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Nine Wins and In?

Nine Wins and In?

Nine Wins and In?

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
There is a belief floating around out there that the Redskins will have to win out in order to achieve their goal of making the playoffs in 2005. This began to be uttered following the Redskins’ overtime loss to the Chargers and it persists even after the Redskins gained their sixth win of the season in St. Louis.

It’s not true. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that a nine-win team will make the NFC playoffs. If the Redskins can get to that level it’s very likely that they would win the tiebreaker against any other nine-win NFC team and snag the final wild card slot.

First, let’s take a quick look at the Redskins chances of winning the NFC East. It’s pretty simple. The Redskins would have to win out, beating Arizona, Dallas, the Giants, and Philadelphia and the Giants would have to lose one of their other three remaining games. That would put Washington, New York and possibly Dallas at 10-6. The Redskins would take that 3-way tie because of a better division record, would beat the Giants head to head because of the 5-1 division record and would have the head to head sweep over Dallas.

A sweep of their remaining games is unlikely, however, if only because winning four in a row is tough to do for even a very good team in the NFL and the Redskins don’t meet anyone’s definition of “very good”. Even three of four is a tall order, but certainly not impossible so the nine-win scenarios are worth exploring even though they’re somewhat complex.

What’s not complex is why the Redskins are likely to win a tiebreaker with any other nine-win team. The reason is their 0-4 record against AFC teams this year. Huh? How do losses help you make the playoffs?

Of course, they don’t but since all of the other teams who would be in that nine-win mix have at least one of their wins vs. an AFC team it means that the Redskins will have accomplished all nine of their wins vs. the NFC. As no other team in the Wild Card hunt can gain more than eight NFC wins, that will give Washington the better conference record, the second tiebreaker (the first is head to head) over every other nine-win team.

With four games to go and about a half a dozen other teams involved there are countless scenarios, so we’re going to make a couple of assumptions to clarify things. Let’s award the NFC South crown to 9-3 Carolina Panthers and the first Wild Card to the 8-4 Tampa Bay Bucs. That leaves the Redskins chasing three 7-5 teams, Dallas, Atlanta, and Minnesota, for the final playoff spot.

Let’s also assume that one of the Redskins’ three wins to get to nine is over Dallas. It’s possible for Washington to make it if their one loss is to the Cowboys, but that makes the picture a whole lot cleaner because it pulls the Redskins into a tie with Dallas with a head to head sweep in hand. And we’ll also figure that the Eagles, 5-6 entering Monday night’s game against Seattle, won’t be able to ride Mike McMahon to the nine wins necessary to be in this mix.

The math is simple, really. Washington needs three wins to get to nine. The other three teams have to win three in order to stay ahead of a Washington team that would beat them in the tiebreakers. A 2-2 finish will not do for Atlanta, Minnesota and Dallas. Here is who they play:

Atlanta:
Mon 12/12 New Orleans 9:00 pm Sun 12/18 at Chicago 8:30 pm Sat 12/24 at Tampa Bay 1:00 pm Sun 1/1 Carolina 1:00 pm

Minnesota:
Sun 12/11 St. Louis 1:00 pm Sun 12/18 Pittsburgh 1:00 pm Sun 12/25 at Baltimore 8:30 pm Sun 1/1 Chicago 1:00 pm

Dallas:
Sun 12/11 Kansas City 4:15 pm Sun 12/18 at Washington 4:15 pm Sat 12/24 at Carolina 1:00 pm Sun 1/1 St. Louis 8:30 pm

It’s not hard to see the Falcons lose to Chicago and Carolina, Minnesota losing to Pittsburgh and Chicago and the Cowboys falling in Carolina after losing to the Redskins.

By the same token, seeing how things have gone this year, it’s not hard to see the Redskins losing two of their last four either, making this whole discussion moot. But that’s why they play the games and why it is a virtual certainty that there will be games with playoff implications at FedEx Field in December.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.