Gregg Williams—Joe Gibbs, like all coaches, hates distractions and the potential departure of Williams could have turned into a huge one. The Houston Texans had already requested an interview with him for their vacant coaching position and, certainly, more calls would be coming soon. The three-year, $8 million contract is really a one-year deal as it doesn’t prevent Williams from seeking a head job in 2007, but it is as good a deal ass one could expect under the circumstances. The $2.7 million he’ll make next season is as much as he would have been paid as the head coach for at least half of the teams in the market for a new head coach. But all indications are that it’s not all about money. Williams likes his situation here. He has excellent relationships with both Gibbs and with Dan Snyder and he is reluctant to move his family again. And, although it’s likely that he’ll take the plunge again in the future, he didn’t really like the non-football aspects of being a head coach. Another year off from that will do him good.
Shawn Springs—Although he’ll probably be officially listed as questionable, it seems extremely unlikely that Springs’ groin injury will have healed sufficiently for him to be able to play on Saturday. That’s not good for the Redskins, but it’s hardly disastrous. For one thing, Carlos Rogers is likely to return to the lineup after missing three games with a torn bicep muscle, so he and Walt Harris will be starting. Also, you just have to learn to live with and adjust to injuries this time of year. Nobody is going to take it easy on you because your starting cornerback is out. If Dimitri Patterson and Christian Morton have to be out on an island at crunch time next Saturday, so be it. They’ll just have to step up and make plays like Aki Jones and Demetric Evans have done on the line this year and like Lemar Marshall and Chris Clemons did at linebacker last year.
Lemar Marshall—The offseason loss of middle linebacker Antonio Pierce to free agency was supposed to be a devastating blow for the Washington defense. Not. Marshall was one of a few potential solutions that were to be tried in training camp, but he found himself at the top of the depth chart posted on the eve of training camp and he has given the coaches no reason to remove his name from there. It didn’t take long for the move to pay off. In the first game of the season, the Bears trailed by two late in the third quarter and they had driven to the Washington 22. On first down Kyle Orton’s pass was deflected by Warrick Holdman and Marshall gathered it in a yard deep in the end zone. The threat was over and the Redskins held on to win. Marshall’s huge interception on Sunday provided a nice bookend to his season. The fact that he led the team in interceptions with four is more of an indictment of the inability of the defensive backs to get their hands on very many passes and to hold on to the ones that they did get near, but it’s still a nice accomplishment for a middle linebacker.
In the third quarter of the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants, New York drove to a first and goal at the Washington 10. A Trent Murphy sack and two incompletions later, Josh Brown came in and kicked a field goal.
Since then, opponents have had goal to go situations 12 times. They have scored touchdowns on every one of them.
The stop against the Giants was one of just two all year. They had one against the Cowboys in Week 2. Their opponents’ goal to go success rate is 90.5 percent. That’s the second worst in the NFL.
The failures have been costly. On Sunday, the Cardinals recovered a Kirk Cousins fumble and returned it to the Washington 10. The Redskins led 13-10 at the time and coming out of that situation with the game tied would have been large. But on third and goal at the six Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd with a touchdown pass and the Cardinals had both the lead and the momentum.
Opponents usually haven’t had to work that hard. Teams have run 21 plays in goal to go and they have 10 touchdowns.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys got to goal to go three times. A stop on any one of them would have been a boost to the Redskins and would have changed the dynamic of the game. But Dallas was three for three.
The goal to go problems are a subset of the Redskins’ problems with red zone defense in general. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 27 of 40 red zone trips, a 67.5 percent success rate that puts the Redskins 30th in the NFL.
The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:
- The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
- It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
- Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous.
- While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!