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Why Not the Redskins?

Why Not the Redskins?

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

There’s a new eBay commercial asking, “What is ‘it’”?  In this ad campaign, “it” is anything and everything. In the NFL when the calendars are about to turn to November, “it” takes on a different meaning. “It” isn’t something that put your finger on, but you know “it” when you see “it”.

What is “it”? “It” is the talent, the swagger, the moxie, the smart, the guts and whatever else it takes to successfully navigate the road to the Super Bowl.

Do the Redskins have “it”? Before the season started, even those with the burgundy and gold glasses permanently perched on their noses would have been hard pressed to make a case for the Redskins, 6-10 in 2004, going to the Super Bowl XL. In September, they were a year or two away at best, primarily because the offense was a mess and the Eagles were the dominant force in the division. Saying that they had an outside shot at a wild-card playoff spot was considered to be a bold statement, anything beyond that was a mix of wishful thinking, fantasy, and lunacy.

Of course, similar things were said of the Carolina Panthers in early 2003. And the 2001 Patriots, the 2000 Ravens and the 1999 Rams and Titans had the same slim to none chance of making it to the title game as the Redskins were given in August. Somewhere along the line, however, they all got “it”. At some point during the season, the players started to seriously think, why not us? The teams’ home cities went nuts, the fans gripped onto the team with a fevered frenzy. Team apparel both flew off the store shelves and emerged from years of sitting in the closet. The national media started to talk and write as if they knew it all along, that they told everyone (off the air, of course) that this was their sleeper pick.

It’s too early in the 2005 season to say that the Redskins have what the Panthers, Rams, and the others had in their magical seasons. But it’s not so early that we can’t take a look at some of the elements of “it” that the Redskins have going for themselves this year.

Coaching: Joe Gibbs has “it” or, rather, them--three Lombardi Trophies. Any questions?

Quarterback play: Mark Brunell isn’t playing as well as he did when he twice took a team to the doorstep of the Super Bowl. He’s playing better. For the first time in his career he has thrown for three touchdowns in back to back seasons. His QB rating and TD to interception ratio are both much better than it was in 1996 and in 1999, the two seasons he took the Jaguars to the AFC title game. He’s a savvy veteran with a very hot hand, a priceless asset.

Playmakers: Santana Moss can take it to the house any time he gets his hands on the ball and he has. We just discussed Mark Brunell, who makes most of his big plays with his arm, but has made a few with his feet as well. Sean Taylor makes crunching hits to separate offensive players from the ball with great frequency and he nearly scored on his first interception of the season. Marcus Washington’s season started to turn the corner from solid to spectacular when he got the sack and strip of Alex Smith on Sunday. They’re the players that the others can turn to when the team needs a spark. And those are just the ones who have demonstrated playmaking ability this season, leaving out players who have turned the big play in the past like LaVar Arrington, Clinton Portis, and David Patten. If they start to add a big spark here and there, watch out.

No glaring weakness: The Redskins don’t excel in all phases of the game, but there is no one area that the other team can point to and say, that’s where we’re going to go to beat them. The presence of Moss and Patten precludes overplaying the run and Portis makes it a bad idea to play too soft in the box. Even Mike Sellers can make a team pay for turning its head the other way. The offensive line is gelling to the point where they might actually earn a nickname. The defense can get burned for the long play on occasion but it’s solid against both the run and against the pass. The kicking game is not spectacular but solid and you’d be hard-pressed to find a hole in any phase of the game planning.

Battle all the way: The teams that have “it” don’t win every game, but they’re in almost every one until the end. This desire and ability to battle to the end results in some close losses and, as we saw in Dallas, some magical wins.

Again, it’s early; we’re not even halfway through the season. But in a just few weeks, we’re going to look up and Thanksgiving will be approaching and the pack will be starting to separate. Some of those pulling out in front will be the usual suspects and others will be surprises.

Why not the Redskins?

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Evaluating the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys' 2017 first-round draft picks

Evaluating the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys' 2017 first-round draft picks

Redskins fans can be forgiven for not caring at all about the other 31 picks made in the 2017 NFL Draft's first round on Thursday, since Washington was handed Jonathan Allen at No. 17.

With that being said, other selections were in fact made by other teams, including the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. So what are analysts saying about how the rest of the NFC East did on the first night of the big event?

Here's a breakdown.

MORE REDSKINS: TEAM NOW HAS THREE OF THE NATION'S TOP RECRUITS FROM 2013

Philadelphia Eagles - Derek Barnett (No. 14)

As the Redskins got closer to being on the clock and top talents like Allen, Reuben Foster and Malik Hooker were still available, every pick before Washington came with a side dish of angst. The Eagles, however, bypassed all three of those prospects for Barnett, a productive pass rusher from Tennessee. 

Reaction to the pick

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated: "Many felt the Eagles’ biggest need was cornerback, but in a zone scheme like Jim Schwartz’s, pass rushers are more important... Barnett was a prolific sacker in college and will operate across from Brandon Graham, one of the league’s most underrated edge-attackers." 

Mike Mayock of NFL.com"I love the energy. I love the toughness. People either loved or they didn't like him because he didn't have explosive measurables in the combine. But his tape is too good and I think the city of Philadelphia is going to love him."

Pete Prisco of CBSSports"Love this pick. They might be getting the best pass rusher in this draft."

New York Giants - Evan Engram (No. 23)

Eli Manning has himself another target, and this one reminds Charley Casserly of Redskins' tight end Jordan Reed. Some projected other tight ends, like David Njoku, to go before Engram, but New York clearly liked him enough to select him in the first. 

Reaction to the pick

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated​: "It had become painful watching Giants tight ends Will Tye and Larry Donnell play... At worst, Engram can rectify the catching problem. At best, he can revolutionize an already scary passing game."

Mike Mayock of NFL.com: "He's a matchup nightmare. He can block on the perimeter. He'll be an immediate impact player. His skill set is closer to Mike Evans. He runs routes like a wide receiver."

Pete Prisco of CBSSports: "They need a tight end, but I would have gone for an offensive lineman here. He is a good pass catcher."

Dallas Cowboys - Taco Charlton (No. 28)

The Cowboys offense, with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant, is set. Their defense, though, could stand to get better, and Dallas started that effort by taking Charlton out of Michigan.

Reaction to the pick

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated​: "Theme of the night: zone-based defenses taking edge rushers. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Miami and Atlanta all did it. And now Dallas, the team that needed that help more than any outside of Cleveland."

Mike Mayock of NFL.com: "This kid has length, power and athletic ability. Reminds me physically of Carlos Dunlap. One-year starter, which makes me question where he was before that."

Pete Prisco of CBSSports: "They need help up front, but this kid flashed at times and did little else."

RELATED: DID PLAYING AT ALABAMA ACTUALLY HURT ALLEN'S STOCK?

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NFL Draft 2017 Redskins live blog: Second round draft tracker updates, analysis

NFL Draft 2017 Redskins live blog: Second round draft tracker updates, analysis

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Redskins got themselves aa steal in Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen with the No. 17 overall pick.

On Friday, the second and third rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, and the Redskins head into the second day with two picks at their disposal.

The Redskins will select No. 49 overall (2nd-17) and No. 81 overall (3rd-17) unless they make a draft day trade.

Will the Redskins make a trade? Who are the best available players in the second and third round? 

The CSN NFL Draft Second Round Live Blog has you covered.

RELATED: REDSKINS CAN GET CREATIVE ON DAY 2

What: 2017 NFL Draft, Rounds 2-3
When: Friday, April 28, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Penn.
TV Channel: ESPN, NFL Network
Live Stream: WatchESPN App

RELATED: FINAL 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT

Lets head to the Live blog (Click here for First Round Live Blog):

REDSKINS 2017 NFL DRAFT SECOND ROUND TRACKER

5:27 PM - As more information about CB Gareon Conley taking a polygraph has come out, so too have questions about the legality of it. 

4:50 PM - Rich Tandler narrowed down the Redskins' second and third-round NFL Draft choices to just five guys. Here they are. 

4:45 PM - This list will be important today. Who are the best available players the Redskins could think about drafting in the second round?

4:30 PM - We wrote about this, but this graphic is worth looking at again. And again. And again.

4:20 PM - Want to get to know the NFL Draft prospects? Want to go inside the war room with a former GM? Ever wondered what a player evaluation looks like? Former NFL GM Charley Casserly and CSN's Julie Donaldson have you covered in our CSN Draft Room. It's your go-to source for 2017 NFL Draft material.

4:05 PM - The CSN team is all over the place today. Be sure to follow them on Twitter. Redskins Insider JP Finlay is at the Draft in Philadelphia. Redskins writer Rich Tandler and CSN anchor Chick Hernandez are at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. and NFL analyst Trevor Matich is in the CSN Draft Room. Be sure to follow @CSNRedskins for all your draft night coverage. 

4:00 PM - Welcome to CSN's live draft tracker for the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday night.