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Instant Analysis: Redskins Giants

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Instant Analysis: Redskins Giants

The Redskins ended an embarrassing drought on Monday Night Football. But, more important, their tense 17-16 victory over the Giants resuscitated their playoff hopes.

At 6-6, Robert Griffin and the Redskins pulled even with the Cowboys for second place in the NFC East and moved to within a game of the 7-5 Giants. The victory was the Redskins’ third in a row, their longest winning streak since 2008.

They entered the night having lost 10 consecutive games at home on Monday, a drought that dated to 1997. But this was the first MNF game the Redskins had Griffin, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garçon.

Griffin’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Garçon early in the fourth quarter that restored the Redskins’ lead, 17-16. The two also hooked up at the two-minute warning, extending the drive the home team used to run out the clock.

Garcon, despite playing on a tender right foot, finished with eight receptions for 106 yards. There were hints of a breakout, however. Garçon participated fully in practice Thursday-Saturday, the longest such stretch since before he suffered the injury in the preseason.

Washington also achieved two significant milestones in the game. Morris surpassed 1,000 yards and set the franchise rookie record for rushing, passing Reggie Brooks’ record of 1,063 yards established in 1993. Morris finished with 124 yards on 22 carries.

Griffin, meantime, set the NFL rookie record for rushing yards by a quarterback, gaining 73 on four carries. The previous mark of 706 was set last season by the Panthers’ Cam Newton.

But in a game of such magnitude, individual records meant relatively little.

The Redskins trailed 13-10 at the start of the second half, but eventually seized control.

After a Morris fumble deep in Giants’ territory, Eli Manning marched the visitors down the field on what appeared to be a game-turning drive that culminated with a 35-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes

But the Giants’ 16-10 lead did not last.

Early in the fourth quarter, Griffin directed a masterful 12 play, 86 yard drive that the ended with  Garçon's critical touchdown catch. 

As impressive as the performance by Griffin, Morris and Garçon was on an unseasonably warm night in Landover, it was not without flaws. The defense couldn’t get off the field in the first half, allowing the Giants to convert 8 of 10 third downs. Tight end Martellus Bennett, meantime, caught seven passes for 82 yards in the first two quarters as the Giants dominated time of possession.

But the defense recovered in the second half – just as Griffin and the offense hit its stride.

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Redskins' outside LB depth chart looking thin after Galette injury

Redskins' outside LB depth chart looking thin after Galette injury

The Redskins will have to get through the season without Junior Galette, who suffered a second torn Achilles tendon in as many seasons. He won’t be easy to replace but they will have to line up and play 16 games without him just like they did last year.

Ryan Kerrigan, who had 9.5 sacks last year, will start at left outside linebacker as he has since he was drafted in 2011. Preston Smith, who was going to compete with Galette for the starting right side job, will now have that to himself.

Kerrigan had 13.5 sacks just two years ago and Smith has the potential to have that many. After that, however, the Redskins are quite thin.

Last year they had Trent Murphy starting 15 games at right outside linebacker. But he has been moved to the defensive line, adding around 30 pounds to make the position change. Even if the team wants to move him back to linebacker it may not be possible to have Murphy shed the weight.

Assuming Murphy stays on the line, the Galette injury could open the door for a few other players to get an opportunity. Houston Bates played in eight games last year, most on special teams. Willie Jefferson has been looking for an opportunity since he played six games for the Texans in 2013. And Lyden Trail is large (6-7, 270), athletic, and very, very green.

The Redskins also could use rookie Su'a Cravens, their second-round pick, to help out with outside pass rush. He could be of help in nickel situations but at 6-1, 222 he is not big enough to be effective defending against the run from the ouside linebacker spot. 

Training camp is always important for young players but for this group the stakes just went sky high. We will see who responds starting in a few days.

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After promising rookie season ends with terrible injury, Redskins waive Kyshoen Jarrett

After promising rookie season ends with terrible injury, Redskins waive Kyshoen Jarrett

Kyshoen Jarrett was one of the best stories on the Redskins last year. A 6th-round rookie from Virginia Tech, Jarrett found his way into an important role for Washington as the slot cornerback, and saw his playing time steadily increase throughout the season. 

Then, in a meaningless Week 17 win over the Cowboys, Jarrett sustained a shoulder injury. But the shoulder injury wasn't the worst part as he sustained nerve damage that stunted his rehab. 

In a move that surprised few who saw him this summer, on Monday the Redskins waived Jarrett with a failed physical designation. 

From a football sense, the 'Skins secondary should still be much improved after the signing of free agent Josh Norman and drafting Kendall Fuller, another Hokie, in the third round this year. From a personal sense, the Jarrett news is sad to see, as coaches and teammates often said he was a hard worker with what appeared to be a good NFL career in front of him. 

Jarrett played in 16 games last year, making 58 tackles to go with four passes defensed and a forced fumble. 

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With Junior Galette out for the season are any free agents worth bringing in? Greg Hardy?

With Junior Galette out for the season are any free agents worth bringing in? Greg Hardy?

Just days before training camp begins, Junior Galette again tore his Achilles and will be out for the year. Are there any edge rushers available on the gree agent market that the Redskins would consider?

One name stands out: Greg Hardy.

Though a disappointment on the field and a mess off of it for the last two seasons, few players in the NFL can get after quarterbacks like Hardy once did. In 2012 and 2013 Hardy combined for 26 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl. 

Undoubtedly Hardy's name carries a lot of personal questions. A lot. But that won't scare off everybody in the NFL - in fact, Hardy recently worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The guess here is Washington does not even consider Hardy, but stranger things have happened. 

Another name that will be mentioned is Dwight Freeney. At 36 years old, Freeney's best days are behind him, but the veteran was able to post eight sacks last year with the Cardinals. Arizona smartly deployed Freeney in a strict situational role, and if the 'Skins could come up with a similar plan, he might be a fit. 

Beyond Freeney and Hardy, it's hard to see a current free agent that would be better than the Redskins options behind Galette. And given Hardy's history, it's unlikely he is an option.

Considering Washington won the NFC East last year without Galette, and second-year LB Preston Smith could continue to emerge after eight sacks his rookie season, it would not be a surprise if Scot McCloughan simply stands pat.