In March, Donovan McNabb took a very public shot at Mike Shanahan, his coach during his failed 13-game tenure with the Redskins. He said that Robert Griffin III would not be be a good fit in Washingtons offense in part because A lot of time ego gets to involved when it comes to being in Washington.When asked about McNabbs comments, Shanahan said that he would take the high road and left it at that. In the month and a half since then, McNabb has proclaimed himself to be the most unfairly criticized quarterback in NFL history, proclaimed that he absolutely should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and proclaimed that he is in great shape in an attempt to get an NFL team, any team, to sign him as their quarterback.Shanahan, meanwhile, defied McNabbs advice, drafted Griffin, and made him the Redskins starting quarterback. On Wednesday Shanahan appeared with Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk Live. Florio asked him about McNabbs attempt to land a job with what would be his fourth NFL team in the past four seasons and whether Shanahan would recommend McNabb to another team.Shanahan had his opening to jab back at McNabb and he took full advantage.You know, the thing that I look at as people get older, Do you want to make that commitment? Youve gotta be in the best shape youve ever been in, said Shanahan. As you get older, if you want to play at a very high level, youd better be in the best shape.You didnt have to do too much reading between the lines to figure out that Shanahan thought that McNabb, who was 33 when he came to the Redskins, was not in good shape when he was in Washington. Shanahan said as much at the time, explaining that he benched McNabb late in a close midseason loss in Detroit because the quarterback lacked the cardiovascular endurance needed to run the two-minute offense.Shanahan didnt stop there. He not only said that McNabb didnt spend enough time in the weight room, he said that he spend enough time in the film room, either.Youd better study, especially when youre coming in to learn a new system, he said.You know, youve got to spend a lot of time.Although Shanahan told Florio that nobody had called him to talk about McNabb, nobody has to now.Days until: OTA's start 4; Minicamp 26; preseason opener 84; Redskins @ Saints 115Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
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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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.
—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.