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Play of the Day: Redskins' margin for error likely to be slim

Play of the Day: Redskins' margin for error likely to be slim

RICHMOND—During Sunday’s practice session the Redskins first-team offense was running a play from around the 10 yard line of the defense. On the right side, DeSean Jackson got about a step clear of Josh Norman in the corner of the end zone. Kirk Cousins threw the pass perfectly, just over Norman and the other defenders and into the hands of Jackson.

The receiver dropped the pass.

Before I get started here, the point here is not to rip Jackson, who has had a very good camp and who did not drop a single pass last year. Nor is it to talk about Jackson (again) beating Norman, this time in conditions that are game-like.

No, the point here is to note that the Redskins can’t afford to make such mistakes. They don’t have to be perfect but if they can’t lose many easy opportunities for scores. While they could be improved they face what looks now to be a tougher schedule. Their margin for error will be slim.

They could well have finished out of the playoffs last year. Three of their nine wins were by six points or fewer. A mistake like the one Jackson made, when the play call and execution were right on point, may have been very costly. A loss in any of those games might have had them back to being spectators during the playoffs.

An ill-timed fumble could have the same effect. So far in training camp the running backs have been very good at holding on to the ball despite the defense emphasizing pawing at the ball whenever they are anywhere near it.

To be sure, the Redskins did survive some notable gaffes last year. In their most important game of the season in Week 16 in Philadelphia Cousins took a knee at the Eagles six right before halftime to cost the Redskins an easy three or a possible six points. They won the game anyway although what should have been a 23-10 laugher at the half remained close through the third quarter.

They got away with that one but the Redskins are probably a year or two away from possibly being good enough to drop touchdown passes and not have it put them in jeopardy of losing. Again, I don’t expect to see Jackson drop an important touchdown pass when the games count. But someone could and it could be very costly.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—First round of draft could fall into place

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—First round of draft could fall into place

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 21, 96 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 39
NFL free agency starts 47
First Sunday of 2017 season 232

The Redskins week that was

A look back at the week with some of the top posts on RealRedskins.com and on CSNmidatlantic.com.  

 

An early look at 1st-round draft possibilities for the Redskins—This post marked 100 days until the draft and now were a few days closer. It’s very early but the preliminary big boards make it look like the Redskins are likely to have a defensive lineman such as Solomon Thomas of Stanford or Mailk McDowell of Michigan State wind up as the best available player so that both the fans a Scot McCloughan can be happy.

Cap room a dilemma for Redskins McCloughan?—There is plenty of talk about how expensive Kirk Cousins’ contract or franchise tag will be and how the expense could affect the ability to spend in other positions. But the team has $62 million in cap space. If they don’t spend a good chunk of it on Cousins what will they do with it? They could bring back Pierre Garçon, Chris Baker and make new deals for eligible 2014 draft picks like Bashaud Breeland and Morgan Moses and still have a lot left over. If they don’t spend it a quarterback, what will they do with it? I do know that if they have, say, $20 million in cap space left and they are around .500 again, the fans and media will not be happy.

Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense—The changes on this side of the ball will feel more like reloading than rebuilding. I’m assuming Cousins will be back one way (long-term deal) or another (tag). At least four out of the five O-linemen are set and the tight ends will get set if McCloughan can lure Vernon Davis back. We’ll see if the running back corps gets shaken up in the draft or in free agency. The one area that could be wide open is receiver and even that could remain relatively stable if Garçon returns.

3 of 4 Redskins named to Pro Bowl won't attend—I think fans generally have become much more apathetic about Pro Bowl selections compared to, say, seven or eight years ago. Playing in the exhibition game is an “honor” that so many choose not to accept or, as was the case with Brandon Scherff, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jordan Reed, they are too injured after a 16-game season to take part. Meanwhile, alternates Cousins, Josh Norman, and Jamison Crowder (as a kick returner) have not yet heard their phones ring. Why does the NFL even bother with the Pro Bowl? People still watch it. Ratings for the last edition (4.5) were about a point lower than the MLB All-Star game (5.4) and a tick above the NBA All-Star game (4.3). Those are not huge ratings but big enough to turn a profit.  

The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins—I think that the first offer that both sides make here is going to be critical. If the Redskins lowball Cousins again it will set a bad tone. If Cousins’ offer is too high the Redskins could think that Cousins is determined to leave. And both sides need to be willing to negotiate. If any of that took place last year there was very little. With no give and take the talks will go nowhere. 

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In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Report: One more potential defensive coordinator is off the market for the Redskins

Report: One more potential defensive coordinator is off the market for the Redskins

Well it looks like the name many considered to be the Redskins top choice at defensive coordinator is off the market. Adam Schefter broke the news of Gus Bradley to the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Redskins interviewed Bradley early in their process of selecting a new defensive coordinator. His latest gig ended poorly after he was fired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Bradley's best success came as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks.

When he served in that role with Seattle, Bradley worked with Scot McCloughan. And prior to his coaching stint in Seattle, Bradley coached in Tampa, where he worked with both Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden.

Those connections, and his success in Seattle, had many fans hoping Bradley would take over for Joe Barry, who Washington dismissed more than two weeks ago.

The connection between Bradley and the Chargers comes as no surprise, and it leaves    Washington still in need of a defensive boss.

Mike Pettine probably jumps to the top of the ranks of other coaches the Redskins have interviewed, but it still seems internal candidate Greg Manusky could be in position to move up to coordinator. Manusky spent the 2016 season as outside linebackers coach and has prior coordinator experience.

The Skins have also interviewed Dennis Thurman, last of Buffalo, Jason Tarver, last of San Francisco, Rob Ryan, also last in Buffalo, and John Pagano, last with the Chargers.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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