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Three and Out--Patten, Norv, Williams

Three and Out--Patten, Norv, Williams

You can reach me by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
David Patten

There were very high hopes for Patten going into this season. He had come from New England where he had helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls in four years. An intense individual, he stood out in practice as a true professional and he fashioned himself to be one of the team’s leaders both on and off the field. All seemed to be going well until they actually started playing games.

On a few occasions, it looked like he was starting to get untracked. He caught seven passes against Denver plus he had a nice TD grab negated by a questionable pass interference call. But in the next five games he caught just eight more passes total. He complained to the media about not getting enough passes thrown to him after the Giants game, an odd complaint to make right after he dropped a couple of passes in that contest. Two weeks ago against the Eagles he was shut out and he caught just one pass against Tampa Bay last week. Now his season fades to black.

When asked last year, Joe Gibbs said that the final chapter of Mark Brunell’s Redskins career had not yet been written. If you ask him the same question about Patten, he’ll probably say the same thing.

Norv Turner

There is a lot of talk about the current Redskins who played for the team under Norv Turner when he was in Washington. On the other side, however, there are two Raiders who were Redskins when Turner was here. One is tight end Zeron Flemister, who appeared in five games in 2000, Turner’s last in DC. The other is guard Brad Badger, who had a rather tumultuous year in the second of his three seasons on Washington.

Bader was drafted in 1997 in the fifth round out of Stanford. He started one game at right guard in his rookie year. Then, in 1998, Turner got the notion that the 6-4 Badger would be a good fit at the most critical position on the offensive line, left tackle. In a damn the skeptics and common sense move, Turner forced the square peg into the round hole. The Redskins started the season 0-7. Turner made his noted proclamation that “What we do works.” Well, it wasn’t working at the left tackle position, to say the least. Badger soon was moved back inside where he belonged. He is now Turner’s starting left guard.

Gregg Williams

Williams’ reputation for being a defensive genius is being sorely tested. For a year and a half here his defenses were able to compensate for the inability of the defensive line to generate a pass rush by throwing an array of blitzes at the opposition. The other teams have countered. “They are over-coaching the fact that they want the ball out fast,” said Williams, “which is okay, as long as [we] minimize any type of gain when the ball does come out fast.”

Perhaps Williams has a different definition of the ball coming out “fast” than I do, but I didn’t see Chris Simms doing a lot of three-step drops. Time after time, he was able to camp out in the pocket. Some of the 18.6 yards Tampa Bay made per completed pass came from running after the catch, but not many of them.

What I saw was blitzers running right into blockers. This isn’t new, it’s been going on all season to one degree or another. The opposing offensive coaches now know where the pass rush is coming from and they are very effective in countering it with their blocking schemes. It’s up to Williams to change the blitz packages around and make it so that the other guys don’t know what’s coming.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up a league-worse 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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.

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