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Week 14 Redskins at Chargers: Playoff contender faces playoff spoiler, but not the expected way


Week 14 Redskins at Chargers: Playoff contender faces playoff spoiler, but not the expected way

After a dispiriting loss in Dallas, the Redskins come to Los Angeles reeling. The team's playoff hopes are largely shot, and with a 5-7 record, the team is in real danger of their first losing record since 2014. 

On the other side of the equation sit the San Diego Chargers, fresh off three consecutive victories and new life in the AFC West division race. If the Redskins were in the AFC West, they'd be firmly in the playoff hunt too, but that's not the case. 

At various times this year it seemed Washington would have a lot to play for, though now, the spoiler role must capture their attention. Will that be enough? Here are three ways it might:

  1. Most valued commodity - Plenty was made about poor effort or schematics in the Redskins blowout loss to the Cowboys, but the simple truth is almost no teams win with four turnovers. Four. Turnovers. Want to win on the road? Protect the ball. Neither of Kirk Cousins' interceptions were particularly attributable to the quarterback, but his fumble was. Jamison Crowder had the worst game of his professional career. Those guys usually don't make those mistakes, and they can't to get a win in California. Protect the ball. It's the most simple football edict, and yet its simplicity conveys its importance. 
  2. Ground game - For two games against the Saints and the Giants, it looked like rookie Samaje Perine finally emerged. He went for more than 100 yards rushing in each game and gave Washington their first back-to-back 100-yard rushers in a few years. In Dallas, however, the wheels fell off. Perine was held under 40 yards rushing and the entire Redskins offense was largely ineffective. Traveling to play the Chargers should be a chance to get Perine back on track. While Los Angeles has fierce pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram and the 4th best defense in the NFL as measured by points allowed, the Chargers rank 31st out of 32 teams against the run. Jay Gruden will go to his run game early, and should some results follow, the 'Skins coach will likely stick with it. For the Redskins to win, Perine will need to have a big day. What better way to protect Cousins than let his offensive line drive block, and make Bosa and Ingram chase a running back downfield. 
  3. It's not where you're from but where you pay rent - Forgive the obscure Outkast reference, but consider what it means. Starts don't matter, but finishing does. For the Redskins, that's been a problem. Greg Manusky's defense has only surrendered 33 points in the first quarter all season, a commendable effort. In the fourth quarter, however, that figure more than triples, as the Redskins have given up 110 points. The 'Skins D is ranked 30th in the league in points per game. In three of their last four games, the Redskins have given up at least 30 points. Injuries are undoubtedly an issue, but the Redskins slow descent from playoff contention coincided with the slow demise of their defense. 

Quote of the Week: Asked to summarize tight end Jordan Reed's injury-marred 2017 season, Jay Gruden replied,

What do you want me to say?

News & Notes

  • Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has a remarkable back story, and the fact that Lynn is coaching today is a miracle in and of itself. Back in 2005, early in Lynn’s first season as an assistant coach with the Cowboys, he was hit by a drunk driver while crossing a street. The impact was so violent that it’s a miracle he survived. The damage tally was extensive – two collapsed lungs, three broken ribs, major facial and shoulder damage that required four surgeries and temporary paralysis – yet despite it all, Lynn walked out of the hospital in less than two weeks.
  • With TD grabs against the Giants and Cowboys, Josh Doctson became the first member of the Redskins to catch a touchdown in back-to-back games since DeSean Jackson in Weeks 11-12 of 2016.
  • The Redskins have allowed only 14 points on opponents’ opening drives this season.
  • Kirk Cousins ranks first in the NFL in passer rating against the blitz (113.15).

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

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

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Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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


Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it