The Redskins.com crew breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Sunday's Redskins-Raiders 2017 Week 3 showdown at FedExField in Landover, Md.
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DON'T LET 'BEAST MODE' BREAK OUT IN DANCE
Writing down stopping Marshawn Lynch is certainly a lot easier than actually doing it on the field.
Despite spending the 2016 season in retirement, Lynch returned to the NFL this year following a trade from the Seattle Seahawks to his hometown Raiders.
While the sample size has been small so far (30 carries for 121 yards), Lynch clearly hasn't missed a beat this year. The Redskins know this and plan to be ready for the exact same player that has been named to five Pro Bowls and has six 1,000-yard seasons.
"It's just going to be a group effort like it is with every great back in the NFL that you face," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "Todd Gurley's a different type of back but, you know, it takes more than one. He might jump over one guy and the next guy's going to have to come get him. Marshawn might stiff arm one guy but the next two or three guys are going to come get him.[It's got to be a group effort and we've got to run to the football – all 11 of them on defense have got to pursue to the football with great passion."
Lynch is coming off a fairly light workload following Oakland's blowout victory over the New York Jets last Sunday. He appeared on just 23 offensive plays and logged just 12 carries.
Redskins linebacker Mason Foster said the team needs to "swarm to the ball" whenever it is in Lynch's possession.
"Everybody's going to have to tackle well and be physical, but at the same time, you know guys are going to miss because he's a great back, but everybody has to be flying to the ball," Foster said. "So, if one guy misses or if one guy slips off, someone is right there to make a tackle. It's about team defense and it's going to take all 11 guys to get to the ball."
CONTINUE THE BALANACED ATTACK
Even though quarterback Trent Williams passed for nearly 5,000 yards last season, the passing game hasn't been quite as prolific so far this year.
After Cousins threw for just 240 yards and three touchdowns in an opening game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Rams held the Pro Bowl quarterback to just 179 yards on 18 completions. It was the fewest passing yards he had in a game since Week 17 of the 2015 season when he only played to the early minutes of the second quarter in a game one week after the Redskins clinched the NFC East.
While Washington certainly wants more production from Cousins, the running game burst onto the scene last Sunday, as Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine combined for more than 220 yards.
Facing an offense this week that can put up points in bunches, a similar outing by the running backs could go a long way in getting the Redskins their first victory at FedExField this year.
"Anytime you add balance into your offense, it opens up all the different areas," said tackle Trent Williams. "If you can run the ball, it keeps the chains in manageable distance, it opens up your playbook to a lot more options and plays that you can pick."
Gruden added that being multi-dimensional on offense is going to be important determining factor between wins and losses and the season wears on. Attacking a Raiders defense that currently ranks 19th against the run while getting the passing game clicking could keep Oakland off balance just enough to grab a victory.
"The ability to run the ball is a great asset for us and it's necessary for us to be successful long-term," Gruden said. "For us to get to the playoffs and win Super Bowls, we have to be balanced and we have to be able to run the ball to take the pressure off our quarterback and open up the play actions."
TURN THE CARR AROUND
Coming into Week 3, Oakland's offense ranks fourth in the NFL in yards per game. This, no doubt, is due to the so far flawless play of quarterback Derek Carr.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' defense and special teams preparing for their Week 3 game against the Oakland Raiders Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
The fourth-year passer out of Fresno State has thrown five touchdowns this season with no interceptions. In two games, he has amassed 492 yards through the air and has only been sacked two times.
Gruden said that's where his team needs to excel: getting to Carr before the ball leaves his hand.
"It gets frustrating for pass rushers. You know, you say, 'Rush the quarterback, rush the quarterback,' and the ball's gone – at one point I think the average was under two seconds that he gets the ball out of his hands," Gruden said. "We'll get our hands up, maybe bat some balls, but still I think if you make the quarterback uncomfortable, even if you don't get the sack, it can be equally as important as getting the sack."
The Redskins' defense, who through two games has recorded four sacks, will have its hands full trying to bring down the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Carr, who sits behind a stellar offensive line and has plenty of talented receivers to dump the ball off to in no time. Receiver Michael Crabtree, for instance, caught three touchdowns last week against the New York Jets.
"Our defensive line and linebackers will be challenged," Gruden said. "They're anxious. They're excited. It will be a great test."
SHINE UNDER THE BRIGHT LIGHTS
FedExField will be at the forefront of the football world this weekend as the Redskins and Raiders do battle in 2017's third edition of Sunday Night Football.
Along with the Sunday Night game comes a national audience, a primetime stage and an added sense of excitement for players and coaches alike.
"Oh, we're excited," head coach Jay Gruden said this week. "I think losing our opener – home opener against Philadelphia – hurt a little bit and we're excited to get our next home game. We know it's going to be a great test."
For linebacker Mason Foster, this is the type of game that he dreamed to play in as a kid.
"Sunday night, at home in front of our fans, this is the game that you dream about playing Pop Warner," Foster said. "You want that, you dream of that. It's exciting."
The Redskins have fared well on the Sunday Night Football stage recently, beating a tough Green Bay Packers team 42-24 in Week 11 of last season. With a win this week, it would mark the first time that the team has won two consecutive Sunday Night games since Weeks 15-16 of the 2007 season.
On the all-time scale, the Redskins' record on Sunday Night Football sits close to the .500 mark at 18-17-1.