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Breaking down the wild card picture


Breaking down the wild card picture

The Redskins’ hopes for a division title took a hit (but not a fatal one) last night when the Giants smacked down the Packers 38-10. But the Redskins road to a wild card playoff spot was smoothed yesterday by the results in four games. That road is not a paved, four-lane highway, not even close to it, but it is in better shape than it was Sunday morning.

The Redskins are one of three NFC teams who are 5-6. Washington and the other two, the Saints and Cowboys, are a game behind the Bucs, Seahawks, and Vikings, who are all 6-5 and tied for the second and final wild card spot. Here is a look at those six teams:

Redskins (5-6, 5-4 in NFC)

Strengths: RG3 at quarterback, second in NFL in rushing yards
Weaknesses: 31st in passing yards allowed
Remaining games: Giants, Ravens, @ Browns, @ Eagles, Cowboys
Big question: Can they win three games in a row and four out of five for the first time since 2008?

Cowboys (5-6, 4-5 in NFC)

Strengths: Third in passing yards
Weaknesses: Minus-12 in turnover ratio (29th in NFL), 32nd in rushing yards
Remaining games: Eagles, @ Bengals, Steelers, Saints, @ Redskins
Big question: Will they continue to play at a lower level than the sum of their parts or will they put it together?

Saints (5-6, 3-4 in NFC)

Strengths: Drew Brees at quarterback, fifth in passing yards
Last in total defense, rushing defense
Remaining games: @ Falcons, @ Giants, Bucs, @ Cowboys, Panthers
Big question: Can they outscore teams and dig out of their 0-4 start without Sean Peyton?

Vikings (6-5, 4-4 in NFC)

Strengths: Adrian Peterson and third-ranked rushing attack
Weaknesses: 30th in passing yards
Remaining games: @ Packers, Bears, @ Rams, @ Texans, Packers
Big question: Can they get Percy Harvin back from injury to provide an air threat the compliment Peterson’s ground prowess?

Bucs (6-5, 3-5 in NFC)

Strengths: First in NFL in rushing yards allowed
Weaknesses: Last in NFL in passing yards allowed
Remaining games: @ Broncos, Eagles, @ Saints, Rams, @ Falcons
Big question: Can Greg Schiano go from Rutgers to the NFL playoffs in one year?

Seahawks (6-5, 4-4 in NFC)

Strengths: Third in NFL in passing defense
Weaknesses: 31st in passing yards allowed
Remaining games: @ Bears, Cardinals, @ Bills, 49ers, Rams
Big question: Can they survive if starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner if they lose their drug suspension appeals?

--It looks like whoever gets to nine wins will be in good shape to at least be in the pool that would be decided by tiebreakers. The Redskins, Saints, and Cowboys would have to go 4-1 to get to nine wins and the other three just have to go 3-2.

--The Bucs, Cowboys, and Vikings are hurt by the fact that they have five NFC losses while the other three teams have four.

--The Redskins have an advantage in that they have beaten four of their five rivals for the wild card spot. They do not have the Seahawks on their schedule.

--The Packers now hold the first wild card spot with a 7-4 record (5-3 in the NFC). They bear watching but for right now it looks like they will get at least a wild card.

--There are too many games left to go through all of the possibilities. Besides the head to head games the contenders have left against each other the most important games are the conference games. The 5-6 teams probably can’t afford to lose any in-conference games, the 6-5 teams might survive losing one.

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

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.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


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.