Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 13, the day the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.
Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Bears
CHICAGO—Final thoughts as the Redskins get set to play yet another most important game of the season.
—The weather forecast has changed from steady rain to some rain before kickoff but a dry window for the game from about 11 a.m. local time until about 3:00. It might be a bit windy but not by Chicago standards. The Redskins may or may not win but it doesn’t look like weather will be a factor.
—One reason why the Redskins didn’t allow either the Giants or the Cowboys over 100 yards rushing (33 yds. to Giants, 97 to Cowboys) is that they tackled well. In their first 10 games they averaged 9.8 missed tackles per game. Against New York and Dallas they missed six tackles combined in the two games (5 vs. NYG, 1 vs. DAL). If they can keep that up their chances of getting their first win will be greatly improved.
—I think it’s asking a lot to expect Pierre Thomas to contribute much on Sunday after signing with the Redskins on Friday. One light practice, one walkthrough, and about 48 hours to learn the terminology is just not enough to be able to do much, especially after having played just four snaps of football (for the 49ers in Week 9) all year. We could see him active since Chris Thompson will be out with the labrum injury and maybe he’ll get a few carries. But the primary running backs will be Matt Jones and Alfred Morris.
—Even when the Redskins weren’t running the ball well through the first nine games of the season they were doing well on third down, converting at a 45 percent clip. Over the last three games, however, they have been converting at 30 percent. They obviously need to revert to the efficiency they achieved during the earlier part of the season if they are going to win down the stretch.
—It’s difficult to “read” a locker room sometimes. It seemed to me and to some others that the Redskins’ hangover from their tough, late loss on Monday night lingered a little late into the week. They seemed to be a little bit distracted as they tried to hone in on the Bears. But sometimes that hangover from a loss transforms into an underdog, us against the world, against all odds type of mentality. So I’m not going to be in the business of projecting the team’s mindset today. The Redskins should be able to move the ball against the Bears bad rushing defense and so-so pass defense. If the defense plays as well as it has in the last two weeks the Redskins have a pretty good shot at avoiding what would be a 10th straight road loss, the worst such streak in team history.
—Today’s schedule: Redskins @ Bears 1 p.m. FOX
—Days until: Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 13; Redskins @Cowboys 21
In case you missed it
The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.
Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.
The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.
The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.
The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.
Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.
The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.
MORE REDSKINS: NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0
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.
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.
<<<CLICK HERE FOR REDSKINS BEST DRAFT PICKS SINCE 2000>>>
- 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.
MORE: THE BIZARRE SITUATION BETWEEN THE RAVENS AND RYAN GRANT
- 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 Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!