Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 27, 11 days before the Redskins start their offseason workouts.
Here are the top five takeaways from Jay Gruden’s press availability at the NFL owners meetings:
Orakpo needs to prove it—Gruden said that he would be fine with having Brian Orakpo play out the season on the franchise tag. If you read this blog regularly you know that I’ve been saying that the team really has no interest in giving him a long-term deal for a variety of reasons, among them his need to show that he can get it done two years in a row among them.
The offensive line shuffle is official—As many expected, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger will slide into the center spot that became vacant when Will Montgomery was released and free agent signee Shawn Lauvao will be the starting left guard.
Phillip Thomas should be ready to go—He suffered a Lisfranc injury in August and Gruden thinks he’ll be ready to play. However, he wasn’t specific about whether or not Thomas will be able to be fully participant in the offseason program that starts April 7. But he did indicate that they would like to see him step up into a substantial role so he must have some confidence that he will be able to get in a lot of practice before the season starts.
He doesn’t care if RG3 wears a knee brace—“His knee is strong” said Gruden and he said that braces are so light that it really shouldn’t hinder him if the doctors do recommend that he wear one.
He likes having two good QB’s—Well, he said “great” quarterbacks but I’m not quite sure either Griffin or Kirk Cousins qualify. But he does like having Cousins around, especially since Griffin tends to put himself in harm’s way from time to time. Gruden said that the team hasn't received any trade offers for Cousins so far.
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—It’s been 88 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 164 days until they play another one.
—Days until: Offseason workouts start 11; NFL Draft 42; Training camp starts 118
In case you missed it
Gruden: Hatcher "was a priority for us" due to pass rush
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In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.
Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.
The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.
The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.
Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.
The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.
The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:
- The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
- It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
- Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous.
- While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.
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