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Flashback Friday—Redskins vs. Rams

Flashback Friday—Redskins vs. Rams

Despite the alliteration, Redskins-Rams doesn't necessarily roll off of the tongue when talking about great NFL rivals. The truth is that the teams have been adversaries both on and off the field in some interesting, even historic, confrontations.

The Washington Redskins had never lost to the Cleveland Rams in five games when the two teams squared off in the 1945 NFL Championship Game. With no score in the first quarter Sammy Baugh went back to pass in his own end zone. He spotted star receiver Wayne Milner at the ten but his pass smacked off of the goal post (they were on the goal line then). Under the rules in force at the time the Rams got two points for a safety. While the rule was changed prior to the next season, it was too late to help Baugh and the Redskins, who lost that title because of the two points awarded to Cleveland, 15-14.

That would be the last postseason game the Redskins would play in for the next 25 seasons. To try to end that drought, Washington hired George Allen, who had just been fired by the Los Angeles Rams, in 1971. While there were bitter feelings between the coach and his former team, it didn't keep the two parties from getting together for what still is the biggest trade in NFL history involving just two teams. Fifteen players and draft picks exchanged hands in the 1971 draft day deal.

That season the Redskins were on the verge of breaking that quarter-century playoff drought, but they had to beat, you guessed it, the Rams in the 13th game of the 14-game slate. It did not start off well for Washington. Kermit Alexander picked off a Billy Kilmer pass and dashed down the sideline 82 yards for a 7-0 Ram lead. A 70-yard bomb from Kilmer to Roy Jefferson tied it up before the first quarter ended. It was tied at 10 in the second quarter when Kilmer hit Clifton McNeil with a 32-yard scoring pass. On the ensuing kickoff the Redskins' control of the game turned into command of it when the Rams fumbled, the Redskins recovered, and Larry Brown bulled over from the one six plays later.

The Rams threatened to rally back into it in the second half, cutting what was a 31-10 Redskins lead to 31-24. They got no closer, though, as Speedy Duncan locked up the Redskins' long-awaited playoff berth with a 44-yard return of an interception for a touchdown and a 38-24 Washington win.

That game had the atmosphere of a playoff game but following the 1983 season the Redskins and Rams hooked up in an actual elimination game. Washington was coming off of a bye week, the Rams had to travel to Texas Stadium to eliminate the Cowboys the previous week. The Redskins had gone 14-2 in the regular season; the Rams had snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 mark. They had met previously, with Washington taking it to the Rams in California 42-20.

The game went precisely to form. After 16 minutes of play it was 24-0 as Art Monk had caught a touchdown pass and John Rigging had two touchdown runs. Meanwhile, a rookie defensive back named Darrell Green was flying all over the field making tackles and breaking up passes. Appropriately, Green scored the last points in the 51-7 rout, snatching a pass that had bounced off of Eric Dickerson's hands and, in a flash, taking back 72 yards for a touchdown.

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Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: How many starters are left from the Redskins' last playoff game?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 19, 54 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 46
—NFL Draft (4/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 233

Things change quickly

Two years ago today, the Redskins were in the process of picking up the pieces after their 35-18 home loss to the Packers in the wild-card round of the 2015 season playoffs. How many of the 22 players who started that game for Washington are still with the team? You may be surprised to find out just how few are likely to be with the Redskins when the season opens in September.

Offense:

WR DeSean Jackson—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
WR Pierre Garçon—Signed with 49ers as a free agent last year.
WR Jamison Crowder—Still with the Redskins
TE Jordan Reed—Still with the Redskins
LT Trent Williams—Still with the Redskins
LG Spencer Long—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
C Kory Lichtensteiger—Retired following the 2016 season
RG Brandon Scherff—Still with the Redskins
RT Morgan Moses—Still with the Redskins
RB Alfred Morris—Signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 2016
QB Kirk Cousins—Set to be a UFA, you know the story here

Of the 11 offensive starters, five are still with the team, one has retired, three are employed by other teams, and two are headed into free agency. The chances of either Long or Cousins returning currently hover under 50 percent, although things can change.

Defense:

DE Chris Baker—Signed with the Bucs as a free agent last year.
DE Jason Hatcher—Retired following the 2015 season
NT Terrance Knighton—Signed with the Patriots following the 2015 season but was cut and he hasn’t played and subsequently retired
ILB Will Compton—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
ILB Mason Foster—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—Still with the Redskins
OLB Trent Murphy—Spent 2017 in injured reserve, set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Bashaud Breeland—Set to be an unrestricted free agent
CB Will Blackmon—Released last September, currently unsigned
S DeAngelo Hall—Set to be an unrestricted free agent, likely to retire
S Dashon Goldson—Released after 2015 season, currently unsigned

Only one starter, Ryan Kerrigan, is under contract for 2018. Of the free agents, Breeland is likely to depart and things are up in the air regarding Foster, Compton, and Murphy.

To sum it up, out of 22 starters in that game played 740 days ago, only six are certain to be with the team in 2018 while nine have either signed elsewhere, spent 2017 out of football, or have retired (10 if you count Hall).

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.

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Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Looking at cheap, reasonable and expensive wide receiver scenarios for Redskins

Most NFL teams usually carry at least six wide receivers, but going into the 2018 season, only Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis hold signed contracts with the Redskins.

That means Washington must consider adding receiver help via free agency, especially considering Harris and Davis rarely played in 2017. Terrelle Pryor and Ryan Grant both played with the Burgundy and Gold in 2017, and while Grant has a solid chance to return, it would seem Pryor will head elsewhere after a disappointing season in D.C. 

Like every year, a number of receivers will be available via free agency, but what guys make sense for Jay Gruden's team? Let's take a look at three different scenarios, knowing Washington likely needs to add at least one free agent wideout. 

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  • Expensive: Jags WR Allen Robinson - A second-round pick in 2014, Robinson posted a 1,400-yard season in 2015 and has shown the ability to be a true No. 1 wideout in the NFL. He's 6-foot-3 with speed and leaping ability. In 2016, his numbers dipped to less than 900 yards receiving, but that season the Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles struggled significantly. Here's the thing: Robinson blew out his knee in the NFL opener in 2017, and that might make his price tag drop a bit. Word is the former Penn State star should be fully cleared by early March from the injury, and just 24 years old, he will be intriguing. Washington showed they would spend for a wideout in 2017 with the Pryor signing, but they did so on a one-year deal. If Robinson finds the free agent market not as robust as he wants, maybe a similar short-term deal could be reached?
  • Reasonable: Colts WR Donte Moncrief - A third-round pick in 2014, Moncrief also had a big sophomore season in 2015. He grabbed 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns. That was his only full 16-game season, as injuries have continued to be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 220 lbs. wideout out of Ole Miss. In 2016, only playing in nine games, he still contributed with seven touchdowns. In 2017, his numbers slipped big-time, and he posted less than 400 yards receiving in 12 games. Moncrief's problem isn't talent, it's health. That means he could be relatively cheap, and at just 24 years old, that contract might bring a strong return. 
  • Wild Card: Jets WR Eric Decker -  The Redskins have lacked a true veteran wideout since DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left the team following the 2016 season. Decker will turn 31 in March and would give Washington a different presence in the WR meeting room. He posted two 1,000 yard seasons playing with Peyton Manning in Denver and went to the Super Bowl in 2013. In 2015, while teamed up with Ryan Fitzpatrick playing for the Jets, Decker again hit the 1,000-yard mark and hit the end zone 12 times. Throughout his career, Decker has been a solid red zone threat and has shown the ability to win on tough routes. He will need to take a big pay cut from the $4.5 million, one-year deal he signed in Tennessee in 2017, but that has to be expected considering his paltry production. In 16 games with the Titans, Decker logged 563 yards and only one TD. Decker might make sense, though the cost would need to be low. 

There are plenty of other names to watch, guys like Seattle's Paul Richardson or Buffalo's Jordan Matthews. Free agency opens in mid-March, and some connections between the Redskins and wideouts will start prior to that.

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