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Need to Know: Redskins special teams still adjusting

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Need to Know: Redskins special teams still adjusting

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 17, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Chicago Bears at FedEx Field.

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Five things from Redskins Park

1. As one might expect, special teams were a big topic of discussion on Wednesday at Redskins Park. Here is what two core special teams players had to say about the situation. First, this from Niles Paul; you’ll notice a theme in his remarks:

Keith Burns, he's a different individual than Danny. Everybody here loved Danny. Having Danny here was very beneficial to everybody. Keith is a different guy with a different scheme and everybody has to get used to that and believe in the coaches. At the end of the day, we just have to make plays. That's what Danny allowed us to do last year was go out and make plays. It was a simple as that and that's what we're missing this year. We just have to go out there and make plays. You need five or six guys rallying to the ball instead of one or two making the tackle.

2. Reed Doughty had similar thoughts when it came to making plays but he was not inclined to place much of the reason for the special teams issues on the change in coaches:

[The scheme is] definitely a little bit different. But at the end of the day we get paid to go out on Sunday and make plays. Whether it's because of the system or in spite of the system, what ever your feelings are, it really doesn't matter. It's still a reflection of us if they scored a touchdown on Sunday and had another big return.

3. Pierre Garçon was asked about how much pressure Robert Griffin III is putting himself under:

You always want to put pressure on yourself as a football player because you never want to think that you've arrived. I put pressure on myself, he puts pressure on himself. But this year is different from last year. As you get older in this league you have to be able to adjust and keep your head in the game. We're just finding out game . . . I don't think he's putting too much pressure on himself.

4. And here is Robert Griffin III talking about the pressure that Robert Griffin III faces:

“There’s just an expectation. Whenever you play the way we played as an offense in general – not just myself – moving the ball, making big plays, putting points on the board, whenever you play like that and you come back the next year and you don’t play like that and your quarterback has a significant knee injury in the offseason, the scrutiny is going to be there. But I think for a lot of guys in this locker room, nothing has ever been easy for us as far as in life. It’s never been given to us. Some guys in this league get a break and some guys don’t. With all the scrutiny going on with our team as far as the name, my knee injury, the way we started the season – all that stuff can pile up.

5. Mike Shanahan talking about how, well, stuff happens:

We missed a handoff on a draw. That’s what happened. Sometimes those things do occur . . . Robert went a little further back than he should have. Those things, sometimes we fake a little bit of a pass and sometimes the timing is not perfect, but we have been doing a pretty good job on that. That was one of those times we didn’t do a good job.


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Stat of the day

—The Redskins average 5.3 yards per rushing attempt, second in the NFL. The league average is  4.1 yards per attempt.

Timeline

—Days until: Bears @ Redskins 3; Redskins @ Broncos 10; Chargers @ Redskins 17

—Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Jim Haslett news conference 12:00; Practice 1:00 (open to media for first 30 minutes); Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan news conferences after practice (approx. 3:00), available streaming on CSNwashington.com.                                        

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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances

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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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