Sometimes a coach will shout a message to his team from the rooftops. Sometimes he will take a subtler approach.
Jay Gruden took the former approach last year after his team fell to 2-4 with a loss to the Jets. He said that the team’s game against the Bucs the following week was a “Code Red”. The Redskins apparently got the message as they responded by rallying from a 24-0 deficit to shock Tampa Bay. That started a 7-3 run to end the season and the Redskins won the NFC East.
This week Gruden is being a bit more restrained in talking about the elevated importance of the team’s upcoming home game against the Vikings and the following game against the Packers, also being played at FedEx Field. But the message is clear.
“You hate to make one game more important than the other but these next two games in general are going to be important,” said Gruden. “They’re two home games that are very, very big for us. We’re 4-3-1. We’re right now currently I guess the No. 7 or 8 seed, whatever it is and we’re in a position that we’re in a good position but we’re in a position where we don’t have a lot of room for error. We really have to take advantage of our home games and the advantage that the home field gives us. We have to take advantage of those, so they are important.”
Actually, they are the No. 6 seed in the NFC, positioned for the second wild card spot. They are 0-1-1 in their last two games so if they are going to stay in playoff position they are going to have to start winning some games.
The games against the Vikings (5-3) and Packers (4-4) carry elevated performance because, as Gruden pointed out they are home games. The Redskins are 2-2 at home this year. They will need to do better than break even at FedEx Field to make the playoffs.
In addition, the next two games are against teams that will be in the wild card mix along with the Redskins. It is unlikely that the tiebreaker that comes with winning a head-to-head matchup will come into play since the Redskins’ tie against the Bengals means that barring a tie by one of those teams they won’t end up the same record as either the Packers or Vikings. But adding wins to your ledger while adding losses to your rivals’ records certainly helps your situation.
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Vernon Davis played well in 2016, quite well in fact. Signed to a one-year deal after a poor 2015 season, expectations were low for Davis and he over-delivered.
He ended the season with 44 catches and 583 yards to go with two touchdowns, but a stat from Pro Football Focus truly stands out.
There were 15 tight ends with more yards than Davis, including one on his own team in Jordan Reed. Still, at age 32, Davis had the moves to make defenders miss.
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Even early in 2016, as early as training camp, a number of Redskins players mentioned that Davis still had speed and quickness. That didn't change throughout the 16 game season. Pro Football Focus just quantified it.
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Having a workout buddy is good. Having a workout buddy who's a three-time All-Pro and who churns out 100-catch seasons like Michael Bay churns out dreadful Transformers sequels, however, is better.
It's that second kind that Terrelle Pryor has chosen to spend time with recently. On Thursday, the Redskins wideout tweeted footage of him working out alongside Antonio Brown, and even though he is much taller and 40+ pounds heavier than the Steelers star, Pryor didn't have that much trouble keeping up with the NFL's top outside threat.
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Take a look at this race between the two, for instance, in which the pair of pass-catchers blow by the camera man so quickly, he fails to film the contest's conclusion:
You can also watch Pryor and Brown go through a ladder drill while wearing a band around their ankles at the end of this video from the Redskins. Now, that band would likely cause some problems for common folk trying to complete the drill, but as these two show, they aren't common:
They even found time for yoga (please be sure to note how Pryor's groutfit is so thorough that it includes his mat):
For a guy like Pryor — who's still relatively new to his position — spending offseason time with Antonio Brown could really pay off for both him and the Redskins in 2017.
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