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Bold Predictions: Redskins Will Trash Bears

Bold Predictions: Redskins Will Trash Bears

Bold Predictions: Redskins Will Trash Bears

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

It’s a little early in the week, perhaps, to be making bold predictions, especially since I will answer to them next week (for those of you who didn’t read this space last year, I will always go back and review my predictions gone wrong and ‘fess up). However, this week there really isn’t much purpose in waiting, in examining the moods of the teams during practice, checking out any last-minute shifts in the injury report, seeing what the weather will be like at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.

I’ve been known to agonize for thousands of words before coming up with a tentative prediction. Not this time. This one is easy. The Redskins will trash the Chicago Bears.

There is only one matchup that I need to know about—Kyle Orton vs. Gregg Williams. The Bears’ rookie QB may have potential to be a good pro quarterback, but this is the first NFL game he has ever participated in in any way, shape, or form except perhaps as a spectator when he was in high school. Williams, on the other hand, has coached in a couple of hundred NFL games. Whether his team is matched up against the likes of Orton or against a 10-year veteran with Hall of Fame credentials, his goal is always the same—rattle the opposing quarterback.

Orton will have the opportunity to meet, up close and personal, nearly every member of the Redskins’ defense. He’ll get introduced to Cornelius Griffin when the Redskins’ defensive tackle puts his facemask into Orton’s sternum. He’ll only get a quick glance at Shawn Springs before the cornerback plants his back into the FedEx Field turf. It’s unlikely that he’ll see LaVar Arrington before he helps him off of the grass since the linebacker will be coming from Orton’s blind side. Finally, when Sean Taylor comes after him from who knows where, Orton will want the license number of the truck that hit him. Note to Kyle, it will be # 21.

In all, Orton will have to consider himself fortunate if he can drop back and be comfortable in the pocket more than five or six times. The rest of the time he will either be running for his life or accumulating grass stains from having been slammed to the ground so often.

With Orton being slapped silly, who on the Bears is going to generate any offense? Muhsin Muhammad can’t make a catch if his quarterback more time on his back than a hooker at a convention in Vegas. Thomas Jones might sneak through for a few yards here and there, perhaps he could break one for 30 yards or so, but he can’t carry the team against the Redskins’ defense. So who else is there? Justin Gage? Desmond Clark? Very, very unlikely.

Not so fast, my friend, you might say. The Redskins’ offense isn’t exactly a juggernaut either and the Bears defense can’t exactly be described as soft. True those. Chicago’s cover two defense isn’t a good matchup for a team that wants to establish a deep passing game as the Redskins do. True that.

There are a couple of flaws in the scenario that says that neither team will score much and that the game will come down to a late break. One of them is that the Redskins’ offensive line is one of the elite units in the game. Note the lack of qualifiers such as they “might” be or they have the “potential” to be elite. They are right now. All five of them, Samuels, Dockery, Rabach, Thomas, and Jansen, could start for most of the teams in the NFL. They’re good blocking for the run and they’re good against the pass rush. Every member of the line won’t make the Pro Bowl but every one of them has a shot at it. They won’t allow the Chicago front four to generate the pass rush that they need.

The other factor is Clinton Portis. He ran for 171 yards the last time the two teams met in Chicago in 2004, averaging 4.8 yards a carry. It was too bad that the Redskins really hadn’t figured out how to use Portis in the offense as they have by now or he really could have done some damage. On Sunday, he’ll follow the zone blocking from the Redskins’ elite offensive line and put up over 150 yards and score a pair of touchdowns.

Despite the prowess of the line and the productivity of Portis, the Redskins won’t put up a lot of points. Patrick Ramsey will make some plays for both teams. Thomas Jones’ running could set up a score or two for the Bears, but they will only be three pointers. Perhaps those who only see the score in the paper on Monday will think it was a fairly competitive game.

But those who watch the game will know otherwise. The Redskins will dominate on defense from start to finish, they will get their offense in control by halftime and will trash the Bears by a score of:

Washington 17, Chicago 6







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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?