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Injury History Doesn't Faze Williams

Injury History Doesn't Faze Williams

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

One thing that stuck out about the recent group of draft picks and free agent signees that the Redskins have added lately is the history of injuries that many of them carry. Top pick Rocky McIntosh has fought through back problems. Kedric Golston broke a leg in a car accident and broke a shoulder blade playing football. Kevin Simon and Spencer Havner missed significant time in college due to knee injuries. Chris Mineo, a defensive tackle from UTEP who was signed on after last weekend’s rookie camp, missed a good chunk of his senior season with an ankle injury.

One reason that the Redskins have such a collection of the formerly walking wounded is that they decided to take some calculated risks with some of their late-round picks. A player such as Simon, who twice led Tennessee in tackles, would not have been available towards the end of the draft had he remained injury-free throughout his career. If he has shaken the problems with his knees he could be an outstanding performer on the field. If not, well, if the 250th selection turns out to be a bust it’s hardly a devastating blow to the organization.

There may be another reason for the preponderance of players with injury histories, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Consider what Gregg Williams had to say in his comments at the recent rookie minicamp, comments that echoed sentiments similar to what he has expressed in the past:

We want to look at their longevity, trustworthiness, and their accountability in their college ranks too. Everybody is going to get nicked and injured but how do they bounce back from it? How do they fight through those kind of things? For the most part every one of these rookies that came out here have had to fight through some type of adversity in their young sports careers. That is going to be the same thing up here. They are going to have to fight through that.

Williams seems to be saying that, within reason, a history of coming back from injuries is a resume enhancer when it comes to getting a shot at playing on defense for the Washington Redskins. Just like it’s easy to blow off your rehab when your knees are aching, it’s easy to pack it in when your team is 5-6 and has to run the table to make the playoffs. If you have the character to come back from an injury, that’s a good indicator that you have the character to get through the inevitable rough spots that come up over a 16-game NFL season.

Looking back, this is not a new philosophy for Williams or for Joe Gibbs. Look at some of the team’s first acquisitions when they came to Washington, the free agent group of 2004. Shawn Springs had missed 13 games in the three seasons prior to 2004. Joe Salave’a, due in part to injury problems, had played in just 20 games in the three seasons before to coming to Washington. Some teams shied away from them because of their injury histories. It seems that the injury factor may have been one of the reasons that Williams and Gibbs were attracted to them.

LaVar Arrington is no longer a Redskin for a variety of reasons, one of which could well be how he handled being seriously injured for the first time in his football career. To be sure, there is every indication that Arrington worked hard to get back onto the field. However, when he suffered a couple of setbacks in his rehab, he unleashed a tirade against the team to a couple of reporters who happened to run across him at Redskins Park. He accused the team of pushing him back too soon from his injury and of not caring that he was about to have another surgical procedure. Arrington was facing a moment of truth, a character-revealing moment, and he let his emotions get the best of him. Perhaps that’s not a big reason why he’s now a New York Giant, but there’s no question that it made the decision to let him go that much easier.

Of course you can’t build an entire roster out of players who have missed significant time with injuries. For every Springs there is a Marcus Washington, who has missed just one game in six seasons in the league. Still, in an organization that places such a high value on character, the character revealed by the display of determination needed to come back from injury is something that will get the attention of Gibbs and Williams.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information go to http://RedskinsGames.com

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.

Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.

The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.

The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.

Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.

The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.  

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NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:

  1. The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
  2. It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
  3. Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous. 
  4. While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.

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