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Same old story with big plays

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Same old story with big plays

The Redskins biggest problem against the Bengals, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Thursday, was the same one that cost them a week earlier against the Bengals: Big plays.The one difference last Sunday, though, was that all of the big plays were the result of poor execution by the secondary. Haslett also mentioned injuries safety Brandon Meriweather has yet to suit up because of a knee injury and cornerback Cedric Griffin left the game in the first quarter and technique as issues, as well.We have to play better technique, No. 1, Haslett said. It would be good to get guys healthy, get some guys back. But like I mentioned last week, and it holds true again this week, we gave up the three big plays against Cincinnati.Tampa Bay, the Redskins opponent on Sunday, ranks 24thin points per game (20), and quarterback Josh Freeman has completed only 51.3-percent of his passes. But Freeman and the run-oriented Buccaneers offense has shown the ability to make big plays in the passing game, completing two plays of 40-plus yards and nine of 20 yards or more in the seasons first three games.On Thursday, though, Haslett still was explaining what went wrong against the Bengals.The first miscue came on Cincinnatis first play from scrimmage. The Bengals lined in the wildcat formation and the Redskins did not adjust properly.We didnt get lined up right, Haslett said before adding that the team also was not prepared for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to uncork a perfectly placed deep pass.We actually knew the receiver could throw, Haslett added. We just didnt know he could throw 50 yards on a rope.On 48-yard touchdown pass that put the Bengals ahead 14-7, cornerback Josh Wilson simply misplayed Armon Binns. Wilson did not have any safety help on the play and, therefore, no room for error.And on the decisive touchdown a 59-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Andrew Hawkins rookie Jordan Crawford simply got beat. Crawford, who was playing for the injured Griffin, bit on a double move by Hawkins.So, to review, the Bengals' first big play was poor preparation. The second was poor technique and the third was poor execution exacerbated by an injury that put a young player in a difficult spot.Theyll get better, Haslett said. We covered our butts off against New Orleans in the first game against maybe the best offense that played in the National Football League. So I know they can do it.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.