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Five takeaways from a near drama-free Redskins win over the Broncos

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Five takeaways from a near drama-free Redskins win over the Broncos

LANDOVER, MD — Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ impressive 27-11 win over the Broncos.

No meaningless games — Fans and media are certainly welcome to call a Week 16 game between two non-contenders meaningless but the Redskins’ players and coaches would disagree. They competed for pride, for their teammates, for themselves and because, well, they’re competitors. The defense nearly went a second straight game without allowing a touchdown but the Broncos managed a garbage time tally. It would have been something they have not done in at least 47 years.

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Have to take advantage — Some would suggest that if the Redskins had kept the Broncos out of the end zone that the two-game TD-less streak should have carried an asterisk give that it would have come against QB’s Blaine Gabbert and Brock Osweiler. But they have played a lot of bad quarterbacks in those 47 seasons and they still have not managed the back-to-back no-TD trick. So give the defense some credit for bending and not breaking against Arizona and hardly bending at all against the Broncos. From the start of the second half until it was 27-3 with about four minutes left, the Broncos gained just 36 yards.

End of the line for Kirk? — Cousins was asked a few different times in a few different ways if he thought about this possibly being his last home game at FedEx Field. He continued to say what he said before the game today, that his focus is on ending the season strong and then sorting out where he will play his home games in 2018 starting on January 1. If it was his last Redskins game at FedEx Field he finished off strong, with 299 yards passing and three touchdowns. It should be noted that he had an ugly pick after throwing into triple coverage in the end zone but he played well enough before and after that for it to be overlooked.

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Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan showed what they can be — The Redskins bookend edge rushers got two sacks each and Smith added in a forced fumble. Today’s performance shows what the two can do and what kind of effect it might have on the Redskins defense. They got a turnover, ended some drives and stopped others before they ever got started. Yes, Denver does have a suspect offensive line and Osweiler is a statue in the pocket but you have to take advantage of such situations. Kerrigan and, especially, Smith haven’t always done that in the past but they did today.

Jay Gruden’s job is safe, period — I’m not sure how much danger there ever was of the head coach losing his job, but after blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers the chatter started to grow. If there had been two more games like those he may have been in serious trouble. But after getting his team to respond and play with pride these last two “meaningless” games, he is not going anywhere. 

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: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

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.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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Is the Redskins’ starter at left guard already on the roster?

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Is the Redskins’ starter at left guard already on the roster?

The Redskins have checked off a number of their “needs” boxes that they had when the season began. But there are two holes that remain. 

One is nose tackle. Of course, that has been an issue since 2010. The Redskins may have obtained part of the solution when the brought back Phil Taylor last week and most believe that more help will come in the draft. 

The other need, the one at left guard, also may be a work in progress. Or, perhaps they think they have the solution on the depth chart. 

The team does not put out a depth chart before training camp but if they did distribute one right now they would have Arie Kouandjio as the starting left guard. That is cause for consternation among many Redskins fans and based on some of his past play the low confidence level is justified. 

Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick in 2015. He played sparingly his first two years in the league, getting two fill-in starts in 2016. In training camp last year, he spent a lot of time playing with the third team and it was no surprise when he was one of the final cuts. The team kept undrafted rookie Tyler Catalina instead. 

Kouandjio caught on with the Ravens’ practice squad but when injuries started to pile upon the O-line in Week 8, the Redskins brought him back. Two days after he was signed he played 22 snaps at left guard against the Cowboys. 

In all, he played in eight games, starting six of them. He allowed three sacks, which is the same number that Brandon Scherff gave up, but Scherff played about twice as many snaps. 

What about 2018? Word from John Keim is that Kouandjio has changed his training to focus on lower-body strength and agility. He knows that he has a chance to establish himself in the NFL and he’s doing what he can to take advantage of it. 

Another option at left guard is 31-year-old Tony Bergstrom, who was re-signed earlier this week. He has played for four teams in six years in the league and has started seven games including three at center for the Redskins. Like Kouandjio, he may not be the ideal solution but perhaps a passable option. 

The whole picture here could up be upended in the draft if the Redskins use one of their top picks on a guard. There has been plenty of chatter about Ohio State center Billy Price going to the Redskins in the second round. He may not last that long. If he’s there, however, the Redskins have to seriously consider him. 

The team may go through the draft and perhaps OTAs and minicamp with what they have now. If it doesn’t look like they have a starting caliber player in place they then could reach out to the free agent market and bring in someone like Alex Boone

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