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A Six-Tool Team

A Six-Tool Team

If you break it down on a broad, somewhat superficial level, there are seven areas in which a football team must perform. They are:

  • Cover kicks
  • Return kicks
  • Convert Field goals
  • Defend the run
  • Defend the pass
  • Run
  • Pass

The Redskins are around the middle of the NFL pack in the three special teams, not bad, not great. They are among the elite in the defensive categories, third against the run and fifth defending the pass. Their running game isn’t bad either, ranking 13th in rushing yardage.

Of course, it’s the passing game that is the drag on this team. As John McEnroe would say, it’s “the pits of the universe”. Way too often, Mark Brunell’s passes miss their target. All too often, when his passes are on the mark, the target drops the ball. Iither result assumes that Brunell has adequate time to throw and/or a receiver could get open.

It’s a mess that’s led to four sub-100-yard outputs this year. The bad news is that it’s not likely to get significantly better any time soon. Gibbs isn’t likely to bench Brunell and, even if that happens, there’s no guarantee that Patrick Ramsey will play any better. The offense will be tweaked and retooled, perhaps giving some more playing time to Darnerien McCants (you could say he’s been glued to the bench, but he hasn’t even been on the bench, having been inactive for six of the eight games), but such moves won’t improve the output dramatically.

It looks like something we’re going to have to get used to. If the Redskins are to win games, they will do so on the basis of their hard-charging defense, the legs of Clinton Portis, and the solid performance and occasional big play from the special teams. It’s not an impossible formula to win with; the Baltimore Ravens won a Super Bowl with it in 2000.

This isn’t to say that the Redskins are Jacksonville bound. The point is that there are ways of winning football games that don’t necessarily involve going out there and pitchin’ it around, as an old ballcoach used to say.

Had a flag been thrown in the end zone against Dallas and had one not been thrown on the sideline against the Packers, the Skins would have very marginally better offensive passing numbers and they would be 5-3. We’d all celebrating “winning ugly”.

What happened happened, however, and the results are what they are. So instead of being the last piece of the puzzle, the passing game is the big drag on the team, Brunell is not being celebrated for his “control” in not making killer turnovers but being ravaged for lack of output.

You could go on with the “ifs” but the main one is that “if” the Redskins’ passing game was even as good as mediocre they wouldn’t have had to worry about flags and they’d be cruising. It’s about results.

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

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.