WASHINGTON — The last time the Redskins played at FedExField was Week 2. It was a must-win game against Jacksonville, and they took care of the Jaguars.
Well, guess what? Thursday night’s game is also a must-win. Both Washington and the New York Giants come into the game at 1-2, and while 1-3 is not the end of the world, it would be very tough finish the first quarter of the season there, with back-to-back NFC East losses. The Redskins are also looking for their first division win since 2012.
Can Cousins finish?
You can’t deny that Kirk Cousins looked pretty good in his first start of the season last week, especially in the first half. He threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns in all. But the next challenge for Kirk will be finishing a game.
Last week, Cousins threw a costly fourth-quarter interception that led to an Eagles touchdown, giving them a 10-point lead. Then, on the final drive, with the Redskins needing about 10 yards to set themselves up for a game-tying field goal attempt, Cousins threw three incomplete passes.
It was his first start this season, so there was a learning process, but these are the things that he will have to fight through if he wants to get the team in the win column.
Most of Cousins’ weapons will be available this week, with the exception of tight end Jordan Reed, who will miss his third straight game with a hamstring injury. Last week, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson both logged more than 100 yards receiving, which is a good example of the type of production of which this offense is capable. The Redskins offense checks in at No. 2 in the NFL heading into this week, totaling 444 yards per game.
The defense also enters the week ranked in the top five (fourth — 282.7 YPG), yet the team is 1-2.
“Statistics, I’ve learned a long time ago, don’t mean squat unless you’re winning,” Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. “I’d rather be last in everything and 3- 0 than first or second. So we have got some work to do, but obviously we can see progression and that’s good.”
Special teams have been a big factor in the two losses. Last week, the unit gave up a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Kai Forbath missed a 33-yard chip shot. Let’s not forget that the Redskins committed 10 penalties for more than 130 yards last week as well. These things cannot continue to happen if this team wants any shot of having a competitive season.
The Redskins defense suffered a big blow this week, losing captain and starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Enter rookie Baushad Breeland. He and David Amerson will start at the corners this week.
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz acknowledged this week that Hall basically dictated what opposing offenses were going to do based on where he was on the field. He said it would definitely be a big loss for the Redskins’ defense.
The Giants offense has a new coordinator (Ben McAdoo) and a new scheme. Last week against the Texans, they put up 30 points en route to their first win of the year. The unit ought to continue to gel and improve, especially with Rashad Jennings running the football. Last week, he ran for 176 yards.
The defensive line for the Redskins could be a little thin yet again this week. The good news is that Chris Baker will not face any further discipline after his hit on Nick Foles last week. The NFL ruled it legal, so he should be good to go on Thursday. Jason Hatcher hurt his hamstring last week and was limited this week, but says he should be fine. Kedric Golston has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, but the Redskins hope to have him back this week.
Packed Injury Report
Seventeen players are listed on the injury report on this short week.
Robert Griffin III, Akeem Jordan and Jordan Reed are out. Baker, Kedric Golston, Hatcher, Jackson, Frank Kearse, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Tracy Porter and Trenton Robinson are all questionable.
Brian Orakpo, Forbath, Alfred Morris, Tyler Polumbus and Keenan Robinson are all probable. Orakpo said this week that his finger is not broken, but has a torn ligament and he will wear a cast. He said he’s not sure how it will affect him.
Following Thursday night’s game, the Redskins will be off until Oct. 6, when the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks come to town for a Monday Night Football matchup. Washington will then head to Arizona on a short week to face the Cardinals.
Thursday is looking more and more like a must-win to you too, right?