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Surprising, Not Shocking

Surprising, Not Shocking

An hour or so before the Chicago game, four days after Joe Gibbs had made what he called his worst coaching mistake, the double time out gaffe in the game against Buffalo, and three days after Sean Taylor's funeral, I was sitting around in the press box with a few of the team's beat writers, guys who are out at Redskins Park every day. The subject of Gibbs' future with the team came up and the consensus of their collective reading of the tea leaves was that Gibbs could walk away at the end of the year. It seemed that the murder of Sean Taylor had Gibbs taking a look at his priorities in life. He had made a comment that nobody ever looked back on his life and wished that he's spent more time at work. The regrets always centered on other things, like time with the family.

None of these writers thought it was likely that Gibbs would pack it in. One pegged it at about 50-50 and another said that a second retirement was possible but not probable.

Later that night the Redskins beat the Bears to start off a four-game winning streak that landed them in the playoffs. To a man, the players credited Gibbs for the turnaround. There seemed to be no question that he would be back in 2008 to try to take the team to the next level.

That was, of course, until Monday afternoon's press conference when Gibbs was noncommittal when asked about next year. Even then, most observers didn't think much of it. Probably just wanted to sit down with Dan Snyder and dot the i's and cross the t's on a contract extension, they said. Then this morning came the word of Gibbs' retirement.

I'm not going to tell you that I wasn't surprised when I heard the news. However, after thinking back to that Thursday night bull session at FedEx Field it made sense.

If you are indeed questioning your priorities in life, regretting how little time you spend with your family, facing your own mortality and if you come to the conclusion that you need to make some major changes, the results of four football games isn't necessarily going to change your mind.

No question about it, that streak and making the playoffs meant a lot to Gibbs. But he talked recently about his priorities being his faith, his family, and his profession, in that order. It seems that he stayed true to these priorities in making his decision to retire.

I also wonder how much the back to back timeout blunder had to do with this decision. Although the team recovered from it, a goof like that sticks with you. Perhaps Gibbs had a conversation with himself and asked if he was absolutely certain that he would not make a similar mistake in the future. When the answer from his inner self came back that he was confident but not 100% sure, it was time to go.

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Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Need to Know: Redskins look for fifth straight win over Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, December 5, four days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1:05; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins news conferences and open locker room after practice approx. 3:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 17; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 25

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
C Spencer Long (concussion), S Will Blackmon (concussion)
Long's concussion could force roster move

First look at Redskins vs. Eagles

The last time: The Redskins won 27-20 at FedEx Field in Week 6 in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Redskins outgained the Eagles 4923 yards to 239 and had the ball for 10 more minutes. Philly scored on a kickoff return and an interception return in a three-minute span in the second quarter and that was about all they had. The Redskins have now beaten the Eagles four straight times. 

The Eagles leaders: Quarterback Carson Wentz got off to a hot start, posting three passer ratings of over 100 in his first four games. In eight games since his passer rating is 70.1 and his high in a game is 91.4. Leading rusher Ryan Matthew had his first 100-yard game in Week 10; he shares the load with Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Jordan Matthews (57 receptions, 686 yards) is expected back after missing last week with an ankle injury. Sacks leader Brandon Graham (5.0) has only one sack in the last six games.

Be on the lookout: The Eagles have been getting it done on special teams for years. This year they have two kickoff return touchdowns and Darren Sproles averages 13.7 yards per punt return including a 66-yarder.

Hodgepodge: A Washington win would put them 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles with three to play. Barring a Philly win out/Redskins lose out scenario the Redskins would be out of last place in the NFC East in consecutive years for the first time since 2002-2003 . . . The Redskins already are ensured of avoiding double-digit losses in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 . . . The Eagles have allowed over 400 yards of offense in two of their last three games.

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When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

When will Jordan Reed return? Jay Gruden says he 'can't predict it'

The Redskins best pass cacther did not play in a loss to the Cardinals, and it appears there is still no clear timeline for Jordan Reed's return to the field. 

"Jordan will be day-to-day," Washington coach Jay Gruden said. "You know, we just have to wait and see."

Gruden issued the same statement on Reed last week, and the tight end proceeded to miss all Redskins practices for the week and was announced out for the Arizona game on Friday. Reed's injury came on Thanksgiving in Dallas when he separated his shoulder diving in the end zone for a Kirk Cousins' pass during the first half.

Incredibly, Reed returned in the second half and caught two touchdowns while playing in immense pain. Gruden and Cousins used words like 'stunned' and 'surprised' talking about Reed's return in the Dallas game, but looking forward to Philadelphia, it's hard to know what to expect from the tight end's shoulder.

"Everybody is different with these types of injuries and hopefully he is a fast healer but we’ll take him day-to-day, get him his treatment and go from there," the coach said. "I can’t predict it."

For the season, Reed has 59 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns in just nine games. Reed missed two games earlier this year after sustaining a concussion against the Ravens.

Without Reed in the lineup against the Cardinals, the Redskins offense dipped in production. Cousins threw for less than 300 yards for the first time in three games, though backup tight end Vernon Davis had five catches for 47 yards. 

If Reed practices Wednesday, even in a limited role, would be a good sign for the 'Skins tight end. 

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