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Move Up Makes Sense for Redskins

Move Up Makes Sense for Redskins

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

Suppose there was a vacant lot across the street from you. You look out the window one day and you see a car with those Realtor license plates parked on the street in front of the lot and a well-dressed woman and another man and woman, perhaps a married couple, are walking around the lot. They are motioning and pointing as though they are looking at an imaginary house on the lot. A week or so later, you look out the window again and there is a team of surveyors on the lot. Not too long after that a truck from the Taft Architecture Firm, LLC, is parked there. Finally, about a month later, a truck pulls up and on the back of it there is a big, yellow bulldozer.

It would be reasonable to figure that the couple you saw on the first day are having a house built on that lot. In fact, without talking to anybody involved, you could be fairly certain that that was what was planned.

With less than two weeks to go before Day One of the NFL draft, the Redskins are examining a piece of turf in the annual selection meeting. The surveyors are going over some territory that the Skins currently own no part of, with its southern border at about the 25th selection and its northern limits reaching to the 40th pick.

In an article here on WarpathInsiders.com earlier this week, I looked at who the Redskins were having in for visits and found that they were hosting some cornerbacks and outside linebackers who are projected to go anywhere from late in the first round to early in the second. CB's Antonio Cromartie and Kelly Jennings and LB's Thomas Howard and DeMeco Ryans aren't quite among the elite players in this draft, but they're almost certain to be gone when the Redskins own first selection at #53 comes up.

Just like it makes no sense to pay a crew to survey land that you have no intention of building on, it makes no sense for the Redskins to take up time and burn their limited draft visits (they get 30) on players they have have no chance of drafting.

The other indicator that the Redskins could be looking at moving up is their recent history. Both in free agency and in the draft, the team has displayed a pattern of identifying a player that it wants and then doing what it takes to get him. We saw how they wined and dined Adam Archuleta, Andre Carter, and Antwaan Randle El and made them offers that they couldn't refuse. They didn't bat an eye in sending two draft picks to San Francisco in exchange for Brandon Lloyd. In 2004 they saw Chris Cooley sitting there in the third round and dispatched their 2005 second to be able to draft him. Last year Gibbs liked what he saw in Campbell and did what it took to get him.

Is there any reason to think that if the Redskins do decide that they want one of these players that they've brought in they're not going to do whatever it takes to get him?

And, at this point, they should. If you've built your team one way you need to stick with your modus operandi. Worse even than having a bad plan is to keep on changing plans. You have to have to guts to stick with what you've been doing and see it through. This team is on the verge of having a two-year window to win a championship open up for them. Now is not the time to get a sudden rash of patience.

Being patient and letting lower-round picks develop is one way to get the job done in the NFL. You could argue that it's the best way to go about it. But the slow and steady train left the station a couple of years ago.

Or, to turn back to the house analogy, you can't build three-fourths of the house in a Tudor style and then decide you want to do the rest as a Colonial.

This Redskins team was built by identifying the players they wanted and doing whatever it took to get that player. Why should they pick now, when they are very close to being a Super Bowl contender, to be patient and let the draft come to them?

Such a move would not come without a high price. A move into the first round would cost the #53 pick and next years first-rounder. The 2007 first alone would net a pick somewhere in the middle of the second.

Of course, it has to be the right deal for the right player. Just as bad as changing your plan midstream is making a deal just for the sake of making a deal. If they stay at #53 the chances are they can get a starting-caliber player there. Rather than chancing it, though, if things fall together right the Redskins should go up and get the guy they want.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com .

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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