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Redskins in turmoil--One year ago

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Redskins in turmoil--One year ago

After three games the team was struggling with a losing record and it looked like the season was going to spiral out of control. The defense couldn’t stop anyone and some fans were calling for the defensive coordinator to be fired. Both the game and the durability of the young quarterback were being questioned.

The scenario above is being played out now, of course. It also was being played out exactly 12 months ago. The Redskins were coming off of a 38-31 loss to the Bengals in a game that wasn’t really as close as the final score made it appear. In the first two games it looked like rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III would revolutionize the game with his running ability. The Bengals slammed Griffin to the turf multiple times and he often took a few seconds to pick himself up off of the FedEx Field turf.

It got to the point where Griffin had to talk about his toughness in the postgame press conference.

"I don’t know how many times I got hit, I got hit a lot . . . The one thing I won't do personally is quit or play scared. I've never played scared in my life. So it doesn't matter how many times they hit me, I'm going to continue to get back up," he said. "Even if they have to cart me off the field, I'm going to get off that cart and walk away."

At that point in the season, Griffin had run the ball 33 times for 198 yards.

The defense was getting torched. They were 30th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed (1,288) and they had give up 101 points, also 30th in the league.

But after allowing 31 points or more in each of the first three games, the Redskins’ defense settled in some. They allowed more than 27 points just twice in the remaining 13 games and the Redskins won both of those games.

Things got a little better as the Redskins came back the next week to beat the Bucs. But they lost four of their next five to fall to 3-6. We all know what happened after that.

There are some differences this year. Even though there is only a one-game difference in their record, having that zero in the wins column is a huge psychological factor. Griffin is not yet nine months removed from reconstructive knee surgery.

But there is much more that is the same. The team has the same coaches, and almost all of the same key players. The schedule in front of the 2012 Redskins looked daunting, just like the upcoming games do for this group. And Redskins fans, and many in the media, were in a panic a year ago and many of the same people are now saying that the sky is falling.

History will not necessarily repeat. The fact that last year’s bunch recovered to post the Redskins’ best season in over a decade doesn’t mean that this year’s bunch will get it together.

But it does mean that it’s possible and that we do tend to overreact in the moment. The Redskins are right to resist calls to bench Griffin and/or fire defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. They will make some tweaks to the schemes and playcalling and perhaps give different players some additional playing time on both sides of the ball. But in the big picture they will continue to do what they have been doing. They have some history on their side.

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Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense

Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Offense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual playoff contenders.

The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart.

Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Today we’ll look at the offense and project the defense in the next couple of days.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

— Quarterback: Kirk Cousins*
Backups: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld

It’s not a sure thing that Kirk Cousins will be back under center but it’s very much more likely than not, either with a new long-term contract or via the franchise tag. McCoy is under contract and will continue to be the backup. I think they are happy with Sudfeld as their developmental guy although I wouldn’t be shocked if Scot McCloughan decided that a quarterback is the best available player sometime in the fifth round in April.

RELATED: REDSKINS RESUME - MATT CAVANAUGH

— Running backs: Rob Kelley
Backups: Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, draft pick

Gruden gave Kelley a vote of confidence in his final press conference but that could be fluid. If Jones can get things straight between his ears he has the physical tools to be a very good running back but they can’t count on that. There is some talk that the Redskins will look to take a back in the middle rounds if they can find one with some impact.

— Wide receivers: Pierre Garçon*, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder (slot receiver),
Backups: Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris

Right now, it looks like it’s slightly better than 50-50 that Garçon will be back. If he’s not they will have to sign a starter in free agency; as we found out last year, you can’t count on a rookie receiver to produce, even if you take one high in the draft. If McCloughan does take a receiver in the later stages of the draft he likely will replace Grant, not Harris.

More Redskins: THE REDSKINS' WEEK THAT WAS

— Tight end: Jordan Reed
Backups: Vernon Davis*, Niles Paul

It seems likely that Davis will re-sign, although since it could be his last NFL contract I don’t think he will give the Redskins much of a hometown discount. The organization will pay, however, as it is apparent that the need a quality backup for Reed. I’m on the fence about Paul. On the one hand, I could see the organization looking for an alternative since he has finished each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. But he’s the kind of guy that McCloughan likes to have on the team.

— Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Spencer Long, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Backups: G Arie Kouandjio, T Ty Nsekhe, C John Sullivan*, 1-2 free agents/draft picks

Could it be that the Redskins are nearly set on the O-line with the exception of some parts further down the depth chart? Nsekhe is a restricted free agent and he will be back either on the tag or with a new contract. Maybe Kouandjio can challenge Lauvao for the starting job but both are likely to be on the 53. If they move on from Kory Lichtensteiger to save $3.5 million in cap room and if Sullivan opts to try to find a starting job elsewhere they could find a veteran center to back up Long.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOST IMPORTANT FREE AGENTS

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Redskins' cap room could be a dilemma for McCloughan

Need to Know: Redskins' cap room could be a dilemma for McCloughan

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 16, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 44
NFL draft 101
First Sunday of 2017 season 237

A six pack of thoughts to start out the week

1. I think that by the end of the week the Redskins will have two new coordinators. It looks like Matt Cavanaugh will be the offensive coordinator. Haven’t heard why Bill Callahan isn’t getting the nod; it’s possible that he likes what he’s doing now and he’s getting paid as well as many coordinators.

2.  For a quick game with the $100 in imaginary casino chips on the defensive coordinator candidates, I’ll make Greg Manusky the favorite at $40 with Mike Pettine right behind him at $35. I’ll put $10 of the rest on Gus Bradley—we’ve heard of an interview with the Chargers but not anything like a hiring—and $15 on the field. The situation is fluid but that's the way it looks right now. 

Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh

3. On November 21, after the results of Week 11, the Redskins were 2.5 games ahead of the Packers. They were also a half-game better than of the Falcons. Those two teams are now playing for the NFC title. It’s not how you start, or even how you do in the middle of the season. It’s how you finish.

4. I’m not much of a hockey guy but I think I’ve got to get down to the Verizon Center to see the Caps. They are blazing hot and you can tell it’s a great atmosphere at the VC.

5. I have a feeling that an announcement about a new stadium for the Redskins is going to happen sometime in the next few months. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe can’t run again; he is out of office about a year from today. He’s going to want a legacy item and a state of the art stadium in the commonwealth would fill the bill. The process of approval, financing, and construction will take up most or all of the 10 years that remains on the FedEx Field lease.

More Redskins: The Redskins week that was

6. Normally having a lot of cap space to work with is a good thing but it may not be for Scot McCloughan this year. If the Redskins trim some veterans from the payroll they could go into free agency with around $70 million to spend. McCloughan would prefer to build through the draft. But the current situation almost forces the Redskins to spend. McCloughan took some heat for going into the 2016 season with $15 million in cap space and some unfilled needs on the defensive line and at safety. If they have issues again in 2017 and there is, say, $30 million just sitting there the noise will get louder. And it won’t just be coming from fans and the media; plenty of it will come from the offices of Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.