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Skins will need a fast start on Sunday

Skins will need a fast start on Sunday

There is one line of thinking that says that the Washington Redskins will have to run the ball well in order to beat the New Orleans Saints at FedEx Field on Sunday. The game plan needs to be Portis right, Portis left and Betts up the middle. The objective is to keep the pressure off of Jason Campbell, let him pick his spots, and to shorten the game to keep the ball out of the hands of Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and company.

Another line of thinking is that the Redskins need to come out of the tunnel passing and to keep it up throughout the game. The game plan needs to be deep to Moss, intermediate to Cooley, and short to whoever breaks open. The objective here is to take advantage of the weak link on the Saints, their pass defense and keep the pressure to produce on Brees, Bush, and company.

The line of thinking here is that whatever the Redskins do they need to start doing it quickly.

The Redskins offense can't start off slowly again this week. A sack on the game's opening series would quickly get the team into a "here we go again" frame of mind. A couple of three and outs out of the gate will bring out a strong undertone of boo-birds. A slow, hesitant pace, even in the early going, will rekindle thoughts of the "what, me hurry?" offense the team displayed in the fourth quarter in the Meadowlands.

This doesn't meant that Campbell needs to launch a deep one to Moss on the first play or that Portis needs to break off a long one in the early going. It does mean that Jim Zorn's scripted first 15 plays need to work. They need to be imaginative calls that are well executed by the players. Those 15 plays must take place over about a drive and a half, not the first two quarters of play. One of them should result in a touchdown or, at a minimum, set up a field goal.

None of this will do any good, of course, if the Saints go up 10-0 by scoring on their first two possessions. If Brees throws for 300+ yards, something he's done 14 times as a Saint, it's unlikely that the Redskins will be able to keep up.

But Brees will get his and for the Redskins to keep the Saints from denting to scoreboard too often they will have to take advantage of opportunities. If a ball is rolling free on the turf they have to dive on it. If they have Brees in their grasp they need to bring him down. It goes without saying after last week that when a defender has two hands on a pass he needs to catch it.

Will the Redskins get off to a quick start and make the defensive plays necessary to win? It says here that while the defense might make its share of plays, the offense—and that's everyone from the quarterback to the receivers to the backs to the lie—isn't yet ready to operate in an efficient manner in the WCO.

Saints 17, Redskins 10

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like Football Outsiders' DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

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