Quick Links

Enemy Intel around the NFL, Week 6—Can the Cowboys pass another tough test?

elliott-vs-bengals-usat.png

Enemy Intel around the NFL, Week 6—Can the Cowboys pass another tough test?

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric look around the NFL:

—The Giants hope to avoid a fourth straight loss as they host the Ravens, who have lost two straight. Both teams are in varying states of turmoil. Baltimore fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman on Monday and he will be replaced by Marty Mornhinweg. The new OC has a good offensive mind but I’m not sure what he can do with an offensive line that is reeling with injuries. If WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle) is out I'm not sure what he's going to be able to do. Meanwhile, just as the Odell Beckham antics have faded to the background (but haven’t disappeared entirely), Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers shoved a member of the media in the locker room after New York’s latest loss. You go back to the game against the Redskins, where their losing skid started, and you have Beckham’s kicking net punching back and center Weston Richburg getting booted out of the game for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. It points to a lack of discipline. Discipline was the calling card of for former coach Tom Coughlin. It does not appear to be a strong point of his replacement, Ben McAdoo.

—Last week the Cowboys handled what appeared to be their sternest test to date with ease as they ran out to a 28-0 lead over the Bengals. This week things could be significantly tougher as they go to Lambeau Field. It’s not just Aaron Rodgers, who is playing well but not All World well. It’s that Green Bay defense. They have averaged giving up just 2.0 yards per rush, the best in the NFL by a full yard. It is a little easier to pass against them but the Cowboys need to run to set up Dak Prescott’s passing. It should be noted, however, that the Cowboys have the best offensive line that the Packers have faced so we will have to see who controls the line.

Related: Doctson out, two starters questionable for Redskins vs. Eagles

—The Redskins visit Detroit after playing the Eagles. The Lions did the Redskins a favor by knocking off Philly last week, overcoming a number of injuries in order to do it. They could still be banged up next week. RB Theo Riddick (hip), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), and TE Eric Ebron (ankle, knee) are all out against the Rams this week and we will see if they are ready for the Redskins on the 23rd.

—After coming home from Detroit the Redskins will return to Ashburn and assume their normal preparations through practice on Thursday. After that, they get on a plane and head to London for practice on Friday, a Saturday walkthrough, and a game against the Bengals at Wembley Stadium. Cincinnati has lost three of its last four and they play at the Patriots tomorrow. Fortunately for Marvin Lewis’ crew they get the NFL equivalent of an extra bye week, a home game against the Browns, before they leave for the UK.

Related: Crowder letting instincts take over on punt returns

—I had a true winning week last week, going 2-1 with wins with the Vikings over the Texans and the Cardinals over the 49ers. I lost with the Bengals giving one (!) to the Cowboys. I’m going to say that the Cowboys won’t pull off a second straight upset, going with the Packers over them giving 4.5, and the Steelers -7.5 over the Dolphins and the Seahawks -6.5 over the Falcons.

Check out the podcast and if you like it subscribe on iTunes.
https://audioboom.com/boos/5162359-episode-11-jp-tandler-talk-eagles-plus-a-surprise-visit-and-tisch-s-take?t=0

Quick Links

After 4 teams in 4 years, D.J. Swearinger knows what it takes to make the Redskins home

After 4 teams in 4 years, D.J. Swearinger knows what it takes to make the Redskins home

It's never been a talent issue for D.J. Swearinger. In college he made big plays and earned all conference honors playing in the SEC at South Carolina. He was drafted high by Houston, second round in 2013, and started 10 games his rookie season. 

In his first two seasons with the Texans, Swearinger started 22 games and proved to be a playmaker. He logged three interceptions and more than 100 tackles. He looked like a possible long-term answer at safety, until he was uncermoniously cut after his second year.

Reports showed Swearinger bucked at playing special teams. And over time, a reputation as a big - sometimes dirty - hitter emerged. 

None of it helped Swearinger, who was signed by Tampa in 2015. He played seven games for the Bucs but was cut mid-season. Arizona signed him late in the 2015 season, and kept him for 2016.

Last year, playing on a defense with strong leaders like Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson, Swearinger excelled. He played all over the Cardinals secondary, starting 12 games and making plays like he did early in his career in Houston.

He finished the 2016 season with three interceptions, two sacks and eight passes defensed. He made more than 50 tackles. Pro Football Focus rated Swearinger with a +15.3 grade, by far the highest of his career and good for the 8th best rating of any safety in the NFL.

The Redskins haven't had solid safety play in years. In 2016, the team tried to address the position on the cheap, converting cornerbacks to safeties and signing low tier free agents. It didn't work.

So, finally, in 2017 the Redskins front office addressed the safety position by signing Swearinger to a three-year deal. And it sounds like the 25-year-old has grown up a lot after four years of bouncing around the league.

"I've been on a lot of teams. I want to make this home," Swearinger said (full video above). "I feel like I’m experienced enough to know what to do as a pro, know what to do to stay on top of things and be a pro. As long as I be a pro every day and make the plays I’m capable of, I’ll be a Redskin."

Swearinger's deal will keep him with the Redskins through the 2019 season, but already, head coach Jay Gruden seems excited about the new safety. Earlier this offseason, Gruden said watching film of Swearinger revealed a player hitting the highest levels of safety play in the NFL. In OTAs, seeing Swearinger in person, Gruden was impressed.

"Watching him the first two days really excites me. He just looks like a safety back there," Gruden said. "No offense to the previous safeties we’ve had before, but I just think D.J. is to a level in his career right now where he’s got a lot of confidence. He has got a lot of talent."

There was some question if Swearinger can play the free safety role in Washington. More to the point, if he has the speed to play a true center field, with second-year man Su'a Cravens moving from linebacker to strong safety. Swearinger has zero concerns.

"I'm a free safety, I think that fits my body well," he said. "As a free safety you got to have the confidence in yourself that you can run with those guys and make plays on those guys."

Swearinger doesn't lack for confidence, and he shouldn't. Combined with Cravens, along with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland at cornerback, the Redskins secondary could be a strength in 2017.

"We have a lot of talent. If we work day in and day out, I think this group can be one of the best," Swearinger said. "We just got to keep working, keep gelling to get everybody on the same page, the sky’s the limit."

It's normal for players to be excited in May. There supposed to be. 

Coaches, however, tend to be more hesitant with praise. Not optimism, but actual praise, though when it comes to Swearinger, Gruden isn't shy about his expectations.

"We know that he’s a physical guy, but as far as coverages and breaking up things, he’s got a lot of confidence and I think he’s going to really, really emerge as a top safety not only for this team but in this league," the coach said of his new free safety.

It's been a long journey for Swearinger. From four teams in four years to five teams in five years. He's hoping this one sticks. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: 3 quotes that stood out during OTAs

Redskins Playbook: 3 quotes that stood out during OTAs

With Memorial Day weekend between now and the Redskins next batch of OTAs, let's look at the three best quotes from the first organized team session. For Redskins fans, the biggest looming issue remains the contract negotiations between Kirk Cousins and the organization, but there are plenty of other spots worth watching. 

1) Bad recruiting - A long-term deal might not get done, but that doesn't mean the talks aren't moving along. Cousins sounded almost optimistic but also knows that football is never a sure thing. To explain, he told a story from his high school days:

I’ve just kind of learned from previous experiences and if you know my story going back to high school, I played my senior year of high school with no scholarship offers, in fact there was a coach here from Northwestern today who was my recruiting coach at Northwestern, he’s still the running backs coach 10 years later at Northwestern and I was getting recruited by Northwestern, wanted a scholarship, they didn’t offer me, and it was just a reminder that you never know what’s going to happen. 

2) Sky's the limit - Despite the high-cost addition of Josh Norman, the Redskins secondary in 2016 was hardly a strength. Much of that came from poor safety play, where the team had few experienced options and spent little. This offseason, Washington invested in the position, bringing in D.J. Swearinger from the Arizona Cardinals. The new safety thinks the secondary can become a strength, quickly.

We have a lot of talent. If we work day in and day out I think this group can be one of the best. We just got to keep working, keep gelling to get everybody on the same page, the sky’s the limit.

3) Does it even matter - The NFL gives out a lot of awards, but at least publicly, there is no hardware for the funniest head coach. If there was a trophy, Jay Gruden should win it. Earlier this week the league announced a number of rule changes, most noticeably a change to stodgy TD celebration penalties. Another rule change: Overtime will shrink from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. Gruden wasn't impressed when asked about it. 

Who cares?

Bonus - Who you calling fat? Gruden is too funny to only make the list once. Asked about second-year running back Robert Kelley, the coach made sure people know the difference between a nickname and reality.

That was just a nickname, he wasn’t actually fat. I think when you’re a 22-year-old kid, 21-year-old guy out of Tulane and you understand the wear and tear that the NFL is going to give you, you better get yourself into shape if you want to maintain a career in the NFL as a running back.

Always something on social 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back