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In '99, Redskins saw a new QB make a big difference

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In '99, Redskins saw a new QB make a big difference

Wise veteran Santana Moss is trying to tamp down the expectations for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. He told ESPN 980, One thing I want everyone to understand that he comes here with the big hope of turning everything around. We are all hoping that. We all want that, but I dont want that pressure on him as if he has to be the one.The thing is, in a quarterback league, Griffin does have to the the one. Yes, the rest of the team needs to play better around him but Griffin is going to have to play well if the Redskins are to reach their goal of making the playoffs on a regular basis and making a Super Bowl run from time to time.We have seen what improved quarterback play can do for a Redskins team. The 1998 Redskins got off to an 0-7 start on their way to a 6-10 record that nearly cost Norv Turner his job. Trent Green started 14 games at quarterback and Gus Frerotte started two. They combined to complete 53.8 percent of their passes for 3724 yards (6.6 yardsattempt).Green left as a free agent and Frerotte was let go so the Redskins traded for Brad Johnson. Working primarily with receivers Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell, the same guys who where lining up for Green and Frerotte, Johnson started all 16 games and completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 4005 yards (7.7 yardsattempt).The defense went from bad in 98 (24th in yards allowed) to worse in 99 (30th). And the Redskins improved to 10-6, won the division, and hosted a playoff game.To be sure, Johnson was not the only change on offense. There were some new faces on the offensive line but it is not as though a bus pulled up to Redskins Park and dropped off the 1991 Hogs. Rookie Jon Jansen replaced Shar Pourdanesh at right tackle and veteran journeyman Andy Heck came in at left tackle. Fourth-year running back Stephen Davis had a breakout season with 1405 yards, a marked improvement over the 1242 yards that Davis, Skip Hicks, and Terry Allen combined to gain on the ground in 1998.The Redskins did not build on their 1999 success. In 2000 Johnson was first injured and then in a funk about his contract sutiation. He left as a free agent in 2001. But for that one seasons Johnson clearly was the difference maker.Can Griffin make such a difference in 2012 and turn the Redskins around into a team that wins double digit games? Its a tall order for a rookie but he doesnt have to be an elite performer to beat the numbers the QBs put up last year.Despite Moss wishes, the pressure will be on RG3 this year and we will see how well he responds.

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Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense

Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense

On Monday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that even though there have been a lot of changes to his team’s defense, there would be no grace period for them to gel and start playing effectively.

“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” said Gruden. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.

“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C. We have to be good now.”

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The defense had plenty of issues last year. They were 19th in points allowed but 28th in yards and 20th in opponents’ passer rating. The unit saved its worst for the most critical situations, finishing 26th in red zone defense and dead last in third-down conversion rate.   

The organization responded by promoting Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator, hiring the well-regarded Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line, and by bringing in some more talent. Their top two draft picks, DE Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson, should contribute to the defense right away. D.J. Swearinger was signed as a free agent to man the free safety spot while Su’a Cravens moves from linebacker to play strong safety. Free agents Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee should bolster the defensive line along with Allen.

Cornerback Josh Norman likes the changes and is confident that the team will do better.

“We will be [good]. Fixed points, will be,” he said. “We’ve got guys that’s capable of being that, of doing that. They will do that and we will be better. We’re definitely not going to have the product that we had last year, that’s for sure.

“We’ve got . . . edge rushers out here that’s pretty darn good. We got some guys in the draft that’s going to help us out. In the secondary as well, we brought guys in that’s going to fill that void for us.”

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In addition to drafting Anderson, the Redskins hope to have OLB Junior Galette healthy and contributing to the pass rush this year. He has missed the last two seasons after two Achilles injuries. The last two seasons that Galette played he had double-digit sacks each year and he was out participating in team drills yesterday, a good sign that he is on the road to good health.

“We’re going to be a whole lot better than we was last year,” said Norman. “The stuff they have us going, the scheme we’re going to be playing in is going to fit to what suits us, what we’re most capable of doing. I think it’s going to be a lot different result, the product on the field.”

A better defensive product on the field will almost certainly lead to a better overall Washington Redskins team. They will need to be better to keep up with what looks to be an improved and very competitive NFC East.

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

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Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Redskins Trent Murphy trying to move on from 'gut-wrenching' suspension news

Trent Murphy enjoyed the best season of his NFL career in 2016, delivering nine sacks for the Redskins. The excitement took a blow in the offseason, however, as the NFL suspended the former Stanford star for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Murphy will miss the first four games of the Redskins season, and the news devastated Murphy. 

"It was extremely disappointing to find out. It’s kind of like a gut-wrenching feeling," he said. "Took me by total surprise."

He spoke Wednesday for the first time since the suspension became official in April. With an early bye week for Washington, the four-game punishment will actually mean Murphy does not take the field for the Redskins until Week 6 against the 49ers.

A second-round pick in 2014, Murphy registered only six sacks his first two seasons in the NFL before last season's breakout performance. Six of his nine sacks came in the first seven weeks of 2016, and Murphy's production slid late in the year as he battled a serious foot injury. 

Without Murphy for the first month, the Redskins will lean heavily on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. All three players logged more than 400 snaps last season in pass rushing situations, with Kerrigan going nearly 500 snaps. The team also added outside linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second round of the 2017 draft, he could push for playing time right away, especially with Murphy unable to suit up. If he remains healthy, Junior Galette could also be an option at edge pass rusher, though after missing the past two seasons, the Redskins would be smart to limit his offseason work.

For Murphy, the time off will hurt but he will remain focused on football.

"I kind of moved on the only way I could, which was just to get back to work," he said. "The people that are closest with you know your character, know where you come from, they’ll always be by your side. My team has rallied around me, they’ve been very supportive so I’m just going to do the best I can to recover from this."

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