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Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

LANDOVER, Md. — Here are my observations during the Redskins’ much-needed 20-15 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

—The Redskins’ two-week issue with slow starts was cured in a hurry.

On the third play from scrimmage, Anthony Lanier busted up the middle and smacked Blaine Gabbert, knocking the ball loose. After Preston Smith recovered and returned it to the six, it was Kirk Cousins to Jamison Crowder for five yards and a touchdown.

It was the start that a slumping team needed.

—The last two sacks stymied a good Cardinals drive in the red zone, making them settle for a field goal.

—The Redskins moved down the field and then they scored on one of the prettiest plays you’ll see. Faking a handoff up the middle and then a jet sweep gave a nice phalanx of blockers a chance to develop on the right side. Cousins flipped to Kapri Bibbs, who was in the clear nearly all the way to the end zone. Great play design and solid execution on that one.

—The Redskins tried to challenge what was called an incomplete pass. It looked like Preston Smith had knocked the ball out before Gabbert’s arms went forward.

—But the play stood as called and a Cardinals field goal made the score 14-6.

—At halftime, the Redskins had run 15 plays, 77 yards of offense, and 6:34 of possession time. But they held a 14-9 lead.  

—The Redskins special teams found a new gaffe to commit, letting a pooch kickoff bounce and the Cardinals recovered. A field goal cut the Washington lead to 14-12.

— It’s funny how when the running game gets going even a little bit, the passing game starts to roll. On a drive from their own five, Samaje Perine got a couple of four-yard runs that seemed to unleash an offense that had been struggling. Cousins went to Crowder, Perine, and then Crowder again for big gains to the Arizona 10. But they couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a 24-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to make it 17-12.

—The Redskins got a little too fancy. They got a first down at the 32 and they tried an end around to Josh Doctson. Wrong guy, wrong play, whatever. He lost 14 yards and that killed the drive. After the punt the Redskins punted the ball to Arizona, giving the Cardinals a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

—The Cardinals kicked a 54-yard field goal but yet another special teams gaffe—a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on AJ Francis for leverage—gave Arizona a first down. Fortunately, the defense held again and the Cardinals ended up with the same result, a field goal to make it 17-15.

—The Redskins couldn’t wrap it up after getting great field position after a punt at their 45. They did get a couple of first downs and Dustin Hopkins kicked a field goal to make it a five-point game. But they left Arizona with 4:30 to get a TD to take the win.

—After an exchange of punts it took just two plays for the Cardinals to get into Washington territory. But on third and five, Gabbert lost the handle on the ball and the play went for a loss of 18 yards. The Cardinals had to punt, giving the Redskins a chance to seal up the game on offense. But it went three and out, giving the Cardinals another chance.

—Fortunately, key pass break-ups by Kendall Fuller, Zach Vigil and DJ Swearinger FINALLY ended this one, with the Burgundy and Gold on the right side of things for the first time in three weeks.

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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/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core defensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp last year, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. I looked at the offense earlier, the defense is up today.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory, if you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.  

Defense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Jonathan Allen (26)
Changes from last prediction: Removed Josh Norman (33)

Allen was already playing well and getting better when a Week 6 Lisfranc injury ended his rookie season. He will continue to improve.

Norman will be a free agent in 2021. He still could be an effective contributor in Washington or elsewhere but his days as a blue-chip player likely will be over.

MORE REDSKINS: WHAT CAN THE REDSKINS LEARN FROM THE PLAYOFFS?

This is a pretty thin group of blue-chip defenders and even Allen has question marks until he puts at least two fully healthy seasons on his NFL resume.

Solid starters: Ryan Kerrigan (33), D. J. Swearinger (30), Kendall Fuller (26), Preston Smith (28), Matt Ioannidis (27), Anthony Lanier (28)
Changes: Added Fuller, Smith, Ioannidis, Lanier, removed Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland, Ryan Anderson (27), Zach Brown (31)

Age obviously could be an issue with Kerrigan and Swearinger. Kerrigan’s career has the look of one of a player who can still play well into his mid-30’s but you never know. Swearinger will just be hitting football middle age, but the high-speed hits delivered by safeties tend to shorten careers.

The others will just be hitting the primes of their careers in 2021. Ioannidis should continue to improve and Lanier needs to play better against the run to be a starter. If Smith can perform at his highest level consistently, he could edge up towards blue-chip territory.

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Cravens is unlikely to return after his rocky departure a week before the 2017 season. The chances are very good that Breeland will be gone in free agency in March. We really didn’t see enough from Anderson to figure out anything about his future, and while it’s possible that Brown will re-sign, I don’t see him still being here in 2021.

Potential starters: Trent Murphy (31), Quinton Dunbar (29), Fabian Moreau (27), Montae Nicholson (25)
Changes: Added Dunbar, Moreau, Nicholson, moved up Smith, Fuller, removed Mason Foster (32), Will Compton (31)

The most potential in this group comes from Nicholson and Moreau. Nicholson was headed to being in the “solid starters” group before his season was cut short with a concussion. He doesn’t have a bad injury history, as he missed just one game in his last two seasons at Michigan State, so there is reason to believe that he can stay healthy. Moreau has speed and a physical style and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting before the 2018 season is over.

If Preston Smith leaves as a free agent, Murphy could start on the edge. It seems likely that Dunbar will still be around and he could be a starter or a reserve.

There is one other group of players that is hard to classify based on a small sample size. We didn’t see enough out of rookies Anderson, Josh Holsey, Josh Harvey-Clemons to plot a career arc for them with any degree of reliability. Deshazor Everett will be 29 in 2021, and although right now he seems to be a special team player and spot starter, he could catch on and become a starter.

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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Need to Know: Five possible Redskins free agent targets

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Need to Know: Five possible Redskins free agent targets

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 18, 55 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 47
—NFL Draft (4/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 234

Five possible Redskins free agent signings

Yesterday, we took an early look at how the Redskins might improve themselves in the first round of the draft. Free agency is just 55 days away so let’s look at five possible Redskins premium free agent signings.

QB Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings)—The Vikings have one of those “good problems to have” at quarterback. If Case Keenum leads them to the Super Bowl, they might have to hold on to him and let the 25-year-old former first-round pick walk. He didn’t put up huge numbers in his two years as the starter but the Vikings didn’t ask him to do much. He’s a pocket passer with mobility and it would be interesting to see what Jay Gruden could do with him. The devastating knee injury that cost him most of the last two seasons is, of course, a major concern and it would have to be examined closely before any major commitment.

WR Jordan Matthews (Bills)—He struggled some in 2017 after the Bills acquired him from the Eagles. He spent the last five games on injured reserve with a knee injury. But when he was healthy for his first three seasons with the Eagles, he averaged 75 receptions for almost 900 yards and six touchdowns per season. The injury could help the Redskins get a quality receiver at a discounted price.

G Jonathan Cooper (Cowboys)—The seventh overall pick of the 2013 draft has had problems getting a foothold in the NFL. He has spent two years with the Cardinals and two in Dallas. Injuries have hurt him as well. But he is young (27) and if he’s healthy he could be a good alternative to some of the more expensive options to fill the left guard spot.

DL Bennie Logan (Chiefs)—The Redskins wanted to sign him away from the Eagles a year ago but they couldn’t get a deal done. Logan went to the Chiefs on a one-year deal so he’s set to be a free agent again at age 28. He’s just the sort of nose tackle that Jim Tomsula likes (more athletic than heavy) and he could play on other downs as well. The Redskins have the same hole at nose tackle that they had a year ago and making another run at Logan is a no-brainer.

ILB Jon Bostic (Colts)—Logan was a second-round pick of the Bears in 2013 and if he signs with a new team in 2018 it will be his fourth in six NFL seasons. He is more solid than spectacular but the Redskins might just need someone who can play if they lose Zach Brown and/or Mason Foster and Will Compton to free agency.

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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