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Aldrick Robinson gets a second chance

aldrick_robinson_vs.pitt_.png

Aldrick Robinson gets a second chance

Aldrick Robinson’s first opportunity to make an impact in the NFL didn’t last long. 

On Sunday, the Redskins’ wide receiver will get a second chance against the Panthers. And this time, Robinson knows can’t afford to drop the ball again.

“Opportunities are limited,” Robinson said. “Now that they’re going to get more involved, I have to take advantage of my opportunities.”

Robinson replaced Pierre Garçon when the No. 1 receiver hurt his foot in the first quarter of the season opener. Robinson played the final three quarters against the Saints and impressed the coaching staff with his speed and route-running. The 24-year-old also hauled in four passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.

As a result of his strong showing, Robinson was tapped to start in Garçon’s place against the Rams the following week. But instead of seizing the opportunity, Robinson missed two blocks and dropped a deep pass that hit him in the hands.

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted,” Robinson said. “That kind of pushed me back a little bit. Now I’ve got another chance.”

Coach Mike Shanahan wouldn’t say exactly how Robinson will be deployed, but with Garçon expected to be sidelined again and the entire group of wide receivers coming off a wretched performance in Pittsburgh that included 10 drops, Robinson will see a more prominent role this week in a critical game for the Redskins (3-5).

“Aldrick has gotten back in the mix,” Shanahan said, referring to Robinson's role in practice this week. “When Pierre went down early, he had a pretty good game. He’s going to get some more playing time. And as you have guys who get hurt, these guys have to step up.”

Robinson played a career-high 66 snaps against the Saints after Garçon hurt his foot. But it was all downhill from there for the Dallas native as his playing time plummeted from 30 snaps vs. the Rams to three against the Giants. He also missed the Tampa Bay game after getting knocked unconscious during the pregame warmup when he ran into teammate Brandon Meriweather.

Against Pittsburgh, Robinson remerged – sorta. He was included in 15 plays and nearly scored a touchdown when dived for a Robert Griffin III pass in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Robinson got both hands on the ball, but cornerback Keenan Lewis held Robinson’s arm, increasing the catch’s degree of difficulty.

Even though he didn’t snag the ball, the play showed Shanahan something.

“If he wasn’t interfered with,” the coach said. “The guy [had him in an] arm bar. He still almost caught it. That showed me a lot right there. There were another couple of routes that he ran that I was really impressed with so he will get some more playing time.”

This time, Robinson plans to grab the opportunity with both hands – on the field, the practice field and in the classroom.

“I have to take a better approach,” Robinson said. “I have to be well-prepared and be ready when a play presents itself Sunday. I’m going to be a lot more focused, work on the details and the little things – all the things that will help me do better than the last time I had this chance.”

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.