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Is Justin Hamilton more than camp fodder?

Is Justin Hamilton more than camp fodder?

The Washington Redskins signed safety Justin Hamilton, who was out of the league in 2007, on Friday. Normally, that's all the mention that the acquisition of a street free agent would merit. But Hamilton may, just may, be more than mere camp fodder.

Hamilton is 6-3, 217 and at the 2006 combine he ran 4.55 in the 40. He is a product of Virginia Tech. As a Hokie, he played running back and receiver his first couple of seasons before switching to defense. The Cleveland Browns drafted him in the sixth round and he made the team with a role playing special teams, as many low-round draftees do. In 10 games, he recorded 15 tackles.

In the final round of cuts in 2007, Hamilton was let go. The team said that he was injured in the final preseason game and, although it was only supposed to keep him sidelined for a month, they reached an injury settlement and waived him. That left the team with three safeties, a very low number on a 53-man roster.

I did some poking around to try to find out the nature of his injury. And I found nothing definitive. Someone said it was a knee tweak. Chris Pokorny of Dawgs by Nature told me that the team never said but he thought it might have been a back problem.

The nature of the release would allow him to return to the Browns at any time during the season. And, when Gary Baxter, who was considered the fourth safety, went on injured reserve, those occupying the Dawg Pound thought it was a no-brainer to re-up Hamilton. But he remained unemployed despite the generally dismal state of the Cleveland defense.

And he stayed out of football until the end of May when the Redskins picked him up.

Sometimes there are valid reasons why a guy is out of the league for a year. Sometimes there are not. Gregg Williams used to love to say that there were hundreds of players on the street who, given the right role with the right team, could play.

Hamilton has the size and, if he hasn't lost more than half a step, the speed to play in the NFL. Whatever the nature of his 2007 injury was, it would seem to be something that could heal in eight months. There are no off-field issues that we know of. He could compete for a roster spot.

The tea leaves indicate to me that the knee of sixth-round safety Kareem Moore, which was scoped just after the draft, is not recovering as well as the Redskins would hope.

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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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