Quick Links

Need to Know: Romo's scrambling has the attention of Redskins' defense

romo-scrambles.png

Need to Know: Romo's scrambling has the attention of Redskins' defense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, October 10, three days before the Redskins visit the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

Five things from yesterday at Redskins Park:

1. We have a couple of takes on the elusive Tony Romo here. The first is from Rob Jackson.

Once you beat the guy in front of you, you've still got to bring Tony Romo down. That's one of his upsides, he's so difficult to tackle. … He has great instincts, he seems to know where you are without looking at you.

2. The other one is from nose tackle Barry Cofield:

His pocket presence and his willingness to extend the play is his biggest attribute. A lot of quarterbacks want to get rid of the ball, they want to get that pressure off of them. They throw it out of bounds they feel like they've done their job. His willingness to extend plays, his ability to make those throws from any type of body position and the trust he has in his receivers make him tough.

3. Another one from Cofield on the team’s state of mind:

I think this team is confident despite the way we've started. I think we have a lot of confidence in general. People trust the plan that we have, I think that's the biggest thing. We have a lot of faith in our coaches, we have a lot of faith in our front office. We love our locker room we feel like we have a lot of high-character guys who we can rely on. Whenever you have that type of mindset, that type of trust and faith, you're very reluctant to crumble and you're very reluctant to lost confidence.

4. The Cowboys switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 this season. Here’s Mike Shanahan on studying film on a defense that has many of the same personnel but a drastically different scheme.

Sometimes when you go back and you look at games last year with a different scheme, it’s about personnel, studying someone from last year – might be a defensive end, linebacker, secondary – not as much scheme. [You] see if somebody has changed within the last year or how they’re playing, but not from a strategy standpoint.

5. And Robert Griffin III admitting what we already knew, that there was some rust for that opening game against the Eagles.

“You come out and the way we played – the way I played that first game – that was not up to my standards or up to our standards as a team in general. That was disappointing. When it comes to timing here, timing there, sometimes you might be a little bit off coming back from an injury like I had, and you have to work through those growing pains, but we didn’t think it was going to be what it ended up being those first couple of games, so that’s no excuse at all. You just have got to move on from that and try to be better – or be better.”


Stat of the day

—Since the divisions realigned in 2002 the 11 Cowboys-Redskins games in Dallas have been decided by an average of five points.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 4; Bears @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Broncos 18

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

Young: We can't look past anything

In case you missed it

 

Quick Links

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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.

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it