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Putting the Special Back in "Teams"

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Putting the Special Back in "Teams"

Is John Hall in danger of being replaced?

The Redskins made their second veteran free agent signing in three weeks yesterday, adding former Carolina Panther Brian Allen to roster. From Redskins.com: The Redskins continued to add to their depth and special teams with the signing of free agent linebacker Brian Allen, formerly with the Carolina Panthers, on Wednesday.

Allen, 6-0 and 232 pounds, has appeared in 46 regular season and four postseason games during his four-year NFL career, making nine starts. He has amassed 133 tackles (72 solo), one sack and one interception.

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Primarily utilized on special teams, Allen was a member of the Panther's kickoff coverage team that ranked fifth in the NFL in 2003.

Allen will continue his status of being primarily a special teams guy. His signing comes after the acquisition of Buffalo's Pierson Prioleau, a safety in name only, a special teams player by trade.

After the 2004 season ended, Joe Gibbs expressed the need for the Redskins to upgrade their "teams" as he calls the kicking units. They certainly were nothing special about the results from those units last year. Out of the 32 NFL teams the Redskins were 20th in punt return average, 12th in kickoff return average, 26th in punt return defense and 14th in kickoff return defense. That's a mixed bag of the mediocre and the awful.

The Redskins probably aren't done with making adjustments to the "teams". After signing just camp-fodder variety kickers to compete with John Hall the past two seasons, they will have some real competition for Hall, who missed half of last season with an assortment of injuries. Washington signed Jeff Chandler after putting Hall on injured reserve towards the end of last season. Chandler showed enough, including kicking four FG's against the 49ers, including a 49 yarder to warrant a new contract from the Redskins and a chance to battle for the position.

Chandler is five years younger than Hall, who turned 31 on St. Patrick's Day this year. Certainly that's not old for a kicker but add to that the injury issues and Hall's $1.4 million cap hit for 2004 and you have a vulnerable veteran in Hall.

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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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