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Need to Know: How will the Redskins' safety situation shake out?

Need to Know: How will the Redskins' safety situation shake out?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 21, 34 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five thoughts on the Redskins as the offseason sets in

—Did Jay Gruden and Sean McVay underutilize Jamison Crowder? The rookie slot receiver was targeted 78 times during the season. In 2014 slot receiver Andre Roberts was targeted 73 times. Considering that Crowder was a clear upgrade over Roberts he should have had a lot more opportunities. After nine games Crowder was on pace to catch 75 passes. He ended up with 59.

—The situation with Terrance Knighton shows why leaning so hard on free agency hurts the team building process. Knighton played OK and he got better as the year went on. But “not horrible and improving” is not the standard that a team that wants to make the playoffs and advance should be striving for. They might be inclined to let him go but unless they can attract one of the very few quality nose tackles on the market they might end up without anyone qualified to play NT. They could wait for the draft but the chances of finding an immediate starter at nose tackle in the draft are very slim. If they sign Knighton to a multi-year deal and then find a NT in the draft, the draft pick will be at least halfway through his rookie contract before a position opens up for him. They are kind of stuck in the free agent market.

—It will be interesting to see how the safety situation will shake out. They have Dashon Goldson and DeAngelo Hall under contract but their cap hits total just over $13 million. Both have their strong points but they could sign the Chiefs’ 27-year-old All-Pro Eric Barry and another mid-range free agent for that money. Duke Ihenacho, who won a starting job but broke his wrist in the season opener, is a restricted free agent. If the Redskins want to have the right to match any offers for him they’ll have to tender him at around $1.5 million. They might try to get him to sign for less. Jeron Johnson is still under contract and Kyshoen Jarrett should continue to grow. I don’t see all five of them being back, at least not at full price, but it will be interesting to see who takes their places.

—Would Scot McCloughan draft RB Ezekiel Elliott if he is sitting there at pick No. 21? It’s very early in the draft process but many of the mocks and rankings I’ve see have Elliott going right about there. Whether he does go to the Redskins or not, it won’t be because McCloughan won’t be held back by the conventional wisdom that says that you don’t draft a running back in the first round. He drafted a right tackle who converted to guard No. 5, something you’re not supposed to do, and the word was that he might have tabbed Todd Gurley if the Redskins had traded back. If Elliott is the best player on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up McCloughan won’t hesitate to pull the trigger on him.

—I’ll start taking a look at draft prospects here starting soon but it’s more a matter of trying to identify McCloughan/Redskins-type players the team might be interested in. What we can’t determine as observers is the results of the background checks, what the trainer in the weight room has to say about a player’s work habits, how that broken leg the player had in high school has healed up, and other such details. But it’s fun to do and maybe we can learn something.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 11 days ago. It will be about 234 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 34; NFL free agency starts 48; 2016 NFL draft 98

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Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Need to Know: Betting on the Redskins' playoff race outcomes

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 3, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No availability

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 8; Panthers @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), DE Anthony Lanier (leg)
Questionable: G Brandon Scherff (ankle), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), Bashaud Breeland (ankle), LS Nick Sundberg (back)
Final injury report

Redskins vs. Cardinals
FOX, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., Dick Stockton and Chris Spielman
Line: Cardinals -2.5

Resetting the playoff odds

The Redskins start their stretch drive to the playoffs tomorrow. The will play five games in 29 days. After that, they will have either earned the right to keep playing or will they go home.

Let’s get out the imaginary $100 in casino chips and look at the various possibilities of the finish to the season and spread out the chips based on how likely each scenario is. As always, you are welcome to jump into the comments if you agree or disagree.

Win NFC East, $0—This might be worth a buck or two but this place doesn’t have any chips smaller than $5 and it’s not worth investing even that much in the chance of this happening. The scenario would have to be the Redskins winning out, the Cowboys losing out, and the Giants losing at least two more games. I’d put something on the first scenario and a few chips on the last one but no way is Dallas going 0-4. Keeping my chips in my pocket on this one.

Wild card as No. 5 seed, $40—To do this the Redskins would have to stay ahead of the wild card contenders behind them (see next scenario) and make up a game and a half on the Giants. They play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins would have to make up one game between now and then and they could then determine their status on January 1 at FedEx Field. The Giants go to Pittsburgh on Sunday and host Dallas a week after that so we will see how that looks in a couple of weeks. As of now, the No. 6 seed would go to Detroit for the first round of the playoffs while the No. 5 would play the Falcons in Atlanta. That, of course, is subject to change.

Wild card as No. 6 seed, $35—I think getting the five seed is slightly more likely than getting the six since I think the Giants are a mirage. But even if New York keeps it going, the Redskins can clinch a spot by running the table in their last five games. That would make them 11-4-1 and no other wild card contender could catch them. If they win four of five, only the Bucs can catch them and it would take a 5-0 finish for Tampa Bay. Winning three of five still gives them a good shot at getting in although at that point you are also opening the door for the Vikings, Saints, Packers, and Eagles to catch fire and jump ahead of them.

Out of playoffs, $25—I might be putting a little too much here but it’s the NFL and it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that the Redskins could finish 2-3 and miss out altogether. Their margin for error is slim and an injury here and a bad break there could have them on the outside looking in.

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When asked to vote for top 20 players, Pierre Garcon just wrote 'Kirk Cousins' 20 times

When asked to vote for top 20 players, Pierre Garcon just wrote 'Kirk Cousins' 20 times

Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon just filled out his ballot for the annual NFL Top 100 Players list.

Let's just say it's pretty one-dimensional. 

Straight like that

A photo posted by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

As you can see, the form asks guys to rank who they consider the top 20 players in the league. But instead of naming 20 different players, Garcon voted for the same player 20 times. Talk about stuffing the ballot box. 

No surprise, but he's hyping his quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

Cousins is having a career year with the Redskins. His stock has soared over the last three weeks especially. Take a look at his numbers in that span: 84 completions on 116 attempts for 1,086 yards (72 percent), eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. 

Those efforts earned the Michigan State product NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors. And more importantly, Cousins has the Redskins in favorable position to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.

So far this season, Garcon has caught 52 passes from Cousins for 636 yards and two scores. 

MORE REDSKINS: Reed out, 7 other Redskins questionable