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A Disappointing Game?

A Disappointing Game?

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

If you want to focus on the negative, you certainly can find a lot to be disappointed about in regards to Saturday’s win over San Francisco:

  • First and foremost, the penalties—Eleven more flags for 93 yards. A third of that total came on back to back plays when the Redskins were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the PAT following the Niners’ last touchdown and then got another 15 for taunting on the ensuing onside kick. Now, to be sure, that was during garbage time and the penalties didn’t really have any effect on the outcome or even the flow of the game. Still, considering that cutting down on penalties was going to be a focus this week after drawing a dozen walk-offs against the Eagles, the fact that they cut just one off of that total is not encouraging.
  • The inability to punch it in the end zone—It was a case of bad things coming in threes. Three times the Redskins had first and goal to go situations and all three times they had to settle for three points. During the offseason, Gibbs and company have got to come up with a more imaginative goal line offense. The shovel pass is the first and only wrinkle they’ve come up with and the Niners seemed to have that sniffed out pretty well when Ramsey flipped it to Cooley. Two words of advice for Gibbs—naked bootleg. And, while I’m at it and since you’re not going to listen to me anyway, two more—fade pattern.
  • Portis’ fumble—It just punctuated the raggedness of the team’s performance. On top of that, it seems that his fumbles come in bunches. After going a long time without coughing it up, Portis fumbled three times in two games early in the season. He’s been glue-fingered since then, up until the fourth quarter today. It will be a nagging concern in the back of my mind on Sunday.
  • The blocked punt and generally mediocre special teams play—Tom Tupa suffered just the second blocked punt of his lengthy career. Like the Portis fumble, it didn’t turn out to be particularly costly, but was a sign of sloppiness. I was thoroughly unimpressed with Antonio Brown returning punts. Run North-South first and then worry about breaking one.

Of course, that’s just focusing on the negative. There were plenty of good things that happened on Saturday:

  • Four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown—As it has been all season, the defense was a pleasure to watch. It’s been 30 games since the Redskins’ defense has scored a touchdown. That goes back to when Darrell Green was playing; it was in his last game, in fact, when Lavar Arrington pounced on a fumble in the end zone against the Cowboys. Antonio Pierce’s play was the game-saver for the Redskins. The 49ers had just scored their safety after blocking Tupa’s punt to make it a one-touchdown game at 16-9. They were driving after the free kick when Pierce got his pick for six. Taylor’s interception came at a critical moment, too, as it was just 10-7 and a poor punt to midfield had given the Niners a chance to seize the momentum. (By the way, how can an exchange of the ball be considered to be an illegal forward pass--that’s what the contradictory term “forward lateral” is—if the ball never is airborne? Yes, I know that Jimmy Johnson sort of explained this at halftime, but I can’t find anything in the rules digest that would make Taylor’s handoff to Marshall illegal. If it is, that rule should be changed since it’s a very difficult call to make and handing off to someone who is in front of you gives you no real advantage.)
  • Patrick Ramsey’s play—After a half-step back last week against the Eagles, Ramsey took another step towards cementing his status as the Redskins’ quarterback of the present and future. His numbers weren’t quite as impressive as the ones he put up against the Giants, but his QB rating of 103 for the game and an average of just under eight yards per attempt aren’t anything to complain about. He didn’t throw an interception; in fact, he didn’t even come close to throwing one. Since taking over as starter, he’s struggled somewhat against the better teams, but he has feasted on the mediocre ones. Since there are a lot more of the former than of the latter group this bodes well for Ramsey’s future.
  • No drops by the receivers—Portis dropped one pass, but the receivers continued their excellent play of late.

An ugly win? Perhaps, but not as unattractive as some earlier W’s such as the one against the Bears. This team is progressing, absolutely no doubt about it.

By the way, the win means that the Redskins are still alive for a Wild Card playoff berth. The could possibly be eliminated this weekend depending on what other teams do, so I’ll spare you the details until Monday.

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Over/under: Redskins pass catchers in 2017

Over/under: Redskins pass catchers in 2017

Our offseason over/under predictions for the Redskins rumbles on.

Today we are predicting the numbers involving the Redskins pass-catchers.

Redskins receivers/tight ends over-under

The Redskins’ receiving corps was forced to undergo some changes after top wideouts DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon departed via free agency.

How will their replacements do?

How will the talented holdovers perform? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins pass catchers stats.  

RELATED: OVER/UNDER - KIRK COUSINS

WR Terrelle Pryor, 1,000 receiving yards

Tandler: I know that a lot of people, including Finlay, are looking for a huge year out of Pryor. I think he’ll do well, but a thousand yards is going to elusive. He did go over 1K last year with the Browns with terrible QBs throwing to him. But Pryor also had the benefit of being one of few viable receivers in Cleveland. That’s not the case here. He won’t get anywhere near the 140 targets he got last year. Under

Finlay: Not sure when I said a huge year for Pyror, that seems like Tandler throwing shade, but I do think he is capable of 1,000 yards. The quantity of targets will certainly drop, but the quality should be much greater. In today's NFL, 1,000 yards is no longer the benchmark it once was. The bulk of the league deploys a pass-first offense, and the Redskins definitely do. 25 wideouts went over 1,000 yards last season, including two on the Redskins. Over 

RELATED: WHO IS NEXT AT QB FOR THE REDSKINS?

WR Josh Doctson, 6.5 touchdown receptions

Tandler: When Kirk Cousins sees how well the 2016 first-round pick can get up and high-point the ball Doctson will immediately become the favorite red zone target. I’ve predicted as many as 10 TDs for him this year. That’s bold, perhaps crazy, but I feel safe going with at least seven. Over

Finlay: 10 TDs for basically a rookie wideout is nuts. You're talking Odell Beckham/Randy Moss production. Doctson does have great size and potential for the red zone, but I need to see before I believe. Only Jamison Crowder got to seven touchdowns in 2016, and that was with Kirk Cousins throwing for nearly 5,000 yards. Under

RELATED: OFF-FIELD MISTAKES WON'T IMPACT ON-FIELD RESULTS

WR Jamison Crowder, 1,000 receiving yards

Tandler: This is the safest bet on the board. His familiarity with Cousins will make him a security blanket when the quarterback gets in trouble. He’s learning and getting better; he ticked up almost 250 yards and 2.5 yards per catch between his rookie and second seasons. And Crowder is durable. Over

Finlay: I like this one. Crowder went for about 850 yards last season, a jump of about 250 yards from his rookie season. Another year with that improvement gets him past 1,000 yards with room to spare. Early last season, Crowder was the 'Skins best receiver. He posted more than 500 yards before the Redskins bye week. In the second half of the year, the focus shifted to DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, which probably wasn't a coincidence as both players demanded the ball knowing they were headed for free agency. I expect Crowder to steadily produce all season in 2017. Over

RELATED: OFFER TO COUSINS NOT NEARLY ENOUGH

TE Jordan Reed, 12.5 games played

Tandler: Although we’re hesitant to make predictions about a player’s health, the fact is that this is the only variable for Reed going into the season. If he is on the field he will produce receiving yards and touchdowns by the bushel. Injuries, not defenses, are what slows him down. He skipped OTAs to spend more time strengthening his body and the results should show. But bad luck happens so this is a tough call. He’s due for some good fortune. Over

Finlay: Tandler is setting these totals with Vegas-like precision. This one is tough. In the last two seasons, Reed has played in 26 games, making 17 starts. I would argue the more important stat is starts, because that's when Reed is actually healthy. Last season, after separating his shoulder against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Reed tried to gut out a few performances against the Panthers and the Eagles. He was ineffective in both, yet those count for games played. In nine starts in 2015, Reed was a monster, putting up nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. Starts are what matter, and the Redskins should hope for at least nine of them. Under

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FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

The Redskins made a mistake issuing a statement about their failed long-term contract negotiations with Kirk Cousins. The team offered too much specific information.

On the field, however, starting next week in training camp, the statement will make zero impact.

Centered around the roller coaster that occurred between Bruce Allen’s statement on Monday afternoon and Kirk Cousins’ Tuesday interview with Grant and Danny on 106.7 the Fan, some Redskins fans think that hopes for the Burgundy and Gold are buried this fall. 

Was Allen’s statement a wise move? No. There was no reason to publicly put out the team’s offer, or more importantly, tell the world that Cousins never countered. It seemed like an attempt to control the conversation, and a lame attempt at that.

But here’s the thing: A deal was never happening

Cousins knew that. The Redskins knew that.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

And the zaniness of Monday and Tuesday should not have any impact on the 2017 season.

If Cousins can do anything, it’s compartmentalize. 

Last season, he dealt with almost the exact same public mess of a contract squabble. The team never offered him remotely close to market value, and the QB still came out and threw for nearly 5,000 yards. 

Cousins will again block out the noise, and deliver his best possible performance for the Redskins. The team should be better too. An improved defense should help immediately (even if that jump goes from bad to average), and a rebuilt receiving group should give Cousins the weapons to again run Jay Gruden’s potent offense. 

There are fan theories that the team might implode, and eventually, go to Colt McCoy or Nate Sudfeld at quarterback. I don’t see that happening. 

Cousins is under contract for 2017. The coaching staff, and the players, know what he can do. Personally, I don’t think the season unravels. Cousins is a good player. He's established a baseline for his performance over the past two years. 

The time since the franchise tag deadline doesn’t change that. The time since the franchise tag doesn’t change Jordan Reed’s ability to get open. It doesn’t change Jamison Crowder’s quickness on the inside or Trent Williams power on the outside.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

I don’t expect the Redskins to run off 13 wins. I’ve already written that I don’t even think the team will make the playoffs. To be clear, however, I don’t think Bruce Allen’s statement will make a difference once the players take the field in real games. 

On Wednesday, Chad Dukes of the Fan asked me if it’s possible that the Redskins season unravels, and things go sideways with Cousins. I don't expect that, and Dukes wondered if I was being overly optimistic. 

Could things fall apart? Sure. Anything is possible in the NFL, and especially with the Redskins. 

For me, however, Cousins' talent in the Redskins offensive system will mitigate the local penchant for crazy. Cousins has thrown for 9,000 yards and completed more than 68 percent of his passes in the last two seasons. He also bet on himself, again, to produce at a high level in 2017.

I think Cousins is smart. I think Gruden's offense will work. I think the Redskins defense will be improved. 

I don’t think this team makes the playoffs, but they should be close. I also don’t think this team implodes. 

Looking at the big picture, I definitely don’t consider myself an optimist. A realist, perhaps, but only time will tell. 

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