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Need to Know: Has the Redskins' defense improved enough?

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Need to Know: Has the Redskins' defense improved enough?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 24, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 135 days ago. It will be 111 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 65; Preseason opener @ Falcons 79; Final roster cut 102

Question of the day

I’ll combine these two into on answer since the two inquiries are closely related. Let’s take a look at the major players they have added and lost on defense on defense this offseason:

  • On DL, added Kendell Reyes (FA), Matt Ioannidis (D-5), Trent Murphy (position change). Subtracted Terrance Knighton, Jason Hatcher.
  • At LB, added Junior Galette (injury return), Su’a Cravens (D-2). Subtracted LB Keenan Robinson, Murphy
  • At DB, added Josh Norman (FA), Kendall Fuller (D-3), David Bruton (FA), Duke Ihenacho (injury return). Subtracted Chris Culliver, Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson. Possibly losing Kyshoen Jarrett due to injury.

To address Jonathan’s question about the D-line first, I think that you have to say yes, it does look like a weak spot. It wasn’t very good last year (26th vs. the run) and although Hatcher and Knighton had their issues you can’t really look at Reyes, a lower-level free agent signee, and Ioannidis, a fifth-round pick, as upgrades. Murphy could help out but we’ll have to see. Perhaps he will come through, Stephen Paea will stay healthy and catch on in his second year in the defense and Ioannidis will be a fast learner and contribute right away. Still, it’s hard to see the unit being substantially better than it was last year.

But I think that the rest of the defense has been upgraded significantly. Assuming Galette is healthy—he will have had nearly 13 months to rehab his Achilles by the time the season opens—he will be a major upgrade over Murphy. Cravens will play all over the defense and as he learns more as the year goes on he should get better and better. Fuller and Norman join Bashaud Breeland to give the Redskins one of the better sets of cornerbacks in the league, a weakness turned into a strength. Safety remains something of a question mark but with DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon working at the position full time it is less shaky than it was last year.

In fact, “less shaky” cold probably describe the entire defense. I think they’ll be better but it’s hard to see them cracking the top 10. The top half is a more realistic goal and maybe that is a touch too ambitious. So, Randy, to answer your question, I don’t think they will be able to ride their defense to the NFC championship game. They could contribute more takeaways, particularly interceptions, and sacks than they did last year but they will give up a lot of yards, particularly on the ground. When it's over, they will go as far as Kirk Cousins, his receivers, and whatever sort of rushing game they can cobble together will take them.

Tweet of the day

They’ve hired three new game officials. But none of them will replace Redskins fans’ least favorite referee. Unfortunately, Football Zebra's answer to my query was no, there are no new referees. Incompetence continues.

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

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Need to Know: Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

 

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, September 24, eight days before the Washington Redskins play Chiefs in Kansas City.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 CSN; Redskins vs. Raiders 8:30 NBC

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 29
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 35

Five final thoughts on Redskins vs. Raiders

—With Rob Kelley out and Jordan Reed unlikely to play, per Adam Schefter, Samaje Perine will get his first NFL start and Jeremy Sprinkle will be active for the first time. Perine got rolling as the game went on vs. the Rams. In quarters 1-3 he had 11 carries with an average of 2.2 yards per. In the fourth quarter, the rookie carried 10 times for a respectable 4.3 average. If he can get that 4.3 average all game and carry between 15 and 20 times, the Redskins will be fine on the rushing front.

—It was in Week 3 last year that Kirk Cousins got rolling. After throwing one touchdown and three interceptions in his first two games he threw two TD’s and no picks against the Giants. His pattern as the starter has been to start slowly and then pick up steam as the season gets going. Looking at the injury situation and at a Monday night game at Arrowhead Stadium looming next week, today would be a great day for him to get going. The talk in Oakland is that the Raiders will load up to stop the run and challenge Cousins to beat them through the air. Cousins will need to take them up on that challenge.

—The Redskins have four sacks in two games. It will be difficult for them to add to that total today because Raiders QB Derek Carr gets rid of the ball so quickly. The best way to get pressure on a quarterback like that is to take the shortest route. It will be important for Jonathan Allen to get some push up the middle and perhaps Greg Manusky will send Zach Brown or Mason Foster blitzing into the A-gap occasionally. The pressure is also on the secondary to make sure tackles after Carr gets those short completions to make sure they don’t turn into big plays.

—I was skeptical of the impact that Oakland RB Marshawn Lynch would have in his return at age 31 after a poor (417 yards) 2015 season followed by a season in retirement. And although there may be reasons to wonder about his durability over the course of a 16-game season, right now he’s healthy. The Redskins’ worst nightmare would be for Lynch to get 15 carries and grind out four to five yards per pop. That would set up Carr to do whatever he wants to do.

—This looked like a tough one even when it appeared that the Redskins would be at full strength on offense. If Kelley and, especially, Reed are out, the game looks to be an even more daunting task. The Washington defense is going to have to step up and force Carr to make decisions sooner than he wants to. Offensively, the Redskins are going to need to keep Carr and company off the field by controlling the clock. They did it last week against the Rams. If they can take time of possession 35 minutes to 25 again they have a chance to pull off the upset. It’s possible but I’m going to go against it happening.

Raiders 28, Redskins 21

2017 predictions record: 1-1

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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Report: Rob Kelley out vs. Raiders, Reed unlikely to play

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Report: Rob Kelley out vs. Raiders, Reed unlikely to play

The Redskins could be without two key offensive players against the Raiders tonight, according to a report.

According to ESPN, Redskins starting running back Rob Kelley (rib) is unlikely to play and that Jordan Reed (chest) is a game-time decision but it also is probable that he will sit out. Bot players were listed as questionable on the final injury report on Friday.

RELATED: CRAVENS JERSEY GIVEAWAY A BIG HIT

Kelley was having a career day against the Rams last Sunday before he left the game in the second quarter with a rib cartilage injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week.

Reed, a key target for quarterback Kirk Cousins, missed some snaps after sustaining the injury to his sternum during the game against the Rams. He was out of practice on Wednesday and limited on Thursday and Friday.

Rookie Samaje Perine saw his first NFL action last week and he likely will get his first NFL start in Kelley’s spot tonight. If Reed can’t play, Vernon Davis will start and rookie Jeremy Sprinkle, who was inactive the first two games, will be in uniform.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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.