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Why can't the Redskins hold onto their early leads or momentum in second halves?

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Why can't the Redskins hold onto their early leads or momentum in second halves?

The Redskins barely survived their game against the 49ers on Sunday for a third win in their pockets. Based on the first half, it should have been a relatively clear path to victory. But it also could have easily gone the other way, like their almost-win against the Chiefs two weeks ago, which ultimately became their second loss. 

If there was a pattern in the two games, it was the Redskins’ inability to build on early success. Against the Chiefs, they led 10-0 in the first quarter and were outscored 29-10 the rest of the way. Sunday, the lead was 17-0 with 1:51 left in the first half. but after that, they were outscored 24-9.

In fact, the Redskins have built up double-digit leads before the other team got on the scoreboard in each of their last four games. They led the Rams 13-0 and the Raiders 21-0. In three of those four games — every one except for the Raiders game — the Redskins let the opposition move into at least a tie.

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I’m old enough to remember the preseason, when there was much handwringing over the offense getting off to slow starts. In five regular season games, the Redskins have outscored the opposition by 27-7 in the first quarter and 75-40 in the first half. (Everyone should now nod and say the preseason means nothing, and everyone will remember that right up until the first preseason game of 2018 kicks off).

But the Redskins apparently can’t stand the prosperity. They have been outscored 73-42 in the second half.

If you look at the numbers, a lot of the second-half drop off is about the running game. In the first half, the Redskins have rushed for 375 yards with a strong average of 4.8 yards per carry. After intermission, they have 237 yards and an average of 3.4 per attempt. It should be noted that Jay Gruden is not abandoning the run. They have run 79 times in the first half and 70 in the second — hardly a statistically significant difference on a fairly small sample size.

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The Redskins also become easier to run against in the second half. Opponents have 162 yards rushing with a 3.2 average in the first half and 237 with a 4.0 average after that.

It’s not as simple as that, of course. There are moments of defensive lapses — like when coverage broke down and former Redskins receiver Aldrick Robinson was able to get wide open to catch a 45-yard touchdown pass from a scrambling C.J. Beathard, and when Alex Smith scrambled to his right and completed a pass that set up the winning field goal. The Redskins defense needs to play better in those moments.

The offense needs to perform better in the second half. That’s when the defense is supposed to be wearing down. The rushing average should go up, not down. The 49ers defense had been on the field for 68 plays when the Redskins recovered that onside kick. They should do better than three runs for six yards and a punt that gave San Francisco a last chance.

There is talk that the Redskins are a better team this year, and there are signs that they are. But if they don’t learn how to finish off their hot starts their record won’t show much improvement.

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: 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, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

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

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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. 

More Redskins

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.