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Monday six pack: Redskins' turbo offense very efficient

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Monday six pack: Redskins' turbo offense very efficient

My six pack of observations from the Washington Redskins’ 45-41 win over the Bears on Sunday:

1. The Redskins’ defense was not good yesterday but it was not as bad as it looked. There is no reason to celebrate giving up 41 points, 140 yards on the ground and to have Josh McCown, who last threw a pass in the 2011 season finale, throw for 204 yards, post a 119.6 passer rating, and scramble 4 times for 33 yards. But if you look at the 41 points, you can point the finger directly at the special teams for seven of them on Devin Hester’s punt return. Another Bears touchdown came two plays after Charles Tillman picked off a Robert Griffin III pass and returned it to the 10 yard line. And, while we’re at it, Chicago had to move just 18 yards to get into position for a field goal after the Redskins had to punt from inside their one yard line. So that makes 27 points that the defense was really responsible for. Throw in the fact that the defense scored a TD on Brian Orakpo’s first interception at any level of football and it’s not as bad a defensive showing as it appears to be at first glance.

2. It’s not a coincidence that Alfred Morris had his best rushing game of the year on a day when Griffin was so effective on the ground. And, of course, Morris’ effectiveness opened room for Griffin to roam, giving the game a decided 2012 feel on offense. Morris got his season high in carries with 19, and his second-highest yardage total of the year with 95. The key was that the Redskins never got away from him. The Redskins had 12 possessions in the game and Morris got at least one carry on all but two of them. One of those possessions lasted just one play, Griffin’s first-down pass that Charles Tillman intercepted.

3. How good was Jordan Reed? He only played about half of the snaps (40 of 76) but he still was Griffin’s favorite target. Reed was targeted nine times and he caught nine passes. Many thought that the fade had been taken out of the Redskins’ playbook but Reed and Griffin executed it to perfection. Reed lined up wide right and was being covered by safety Chris Conte. He took a quick jab step to the inside and then headed for the corner. Griffin’s rainbow pass was perfect and Reed managed to get both feet in before falling out of bounds. That is the kind of play that will help boost the Redskins’ red zone percentage. They had four touchdowns in five red zone possessions yesterday after going 0-3 against the Cowboys. Reed has two good things going for him. For one, he’s highly confident without being cocky. And, he used to be a quarterback so he’s smart and has a deep understanding of the game.

4. The Redskins had 73 offensive snaps yesterday and, going off of the NFL play by play, they ran 13 of them out of the no huddle or “Turbo” offense. The snaps came in four different drives although they did not run the no huddle during the entirety of any possession. Still, they scored a touchdown at the end of every drive where they went to the Turbo at some point during the possession. On those 13 plays they gained a total of 149 yards, an average of 11.5 yards per play. Doing the math, since the Redskins gained 499 yards of total offense they gained an average of 5.8 yards on their other 60 snaps. This doesn’t mean that they can or should go to the Turbo full time. They can’t change personnel while they are going no huddle so they have to stay in the base formation they started the drive with. And utilizing a zone-blocking scheme you could just as easily wear out your offensive line going Turbo full time as you could wear down the defense. Still, as Griffin gets more experience running it we could see it more and more.

5. I’ll admit that I’m not much of an expert on special teams X’s and O’s but it seemed to me that Devin Hester’s TD Punt return was the result of Sav Rocca’s 53-yard line drive punt, Niles Paul going out of bounds as he went downfield for coverage so that he ended up chasing Hester from the side instead of slowing him down by coming straight on, and the other 10 players failing to contain. Rocca may have outkicked his coverage to some extent but the hang time was 4.9 seconds, respectable for a kick that distance. I had a feeling that the Bears were going to try an onside kick as they huddled before the kick (no, I didn’t say or tweet it so you’ll have to take my word for it). It was just sheer blind luck from Eric Weems being slightly offside, not a heads-up play by the special teams unit, that kept the Bears from stealing an extra possession in a game where every possession mattered.

6. Did the win save the Redskins’ season? Only time will tell. It was certainly a great boost for the offense to gain 499 yards and put up 38 points (subtracting the seven from the Orakpo touchdown). They had scoring drives of 60, 80, 74, 83, 80, and 80 yards. Yes, the Bears have a pretty bad defense (bottom third of most statistical categories except for takeaways) but the Redskins will face a lot of bad defenses the rest of the way. The defense, as noted, didn’t play as poorly as many think. Special teams will have to be fixed, perhaps by just booting every kick out of bounds to prevent a big play. Last year, my pat answer going into any game and in almost any situation during a game was, “if they have RG3, they have a chance”. Now that the Redskins have that Robert Griffin back, the pat answer is back.

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

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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. 

RELATED: MOCK DRAFTS LINKING 'SKINS TO BAKER MAYFIELD

  • 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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