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Bold Predictions Part 2--Survive and Advance

Bold Predictions Part 2--Survive and Advance

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Let’s get some facts straight here.

First, it’s a fact that Mike Alstott did not get over the goal line before he was down by contact on the Bucs’ two-point conversion attempt that won the Week 10 meeting between the Redskins and the Bucs. You can review the indisputable visual evidence presented here at the time, but everybody knows that the referees erred both in the original call and in their failure to reverse it after reviewing it on replay.

It is not a fact, however, that the Redskins would have won the division and gained a first-round bye had the play been called correctly. We know how the rest of that game would have unfolded—the Redskins recover the onside kick and kneel down a couple of times to take the game.

Had the Redskins received the “W” that they earned in that game, however, we don’t know how that would have affected the dynamic of the rest of the season. Had they moved to 6-3, the sense of determined desperation that has marked the last five games likely would have been absent. Maybe they would have lost their focus and dropped that game to the Cardinals in the desert or perhaps they wouldn’t have come out quite as fired up for the Giants game. They may have wound up 11-5, but they also could have wound up 10-6 or 9-7 or something else. And even if they had finished at 11-5, the Bears would likely have put more effort into their season finale against the Vikings and Chicago would have taken the #2 seed anyway. While it’s possible that the Tampa loss cost the Redskins a home game or even a bye, it’s not a fact.

Regardless of all that, it’s a fact that the Redskins are where they are and that’s at Tampa Bay again on Saturday. As the sixth seed, the Redskins are supposed to have the toughest draw in the first round of the playoffs. Instead, they could not have handpicked a better opponent.

Chris Simms had the day of his brief NFL career the first time the teams played. He threw for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions with a gaudy QB rating of 119.8. He wasn’t sacked; for that matter, he barely even hit.

It will be different this time around.

First of all, the Redskins defense was without Cornelius Griffin and Sean Taylor the last time the two teams met. The absence of the former had a lot to do with the zero sacks, while Taylor certainly would have helped in coverage. Yes, Shawn Springs is likely to miss the game but Carlos Rogers is back and a starting cornerback tandem of Rogers and Walt Harris is decent enough to get the job done.

The Redskins have something that might be just as valuable as the two players who are back—film. That Week 10 contest was just Simms’ third NFL career start. The Redskins didn’t have much to go on when it came to breaking down his tendencies and finding his weaknesses.

Washington now not only has film to work with, they have film of him being successful against the very defense that he’ll be facing on Saturday. From Simms’ point of view, there is no reason to change a thing. A quarterback making his first playoff start certainly is going to have the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. He will be very fortunate if his rating is half of what it was the first time.

Cadillac Williams won’t beat them either. Tiki and LT ran against the Redskins this year and Tatum Bell popped a couple of long ones. Nobody else, not Alexander, not Jones (Thomas or Julius), not Jordan, not Westbrook, not Tiki the second time around, ran on the Skins. Cadillac won’t either, and that will worsen Simms’ problems.

On the other side of the ball, the Redskins will face the league’s #1 defense and this is where the game will be decided. Certainly, the same theory that applies to the Redskins defense having film on Simms applies to Tampa Bay having a good bead on what the Redskins will do as they put up 35 points last game. The Redskins will have to beat them physically and that is a very tall order.

It’s a tall order, but not an impossible feat. It took the Redskins a half to find out that the way to deal with Simeon Rice is to run right at him and they’ll employ that tactic from the beginning this time around. The tried and true formula of the run setting up the pass will let Santana Moss get open. That won’t happen often, mind you, but it will happen just enough. With the defense doing its part against Simms and company, it won’t take much.

It won’t be pretty and it won’t be for the faint of heart, but the Redskins will survive and advance.

Washington 17, Tampa Bay 13

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Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

Jay Gruden at Senior Bowl: Redskins 'totally anticipate' Kirk Cousins will return in 2017

MOBILE – Jay Gruden provided a glimmer of optimism for Redskins fans freaked out about Kirk Cousins' contract situation. 

"I totally anticipate him coming back to the Washington Redskins," Gruden said. 

The Redskins coach talked from the sidelines of the Senior Bowl where he and much of the team's staff were scouting college seniors. 

Gruden explained he had texted back and forth with Cousins a few times this offseason and looked forward to watching him play in the Pro Bowl. 

Since Gruden named Cousins starter in 2015, the quarterback had passed for more than 9,000 yards and twice broken Skins franchise passing records. 

Some indications of a long term deal for Cousins land in the $120 million range, but the Washington organization also has the flexibility to use the franchise tag this season at a cost of nearly $24 million. 

MORE REDSKINS: Who else might want to trade for Cousins?

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The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 5 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Lions Week 7

0:22 left in Q4, Lions ball at the Redskins 18, 3rd and 10, Redskins leading 17-13

Matthew Stafford pass short left to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

More Redskins: Podcast--All eyes now on Cousins

Tandler: The Redskins had just taken the lead on a nifty 19-yard option run by Kirk Cousins with 1:05 left to play. All they had to do was keep the Lions out of the end zone but the defense was not up to the task. In fact, it was laughably easy for Stafford. The first three times he dropped back he completed passes for 23, 14, and 20 yards and just like that the Lions were in the red zone. It looked for a minute like the Redskins might hang on as two passes went incomplete. But on third down Stafford found Boldin open inside the five and the defense couldn’t get there quickly enough to keep him out of the end zone.

Related: Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky

Finlay: 65 seconds was all the 'Skins defense needed to preserve a win by holding the Lions without a touchdown. 65 seconds away from a five-game win streak, and knowing what we do now, a playoff berth. The Redskins defense couldn't stop Stafford, or Boldin, and lost in Detroit. A gut wrenching loss as the momentum on the Washington sideline seemed incredibly high just minutes before when Cousins ran in what looked like the game-winning score. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!