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5 takeaways from Redskins' close win against San Francisco

5 takeaways from Redskins' close win against San Francisco

Here are my give takeaways from the Redskins’ 26-24 win over the 49ers.

A win is a win but . . . I’ve covered every one of Jay Gruden’s games in Washington, and I’ve never hear him say that there was any degree of disappointment in a win until today. “You can see that we’re starting to turn the corner a little bit when you’re not quite as ecstatic as you normally would be after a win,” he said. It’s clear that they had at least a couple of different chances to put them away but they almost let a rookie quarterback throwing his first NFL passes beat them. Against the Chiefs they got ahead and couldn’t apply the clinching blow. They didn’t get away with that against a very good team. Today, they survived but it’s unlikely that they can play like they did today and win any of their next three games against the Eagles, Cowboys and Seahawks.

Better a close win than a blowout? Maybe the Redskins are better off by having to scrape by over the winless 49ers than they would have been had they blown them out. The praise would have been flowing in, and this is not necessarily a team that can handle prosperity well. A two-point win and a rout count the same in the standings. They will go into Philadelphia next Monday night at 3-2 and with, as Gruden said, plenty of things to work on. That may be better for them.

RELATED: Must See Photos: NFL Week 6, Redskins 26 San Francisco 24

So much for limiting Chris Thompson’s touches — Thompson started the game, and while I don’t have official snap counts, I’d say he was in for at least 50 of Washington’s 71 offensive plays. He had 16 rushing attempts and he caught four passes. I’m not sure if 20 touches is a career high, but it’s close. But the thing is, the Redskins needed him. Cousins is still having issues connecting with his wide receivers, and until that gets ironed out he will continue to rely on Thompson when he needs a big play.

The defense is taking a step back — The Redskins defense peaked while allowing the Raiders fewer than 100 yards before they picked up some in garbage time. The Chiefs piled up yards and points against them. In Week 6, they allowed a rookie quarterback to drive 75 yards against them after the two-minute warning and had a broken coverage that gave up a 45-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that made it a two-point game. The other TD wasn’t their fault, coming after a turnover that gave the 49ers the ball at the Washington one. They were becoming a force to be reckoned with and a group that was fun to watch. Now you want to close your eyes when they are on the field. To be sure, injuries have a lot to do with it.

A football season doesn’t always go like you think it will — Sunday, Matt Ioannidis had a sack and a half, including a big one that knocked the 49ers out easy of field goal range (they missed the kick) in the third quarter. Ryan Grant had some key receptions. Many fans would not have batted an eye if one or both of these players had been cut during the offseason. In fact, some would have cheered. But here we are in mid-October and the two fifth-round picks are contributing in wins. So is rookie safety Montae Nicholson, who many thought was a huge reach on the fourth round (I am sheepishly raising my  hand). But you just don’t know how a season is going to play out and how much guys can take a leap in between seasons.  

MORE REDSKINS: It may not be a perfect match, but Kirk Cousins and the read option do look good together

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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