Is there any chance that the Redskins will be able to beat the Saints on Sunday?Adam Schein, writing on NFL.com, makes a case that thatthere is no hope for the Redskins.I feel terrible for RobertGriffin III. He will never forget his NFL debut. The New Orleans Saints are going to crush Griffin and the Washington Redskins. This game was over months ago.. . .No team in the NFLneedsthe season to start as much as theSaints. They are hot. They are angry. Every single player, every single resident of the state believes they were wronged by Roger Goodell and the NFL with the "Bountygate" suspensions.. . .New Orleans is good and vastly superior to theRedskins.At the end, Schein says that Griffin is already 0-1.Before the game even starts? Really?I say, not so fast. Lets deal with this anger issue. Is the bounty punishment really going to make them play harder than they would otherwise in their season opener? And if it does, how far into the game can the anger motivation last? And will they get so mad that they will miss tackles trying to blow a runner up, jump offside because they are so keyed up, and make other errors of commission and omission because they want to stick it to Roger Goodell?It seems that the Vegas oddsmakers think that the Redskins have a chance. The Saints are favored by only seven points. If you count in three points for home field advantage that means that New Orleans would be favored by four points at a neutral site and by just one point in Washington. That hardly points to a vastly superior team.This doesnt mean Im going to go all crazy here and predict that the Redskins will win. But I do think that they have a chance to be competitive.The key will be their ability to survive the first quarter. If the Saints put up a couple of quick touchdowns and force the Redskins to become one-dimensionalin other words, if Griffin has to become a one-man showthe game could get ugly in the manner the Schein envisions. If they can come out and hang with the Saints for the first 20 to 30 minutes of play, the Superdome crowd will go from boisterous to nervous. Perhaps those silent counts wont be needed all game long.But even if everyone leaves the Superdome at halftime it is going to be tough for the Redskins to pull this one out. Maybe one day RG3 will be good enough to be mentioned alongside Drew Brees but that day wont be Sunday. At some point Griffin might communicate as well with his receivers as well as Brees does with his, but that will be some day months or a year or two from now.On Sunday, the Redskins will hang with the Saints for most of the game, Griffin will have his moments as the throws for 300 yards, and starting running back Alfred Morris will power his way for about 100 yards. But it wont be enough.Saints 31, Redskins 21
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 19, 18 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 10
—NFL Combine (3/2) 11
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 57
—NFL Draft (4/27) 67
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 203
Sunday morning quick hitters
How many spots up for grabs? A quick mid-February look down the final 2016 53-man roster shows about 20 players who may not be on the roster for Week 1 this year. This includes players who may depart as free agents and others who just won’t make the team. They probably won’t turn over that many spots but it does show that a lot of jobs are up for grabs.
RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day
How many draft picks? The Redskins have nine draft picks, their own in rounds 1-6 and extra picks in rounds 4, 5, and 6. It’s easy to say that Scot McCloughan may turn that into as many as a dozen picks, especially with all the roster spots that may be open. But remember that last year the Redskins wound up with just seven picks with no pick in the fourth and two in the seventh. McCloughan may intend to stockpile more picks but it depends on how the draft unfolds.
1st-round RB a bad idea: Yesterday JP and I posted on the topic of Rob Kelley as the Redskins’ prime running back this season and it drew quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and on Facebook. I think that they should try to get an upgrade over Kelley but I don’t think they should use their first-round pick to do it. There are just too many other, higher priority needs.
More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0
A turnaround for Matt Jones? Last year Trent Murphy broke out after two mediocre seasons to register eight sacks. Can Jones do the something similar in this, his third season? The rough equivalent of Murphy’s performance would be Jones rushing for 800 yards. It’s as much a matter of him holding on to the ball as anything. Jones was on pace to rush for over 1,100 yards before losing his grip on the starting job, literally and figuratively.
Tandler on Twitter
In case you missed it
- Would a Cousins contract be a cap killer for the Redskins?
- Will Kelley remain the Redskins' lead running back?
- The Redskins week that was—How many DL, players to step up
- 2017 NFL Mock Draft 3.0
The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day
Will Rob Kelly be the lead running back?
Tandler: Right off the bat here, let me say I like a lot about how Kelley plays. My contribution to this post may come off as “anti” Kelley but it’s just to provide balance to the gushing praise of Kelley that will ensue in JP’s part below.
Kelley started the last nine games of the season, getting the job after Matt Jones took his opportunity and imploded. The undrafted free agent played well. If you project the numbers from his nine starts out over 16 games you get 268 carries for 1,068 yards with 11 touchdowns.
That’s fine, but is it a strong enough performance to hand him the job, similar to the way that Jones was handed the job in 2016? Gaining a thousand yards is a good season but 12 backs got there this year. Kelley’s 3.98 yards per carry average as a starter would have been 26th in the NFL among backs with enough carries to qualify.
Again, a good season but not good enough that a team that has deep playoff aspirations should give him the job with no competition. There should be a vigorous battle for the job this year. Jones will still be around and maybe he will pull a Trent Murphy and suddenly become productive in Year 3. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Mack Brown but I’ve seen enough to want to see more. With nine draft picks, it would not be surprising to see Scot McCloughan grab a running back somewhere along the line. I’m not sure if Keith Marshall, last year’s seventh-round pick, can stay healthy but if he can they should line him up and see what he can do.
May the best back win. If that’s Kelley, good for him.
Finlay: Tandler going full hater mode early. I like it. As listeners of #RedskinsTalk the Podcast know, Rich and I have disagreed on Fat Rob for months. Before a knee injury slowed him down late in the year, Kelley was averaging well over 4 YPC and showed good movement behind the line of scrimmage as well as in the hole and beyond. He flashed plenty to be the lead runner in 2017.
But enough from me. Here's what Jay Gruden said of Kelley after the season ended:
"He’s one of the guys that I’m sure will probably have a scope when he’s done at the end of the season. I think great, great year for him as far as a rookie coming in as a free agent, being thrown into the fire like he was and performing like he did. I think there’s a lot of improvement that’ll be made with Robert. He’s going to get stronger, even get in more better shape. He’s going to understand the 16-game season, what it entails, how demanding it is on his body. He’s going to get himself ready to go. But he’s shown great vision, great toughness in the hole, great ball security. I think that’s a good starting point."
Competition is good, let the backs fight it out in Richmond, but I think Kelley wins the job again assuming the same group of RBs comes back. After gainging 700 yards in just nine starts in 2016, a 1,000 yard season is certainly in play for 2017.
More offseason questions:
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!