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Manusky: The Redskins will look for their 2017 nose tackle in the draft

Manusky: The Redskins will look for their 2017 nose tackle in the draft

Entering this offseason, one of the Redskins’ top priorities was to upgrade the defensive line. Now, nine days into free agency the organization still has a lot of work to do up front. In fact, the unit probably is worse now than it was when the 2016 season ended.

They lost their top lineman, Chris Baker, to free agency. They released Ricky Jean Francois, arguably their second-best D-line performer in 2016. To replace them, they signed Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain. Neither is as good as Baker and in 2016 both were roughly on par with the performance on Francois.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

Speaking to Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980, new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the McGee and McClain “fill a need” for the team.

“[McClain] just gives me juice,” said Manusky. “He’s got a little bit of juice and waggle inside so he can get after the quarterback. He’s got heavy hands so he can lay them on blockers and he can post on the double teams, which is great for him.”

McClain had 2.5 sacks last year, a career high. He has had trouble staying on the field in the past but he started 15 games last year.

“Stacy McGee, a talented guy, long player who can press the pocket, beat tackles and beat guards,” Manusky said of the former Raider. McGee had 2.5 sacks in 2016 after having a total of just 0.5 in his first three years in the league. He also forced the first two fumbles of his career last year.

Manusky said he sees McClain and McGee as the “bookends” in the 3-4 defense. How about the guy in the middle? McGee played some nose tackle in Oakland but Manusky said that he did not see him playing there. So what does the position look like now?

“Right now we’ve got [A.J.] Francis, we’ve got Joey [Mbu], and we’ve got Phil Taylor,” said Manusky. “Now we’re getting those three guys in the mix and we’ll see how it pans out.”

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Francis and Mbu both spend most of last year on the practice squad and Taylor has not played in an NFL game since 2014. That is not a group that makes anyone think “problem solved”. Manusky essentially admitted that they need more help here.

“Right now, we might be in a situation where we’re looking for a nose in the draft,” said Manusky.

This sounds familiar. The team has run the 3-4 defense since 2010 and they never have attempted to draft a long-term solution at the nose position. Maybe this will be the year but nobody will be shocked if they emerge from the three-day draft still looking for someone who can handle the middle of the line.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: How bad are the Redskins late in each half?

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Need to Know: How bad are the Redskins late in each half?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 21, two days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference and open locker room, 11:45 a.m.; the team will conduct a walkthrough instead of a practice.  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 9
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 19
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 26

Quantifying the problem with giving up late points:

Anyone who has watched the Redskins this year knows that they have had problems keeping other teams from scoring points late in the first half and at the end of the game. How bad is the problem? Let’s look at the numbers.

The Redskins have given up 266 points on the season. That’s 31st in the NFL. Of those points, 96 have been scored in last three minutes of the first and second halves. Opponents have put up 12 touchdowns, eight one-point conversions, two two-point conversions, and four field goals.

For comparison, the average NFL team has given up around 40 points near the end of each half. Looking at defensive scores allowed only (two of the late touchdowns against Washington were on returns), the Redskins have allowed 10 touchdowns while no other team has allowed more than seven. The average is 3.96 touchdowns given up late by each team.

You can look at it this way. In the first 27 minutes of each half of their 10 games, the Redskins have given up 170 points, or about .31 points per minute. In the other six minutes of the games, the final three of each half, the Redskins give up 1.6 points per minute played.

How have the Redskins done scoring points late in each half? They have put up five touchdowns and three field goals, a total of 44 points.

How does this affect the big picture? On the season, the Redskins’ net point differential is minus-28. If you take out the late scores, they are at plus-24. It usually works out that the teams that have positive point differentials have winning records and those with negative performances are under .500.

We saw that big picture up close on Sunday. At the end of the first half, it looked like the Redskins were going to get at least a field goal as they had a nice drive going. But the drive stalled, a false start forced them to abandon even a field goal try and the Saints put together a quick drive for a field goal as time in the half ran out. Then, of course, there was the touchdown and tying two-point conversion with just over a minute left in regulation. That’s minus-10 in the last three minutes of a game they lost in overtime.

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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2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

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2017 NFL Power Rankings: The NFC is much better than the AFC through 11 weeks

Through 11 weeks, the NFL's playoff picture is far from clear. But one thing is: The NFC is the superior conference. 

And that's not just because Nathan Peterman plays in the AFC.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

In this week's rankings, seven teams in the top 10 come from the NFC. The middle and back-end of the rankings even out, but at the top, one side of the league is stronger than the other.

The bottom line is that a few deserving squads in the NFC will miss out on the postseason. Meanwhile, in the opposite conference, a couple of mediocre ones will be playing in January.

To see who lands where overall in the post-Week 11 breakdown, click the link above or below. You know who No. 32 is, but there was plenty of movement in the other 31 spots.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON'S NEW POWER RANKINGS CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE