Quick Links

Redskins practice report, Day 8: Rookie Crowder shines

crowder-richmond-practice.png

Redskins practice report, Day 8: Rookie Crowder shines

RICHMOND—J. J. Watt and the Texans were in town today for the first of three days of joint practice. Watt did some, well, Watt-like things as will be noted in today’s Redskins practice report.

—The Texans don’t have any logos on their helmets or names on the back of their jerseys. The look is sort of reminiscent of Penn State, where Houston coach Bill O’Brien coached for a few years.

—A Houston rookie picked a bad time to muff a kickoff in the end zone. O’Brien was watching and came over and stood about five feet away from undrafted rookie Chandler Worthy. “You’ve got to field that [expletive] ball,” said O’Brien. The coach continued to stand there for a few minutes. Worthy had one of those “wanna get away” moments from the old Southwest commercials.

—The “experiment” of playing Brandon Scherff at right guard and moving Morgan Moses in at right tackle continued today. We will see if this continues in the future or if it is merely an evaluation and preparation in the event of injuries.

—Yesterday Jay Gruden said that Chris Thompson was developing in to quite a third-down back. Usually that means a player is a good receiver out of the backfield. But he was impressive running the ball today, showing great burst on a few runs. If he can keep that going he could get some carries on first and second downs, too.

J.J. Watt is not only big, he’s fast. The Redskins tried to run to the left, away from him, but he was over there in a flash. He just tagged the runner but it could have been a highlight-type of tackle for a three-yard loss in a live situation.

Jamison Crowder was one of the offensive stars of the session. He caught several passes working against the Texans’ first-team defense and he drew a flag when a defender had to grab him on a deep pass. We should tamp down the expectations meter since it’s early in training camp but the fourth-round pick is looking like quite a find.

—Wide receiver Rashad Ross became a fan favorite last year with a few good catches in camp and during the preseason. He made another nice grab today, going deep and taking Kirk Cousins’ pass away from cornerback A.J. Bouye.

Robert Griffin III got off to a rocky start in one set of full team work. His first pas was batted down by Watt. His second one was deflected by end Jared Crick. The offense did finish up the series with good run by Alfred Morris and a Griffin pass to Andre Roberts so it wasn’t all bad in that session.

Terrance Knighton was back to work today after missing yesterday’s practice with the flu.

Bill Callahan was having some words with Moses after Griffin had to scramble on a play. I’m not sure what it was about but Moses didn’t do much of anything after Watt shifted over and rushed against Scherff. Perhaps Callahan was suggesting that Moses should have picked another assignment.

—It’s a joint practice in early August so why not a fake field goal pass from Kai Forbath to Moses about 30 yards away from the goal line. There were regular NFL officials working and the one in the end zone called it an interception. The play happened right in front of me and it looked to me like Moses wrestled the ball away before they hit the ground. Replay may have overturned the call on the field.

—They finished off practice with a goal to go drill. Starting at the 10 the Redskins’ first-team offense couldn’t get into the end zone in three snaps. A third-down draw play by Thompson came up short. The Texans ones got into the end zone against the Redskins’ defensive starters on a pass to the corner of the end zone from Brian Hoyer to DeAndre Hopkins.

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Always something on social:

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Quick Links

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.