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Come On In The Water's Warm

Come On In The Water's Warm

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
The Redskins pool has not had many swimmers take a dip in its Burgundy and Gold colored waters this year. That is, until lately. Now all sorts of folks are diving in, many of them head first.

Articles detailing how and why the Redskins will not only make the playoffs but make some noise when they get there are popping up like dandelions on your lawn in the spring. This one comes from Adam Schein on FoxSports.com:

Now the Redskins are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and a game away from making the tournament.

And a game away from being a team nobody wants to face in the postseason.
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The current formula is too strong; a game changing defense, fantastic coaching, a strong running attack, and a super confident bunch.

A formula made for success in the playoffs.

And to think I criticized Joe Theisman for drinking the Redskins Kool-Aid in the preseason, talking about Washington as a Super Bowl team.

Shame on me. Hail to the Redskins.And then there's this one, Jason Whitlock's 10 NFL Truths column on ESPN.com:

8. Of all the teams in the NFC, the Washington Redskins are the only team capable of winning the Super Bowl.

After being down on Joe Gibbs early in the season, I have to credit him for getting things together. If the Skins knock off the Eagles, they will enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the league -- hotter than the streaking Patriots, also winners of four straight.
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7. OK, while I'm on the subject, let me rank the NFC Super Bowl hopefuls.

1. Redskins: Outstanding defense and just enough offense to beat any team in the league. There are more out there and there will be more in the coming days. No doubt your local columnist is penning a Redskins lovefest article at this moment. The pool is getting quite crowded.

We would like to welcome them and tell them to come on in, the water's warm. Some of us have had such a feeling that this could be a special season for the Redskins quite some time ago.

Back on October 26 when the Redskins were 4-2, before the downs of the rout in the Meadowlands and the agonizing three-game skid, before the ups of the Sunday night win over Philly and the dual thrashings the Redskins delivered to Dallas and the Giants, a piece called "Why Not the Redskins" appeared in this space.
Do the Redskins have “it”? Before the season started, even those with the burgundy and gold glasses permanently perched on their noses would have been hard pressed to make a case for the Redskins, 6-10 in 2004, going to the Super Bowl XL. In September, they were a year or two away at best, primarily because the offense was a mess and the Eagles were the dominant force in the division. Saying that they had an outside shot at a wild-card playoff spot was considered to be a bold statement, anything beyond that was a mix of wishful thinking, fantasy, and lunacy.

Of course, similar things were said of the Carolina Panthers in early 2003. And the 2001 Patriots, the 2000 Ravens and the 1999 Rams and Titans had the same slim to none chance of making it to the title game as the Redskins were given in August. Somewhere along the line, however, they all got “it”. At some point during the season, the players started to seriously think, why not us?
The article went on to list some of the elements that, if they held up, could make the Redskins a dangerous team come playoff time, elements such as Brunell's solid quarterback play, balance, the presence of playmakers on both sides of the ball and, most importantly, a coach who has been there before, with three pieces of hardware in the lobby of Redskins Park to prove it.

Through the ups and downs of the past two months, those elements have remained in place.

The point here is not to brag about possessing some great insight or claim to be some sort of guru with powers of premonition. The fact is that the team that Whitlock and Schein and everyone else is raving about now was there two months ago. None of them, however, bothered to take the time to look at the team, to learn about the character of the players, to examine the possibilities that the team had. Instead, they continued to rag on Dan Snyder, who hasn't played a single down for the team this year. They looked at Joe Gibbs and forgot about three Lombardi's and went straight to the Geritol and Social Security jokes.

Well, better late than never. Come on, everyone and jump in. Just one thing; Lenny, Peter, if you do join the pool party, just leave your shirts on.

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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts on Thursday. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve put the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends under the microscope. Today the focus turns to the offensive line.

2016 final game starters: (left to right) Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses

Due to some injuries and a four-game Williams suspension, this group started only seven games together.

Departures: C John Sullivan (UFA), C Kory Lichtensteiger (retired)

Sullivan signed after some early season injuries and he started one game. He was a good security blanket for Jay Gruden, who liked having an experienced backup for the middle of the line.

Lichtensteiger missed a combined 24 games in 2015-2016. He may not have been back even he had not decided to retire.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Projected 2017 starters: (left to right) Williams, Lauvao, Long, Scherff, Moses

The one spot in any doubt is left guard. Lauvao is in the final year of his contract with a $4 million salary. Jay Gruden has expressed confidence in him but a guard drafted in the first few rounds this week could change all of that.

Moses and Long are in the final seasons of their contracts so they may need a succession plan in place at their positions.

2017 reserves: G: Arie Kouandjio, Ronald Patrick; T Ty Nsekhe, Isaiah Williams, Vinston Painter, John Kling, Kevin Bowen

The glaring hole here is at center. With Sullivan and Lichtensteiger gone they don’t have anyone for the middle of the line if Spencer Long is out. They could try to find one in the draft but it’s possible that they will be on the lookout for a veteran on the waiver wire between now and Week 1.

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

Nsekhe is one of the best backup tackles in the league and the Redskins will be happy to have him even if he doesn’t play a single snap. Painter was on the roster for 13 games and he played just 10 snaps on offense.

Kouandjio is the only solid backup at guard and he could push for Lauvao’s starting job. If he wins the job and the team doesn’t want to pay Lauvao $4 million to be a backup, the Redskins will need a couple of guards for depth. Look for one or two to come their way in Rounds 3-5 this week.

Where can the offensive line find improvement?

The left guard spot was the weak link on the chain last year. Lauvao was charged with 32 QB hurries, by far the most on the team. Whether it’s Lauvao becoming fully healthy (a 2015 ankle injury limited him for the offseason program last year) or Kouandjio or another starter from the draft, the position has to be better in 2017.

Another factor that will help is Trent Williams being available for 16 games. Yes, Nsekhe is a very good backup. But in four starts Nsekhe allowed a sack plus 13 pressures. Williams started 12 games and allowed two sacks and 14 pressures. They are paying Williams $11.25 million this year for a reason.

Locks and bubble players

Trent Williams, Long, Scherff, Moses and Nsekhe are locks. Lauvao and Kouandjio are close but the draft could have an impact on them.

Out of the bubble players it would seem that Painter has the best shot of sticking simply because he was in the program last year. Bowe and Kling are huge and they are long shots who will draw interest if they can use their size.

The chances of any of the bubble players will be affected by the draft. There could be some fun competitions down the depth chart in training camp.

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.

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NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell will speak to the media on Monday, and there are plenty of questions as Washington prepares for the draft on Thursday.

Some of the most important topics will not be about what college players the 'Skins will target, but rather the state of the front office since the ouster of former general manager Scot McCloughan. That said, Campbell plays a huge role in draft decisions, and it will be quite interesting to inquire on strategy. 

Below are five questions for Campbell:

  1. What now - With McCloughan gone, what, if any, changes have happened in the front office? Does Campbell have more control or input on player selection? 
  2. Final say - Again, with McCloughan gone, who makes the final call on players? Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden made very clear during NFL League Meetings a few weeks back that a composite of Redskins officials work to establish a grade for each draft prospect. The team then drafts based on those grades. But eventually, the team will be forced to deviate from the draft board or make a decision on two players with similar grades. Who makes the final call?
  3. Need or talent - Redskins fans tend to grow frustrated at the suggestion of taking the best player available in the NFL Draft, but that is also the methodology the franchise has employed. That system delivered first-round picks of a guard in 2015 and a receiver in 2016; neither position had great need. Washington most needs help on its defensive line, and the defensive side of the ball overall.
  4. Sweet 17 - The entire draft is an opportunity for the 'Skins to add talent, but no pick carries as much potential as the 17th overall. The speculation is wild about what player might land with the Burgundy and Gold, and the rumors will only build this week. Is a running back in play? Haason Reddick? Could off-field concerns drop Reuben Foster to 17? 
  5. Another arm - Washington has Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld under contract in 2017. After that, however, Cousins could be gone. Will the 'Skins look to add another passer, perhaps on Friday or Saturday in the later rounds? If they do, it's unlikely the team will carry four QBs this fall, so a decision could accompany that pick.
  6. Trading places - Might a trade be in the works? Last year the Skins made a number of trades over the course of the three-day draft, and it's likely more deals get worked out this week in Philadelphia. Does that mean a mega-trade that includes Cousins? Probably not. But it would not be a surprise if the franchise traded down in the first round, like they did in 2016. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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