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Jacobs' Toe May Have Ripple Effects

Jacobs' Toe May Have Ripple Effects

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

As it turns out, Taylor Jacobs’ injured toe is considerably worse than originally thought. What was going to be a one-week layoff due to a sprained toe, injured making a cut in the scrimmage in Baltimore, is now an that may stretch the regular season.

The diagnosis is now a dislocated toe. "I haven't even started jogging yet," Jacobs said. "They told me whenever I can just walk straight the whole day without it being sore, then the next step would be to start jogging." So, he has to walk before he can run.

According to trainer Bubba Tyer, Jacobs is week to week and other members of the training staff have told the second-year receiver that his expected recovery time is 2-6 weeks. The latter estimate could have Jacobs not being in the lineup until after the Redskins’ week three bye.

All of this has implications for Jacobs personally and for the wide receiver corps as a whole. As for Jacobs himself, this has to be considered a very frustrating, if not devastating, setback. He appeared to be ready to step up and have a breakout season. His coaches and teammates had nothing but praise for how hard Jacobs worked during the offseason. Jacobs’ work had earned the team’s 2002 second-round draft pick a firm grip on the third WR slot and he seemed posed to push David Patten hard for the second starting job opposite Santana Moss. This injury is a setback to the hopes for Jacobs to have a breakout season.

This injury follows an abdominal injury that cost him half the games in his rookie season. It’s often unfair, but two significant injuries in three seasons can create whispers that a player is injury-prone, a label nobody wants to have.

Obviously, there are major effects on the wide receiver corps as a whole, with ripples extending through the entire 53-man roster. Moss and Patten on the starters. James Thrash was number four on the depth chart. Now, Thrash is a great asset to the team, but if he is lining up in the slot in a three-WR set this team is in trouble. As valuable a performer as Thrash is on special teams, he’s no better than an occasional option at receiver.

That brings the other three receivers that are considered to have a realistic chance of making the roster into the picture. Kevin Dyson and Darnerien McCants are larger, possession-type receivers while Antonio Brown has world-class speed. Dyson is knocking off rust after having missed most of the past two seasons and is rounding into form. He could be the best option to replace Jacobs as the third receiver on the depth chart. McCants could also step up into that role if he could just hold on to the ball consistently. He has had trouble doing so both in practice and during last Saturday’s preseason game against Carolina.

Brown is the wild card in all of this. He has speed, no doubt, and has been showing that he has a decent set of hands. While he’s a virtual lock to make the final roster as a kick returner, it would be risky to rely on him to play a significant role as a receiver, primarily because he has no pass receptions in 19 NFL games.

Jacobs’ status could have implications beyond the receiver corps. If his status is still cloudy as the final cutdown approaches, the coaches will have some difficult decisions to make. The team is expected to carry five wide receivers with Brown possibly being the sixth and counted as a return specialist. If it’s apparent that Jacobs will be on the inactive list until October (their first game after the bye is October 2), they may decide to keep an extra receiver on until Jacobs can come back and get into game shape.

Should that happen, of course, another player at another position would have to be released to make room. So, not only are most Redskins fans and the organization rooting for a quick return to health for Taylor Jacobs, a handful of players whose chances of making the roster are on the bubble are fervently hoping that Jacobs’ toe heals soon as well.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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