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Need to Know: Redskins' season reaches a tipping point

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Need to Know: Redskins' season reaches a tipping point

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 20, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tandler's Tuesday Take Two: The Redskins’ season is reaching a tipping point

For the first four weeks of the season, all seemed to be going pretty well for the Redskins. They were 2-2 and accomplishing their preseason goals of being able to run the ball and stop the run. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was not lighting the league on fire but he looked like at least a competent game manager with whom the Redskins could have at least some limited success. So little was expected of the Redskins that they were being called a pleasant, if modest, surprise team.

But then the last two games happened. The Redskins didn’t look bad overall in Atlanta but their ability to run ball well came to a grinding halt (51 yards rushing) and they couldn’t stop the run (Devonta Freeman, 153 yards rushing). And Cousins was wobbly with his accuracy most of the day and threw two interceptions, the second of which was returned for the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

That was bad, the Jets game was worse. The Redskins gained only 34 yards on the ground while New York’s Chris Ivory rolled for 146. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick almost outgained the Redskins as a team, scrambling for 31 yards. Cousins again threw two picks, including one that set up a momentum-changing touchdown in the third quarter.

Now the Redskins are 2-4. Next up they host the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team that beat them 27-7 at FedEx last year in a game that was not even as close as the 20-point margin would indicate. The Redskins take their bye week after that. In November they have two road trips to play the unbeaten Patriots and Panthers. In between those games they play at home against the Saints, who are also scuffling at 2-4 but they have a major advantage at quarterback with Drew Brees. After the road trip they face the Giants, who are shaping up to be the class of the division.

I wrote last week that the Redskins are more a middle of the pack team than one of the bottom feeders and one injury-hampered loss to the Jets doesn’t necessarily change that. But they are coming to a stretch of the schedule where they are facing teams who are clearly better. That is why Jay Gruden declared that this game against the Bucs is a “code red”, as in one they must win.

If they don’t win this Sunday and you figure that the game in New England is a sure loss, that would put the Redskins at 2-6 at midseason and working on a four-game losing streak. A year ago they were 3-5 after eight games and on a two-game winning streak. While Scot McCloughan didn’t necessarily thing that the Redskins would contend for the playoffs this year, he, Bruce Allen, and Dan Snyder were certainly looking for some degree of improvement. Being in what looks like a sinking ship certainly wouldn’t look like improvement.

One game won or lost won’t necessarily change the ultimate fates of Gruden, Cousins, and other players and coaches. But there will be a big difference in the feel around Redskins Park between going into the bye with a win and going in with three straight losses and a near-certain fourth looming their first week back.

A convincing win would be better but perhaps we shouldn’t look for more than baby steps from this team, especially given that they are still likely to have some injured front-line players out against the Bucs.

In any case, Gruden certainly seems to be rallying the troops harder in this one than he has in any of his previous 22 games as a head coach. “Code red” is not a card you want to play often because eventually you lose credibility. But it’s out there this week and we will see how the Redskins respond.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Player meetings, no media availability

Days until: Bucs @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Patriots 19; Saints @ Redskins 25

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Redskins draft countdown: Can Temple's Haason Reddick make the move from end to LB?

Redskins draft countdown: Can Temple's Haason Reddick make the move from end to LB?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 34 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

I am not a scout but I will pass along my observations from watching some game tape of each of the players profiled here.

Haason Reddick

Inside linebacker
Temple

Height: 6-1
Weight: 237
40-yard dash: 4.52

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Explosive, quick-twitch athlete. Great flexibility with loose hips to turn, twist, and chase. Excellent reactive quickness and change-of-direction agility. Dynamic playmaker in space. Locks onto targets and instantly accelerates to the ball. Finished 2016 regular season with 21.5 tackles for loss. Fluid mover around field. Has chase range over extended territory.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have devoted major resources to the edges of their defense with free agent dollars and high draft picks going to get Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Josh Norman. But the middle—nose tackle, inside linebacker, and safety—remains shaky at best. Reddick could give them an immediate boost in the core of the defense.

At 185 pounds, he walked on at Temple as a safety, bulked up and finished as a two-year starter. Reddick played defensive end and dominated in many games, recording 10.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss. But he doesn’t have the bulk to compete on the edge in the NFL so he will be either an outside linebacker in a 4-3 or an inside backer in a 3-4. The Redskins would have him on the inside in base defense and could have him roam when the go to a four-man line.

Film review: vs. Cincinnati, vs. USF

Reddick played on both sides of the line in two- and three-point stance. He seemed to be more effective standing up; he lacked the size to tangle with the Cincinnati and USF offensive tackles.

He seemed to be a bit slow in recognition. There were times where he reacted after the play already was by him.

Reddick wasn’t asked to cover often but he can drop back and cover a zone. I did not see any man coverage. His backpedal will need work.

He showed good hustle and pursuit, got in on a few plays when lined up on the right side and play went wide to the left.

Against USF he played off the line of scrimmage on about 30 percent of the snaps. He didn’t do anything notable good or bad from there but it was a small sample size.

The bottom line is that it’s hard to see how well he could play at inside linebacker based on the tape. It will take a lot of projection by the scouts, something that I will readily admit is beyond the scope of my capabilities.

Potential issues: After playing defensive end at Temple, Reddick needs to adjust to playing on two feet. Inside linebacker in a 3-4 is a complex position to master and there could be a substantial learning curve involved.

There is a little bit of off-field trouble in his past. He was suspended from the program for three months in 2015 following an off-campus fight but assault charges were later dropped. That appears to be a blip on the radar with no issues reported before or since.

Bottom line: Reddick certainly has great athleticism. Among defensive linemen and linebackers who tested at the combine, Reddick had the best performances in the 40 (4.52 seconds) and in the broad jump (11 feet, 1 inch). It seems that he has the potential to be a good linebacker. And with Will Compton and Mason Foster in place now, Reddick could get some time to develop in Washington.

However, the Redskins defense needs some instant impact. If they want an inside linebacker they might prefer to go with one who is better prepared to contribute now like Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt or, if he’s available, Reuben Foster of Alabama.

Jay Gruden has expressed frustration about the lack of impact he has been able to get from the team’s last two first-round picks. He could be complaining about a third if Reddick is the pick.

However, if other teams decide to pass on Reddick and he is available in the second round (which seems unlikely after his combine performance but in the draft you never know), the Redskins should give him a hard look.

In his own words:

Reddick on changing from defensive end to playing in space as a linebacker:

I feel really comfortable. At the end of the day, I’m a competitor. That’s what I like to do. That’s what I do. There’s no question about that. It doesn’t matter who they put in front of me, or what they ask me to do. I’m just going to try to do it as best as I can. That’s the approach I took at Senior Bowl.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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.

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Need to Know: Examining the Redskins' roster locks and bubble dwellers

Need to Know: Examining the Redskins' roster locks and bubble dwellers

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 24, 34 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 23
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 49
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 61
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 113
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 170

Redskins locks and bubble players

Yesterday I looked at players who will not be returning to the Redskins in 2016. Today the focus shifts to the players who are on the roster and separating them into who is certain to be on the Week 1 roster and who is on the bubble.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Here are the players I see as roster locks:

Offense (15)

  • QB Kirk Cousins
  • QB Colt McCoy
  • RB Rob Kelley
  • RB Chris Thompson
  • WR Jamison Crowder
  • WR Josh Doctson
  • WR Terrelle Pryor
  • TE Jordan Reed
  • TE Vernon Davis
  • G Shawn Lauvao
  • G Brandon Scherff
  • C Spencer Long
  • OT Morgan Moses
  • OT Trent Williams
  • OT Ty Nsekhe

Defense (15)

  • DE Anthony Lanier
  • DE Terrell McClain
  • DE Stacy McGee
  • LB Will Compton
  • LB Mason Foster
  • OLB Junior Galette
  • OLB Ryan Kerrigan
  • OLB Preston Smith
  • OLB Trent Murphy
  • CB Bashaud Breeland
  • CB Quinton Dunbar
  • CB Kendall Fuller
  • CB Josh Norman
  • S Su’a Cravens
  • S D.J. Swearinger

Specialists (3)

  • K Dustin Hopkins
  • P Tress Way
  • LS Nick Sundberg

That totals 33 locks. These are players who are on the bubble; only players who were on the team last year or were notable signings are included here. The other street free agents signed are long shots.

Offense (9)

  • G Arie Kouandjio
  • OL Vinston Painter
  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • RB Mack Brown
  • RB Matt Jones
  • TE Derek Carrier
  • TE Niles Paul
  • WR Maurice Harris
  • WR Ryan Grant

Most of these bubble players will be watching the draft closely. A quarterback drafted early would be bad news for Sudfeld. A third-round guard could be an ominous sign for Kouandjio. The three I most strongly considered putting the lock list were Jones, Paul, and Harris but too much can happen to call them sure things.

Defense (15)

  • DE Ziggy Hood
  • DE Matt Ioannidis
  • DE A.J. Francis
  • NT Phil Taylor
  • OLB Houston Bates
  • LB Chris Carter
  • LB Steven Daniels
  • LB Martrell Spaight
  • OLB Lynden Trail
  • LB Zach Vigil
  • CB Tharold Simon
  • S Josh Evans
  • S Deshazor Everett
  • S DeAngelo Hall
  • S Earl Wolff

The three closest to being locks here are Hall, Hood, and Spaight. Hall has to show that he can come back from his ACL, Hood could get bumped out by promising draft picks, and Spaight needs to fend off potential draft picks and possibly Daniels and Vigil.

I’ll take another look at this after the draft to see how things shift.

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.

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