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The good, the bad, and the ugly from Redskins vs. Browns

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The good, the bad, and the ugly from Redskins vs. Browns

Earlier today we looked at the individual players who had rising and falling stock in the wake of last night’s preseason game in Cleveland. Keeping in mind that it can be dangerous to project regular seasons performance based on these games, let’s step back and look at the big picture and see what aspects of the game were good, bad, and ugly.

The good

A clean game: The Redskins had just three penalties for 45 yards. Thirty five of those penalty yards came on one play, a pass interference call on Chris Culliver that perhaps should not have been called; in any case, it would have been hard to avoid. Kirk Cousins had to burn one time out to prevent a delay of game but overall it looked like the team was ready to play.

The rushing defense: Browns running back coach Wilbert Montgomery said earlier that it didn’t look like any of their backs wanted to take the job as the main running back. It sure looked like it last night as Johnny Manziel was the Browns’ leading rusher with 14 yards. The Redskins gave the tailbacks very little running room as the combined to rush for just 27 yards.

Pass protection: The various offensive line combinations allowed just one sack. This also showed that the quarterbacks were doing a good job getting rid of the ball and that the running backs and tight ends help up as well.

Third down defense: Cleveland was held to three of 13 first-down conversions, a 23 percent rate.

The bad

Special teams: There was no pop in the return game from Andre Roberts or anyone who lined up to return a kickoff or punt. Chris Thompson muffed one punt and looked uncomfortable fielding some others. Roberts turned it over once when he coughed up the ball on a return. That set up a Browns touchdown.

Kickoffs: Yes, I know they are part of special teams but they need to get singled out here. The Browns kicked off four times and three of those resulted in touchbacks. Washington had a total of 32 kickoff return yards. The Redskins kicked off five times with no touchbacks and they gave up 143 yards in returns. If they repeat that 111-yard differential in a regular season game it could well turn a possible win into a loss.

Turnovers: The Redskins lost two fumbles and Akeem Davis picked of a Browns pass. A minus-one in turnover ratio also could be a fatal flaw in a close game. The Redskins needs to force more takeaways.

The ugly

Injuries: An NFL team gets better by collecting players like Niles Paul. Losing him for the season hurts. Perhaps they can replace the production but not the special teams play and leadership that Paul showed. And even though Silas Redd was on the roster bubble he was very popular among his teammates. But that’s the way it goes and the Redskins aren’t expecting to receive any sympathy cards from the other 31 NFL teams.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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