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Bears—After Further Review

Bears—After Further Review

Let's dive right in to looking at what I posted live last night and how it stands up to review 24 hours later:

Pregame

Suisham is nailing field goal tries from 40 with plenty to spare—he just nailed one that went just a few feet below the top of the goal posts as it went through. It seems that he's over that midseason slump he was in. You never know with a kicker, but he looks like he's a keeper.

After he was short on a 47-yarder—well short—and wide on a shorter effort, it appears that Suisham isn't yet a certain solution as the team's kicker for the next decade.

One somewhat surprising name on the inactive list is Todd Wade. It looks like Stephon Heyer is going to get yet another opportunity to make the Redskins wonder if they need to keep spending all of this money on Wade. Or on Jon Jansen, for that matter.

I think that a good chunk of Wade's money was guaranteed and I don't think that Jansen is ready to go just yet, so the prospect of Heyer becoming a regular next year isn't strong. But he does represent inexpensive depth for the time being.

First Quarter

12:00—A good punt by Frost, netting 39 as he angled it straight out of bounds. If he can do that all day, we'll take it. In fact, if he can do that for the rest of the year, we'll take it.

While Frosty had a few poor boots, he did average a net of 38.2 yards. Against Hester—in fact, for almost any game—that's mission accomplished.

10:53—Grossman is down, he took a pretty good smack after firing an incompletion. Leg or knee got bent the wrong way, and there was an audible "ooh" in the press box when it was shown on replay. Rex is limping off.

Most of the time, watching the game in the press box is like watching the game while you're at work in an office. It's fairly quiet, people are working and having muted conversations. When they showed the replay of the play where Grossman got hurt, there was the spontaneous reaction like you would get from a group of fans watching a game in a sports bar.

Second Quarter

13:45—A great blitz pickup by Portis allows Campbell to Cooley for 22.

Clinton Portis is hardly having a banner season, but he still plays for my team. Not every so-called star RB will do things like this and love it.

2:49—Campbell is down again, this time the cart is coming out. It's a knee or something very painful in the lower leg. It has season-ending written all over it.

It may or may not be season ending. Remember, we thought that the blow to the knee he took against the Steelers in the preseason would knock him out for the year and it just put him out for the preseason. I wouldn't be shocked to see him play against Dallas if the Redskins are in a position to keep playing after that. No inside info here, just a hunch.

Third Quarter

Off the top of my head, this is the first time that the Redskins have held the opposition scoreless in the first half. Having a halftime lead, however, is no guarantee of success as we well know.

I was wrong about this. They Redskins had held the Lions scoreless in the first half, too.

5:40—The Bears ate up 6:28 to get just three points. If the Redskins don't give them a short field it will be tough for Chicago to catch up.

Of course, I remember typing something similar at this point in the Bills game.

The Redskins defense, for the most part, did a good job of forcing the Bears into dinking and dunking down the field after it got to be 14-0. Of course, you'd like to see them shut the door completely, but they're not that kind of defense at this point.

Fourth Quarter

A big third down conversion attempt as the fourth quarter opens. A pass to Betts a few minutes ago got the Redskins their third third-down conversion in 11 attempts.

14:55—Cooley with a 33-yard grab to convert. Collins threw a nice pass to his TE in the seam of the zone.

I neglected to mention that Cooley bounced off of an attempted tackle and rumbled for an additional ten yards or so after making the catch.

6:57—Third and goal at the five now after a run stop and good coverage by Doughty.

FG Gould 22
Redskins 17, Bears 13

That was a good job of tightening up as they got to the goal line, but the earlier part of the drive was just too easy. The Redskins will need a touchdown if they are going to win.

I didn't go into Griffin's tackle of Peterson on first and goal at the one. That set the Chicago offense back to the four and they couldn't punch it in from there (good to see another team having difficulties starting from first and goal. Obviously, if the Bears tie the game up there, it's a different deal altogether.

6:00—Stop the presses. The Redskins have thrown on consecutive first downs with a four-point lead. And they both were complete.

4:00—A great throw by Collins again converts a third and four after two runs.

2:45—Third and six at the 16. I've got to think that the Bears will bring the house and that if Collins can get the ball off the result will be a touchdown.

Betts 16 pass from Collins (Suisham kick)
Redskins 24, Bears 13

There has been a lot of talk about the Redskins trusting Collins to pass in situations like this while keeping the chains on Campbell. That may be the case. It also may be a case of Saunders, Gibbs, and company finally decided that they'd had enough of the futility of running into a wall all the time.

0:34—Fourth and goal at the four. The Bears will try the FG and then the onside kick.

FG Gould 21
Redskins 24, Bears 16

Ya think that Joe Gibbs would be getting hammered today if he'd kicked a field goal here? It just didn't make any sense. You have about 30 seconds left to play. You need a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a field goal to send it into overtime. Yes, you need two scores but you're at the four. Lovie Smith is saying that he has a better shot of hitting a Hail Mary pass than he does of getting the ball into the end zone from four yards away. Fourth down at the four represents by far your best chance of getting the needed touchdown part of the equation.

If you're at the 20 with fourth and four, yes, kick the FG. But from the four, you have to go for the TD.

0:00— The Redskins have now allowed two touchdowns in their last three games and they are 1-2.

This is DC and Redskins Nation so, of course, the talk is all about the quarterback position. What gets overlooked is that the defense. They kept the Redskins in a game in which the offense committed six turnovers. Yes, they allowed one late play that put the Bills into field goal position but the game should have been over long before that. And against the Bears they control the action almost the whole way.

 

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How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

The Redskins ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in a number of defensive categories in 2016, and the first and second round selections in the 2017 Draft should help to address that.

A huge part of the Washington defensive problems stemmed from an inability to get off the field on third downs, and Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson should immediately provide a pass rush boost. In 2016, the duo combined for 18.5 sacks, 8.5 coming from Anderson and another 10 from Allen, two huge pieces for the excellent Alabama defense.

On the pro level, Anderson may actually be in position for more sacks as he's likely to play outside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 scheme. Allen will be more of an interior presence, a natural fit for the 'Skins defensive end spot in the 3-4.

That doesn't mean the two won't compete to hit quarterbacks. 

RELATED: Gruden squashes notion that Alabama defenders do not succeed in NFL

Asked Saturday if there would be a bet between the two college teammates about who gets more sacks their rookie season, Anderson quickly responded, "definitely."

Though he was surprised by the bet, Allen wasn't going to back down from the challenge. (Full video above)

"I guess there is now, I didn't know about it 'til now," Allen said. 

As for the stakes of the bet, Allen said the pair of rookies will figure that out behind closed doors. 

"His bank account is a little longer than mine so we will have to figure something else out," Anderson said.

What's clear from hanging out with both players is their familiarity with one another will help both players transition to the NFL. Allen and Anderson said they had an emotional response when they learned they would continue to play together in Washington. 

"There's very few players that have better film or resume than this guy right here," Allen said of Anderson. 

Anderson, as the Redskins press group has quickly learned, has a certain way with words. Honest and funny, but to the point.

"I'm excited to have one of my dogs with me here," he said of Allen. 

The Redskins ranked ninth in the NFL in sacks in 2016, but will lose Trent Murphy for four games to start the year. Sacks are just one metric to measure defensive success, though an easily quantifiable and fun metric for fans.

Where Washington has to improve is on 3rd downs. In 2016, they allowed a confounding 97 third down conversions, good for 31st in the league. There's only 32 teams. What's worse? The 'Skins gave nine fourth down conversions too.

Regardless of sack totals, Allen and Anderson were brought to Washington to help this defense get off the field. Coming from the Crimson Tide, the two rookies seem up for the challenge. 

MORE REDSKINS: Grading the Redskins 2017 draft

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Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we must dig in a little more to come up with a grade for the draft headed up by Bruce Allen. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—B

There really isn’t enough to love or to hate here. They didn’t do much wheeling and dealing while on the clock, making only a minor deal with the Vikings to move up two spots in the sixth round in exchange for moving down 10 slots in the seventh.

For the record, the trade (picks 201 and 220 from Washington to Minnesota in exchange for picks 199 and 230) was just about a wash on the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, with the Redskins giving up a statistically insignificant one point of value.

Whether center Chase Roullier, the player they traded up to draft, makes the team and has an impact or not is not going to make or break the draft but it should be noted that they gave up something of value to get him so it was a player they wanted to make sure they got as his name was still on the board.

The deals that got them up to 10 picks had already been made by Scot McCloughan on draft day last year as he added picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds with various trades.

Perhaps they deserve the most credit for a potential deal they did not make. As their first-round pick got closer and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remained on the board it had to be tempting for them to spend a mid-round pick to jump up and grab him before anyone else could. But Gruden said that they had a number of players to choose from as the pick approached and they decided to stay put. The gamble paid off as Allen fell into their laps at pick No. 17.

RELATED: Redskins roll the dice in the 7th round

Talent/fit/needs—A-

The Redskins needed to bolster their defense and they certainly gave it a go. Their first three picks were on defense as were four of their first five and six of 10 overall.

But the raw number of the picks doesn’t really tell the story; it’s the value of the picks that really matters. According to that Jimmy Johnson pick value chart, they spend 1,596 points on defense and 126 points on offense.

They hit on their biggest needs with their first two picks. They had not drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since 1997 and the neglect of the position was evident. In Allen they got a player with Pro Bowl potential in their biggest area of need.

Allen will help the pass rush from the inside and then in the second round they acquired some edge rushing ability with Ryan Anderson. It seems that this pick was strongly influenced by Scot McCloughan’s draft board. His height, weight, and combine numbers were not what a lot of teams are looking for in an edge rusher but his tough mentality and obvious love for the game are attributes that McCloughan valued.

Although Gruden expressed his confidence in Rob Kelley to be his running back it appeared to most outside observers that an upgrade was needed and they got that in Samaje Perine. You can’t have too many good corners and Bashaud Breeland is set to be a 2018 free agent so they took Fabian Moreau in the third round. They had no backup center Roullier could develop into that spot. Gruden said earlier this offseason that they needed a blocking tight end and that is what Jeremy Sprinkle is.

They didn’t hit on all their needs. With the top three inside linebackers set to be free agents next year many thought they would spend a top pick there. And although there were a few possible nose tackles on the board in the later rounds they bypassed that position. You can’t solve everything in one draft but the Redskins have now had eight drafts since converting to the 3-4 defense and they still haven’t found a solution at nose tackle.

As far as value goes, it doesn’t get much better than Allen, who was a consensus top-five talent who lasted until the 17th pick. Moreau may have been a first-round pick before tearing a pectoral muscle lifting weights during his pro day.

On the other end of the value scale, the fourth round seemed to be way too early to take safety Montae Nicholson. There is something to be said for taking a guy with good measurables who didn’t have good game tape and taking a shot at developing him. But the fourth round is too soon for taking such a chance.

READ MORE: Breaking down the Redskins late round picks

Overall—B+

After their first two picks, they didn’t shy away from red flags. Moreau and Nicholson both have injuries that will keep them out of action until sometime in training camp. Sprinkle had a highly-publicized shoplifting citation that got him suspended from Arkansas’ bowl game. Seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons failed multiple drug tests during college.

They did stay away from players with histories of high-profile violent incidents like Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon, and Caleb Brantley.

How those red-flag players turn out will be the key to this draft. It’s fine to take some chances, especially when you go into the draft with 10 picks. But you have better win more than you lose.

There were enough players taken who seem to be sure bets to be productive, if there is such a thing in the draft, to make it unlikely that the draft will be a total bust. Allen, Anderson, and Perine are clean prospects who have very high floors. Allen and Anderson may have Pro Bowl ceilings.

Given that, they seem to be assured of having a least a productive draft (again, with the caveat that nothing in the draft is certain). If Sprinkle develops into a good third tight end who can block and be a threat to catch a pass, that’s a plus. If Moreau can develop into a starter, this could be a pretty good draft. If sixth-round WR Robert Davis can contribute on special teams and be a productive fourth or fifth wide receiver, that would be another plus.

In short, the Redskins did some good work towards giving this draft a chance to be a success. Now it’s up to the coaches, to luck, and seeing how players who are projected to play well at age 22 actually perform on the field when they get older and suddenly have a six-figure salary. 

MORE REDSKINS: Clear winner from Redskins 2017 Draft?