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Road Warriors

Road Warriors

The 2008 schedule for the Washington Redskins was announced yesterday and, as usual, there are some quirks in it that are worth discussion.

In case you don't have it handy, here it is:

9/4 @NYG ThNF
9/14 NO
9/21 AZ
9/28 @DAl 4:15
10/5 @ PHL
10/12 STL
10/19 CLE
10/26 @DET
11/2 PIT MNF
11/9 bye
11/16 DAL SNF
11/23 @ SEA
11/30 NYG
12/7 @ BLT
12/14 @ CIN
12/21 PHL
12/28 @SF

The first thing that always catches my eye when I take an initial glance at a schedule is the distribution of the @'s. Are the road games clumped together or are the home and road games alternated for the most part?

What we see here is clumps of road games. Three out of the first five and three of the last four are away from FedEx Field. Those three road games in the early going are all against the team's division rivals, the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys. Jim Zorn is going to have to hit the ground running.

The key in that stretch of the season is the home games against the Saints and Cardinals. Both of those teams are with the Redskins in the muddled middle of the NFL. If the Skins can take those two games then getting a win in any of the three division roadies will be a bonus. If they drop one, they're staring 1-4 right in the face.

The ending stretch does not look as daunting. None of their December opponents made the playoffs in 2007. The Ravens have a new coach, the Niners and Bengals' coaches are strapped to the hot seat for the year, and there are rumblings that Andy Reid has outstayed his effectiveness in Philly.

Not that December will be a cakewalk by any stretch, but if they have a shot at a decent season going into the last four games, at this point you'd have to feel pretty good about their chances of finishing it off.

The key words there are "at this point". Games that look like sure losses now could turn into ones that the Redskins should win by the time that they are played. Penciling in a "W" at any point is just as risky.

That's why any extended analysis of the schedule at this point is little more than offseason filler material.

Since the road games are clumped at the beginning and end of the year, there will be plenty of home cooking in October and November. The Redskins go on the road just once in a six-week stretch that includes their bye week. The off week is sandwiched between prime time home games against the Steelers (Monday night) and Cowboys (Sunday night).

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3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

3 reasons why Redskins promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator makes sense

Championship Sunday produced a flurry of Redskins news. A pair of internal promotions erased the team's vacant coordinator positions, as Greg Manusky landed the defensive coordinator spot and Matt Cavanaugh will take over as offensive coordinator. When Sean McVay left to coach the Rams, many expected Cavanaugh to take over his spot. Here are three reasons why:

  1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it - There was plenty to criticize from the Redskins the last two seasons, but not much of it came on offense. Cavanaugh joined the organization in 2015 as quarterback coach, and the offense has consistently improved in those two seasons. Though the team struggled to score TDs in the Red Zone, the 2016 version of the Redskins moved the ball at a team-record clip and ranked among the top offensive teams in NFL yardage. When something is working as well as the 'Skins offense, it's not wise to change it dramatically.
  2. Impressive work - Cavanaugh began coaching QBs for the Redskins in 2015. Kirk Cousins took over as Redskins starting quarterback in 2015. In two years working together, Cousins twice broke the Redskins franchise passing record and is now poised to get a mega-contract in free agency. Talking after the 'Skins loss to the Giants earlier this month, Jay Gruden said, "I think [Cousins'] really improved his game a lot in the last couple years. And a lot of it has to do with Matt Cavanaugh and Sean McVay."
  3. Make the call - The biggest question remaining for the Redskins - outside of the HUGE unknown surrounding Cousins - will be about play calling. All indications are that Jay Gruden will return to calling the plays from the Washington sideline, and obviously, that's a situation Cavanaugh understands. For two seasons now, Cavanaugh along with McVay, Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Callahan have had input on play calling. With McVay gone, Cavanaugh and Callahan will likely contribute even more in support of Gruden. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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Poll: What is your approval rating for the Manusky hire?

Poll: What is your approval rating for the Manusky hire?

Hit the poll and then come back here to comment or just replay on Twitter. Thanks!