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The Offseason Begins

The Offseason Begins

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

This week’s Tuesday Take was essentially going to write itself. All I would have to do is refer back to last week’s edition, the part where I wrote about the Redskins’ training camp workload vs. that of the Falcons. After the Redskins’ first two drives, both crisply executed touchdown marches, it was obvious that Atlanta was a dead football team walking. Jim Mora’s brutal camp in August had left them with nothing in the tank in December. And while the Redskins’ relatively easy training camp regime had probably cost them the season since they weren’t ready to play when the season started they were ready to get on a patented Joe Gibbs December roll. In addition to being able to bang out this piece with my eyes closed an article breaking down the Redskins’ playoff possibilities was in the offing.

But then they had to play the last 45 minutes of the game.

While the Redskins didn’t seem to weaken--especially Ladell Betts, who kept on ripping off 12 yard runs--the Falcons got their legs under them and established control. They started holding on to Michael Vick’s passes, Vick started scrambling and they climbed back into the game. Jason Campbell did a couple of things that made him look like a quarterback playing in his third NFL game. Once the Redskins got behind they never got a sense of urgency to try to rally. Their offense in the last five minutes of the game seemed to be confused. On several occasions they wasted time decided whether or not they needed to huddle up before huddling, wasting precious seconds.

When Jason Campbell’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 26 seconds left, ending any chance at a miracle finish, the Redskins’ offseason officially began. While it’s true that an 8-8 NFC team probably will make the playoffs, perhaps even two of them, the Redskins aren’t going to finish at 8-8. They haven’t demonstrated the ability to string together more than five quarters of solid football all year long; it’s sheer fantasy to think that they could suddenly get hot for 16 quarters, run the table, and get to .500.

There will be plenty of time to break down what the Redskins should do this offseason in the coming weeks. At first glance, however, I think that they need to resist the urge to make massive changes. Their salary cap situation will prevent them from doing much in the free agent market, which is a good thing. The team needs some stability. They made relatively few changes after the 2004 season and they went 10-6 the next year.

Jason Campbell spending seven games plus a full offseason as the team’s #1 quarterback will do a world of good for the offense. So will spending a second offseason absorbing and adjusting to Al Saunders’ offense. The players and the organization seriously underestimated the difficulty of that task this year. Let’s not forget having a healthy Clinton Portis back in the lineup in addition to all of that.

One thing that they can do right now is play Rocky McIntosh at weakside linebacker. It seems that Warrick Holdman is to Gregg Williams what Mark Brunell is to Joe Gibbs. Williams can defend Holdman’s play all he wants but the fact is that the Redskins invested a pair of second-round picks in McIntosh and they have to see what they have in him.

But there is no need to make changes for the sake of making changes. Instability has been the hallmark of the Redskins organization since 1999. What we’re seeing now is largely the result of that continuous upheaval. Some adjustments and refinements are necessary, but the core of the team, both in terms of players and coaches, needs to remain intact.

Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. It makes the perfect stocking stuffer for the Redskins fans on your shopping list. For details and ordering information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS STATEMENT WAS A MISTAKE, BUT WON'T HAVE IMPACT ON THE FIELD

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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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