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The Redskins make the most out of their 'meaningless' mid-December game

The Redskins make the most out of their 'meaningless' mid-December game

The Redskins got a win over a team with a quarterback who has no business being in the NFL. They had to sweat it out through four last-minute plays from the edge of the red zone. Washington also had to survive three bad special teams plays and a sluggish offensive performance.

The state of the team is such that the OK performance represented a major improvement for the Redskins. They had lost their previous two games by a combined score of 68-27, never having a lead in either game. Against the Cardinals, they took the lead on their second offensive play and never relinquished it.

This is where the Redskins are, after going through a horrid rash of injuries (Trent Williams and Zach Brown, perhaps their best players on each side of the ball, were out yesterday) and losing “coulda, shoulda” games against the Chiefs and Saints.

The Redskins got something more out of yesterday’s win. They found a couple of players who might be able to help them out in 2018. Among them are one player who has been around a while and another who just arrived in Ashburn a few weeks ago.

MORE REDSKINS: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM REDSKINS-CARDINALS

The relative old timer is defensive end Anthony Lanier. He has been with the team since making the roster as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Lanier has spent more time on the inactive list and on injured reserve than he has playing. Going into yesterday’s game, he had three sacks, one pass defensed and no forced fumbles in 12 career games.

Against the Cardinals, Lanier had two sacks, he batted down three passes and forced a fumble. His first sack and the fumble were important because it set up the Redskins to take an early lead, something they needed after having been non-competitive in their last two games.

“Anthony Lanier showed up in a big way early,” said Jay Gruden. “Made a sack-fumble, had another sack and batted a couple more balls. It was great to hear Anthony Lanier’s name over the intercom a few times and see how far he has come along from a young rookie free agent. He is getting better and better. The sky is the limit for him.”

If you want to throw some cold water on Lanier’s performance, you can argue that the Cardinals had a weak offensive line before losing two starters in their previous game. Go right ahead. Still, it looks like Lanier, Matt Ioannidis, and a healthy Jonathan Allen could be the core of a solid defensive front next year.

You can’t say that the Cardinals’ defense is weak; going into the game they were No. 5 in the NFL according to Football Outsiders. It’s harder to dismiss the performance of running back Kapri Bibbs.

Unlike Lanier, who contributed throughout the game, most of Bibbs’ shining moments came in one drive. He has only been around for a few weeks, having signed to be on the practice squad on November 24 and getting elevated to the 53-man roster on December 12. All he had to do was learn the complex third-down back role, after injuries to Chris Thompson and Byron Marshall left the team scrambling.

Bibbs isn’t new to the league. He played in 13 games for the Broncos in 2015-2016 before they let him go. So he knows his way around a bit and that has helped him.  

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His big moment came early in the second quarter when he took a screen pass from Kirk Cousins, saw a lot of green grass and large men in burgundy jerseys, and dashed in for a touchdown to give the Redskins a 14-3 lead. At the time, it looked like the rout might be on. As it was, the score gave the Redskins enough of a working margin to hold the Cardinals at bay.

“Kapri [took] advantage of the opportunities that he got,” said Gruden. “He ran a great screen pass, weaved his way through traffic and got a touchdown. Drew another holding call on another screen pass, and had a couple of other catches for us that were quite significant. So happy for Kapri. Glad he got his opportunity and took advantage of it.”

Bibbs could stay around after this year. Thompson will be back from his broken fibula to reclaim the third-down job. But this year showed that it is worth considering keeping a backup to that position on the roster and Bibbs could be the ideal candidate.

So, the Redskins got a win that prevented a potential implosion, gave themselves a chance to finish at .500, and got good performances from two young players who can help them out in the future. For a mid-December game when the team has been eliminated from playoff consideration, that’s not a bad day.

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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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

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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/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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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.