In the Redskins and Cowboys two-sentence joint statement announcing their decision not to further contest their salary cap penalty case concluded by saying, We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season.As far as the Redskins are concerned, that means that they will have to figure out how they will go about doing business over the next two years minus 18 million in salary cap space per season. The penalty will hurt, no doubt, but it should not be crippling.As far as this year goes, the Redskins are some 3.8 million under the cap. They still have to sign their top three draft picks but even after that they will have a couple of million dollars to work with.Although under the rules teams dont need to be even a dollar under the cap, its not a good idea to go into the season with no cap room. For one thing, the salaries of players on injured reserve count towards the limit so you need to have some money set aside to cover that. And if an opportunity to sign a player who could help the team comes up, it is good to have the money set aside to be able to do that.They could create some more cap room by releasing players. The two most frequently discussed candidates for release are Chris Cooley and Santana Moss, both of whom have high cap numbers but are not expected to be starters. The team would save 3.9 million against this years cap by releasing Cooley after June 1 and 3.15 million if they cut Moss loose at that time.But they are not in a position where they are forced to cut Cooley or Moss or anybody else. Thanks to sound cap management, they were able to absorb the 18 million reduction in their cap, address at least some of their offseason free agency shopping list and re-sign key veterans such as London Fletcher.They are in good cap shape despite the penalty in part because they are only carrying about 2.9 million in dead cap space. Many teams have 10-15 million or more in dead cap and the Redskins used to be among the league leaders in dead cap annually. This means that almost every dollar of the cap is going towards compensation for players on the 2012 roster and is not on the book for players who are long gone.They also can survive the penalty because they have drafted 21 players in the past two years, the most in the NFL. In addition to bringing youthful enthusiasm to a team, draft choices are also cheap labor, especially in their first or second seasons. Having 20 or so recent draft picks on your roster always has been a good way to keep you cap total in check.Its early to look ahead to next year but it appears that the 18 million penalty will squeeze them and limit them in free agency but they should not have to release any players they do not want to let go of. Fred Davis is the only starter who is scheduled to be a free agent who might command a big contract.One source shows the Redskins with about 78 million in cap dollars committed for 2013. A lot can change there so its too early to base too much on that but it looks like they will have room to operate under a cap number that is likely to be in the 102 million range for them.The Redskins were not able to plan for getting slapped with the salary cap penalty this year as they knew nothing about it until about 24 hours before the start of free agency. But sound management prepares you for the unexpected and Bruce Allen and Eric Schaffer deserve credit for having the Redskins ready for a storm that nobody saw coming.Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
Five wins in a row – it’s almost hard to fathom considering how dire the Redskins season looked after losing to the Dallas Cowboys in September dropped Washington to an 0-2 record. Now, after winning four straight, the ‘Skins are firmly back in the NFC playoff picture and have the chance to tack on another win Sunday in Detroit. The game is indoors at Ford Field so weather won’t be an issue, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., but all the coverage starts on Redskins Kickoff at noon on CSN. These are the storylines we will be watching most:
- Hit the gas – In wins over the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins got out to early 14-0 leads. Only the team then coughed up those leads, allowing both squads back into games that instead should have been blowouts. If Washington can build an early lead on the road will be a big advantage, but they need to continue to pile up points and not let the Lions hang around.
- Cage the Lions – Detroit’s offense is quite effective, in fact the Lions rank No. 12 in the NFL in points-per-game, three spots ahead of the Redskins. QB Matt Stafford is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and has thrown 14 TDs through six games. The Redskins defense, however, has been nearly dominant in their last two games and hasn’t given up an offensive touchdown in the last seven quarters.
- No Reed option – Diagnosed with a concussion after the win in Baltimore, Redskins tight end Jordan Reed will miss the Lions game. He also missed the Eagles game, which saw the ‘Skins roll up nearly 500 yards of offense. Reed is a dynamic threat at tight end, but without him, veteran Vernon Davis stepped in against Philly and had two catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Losing Reed is a blow for the ‘Skins, but they should be able to continue to pile up yards and points without him.
- Statistically speaking – There is an interesting disparity looking at the Lions and Redskins offensive stats. Detroit is scoring more points than Washington, yet the Lions are gaining significantly less yards per game and yards per play. Jay Gruden’s squad ranks No. 2 in the NFL in yards per play, Detroit ranks 14th. Washington is tied for 5th in yards per game, the Lions are 18th. Obviously, Sean McVay’s offense is moving the ball better than Detroit, but red zone issues have been consistent for the Redskins. The numbers point to an explosion of touchdowns, could this be the week?
- No (big) mistakes – Last week against the Eagles, the Redskins defense stifled Carson Wentz and held Philly’s offense mostly in check. The sole reason that game was close were big plays – a pick-six touchdown by Malcolm Jenkins after intercepting a Cousins pass and a kick return touchdown. Defensively, the Redskins have significantly improved at eliminating big plays. Against Detroit, special teams and the offense must focus on not giving up big plays or turning the ball over.
Numbers & Notes:
- Opposing offenses have been able to run on the Redskins, but Detroit comes into the game with just the 26th best running attack in the NFL.
- Ryan Kerrigan will make his 87th consecutive start on Sunday – tied for third most among active NFL linebackers. Kerrigan has never missed a start in his career.
- Against Philadelphia, Matt Jones ran for 135 yards, a career high, and the most Redskins rush yards since Alfred Morris went for 139 against the Vikings in November 2013.
- Dustin Hopkins has made 15 field goals this season – 1st in the NFC and tied for first in the NFL.
- On punt returns, Jamison Crowder and the Redskins are averaging 18.8 yards-per-return, which ranks 1st in the NFL.
- The Redskins offense ranks 1st in the NFL with the fewest amount of 3 & Out drives.
- If Kirk Cousins passes for 300 yards on Sunday, that will mark his 15th game with 300 passing yards, and he will take second place in Redskins history for most 300-yard games, moving past Joe Theismann.
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The NFL has fined Redskins tight end Vernon Davis $12,154 for his jump shot touchdown celebration against the Eagles.
Source says Vernon Davis was fined $12,154 for unsportsmanlike conduct - the penalty for shooting the ball like a jumpshot after his TD.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) October 21, 2016
So, if you're keeping score… Shooting a J after touchdown ($12k) costs you more than shooting an arrow into the crowd ($9k).— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) October 21, 2016
The league had previously fined cornerback Josh Norman $9,115 for pantomiming shooting a bow and arrow after an interception. He said he'd try a beer drinking celebration this week.
On the day Davis was flagged excessive celebration, Jay Gruden told the media that he'd just gone over sample film of illegal celebrations with his players and didn't see anything resembling Davis' jump shot.
The Redskins have ruled Jordan Reed out again for Sunday's matchup with the Lions. Davis is expected to start in his place.
MORE REDSKINS: Doctson could return from IR in Week 15