Quick Links

Quick Thrill or the Start of Something Big?

280000.jpg

Quick Thrill or the Start of Something Big?

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Actually, it looks better when it's served over Tuna:

Right now, still in the glow of spending three hours plus
of being the Dallas Cowboys' daddy, it is a great win. And there is not a chance
it will ever be anything less than that. It was the Cowboys, it was Parcells, it
was for playoff life, it was at FedEx. That will never change.

As is almost always the case, however, we will need some
perspective to see just how this one stacks up in Redskins history against other
big regular-season games. Should the Redskins go to the playoffs, the game's
importance will be magnified. If they advance, it will get bigger. If the
Redskins use a playoff run this year as a springboard to elite status in the
NFL, it will become one of those legendary games that everyone remembers and
something like a quarter of a million people will eventually swear they saw in
person.

The Coverage

One of the best parts of a game like this one is reading
the morning papers and the glowing coverage of the local writers. Truth be told,
many of them are lifelong Redskins fans (I won’t name names). But, to a man
they would rather cover a winning team than a losing one and they’d rather be
covering playoff games than starting to write about offseason moves while the
college bowl season is barely underway.

What can be more fun, though, is to read the perspective
from the other side. Nobody can quite kick the Dallas Cowboys when they are down
than the writers and columnists who know them the best. Here are a couple of fun
ones I came across. First, from Jim Reeves of the Ft.
Worth Star-Telegram:

Considering what was at stake, it has to be the most devastating Cowboys' defeat of the
Parcells' era. After he spent last week telling us how much he liked these
players, they flat quit on him Sunday.

They soiled their britches

It is fair to wonder whether such a dismal failure in such a huge game will
eventually influence Parcells' decision to keep coaching beyond this season.

After what we saw Sunday, [the playoffs] might be little more than a pipe dream. A
Michael Irvin under-the-car-seat pipe dream.

The offensive line should have swapped uniforms with the Redskins cheerleaders.
When Torrin Tucker and company weren't being flagged for false starts and
holding, they were waving pompoms at the Redskins' defenders as they rushed by.

And from Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:

Parcells likes his team less today, because the Cowboys quit on him in a rivalry
showdown. When Terry Glenn wasn't pulling back on a crossing pattern (who
wants to get hit?), then Terence Newman was ducking on a tackle that resulted
in yet another Redskins touchdown (who wants to hit?).

The punter shanked, the field-goal kicker missed and nearly everyone on the
offensive line jumped once. Asked about the false starts afterward, Parcells
shrugged and said, "Hey, it's always the same guys."

Centers, guards, tackles. Those same guys.

Parcells glared so much at the offenders that there was concern his face would freeze
that way. And then there was the reigning NFC offensive player of the week:
Had Drew Bledsoe held the ball a little longer, Fox would have had to cut away
for commercial breaks.

That "thump-thump" you just heard was the sound of Cowboys getting thrown under the
bus.

It was not quite so enjoyable watching the highlights on ESPN. I'm

not as big a critic of the self-proclaimed "World Wide Leader" as some
are, but their coverage of the Redskins last night bordered on pathetic. On
"NFL Prime Time", Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were clearly stunned by
the Dallas loss. They said that the Redskins' ground-based game plan was
"Parcells-like".

Uh, excuse me guys, but Joe Gibbs won a Super Bowl with a ground-based
offense before Bill Parcells ever became an NFL coach. It was Gibbs being
"Gibbs-like".

And then on the Sports Center following the Sunday night game, the two
anchors brought it to an even lower level. As the shot of the Redskins' #53
intercepting a pass and returning it to set up a touchdown filled the screen,
the announcer said, "And then Marcus Williams picks off Bledsoe. .
."

It's not as though Marcus Washington is Warrick Holdman or another anonymous
player. He went to the Pro Bowl last year and he's probably going back again.
This past week he was named the Redskins Player of the Year by the Quarterback
Club. If you pay any attention at all to the Redskins, you know who he is.

But the "World Wide Leader" evidently doesn't pay much attention to
them. After showing the highlights and Bill Parcells' comments they showed the
Wild Card standings with the Redskins "out of nowhere" leading for the
second spot.

No, they didn't come out of nowhere. They have been steadily rising over the
past three weeks. They do have a Hall of Fame coach whose teams rallied to
playoffs spots in the past. They have a few pretty good football players. If you
want to remain the "World Wide Leader" you might want to start paying
some attention.

The Playoff Picture

One route to the playoffs is simple--win and in. If the Redskins win their
remaining two games against the Giants and Eagles, they are in the playoffs.
Should New York win its final game of the season against the Raiders in Oakland,
the Redskins would be a Wild Card. If the Giants lose, they will be the NFC East
champs.

There is still the outside possibility of the Redskins getting a first-round
bye (as first talked about
here
last week) if they win the division. If the Panthers (Dallas, at
Atlanta) and Bears (at Green Bay, at Minnestoa) lose out but still manage to win
their divisions at 10-6 Redskins division winner would be the #2 seed behind
Seattle and they would be off the first week of the playoffs. The would also get
the second seed if the Bucs and Bears win their divisions at 10-6. The Redskins'
conference record, which would be 10-2, would be the key tiebreaker.

It's also possible that the Redskins could split their next two games--it
wouldn't matter which one the won and which one they lost--and still get in at
9-7. It would just take Dallas (at Carolina, St. Louis) and Atlanta (at Tampa
Bay, Carolina) and Minnesota (at Baltimore, Chicago) to lose one more
game.

That playoff berth could be like the present that is kind of behind the
Christmas tree and you don't find it until that night. The Redskins, Cowboys,
and Falcons all play on Saturday and, if things set up right, the Redskins could
clinch on Christmas night if the Ravens beat the Vikings.

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. 

RELATED: Gruden squashes notion that Alabama defenders do not succeed in NFL

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. 

MORE REDSKINS: Grading the Redskins 2017 draft

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.

RELATED: Redskins roll the dice in the 7th round

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.

READ MORE: Breaking down the Redskins late round picks

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?