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Need to Know: Moses’ performance forced changes to right side of Redskins O-line

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Need to Know: Moses’ performance forced changes to right side of Redskins O-line

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 18, two days before Washington Redskins play the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field.

Moses’ performance forced changes to right side of Redskins O-line

RICHMOND—Coming into training camp the expectations for Redskins offensive tackle Morgan Moses cold not have been much lower. He got a little bit of game experience with one start at left tackle in 2014 but a Lisfranc injury he suffered in practice late in the season appeared to be costly. Moses spent the entire 2015 offseason program rehabbing instead of refining his blocking technique.

Moses’ chances of contributing this year seemed to further diminish when the team drafted Brandon Scherff fifth overall and said that he would be the starting right tackle. With Trent Williams ensconced on the left side it didn’t look like there was a spot for the 2014 third round pick.

But as the Redskins entered the second week of training camp, the first-team offense featured a new alignment with Scherff moved in to right guard and Moses at right tackle. At first the company line from the coaches was that the shift was an experiment and cross training in case of injury. As the days wore on, however, and the lineup didn’t change it become more and more apparent that the change was permanent, or as permanent as things get in the NFL.

The revamped right side of the line played well in the team’s preseason opener and it appears virtually certain that Scherff and Moses will anchor the right side in Week 1 when the Dolphins come to town.

According to Jay Gruden, Moses essentially forced the change.

"Well, I think Morgan, his emergence really, watching him in one-on-ones and watching him in pass pro and watching him in the team drills at right tackle when he was asked to do that,” said Gruden. “He was playing extremely well, and obviously when we moved Brandon inside to guard he looked very comfortable in there. With Morgan's emergence at right tackle and Brandon's comfort level at right guard, it was a natural fit and so far they've worked out very well together. We are happy with the transition Morgan has made and obviously Brandon."

It seems to be a pretty good bet that the Redskins were not anywhere near convinced that Moses would be ready to become a starting right tackle this year when the turned in the card for Scherff on April 30. If they had known that they would be moving Scherff to guard after a week of training camp they might have gone in another direction with their top pick and perhaps would have targeted a guard later in the draft.

But now they have spent the No. 5 pick on a guard and Scherff, as Gruden said earlier in training camp, has to be “really, really good” to justify the pick. That means Pro Bowl at least, perhaps even All-Pro. Whether or not he turns out to be that good, I do think that the organization deserves some credit for taking the action they believe is best for the team, potential criticism be damned.

Timeline

—Former Redskins running back and kick returner (and current CSN colleague of mine) Brian Mitchell was born on this date in 1968.

Today’s schedule: Practice at Redskins Park 3:00

—It’s been 233 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 26 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Lions @ Redskins 2; final cuts 18; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 37

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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.