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Bold Predictions: Every Which Way to Lose

Bold Predictions: Every Which Way to Lose

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

Since October 30, the Redskins have experienced an agonizing variety of losses. They lost a blowout in New York and dropped a shootout in Tampa. Against Oakland, they lost because the couldn’t score an offensive touchdown and they lost to San Diego despite holding a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

After all of this, can they find a way to win?

They can, but it will be a tough task. The Rams aren’t the Greatest Show on Turf any more, but they are still fourth in the NFL in offense this year despite the fact that they may be using their third different starting quarterback this season this Sunday (more on that coming up). On top of that their head coach/offensive guru Mike Martz is on the shelf for the season with a heart ailment and Torry Holt and Issac Bruce have missed a combined seven games this year. Still, they crank along at a pace of 372 yards a game.
They have scored 24 or more points in nine of their eleven games. Contrast this with the Redskins’ scoring output, which has reached that 24-point milestone just twice.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, a rookie from Harvard, led a stunning comeback last week against the Texans, rallying the team from deficits of 24-3 with 30 minutes to play and 27-17 with 30 seconds left. Although he’s the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week, he might not start for the Rams on Sunday. If Jamie Martin has recovered from the concussion that knocked him out of last Sunday’s game, opening the door for Fitzpatrick, he will start and Fitzpatrick, the only Harvard quarterback ever to throw an NFL pass, will go back to the bench. Martin did not practice on Thursday and he is listed as questionable.
If Fitzpatrick does indeed end up starting, he won’t be quite the mystery he was to the Texans. Gregg Williams and company have 30 pass attempts to study to find his tendencies and his weaknesses. That’s 30 more than Houston had.

Because they are no longer unknown, quarterbacks often have a considerably tougher go of it in their second appearances than they do in their debuts. In 2002 Patrick Ramsey got his first NFL game action in Tennessee after starter Danny Wuerfel got hurt. He went 20-34 for 248 yards, two TD’s and no interceptions with a QB rating of 103.6. The next week Ramsey got the start and his stats took a nosedive as he threw four interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 48.8. He created a book in that first game and the Saints read it and took advantage of it in his second appearance.

If he plays, Fitzpatrick’s rating will almost certainly take a tumble from the lofty career 117 mark he now sports. Martin, on the other hand, is in his 11th NFL season (he actually was with the Redskins for a while in 1997, but he didn’t play) and, while shouldn’t look for gaudy numbers from him he should give a solid, workmanlike performance.

You never want to root for anyone to get hurt or remain hurt (bad karma), Redskins rooters might want to hope that the Rams err on the side of caution and give Martin an extra week to clear his head.

So, back to the original question, will the Redskins be able to beat this team on the road in a very loud dome? If you’re one who believes that defense quiets a crowd and wins games, you have to think that they will. We looked at scoring output earlier, now let’s look at scoring prevention. St. Louis has allowed the other team to put up 24 points or more eight time, the Redskins just three. If form holds, we’re probably looking at a game with scores in the upper teens to lower twenties.

Redskins 23, Rams 20

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The Redskins drafted for need, and this time, that is just fine

The Redskins drafted for need, and this time, that is just fine

ASHBURN, Va. -- After months, and maybe years, of the Redskins front office explaining that the NFL Draft came down to taking the best player available, the organization might have veered from that strategy Thursday night.

The Redskins selected Alabama defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne with the No. 13 overall pick. It's a fine selection, but the team made it not necessarily because Payne was the best player available, but because he was the best player available at a position of desperate need. 

"There were quite a few guys that were worthy of that pick, quite frankly, but for what we were looking for and the fit, I think Da’Ron is perfect for us and what we were looking for," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said after the first round ended.

Payne should help right away on the Redskins defensive line, but plenty of fans want to know why the team didn't select Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds at No. 13. Both freak athletes, James could have helped the Redskins' secondary while Edmunds could help at the linebacker spot and rushing the passer.

Asked specifically if Payne was on top of the board at No. 13 with Edmunds and James present, the coach wasn't quite crystal clear.

"Yeah, he was up there. There’s a lot of scenarios we tried to play through and guys were getting picked and we’re happy as heck to get Da’Ron. He’s one of our top guys."

For Gruden and the Redskins, this pick was about competing in the NFC East.

"You see what’s going on in our division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott and Philadelphia, the way they run the ball," the coach said. "Our [2017] ranking on defense wasn’t quite up to speed at 32nd."

The coach is right. 

The Redskins struggled mightily last season against the run, coming in dead last in rush defense. In turn, they struggled in the division, going 1-5. Dallas and Philadelphia already run the ball very well, and now by drafting Barkley second overall, the Giants could be a strong run team too. 

There is no question Payne will step in and help against the run, and that should happen immediately. Gruden even said the Redskins will use Payne at the nose tackle position, likely with Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis lined up next to him. 

The question on Payne is pass rushing ability, and he's eager to prove it's no question at all. 

"I’m going to get after the pass rush and just dominate the run every chance I get," the new Redskins said in a conference call with media. 

In thre years at Alabama, Payne logged three sacks. Read that again. It's not a misprint. 

For interior defensive line players, sacks aren't always a great measure of effectiveness. Getting good push up the middle disrupts the quarterbacks time in the pocket, and that often results in sacks off the edge. Payne should be able to help in that capacity.

"I think he's got great power, and a lot of times the sacks that don't show up on the stat board, he enabled other guys to get them because of the push of the pocket that forces the quarterback outside. I think Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Ryan Anderson will be very happy to have Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne in the middle pushing that pocket," Gruden said. "Stats don't always tell a story about pass rushers."

The Redskins made a smart, safe pick with Payne. He will help the team from Day One. 

The Redskins eschewed the chance for a riskier, but maybe more rewarding pick in Derwin James or Tremaine Edmunds. And that's ok.

If Payne boosts the run defense, like he should, he will be proven worth the No. 13 pick.

If Payne boosts the run defense, and proves capable as a pass rusher, then Redskins fans will forget all about James and Edmunds. 

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Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Many top draft choices chose to head to the NFL Draft, hear their name called and get the pomp and circumstance that comes with all that is the NFL Draft. 

The Washington Reskins' No. 13 pick Da'Ron Payne was not one of those prospects. 

Instead, Payne watched the draft surronded by close friends and family.

The reaction was memorable: 

Some draft picks choose not to come for fear of slidding down draft boards, or worse: not being picked in the first round at all. 

So he doesn't get to meet Roger Goodell. He doesn't get a Redskins' jersey on draft night.

But this video wouldn't exist if the defensive tackle from Alabama chose to go to Dallas, Texas on draft night. 

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