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Redskins vs. Giants Bold Predictions

Redskins vs. Giants Bold Predictions

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

The struggling Redskins get another shot at the team that their current woes started against.

You remember, Week 2, September 19. Washington had beaten Tampa Bay in the season opener a week earlier and was coming in to play a Giants team that had been noncompetitive in losing to Philadelphia. On their first drive, the Redskins moved smartly downfield as Clinton Portis rushed for 24 yards and Mark Brunell launched accurate passes to Laveranues Coles, Sellers and, finally Cooley for the touchdown.

A couple of possessions later, early in the second quarter, the defense stoped New York on a fourth and one at the Redskins 35. The Redskins were getting ready to go on a roll and put the Giants in a big hole.

But on third down Brunell fumbled and Michael Strahan recovered at the Washington 38. On the next play, Kurt Warner went from being a broken-down has-been to a comeback player of the year candidate as he launched a touchdown pass to tie the game. On the next Washington possession, Coles lost 16 yards on an end around. After the teams exchanged punts, Portis fumbled for the first time in forever and the Giants recovered and took it in for the touchdown.

The tone had been set and Redskins’ season has been going downhill ever since.

The Giants, on the other hand, used that game as a springboard as they won three of their next four games. It’s been a hard landing back to earth as they have lost their last four straight.

The ironic aspect of that September meeting was that the Redskins turned the ball over seven times and were still in the game well into the fourth quarter. Had they turned the ball over “just” six times, or perhaps five, they probably would have won the game.

Patrick Ramsey, who came in after Brunell injured his hamstring in the second half, accounted for three of those turnovers as he tossed a trio of interceptions. That performance, many theorize, is why Gibbs was so reluctant to bench Brunell even when the veteran was posting single-digit completions and double-digit passing yardage week after week. If that’s true, and there certainly seems to be a good deal of logic there, that September game had repercussions for the team that lasted well into November.

Ramsey is now the starter for the Redskins. The Giants have benched Warner and have made rookie Eli Manning their starter. In Manning’s limited action, he’s completed about 39% of his passes for about 5.6 yards per attempt with one touchdown and four interceptions. In other words, the Redskins should be very afraid.

This isn’t Jonathan Quinn they’re facing. It’s the first overall pick in the draft, son of Archie, brother of Peyton. It seems to me that it’s in their third start that a lot of quarterbacks start to get it. The speed of the game is not longer such a shock, they’ve had a couple of week’s worth of their own game films to analyze and they start to develop some rhythm.

Now, am I saying that Manning is going to throw for 350 yards and four touchdowns? No, but the Redskins had better be prepared to face a better, more confident quarterback than they’re seeing on film.

Ramsey, meanwhile, has to come up big. His low output in his first two starts was excused by the fact that the games were on the road against two of the NFL’s three best teams. Now they’re at home, facing a beaten-up outfit. Strahan is out along with two other d-line starters. Their secondary wasn’t that good to begin with and it’s banged up as well.

If Patrick Ramsey is going to be the quarterback of the team’s future, that future starts now.

So, a lot of theorizing so far; now, down to some predictions:

  • Tiki Barber, just like in the first meeting, won’t find much running room. He ran for just 42 yards, one of his lowest outputs of a season in which he’s averaging over 100 yards per game. Put him down for another 42 yards and a (rare for this season) fumble.
  • That will make it tough going for Manning, but even though Gregg Williams will bring the house at him and pressure and confuse him, I don’t think that the rookie will fold. He won’t lead them to a win, but he won’t be the reason that they lose.
  • Ramsey will have one of his best games. He’ll have time to throw and will be able to connect on one or two bombs, assuming that the receivers can gather in balls that are in their hands. If things go well, he won’t have to pass that often so he won’t have a big yardage total. Let’s say he passes about 20 times for right around 200 yards and two TD’s.
  • Portis will not be complaining about a lack of work after this one. 25 carries, 125 yards.

This time, the Redskins will do it right. The first time they get the ball they will march in for a touchdown. Then they will keep that lead for the rest of the day.

Redskins 24, Giants 10

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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