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Insignificant But Not Unimportant

Insignificant But Not Unimportant

Let's be clear on one thing—Joe Gibbs' decision to call a second consecutive timeout as Rian Lindell was lining up for a game-winning field goal did not cost the Redskins the game. Lindell had nailed his first boot, the one negated by the first timeout, with plenty to spare and there was almost no way he was going to miss the second try from there.

This game was lost on the Redskins' opening drive when Chris Samuels flinched when the offense was lined up to go for it on fourth and inches on the Buffalo five, setting the first half pattern of having to settle for field goals after getting deep into Bills territory. It was lost when the offensive line couldn't handle the defensive line of the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL, creating no holes for Clinton Portis and giving Jason Campbell precious little time to throw for most of the game. It was lost the play before the pass that set up Lindell's winning field goal when Fred Smoot missed a tackle on Roscoe Parrish, allowing the receiver to dash out of bounds. If that tackle is made in the field of play, the clock runs out after that pass to Josh Reed before Lindell ever has a chance to line up. It was lost when Trent Edwards' pass drops into the hands of the lone blue jersey amidst a sea of white.

And, truth be told, the game was lost at about 3:30 on Tuesday morning when Sean Taylor's heart stopped beating. Football is a game of emotion and the Redskins had expended a ton of it during the course of the week. When they went up 16-5 it appeared that the Redskins simply ran out of emotional gas. There is only so much in the human tank in a given period of time. Usually, even in a losing locker room, there is some energy there, some adrenaline still flowing. Yesterday there was nothing left but tear-filled eyes and deep sighs.

Joe Gibbs, however, does not get a pass here. Calling the timeout was an inexcusable coaching blunder, period. The fact that it was not why the Redskins lost a game does not make it any less of a colossal mistake or any more excusable. If it was an isolated instance of mangled game management, a rare brain fart in the midst of a season of brilliant strategic maneuvers, that would be one thing. What makes it disturbing, even alarming, is the fact that it wasn't shocking to see Gibbs make such a mistake.

As strictly a side note, I have to wonder why the official standing near Gibbs apparently indicated that it was OK to call the second timeout. I knew that you couldn't call consecutive timeouts; I did not know that doing so would result in a 15-yard penalty if the kicker was on the field. I thought that the official simply would ignore the illegal timeout request. Perhaps Gibbs thought so, too. But, the last time I looked at my pay stubs I wasn't being paid $5 million a year to know these things.

And what about Gibbs not knowing about the "missing man" formation on the first play that the defense ran? Again, if it was an isolated incident of miscommunication or non-communication among the members of the coaching staff, it would be something to be shrugged off.

After the game yesterday I was talking to a writer who has been covering the team for a long time. He told me that there was a growing feeling among those who cover the team that this will be Gibbs' last year. The theory—and it's just that, it's nothing that's based on any inside information—is that Taylor's death will make Gibbs think about his own life. Why should he work 80 hours a week when he doesn't need to? Why put up with the aggravation when he could be bouncing grandchildren on his knees?

It's Gibbs' call and it should be. After a couple of years of believing that Gibbs would do what he has said many times and fulfill the full five years of his contract, many are starting to think that the call will be to walk away.

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Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense

Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual playoff contenders.

The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart.

Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Today we’ll look at the offense and project the defense in the next couple of days.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

— Quarterback: Kirk Cousins*
Backups: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

It’s not a sure thing that Kirk Cousins will be back under center but it’s very much more likely than not, either with a new long-term contract or via the franchise tag. McCoy is under contract and will continue to be the backup. I think they are happy with Sudfeld as their developmental guy although I wouldn’t be shocked if Scot McCloughan decided that a quarterback is the best available player sometime in the fifth round in April.

RELATED: REDSKINS RESUME - MATT CAVANAUGH

— Running backs: Rob Kelley
Backups: Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, draft pick

Gruden gave Kelley a vote of confidence in his final press conference but that could be fluid. If Jones can get things straight between his ears he has the physical tools to be a very good running back but they can’t count on that. There is some talk that the Redskins will look to take a back in the middle rounds if they can find one with some impact.

— Wide receivers: Pierre Garçon*, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder (slot receiver),
Backups: Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris

Right now, it looks like it’s slightly better than 50-50 that Garçon will be back. If he’s not they will have to sign a starter in free agency; as we found out last year, you can’t count on a rookie receiver to produce, even if you take one high in the draft. If McCloughan does take a receiver in the later stages of the draft he likely will replace Grant, not Harris.

More Redskins: THE REDSKINS' WEEK THAT WAS

— Tight end: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis*, Niles Paul

It seems likely that Davis will re-sign, although since it could be his last NFL contract I don’t think he will give the Redskins much of a hometown discount. The organization will pay, however, as it is apparent that the need a quality backup for Reed. I’m on the fence about Paul. On the one hand, I could see the organization looking for an alternative since he has finished each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. But he’s the kind of guy that McCloughan likes to have on the team.

— Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Spencer Long, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Backups: G Arie Kouandjio, T Ty Nsekhe, C John Sullivan*, 1-2 free agents/draft picks

Could it be that the Redskins are nearly set on the O-line with the exception of some parts further down the depth chart? Nsekhe is a restricted free agent and he will be back either on the tag or with a new contract. Maybe Kouandjio can challenge Lauvao for the starting job but both are likely to be on the 53. If they move on from Kory Lichtensteiger to save $3.5 million in cap room and if Sullivan opts to try to find a starting job elsewhere they could find a veteran center to back up Long.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOST IMPORTANT FREE AGENTS

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Redskins' cap room could be a dilemma for McCloughan

Need to Know: Redskins' cap room could be a dilemma for McCloughan

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 16, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 44
NFL draft 101
First Sunday of 2017 season 237

A six pack of thoughts to start out the week

1. I think that by the end of the week the Redskins will have two new coordinators. It looks like Matt Cavanaugh will be the offensive coordinator. Haven’t heard why Bill Callahan isn’t getting the nod; it’s possible that he likes what he’s doing now and he’s getting paid as well as many coordinators.

2.  For a quick game with the $100 in imaginary casino chips on the defensive coordinator candidates, I’ll make Greg Manusky the favorite at $40 with Mike Pettine right behind him at $35. I’ll put $10 of the rest on Gus Bradley—we’ve heard of an interview with the Chargers but not anything like a hiring—and $15 on the field. The situation is fluid but that's the way it looks right now. 

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

3. On November 21, after the results of Week 11, the Redskins were 2.5 games ahead of the Packers. They were also a half-game better than of the Falcons. Those two teams are now playing for the NFC title. It’s not how you start, or even how you do in the middle of the season. It’s how you finish.

4. I’m not much of a hockey guy but I think I’ve got to get down to the Verizon Center to see the Caps. They are blazing hot and you can tell it’s a great atmosphere at the VC.

5. I have a feeling that an announcement about a new stadium for the Redskins is going to happen sometime in the next few months. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe can’t run again; he is out of office about a year from today. He’s going to want a legacy item and a state of the art stadium in the commonwealth would fill the bill. The process of approval, financing, and construction will take up most or all of the 10 years that remains on the FedEx Field lease.

More Redskins: The Redskins week that was

6. Normally having a lot of cap space to work with is a good thing but it may not be for Scot McCloughan this year. If the Redskins trim some veterans from the payroll they could go into free agency with around $70 million to spend. McCloughan would prefer to build through the draft. But the current situation almost forces the Redskins to spend. McCloughan took some heat for going into the 2016 season with $15 million in cap space and some unfilled needs on the defensive line and at safety. If they have issues again in 2017 and there is, say, $30 million just sitting there the noise will get louder. And it won’t just be coming from fans and the media; plenty of it will come from the offices of Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.