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Could the Redskins really be 7-2 like Jay Gruden said?

Could the Redskins really be 7-2 like Jay Gruden said?

Yesterday at his first news conference after his team returned from the bye, Redskins coach Jay Gruden talked about how they are not too far from having a better record.

“When you go back and you look at what’s going on, being 3-6, you look at the six losses and there’s a play here and a play there and we’re just so close to being 7-2 as opposed to being 3-6,” he said. “That’s the way the NFL is right now.”

This comment drew some fire from fans on Twitter.
.@Rich_TandlerCSN Close?!? To 7-2? Get 2 Ss, 2 OL starters, starter at OLB... Then we can talk close to winning. #RedskinsTalk #Redskins

— Steve in TN ™ (@sdo1) November 10, 2014
 
@Rich_TandlerCSN That type of thinking is why we're not 7-2. http://t.co/SPCxSTs04a

— Chris (@cdawgRVA) November 10, 2014
Should Gruden talk about his team being close? Or should he talk about the areas of the team that need to be shored up and about how much work needs to be done before the Redskins are good enough to contend for a Super Bowl?

You can make a case that what Gruden said is true, that just a couple of plays in some of their losses would have flipped the result.

—Against the Texans, if they pick up the blocking on that early punt and it doesn’t get blocked for a touchdown and fumble the ball away just once inside the Houston 10 instead of twice they could have won 14-10.

—In Philadelphia, just one first down after they get the ball in Eagles territory in the final minutes gets them in tying field goal range and the could have won in overtime.

—In the fourth quarter in Arizona, the Cardinals led by seven when Carson Palmer threw a pass right into the hands of Brian Orakpo, who had some running room. If they get the pick six there it’s a tie game and the Redskins have the momentum.

—Against the Vikings the defense had multiple chances to make a stop as Teddy Bridgewater rallied the Vikings from behind three times in the second half. You could also look at the Redskins’ last meaningful play on offense where Robert Griffin III could have kept the drive alive with either an accurate pass to Pierre Garçon or perhaps by turning on the jets and running for the first down.

One problem with playing the “what if” game is that you could just as easily say that if the Titans and Cowboys had made a play here and there they could have changed the result of the Redskins’ two close wins.

The Redskins do need an upgrade in talent if they are going to join the ranks of the best teams in the NFL. But there are plenty of teams out there that are managing to stay competitive despite having holes in their lineups. Just look in the Redskins’ own division. The Eagles are 7-2 despite having issues at safety, a shaky offensive line, and a linebacker corps that wasn’t very strong to begin with and then weakened by injuries. The Dallas defense has absolutely nobody that scares anybody but they are 7-3.

Bottom line, there really isn’t anything wrong with Gruden stepping up to the podium at midseason and presenting the rosy scenario. Yes, the Redskins do need to upgrade their talent on both lines and at safety but there isn’t much they can do about that in the middle of November. Gruden has to work with what he has. There would be no point in him railing on the work that needs to be done when the season is over.

At the same time, it’s easy to understand fans who do not want to hear it. The team has been 3-6 after nine games for four years in a row now and it’s always been a play here and there that made the difference between reality and an imaginary winning record. Only once, in 2012, did the Redskins start to make the plays and turn the season around. The other three years there were only the “what ifs” and the cycle started again.

For Gruden’s part, he’s just trying to make the best of a bad situation. As far as the fans go, they’re just tired of getting into that bad situation year after year.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201