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20 questions in 20 days: 10 How much can Hightower contribute?

20 questions in 20 days: 10 How much can Hightower contribute?

By Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir
CSNwashington.com20 questions in 20 daysAs we count down to the first game of the Redskins season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.Question 10:How much can Tim Hightower contribute this year?The background:Hightower was the Redskins leading rusher through the first five games of the season. Then, a torn ACL knocked him out for the season. Almost 11 months later, he is still struggling to get back to 100 percent. After getting five carries against the Colts in his first action of the preseason, he was still too sore to see even token action against the Bucs last night.Tandler:Its easy to say that Hightower should be fully recovered from his injury but different players recover from different injuries at different rates. A torn ACL has an 8-12 month rehab time and it looks like Hightower will go more towards the longer time frame. The question is if he can play while he continues to heal. I think its going to be difficult. We will not see the Hightower we saw early last season until November or December this year, if at all. He will contribute some plays and maybe even some games here and there but it says here that he will end up with fewer rushing yards in 2012 than Evan Royster, Roy Helu Jr., and Alfred Morris, the other three running backs likely to be on the roster.El-Bashir:Hightower is definitely still recovering, and some days are better than others judging from his post-practice limp, which can be quite pronounced. There is, however, some hope that the 26-year-old can contribute as he gets back up to speed. And it came in the second quarter of Saturdays preseason game against Colts. Facing a third down and two, Hightower took the handoff from Robert Griffin III, made a hard cut, then showed speed and agility as he sprinted down the sideline for an 18-yard gain. Does that mean hes ready to be the Redskins' featured back? Even if Hightower was 100-percent healthy, Coach Mike Shanahan has hinted that he intends to use a running-back-by-committee system this season. Given the injury and increased competition for carries, I think a realistic expectation for Hightower this season is 400-500 yards rushing, 150 yards receiving and a total of five touchdowns.20 questions in 20 days20 Aug.20Will Jammal Brown play this year?
19 Aug.21Will Chris Cooley make the team?
18 Aug. 22Can Brandon Meriweather get he job done at safety?
17 Aug. 23Is Garon a No. 1 receiver?
16 Aug. 24Can Trent Williams go from good to great?
15 Aug. 25Can DeAngelo Hall be a defensive playmaker?
14 Aug. 26Can Santana Moss regain his old form?
13 Aug. 27Can Orakpo post 15 sacks?
12 Aug. 28Will Leonard Hankerson break out?
11 YesterdayCan the Redskins flip their turnover ratio?
10 TodayHow much can Hightower contribute this year?
9 TomorrowWas making Billy Cundiff the kicker a good move?

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 2018? That’s a different story.

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In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

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