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Grading the Redskins: Good start, rocky finish for defense

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Grading the Redskins: Good start, rocky finish for defense

DefenseGrade vs. Falcons:CComment:Its tough to assign a passing grade when the end result was surrendering 24 points and suffering an eighth straight loss at FedEx Field. But we will this week and here are three reasons why:-- The Redskins front did a good job stuffing the Falcons ground game. The unit, led by Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, limited running back Michael Turner to 67 yards on 18 carries (3.7 yard average). Atlantas longest run, in fact, was for 13 yards. In all, Atlantas pass-first offense amassed only 83 yards on the ground after back-to-back weeks of rushing for 121 and 119 yards.-- The unit continued to capitalize on the scoreboard, as well. Kerrigan doesnt possess the vertical leap of a NBA player, but the linebacker used timing and anticipation to jump and pick off a Matt Ryan screen pass in the second quarter. Once Kerrigan had the ball secured, he raced 28 yards for the games first touchdown and the defenses third touchdown of the season. The last time the unit scored three times in a season was 1999, when it scored four.-- Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes 345 yards and two touchdowns and tight end Tony Gonzalez hauled in 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. But the Redskins battered secondary did not yield a long, backbreaking pass play (they gave had given up nine passes of 30 or more yards in the previous four games). Ryans longest completion was for 29 yards and only two others went for more than 20. Additionally, the go-ahead touchdown reception by Julio Jones in the fourth quarter required a near perfect throw and catch over Josh Wilson.Overall, the Redskins' defense held an undefeated Atlanta team a touchdown below their season average. But its no reason to celebrate. Much work remains for Jim Hasletts beleaguered unit, which still ranks dead last against the pass in yards (328.6 per game) and touchdowns (13) and struggled to get the Falcons off the field (Atlanta converted 9 of 17 third downs).

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Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Nose tackle

Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.

Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected. 

A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.

According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches. 

Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.

Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.

The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.

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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!

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

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Planning for a new Redskins stadium, Bruce Allen says the team is ahead of schedule

Planning for a new Redskins stadium, Bruce Allen says the team is ahead of schedule

The Redskins are going to build a new stadium. That is certain.

Where that stadium will be remains unclear.

Washington team president Bruce Allen spoke on Monday and explained that the team is ahead of schedule in terms of a new stadium.

RELATED: How the Redskins are changing up their front office

The team's lease expires at FedEx Field in 2027, and Allen expects the team to move into a new "jewel" of a stadium.

Maryland, Virginia and D.C. are all in play for the new facility. Currently, the team plays in Maryland but practices in Virginia.

The Redskins greatest success came when the team played in Washington at famed RFK Stadium.

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

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!