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Five reasons why we can't close the book on the Shanahan era

Five reasons why we can't close the book on the Shanahan era

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 2, 68 days before the start of free agency.

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The Mike Shanahan era is over. On Tuesday we took a look at some things that went well during the last four years. Yesterday was about what went wrong. Today, the question is what’s still up in the air?

In chronological order, five moves by Shanahan of which we don’t know the results.

1. The Redskins went into the 2011 draft missing picks in the third and fourth rounds but due to some wheeling and dealing they ended up picking 12 players including at least one in every round. Eight of them are still on the roster or finished the year on injured reserve and only one, top pick Ryan Kerrigan, is set as a starter. Some others need to step up in their fourth seasons to prevent this draft from being a bust.

2. The blockbuster trade to move up to get Robert Griffin III looked like a winner a year ago. Now with Griffin coming off of a bad season with two ACL tears highlighting his medical history and the final installment of the trade ending up being the No. 2 overall pick going to the Rams, it’s not so clear. Griffin will have to be stellar for many years to justify the price. He appears to be capable of doing that but we won’t know for a while.

3. In 2012 the Redskins gave Pierre Garçon a five-year contract worth $42.5 million with $20.5 million guaranteed. He proved to be valuable in 2012 when he could play and he was the offensive MVP this past year, leading the league in receptions. But that hefty price means that the team needs to get another solid season or two out of him. Out of all of the questions on this list, the confidence that Garçon will work out is the highest.

4. In 2012 Shanahan spent three draft picks on offensive linemen. But guards Josh LeRibeus (3rd round) and Adam Gettis (5th) and tackle Tom Compton (6th) have yet to play except for an emergency appearance here and there. LeRibeus was inactive for all 16 games this year. Is there any depth on the offensive line?

5. Tight end Jordan Reed looked to be a third-round steal when he started catching everything thrown near him in the first half of the season. But he missed the last six games of the season with a concussion. Reed will have to shake the injury bug if he is going to live up to that “steal” status.

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Stat of the day

—In 2013 Roy Helu was the Redskins second-leading rusher among running backs with 62 carries for 274 yards. The previous season that distinction went to Evan Royster, who had just 23 carries for 88 yards.

Timeline

—Former Redskins cornerback Pat Fischer was born on this date in 1940.

—Days until: NFL free agency 68; 2014 NFL Draft 126; 2014 Opening Sunday 249

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces retirement from NASCAR after 2017

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

One of the longest eras in NASCAR will come to an end concluding the 2017 season.

Early on Tuesday morning, Hendrick Motorsports announced that 18-year veteran, longtime Redskins fan and popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire at the conclusion of the current season.

Earnhardt, son of the late legendary seven-time champion, Dale Earnhardt Sr., told his No. 88 team members before the organization released the news.

Last season, the 42-year-old missed the final 18 races of the NASCAR season due to a concussion. The injury resulted in a 32nd place finish in the NASCAR standings and it was the first time he missed the association's 'playoffs' since 2010. 

Throughout his long career, Earnhardt captured 26 race wins, two being the elusive Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014. Due to the legendary status of his father, he never quite lived up to the level many placed on the Earnhardt family name. His win total is roughly a third of his father's and has not won a championship. Best career points finish for Earnahrdt was third in 2003, and finished fifth three times (2004, 2006, 2013). Starting in 603 total races, he has finished in the top 10 in nearly half of those races, 253 times.

Despite the lack of a championship, he was named NASCAR's most popular driver 14 times, trailing only Bill Elliott who won that honor 16 seasons. 

RELATED: EARNHARDT FORCED TO RACE IN EAGLES-THEMED CAR

At the end of 2017, Earnhardt's contract with Hendrick Motorsports was set to expire after 10 seasons with NASCAR's most successful team. Prior to his tenure with Hendrick, he was a part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for eight years where he won 17 of his total 26 race wins. 

Currently, Earnhardt is 24th in the NASCAR standings, 50 points behind the cut-off for the final playoff spot. There are still 18 races remaining in the season for him to make up the ground with some of his best tracks still on the docket. In addition, a win would boost Earnhardt up into a playoff spot due to NASCAR's playoff system. 

With Earnhardt Jr. retiring, there will be one Earnhardt remaining in the Monster Energy Cup Series to carry the family name. Grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr., and nephew of Jr., Jeffery Earnhardt is a regular in the series. 

Hendrick Motorsports announced in their release that they will not name a replacement for Earnhardt Jr. just yet. During his 18-race absence in 2016, he was replaced by a young prospect, Alex Bowman and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon.

It is anticipated either Bowman or 19-year-old William Byron, who Rick Hendrick signed to an Xfinity Series contract last season, will take his place. 

As a lifetime fan of the Washington football team, Earnhardt has been known to put his opinion of the team out there.

He was not happy with how the team handled Scot McCloughan situation, and publicly voiced his support of Kirk Cousins

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One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

One significant stat that separates Christian McCaffery from Dalvin Cook

Football coaches hate fumbles, and Jay Gruden is no different. Remember that Matt Jones had established himself as the Redskins lead running back despite persistent fumbling issues his first two years in the NFL. That was until a goal line fumble Week 7 in Detroit. Jones never played again in 2016. 

Fast forward to Thursday night's NFL Draft, and the buzz surrounding the Redskins interest in Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey could all boil down to fumbles.

Both Cook and McCaffrey visited Redskins Park, and both players possess the speed and game-breaking ability that could deliver big returns to the Washington offense. Since the NFL Combine, McCaffrey has emerged as the higher draft pick.

Their college statistics are fairly similar. Both players went for more than 5,000 total yards in three college seasons. The size is similar too, Cook gets listed at 6-foot, 209 lbs., while McCaffrey gets listed at 5-foot-11 and 203 lbs.

One area that's quite different: Fumbles. 

An average NFL running back fumbles once every 100 carries. Rich Tandler researched an incredible stat about the two players:

  • McCaffrey averages one fumble every 243 carries.
  • Cook averages one fumble every 63 carries. 

The difference is staggering. And it could be enough to keep the 'Skins away from Cook at 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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