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What Redskins Fans Have to be Thankful For

What Redskins Fans Have to be Thankful For

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

Even in the midst of a disappointing season Redskins fans have plenty to be thankful for:

Jason Campbell—This isn’t in any particular order, but Campbell is on the top of the list when it comes to what Redskins fans should be thankful for. He has a ton of talent and a calm, unflappable demeanor. There will be worse games for Campbell than the one he had in his debut last Sunday, but there also will be many that are much, much better. The best part about it is that we will get a chance to watch as it all unfolds.

Marcus Washington—Here is a guy who dedicated himself to working harder than ever after striking it rich in the free agent market. His positive attitude and enthusiasm for the game are apparent and catching, both on the field and in the locker room.

Shawn Springs—This man stands out for being bright and articulate in a locker room that’s full of smart, well-spoken individuals. Springs is a good player to go to when you want to gauge the mood of the team; he’s loose and joking when there’s an air of confidence around Redskins Park and he is intense and determined when things aren’t going well and they’re all looking for answers.

Chris Samuels—He never has quite made it into the elite level of NFL left tackles, but he’s been solidly just behind that small group for seven years. While he has a bad game from time to time, it’s still noticeable when he gives up a sack because it’s an unusual occurrence.

Troy Vincent—Skins fans should be very thankful that the Eagles and Bills gave up on him. He’s one of those players who isn’t getting older, he’s getting smarter.

Santana Moss—There are a lot of fast receivers out there, but what sets Moss apart are his hands. Nobody can snatch a ball out of the air like him; he could catch a ping pong ball in a tornado. On top of that, he cares not a bit about his individual performance. If he catches one pass for seven yards and the team wins, he’s happy; catching a ton of passes for a lot of yards in a loss is meaningless to him.

Clinton Portis—Not many backs who are threats to break off a long gainer every time they get their hands on the ball implore their coaches to call for them to run up the gut. Portis is the exception to the rule, a fast back who can move the pile inside. His personality is refreshing in the midst of an NFL that has so many players who seem to be robots.

Sean Taylor—Yes, he seems lost out there at times this year and he occasionally goes for the big hit when he should just wrap up and make the tackle. But Taylor can deliver the kinds of hits that give opposing receivers a severe case of alligator arms and he’s breathtaking when he gets his hands on the ball.

The U—The University of Miami is in a down cycle and its thug reputation was revived with its recent on-field brawl. But the program produces winners, including the three Redskins listed immediately above. One shudders to think what the Redskins would be without them.

Themselves—Redskins fans do get crazy. When things are going well they are so high you have to peel them off of the ceiling. In tough times you have to keep the razor blades locked up. But it’s all a part of being passionate and that’s what makes it such a fun and interesting group.

Joe Gibbs—He may have lost his fastball and maybe he should leave the personnel decisions to someone else. But no other team has a Hall of Fame coach roaming its sidelines and no team has a coach who is more committed and dedicated it its success than Joe Gibbs is to the Redskins.

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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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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