DefenseGrade vs. Bengals: DComment:Lets start off by discussing what went right for the Redskins defense on Sunday. With linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker lost for the season, opportunity knocked for backups. One of them, Rob Jackson, seized his opportunity, recording three tackles for loss and intercepting a pass in the end zone for a touchdown in his first NFL start.That, however, is where the positive reviews end.As a unit, the Redskins struggled from the Bengals first play from scrimmage through the fourth quarter, yielding 450-plus yards of total offense for the second straight week, while sacking Andy Dalton only twice. In 16 games last season, the 13th-ranked unit surrendered 400 yards a total of three times.The biggest concern entering Sundays game in Tampa is the inadequate play of the secondary and, specifically, its vulnerability to big plays. A week after Sam Bradford and the Rams completed pass plays of 56, 34, 27 and 25 yards, the Bengals connected on long passes of 73, 59, 48, 38, 27, 25 and 22 yards. The three longest all resulted in touchdowns.Theres plenty of blame to spread around. DeJon Gomes and DeAngelo Hall failed to impede A.J. Green on the wildcat formation that resulted in the 73-yard score on Cincinnatis first play from scrimmage. Josh Wilson gambled and lost on the 38-yard touchdown and rookie Richard Crawford was burned by a double move on the 59-yarder in the fourth quarter that clinched the victory.Is the culprit preparation? Personnel? Injuries? The simple answer is its probably a combination of all three.The secondary seemed utterly confused and slow to react on the Bengals trick play in the first quarter.Injuries are hurting, too. The trio of linebackers asked to replace Orakpo -- Jackson, Chris Wilson and Markus White must improve in pass coverage. Gomes has been playing for Brandon Meriweather. Crawford played on Sunday for Cedric Griffin, who suffered a hamstring injury early and did not return. And dont forget that the team had been counting on a significant contribution from Tanard Jackson, who was suspended for the season after failing a drug test.Thats not an excuse, its reality.Whats frustrates Hall the most, though, is the fact that core defensive players had longed for an offense that up points. Now theyve got one, they cant stop anyone.Last year, 21 points was a great day, Hall said. To see this offense go out these last three weeks and put up the kind of points they have and the defense go out there and totally drop the ball, its frustrating.
A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins.
Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average.
A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive.
It's not all good news with Bryant, though.
He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media.
Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is.
Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD.
Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded.
Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense.
The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.
The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable.
Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder.
This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts.
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Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 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.
The overrated Redskin moments of 2017
Originally published 12/30/17
Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.
Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.
Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:
I'm telling y'all. Defenses aren't ready for Pryor pic.twitter.com/09BwSDWTiP— CarolB (@AlexSmithSzn) August 1, 2017
But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.
Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.
—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
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—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198