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Skins-Steelers: No reason to get wee-weed up

Skins-Steelers: No reason to get wee-weed up

It doesn't look like Daniel jumped over Brennan

  • There's no reason to get, in the words of our President, all wee-weed up over Jason Campbell going one for seven for 10 yards passing. I hate to break this to you but there will be a few games this season that he goes one for seven in the first few series. He then will find his rhythm and start completing passes. To be sure, there will be reason to be concerned if he comes out of the New England game with a passer rating that's not much higher than his jersey number.
  • I appreciate all of the Colt Brennan fans that read this blog but I'm afraid I have done him and those fans a great disservice. The Cult of Colt was starting to reel me in and I started to sing his praises. That's frequently is the kiss of death. If you live by the star performance against the third team in the preseason then you die by poor performance in the same situation. That being said and despite Chase Daniel's good game, I still think that there's no question that Brennan makes the team. Daniel is practice squad bound at best. At the same time, let's cool the talk about Colt being ready to step in as the starter or even to challenge Todd Collins for the backup role.
  • The Redskins' backup left tackle for the season may not yet be on the roster. Devin Clark was shaky there last week against the Ravens' scrubs. With Clark out with a knee problem Jeremy Bridges played left tackle for the last three quarters of the game. Although the offense went fairly well, Bridges got whipped a few times. Here's what John Keim said about his performance:

Bridges is a bad tackle. No other way to say it. He needs to be a guard, as we've said since, oh, the first day of camp. He let a linebacker slap him to the outside and get inside of him. Bridges does not redirect well; his feet were planted in cement. Another time the end destroyed Bridges, driving him back deep into the backfield.

  • The annual call for Marcus Mason to make the roster has begun. I think he runs pretty well but to be a backup running back you have to be able to play special teams. That's why Rock Cartwright is safe and Mason will struggle to find a spot on the final roster.
  • Speaking of teams, they weren't very special at all, especially on kick returns. I thought that the fact that other teams can't use a wedge was going to cut down on long returns. Somebody forgot to tell the Steelers that.
  • I don't know where Thomas Boswell gets his typical sampling of the feelings of Redskins fans, but it's not from anyplace that I hang out. In his column about the football game (did he miss a turn while trying to get to Nationals Park last night?) he warns Redskins fans not to get too giddy over last night's game. Here's what he said about the most skeptical fan base in the NFL:

The most perilous word, when it comes to Redskin Universe ("nation" isn't big enough) is the word "good" and all the variations that can be played on it: very good, playoff good and, most lethal of all, Super Bowl-good.

As soon as the Redskins do anything that incites the faithful to use superlatives, or even think such thoughts in the solitude of their burgundy-and-gold basement lairs (been there), the mischief starts all over again.

As the Redskins and their fans start their annual pursuit of NFL Nirvana, it's essential to hold one thought in mind, annoying and antisocial as it seems: The Redskins are not very good.

Certainly, most around town will be happy if the Redskins get off to a hot start again. People were excited last year when the Redskins were 6-2 but I don't think that many non-refundable deposits for Super Bowl trips were lost. There was a healthy dose of skepticism present along with the giddiness.

  • I didn't know that there was a post office at FedEx Field but there must be since it's apparent that Mike Wise mailed in his column from there last night. First he wonders why he wasted time going to the game which immediately makes the reader wonder why he wasted the time to read a column with a picture of Wise at the top. He then goes on to deliver an "indictment" of Redskins fans for finding something better to do on a Saturday night than sit in the rain and watch a scrimmage that counts for nothing. Sure, Steeler fans are more loyal; two Super Bowl wins in four years will do that to a fan base. I don't recall a huge presence of black jerseys the last time the Steelers were in for a preseason game, in 2005. Do you think that maybe the fact that Pittsburgh hadn't won a Super Bowl since that 1979 season had anything to do with that?

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How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

How a simple bet between Alabama rookies Allen and Anderson could pay big dividends for Redskins

The Redskins ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in a number of defensive categories in 2016, and the first and second round selections in the 2017 Draft should help to address that.

A huge part of the Washington defensive problems stemmed from an inability to get off the field on third downs, and Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson should immediately provide a pass rush boost. In 2016, the duo combined for 18.5 sacks, 8.5 coming from Anderson and another 10 from Allen, two huge pieces for the excellent Alabama defense.

On the pro level, Anderson may actually be in position for more sacks as he's likely to play outside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 scheme. Allen will be more of an interior presence, a natural fit for the 'Skins defensive end spot in the 3-4.

That doesn't mean the two won't compete to hit quarterbacks. 

RELATED: Gruden squashes notion that Alabama defenders do not succeed in NFL

Asked Saturday if there would be a bet between the two college teammates about who gets more sacks their rookie season, Anderson quickly responded, "definitely."

Though he was surprised by the bet, Allen wasn't going to back down from the challenge. (Full video above)

"I guess there is now, I didn't know about it 'til now," Allen said. 

As for the stakes of the bet, Allen said the pair of rookies will figure that out behind closed doors. 

"His bank account is a little longer than mine so we will have to figure something else out," Anderson said.

What's clear from hanging out with both players is their familiarity with one another will help both players transition to the NFL. Allen and Anderson said they had an emotional response when they learned they would continue to play together in Washington. 

"There's very few players that have better film or resume than this guy right here," Allen said of Anderson. 

Anderson, as the Redskins press group has quickly learned, has a certain way with words. Honest and funny, but to the point.

"I'm excited to have one of my dogs with me here," he said of Allen. 

The Redskins ranked ninth in the NFL in sacks in 2016, but will lose Trent Murphy for four games to start the year. Sacks are just one metric to measure defensive success, though an easily quantifiable and fun metric for fans.

Where Washington has to improve is on 3rd downs. In 2016, they allowed a confounding 97 third down conversions, good for 31st in the league. There's only 32 teams. What's worse? The 'Skins gave nine fourth down conversions too.

Regardless of sack totals, Allen and Anderson were brought to Washington to help this defense get off the field. Coming from the Crimson Tide, the two rookies seem up for the challenge. 

MORE REDSKINS: Grading the Redskins 2017 draft

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Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we must dig in a little more to come up with a grade for the draft headed up by Bruce Allen. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—B

There really isn’t enough to love or to hate here. They didn’t do much wheeling and dealing while on the clock, making only a minor deal with the Vikings to move up two spots in the sixth round in exchange for moving down 10 slots in the seventh.

For the record, the trade (picks 201 and 220 from Washington to Minnesota in exchange for picks 199 and 230) was just about a wash on the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, with the Redskins giving up a statistically insignificant one point of value.

Whether center Chase Roullier, the player they traded up to draft, makes the team and has an impact or not is not going to make or break the draft but it should be noted that they gave up something of value to get him so it was a player they wanted to make sure they got as his name was still on the board.

The deals that got them up to 10 picks had already been made by Scot McCloughan on draft day last year as he added picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds with various trades.

Perhaps they deserve the most credit for a potential deal they did not make. As their first-round pick got closer and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remained on the board it had to be tempting for them to spend a mid-round pick to jump up and grab him before anyone else could. But Gruden said that they had a number of players to choose from as the pick approached and they decided to stay put. The gamble paid off as Allen fell into their laps at pick No. 17.

RELATED: Redskins roll the dice in the 7th round

Talent/fit/needs—A-

The Redskins needed to bolster their defense and they certainly gave it a go. Their first three picks were on defense as were four of their first five and six of 10 overall.

But the raw number of the picks doesn’t really tell the story; it’s the value of the picks that really matters. According to that Jimmy Johnson pick value chart, they spend 1,596 points on defense and 126 points on offense.

They hit on their biggest needs with their first two picks. They had not drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since 1997 and the neglect of the position was evident. In Allen they got a player with Pro Bowl potential in their biggest area of need.

Allen will help the pass rush from the inside and then in the second round they acquired some edge rushing ability with Ryan Anderson. It seems that this pick was strongly influenced by Scot McCloughan’s draft board. His height, weight, and combine numbers were not what a lot of teams are looking for in an edge rusher but his tough mentality and obvious love for the game are attributes that McCloughan valued.

Although Gruden expressed his confidence in Rob Kelley to be his running back it appeared to most outside observers that an upgrade was needed and they got that in Samaje Perine. You can’t have too many good corners and Bashaud Breeland is set to be a 2018 free agent so they took Fabian Moreau in the third round. They had no backup center Roullier could develop into that spot. Gruden said earlier this offseason that they needed a blocking tight end and that is what Jeremy Sprinkle is.

They didn’t hit on all their needs. With the top three inside linebackers set to be free agents next year many thought they would spend a top pick there. And although there were a few possible nose tackles on the board in the later rounds they bypassed that position. You can’t solve everything in one draft but the Redskins have now had eight drafts since converting to the 3-4 defense and they still haven’t found a solution at nose tackle.

As far as value goes, it doesn’t get much better than Allen, who was a consensus top-five talent who lasted until the 17th pick. Moreau may have been a first-round pick before tearing a pectoral muscle lifting weights during his pro day.

On the other end of the value scale, the fourth round seemed to be way too early to take safety Montae Nicholson. There is something to be said for taking a guy with good measurables who didn’t have good game tape and taking a shot at developing him. But the fourth round is too soon for taking such a chance.

READ MORE: Breaking down the Redskins late round picks

Overall—B+

After their first two picks, they didn’t shy away from red flags. Moreau and Nicholson both have injuries that will keep them out of action until sometime in training camp. Sprinkle had a highly-publicized shoplifting citation that got him suspended from Arkansas’ bowl game. Seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons failed multiple drug tests during college.

They did stay away from players with histories of high-profile violent incidents like Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon, and Caleb Brantley.

How those red-flag players turn out will be the key to this draft. It’s fine to take some chances, especially when you go into the draft with 10 picks. But you have better win more than you lose.

There were enough players taken who seem to be sure bets to be productive, if there is such a thing in the draft, to make it unlikely that the draft will be a total bust. Allen, Anderson, and Perine are clean prospects who have very high floors. Allen and Anderson may have Pro Bowl ceilings.

Given that, they seem to be assured of having a least a productive draft (again, with the caveat that nothing in the draft is certain). If Sprinkle develops into a good third tight end who can block and be a threat to catch a pass, that’s a plus. If Moreau can develop into a starter, this could be a pretty good draft. If sixth-round WR Robert Davis can contribute on special teams and be a productive fourth or fifth wide receiver, that would be another plus.

In short, the Redskins did some good work towards giving this draft a chance to be a success. Now it’s up to the coaches, to luck, and seeing how players who are projected to play well at age 22 actually perform on the field when they get older and suddenly have a six-figure salary. 

MORE REDSKINS: Clear winner from Redskins 2017 Draft?