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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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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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

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