Quick Links

Playoffs!. . .Playoffs???

Playoffs!. . .Playoffs???

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

You come here to get the skinny on what needs to happen for the Redskins to make the playoffs. You get it.

I was ready to write a long complicated article here, but it’s really, really simple. Even though there are literally thousands of possible combinations of how the 11 teams with from six to eight losses could finish up, it boils down to this:

If the Redskins win out to finish at 8-8, they will be in the playoffs for certain unless one of three things happens:

Two other non-division winners finish with nine or more wins. Obviously, this would bump the Redskins out on the basis of record.

OR

The Packers or a Ram team that lost to the Jets are one of the teams that finish 8-8. That would not necessarily eliminate the Redskins, but if they should emerge from the tiebreakers in the NFC North (I’ll explain this little-noted NFL tiebreaker feature in a moment), the Pack would beat the Redskins out on the basis of their Halloween day win in FedEx and the Rams could get in ahead of Washington on the basis of other tiebreakers.

If you’ve made it this far through this blog, you are probably familiar with the NFL tiebreaking procedures, which you can find here: http://www.nfl.com/standings/tiebreakers Here are the procedures for a Wild Card tie among three or more teams. Pay particular attention to the first one on the list:

Three or More Clubs (for Wild Card)

1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2.

2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)

3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.

4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.

5. Strength of victory.

6. Strength of schedule.

7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.

8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.

9. Best net points in conference games.

10. Best net points in all games.

11. Best net touchdowns in all games.

12. Coin toss
So, only one team will “represent” each division in the Wild Card tiebreaker. If the Redskins win out, they will be the NFC East team in the mix if the Cowboys and/or Giants also finish at 8-8. Head to head wouldn’t matter as the Redskins would have split with both. The Redskins would be 3-3 in the division and that is the best either Dallas or New York could be.

It would then come down to conference record. And here’s the thing that makes it so simple for the Redskins. If they win out, they will be 8-4 in the conference. Except for Philadelphia, and they’re not in the discussion here, no other NFC team except the Rams that finishes 8-8 can finish with any better than a 7-5 NFC record.

That would give the Redskins the tiebreaker within the division. They would then advance on to matching up against any representatives from the other three divisions. From the West, that could be the Rams, Seahawks, or Cardinals. The Redskins will not have played any of those teams so it will come down to conference record. Seattle’s and Arizona’s would be worse that theirs, so the Skins would prevail there. St. Louis could also finish at 8-4 in the NFC, so it would go down the list. There aren’t four common games, so it would come down to strength of victory and it’s way too early to judge that (although a Redskin win over Philly would certainly boost that).

Atlanta needs just one more win to clinch the South, but if they collapse to 8-8 the Redskins would beat them out. Washington beat Tampa Bay head to head and 8-8 New Orleans and Carolina teams would be 7-5 in the conference at best.

And, in the North, an 8-8 Redskins team would have beaten Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota and would have lost to Green Bay. Now the Packers are 7-5 and it would take a 1-3 finish for them to finish at 8-8, so it’s best just to pull for them to win a couple more. If they do end up in that mix, it would depend on who they beat to determine if they emerge from the North for that win over Washington to do them any good.

So who do you root for this Sunday before settling in at 8:30 to watch the Redskins? Pull for:

  • Jacksonville to beat Chicago
  • New Orleans to beat Dallas
  • Green Bay to beat Detroit
  • St. Louis to beat Carolina (this one is borderline, but Carolina needs to be cooled off lest they keep rolling and end up with 9 wins)
  • Baltimore to beat the Giants
  • San Diego to beat Tampa Bay

Seattle at Minnesota is a tough one. They’re both tied for their respective division leads with the teams that the Redskins don’t want in the tiebreaker mix, the Rams and Packers. Since you want one both of them in the 8-8 Wild Card mix, I’d say got for Seattle since they have the worse record at 6-6. But the Redskins fans really can’t win or lose in this one.

Should the Redskins still be alive after this Sunday I’ll produce another “root for” list next week.

I’m doing this mostly for fun. It will take 7 teams to lose a combined 8 out of 28 games for the Redskins to make the playoffs (that’s Dallas, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Carolina, and Tampa Bay losing one each and Seattle finishing out 2-2). And, oh by the way, the Redskins going 4-0.

I’m not betting the ranch on the chances of making the playoffs—I wouldn’t even bet the dog house at this point. But if they can beat the Eagles and a good number of the “root fors” come through on Sunday, it gets into the “stranger things have happened” category.

Quick Links

How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

The Redskins ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in a number of defensive categories in 2016, and the first and second round selections in the 2017 Draft should help to address that.

A huge part of the Washington defensive problems stemmed from an inability to get off the field on third downs, and Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson should immediately provide a pass rush boost. In 2016, the duo combined for 18.5 sacks, 8.5 coming from Anderson and another 10 from Allen, two huge pieces for the excellent Alabama defense.

On the pro level, Anderson may actually be in position for more sacks as he's likely to play outside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 scheme. Allen will be more of an interior presence, a natural fit for the 'Skins defensive end spot in the 3-4.

That doesn't mean the two won't compete to hit quarterbacks. 

Asked Saturday if there would be a bet between the two college teammates about who gets more sacks their rookie season, Anderson quickly responded, "definitely."

Though he was surprised by the bet, Allen wasn't going to back down from the challenge. (Full video above)

"I guess there is now, I didn't know about it 'til now," Allen said. 

As for the stakes of the bet, Allen said the pair of rookies will figure that out behind closed doors. 

"His bank account is a little longer than mine so we will have to figure something else out," Anderson said.

What's clear from hanging out with both players is their familiarity with one another will help both players transition to the NFL. Allen and Anderson said they had an emotional response when they learned they would continue to play together in Washington. 

"There's very few players that have better film or resume than this guy right here," Allen said of Anderson. 

Anderson, as the Redskins press group has quickly learned, has a certain way with words. Honest and funny, but to the point.

"I'm excited to have one of my dogs with me here," he said of Allen. 

The Redskins ranked ninth in the NFL in sacks in 2016, but will lose Trent Murphy for four games to start the year. Sacks are just one metric to measure defensive success, though an easily quantifiable and fun metric for fans.

Where Washington has to improve is on 3rd downs. In 2016, they allowed a confounding 97 third down conversions, good for 31st in the league. There's only 32 teams. What's worse? The 'Skins gave nine fourth down conversions too.

Regardless of sack totals, Allen and Anderson were brought to Washington to help this defense get off the field. Coming from the Crimson Tide, the two rookies seem up for the challenge. 

Quick Links

Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we must dig in a little more to come up with a grade for the draft headed up by Bruce Allen. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—B

There really isn’t enough to love or to hate here. They didn’t do much wheeling and dealing while on the clock, making only a minor deal with the Vikings to move up two spots in the sixth round in exchange for moving down 10 slots in the seventh.

For the record, the trade (picks 201 and 220 from Washington to Minnesota in exchange for picks 199 and 230) was just about a wash on the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, with the Redskins giving up a statistically insignificant one point of value.

Whether center Chase Roullier, the player they traded up to draft, makes the team and has an impact or not is not going to make or break the draft but it should be noted that they gave up something of value to get him so it was a player they wanted to make sure they got as his name was still on the board.

The deals that got them up to 10 picks had already been made by Scot McCloughan on draft day last year as he added picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds with various trades.

Perhaps they deserve the most credit for a potential deal they did not make. As their first-round pick got closer and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remained on the board it had to be tempting for them to spend a mid-round pick to jump up and grab him before anyone else could. But Gruden said that they had a number of players to choose from as the pick approached and they decided to stay put. The gamble paid off as Allen fell into their laps at pick No. 17.

Talent/fit/needs—A-

The Redskins needed to bolster their defense and they certainly gave it a go. Their first three picks were on defense as were four of their first five and six of 10 overall.

But the raw number of the picks doesn’t really tell the story; it’s the value of the picks that really matters. According to that Jimmy Johnson pick value chart, they spend 1,596 points on defense and 126 points on offense.

They hit on their biggest needs with their first two picks. They had not drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since 1997 and the neglect of the position was evident. In Allen they got a player with Pro Bowl potential in their biggest area of need.

Allen will help the pass rush from the inside and then in the second round they acquired some edge rushing ability with Ryan Anderson. It seems that this pick was strongly influenced by Scot McCloughan’s draft board. His height, weight, and combine numbers were not what a lot of teams are looking for in an edge rusher but his tough mentality and obvious love for the game are attributes that McCloughan valued.

Although Gruden expressed his confidence in Rob Kelley to be his running back it appeared to most outside observers that an upgrade was needed and they got that in Samaje Perine. You can’t have too many good corners and Bashaud Breeland is set to be a 2018 free agent so they took Fabian Moreau in the third round. They had no backup center Roullier could develop into that spot. Gruden said earlier this offseason that they needed a blocking tight end and that is what Jeremy Sprinkle is.

They didn’t hit on all their needs. With the top three inside linebackers set to be free agents next year many thought they would spend a top pick there. And although there were a few possible nose tackles on the board in the later rounds they bypassed that position. You can’t solve everything in one draft but the Redskins have now had eight drafts since converting to the 3-4 defense and they still haven’t found a solution at nose tackle.

As far as value goes, it doesn’t get much better than Allen, who was a consensus top-five talent who lasted until the 17th pick. Moreau may have been a first-round pick before tearing a pectoral muscle lifting weights during his pro day.

On the other end of the value scale, the fourth round seemed to be way too early to take safety Montae Nicholson. There is something to be said for taking a guy with good measurables who didn’t have good game tape and taking a shot at developing him. But the fourth round is too soon for taking such a chance.

Overall—B+

After their first two picks, they didn’t shy away from red flags. Moreau and Nicholson both have injuries that will keep them out of action until sometime in training camp. Sprinkle had a highly-publicized shoplifting citation that got him suspended from Arkansas’ bowl game. Seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons failed multiple drug tests during college.

They did stay away from players with histories of high-profile violent incidents like Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon, and Caleb Brantley.

How those red-flag players turn out will be the key to this draft. It’s fine to take some chances, especially when you go into the draft with 10 picks. But you have better win more than you lose.

There were enough players taken who seem to be sure bets to be productive, if there is such a thing in the draft, to make it unlikely that the draft will be a total bust. Allen, Anderson, and Perine are clean prospects who have very high floors. Allen and Anderson may have Pro Bowl ceilings.

Given that, they seem to be assured of having a least a productive draft (again, with the caveat that nothing in the draft is certain). If Sprinkle develops into a good third tight end who can block and be a threat to catch a pass, that’s a plus. If Moreau can develop into a starter, this could be a pretty good draft. If sixth-round WR Robert Davis can contribute on special teams and be a productive fourth or fifth wide receiver, that would be another plus.

In short, the Redskins did some good work towards giving this draft a chance to be a success. Now it’s up to the coaches, to luck, and seeing how players who are projected to play well at age 22 actually perform on the field when they get older and suddenly have a six-figure salary. 

MORE REDSKINS: Clear winner from Redskins 2017 Draft?