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Redskins rewind: Griffin gets run around from Panthers


Redskins rewind: Griffin gets run around from Panthers

While Mike Shanahan intends to “evaluate” the Redskins’ players in the coming weeks, it’s time for us to take our weekly look back at Friday’s preview and evaluate how those storylines played out Sunday at FedEx Field. 

1-RG3 vs. defensive end Charles Johnson and the rest Panthers’ front four. As we mentioned, one of the keys to the game figured to be whether the Redskins’ rookie would receive ample time in the pocket and enough space outside of it to make plays.

Well, he received neither. Griffin was hit nine times while passing (second highest total this season) and sacked four times. Three of those sacks came as Griffin attempted to rally the Redskins in the fourth quarter. One was by Johnson, another belonged to Greg Hardy and Johnson and Hardy shared the third as Tyler Polumbus, Trent Williams and Will Montgomery took turns getting beat.

For the most part this season, the Redskins offensive line had been adequate. On Sunday, the unit was far from it. 

2-RG3 vs. Cam. Although Griffin did a nice job of avoiding mistakes, Cam Newton did a better job of making plays and finishing drives. Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances – and to be fair, Griffin faced significantly more pressure than his counterpart – but even Griffin would probably admit he was edged by Newton in their first head-to-head battle.

Griffin finished 23 of 39 for 215 yards passing and a 74.2 rating. Newton was 13 of 23 for 201 yards, a touchdown and a 100.1 rating. On the ground, Griffin averaged 4.8 yards on 11 carries, while Newton averaged 4.6 on eight attempts.

For the second week in a row, Griffin saw his rating sink into low 70’s and his completion percentage drop below 60 percent. If this continues, it won’t be long before questions will be raised about the Redskins’ scheme and whether opposing defenses have caught on.

3-Aldrick Robinson got his second start of his career in place of the injured Pierre Garçon – and a second shot at earning the coaching staff’s trust.

Now, he’s in need of a third chance.

On the Redskins’ first play from scrimmage, Griffin fired a midrange bullet over the middle. Robinson needed to dive to get his hands on the ball, which went right between his hands. Tough catch? Sure. One that had to be made? Absolutely.

A week after receivers dropped 10 of Griffin’s passes in Pittsburgh, Sunday did not get off to a good start. Robinson was targeted once the rest of the afternoon.

4-Special teams struggles. A week after a missed extra point and shanked punt, the Redskins’ special teams were on point.

Kicker Kai Forbath remained perfect, booting field goals of 47 and 25 yards to improve to 8 for 8. Punter Sav Rocca, meantime, had a 43 yard net and did an excellent job corralling a high snap by Justin Snow on Forbath’s first field goal.

Special teams have been a problem often this season. On Sunday, however, the unit was the least of the Redskins’ concerns.

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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. 

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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.


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.