Quick Links

Can the Redskins ambush the Packers?


Can the Redskins ambush the Packers?

Last year, the Redskins went into New Orleans armed with an offensive game plan that the Saints didn’t know was coming. Robert Griffin III and his offensive teammates ambushed the Saints, who had won 13 games and the NFC South the year before, and walked out with an impressive 40-32 win.

On Sunday, the Redskins go to Green Bay to meet the Packers, who won 11 games in 2012 and took the NFC North. Can they do to the Packers what they did to the Saints?

Yes, it’s the second game of the season and not the opener. And it’s the second year of playing with Griffin at quarterback and despite the issues with his surgically repaired knee, there should still be many of the Pistol formation and read option elements present.

But the Redskins almost certainly retooled their offense between the playoff loss to the Seahawks in the playoffs and the season opener against the Eagles since they need to stay a step ahead of defenses that studied all season to try to stop their attack. And, as Kyle Shanahan told us, they didn’t show much of that new offense against the Eagles.

The Redskins managed to run just 24 plays before they were down 33-7. “No, we really never got to do our game plan, to tell you the truth,” the team’s offensive coordinator said. “We had some stuff in there early, but it wasn’t just that that we didn’t get to do, we didn’t get to do about 90 percent of our game plan. It turned into a two-minute drill pretty fast.”

If the Redskins can avoid a start similar to the fumble-interception-safety fiasco they had on Monday, they should be able to utilize their offensive game plan, one that was kept under wraps against the Eagles.

It won’t be the exact same plan, of course. But both the Eagles and the Packers run 3-4 defenses so there will be elements that will be the same.

And regardless, whatever tweaks and wrinkles that Kyle and Mike Shanahan and the rest of the offense came up with over the spring and summer almost certainly remained under wraps. So the Packers haven’t seen them yet.

Football games are decided by players and no nifty X’s and O’s will help if Griffin is still working his way through adjusting to his reconstructed knee. But if Griffin can operate at close to the efficiency he did a year ago, the Redskins could surprise a Packers defense that gave up over 400 yards passing to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers last week.

This week’s other key factors:

—Rodgers was sacked 51 times last year and twice against the 49ers last week. Brian Orakpo will be going up against left tackle David Bakhtiari for much of the day. He is a rookie who the Packers drafted in the fourth round. That could provide an opportunity for Orakpo to get after Rodgers some although Bakhtiari did do a good job pass blocking last week.

—Clay Matthews will try to get after Griffin. Trent Williams will be his primary matchup and you have to like the Redskins’ chances in that battle. Matthews may beat Williams a time or two but he shouldn’t be a constant presence in Griffin’s face. Besides Matthews there isn’t another big-time pass rushing threat. Mathews had 13 last year; next hightest total belonged to Mike Neal with 4.5.

—The Packers have won 29 of their last 31 games at Lambeau Field. The have lost three in a row to the new-generation mobile quarterbacks (four if you count Andrew Luck, who can scramble and run some). We’ll have to see if the mobile QB thing outweighs the home field thing.

This is a tall task for the Redskins. Rodgers is simply one of the best in the business and he could feast on a Redskins secondary that is still finding its way. If the Redskins can score in the mid 30’s somewhere they have a good shot. But I don’t think they will.

Packers 31, Redskins 21

Quick Links

The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

USA Today Sports Images

The 2018 salaries of five Redskins become fully guaranteed today

It may be the 18th of March but today could be like Christmas for five Redskins players.

The Redskins decided to use today, four days after the start of the league year, for some contract triggers. In this case, the triggers are all 2018 salary guarantees (some teams will pay out roster bonuses on trigger dates, but the Redskins rarely use that type of structure).

Here are the players whose have guarantees that kick in today 4 p.m. All data is via Over the Cap.


CB Josh Norman, base salary of $13.5 million becomes fully guaranteed—This was a window for the Redskins to move on from Norman if they were not happy with his performance after two seasons. He is 31 and he had no interceptions last season, leaving some to wonder if the Redskins might think about releasing him. But it never was a consideration.

TE Jordan Reed, $8 million of his $8.25 million salary becomes fully guaranteed—No, I’m not sure why they are leaving that $250,000 out there non-guaranteed. Fans thought that the Redskins might move on from Reed due to his injury issues. But, as with Norman, it never was a consideration.

S D.J. Swearinger, $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—This is a mere technicality, Swearinger wasn’t going anywhere after helping to solidify the safety position.


RB Chris Thompson, $1.996 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—His rehab is going well and after last year Thompson’s two-year, $7 million contract extension signed last September looks like a good deal for the team.

DE Terrell McClain, $3.25 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed—If the Redskins sign a top free agent D-lineman or draft on early in the draft they could be in a numbers crunch. That new acquisition would be guaranteed a roster spot along with Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. That makes five and the Redskins kept six last year. Ziggy Hood is a favorite of the coaching staff but he has no guaranteed money left on his contract. That could tip the sixth spot in favor of McClain if he is on the roster at the close of business today. If they release McClain after today, they would take a cap charge of over $2 million. It seems unlikely that anything will happen but it’s something to keep an eye on.

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.


Quick Links

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

USA Today Sports Images

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.

Tandler on Twitter

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

In case you missed it