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Injuries and miscues just too much for Redskins in sloppy loss to Cowboys

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Injuries and miscues just too much for Redskins in sloppy loss to Cowboys

The Redskins were bealeagured by injuries and sloppy conditions on Sunday, falling to the Dallas Cowboys 33-19 at FedEx Field.

After taking a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, a blocked field goal and lengthy return changed the complexion of the game, with the Cowboys scoring 19 straight points. The injuries piled up and Kirk Cousins and the offense could not mount a comeback.

Here are Rich Tandler's observations.

RELATED: WHO ARE THE MOST HATED COWBOYS OF ALL TIME?

First Half

— The Redskins are getting hit in their nickel defense. In Dallas’ opening drive, Ezekiel Elliott ran for eight and 13 yards, the last one for a touchdown. They need to tighten up their run defense in nickel or go more base on first down.

— In the early going, the Redskins were not running very effectively, but the commitment to running helped them when Cousins got away from the short and horizontal passing game and went deep to Jamison Crowder, setting up the Redskins’ first touchdown.

— Cousins was sharp in the early going, completing seven of 10 passes for 80 yards. But he sailed a third-down pass to Pryor just a bit high and the receiver couldn’t quite get two feet down and they had to settle for a field goal.

— The Redskins have not made many positive plays on special teams but they have mostly avoided making negative plays. Until today. Tress Way had problems getting the ball down on a field goal attempt. It was blocked but went forward a few yards. Orlando Scandrick got an 86-yard return and two plays later what looked like was going to be a nine-point Redskins lead turned into a one-point Dallas lead. Now the special teams owe a big play.

— The makeshift offensive line is playing as well as can be expected. No penalties, a couple of sacks but for the most part Cousins has had time to throw. At the half only nine rushing attempts for Washington so it’s hard to judge the performance there.

Second half

— The Redskins’ first turnover of the game caused some damage. Cousins was sacked and had the ball knocked away during the first drive of the second half. Dallas recovered near midfield and turned it into a field goal. The Redskins can’t afford to give away any points.

— But they did. On the kickoff following the field goal, Chris Thompson was hit and fumbled. Two Redskins had the ball in their arms but they couldn’t squeeze it and the Cowboys recovered. A holding penalty negated an Elliott touchdown run but it did set up another field goal. With about six minutes left in the third quarter, the Redskins had given the Cowboys 13 points on the field goal block and the two fumbles.

— The Redskins’ defense is starting to wear down late in the third quarter. After a three and out, which happened because Josh Doctson couldn’t hold on to a deep sideline pass that would have given the Redskins a first down in Dallas territory, Dallas go the ball near midfield. Elliott found running room Prescott completed a couple of passes and Nugent kicked another field goal to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead. In the third quarter the Redskins had the ball for slightly over five minutes.

— The Redskins are running out of bodies. By the end of the third quarter, LG Shawn Lauvao (stinger), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), and DE Matt Ioannidis (hand) were all sidelined with various injuries. While Dallas was getting stronger, the Redskins were fading.

— On a positive note, Jamison Crowder became the first Redskins receiver this year to top 100 yards receiving. He caught one for 41 yards early and kept it rolling. The two who are supposed to be leading the charge, Terrelle Pryor and Doctoson, had two receptions for six yards between them with five minutes left to play.

— The Redskins got a couple of breaks on two near-interceptions that Dallas defenders couldn’t hold on to and a touch pass interference penalty in the end zone but they did get a touchdown that pulled them to within seven. The extra point was missed, another special teams gaffe.

— The Cowboys are going to leave FedEx Field with a win that wasn’t entirely a gift. However the team that couldn’t afford to make many mistakes, the one that had to play a clean game, made too many mistakes—dropped passes, turnovers, special teams gaffes, and more. The Redskins had their shots but they just gave Dallas too many opportunities.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 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.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201