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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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Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

After NFL minicamps end in mid-June, and before the grind of training camps start in late July, players are free to have a little bit of fun and try to relax. For Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins that evidently means a game of Jenga.

Fun at Kirk's 10 year high school reunion!!!

A post shared by Julie Cousins (@juliehcousins) on

The video comes from Cousins' wife Julie, and the caption explains that the couple were attending the quarterback's 10-year high school reunion. Looks like a fun scene, and the Michigan waterfront looks even better.

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

For anybody that has watched Cousins on the practice field or listened to him mic'd up during a Redskins game, the competitive outburst is no surprise. Cousins likes to win, period. Even at life-size Jenga during his 10-year high school reunion. 

Obviously, contract talks between Cousins' representatives and the Redskins continue, and likely will until the July 17th franchise tag deadline. Last season, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes to go with 25 TDs and 12 INTs. He's allowed to have a little fun here and there.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 24, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 78 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 23
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 70

The Redskins week that was

Pressure Points: Focus is on Jay Gruden like never before—So you lost two coordinators and your top two wide receivers? Well, the Redskins gave him a two-year contract extension because they think he can deal with problems like those. Gruden will be cut zero slack.

Post-minicamp 53-man roster projection, offense—Sure, there will be plenty of lip service about everyone having a chance of making the 53-man roster. But this cake is very nearly baked. But the real competition in training camp will be for the 10 practice squad spots. I picked 25 offensive players to make it and I’m confident that 23, maybe 22 of the picks will be right. There seems to be more questions on defense (roster projection here) but even on that side of the ball, few jobs are truly up for grabs.

Redskins in a no-lose situation with confident Galette—We haven’t seen Junior Galette practicing in the spring before. Two years ago, he wasn’t with the team yet and last year he was held out so he could rehab his torn Achilles. That means we don’t have much comparison to make but he did look good. Next step is to do it with the pads on.

Snyder 'THRILLED' with ruling that should protect Redskins name—The legal part of the fight to get the Redskins to change their name is over after the recent Supreme Court ruling. They will not lose their trademark protection, which would effectively force them to change the team. However, it seems likely that the political and social battle will go on.

Is a Redskins-Cousins deal not only possible but probable?—One analyst thinks that the Redskins have too much to lose to not get a deal done by July 17. I think he’s right but I’m not sure if I’ll go along with his odds. 

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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