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Have the Redskins Found the Winning Formula?

Have the Redskins Found the Winning Formula?


Do the Redskins have their swagger back?

We thought that they did following their thrilling overtime win over Jacksonville in Week 4. The carryover momentum from that game, however, lasted less than two quarters into their next game. That was when the Giants started to take control of their contest in the Meadowlands.

That was the first of three straight losses. The string was broken with another exciting victory when the Skins snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by blocking Mike Vanderjagt’s last-second field goal attempt and getting the game-winning three points from Nick Novak. Sometimes a win like that can get a team on a roll. But, no, the offense couldn’t generate anything consistently in Philadelphia the next week, the defense gave up some big plays and it was back to square one in the momentum department.

After last Sunday they have another chance. The Redskins played well on both sides of the ball, something that they didn’t do in those other games mentioned above, and pulled out a hard-earned 17-13 win over the Carolina Panthers, who thought that they were about to get on a serious roll.

Now some of you may scoff at the notion that last Sunday’s game represented anything that a team could build any momentum off of. Carolina’s play calling was frightfully bad at times (how could you call and throw so many six-yard passes on third and eight?) and Washington did have to hang on for dear life at the end. The game was not a thing of beauty by any stretch.

But nine out of every ten games in the NFL are ugly wins for one of the participants. The formula that the Redskins used on Sunday was tried and true. The defense kept them in the game while the offense moved the ball enough so that the D could stay off the field for a while after they stopped the Panthers. Because of the effectiveness of the defense the offense didn’t have to press. They knew that they didn’t have to score every time they got their hands on the ball. Because Jason Campbell was playing well enough to move the chains, the defense didn’t get tired and desperate.

Eventually, good things happened for the Redskins. A blocked punt, a deadly accurate pass from Campbell to Chris Cooley, a fourth-down tackle and a clinching interception and the Redskins walked off smiling.

In winning the Redskins found their formula for success. They couldn’t bottle up what they did against the Jaguars because you’re not going to score 36 points every game. Their takeaway from the Dallas win was to play hard until the clock says 0:00—and even for a play after that—and good things can happen. But you can watch NFL games for a decade and not see an ending that unfolds like that one did. With the Sunday Ticket and a remote you can see around a dozen every week like the Skins beating Carolina. If the Redskins can continue playing like that they will be able to climb their way back to respectability.

Moderation is a virtue

The Redskins had one of the easiest training camps of any NFL team this summer. Joe Gibbs scheduled very few two a days, minimal sessions in full pads and they had a day off less than a week after camp started.

On the other end of the scale was the camp conducted by Atlanta’s Jim Mora Jr. Most days there were two practices with at least one of them in full pads. Union rules prohibited him from scheduling three a days and having the players wear full pads in meetings and at lunch, but if he could have he probably would have. It took so long for the players to get a day off that they felt like they were being paroled when they finally got one.

Early in the season it sure did look like Mora had it right and that Gibbs needed to go to school on the younger coach. At the end of October the Falcons were 5-2 and looking like they were on their way to the playoffs.

But then the leaves started to fall and so did the Falcons. The are 0 for November, losing four straight this month.. Has the brutal regimen in August contributed to their collapse in the fall?

Of course, we can only guess. But one eye-popping stat suggests that they may well be running out of gas. In the second half of the four games of their current skid they have been outscored by a staggering aggregate of 67-20.

When the first of January rolls around it’s likely that the Redskins and Falcons will wind up in the same spot, around .500 and on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The Redskins can blame part of their woes on their light camp workload not having them ready to go when the season started. They will be fresh in December but they will be playing golf in January. Atlanta may well have flamed out and peaked too early. Perhaps both organizations need to consider some degree of moderation in how tough or how easy they are on their players during the summer so that they might still be playing well into the winter.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offenseDoes Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD