be moving on from Jordan Reed this offseason (NBC Sports Washington)

His injury history and his 2018 salary cap number of $10.3 million has many wondering if the Redskins will choose to move on from him during the offseason.

Need to Know: Redskins’ offense is having third-down issues (NBC Sports Washington)

Last year, the Redskins converted 45.2% of their third-downs. This year, that is down to 34.9%, 27th in the league.

Kirk Cousins And The Offense Trying To Find A Rhythm (

Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who continued to lead his team under center despite the bleak postseason outlook, struggled against the Los Angeles defense, throwing for 151 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Is it time for the Redskins to test out Colt McCoy? (

With Kirk Cousins and the front office still seemingly at an impasse over his contract, USA Today reporter Lake Lewis makes the case that it could be time to hand over the keys to McCoy to better gauge Cousins’ worth. Fans have been clamoring to see McCoy at various times throughout Cousins’ reign as the Redskins starter, and getting a closer look at him could effectively set the price that the team would be willing to pay for their current starter.

Redskins make roster moves (Redskins Wire)

The team placed Pro Bowl and often-injured tight end Jordan Reed on their Reserve/Injured list along with running back Byron Marshall (hamstring) and linebacker Chris Carter (fractured fibula).

Tuesday, December 12

As losses mount, Redskins players question direction of team (Washington Post)

Jay Gruden remains focused on the here and now, the next step in the process, the next game at hand. While frustration continues to emanate from his locker room, the Washington Redskins coach merely is trying to hold everything together for a few more weeks.

Jay Gruden taking all the blame for Redskins’ woes sounds familiar (Washington Post)

“We have not been competitive, and we weren’t ready to play . . . today,” Gruden said. “And that’s on me and the staff. We have to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play.”

Kirk Cousins thinks his relationship with his receivers is fine, despite Dan Patrick report (Washington Post)

After just about every D.C. sports-radio program chewed over this declaration, Patrick later said more: that he was told “some of the receivers have a problem with [Cousins] because he throws them into positions where they could get hurt,” and that he was told this by somebody who attended the Redskins-Cowboys Thursday night game who is not affiliated with the Redskins.

Gruden was supposed to be steady hand on the wheel (Washington Times)

Welcome to the noncompetitive portion of another season gone off the rails. The franchise has suffered back-to-back blowouts and four losses in their last five games. Injuries or not, the team’s effort and preparation have come under fire, raising the temperature under coach Jay Gruden’s seat.

As the Redskins fall, Jay Gruden’s job security comes into question (Washington Times)

At various points this season, the Washington Redskins‘ preparation has been called into question. It began as early as training camp when the Redskins offense was out-of-sync to start the preseason.

Gruden seeks to move on, get Redskins prepared for Cardinals (

Gruden fielded several questions on his conference call Monday about preparation, answering that it’s on him, his staff and players to make sure everyone’s “fully ready to play.” The coach says injuries and a revolving roster have presented a challenge for Washington this season.

Jay Gruden sends a mixed message by waving the white flag (NBC Sports Washington)

Sometimes a coaching decision is just a coaching decision. Other times, a coaching decision is a message to the team.

A decision made by Redskins coach Jay Gruden late in their game against the Chargers sent a message, a very wrong one, to his players.

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Behind Enemy Lines: Washington prepares to host Cardinals in Week 15