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On Thursday, a glimpse at what could have been

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On Thursday, a glimpse at what could have been

RICHMOND—The Redskins and their fans should get a glimpse of what might have been on Thursday when Jake Locker starts at quarterback for the Titans.

Going into the 2011 draft, there was plenty of chatter that Mike Shanahan was enamored with the athletic Locker going back to the quarterback’s sophomore year with the Washington Huskies. The Redskins held the tenth pick in the draft and there seemed to be a very good chance that Locker would be there when the Redskins’ turn came up.

But it didn’t happen. The Titans had the eighth pick and they decided to make him the quarterback of their future. The Redskins ended up trading back and taking Ryan Kerrigan. They would get their QB of the future in 2012.

Locker played in five games as a rookie, mostly late in games where the outcome had been decided. He entered last year as a starter but he missed five games with a shoulder injury.

The 6-foot-3 Locker had an up and down 2012 season with 10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a decidedly mediocre passer rating of 74.0. He rushed for 41 times for 291 yards.

There is talk that Locker will run some read option this year to take advantage of his speed and athleticism. In the spring, Titans head coach Mike Munchak said that the Titans will "have a lot more things for Jake ... and you want defenses to worry about those types of things."

It is unlikely that we will see much of any new wrinkles the Titans might have for Locker in the first preseason game, but Locker could scramble a time or two in the few series he’ll be in the game. That will give us a glimpse of what might have been here.

The Redskins, of course, limped through the 2011 season with Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback and traded up to get Robert Griffin III in the 2012 draft. We’ll never know what might have happened if the Titans had passed on Locker and he had been on the board when the Redskins’ selection came up two picks later. But we’ll get a quick look at the possibility on Thursday.

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Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

Goal to go situations another problem area for Redskins' defense

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.  

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NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

NFC East Update - Where everybody is losing except the Cowboys

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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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