Quick Links

Tuesday Take: NFC East all shook up

Tuesday Take: NFC East all shook up

Just when the "experts" think they know everything, it turns out that they didn't know nearly as much as they thought they did.

--Redskins on a roll and the winless Rams have no chance? The turnover bug bites Washington and St. Louis steals a 19-17 win.

--The Cowboys are a lock for the Super Bowl? Dallas loses two out of three and they have an injury list that's filled with Pro Bowlers and future Pro Bowlers (of course, since in the eyes of the experts, every Cowboy is one or the other that's not as dramatic as it sounds). Terrell Owens isn't injured but his ego may be about to suffer a series of severe bruises as the weak-armed Brad Johnson takes over for the injured Tony Romo at quarterback. Neither of Owens' strengths, the deep out and the long bomb, are throws that Johnson can execute well.

--The Giants are the best in the business? Coming to a conclusion like that based largely on their performance in their last three games against opponents that are a combined 2-14 is dangerous. All it took was Eli Manning deciding that it was a good idea to throw off of his back foot a few times and New York gets spanked in Cleveland.

--Philly is out of it after two division losses? All it takes is the Niners and J. T. O'Sullivan to blow a fourth-quarter lead (go figure) and the Eagles are back in the thick of it.

Back to the main topic of discussion here, the Redskins, I wasn't buying the talk of 7-1 being a lock. Certainly, I didn't think that they would stumble against the Rams but I figured that there would be a loss, a tough win, and an easy win during that three-game "automatic win" stretch.

It remains to be seen if the Rams game becomes one that alters that line of thinking, or, for that matter, alters the season.

I don't believe that it will. As one commenter here said, the Redskins will lose every game during which an offensive lineman catches a first-down pass in the Red Zone, starts to run with it, fumbles, and sees the miscue returned for a touchdown. The loss wasn't a complete fluke and the Skins didn't play particularly well but if that one play you've never seen before and probably never will see again doesn't happen the Redskins probably win.

The most encouraging aspect of the game was that Jim Zorn did not abandon the run despite the fact that the Skins did not take a second-half snap with the lead. At halftime, they had 17 rushing attempts. Two of them were Jason
Campbell scrambles, so 15 running plays were called. In the second half, Zorn called 14 runs. After the Rams booted a field goal to go up by nine late in the third quarter, five out of the next six plays were runs. Six of their nine plays in the drive that put them into the lead were running plays.

That's establishing an identity and sticking with the game plan. An offensive line that opens holes despite the fact that it doesn't often blow the other team back and an MVP candidate in Clinton Portis at running back makes it relatively easy to do that. Still, Redskins coaches past and many other play callers around the league would have been pitchin' 'n' catchin' virtually the whole second half.

And Zorn and the Redskins might send out a signal today that they intend to keep intact this team's identity as a running team that can burn you through the air when necessary. With Ladell Betts out for at least one game, maybe more, Washington is bringing Shaun Alexander in for a look. Actually, it's probably more than a look as all indications are that Alexander will sign if he passes a physical. Since he passed an exit physical right before Seattle released him in April, there's no reason to believe that he won't come on board.

Zorn views the six or seven carries a game that Betts has been getting as critical. They want to keep Portis in the mid-twenties in terms of carries so if they want to rush the ball 35 times a game someone has to be productive in those other carries. It doesn't look like Zorn wants Rock Cartwright to handle those carries so he's bringing in someone with whom he is well familiar from Seattle.

The most likely candidate to get his walking papers should Alexander get added to the roster is Justin Hamilton, a reserve safety who has been inactive the last three games or ever since Kareem Moore has been healthy. Rookie defensive end Rob Jackson also could get cut and demoted to the practice squad given that he's one of 10 defensive linemen on the 53-man roster.

It's times like this when Jim Zorn's "stay medium" philosophy pays off. Things are topsy-turvy all around the NFC East. If the Redskins can stay calm in the midst of all of this, they have a good shot at coming out on top in the end.

Quick Links

How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

How playing at Alabama may have actually hurt Jonathan Allen's draft stock

For the past few seasons, Jonathan Allen was a stud at the heart of Alabama's defense. He was far from the only stud, however, and that might be another factor in why he slipped to the Redskins at pick No. 17 on Thursday night.

The chief concern about Allen is the health of his shoulders, but there's also the question of how he'll do when he's no longer with Nick Saban's star-laden unit. It's easy to succeed when you're a part of a loaded ensemble cast, the thinking might've gone when it came to Allen, but how will you do on your solo project?

In addition to Allen, the Crimson Tide featured Marlon Humphrey (who went 16th to the Ravens), Reuben Foster (who went 31st to the 49ers) and others, like Tim Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson and Ryan Anderson, all of whom could go in Friday's second round. Together, that's a tremendous defense, but in the NFL, they'll be striking out on their own.

MORE REDSKINS: NORMAN, COUSINS, OTHERS WELCOME ALLEN TO D.C.

That's another possible explanation for why the Redskins were able to nab what was almost a consensus top-five prospect so late in the event.

"He's a really talented pass rusher but he's always been surrounded by enough talent that it's been hard for offenses to game plan their protection for him," one NFC director of player personnel told NFL.com.

Now, it's not like Allen is joining a bunch of nobodies in Washington. Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Zach Brown will also be lining up with him in Greg Manusky's front-seven. Oh, and Allen is no slouch either — the list of his strengths in this particular scouting report contains words like "superior," "proficient," "consistent" and "excellent."

But it is probably fair to say that, comparatively speaking, the rookie won't be amongst as many skilled guys as he was in college. By rushing to the podium to snag him, however, the Redskins clearly expect him to handle the NFL transition just fine.

RELATED: REDSKINS REPORTEDLY LOOKING TO TRADE ONE OF THEIR OWN    

Quick Links

Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook visited Redskins Park earlier this month. The Redskins did their homework on Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in advance of the draft.

All of that pre-draft work might not matter though as Cook and Mixon will be off the board before the Redskins pick in the second round. At least according to oddsmakers.

Bovada.lv set over/under scenarios for both players. Cook lands at 38.5 and Mixon landed at 42.5.

[Related: Top end talent still available for Redskins in second round, but red flags remain]

Certainly both guys can go past the numbers established by the oddsmakers, but there's a reason drinks are free in Las Vegas. Oddsmakers tend to be very, very close when they set lines.

Considering that, if Washington wants either player, the team would likely have to trade up.

Much speculation has Cook the first player off the board to the Packers with the 33rd pick. It seems like a good fit.

[Related: Casserly says that Jonathan Allen is a more talented player than Solomon Thomas]

Mixon is more interesting. His loathsome action a few years back that was caught on video will continue to haunt him, but he will get drafted in the second round. He has the talent.

Bruce Allen has the capital to make a move. The team has nine more picks in the next six rounds. There's also the report that the team is shopping third-year pro Matt Jones.

Could a package of Jones and a late round pick entice a trade? It could.

Much like Thursday night, there will be plenty to watch Friday night.

More Redskins: Need to know: Five possible second and third round picks for the Redskins