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  1. themurf
    Saints 43 - Redskins 19
    Postgame thoughts
    When the ground game never gets going and your receivers are missing in action as they have been for the first month of the season, it turns out it's pretty difficult to put points on the board. Conversely, when your defense practically begs the home team to start off hot by picking up penalties on three early 3rd down plays to keep drives alive, you're going to face an uphill battle. And if both of those things happen at the same time to the same team ... well ... you get a blowout of epic proportions.
    This game wasn't competitive for very long and it had as much to do with what the Redskins weren't doing as it did what the Saints were doing. Redskins defenders showed zero discipline as they took selfish fouls to keep New Orleans on the field. And, let's not forget, coming into the game, the Saints were averaging 34 points and more than 400 yards of total offense per game.
    Had the Redskins simply been able to limit them to their average showing, it might not have been too embarrassing. Alas, this one turned into a rout, the kind that all too often occurs during primetime games. Had the Saints actually tried to run the score up, rather than being content to just hand the ball off a dozen times in a row just to keep the 4th quarter clock running, New Orleans honestly could have scored 60. I'd make a joke about the Redskins being the homecoming opponent, but it hurts too much because this franchise actually tries to have a homecoming game each season.
    Alex Smith looked like a big bag of average tonight. The receiving corps continues to collect a paycheck while rarely collecting passes. Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson both suffered injuries during this game. Trent Williams and the offensive line looked uncharacteristically beatable during Monday Night Football. And Jordan Reed was allegedly also involved in this particular game. Or so I'm told.
    In all seriousness, the Saints followed the blueprint set forth by the Colts earlier this season and blitzed early and often. Just like during Week 2, the offensive line struggled to handle the additional pressure and the entire offense sputtered as Smith took sacks and/or missed his intended targets. Why would any team in the league would stray away from this concept when facing the Redskins? Until they show they can make teams pay for overloading the line of scrimmage, expect more of the same.
    Simply put: With two weeks to prepare, the Redskins had a chance to send a message to their division rivals and to secure a statement win. That didn't happen and things are only going to get more challenging moving forward. No one in the visitor's locker room should feel good about their performance on Monday Night Football. Lord knows many 'Skins fans take it personally when the franchise lays an egg like this one. Hopefully more than a few players conduct some soul searching and really dig into why this happens as frequently as it does when this franchise is asked to play before a national audience.
    Pregame thoughts
    Hello friends,
    It's been a while, but I'm thrilled to be back on the sidelines providing coverage of the burgundy and gold. It's been two weeks since we last saw the Redskins in action, and while a Week 4 bye week is generally awful, this one might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Several important players -- to include Adrian Peterson and a few members of the offensive line -- are already nursing injuries, so a little rest and recovery is never a bad thing. Additionally, every other NFC East team has completely fallen apart while the Redskins enjoyed their time away. The Eagles, Giants and Cowboys have gone a combined 1-5 the last two weeks, vaulting Washington to the top of the divisional standings without even taking to the field.
    If they'd like to remain in first place in the division though, they're going to have their work cut out for them. I'm not sure if you know this, but Drew Brees is good at football. And with roughly 200 yards passing tonight, he'll surpass Peyton Manning for the most passing yards in NFL history. The locals are fairly certain Brees will lock up that honor before halftime. And with the sheer number of weapons at his disposal, they might not be wrong.
    Michael Thomas might not be a household name, but he's having as solid of a season as any wideout in football. Ted Ginn Jr. wasn't much in Miami, but he's a fairly solid deep threat when Brees is involved. Mark Ingram returns from a four-game suspension to add depth to the backfield, which already boasts the ridiculously talented Alvin Kamara. In short, this offense is built to win shootouts, if need be.
    And with the Saints' defense, that's always a possibility. For the Redskins to emerge victorious, they're going to have to finish drives with touchdowns and avoid turnovers. Settling for field goal attempts and/or being careless with the football is a recipe for disaster. You might recall that roughly a year ago the Redskins held a two touchdown lead late into the fourth quarter ... and they still found a way to blow the game. Because Brees and Kamara were that good.
    Two offensive players I'm watching tonight are Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson. Peterson spent about a month in New Orleans, before he was shipped off to Arizona amidst rumors he didn't have it anymore. Safe to say while he doesn't hold any ill will towards his former team, he'd still be happy to show them what they're missing. For Thompson, the Superdome is where he suffered his season-ending injury last season. Obviously he'd love to have a productive evening and leave New Orleans healthy and happy with a victory.
    On defense, I'll be keeping an eye out for Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen. Both defensive linemen have gotten off to a strong start this season and their ability to generate pressure in the backfield will go a long way towards determining how successful the defense is against Brees and friends. The Redskins desperately need the front four to win their battles, so they can have extra defenders drop back into coverage. If they need to send six or seven defenders to get to the quarterback, it's going to get ugly.
    Speaking of ugly, the last two players I'm hoping to see plenty of are Jamison Crowder and Ryan Kerrigan. Both are key players at vital positions. Neither has gotten off to the start they hoped for. If one or both of them makes an appearance on Monday Night Football, that'd be huge for the away team.
    This is my third trip to New Orleans. The first was the dawn of the RGIII era. The second was last season's epic collapse. If nothing else, I think it's safe to say tonight's game is going to be memorable, one way or the other.
    The Redskins declared the following players as inactive: 
    o   No. 18 WR Josh Doctson
    o   No. 30 S Troy Apke
    o   No. 32 RB Samaje Perine
    o   No. 39 CB Adonis Alexander
    o   No. 74 T Geron Christian Sr.
    o   No. 77 G Shawn Lauvao
    o   No. 99 DL Caleb Brantley
    No. 13 Maurice Harris is expected to start in place of No. 18 Josh Doctson at wide receiver
    No. 66 Tony Bergstrom is expected to start in place of No. 73 Chase Roullier at center.
    No. 73 Chase Roullier is expected to start in place of No. 77 Shawn Lauvao at left guard.

    ·         The Washington Redskins lost to the New Orleans Saints, 43-19, on Monday in front of an announced crowd of 73,028 people at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
    ·         The Redskins forced a fumble late in the second quarter and have now forced at least one turnover in all four games this season and eight consecutive games dating back to Week 14 of last season.
    ·         Quarterback Alex Smith connected on 23-of-39 passes for 275 yards and one interception for a 69.9 passer rating. Smith also recorded one rushing touchdown. It was the 15th rushing touchdown of Smith's career.
    ·         Running back Kapri Bibbs recorded his first career rushing touchdown on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
    ·         Running back Chris Thompson finished with a team high six receptions for 45 yards (7.5 avg.) and now has hauled in 155 career receptions with the Washington Redskins. Thompson has now passed Kelvin Bryant (154) for the sixth most by a running back in franchise history.
    ·         Wide receiver Jamison Crowder finished with four receptions for 55 yards (13.8 avg.).
    ·         Wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr. hauled in four receptions for 50 yards (12.5 avg.).
    ·         Wide receiver Maurice Harris made his first career start and recorded his first reception of the season.
    ·         Harris finished with three receptions for 47 yards (15.7 avg.)
    ·         Wide receiver Michael Floyd made his first career start as a Washington Redskins. 
    ·         Linebacker Mason Foster finished the game with a team high 10 tackles (six solo). Foster has now recorded double-digit tackles for a third consecutive game. The streak is the longest of his career. 
    ·         Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan made his 116th consecutive regular season start, the longest active streak among active NFL linebackers. Kerrigan has not missed a start in his NFL career.
    ·       Kerrigan remains as one of six NFL players (and only three non-quarterbacks) to have started every game since the start of the 2011 season (Brandon Carr, Patrick Peterson, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford).
    ·         Kerrigan registered a sack for a loss of eight yards. He has now recorded 500 career sack yards. 
    ·        Defensive lineman Daron Payne recorded one sack for a loss of six yards and now has two sacks on the season. Payne finished the game with four tackles (three solo), two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
    ·      Linebacker Pernell McPhee appeared in his 100th career game and returned a fumble 24 yards to help set up a Redskins score in the second quarter.
    ·         Cornerback Fabian Moreau recorded his second forced fumble of the season and finished with five tackles (three solo) for the game.
    ·         Kicker Dustin Hopkins connected on a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter and has now recorded six career field goals of 50 yards or more. With the field goal, Hopkins has now recorded the third-most field goals of 50 or more yards in team history.
  2. themurf
    Hello again friends, and welcome to ExtremeSkins' Week 4 coverage as the Washington Redskins travel to take on the last undefeated team in football, the Kansas City Chiefs. I am your good luck charm, murf, and I am joined by TK.
    As you no doubt are aware, the 2017 Redskins are undefeated (2-0) in games I cover and winless (0-1) when I am not in attendance. While that should be comforting to 'Skins fans, this week's matchup will put my winning streak to the test because the Redskins have never emerged victorious in Kansas City (they're 0-4 lifetime when playing at Arrowhead Stadium).
    While Washington's defense turned in an amazingly impressive performance in last week's resounding win over Oakland, limiting the Raiders to just 128 yards of total offense, they'll face a much stiffer test this week against a Chiefs squad that has little trouble moving the chains or putting points on the board.
    Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, fresh off of his AFC offensive player of the month for September, might just be the best back in football these days. With Cardinals running back David Johnson currently injured, Kansas City's rookie has risen to the top of the NFL pecking order while guiding his team to a 3-0 start with monster numbers across the board -- 47 rushes for 401 yards and four touchdowns to go with 137 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
    If, miraculously, the Redskins are able to limit Hunt's production, the Chiefs will likely turn to tight end Travis Kelce. That's because no team has allowed more yardage to opposing tight ends during the 2017 season than the Redskins. Oh, and let's not forget speedy receiver Tyreek Hill, who also poses a huge threat for the burgundy and gold.
    On Sunday Night Football, the Redskins were able to consistently get pressure in Oakland's backfield without having to send extra defenders. If the front four can get to vanilla quarterback Alex Smith, that'll once again go a long way towards helping the back seven limit explosive plays.
    That's why I'll be focusing plenty of attention on rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (logged his first NFL sack Week 3) and second-year tackle Matt Ioannidis (who had five pressures and a half sack versus the Raiders). If those two youngsters can help linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith disrupt Kansas City's offense, then the Redskins just might have a chance to win back-to-back primetime games.
    On the other side of the ball, the Redskins have to be hoping for a little diversity in their offense. That's because receiver Terrelle Pryor has been on the field for 80 percent of the offense's snaps so far this season and is tied with running back/future Hall of Famer Chris Thompson for the team lead in targets, with 19. Sadly, for as much as head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins seems intent on building the passing attack around Pryor, he has yet to produce a single breakout moment so far this season.
    With tight end Jordan Reed (shoulder), as well as running backs Rob Kelley (ribs) and Samaje Perine (hand) all recovering from injuries, this week would be a perfect time for Pryor to step up and put this offense on his back. To do so, however, he needs to do a better job of catching the balls thrown his way. Between last season in Cleveland and his first three weeks in Washington, Pryor has caught, on average, 55 percent of the passes thrown his way. Simply put -- that's not good enough for someone as big and fast as Pryor.
    Thompson cannot continue to post Tecmo Bowl caliber numbers on a weekly basis, so getting guys like Pryor to make the most out of his opportunities is vital. The Chiefs' secondary isn't anything special -- especially after losing safety Eric Berry to injury. If Pryor can't be more productive than his 38 yards per game average, then it might be a tough day for Cousins and the rest of the Redskins passing game.
  3. themurf
    Redskins 27 - Rams 20
    Hello friends. I know it's been a while since last we chatted, but I am back again for season number 13. Much like many of my previous seasons covering this franchise, the Washington Redskins did not get off to the best of starts with their 2017 campaign -- snapping a five-game winning streak over the Philadelphia Eagles with a disheartening 30-17 loss.

    Whether it was due to nerves or the first-team offense not getting enough reps throughout the preseason, quarterback Kirk Cousins was more inaccurate than 'Skins fans are used to seeing. While Terrelle Pryor's drops weren't helping, the franchised quarterback sailed more than a few passes over the head of his intended targets – most notably on the soul-crushing red-zone interception that essentially ended Washington's chances for victory in Week 1.

    As trite as it is to say, this offense will only go as far as Cousins' arm takes it. Do you know what helps a quarterback struggling with accuracy? A big, reliable target. You know just who might fill that bill? Second-year wide out Josh Doctson.

    While Santana Moss said Doctson "might be the best receiver on this team," we'll have to take his word for it until head coach Jay Gruden actually lets him get onto the field with any regularity. Until then, Redskins fans will have to settle for large doses of Ryan Grant and not throwing to Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed. Consider me dubious of the chatter this week about Doctson not being 100 percent. 

    It was much more telling when, during the same press conference, Gruden said Doctson has to earn more playing time. Look, in theory it's great to play hard ass and hold playing time over a young guy's head to show him you mean business. But, in reality, this offense hasn't look good since Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson were let go, so letting a quality asset ride the pine just to make a statement isn't exactly what's best for business.

    You know what else helps a quarterback get into rhythm? A running game.

    Stop me if you've heard this before: the rushing attack got off to a slow start, leading Gruden to abandon the ground game almost entirely (17 run plays versus 40 passing plays). From there, the team's one-dimensional attack became even more narrowly focused thanks to Cousins' insistence on forcing the ball to receiver-in-training Pryor. In related news, Philadelphia had little trouble shutting down the Redskins’ offense.

    Thanks largely to struggles along the offensive line (Cousins was pressured on 19 of 47 dropbacks), the Redskins allowed five sacks and the team turned the ball over four times. Right tackle Morgan Moses in particular had an off day, seemingly bested by whoever lined up against him. If Washington is going to actually produce yards on the ground or give Cousins enough time to complete his three-step drop, it’ll have to start with better output from Moses.

    During the Jeff Fisher era, the Rams were chronically mediocre – winning seven or eight games per season while being completely unwatchable in the process. After five forgettable seasons, Fisher was let go and replaced by 31-year-old Sean McVay.

    Anyone watching "All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams" on Amazon Prime immediately noticed the stark contrast between Fisher and the former Redskins offensive coordinator, who comes across as someone you'd love to work for in any capacity.

    While Fisher couldn't be bothered to develop talent on offense, McVay seems to have been just what the doctor ordered for the Rams, who struggled to put points on the board last year, but scored five touchdowns in a 46-9 blowout over the Indianapolis Colts last week.

    Prior to the arrival of the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, quarterback Jared Goff was destined to be a bust, running back Todd Gurley looked lost and no receiver on the Rams roster appeared to be anything other than average.

    With McVay calling the shots last season, the Redskins offense averaged more than 400 yards per game for the first time in franchise history while also finishing as the league’s third-best offense. So it should come as no surprise that McVay looks like he’s doing more of the same in Los Angeles.

    Goff completed 21 of 29 attempts for 306 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Gurley picked up a total of 96 yards (40 rushing and 56 receiving) and a touchdown (although he was limited to just 2.1 yards per carry). And a rookie wide out allegedly named Cooper Kupp burst onto the scene with four catches on six targets for 76 yards and a touchdown.

    In summary: the Rams already look leaps and bounds better than at any point in recent memory under Fisher.

    McVay knows the Redskins organization as well as anybody -- warts and all. Those who know him best call him detail oriented, so it's safe to assume he'll be prepared to take on the franchise he called home for the last seven seasons.
    Where might he look to attack? For starters, I'm guessing he's looking forward to exploiting Washington's deficiencies on 3rd-and-long. While outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan scored the team’s first touchdown of the 2017 season, inside linebacker Zach Brown and cornerback Kendall Fuller were the two best defenders wearing burgundy and gold in Week 1. For the record, cornerback Josh Norman had a solid outing as well, but wasn’t as involved as Brown or Fuller.

    Those three alone weren’t enough to get the job done however, as the defense still allowed the Eagles to convert eight (out of 14) 3rd downs. Simply put, that’s not good enough.

    The areas that I am focused on heading into this pivotal match-up:

    1. Will head coach Jay Gruden actually stick with the Redskins running game long enough to keep the Rams defense honest?
    2. Can the safety combination of D.J. Swearinger and Deshazor Everett rebound from their uneven Week 1 effort?
    3. Which team limits mistakes and wins the turnover battle?

    I have a feeling the answers to those three questions will go a long way towards determining the mood and/or panic level at Redskins Park next week.
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