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Instant Analysis: Redskins Giants

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Instant Analysis: Redskins Giants

The Redskins ended an embarrassing drought on Monday Night Football. But, more important, their tense 17-16 victory over the Giants resuscitated their playoff hopes.

At 6-6, Robert Griffin and the Redskins pulled even with the Cowboys for second place in the NFC East and moved to within a game of the 7-5 Giants. The victory was the Redskins’ third in a row, their longest winning streak since 2008.

They entered the night having lost 10 consecutive games at home on Monday, a drought that dated to 1997. But this was the first MNF game the Redskins had Griffin, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garçon.

Griffin’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Garçon early in the fourth quarter that restored the Redskins’ lead, 17-16. The two also hooked up at the two-minute warning, extending the drive the home team used to run out the clock.

Garcon, despite playing on a tender right foot, finished with eight receptions for 106 yards. There were hints of a breakout, however. Garçon participated fully in practice Thursday-Saturday, the longest such stretch since before he suffered the injury in the preseason.

Washington also achieved two significant milestones in the game. Morris surpassed 1,000 yards and set the franchise rookie record for rushing, passing Reggie Brooks’ record of 1,063 yards established in 1993. Morris finished with 124 yards on 22 carries.

Griffin, meantime, set the NFL rookie record for rushing yards by a quarterback, gaining 73 on four carries. The previous mark of 706 was set last season by the Panthers’ Cam Newton.

But in a game of such magnitude, individual records meant relatively little.

The Redskins trailed 13-10 at the start of the second half, but eventually seized control.

After a Morris fumble deep in Giants’ territory, Eli Manning marched the visitors down the field on what appeared to be a game-turning drive that culminated with a 35-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes

But the Giants’ 16-10 lead did not last.

Early in the fourth quarter, Griffin directed a masterful 12 play, 86 yard drive that the ended with  Garçon's critical touchdown catch. 

As impressive as the performance by Griffin, Morris and Garçon was on an unseasonably warm night in Landover, it was not without flaws. The defense couldn’t get off the field in the first half, allowing the Giants to convert 8 of 10 third downs. Tight end Martellus Bennett, meantime, caught seven passes for 82 yards in the first two quarters as the Giants dominated time of possession.

But the defense recovered in the second half – just as Griffin and the offense hit its stride.

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Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Plenty of teams will line up for the services of soon to be free agent DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston made clear he wants D-Jax with the Bucs. 

"You better believe we want DeSean here," Winston told the the Tampa Bay Times. "I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean."

Jackson has been clear he looks forward to the free agent process. He's only hit the open market once, and that was under inauspicious terms. The Eagles released Jackson well past the start of free agency in 2014, and the Redskins moved quickly to sign the speedster. 

In three seasons with the 'Skins, Jackson has been a solid teammate and strong player. In 37 starts for the Burgundy and Gold, Jackson has more than 2,700 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 

With elite speed and arguably the NFL's best ball tracker, Jackson makes sense for a lot of teams. Tampa, in particular, could use a deep threat to play alongside Mike Evans. Teamed with Winston, who has a strong arm and loves to go deep, the Bucs offense would be formidable. 

That does not mean Tampa is a sure thing.

While ESPN's Josina Anderson reported the Bucs could be a  "possible destination" for Jackson, Philadelphia has long been rumored to want him back. His old coach Andy Reid is in Kansas City. Former 'Skins offensive coordinator Sean McVay is now running the show in LA. For a player like Jackson, just about any potential destination could make sense. 

Like it almost always is in NFL free agency, guaranteed money will be a major factor in DeSean's decision. At 30 year's old and with a game reliant on speed and quickness, this could be the last big contract of Jackson's career. Odds are he will land a big deal, and the team with the biggest bag of cash may prove the most tempting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins draft countdown: Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell

Redskins draft countdown: Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 63 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Malik McDowell
Defensive line
Michigan State

Height: 6-6
Weight: 276
40-yard dash: TBD

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Slippery and long. Combination of arm length and flexible torso allow him to slither into gaps and create disruptions for blockers. Freaky combination of size and athleticism. Can overwhelm blockers with pure strength and explosiveness when his feet are right. Strong enough in lower half to play through contact and cause stress in the pocket. Has tremendous amount of untapped potential waiting to be unlocked.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: If you’re reading this, you know that the 2016 Redskins’ defensive line was manned by one pretty good player in Chris Baker and a cast of journeymen and youngsters with some potential but little immediate production. They need to add at least one top-flight D-lineman in the draft and McDowell could be the guy.

If you are spending a top draft pick on a D-lineman you want one who can be an asset against the run and be able to rush the passer. McDowell’s profile fits that job description. He could defend the run as an end in the base 3-4 defense and kick inside to provide pass rush up the middle in nickel situations.

McDowell is generally rated behind Jonathan Allen of Alabama and Caleb Brantley of Florida among interior defensive line prospects. Allen and Brantley are likely to be gone by the time the Redskins pick at No. 17 but McDowell should be there as an option.

Potential issues: His production was inconsistent and his technique needs a lot of work. The fact of the matter is, I can probably copy and paste that sentence into the write up of virtually any defensive lineman in the draft. The college linemen who are NFL prospects are generally just bigger and stronger than the players trying to block him.

A look of some plays in the Spartans’ game against Notre Dame shows McDowell’s inconsistency. At times, he can’t disengage from a single blocker and a few plays later he was able skirt around three blockers and make a tackle for a loss. He also was good at getting push upfield when he rushed the passer but too often the pressure was not in the direction of the quarterback.

McDowell also had some issues with major penalties. He drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag in the Notre Dame game, although the film didn’t show what he did to earn it. Later in the year he was tossed from a game against Indiana, a game his team lost in overtime. Since the ejection came in the second half, he had to sit out the first half of Michigan State’s next game.  

Bottom line: Interviews with his coaches, MSU weight room staff, etc., will be keys in the evaluation of McDowell. If the Redskins try to teach him the proper fundamentals of line play will he absorb it? Will consistency come with maturity (he will be 20 on draft day)?

It seems like a good fit as if McDowell is believed to be coachable he may be the best player available at No. 17 and even if the Redskins manage to retain Chris Baker and sign another veteran or two the position will need an infusion of youth. We will see if it works out

Previously in Redskins draft countdown: