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Need to Know: Garçon a free agent move that worked out for Redskins

Need to Know: Garçon a free agent move that worked out for Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 26, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Nickel coverage

There was business conducted at Redskins Park on Tuesday; the building was closed yesterday for Christmas. Here are some notes and quotes from Tuesday:

1. Not every move Mike Shanahan has made while wearing his GM hat has turned out right but the signing of Pierre Garçon was one that did. When given a chance, Shanahan talked about him. “I’ve been really pleased with how he’s handled himself, how hard he works,” he said. “You could see a year ago when he did play he was the difference in us winning and losing. When he did come back, you could tell we were a different type of offensive football team and this year is no exception.”

2. Tight end Gabe Miller, signed to the practice squad on Tuesday, could end up playing on either side of the ball. He was drafted as a linebacker. “We’ll get a chance to look at him. He’ll play linebacker as well,” said Shanahan. “A couple of days on our football team, but a guy that [Director of Pro Personnel] Morocco Brown recommended and hopefully he’ll show us something in the next couple of days.”

3. I asked Kirk Cousins about ball security and he said something that needed to be fact checked. “If you throw an interception in every game the entire season, you’re going to lead the league in terms of having the lowest number of interceptions, only throwing 16,” he said. Actually, no. Last year only nine QB’s threw at least 16 interceptions. This year only seven have thrown 15 or more. In short, a pick per game is not something to which a QB should aspire.

4. Although we could be several days from major upheaval at Redskins Park, Shanahan said he hasn’t addressed it with the team. “No. Same thing we’ve been talking about since Day 1 — all of those things you address at the end of the season after the season is over with,” he said.

5. Kirk Cousins always says positive things about everybody so it wasn’t surprising that he gave Kyle Shanahan a ringing endorsement when asked. But there could be some extra incentive as Kyle could be working someplace that needs a quarterback next year. “He’s the kind of guy that I think very highly of as an offensive coordinator, and if I get to play for Kyle or someone like Kyle at his level of a play-caller for the rest of my career, I’ll be in very good shape,” he said. “So I think the world of him and Coach [Mike] Shanahan, and I think, like I said, I’ll be very successful if I get to play for a play-caller like them.”

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins have attempted 562 passes, ninth in the NFL. Last year they attempted 442 and were 30th.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Giants 3; NFL free agency 75; 2014 NFL opening Sunday 255

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:50; Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, and Jim Haslett news conferences and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)

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Is Art Briles an option?

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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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