The rumor mill is starting to churn with talk of the Redskins trading for Aqib Talib, the talented but troubled Bucs cornerback.The chatter seems to have originated with a report in the website Buccaneers 101. I have no idea if reports from there should be considered reliable or not. However, some local chatter indicates that this story may have some legs to it and a pre-draft story in the Pewter Report, a Bucs site that does have a reputation for breaking stories, said that the Bucs made it known that Talib is on the trading block.That doesnt mean that a deal, which likely would involve a late-round 2013 draft pick, is imminent or that its going to happen at all. But it does mean that its worth a post taking a look at a potential deal.You dont need to look too hard to find connections between Talib and the Redskins. Bruce Allen was the Bucs general manager when they took Talib out of Kansas with the 20th pick in the 2008 draft. And Raheem Morris was Talibs position coach his rookie year and his head coach for the past three years.Allen, Morris, and anyone who see Talib on film can recognize his talent. He has great speed, especially for someone his size (6-1, 205). Talib has excellent ball skills and overall instincts. On most NFL teams he would be a starter or at least the first CB off of the bench.So why might the Bucs want to deal him? At least in part, it could be due to the troubled part of the talented but troubled label. He is facing a June 25 trial on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. If found guilty he could serve up to 20 years on jail.What happened in the incident in March of 2011 that led to the accusation is not clear but any allegations that a person piston whipped and then fired at another individual (in this case, Talibs sisters boyfriend) are quite serious.This is not Talibs first brush with the law. He served a one-game suspension in 2009 after an incident involving an altercation with a cab driver. At the NFL rookie symposium he got into a fistfight with fellow Bucs rookie Cory Boyd. In addition to the felony assault charge, a woman is seeking 15,000 in damages from Talib, claiming that he threatened to put a cap in her after a December 2010 traffic incident.Since Mike Shanahan has been with the Redskins, he has stayed away from players who have had trouble with the law or character issues of any kind. That changed somewhat this year as the Redskins signed safety Tanard Jackson, who has been suspended a total of 20 games for violations of the substance abuse policy and safety Brandon Meriweather, who has had a couple of scrapes with the law.But neither has a felony conviction on his record and that is what Talib faces when he goes on trial on June 25. Even a conviction on a lesser charge or a plea bargain could lead to both jail time from the legal system and a suspension at the iron fist of Roger Goodell.Given all of that it is hard to see the Redskins being highly interested in Talib. If Morris and Allen have persuaded Shanahan to take a hard look at him, it is doubtful that any deal would take place prior to the resolution of the legal case. Even the, the organization will think long and hard about the wisdom of bringing in a player and a person like Aqib Talib.
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.