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(Truly) Bold Predictions: Redskins Will Win Big

(Truly) Bold Predictions: Redskins Will Win Big

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

I have to apologize for I have misled you, the loyal readers here. Prior to each of the six Redskins games this year, I have written a prediction as to how I thought the upcoming game would go and give my thoughts on what the final score might be. I have labeled these pieces “Bold Predictions”.

Looking back, though, most of the predictions have been anything but bold. I’ve added qualifiers (if Jake Plummer turns it over), caveats (unless the Chiefs turn some big plays) and other rather wimpy elements. I wanted to pick the Redskins to hang a big number on the 49ers but I chickened out and went with a comfortable but not dominant victory. Far from bold, as advertised, my predictions have been lame, milquetoast, bland predictions, not even worthy of capitalizing.

It stops this week, here and now.

The Washington Redskins will beat the New York Giants on Sunday and they will beat them easily.

It’s not that the Giants aren’t a quality football team. They are. But the Redskins are better. Much better. Mark Brunell is playing better than any quarterback in the league right now. Much better than Eli Manning, which is enough for this Sunday.

In fact, of the 22 starting positions, based how they’re playing right now, most coaches in the NFL would pick many more Redskins than Giants to start for their teams. Three of the four DL positions and MLB would go to the Giants on defense and on the other side of the ball, Giants would start at one WR spot, TE, and that’s it. OK, I’ll take a push in Tiki vs. Portis but only a push. That makes the tally 15 Redskins, six Giants and one draw. That’s not a slight edge for the Redskins, it’s a landslide. Again, they’re just a better team.

Certainly the game is not about Barber vs. Portis or Eli vs. Brunell, it’s about matchups, offense vs. defense, blockers vs. the front four, receivers vs. cornerbacks. Did someone say Santana Moss against Will Allen or Curtis Deloatch? The East Rutherford fire department had better be on alert all day long as these guys are going to get torched repeatedly.

In fact, I’ve seen no rational explanation as to how anyone of the Giants defense is going to stop anyone on the Redskins offense. In terms of yards allowed, they’re last in the entire NFL. That doesn’t make them the worst necessarily, but they’re not very good.

The last time that they faced a QB-RB combo of the quality of Brunell and Portis was in San Diego in Week 3. Tomlinson ran over them for 192 yards and Drew Breese was 19-22-191, a quarterback rating of 133.1. San Diego drove 65, 85, and 82 yards to touchdowns the first three times it had the ball. They added TD drives of 70 and 77 yards later on.

To be sure, LT is a better back than Portis, who should hang up a mere buck fifty. As for Brunell, they may have to reinvent the QB rating scale.

On the other side of the ball, New York won’t be enjoying one of the advantages that they have over most of the teams that they play. Jeremy Shockey presents a matchup problem for a lot of secondaries. Not so against the Redskins as they have Sean Taylor, who possesses linebacker size and DB speed. Shockey will be neutralized.

Barber might pop a long run, the Washington defense’s bugaboo this year. Manning will make some plays, but not enough of them to overcome the hole that his team’s defense will leave them in.

Finally, let’s dispense with two of the supposed intangible advantages that the Giants. The first is that they want to win the game in honor of team patriarch Wellington Mara, giving them “extra” incentive as if first place in the division near the midway point of the season isn’t incentive enough. Two words—The Triplets. Remember how the induction of Smith, Aikman, and Irvin into the Dallas Hall of Rings, or whatever it is, was supposed to have the Cowboys so sky high that they were supposed to smash the Redskins. How did that work out, Roy Williams? In fact, the desire to win one for Mara may work against them. They may be too pumped up and play out of control and wear out by the third quarter.  

As far as Antonio Pierce knowing the Redskins defense, so what? Gregg Williams knows Pierce pretty well. You don’t think that he and Dale Lindsey spent a little time down the hall with the offensive coaches detailing to them Pierce’s weak points?

The Redskins are getting on a roll. You can say that putting up 52 points against an inferior opponent is just an isolated, one-week occurrence, but the record says otherwise. In Gibbs first run here, the Redskins put up 40 or more points 17 times. Their record after those games was a stellar 14-3. In fact, the last time they put up over 50 points, against Atlanta in 1991, they went on the road to Pittsburgh and scored 41 on the Steelers.

The Giants will come out playing hard, but by halftime the Redskins superiority will become apparent. It may not be over enough by the time the fourth quarter comes around to empty the bench like they did last week, but be assured that it will indeed be over.

Redskins 31, Giants 14

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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 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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