The Washington Redskins will enter their Week 4 matchup with the Cleveland Browns looking to find consistency as a team. The Redskins are eight-point favorites against the visiting Browns, and will be looking to improve to 2-2 overall. Cleveland has yet to win a game this season.
Originally this game was viewed as former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's first trip to DC as the starting QB for the Browns. Since Griffin is currently injured, that bit of drama has vanished. What remains is a Cleveland team searching for a signal-caller and calling on their rookie QB, Cody Kessler, to step up now.
For Washington, they will look to get Kirk Cousins back in the groove that guided him to the playoffs last season when he led the NFL in completion percentage. The Redskins signal caller has yet to throw a touchdown inside the red zone in 2016.
The Redskins have tried to keep opposing teams honest the last couple of weeks with running the ball, but they aren't quite where they want to be in terms of play differential (passing/running). The Redskins were better in play differential against New York, 36 passes to 30 rushes, then they were in Weeks 1 & 2, and should look to stay with that as it's a whole world of difference from 43 passes to 16 rushes, against Dallas.
While no one will be looking past Cleveland, this would appear to be a suitable week for the team to get an opportunity to try out some new personnel packages. After suffering several injuries last week, Washington will be rolling out a few different starters this week. It has been highly rumored that Arie Kouandjio will be the new starting left guard, and that the team might place Shawn Lauvao on injured reserve along with Kory Lichtensteiger.
On defense, the Redskins will start Will Blackmon in the place of safety DeAngelo Hall, who will miss the rest of the season due to a blown ACL. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden spoke about losing Hall this week. "He was coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant," said Gruden. "Now Will Blackmon will take over at that position and we’ll go from there. Will played well when he came in. From a player perspective, Will’s right there with him, but from a leadership standpoint, D-Hall has done a lot for this organization, a lot for this team. He’s going to be missed.”
The defense will need to try and build off last weekends success against the New York Giants while not allowing Cleveland to take advantage of anything. The one constant for Washington this season has been the special teams. Punter Tress Way continues to boom kicks and even threw a fake-punt pass against the Giants, while place-kicker Dustin Hopkins was named NFL special-teams player of the week today.
All facets of the game need to be more consistent, including the coaching. Up to this point in the season the Redskins have been, for the most part, out-coached. Last weekend the coaching staff did do better against New York, but an overall median needs to be found so the that the team can move forward. The talent can only go as far as the coaching can take it.
It'll be interesting to see how the team approaches this game with the Browns. It's a bit too early in the season, and obvious, to call this game a "trap" game. The Redskins know the problems the team has and should focus on their own strengths, and not look past this struggling Browns team.
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