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Need to Know: Redskins' Hall says he wants to be 'a damn good safety'

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Need to Know: Redskins' Hall says he wants to be 'a damn good safety'

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 21, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Read and react

A few things I heard around Redskins Park this week and my reaction to them:

DeAngelo Hall was asked if a move to safety would extend his career:
I’m not going to go play safety to try to extend my career, I’m going to play safety to try to be a damn good safety. I’m not in the business to try to tack on years. I can go home and hang with my kids. But I think I could make a difference at safety somewhere. The mentioned it to me and I said, cool, let’s do it.
Two things are interesting here. He’s right about not needing to extend his career, at least not financially. He’s signed a couple of big contracts, and he could spend more time with his kids if he wanted to. But he likes playing. The other part of this quote that drew my attention was the part about making a difference at safety “somewhere”. In 2016 he will be going into the third season of a four-year deal he signed in 2014. His cap number will be $5.1 million and the team could save $3.4 million by releasing him. Hall turned 32 yesterday and he seems to realize that a combination of his age and cap number might make him a cap casualty in the spring. The veteran could be auditioning for a job in 2016.

Trent Williams on Kirk Cousins:
He’s gaining game experience. He’s never been handed the keys to a team and I think that’s a culture change to a person. You go from playing in spots to this team is yours and as well as you play will be as far as we go. He just had to deal with it the first few weeks and now he’s way more comfortable, he’s got his feet wet. He’s just more comfortable in being that guy. I think that’s the difference. It’s not that he’s made throws that he couldn’t make before. He’s always had a talented arm, he’s always been a talented quarterback. Now it’s all about him. The team is his.
Cousins is one of the few starting quarterbacks in the league who is not a team captain, so having the support of the offensive captain is important. This is some solid praise from Williams, who in five and a half seasons has now blocked for six different starting quarterbacks. Cousins now seems to be settled in; during the last seven games we will see if that elevates his play.

Joe Barry on continuing problems with the running game:
“Well, it gets old after a while just for the simple fact that the common theme has been tackling. We missed a big tackle in the hole last week and then, bam, the guy goes 70 yards. It’s obviously addressed every week, it’s preached every week — talking about the tackling. As much as we do from a physical standpoint on Wednesday, that’s our most physical day, we try to tackle, we try to simulate tackles at least. You can’t do any live tackling. It’s just we’ve got to keep preaching it and talking about it.
The subject of tackling is one of those battlegrounds when it comes to debating whether results on the field emanate from coaching or the players themselves. And there really is no answer. On the one hand, players who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at the least and tens of millions at most should be able to execute a tackle. The fundamentals are not complex and it’s something every player has been doing since putting on a helmet. But it’s up to the coaches to drill them enough to keep their tackling skills sharp and making sure there are multiple players around the ball so that one player does not have to make the stop. On the 70-yard run by Mark Ingram Barry is referring to, Dashon Goldson missed a tackle near the line, but just getting by that tackle should not have led to a near-TD.

Jay Gruden on holding lively practices:
“A little bit. You know, it’s starting to grow. The effort was great today — had even a couple little skirmishes out there, which is good to see every now and then – but the intensity level is rising. You can see it — the confidence, the intensity, all that — which is good.”
Cousins on the same subject:
I remember my rookie year, several weeks at the end of the year we just had walkthroughs and only one day of the week we had practice. Even when we did, it was more relaxed and we had a seven-game winning streak and won the division. So I’ve seen that work, and I’ve seen having a spirited practice at the end of the season that was very physical and very competitive lead to a win as well.
The higher intensity at practice has been a topic of conversation around Redskins Park this week. According to the players they started to pick up the tempo at practice last week and after they beat the Saints they continued this week. But the opposite approach of short, low-tempo practices in December of 2012 also worked. Going at a high tempo is great but players can tire and it’s harder on their bodies, especially near the end of a long season. A slower tempo can work but it doesn’t come close to game speed so the value is lessened. The bottom line is that practice is important but it’s what you do on Sunday that really matters.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Travel to Charlotte, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 1; Giants @ Redskins 8; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 16

In case you missed it

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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.