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One bad play ruins pretty good day for defense


One bad play ruins pretty good day for defense


Grade vs. Giants: C-

Comment: For a little more than 58 minutes, the Redskins’ defense appeared to be well on its way to an impressive performance against one of the league’s elite offenses. 

At the two minute warning, linebacker Perry Riley (team-high eight tackles) and his teammates had limited the Giants to 64 rushing yards on 19 carries (3.4 yards per). New York quarterback Eli Manning, meantime, had been picked off twice and thrown for only 252 yards, despite facing little sustained pressure from the Redskins’ pass rushers.

Games in the NFL are 60 minutes, however, and a critical breakdown in the waning moments saw a potentially good day suddenly turn bad. Really bad.

The Redskins were clinging to a 23-20 edge in the final minutes when Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz lined up in the slot. But instead of breaking off his route, he opted to run a “go” and sprinted right between defensive backs Josh Wilson and Madieu Williams before hauling in a 77-yard touchdown pass that sealed New York’s 27-23 victory.

Whether it was miscommunication between Wilson and Williams (Wilson appeared to be anticipating more help from Williams), improper alignment or simply Cruz’s flat out foot speed, big plays inside 90 seconds ... while protecting a lead ... on the road ... with first place in the division on the line ... simply can’t happen.

Giants Coach Tom Coughlin explained afterward that Cruz made an astute adjustment on the fly. “There was an option there and he took it,” Coughlin said of Cruz’s choice of routes. “That’s what I can tell you.”

On Monday, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan summed up the defense’s performance succinctly.

“We hit Eli a number of times during that game; he normally hasn’t been hit that many times,” Shanahan said. “Then all of a sudden, you do give up that big play, it takes away all the good things that we did on defense. Instead of allowing [252] yards passing, you’ve got [329].”

Indeed, the statistics don’t lie. And the rankings put the Redskins last in passing yards allowed (2,299) and tied for last in passing touchdowns yielded (16).

Until the secondary gets sorted out, the Redskins will continue to struggle. 

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Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

Redskins offseason questions: Will Scot McCloughan go defense in 1st round?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: It's tag day

Will the Redskins go with a defensive player in the first round of the 2017 Draft?

Finlay: The Redskins haven't drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2011 when the franchise grabbed Ryan Kerrigan with the 16th pick. In fact, the team has only drafted five defensive players in the first round over the last 15 years. 

History suggests Washington will stay away from a defensive player, but sources in Ashburn have suggested otherwise. Assuming the talent is there when the 'Skins pick at No. 17, Scot McCloughan would like to bolster the team's defensive line specifically. 

Things will get complicated should Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook slide to 17. Rich Tandler certainly would like to see the Burgundy and Gold add a top-flight running back.

Tandler: Many fans believe that conducting a draft is like going into a grocery store with a list. Defensive lineman is at the top of the list so you go to aisle 12 and put a DL in the cart. Safety is next on the list so you push the cart over to that aisle and pick out one of those.

No, a draft is much more unpredictable. There might not be a defensive lineman who is close to worthy of the No. 17 pick when the Redskins are on the clock. Talk of taking the best available player is like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. But if you’re reaching for need in a draft, you’re losing that draft. Sure, if a player in a position of need is just a spot or two down from the best available you think about it. Still, staying true to your board is the way to build a team.

The other thing to consider here is that we haven’t gone through free agency yet. Needs will shift after that. Suppose the Redskins sign two starting-caliber D-linemen and lose both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson in free agency? Defensive line is no longer a five-alarm priority and receiver will be. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?


Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Redskins free agent WR Pierre Garçon has simple question: 'Y'all hiring?'

Twice in the last five seasons Pierre Garçon logged more than 1,000 yards receiving as a member of the Washington Redskins, including the 2016 season. He's caught 376 passes in Washington for 21 touchdowns over 74 games.

Outside of a foot injury that cost his six games in 2012, Garçon has been arguably the Redskins most durable wide receiver, and he's known to be a hard worker in the weight room and the practice field. 

Despite all that, Garçon doesn't know that he will be back with the Burgundy and Gold once free agency opens. In fact, that uncertainty led the 30-year-old wideout to post a simple question on his Instagram page.


A post shared by Pierre Garcon (@pierregarcon) on

The top of the Redskins offseason questions remains QB Kirk Cousins. Garçon and fellow wideout DeSean Jackson are headed for free agency, as is standout defensive lineman Chris Baker. Reports show that the team has made little to no contact with any of the players or their representatives, though many conversations could be planned for the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis later this month. 

Garçon's question seems simple, but the answer remains a mystery. 


Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!