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Bold Predictions: Talkin' Tiki

Bold Predictions: Talkin' Tiki

Speaking of an upcoming Super Bowl, iconoclastic Dallas running back Duane Thomas once said, “If it’s the biggest game of all time, why are they going to play another one next year?”

A similar question could be asked this week. If last week’s game against Dallas was the biggest ever at FedEx Field, what do you call the one against the Giants this Saturday?

It’s not the elimination game that we saw last week with the loser being virtually out of the realistic playoff picture. The Redskins could lose and still qualify for the playoffs with a win the next week in Philadelphia with some help that is not too far-fetched (basically, having Dallas, Atlanta, and Minnesota do no better than split their final two games). Even if the Giants lose, they will still be in control of their own destiny as a win the next week in Oakland would clinch the NFC East for them regardless of the outcome on Saturday.  

Despite the absence of desperation, there is a lot at stake here. The Redskins have pulled themselves up from a 5-6 mark at the beginning of December to having their playoff destiny in their own hands and they don’t want to relinquish their grip on the postseason spot and the potential for a division title. New York would like to clinch the division early and aim towards a possible first-round bye.

And then there’s that little matter of 36-0. The Redskins simply can’t afford to let a statement like that stand, especially since it’s likely that their opponents in the first round of the playoffs would be none other than the New York Giants.

One the defensive side, it’s pretty simple—don’t let Tiki Barber beat you. Eli Manning was over hyped in the beginning of the year but now that’s fading because his performance is. In three December games, Manning’s quarterback rating is a dismal 54. He is, however, managing the games well; the Giants are 3-0 in those games.

Managing the game isn’t too hard when that consists of handing the ball off to Barber. The 30-year-old back has averaged 150 yards a game in December and has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of his last five games. Everyone remembers his performance against the Redskins in October when he rushed for 206 and set the tone for the rout by tearing off a 57-yard run on New York’s first play. Don’t forget that he racked up those yards in about three quarters of work. Like Kobie Bryant the other night, he put up his number and declined to pile it on in the late going with the game well in hand, preferring to rest to fight another day.

One thing that the Redskins have in their favor is that Barber is a better running on turf than he is on grass. He averaged 5.4 yards a carry on the fake stuff and just 3.8 a pop on real grass. There is a chance that both of their starting offensive tackles will miss the game, but neither played last week and that bothered Barber so much that he only ran for 220 yards against the Chiefs. The Redskins can give Tiki his 100, but every yard over that will diminish the Redskins’ chances.

The Giants will have a similar goal; they need to stop Clinton Portis. The Redskins’ three-game winning streak has coincided with a return to an emphasis on the ground game.

As Mark Brunell’s pass attempts have gone down, his quarterback rating has gone up. Other than the ugly 34 caused by the three interceptions in Arizona, he hasn’t been below a 96.8 rating in the past four games. Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels will make it their personal challenges to keep Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora off of Brunell’s back, something they failed to do last time around.

It’s difficult to imagine the Redskins posting a second easy win in a row, just as it’s hard to believe that the Giants will dominate to anywhere near the extent they did last time. The Giants are the slightly better team. They have won two more games than Washington against a similar schedule. The Redskins have the home field. The noise helped force about a half dozen false starts by Dallas last week and the crowd could have come up with a few more had the game been competitive in the second half.

And the Giants just aren’t a good road team. Their only wins away from the Meadowlands (their game against the Saints in Giants Stadium is officially a “road” game) have been in San Francisco and Philly. They haven’t been successful in an atmosphere like they will encounter in FedEx Field all year.

Barber will get his yards and New York will put up some points, about half of what they put up in the Meadowlands. Manning will throw for a touchdown or two but he’ll also toss up a couple of interceptions. Brunell will get knocked around some but Portis will be effective enough to keep his pass attempts around 20. The Redskins will score midway through the fourth quarter to take the lead, but the Giants will battle back. A couple of false starts will push back a field goal attempt and the Redskins will survive.

Redskins 20, Giants 17


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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.