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Sean Taylor: What could have been

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Sean Taylor: What could have been

Most football fans went to bed on the night of November 26, 2007 thinking that Sean Taylor was going to be OK. There were reports that he had squeezed a hand in response to a question and that after a very difficult first day after having been shot in the leg during a home robbery, things were looking up. Taylor wasn’t out of the woods but he seemed to be on his way.

And then the next morning everyone woke up to the horrifying news that Taylor had died, unable to recover from the loss of blood from the wound to the femoral artery in his leg.

Suddenly, the player who was just beginning to turn potential into performance and had become the best player on the Redskins, the friend and teammate to Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and many others, the prized pupil of Joe Gibbs and Gregg Williams, and, most importantly, the doting father to 18-month-old Jackie, was gone.

We don’t know just how good Taylor may have been on the field. He had made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and had done enough in 2007 to earn—truly earn—posthumous honors.

It seems certain that those would have been the first of many trips to Hawaii for Taylor. He was just 25 and the only question was if he would be one of the best ever to play safety for the Redskins or if he would become one of the league’s greatest of all time.

The affects of the loss of Taylor were far reaching and are still felt today. Looking at the on-field aspects of tragedy, the Redskins have never been able to find even a competent safety to take his place. LaRon Landry, who was going to team with Taylor to form a fierce safety combo for years to come, is a natural strong safety who struggled when moved to Taylor’s free safety position. Reed Doughty, Oshiomogho Atogwe and Kareem Moore have tried and have either moved on or, in Doughty’s case, moved into a backup role. Madieu Williams, this year’s free safety, is unlikely to be a long-term solution, either.

While it seems certain that Taylor would have enjoyed a high level of personal success with the Redskins, we don’t know if the team would have been substantially better. But the fans and everyone else associated with the team has to wonder what might have been and reacts to the fact that a punk with a gun deprived us of the chance to find out with a mix of sadness and anger. 

And of course, thoughts of what could have been. Earlier this season Sean's father, Pedro Taylor, addressed the possibility of his son playing on a squad with Robert Griffin III at the helm...

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 6-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 4-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 2-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 13

Offense (yards/game): 418.6 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 369.6 (23rd, +2)
Points for: 303 (10th, -1)
Points against: 295 (20th, -2)

Passer rating offense:  99.8 (8th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 95.0 (22nd, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (5th, no change)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th, +2)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 9.8% (10th, no change)
Playoff chances per FO: 41.5%, -14.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Not much, really. Their ranking in rushing defense improved a couple of notches but mostly because other teams got worse, not because the Redskins put the clamps down on the rushing game.

[RELATED: Redskins stat breakdown: What worked and what didn't against Arizona]

Trending the wrong way: For the first time in a few weeks the Redskins’ playoff chances are below 50 percent. Two straight losses will do that.  

Top three storylines:

Letting them have it—Jay Gruden is usually supportive of his team after a loss but that was not the case following the Cardinals game. He could be heard speaking to the team in angry tones in the locker room following the loss. We will see if this rare tirade jump-starts the Redskins’ stretch run.

Dealing with injury issues—Not only do the Redskins have to be concerned about the condition of Jordan Reed, whose status is unclear as he rehabs from a shoulder injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, their starting center is in the concussion protocol. If Spencer Long can’t go the Redskins may have to add a center to back up John Sullivan.

Help wanted—The Redskins need other teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs. They need a little help if they win out to finish 10-5-1; they need more help if they finish at 9-6-1. Scoreboard watching starts at 4:25 on Sunday when the Bucs, a half-game ahead of Washington, host the Saints and continues on Sunday night football with the Cowboys at the Giants.

Next three games

Sunday @ Eagles (5-7)—The Redskins handled them well in October; the final score did not indicate how Washington dominated the game. The Eagles look more like a rebuilding team than a playoff contender and the Redskins could elimate them for all practical purposes

December 19 vs. Panthers (4-8)—The season of the defending NFC champs officially came off the rails on Sunday night when Cam Newton started the game on the bench because he didn’t wear a tie and he ended it looking at the wrong end of a 40-7 beatdown by the Seahawks. Still, the Redskins have never beaten Newton so this is not one that will come easily.

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-9)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.