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Redskins first half awards


Redskins first half awards

Here is one blogger’s opinion on the best and worst of the Redskins’ season at the halfway mark.

Offensive MVP—The obvious and only choice is Robert Griffin III. He has been the catalyst for the team’s three wins and he has given them a chance in all but one of their five losses. He has made more memorable plays this year—the 76-yard TD run, the scrambling fourth-down conversion, the 88-yard “Griffining” TD to name a few—than the team has had in the past several years combined.

Defensive MVP—As easy as it is to choose an offensive MVP, it is just as difficult to pick one on a defense that has been a major disappointment. The front seven is not generating a pass rush with any consistency and the coverage has been spotty. And although the rushing defense has been pretty solid that is in large part because teams don’t run against them because it’s so easy to pass on them. Still, Ryan Kerrigan has played well. He’s not piling up a lot of sacks but he has been steady at many aspects of the game and at times, like when he plucked Matt Ryan’s pass out of the air  and rolled in for a touchdown, spectacular.

Special teams MVP—This award is almost as easy as the one for the offense. Special teams have had plenty of issues with blocked and missed kicks and an inability to break out and get a big return. But the coverage has been solid and captain Lorenzo Alexander has been a demon in in that department and the glue that has held the units together.

Surprise development—The emergence of Alfred Morris as not just the team’s leading rusher but as one of the best running backs in the league is something that nobody expected when training camp opened. The sixth-round pick seemed to be on the roster bubble in early August but by the time the season started he was the opening day starter in New Orleans.

Disappointing development—The defense was ranked 13th in the NFL last year and if they just could have duplicated that performance this year the Redskins likely would be in the thick of the playoff hunt. But they are near the bottom of the league overall and on pace to become the first NFL team to allow 5000 yards passing in a season. Nobody every thought they would long for the Redskins’ 2011 defense, or even the 10th-ranked 2009 edition. 

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Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

Jay Gruden views Chris Thompson as the NFL's best third-down running back

In 2016, Chris Thompson simply needed to prove to Jay Gruden that he could handle 16 NFL games.

Now, looking ahead to 2017, the fifth-year running back hopes to show his head coach he can shoulder 16 NFL games and a larger workload.

"I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year," Thompson said Monday at the Redskins Charitable Golf Foundation. "[Gruden] knows now that I'm healthy and I can stay healthy, which I think that was one of his biggest concerns. So now he sees that I can handle the load, I think that I'll get a lot more opportunities this year."

Last season was by far the best in the 26-year-old's career. He played a full slate of games after playing in just 19 over his first three seasons combined, and he set career highs in rushing attempts (68), yards (356), receptions (49), receiving yards (349) and total touchdowns (5).


He also held up well in pass protection, a key duty for him as the team's third-down running back. And it's all of those qualities — being able to contribute on handoffs and with catches while also providing help in keeping Kirk Cousins upright — that make him an excellent fit for a popular NFL duty.

The most excellent in that duty, actually, if you ask Gruden. 

"I think Chris Thompson's role is big," he said. "When you're talking about third downs, that's the most important down in football. There's nobody better as a third-down back in my opinion than Chris. He's got a huge role on this football team." 

Gruden went on to indicate that an increase in Thompson's responsibilities is likely coming, though No. 25 will still do the majority of his work when the offense needs him most.

"Whether he does some more stuff on first- and second-down will be determined," he said. "I'm sure he will. But he's so valuable on third-down that I gotta keep him in that role for now."

A 2013 fifth-round pick who came into the league with a history of injuries, Thompson has now fully gained the trust of his coaches and teammates. The 5-foot-8 running back may be small in stature, but the Redskins know he's not small in importance.  


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Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings? 

Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit. 


Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.

Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.  

Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.

That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed. 

Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.


2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:

Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans