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Need to Know: Why doesn't Aldrick play more?

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Need to Know: Why doesn't Aldrick play more?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 22, five days before the Washington Redskins travel to Denver to play the Broncos.

Nickel coverage

Five notes and quotes from Mike Shanahan’s Monday news conference:

1. Shanahan’s press conference took place a few hours before the NFL announced that Brandon Meriweather would be suspended for two games. He said the following when asked if Meriweather was being coached to avoid helmet-to-helmet hits where they are illegal:

“Well, I think he knows exactly what he has to do and sometimes there’s no intent there. Sometimes you hit a guy a little bit higher than anticipated. Even on the last one, he came to the sideline and said, ‘Hey, the one guy told me it was a good hit and the other official told me that he saw it differently.’ There are a lot of different interpretations of it. At the end of the day, we’ll find out.”

2. Stephen Bowen was diagnosed with a knee injury. “It’s a PCL tear,” said Shanahan. “Right now, he’s sore. [We will] probably know more [in] the next couple of days.” Bowen played through the same injury on his other knee during the 2011 season. The defensive end tweeted the following on Monday evening:

Letting everyone know I am not out for the season just gonna have some hard core rehab. We have some more games to win. #HTTR

— Stephen Bowen (@stevebo72) October 21, 2013

3. It was noted here yesterday that the success that Robert Griffin III had running the ball on Sunday helped out the rest of the offense. Shanahan agreed with that take. “I think the threat of the run is very important,” he said. “Any time the defense is afraid you may run the football, they have to cover the whole field and all the aspects of your game. I think anybody that has a threat of running the ball, you never know who they’re going to take away.”

4. Why doesn’t Aldrick Robinson, who caught two passes, one for 30 yards and another for 45 and a touchdown, get on the field more? He’s an X receiver and that’s Pierre Garçon’s spot. “We’ve got a lot of belief in Aldrick, and he does have some big play capabilities,” said Shanahan. “We need to get him in the ball game a little bit more. [wide receiver] Pierre [Garcon] has been playing well, so you don’t want to take Pierre out of the game too often, but you do want to give him opportunities to make some plays like he did [in the Bears game].”

5. I pointed out to Shanahan that the Redskins averaged 11.5 yards a play in the no-huddle offense. He said that if it continues to work that well they might have to use it more often.

“Our football team is in pretty good shape. We’ve got a fast and quick football team and it helps us when we do kind of change the tempo of the game. We might try to tire out the defense or we may call plays at the line of scrimmage. Just because you hurry up to the line of scrimmage doesn’t always make it a hurry-up offense. A lot of people huddle on the line of scrimmage and they take their time and call out audibles and check defenses out. Other teams will try to go a little bit quicker. We’ll change it up there, but it is a high-tempo offense for us and we do it to keep defenses a little bit off-balance and fortunately it has worked.”


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Stat of the day

—The Broncos are averaging 42.6 points per game. They are on pace to score 681 points for the season. The NFL record for points scored in a season is 589 by the 2007 Patriots.

Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Broncos 5; Chargers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Vikings 16

—Today’s schedule: No availability, off day.                     

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Why the Redskins drafted Jordan Reed

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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.

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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.

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