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Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense better on paper but must prove it on the field

Need to Know: Gruden says Redskins defense better on paper but must prove it on the field

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 7, 17 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

Welcome to the midpoint of the Redskins offseason. It’s been 126 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 126 days.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 5
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 17
—Training camp starts (7/27) 81

Quick post-draft thoughts on the state of the Redskins

—Although the Washington defense certainly seems to be improved, Jay Gruden warned against irrational exuberance. “You feel like you're better, everybody does at this time,” he said shortly after the draft ended. “It's how we gel as a unit that is the important thing – how they buy into Coach Manusky's scheme and Coach Tomsula's coaching, how they work well together and how they make each other better. That's a challenge that we have.”

—Earlier this week I assessed the chances that each of this year’s 10 draft picks have of making the team. I was not bullish on the chances of fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson sticking around on the 53-man roster. But looking back at how Gruden spoke more in terms of when he is on the roster and not if, perhaps I should take another look. “I think he ran a 4.4 at the Combine, and worst-case he’s going to help out our special teams and that’s important,” said Gruden when asked why they drafted Nicholson. “That’s one of the big three phases so that’s a good add for us.”

—Usually when you ask a player who was just drafted where he wants to play in the NFL, he just says wherever they want line me up. But Chase Roullier, who played by guard and center at Wyoming, was definitive in his preference. “I think I’ll do very well at center,” he said. “Being up there in front of the rest of the offensive line, being able to see that defense and really play to my strengths of being able to see the defense and read things I think will really help me a lot in the NFL.” He got his degree in mechanical engineering from Wyoming so the thinking part of the job shouldn’t be a great challenge for him.

—The Redskins announced the signings of eight undrafted players, bringing their roster up to 90. They can sign more after rookie minicamp next week, or at any time for that matter, but they would have to release a player for each one they sign. I’m interested in what 325-pound NT Ondre Pipkins out of Texas Tech can do as there is plenty of opportunity at his position. The same can be said of FS Fish Smithson, who also has to coolest name. But, honestly, it will be difficult to get a handle on which of these players has a realistic shot at sticking around until getting a look at them in pads in Richmond.

—As of now, the Redskins have seven 2018 draft picks, their own pick in each round. They did not trade for any future picks last week and it doesn’t look like they will get any compensatory picks next year. Yes, even though they lost key players in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Chris Baker, according to Over the Cap the picks that may have come from the loss of those players were cancelled out by signing Terrelle Pryor, Zach Brown, Terrell McClain, and Stacy McGee. This is unofficial but the OTC guys seem to have the NFL’s super-secret formula figured out.

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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Redskins leave Philadelphia with more injuries than they came in with, somehow

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Redskins leave Philadelphia with more injuries than they came in with, somehow

The Redskins went into Lincoln Financial Field somewhat banged up. They left in worse shape than they were when they arrived.

The most significant injury seemed to be to guard Brandon Scherff. Coach Jay Gruden said that he had an MCL injury and that he will get an MRI on Tuesday. He left the game late in the third quarter and did not return. Scherff rarely takes plays off and the feeling is that he could have a significant injury. He headed to the team bus to the airport with a brace on the knee.

OT Trent Williams came into the game with a patella injury in his knee and he aggravated it late in the game, missing the Redskins’ last couple of possessions. He did not practice all week to rest the injury. We will see as the week goes by if the injury will allow Williams to continue to play.

OT Morgan Moses sprained both ankles and he returned to the game after each injury. He undoubtedly will be very sore tomorrow and we will see how he recovers.

MORE: FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM A DISCOURAGING LOSS

The other reported injuries were more minor in nature, although they could cost the players some games. CB Fabian Moreau had a hamstring strain and he left the game. OLB Preston Smith, who has been one of the team’s best pass rushers this year, left the game with a groin strain. He attempted to return but he had to go back out. CB Josh Holsey had a chest contusion and he returned after going to the locker room to be examined.

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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Five takeaways from the Redskins' discouraging 34-24 loss vs. the Eagles

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' discouraging 34-24 loss vs. the Eagles

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 34-24 loss to the Eagles:

The Redskins have to keep the hammer down—They scored the first time they had the ball and then they had a few empty possessions. Washington took a 10-3 lead but the Redskins then got into the cycle of short, ineffective offensive possessions getting their defense back on the field too soon. The way Carson Wentz is playing, if you give him enough chances you will pay for it.

They won’t win if they don’t run—The running backs carries 14 times. Sure, the game got away in the second half, reducing their opportunities, but the rushing game was an issue throughout. In the first half they had a pair of third and ones and a third and two and they passed all three times. All three were incomplete, which led to the issues in the first item here. If the Redskins have a balanced offense they have a shot at beating almost anyone. If they don’t run the ball enough the odds are against them.

MORE: REDSKINS OFFENSIVE, DEFENSIVE MVP FOR PHILLY GAME

Redskins fans have the Cleveland Browns to thank for 10 years of Wentz—The Browns played Moneyball and traded the rights to draft Wentz to the Eagles. Like just about everything the Browns do, it didn’t work out. Now the Redskins, Giants, and Cowboys will pay for the Browns’ mistake for years to come. That run out of the pack of rushing linemen was both amazing and critical. It turned a punt back to the Redskins, who were down by seven, into a first down and an eventual touchdown.

The defense needs to get itself off the field—It’s easy to blame the offense for the problems with possessing the ball. But the defense could do its part, too, by getting itself off the field. At times, it feels like the Redskins’ defense is better than it has been in years but they gave up touchdown drives of 81, 80, 80, and 75 yards. At some point you have to show you’re better and get a takeaway or just make a stop to get off the field. Until then, the group has not improved in a meaningful way. I should note that the injuries have something to do with it, for sure. Dunbar did not play poorly but they pay Josh Norman $15 million per year for a reason.

There is a lot of season left to be played—The Redskins are 3-3 and two games away from the midway point to the season. They would have to rely on an Eagles’ collapse to win the NFC East but it’s entirely possible that they could. All but one other second-place team has three losses and the Redskins get their shot at the Seahawks in a couple of weeks. Fans have every right to feel frustrated after this loss but it’s not the end of the line. There still is plenty for this team to play for. Some of the injured players aren’t coming back but if they can round into reasonably good health in the next few weeks they still have a lot that they can accomplish.

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.