Coming off a hard-fought victory over the Buffalo Bills, the New England Patriots are projected to have an easier game ahead of them: the 4-0 Patriots will travel south to take on a Washington Redskins team that is 0-4 through the first month of the regular season. Needless to say that the reigning world champions enter the game as enormous favorites, and that anything but a clear win would be a major upset.
With that in mind, let’s get to meet New England’s Week 5 opponent.
Record: 0-4 (4th place NFC East)
Offense: 28th (16.5 points/game)
Defense: 31st (29.5 points/game)
Head coach: Jay Gruden
Coordinators: Kevin O’Connel (OC), Greg Manusky (DC)
Games so far
Week 1 at Philadelphia Eagles: 32-27 loss
Week 2 vs Dallas Cowboys: 31-21 loss
Week 3 vs Chicago Bears: 31-15 loss
Week 4 at New York Giants: 24-3 loss
Washington came close to winning on opening day, but ultimately had to watch Philadelphia come back from a 17-0 deficit. The next two weeks, the team was simply outmatched on both sides of the ball before hitting rock bottom in Week 4: against the Daniel Jones-led Giants, Jay Gruden’s team lost by three touchdowns. With defeats against all three division rivals, the team faces a near-impossible uphill climb to reach a playoff spot.
Three storylines that describe the 2019 season
The Trent Williams holdout: Washington’s best player, offensive tackle Trent Williams, underwent surgery during the offseason to remove a growth from his hand. He later did not report to the team’s mandatory minicamp amidst rumors that he wanted a new contract or was unhappy with how the club handled his medical situation. Whatever the reasons are, the team placed him on its Did Not Report list at the start of training camp. The seven-time Pro Bowler has still not rejoined the team.
The quarterback saga: Head coach Jay Gruden, who entered 2019 with a 35-44-1 record, did not want to throw first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins Jr. into the deep end to start his career. Instead, the club went with Case Keenum as its number one quarterback to open the season. The veteran was off to a solid start but looked bad during the games against Chicago and New York. As a result, he was benched in favor of Haskins last week — and the results were not pretty as the rookie threw three interception on just 17 pass attempts.
The disappointing defense: No matter what statistics you look at, Washington’s defense has been a major disappointment so far this season. After finishing 15th in scoring last year, it regressed to the 31st position in 2019: coordinator Greg Manusky’s unit has given up an average of 29.5 points over its first four games, while ranking second-to-last in the NFL in yards and points per drive (40.9 and 2.64, respectively). Both the passing defense and the run defense have looked bad.
Three players to know
WR Terry McLaurin: While McLaurin was out in Week 4 against the Giants because of a hamstring injury, he could return to the lineup this week — and if he does, the Patriots need to pay attention to him. After all, the third-round draft pick has been Washington’s best pass catcher so far this season. He was targeted 24 times during the Redskins’ first three games, coming away with 16 catches for a team-high 257 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
DT Da’Ron Payne: A first-round draft pick in 2018, Payne has arguably been Washington’s most consistent player so far this season. While his statistics won’t wow anybody, the 6-foot-3, 320-pound interior lineman has been rock solid in the middle of the defense: he has registered six quarterback pressures so far, even though his best work probably came against the run. As bad as the team’s defense played over the last month, Payne stood out.
CB Quinton Dunbar: After missing the last two games because of a knee injury, Dunbar made a name for himself last week when he picked Daniel Jones off two times. But even outside of intercepting the Giants’ quarterback, he has looked good so far this season: serving as a starting cornerback alongside Josh Norman, the 27-year-old surrendered just six receptions on 12 passes thrown his way so far for 74 yards and no touchdowns.
What to watch this week
The quarterback question is obviously the elephant in the proverbial room for the team, so you should keep a close eye on who lines up under center. Will it be Haskins, the highly-touted rookie who had a bad first game in the NFL? Will it be Keenum, the underwhelming veteran? Or will it be Colt McCoy, who has yet to appear in a game this season? New England obviously needs to be ready for whatever Washington throws at them.