Quick Links

Need to Know: Looking back at Packers, ahead to Cowboys

Need to Know: Looking back at Packers, ahead to Cowboys

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 22, two days before the Washington Redskins go to play the Dallas Cowboys.


Today's schedule: Jay Gruden news conference and player availability 11:35

Days until: Redskins @ Cardinals 12; Redskins @ Eagles 19; Panthers @ Redskins 27

Injuries of note
The team did not practice on Monday but by NFL rules they had to issue a hypothetical injury report saying who would have practiced if they had held one.
Out: LS Sundberg (back)
Limited: DE Chris Baker (hamstring), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), OT Ty Nsekhe (ankle), LB Preston Smith (back)

Looking back, looking ahead

The Roman god Janus was the god of both beginnings and endings. He was depicted with two faces, one looking forward, the other looking back. Since we’re on this very short week today’s Need to Know will combine both the final look back at the Packers game and the first look ahead to Dallas. So welcome to the Janus edition of Need to Know.

Last look at Redskins-Packers

A quality win: It’s clear that the edition of the Packers that the Redskins beat on Sunday was not a great one. They sit at 4-6 now and with another round of division games to go plus a trip to Seattle left on their schedule they may not finish at .500. But the Packers are still one of the best organizations in the game, Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best player at the most important position in sports, and Mike McCarthy really is, as he said himself, a “highly successful NFL coach”. It still is a quality win for Washington.

Redskins D gets it done its own way: I posted a poll on Twitter asking for grades on the Redskins’ win. Many respondents downgraded their evaluations because of the play of the defense. Look, folks, giving up 24 points to Aaron Rodgers is a good performance. Not a great one, but a good one. Despite their struggles the Packers have put 24 or more on the board in seven of their 10 games. They held the Packers to three and outs in their first three possessions. And they got a takeaway to end any realistic hopes of a Packers comeback. That was a good performance by this defense. Those of you looking for the 1985 Bears to take the field dressed in burgundy and gold are going to be sorely disappointed.

Knocking out a sour taste: Nobody came out and said that this game was redemption for the loss to the Packers in the playoffs last January. Clearly it couldn’t really be full redemption because it wasn’t a playoff game. But for Kirk Cousins, for one, the game did have a little extra meaning. "As a competitor, we certainly had a sour taste in our mouth walking away from the game last season,” he said. “When we watched the film, we felt like there were plays to be made that didn’t get made. I think tonight you saw what we felt we were capable of doing last January and just didn’t get it done.”

First look at Redskins-Cowboys

Second time around with Dak: On Thursday Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has his first game in his second go-around through the NFC East. Joe Barry has now seen Prescott against his defense in addition to having nine other games of tape on him. If he has flaws, now is the time they will start to be uncovered. I don’t think the rookie is all of a sudden going to turn into an interception machine but Barry almost certainly will change things up on Prescott. For example, I doubt that Prescott will have wide open passing lanes on third-down plays like he did in the game in Washington. They will look to get players out there clogging things up to make it as difficult as possible on the Cowboys’ QB.

No rookie wall for Zeke: The Redskins “held” Ezekiel Elliott to 83 yards rushing back in Week 2. Since then he has averaged 121 yards per game with five games of 114 yards or more. But he has cooled off a bit recently, averaging “just’ 100 yards per game with only one game with over 100 yards. Is he hitting a rookie wall with 10 games under his belt? His 97 yards last Sunday against the Ravens, the league’s top rushing defense coming in, says probably not. Keeping Elliott under control will be a challenge.

Run or pass and score: The Cowboys defense looks solid at first glance, ranking fifth in points allowed and 13th in yards allowed. But then you look a little deeper and you see that their offense, which ranks No. 1 in time of possession and keeps the D off the field, is partially responsible for the solid showing of the defense. If you look at their defense per play you see that they are 23rd in overall yards per pay, 21st in yards per rush and 17th in yards per passing play. If the Redskins are going to win, they must maximize every possession and, as they did against the Packers, turn red zone opportunities into touchdowns, not field goals. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence that the Redskins defense will hold the Cowboys to much less than Dallas’ average of 28 points per game. If the Redskins offense continues what it got rolling Sunday night and get their score into the 30’s they have a very good shot at getting the win.

Tandler on Twitter

 [embed] [/embed]

In case you missed it


Quick Links

News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

A whirlwind week in the NFL, but that's come to be the norm when free agency opens. Actually, not even when free agency opens, rather the legal tampering period opening two days before the actual start of the new league year. 

A lot happened, and more to come, but let's try to make sense of it all. 

  • The worst keep secret ever finally got revealed when the Redskins held their press conference to announce Alex Smith as their new starting quarterback. Everybody knows about the trade, and losing Kendal Fuller, but this trade makes a ton of sense and Smith was a homerun at the presser. He doesn't care about image or perception, a refreshing angle from the passer, and seems quite prepared for his new role. Smith was great in Kansas City in 2017. If he can replicate that in 2018 for the Redskins, the move will be loudly applauded. 
  • We still haven't gotten total clarity on Smith's contract. My intel says three years are really guaranteed, so Smith will be on the payroll through 2020 at least. Doug Williams joked at the presser that Smith could maybe play until he's 40, and since he's 33 right now, that would be a long time from now. 


  • Smith was the headline, but the Redskins also held a press conference with new WR Paul Richardson. He was possibly more impressive than Smith, just because the young speedster was more of an unknown. Smith has talked at a ton of podiums and faced a ton of reporters. I don't know, but that might have been Richardson's first ever press conference with a room that had probably 100 or more people in it. Check out the video above. 
  • Richardson had a great line when asked about the dangers of big hits on passes over the middle: "They gotta catch me." He's right. He will get a lot of opportunities for the Redskins, and he should make things better for Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. The Redskins wideouts did not get great separation in 2017, there are Pro Football Focus stats to back that up, and the offense got bogged down because of that. In 2018, with Richardson in place as a deep threat, defenses will need to react. 
  • The key to the Redskins offense truly succeeding in 2018: Jordan Reed. If he can stay healthy, the Washington air attack looks dangerous. 
  • Smart contract structure for the Redskins with Richardson. 
  • Zach Brown's contract is a 10/10 for the Redskins. A tackling machine that can actually improve from a strong 2017 season. Getting him back changed the entire tenor of Redskins free agency, as the team went from quietly sitting out the spending sprees (minus the Richardson move) to locking up their most important defensive player. 
  • Brown back, along with Mason Foster, gives the Redskins two strong inside linebackers. It's hard to remember now, but last September, that Redskins defense looked fierce. Injuries robbed the unit of a chance to completely gel and improve, but 2018 brings a new opportunity for that.
  • Offensively, the Redskins had to invest at wide receiver in free agency. The money for Allen Robinson got crazy and the team was smart to move forward with Richardson. He fits their desired profile: Young player coming off a rookie contract on a career upswing. 
  • The Redskins did not invest at running back, despite Jay Gruden and Doug Williams saying the team must improve at the position. Frankly, the Isaiah Crowell contract with the Jets was quite affordable, and he's a player some team sources had interest in. The Redskins do not have the luxury of taking a running back early in the draft, and I'd argue they shouldn't even look at RB in the second round. The Redskins should be focused up front on the offensive and defensive lines. A dream scenario: A player like Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne at 13, and then Ohio State interior offensive lineman Billy Price at 44. Price would have been a first-round lock but for a pectoral injury at the Scouting Combine. Medicals say he should be fine for training camp. Washington has shown a proclivity to draft players that slip due to injury concerns (Kendall Fuller in 2016, Fabian Moreau in 2017) and Price could fit the same mold. 
  • The vacancy at left guard has not been addressed, and wasn't going to be addressed in free agency, or at least not in the early days where the big money gets paid out. Washington has more than $26 million invested this season in just three players on their offensive line (Trent Williams at $14M, Morgan Moses at $5M, Brandon Scherff at almost $7M) and the team knows Scherff will cost more money soon. The Jaguars just gave Andrew Norwell $30 million guaranteed; the guard market has arrived. The 'Skins will want to keep Scherff, and to do it, they need to keep some cash on hand. That means the new left guard will either be a budget free agent find, or come from the draft.
  • To that point, the team viewed Spencer Long expendable. He was well liked by players and coaches, but has never played a full 16-game season and missed half the year in 2017. Also, the emergence of Chase Roullier helped the team move forward without Long. 


  • A bit of a surprise to see Trent Murphy leave, but he got good money from the Bills. Washington liked Murphy, and wanted to keep him, but not at the price Buffalo paid. 
  • What happened to Ryan Grant is complete junk. The Ravens are a first-class organization, but that was a bush league move. The guy has never missed a game in four years and now he can't pass a physical?!? C'mon man. Hoping the best for Ryan and will be interested to see if his represenatives seek retribution from Baltimore. 
  • Bashaud Breeland sure likes to keep it interesting. Why sign a contract if you know you have a hurt foot and can't pass a physical? Why would the agent not disclose that? Maybe it was disclosed, but that situation just seems so weird. The Redskins were never bringing Breeland back, something I reported as far back as December, but now it seems Breeland's next NFL team will have to wait to see when his foot can pass a physical. Bree is a good and funny dude, hope he heals up. 
  • Two crazy things from one draft class: The 'Skins NAILED their 2014 draft haul. Without a first round pick, they got five solid contributors in Murphy, Moses, Long, Breeland and Grant. But now, after their rookie contracts have all expired, only Moses remains with the team. Bizarre. 

  • Credit where it's due: The 2014 Draft belonged to a certain Bruce Allen. That was the year after the Shanahan crew was fired and the year before Scot McCloughan was hired. Credit where it's due. 
  • I think a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deal gets done. I think a Junior Galette deal might get done. 
  • Ndamukong Suh is still out there. Just saying. 
  • So is Bennie Logan. Just saying. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Free agency frenzy

USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Free agency frenzy

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 17, 40 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Redskins and NFL free agency tracker—I started this a week ago today and it grew to 3,500 words. The problem was there wasn’t much to add by the time that free agency actually started at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The legal tampering period or, as I dubbed it to avoid an oxymoron being used, the “permitted tampering-like activities period” was when all of the news happened. By the time actual free agency opened on Wednesday afternoon it pretty much was all over. Thanks to those of you who followed along.

Zach Brown agrees to terms with Redskins, per source—Since Kirk Cousins’ departure was a foregone conclusion, Brown was the Redskins’ most important free agent. His retention provides continuity in the defense and that will benefit both the team and Brown. His contract (preliminary numbers three years, $24 million) showed that the Redskins are willing to invest some money in the inside linebacker spot for the first time since Joe Gibbs brought in London Fletcher to play middle linebacker in 2007.

Report: Kirk Cousins to sign epic new deal with Vikings—We heard you, folks. The collective voice of the fans who visit NBC Sports Washington on a regular basis let us know that you were not interested in a lot of posts about the Cousins saga that was unfolding in Minnesota. So this was one of very few articles on Cousins that we posted even though Cousins posts have been popular, but with the vast majority of traffic coming from out of town. So, you’re welcome. It should be noted that we will write about Cousins in the future but infrequently.

Redskins officially announce 5-year deal with WR Richardson—He was the opening act for the Alex Smith press conference, and he handled himself very well. If Richardson is even moderately successful I think he will be a major fan favorite.  

Tweet of the week

Here is what fans need to know—a team can afford to do virtually anything it wants in free agency in a given year. If they wanted to the Redskins could restructure deals and sign all of their free agents to contracts that have very small first-year cap hits, creating room to sign the Honey Badger or Suh. The problems come in later years when the cap space you pushed back starts to pile up. The Redskins generally do squeeze free agent contracts into relatively small cap spaces. For example, Richardson’s deal average $8 million per year but the 2018 cap hit is just $4 million. But they don’t like to restructure deals to push money back into later years. That created problems during the Vinny Cerrato years.

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


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 30
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 132
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 176

In case you missed it