Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins need to make hay while the sun is shining

gruden-vs-dolphins.png

Need to Know: Redskins need to make hay while the sun is shining

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 19, one day before the Washington Redskins host the St. Louis Rams.

Redskins need to take advantage of early schedule

Yesterday in the game prediction post I looked at some of the opportunities that the Redskins failed to capitalize on against the Dolphins—dropped interceptions, fumbles there for the taking, drives deep into Miami territory that came up empty.

But there is another, bigger opportunity that the Redskins have that they could let slip through their fingers and that is their early schedule.

They have already lost to the Dolphins, who were a mediocre 8-8 last year. Next up are the Rams and Giants, both of whom were 6-10 last year.

Up next are the Eagles. They were a cut above the first three opponents but the Redskins beat them at FedEx Field last year after giving them all they could handle in Philly. After that it’s on the road to play the Falcons and Jets before returning home to play the Bucs. Those three teams combined to go 12-36.

Summing up the first seven games before the by, there is one with a winning record in 2014, one that finished .500 and five coming off of double-digit loss seasons.

It’s a different story after the Week 8 bye. There are four games against 2014 playoff teams including a visit to the defending champion Patriots right off the bat plus two more against teams that finished with winning record. At this point we don’t know how teams will be playing in November and December but that looks like a considerably tougher slate.

This is not the ideal schedule structure for a team that is trying to find its way. At this point, as the try to gel as a team, particularly along the offensive line and at defensive back, they are underdogs at home to the Rams, despite the fact that they have been every bit as mediocre as the Redskins over the past several years.

It should be noted that even though the season has started we really can't be sure of which teams will be quality teams in 2015 and which ones will struggle. It's probably safe to say that the Patriots will be in Super Bowl contention again and that the Bucs will have a top 10 draft pick. But most of the other teams could go either way.

The Redskins have no control over it one way or the other. All they can really do is try to gel sooner and beat some of the lesser teams coming up in the coming weeks. On Friday about 25 minutes after practice ended there were 10 players still out on the field in small groups, working to get better. It’s a good sign that I haven’t seen in previous years.

But, in terms of the schedule, the sun is shining and the Redskins need to make some hay.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park; no availability

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 1; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 5; Eagles @ Redskins 15

In case you missed it

Quick Links

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

Quick Links

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.