Game preview: Defense is M. I. A.


Game preview: Defense is M. I. A.

What:Redskins (1-2) vs. Buccaneers (1-2)
Where:Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
When:Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live:Comcast SportsNet 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.The real referees are back.Washingtons defense, however, remains M.I.A.Three games into a season that began with talk of the unit earning elite status, it has instead been the Redskins biggest hindrance. In fact, the defense ranks 30th in the NFL, havingpermitted 429.3 yards per game. Only the Titans and winless Saints have been more accommodating to opposing offenses.Consider these unsightly statistics:-The Redskins have yielded 33.7 points per game in 2012 (and 31 or more points in seven of their past eight games dating to last season).-After surrendering 300 or more passing yards twice in 2011, the Saints, Rams and Bengals have thrown for 326, 301 and 385 yards, respectively, this season.-Most troubling, though, the Redskins have allowed more yards per pass play (6.9) than any team in the league --a key indicator in the pass-happy NFL.Opponents have scored on pass plays of 73, 59, 48, 34, 33 yards.The reasons for the breakdowns have ranged from inadequate preparation to poor execution and technique to a lack of inexperience caused by young reserves filling in for injured starters such as Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather and, more recently, Cedric Griffin.One bright for the defense has been the performance of the front seven. Behind London Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan, Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, the unit has generated decent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, limited opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground twice and ranks ninth in the league in rushing yards against.But until the secondary gets it together the defense will continue to underachieve.Its more a sense of urgency, Coach Mike Shanahan said about the secondarys sloppiness. When you are not getting something done as a unit, everybody has to pick up their game and thats what we challenged our secondary to do. Everybody has to make sure they have their responsibility down.Thats the major storyline entering Sundays game but its not the only one. Heres are three more areas the crew atwww.csnwashington.comwill be monitoring:RG3s great hitsRobert Griffin III has so far been as advertised. Last Sunday, the rookie became the first quarterback to pass and rush for a touchdown in consecutive weeks since Joe Theismann did it 33 years ago. Griffin also ranks 17thin rushing yards with 209 and his three rushing touchdowns are tied for the most in the league.The downside of Griffins ground production, though, is the number of blows hes sustaining in addition to the hits he absorbs in the pocket. Griffins 32 rushing attempts, in fact, are eight more than Carolinas Cam Newton and 11 more than Philadelphias Michael Vick.After the defensive woes, it was the second most discussed subject at Redskins Park this week.When the coaching staff reviewed the Bengals game film with Griffin, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said they pointed out to Griffin a number of shots he could have avoided simply by not carrying out the option fake. Whether Griffin manages to implement the nuance, however, remains to be seen.Will Grant ease the loadWith Roy Helu Jr., last years leading rushing, headed to injured reserve with turf toe, the Redskins signed former two-time 1,200-yard rusher Ryan Grant on Tuesday.Mike Shanahan hasnt said much about how he plans to implement the veteran, but well have much better idea after Sundays game. Grant is familiar with Shanahans stretch zone blocking scheme from his early days in Green Bay, so the transition should be almost seamless.Do the Redskins hope Grant will lighten the load being carried by rookie Alfred Morris and Griffin? Will they utilize Grants ability in pass protection? Exploit his pass-catching skills? Some combination of the three?Ive always been a fan of Ryan Grant, Kyle Shanahan said. Hes a violent runner who gets the ball downhill and moves the chains. Hes always been a good zone runner and hes familiar with what were doing. It suits his skills.Banged upInjuries are a fact of life in the rough and tumble world of pro football. But its now becoming a major concern for Redskins, who have already lost Orakpo, Adam Carriker, Helu and Tanard Jackson (drug suspension) for the season and continue to be without Jammal Brown (hip).On Sunday, its possible they could be without a number of other key players, including Trent Williams (knee) and No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garon (foot).Also appearing on Thursdays injury list were: Evan Royster (knee), Meriweather (knee), Cedric Griffin (hamstring) and Brandon Banks (hip).Although the Redskins boast improved depth compared to recent seasons, few teams can overcome so many injuries at so many positions over the long term.

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.