Quick Links

Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

falcons-celebrate-winning-td.png

Need to Know: An opportunity lost for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 13, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Jets.

An opportunity lost

The Redskins’ loss to the Falcons represented something beyond another mark in the “L” column in the standings. It was a lost opportunity.

This team is trying to flip the script and change its reputation. They want to go from being soft to being tough, from chokers to clutch performers, from a group of inconsistent performers to a machine, from road kill to road warriors. And, most important, from losers to winners.

The Redskins had a chance to take a step in in the right direction in all of those negative areas against the Falcons. They came close. They were tough and came through in some key situations. The Redskins had their chances to knock off an undefeated team on the road.

But the opportunity was lost. Instead of being played over and over again in top 10 highlights, Bashaud Breeland’s fourth-quarter interception and deft 28-yard return to set up what could have been the clinching points, the play is a mere footnote. The drive in the final 24 seconds of the game to set up Dustin Hopkins’ tying field goal from 52 yards out could have been the stuff of legend. Instead, any recounting of the drive will be followed by, “yeah, but . . .”

The good thing about the NFL in October is that there always are more chances coming. The Redskins have another on coming on Sunday in the Meadowlands. They face a 3-1 Jets team coming off of the bye. They aren’t perceived to be quite in the class with the Falcons but they almost certainly will be a popular pick giving anywhere from four to seven points to the Redskins.

But even if they manage to spring the upset, there still will be questions about consistency. The Redskins have alternated losses and wins so far in their first five games. Even slightly better than mediocre teams put together a winning streak every now and then. Since winning seven in a row to finish off the 2012 season in style, the longest winning streak the Redskins have put together is two, and they've done that just once. That is it in terms of winning streaks, even if you want to call it that. And with a trip to Foxboro to play the Patriots coming up after the games against the Jets and Bucs (and the bye), the prospects for winning more than two in a row starting here are pretty dim.

You never know how things are going to go. The glass half full scenario is that they are improved over last year when the adversity could have crushed them, and that they are moving in the right direction. At some point that will show up in the win column.

But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes a team just can’t get over the hump and continues to lose winnable games. Nobody can say for sure where the Redskins are headed.

They say that a good team is one that can play at less than its best and still win. I don’t know how you would describe a team that can’t do the two main things it was built to do (run the ball and stop the run), has an erratic day from its quarterback, gives up a go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds left to play and still almost pulls out a road win over a 4-0 team.

I guess we'll just call them the 2015 Redskins and see how it all turns out.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Jets 5; Bucs @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Patriots 26

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

The Redskins will host Tim Hightower for a visit on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reported. Bringing Hightower in at this point represents an impressive story far beyond a mundane free agent visit.  

If his career ended today, Tim Hightower's story would already be remarkable. Hightower - a DMV native that played his college ball at the University of Richmond - played for the Redskins in the 2011 season. That season, he tore his ACL, and was limited to five games.

While torn ACL's happen frequently in the NFL, what happened next for Hightower was anything but ordinary. He missed the next three seasons with an undiagnosed infection, before incredibly returning to the NFL in 2015 with the Saints. 

His last two years in New Orleans, Hightower has been a solid contributor behind starting RB Mark Ingram. He's rushed for more than 900 yards, gained another 330 yards through the air and hit the end zone nine times in 24 games for the Saints. 

In Washington, Hightower would join a backfield of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and Matt Jones. It will be interesting to see if Washington adds any other backs through the draft in April as well. 

Born in Waldorf, Hightower went to high school in Alexandria before playing college ball at Richmond. Playing with the 'Skins in 2011, Hightower quickly became a fan favorite, especially with his local ties. 

The Redskins run game has not been particularly strong for a few seasons, and questions remain if the current stable of runners will be enough to improve. Hightower doesn't necesarily equal a significant talent boost, but perhaps coaches and front office staff are looking at the group.

Be aware, however, this could be nothing more than a visit. Triplett reported it remains possible Hightower returns to the Saints. He also visited the 49ers last week, and new San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was running the 'Skins offense in 2011 when the team originally acquired Hightower.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

DON’T MISS OUT - #REDSKINSTALK PODCAST PARTY APRIL 5 AT PENN QUARTER SPORTS TAVERN!

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 36 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins 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.

Isaiah Ford

Wide receiver
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
40-yard dash: 4.61

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying

Ford looks the part of a speed merchant with a tight-skinned, athletic frame, including long limbs. He glides off the line of scrimmage, accelerating fluidly to force defenders to respect his ability to go deep and shows very good balance to sink his hips, as well as burst out of his breaks to create separation. Ford shows the initial quickness and lateral agility to avoid defenders in press coverage, occasionally mixing in a hesitation move to get opponents off-balance. He is willing to run across the middle and cut back inside on quick screens, showing the toughness to absorb big hits and still hang on to the ball. Ford was asked to play outside as well as in the slot

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The top of the Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver looks good with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. But depth is a concern, especially with Doctson’s durability a question mark. On top of that, Pryor is there on a one-year contract so there must be some succession planning at the position.

Ford was a very productive receiver at Virginia Tech, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He has the knack for making the sensational catch and he isn’t afraid to go across the middle.

At 6-1 he has the height that seems to be the trend on the Redskins’ wide receiver corps lately. Ford could be a good mid-round pick for the team to develop in 2017 and be ready to be a full contributor in 2018.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Pitt

Ford is not afraid to run slants over the middle and is willing to cut back to the center of the field after catching bubble screens.

His run blocking ranged from unimpressive to bad with the caveat that it’s hard to evaluate on the TV camera angles. This is an area that can be improved with NFL coaching. Adding a few pounds to his 194-lb. frame could help, too. It also sometimes appears that he could use more bulk to help him use his height when fighting for a ball.

The good and the bad of Ford was on display in the span of a few minutes during the Pitt game. He made a spectacular catch on a tipped ball that bounced off of both him and the defensive back (view here) while they were on the ground. Ford had the awareness to scoop the ball off the chest of the defender and secure it to make the catch. A little while later he was in a great position to made a catch for a first down but he bobbled the ball as he was falling out of bounds (view here) and the pass was incomplete.

In the games I reviewed Ford showed a good knack to make back shoulder catches, something the Redskins don’t seem to like to try. But the ability is there if they draft him and want to try it.

Potential issues: Ford looks skinny, almost fragile, at 194 pounds. If he does add weight he needs to do so without losing much speed. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 at the combine. Against college defensive backs he looks fast enough but that will be a different story in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Redskins can’t go into the season with a very green Maurice Harris and a very pedestrian Ryan Grant as their backup wide receivers. They need a player who can provide depth in 2017 and be able to step up to have a legitimate shot at starting in 2018.

There will be several prospects in the third- and fourth- round range who could be the guy. If the Redskins think that Ford can add a few pounds without sacrificing speed and brush up on his run blocking a bit, they could take a serious look at him.

In his own words:

On how the coaching change from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente helped him:

I think it simplified everything for us. It limited the amount of routes that I ran - slants, outs, fades and posts; my first two years, I was running digs, post curls, comebacks, things like that - that was fine. I'm comfortable doing both. The route-running was never a problem for me because I feel that's what I do best. Being able to play primarily 'X' last year, winning those 50-50 balls and running those routes, it helped me.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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.