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RG3, Redskins glad to take ugly win over Raiders

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RG3, Redskins glad to take ugly win over Raiders

It wasn’t pretty and it was closer than the final score looked but the Redskins surely don’t care. They got their first win of 2013 by rallying from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to beat the Raiders 24-14.

They don’t care that the Raiders played their backup quarterback as Terrelle Pryor missed the game with a concussion and that starting running back Darren McFadden left the game very early with a hamstring strain.

“We had to do whatever it takes to come out of this 1-3 going into the bye week,” said quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Like the game, Griffin’s performance was not a thing of beauty. Some passes were off target, he made a few key mistakes, and he still doesn’t seem to have his scrambling legs under him. But he made some plays when he had to and he helped the Redskins rally.

For the first time this year, Griffin did not throw an interception. His final stat line was 18 for 31 for 227 yards with one touchdown and a passer rating of 91.7. Griffin gained 10 yards rushing on three carries.

It was the first time in four games this season that Griffin did not throw for more than 300 yards. It is not a coincidence that this was the Redskins’ first win of the year. The offense works best with a balance of passes and runs. They achieved that today with 32 pass plays and 32 runs.

His most highlight-worthy play came midway through the fourth quarter with the Redskins clinging to a 17-14 lead. The Redskins had just recovered a Matt Flynn fumble on the Oakland 42. On first down Griffin dropped back, looked deep, found nothing, stepped up, executed a spin move, rolled right and hit Roy Helu Jr. in stride about 10 yards downfield. Helu contributed to the highlight quality of the play by hurdling over a would-be tackler and getting a few more yards down to the 14.

It turns out the play involved some improvisation by both Griffin and Helu.

“[I] talked to the offensive line, asked them to give me a little time because we had a deep concept going. I came out of it,” said Griffin. “No. 1 and 2 (his first and second options) weren’t there so I had to pull it down and try to get to No. 4.

“They did a good job holding up on the play and then Helu actually did a great job running an off-schedule route as well. You get out that, the backside corner blitzed, that’s what made me have to step up and move out of it. Then I rolled out and got it to Helu.”

On the next play Helu dashed up the middle into the end zone to give the Redskins some breathing room.

After the Raiders initially took command of the game by scoring one touchdown on a blocked punt and another on Flynn’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Mychal Rivera, the Redskins started to climb back into it. They got the offense moving by going no-huddle on a drive that got the Redskins on the board.

After the Redskins moved to second and goal at the Raiders four, Griffin made one of his errors. Facing pass rush pressure up the middle, he just heaved the ball away and was flagged for intentional grounding. The Redskins had to settle for a 25-yard John Potter field goal.

“It’s just to give you a little spark,” Griffin said of the no-huddle attack. “It caught them off guard. It’s a curve ball you can give them every now and then.”

The next points came courtesy of the Redskins’ defense. David Amerson picked off a Flynn pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown and all of a sudden it was 14-10.

The two teams then reverted to what may have been good defense but probably was inefficient offense until midway through the third quarter. After Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal, the Redskins took over on their own 42. In a drive that was some Alfred Morris running (3 carries for 29 yards and some Griffin passing (3 of 4 for 26 yards), the Redskins moved in. The payoff came on a quick third-down dart to Pierre Garçon, who made the catch and fell into the end zone.

That gave the Redskins their first second-half lead of the season at 17-14. The defense did the rest, stopping Flynn on an attempted quarterback sneak on fourth and inches to snuff out the Raiders’ last threat.

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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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