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Need to Know: Why the Redskins need to release RG3 today

Need to Know: Why the Redskins need to release RG3 today

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 23, one day before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Why the Redskins should release RG3 today

The time has come.

The Redskins need to release Robert Griffin III from his $16.15 million 2016 option contract and they need to do it today.

Perhaps they should have done it a while ago, sometime between August 31 of last year when Jay Gruden handed the keys to the franchise to Kirk Cousins and last week.

But they have held on to Griffin for a couple of reasons. They want to see if they can generate some trade action for him. That would involve the Redskins finding a team so interested in Griffin that they would want to give up a draft pick to get him rather than waiting until March 9 when the Redskins have to cut him. Then, if the Redskins can locate that team they would have to persuade Griffin to give up his right to shop his services wherever he wants to and negotiate a new contract with this team since nobody is going to trade for him at $16 million per year.

Sounds far fetched, right? Yeah, it’s not happening.

The other reason Griffin remains a Redskin is that organization wants to use him as some sort of leverage, a “pawn” in the words of one former agent, in negotiations for a new contract for Cousins. I would love to hear Cousins’ agent laughing when they tried to tell him that they could let Cousins walk and go with a $16 million player they benched and who wants nothing to do with him. In fact, watching Bruce Allen try to claim that with a straight face might be pretty amusing, too.

Even though both of these ploys have been pointless for quite some time there really hasn’t been any reason to let Griffin go. Why not keep him in hopes that an NFL team completely loses its mind or that Cousins’ agent Mike McCartney wakes up one morning suffering from some sort of temporary amnesia and forgets all of what has transpired regarding Griffin since 2012? But tomorrow the NFL Combine starts and that’s why the Redskins should cut ties with Griffin today.

Jay Gruden will be addressing the media on Wednesday afternoon. And won’t be just the local media, who know the story on Griffin and would keep questions on why he’s still there to a minimum. There will be national reporters and media from every NFL team. Any beat writer from any team who might be interested in Griffin will be there looking for quotes about RG3.

So, instead of talking about how his 2015 playoff team is going to look to make itself better this year he could be in a situation where he is getting peppered with questions about a player who will definitively not be with the team in two weeks.

And Gruden is not a very good liar. That’s a fine quality for a human being, not so much for one who would be expected to continue the bluff and say that Griffin could still be a part of their plans going forward.

So, which will it be? Can one of the voices of the Redskins appear in front of media from all over the league and paint a vision of what a bright future will look like? Or will Gruden have to keep up the charade and keep rehashing the team’s dysfunctional past?

The choice seems obvious but there is no guarantee that the organization will take the right course of action.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 44 days ago. It will be about 201 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 1; NFL free agency starts 15; 2016 NFL draft 65

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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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