Behind Enemy Lines Week 6: Washington Redskins
Coming off of a loss is a new feeling to the Arizona Cardinals in 2014.
The team won its first three games of the season before falling on Sunday to the Denver Broncos, 41-20.
The loss on the scoreboard was bad, but the injuries to the team could be much worse for Arizona. Defensive end Calais Campbell, linebacker Matt Shaughnessy, cornerback Patrick Peterson, and backup quarterback Drew Stanton all went down during Sunday’s game, adding to an already novel-length list on the team’s injury report.
The Washington Redskins are much more acquainted with the losing feeling. Washington dropped to 1-4 after a 27-17 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, having lost 12 of their last 13 games going back to last season.
The Cardinals and Redskins are set to play this week for the first time since Week 2 in 2011, when Washington beat the Cardinals, 22-21. Expect a much different look to the game this time, as quarterback Kevin Kolb led a Ken Whisenhunt-coached Arizona team against quarterback Rex Grossman and Mike Shanahan’s Redskins in that last matchup.
Before Sunday’s duel in Arizona, we’ll be going behind enemy lines to give you all the updates from Washington’s side of things:
Saturday, October 11
• Washington seeks to avoid widespread mistakes (The Washington Post)
The Redskins have done a fine job of beating themselves this season, whether by penalties, turnovers or poor special teams play. Coach Jay Gruden will need to correct those preventable mistakes in order for Washington to end its three-game losing streak.
• Redskins paring down penalties (The Washington Post)
Washington has taken too many penalties so far this season, but the team appeared to turn the corner in that area against the Seattle Seahawks last week. The Redskins will look to keep the yellow flags off the field in Glendale on Sunday.
• Daniel Hudson ‘pumped’ to watch the Redskins play (Redskins.com)
The Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher is a Virginia native and a Redskins fan. He tweeted out a picture of his tickets to Sunday’s game and asked Arizona fans to “go easy” on him.
Friday, October 10
• This season is looking similar to 2013 in Washington (The Washington Post)
The Redskins beat a bad team, played in some shootouts, and their defense wasn’t able to keep it together against good offenses. This could describe 2013 or 2014 for Washington, as the Redskins are in dangerous shape to repeat their previous 3-13 season.
• Washington must exploit Arizona’s blitzes (ESPN.com)
The Cardinals blitz the quarterback quite often, although their pass rush doesn’t always get to the passer and allows opposing teams to excel in these situations. To win on Sunday, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins must take advantage of Arizona’s depleted pass rush.
• Gruden making early roster overhauls in Washington (CSN Washington)
Through five games, the Redskins have already used 55 different players, the fourth-highest total in the NFL. With many long-term injuries and changes to the starters on offense and defense, coach Jay Gruden is making all the moves he can to improve Washington.
• Former Cardinals WR Roberts found his place in Washington (The Washington Post)
Wide receiver Andre Roberts spent his first four seasons with the Cardinals, proving valuable as a smaller option opposite bigger guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. But in his first season with the Redskins, Roberts has found his true role in the slot and as a top third-down option.
• The Redskins still don’t know their identity (Bleacher Report)
There is an immense amount of talent in Washington, maintaining the core parts of a team that went to the playoffs in 2012. But with various injuries to starters and some residual panic after a bad finish in 2013, Washington still does not know its identity on either side of the ball.
Thursday, October 9
• Offense is crucial to the defense creating more turnovers (CSN Washington)
The Redskins currently rank as one of the worst teams in the NFL at capitalizing on fumbles and badly thrown passes, with four forced turnovers through five games. Scoring points and taking the lead on offense may be the key to fixing this problems, as team’s force more turnovers win they are winning a game.
• Trent Murphy is quietly creating sacks for Washington (The Washington Post)
Defensive end Trent Murphy was drafted in May to create havoc for opposing offenses, but the rookie has not recorded a sack yet. But through special stunts and constant double teams, Murphy is helping his teammates get to the quarterback.
• Defense needs to improve at stopping third-and-short situations (CSN Washington)
Teams earn a first down the majority of the team when they have short yardage on third down, but the Redskins have been extra generous in that area this season. Washington needs to make it much harder for teams to pick up a first down than the 71.4 percent that they are allowing on third-and-short.
• LB Compton is preparing for his first start this week (Redskins.com)
Linebacker Perry Riley Jr.’s status is still unknown as he battles a knee injury, and Will Compton is ready to step up for the team. The second-year linebacker has been taking snaps with the first time in practice this week, and is currently preparing like he is Sunday’s starter.
• Redskins claim that they are committed to winning (The Washington Post)
Since Washington’s 10-point loss on Monday night, the story surrounding the team has been about their lack of a negative reaction to the defeat and nonchalance in the effort. This is not the case though for the Redskins, as they were upset by the outcome and are firmly focused on earning a win Sunday against Arizona.
Wednesday, October 8
• Redskins promote Jackson Jeffcoat (ESPN.com)
Jeffcoat, whose dad is ex-Dallas standout Jim Jeffcoat, had been on Washington’s practice squad since early September. He was an undrafted free agent who was cut in late August by Seattle. The Redskins only had three outside linebackers on the active roster before this move. Jeffcoat was mostly a defensive end at Texas, so he’s still learning to play from a stand-up position.
• Jay Gruden concerned with Perry Riley’s knee (ESPN.com)
Riley sprained his left medial collateral ligament in the second half of Monday’s 27-17 loss to Seattle. He was replaced by linebacker Will Compton, in his first season after spending last year on the practice squad.
• Need to Know: Five Redskins vs. Cardinals questions (CSN Washington)
Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, October 8, four days before the Washington Redskins go to Arizona to play the Cardinals.
• Third down conversions looming as a major issue for Redskins offense (CSN Washington)
After getting first downs on just three of 12 third-down situations (25 percent conversion rate) on Monday night against the Seahawks, the Redskins have now converted 34.4 percent of them on the season, tied for 25th in the NFL.
• Washington Redskins leaders laughing, while on-field performance remains a joke (Washington Post)
For a 1-4 team that went 3-13 last season, Washington was much too upbeat, and that should scare Coach Jay Gruden. Although the Redskins have holes throughout their roster, their performance in the locker room revealed a problem even bigger than starting Brandon Meriweather at safety: Unless Gruden changes the team’s culture, he has no chance at succeeding.
• Redskins work to wipe clear the implication that losing is acceptable (Washington Post)
Head coach Jay Gruden is not one that ever accepts losing. With a 1-4 start to the season and the upbeat reaction to Monday’s loss against the Seahawks, Gruden needs to make sure his players feel the same way. In order to escape the rut, the Redskins need to cultivate a winning culture and a strong identity.
Tuesday, October 7
Despite the loss, the Redskins remained surprisingly upbeat about their situation and optimistic for what’s to come in Washington.
• QB Cousins shows improvement against Seattle (CSN Washington)
Coming off of a four interception performance in Week 4, Kirk Cousins technically could only improve in Week 5, except for the matchup against Seattle’s vaunted defense. But Cousins showed he could bounce back against any team, throwing for 283 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, despite the loss.
• Washington delusional in their moral victory (The Washington Post)
The Redskins celebrated after three Seahawks’ touchdowns were called back due to penalties and remained upbeat, despite a 10 point loss. Washington should learn from the loss, rather than accept their hard work as a comparable consolation prize for defeat.
• Redskins needs to start RGIII if he’s healthy (The Washington Post)
The decision is only getting more difficult for Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, as quarterback Robert Griffin III gets closer to being healthy and Kirk Cousins continues his inconsistent performances. With the team already financially invested in Griffin, Washington needs to give the quarterback one more shot as the starter.