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Misunderestimating

Misunderestimating

Misunderestimating

This just in: Many members of the media are lazy. They establish a template based on what has happened in the past. Everything that fits into the template is embraced and “reported”. Whatever doesn’t fit is rejected and goes untold. This takes the place of having to take the time to actually watch the teams they are “covering”.

The template for the Redskins was established in 2004. Actually, it goes back a bit further than that with the “Dan Snyder is a meddling, clueless owner” element. That started in 2000 when he was a meddling, clueless owner. But even though he has handed the keys over to Joe Gibbs, everything the Redskins do has Snyder’s fingerprints on it, according to the template.

The rest of it consists of the game having passed Gibbs by, Mark Brunell being totally washed up, Clinton Portis being unable to handle the load as back in a Gibbs offense, the offensive line being weak and, as a corollary to that last one, they can’t pick up the blitz. There are other elements thrown in here and there, most of them negative, but those are the main ones.

A quick point-by-point refutation here. If the game ever did pass Gibbs by, he made up for lost time by working about 27 hours a day during the offseason to get back up to speed. Brunell is not threat to Peyton Manning as the NFL’s premiere QB, but he has shown that whatever ailed him last year is healed. Nobody at all paid any attention to the Portis’ press conference after Sunday’s game. He said that he and Ladell Betts will share the load at running back. Portis will not get worn down. Last year, the offensive line was mediocre at best. Nobody noticed the Jon Jansen was back and that Casey Rabach replaces the weakest link the line.

But apparently it’s too much work for those who write for ESPN, for CBS Sportsline, for papers around the country and the like to actually observe what’s going on with the team and shape their stories accordingly. The Redskins aren’t among the NFL’s elite, they’re not even among the league’s very good. But they’re better than the template has them make out to be.

The members of the mass media pack have taken the opportunity, however, to reshape the Dallas Cowboy template. All that they had to know is that Jerry and Bill dropped some $50 million in signing bonuses to upgrade their team, particularly defensively. Of course, when Snyder and the Redskins did something like this it was called folly (and rightfully so, for the most part). According to the “experts”, throwing money after their problem (16th-ranked defense in 2004, same 6-10 record as the Skins) has made them into a reincarnation of the ’85 Bears. Their front seven is fierce and impenetrable and that “fact” makes up for some minor shortcomings in their secondary, like safeties that can’t cover.

And then there’s Julius Jones. The guy is out half the season injured, gains a shade over 800 and now all of a sudden he’s Jim Brown.

Of course, in predicting the outcome of the game, it’s that monster defense that’s going to lay waste to that girly O-line of the Redskins and destroy to that shell of his former self Brunell, stuff the overworked Portis and Dallas will cruise to an easy win. Dallas will win in a walk.

In reality, the game is a tossup. The Cowboys have the edge in that it’s a home game, but that’s about it. Both teams are in the middle of the NFL pack, a large bunch that includes about 20 teams. Also among them are the Chargers, Dallas’ “quality” opponent last week who fell to 0-2 with a loss to a Broncos team that was routed by Miami last week. And the Redskins’ 9-7 win over Chicago became more impressive after the Bears hung 38 on Detroit on Sunday.

So we will see what happens on Monday night. On the record here is a prediction of a close Redskins win. But Dallas could well win and the “experts” would be right, but, more than likely, it will be for all the wrong reasons.



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Redskins 2017 training camp preview—offense

Redskins 2017 training camp preview—offense

RICHMOND—The Redskins will assemble here tomorrow to get ready to get ready for the 2017 season. There are plenty of position competitions and other storylines. Here is a look at what we at CSN will be paying attention to, starting with the offense.

Kiss Cousins goodbye?

As everyone reading this knows, the Redskins quarterback did not agree to a long-term contract by the deadline last week and he will play out the season on the franchise tag. The situation will have a major impact next spring as free agency approaches but that’s to be sorted out in 2018. The question here is whether Cousins’ contract status will affect what takes place here in Richmond and as the season unfolds starting in September.

Some believe that it will be a major storyline and that it will be a distraction with media asking lots of questions and the possibility that Cousins’ thoughts will drift towards next year and his potential free agency.

RELATED: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

However, Cousins was in a similar position last year, when he played on the franchise tag for the first time. There was a flurry of questions at the start of training camp, Cousins answered them, and then they moved on. The rule that prohibits contract negotiations with a tagged player during the season had its intended effect. There was no buzz about the situation until the season was over.

This year the situation is ratcheted up a bit because of the high cost of the tags available to the Redskins next year. But Cousins is very good at deflecting questions about his contract status and he should be able to handle the scrutiny.

Changes at wide receiver

No team had ever lost two 1,000-yard receivers in the same offseason until the Redskins saw both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson depart as free agents in March. It means that Josh Doctson steps into a featured role and Terrelle Pryor will be expected to produce as well as he did in Cleveland last year, if not better.

The changes also mean that Jamison Crowder is likely to see more targets and holdovers Maurice Harris and Ryan Grant could see increased roles. It all will be sorted out in training camp starting on Thursday.

Further down the depth chart, can sixth-round rookie Robert Davis get up to speed soon enough to justify a roster spot? And can veteran Brian Quick rebound from some shaky offseason practices to claim a slot on the 53?

Two-back attack?

Last year Rob Kelley worked his way up from being an overlooked, undrafted free agent rookie to being the starting running back. This year, Samaje Perine comes in as a fourth-round pick with an eye on taking the job away from Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, 11-20

It is likely that Kelley, who is a favorite of Jay Gruden’s, will be the Week 1 starter. Still, it would not be surprising if Perine led the team in carries and rushing yards in several games as the season unfolds, perhaps more.

Meanwhile, Mack Brown and Keith Marshall (if he can stay healthy) will compete for the fourth running back job—if the team decides to keep that many. They only kept three coming out of camp last year.

O-line stability

The same five starters will line up for the second year in a row. There’s really nothing to see here unless Arie Kouandjio can make a big push and move into Shawn Lauvao’s spot at left guard.

There is some intrigue about the backup center spot. If rookie Chase Roullier can’t get up to speed they may have to look at the waiver wire.

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

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Redskins Playbook: 5 forgotten names to remember for training camp

Redskins Playbook: 5 forgotten names to remember for training camp

When the Redskins open training camp in Richmond on Thursday, fans will line up to get autographs from Kirk Cousins, Josh Norman and Jordan Reed. Plenty of other players will excite the fans too as optimism rules the first few days of practice in July and August. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

There are other players that fans probably won't scream their names, but who could play a role or fight for a roster spot this fall. Winning in the NFL is almost nearly as dependent on the final 10 players on the roster as it is the first five. Depth is key, and here are a few players that fans might have forgotten about. 

  • RB Keith Marshall - The speedster out of Georgia has a wildly impressive resume - on paper - but just can't stay healthy. In college he started ahead of Todd Gurley for a time, now considered one of the best RBs in the NFL for the Rams. Marshall landed on the injured reserve last year as a rookie but looked healthy and capable at Redskins Park this offseason during OTAs and minicamp. The running back position looks quite full, but if Marshall can show his elite speed and make it through four preseason games, he just might push Mack Brown for a roster spot. 
  • LB Martrell Spaight - A tackling machine in college at Arkansas, Spaight missed most of his rookie season in 2015 before appearing in 14 games last season. Bad luck struck again, and he finished the year on the IR. With the addition of Zach Brown to the interior linebackers, Spaight might have a tough battle for a roster spot. Will Compton, Mason Foster and Brown all seem certain to make the team. Spaight could also start the year on the PUP list, which might be the surest way to stay on the Redskins.
  • LB Chris Carter - Signed as a free agent this year, the journeyman Carter has played for six teams in six years and looks poised to play the special teams role that Terence Garvin took on last year. If Carter makes the roster, that means trouble for Spaight. 
  • DL Anthony Lanier - An undrafted rookie in 2016 that didn't see much game action, Lanier has really impressed coaches with his work ethic this offseason. He has great size at 6-foot-6 and added about 20 pounds of muscle since the season ended, which should allow him the strength to handle the trenches. Lanier could be a sneaky important player this fall for Washington. 
  • S Will Blackmon - D.J. Swearinger and Su'a Cravens look to be the starting safeties for the Redskins in 2017. Swearinger has a proven track record in the NFL secondary, Cravens does not, but showed the ability to do so in college at USC. After those two, and with DeAngelo Hall on the PUP list, the Redskins lack much depth or experience in the defensive backfield. That's where Blackmon should help. A versatile veteran, Blackmon has the speed to keep up with most wideouts and is one of the more cerebral players on the defense. 

Bonus: RB Matt Jones - He might want off the Redskins roster, but that hasn't happened yet. If the team sustains any injuries at the running back position, Jones' fortunes could change quickly. 

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