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Need to Know: How many players are locks to make the Redskins' 53?

Need to Know: How many players are locks to make the Redskins' 53?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 25, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

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Hey, I'm taking off a couple of days prior to the start of training camp. I'm going to repost a few of the more popular posts from the last few months. This one is from May 20, before the start of OTAs. There are a few tweaks I might make to it but it largely stands intact. 

I'll be back on Monday morning, bright and early a always. 

Who are the locks to make the roster?

(originally posted 5/20/15)

The Redskins have the league maximum 90 players on their roster and a lot of what goes on between now and the start of the season will be about finding out who will be on the final 53-man roster. There is plenty of talk from Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan about competition. But how much competition is there really? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start next week let’s take a look with the caveat that injuries and a truly surprising performance could change the picture for a few players.

Right now, it looks like 41 players are locks to make the final roster:

Offense (20)

QB (2): Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy
RB (3): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones
WR (6): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder, Evan Spencer
TE (2): Jordan Reed, Niles Paul
OL (7): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio

Two of last year’s starters on the line, Chris Chester and Tom Compton are in danger of not making the roster. Kirk Cousins is a lock at QB unless he is traded. There will be plenty of competition for the last one or two spots at running back. Tight end seems to be set but there is a long shot chance for someone surprising and knocking Logan Paulsen off of the 53. It’s not much of a chance but enough so I’m not calling Paulsen a lock.

The Redskins are likely to keep 25 or 26 offensive players so there are five or six jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.

Defense (18)

DL (5): Jason Hatcher, Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Terrance Knighton
LB (8): Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight, Adam Hayward
DB (5): Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, David Amerson, Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson

On the line there is at least one or possibly two jobs up for grabs. Inside linebacker looks set but there is an opening for a backup outside LB. The defensive backfield probably has four spots to be filled. One of them will go to DeAngelo Hall if his injured Achilles is rehabbed in time for the start of the season.

There are likely to be 24 or 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves six or seven spots open counting the one that Hall might fill.

The three specialists on the roster, kicker Kai Forbath, punter Tress Way, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.

That makes a total of 41 locks so 12 jobs are up for grabs,

Who is in contention for those 12 spots? I count 23 players who right now appear to have a legitimate chance of challenging for those jobs:

Offense (10): OL’s Tom Compton, Chris Chester, Josh LeRibeus, Austin Reiter; TE’s Je’Ron Hamm, Chase Dixon; QB Kirk Cousins; RB’s Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, Trey Williams

Defense (12): DL’s Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse; OLBs Jackson Jeffcoat, Trevardo Williams; DB’s DeAngelo Hall, Tevin Mitchel, Tracy Porter, Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett, Akeem Davis

With 41 locks and 22 bubble players, that leaves 27 who will have work to do and may need a couple of breaks to get into serious contention for a roster spot. But they are in an NFL camp and while their chances of making it are slim, they are better off than those of thousands of others who are on the outside looking in. I would not rule out any of these players making it; in fact, chances are that one or two of them will make it. But, right now, the odds are long.

Timeline

—It’s been 209 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 50 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 5; Preseason opener @ Browns 10; final cuts 42

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.