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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must play better in the second half of the season


Need to Know: Five Redskins who must play better in the second half of the season

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 8, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.


Today's schedule: Off day, no media availability

Days until: Packers @ Redskins 12; Redskins @ Cowboys on Thanksgiving 16; Redskins @ Cardinals 26

Five Redskins who must play better in the second half of the season

QB Kirk Cousins—Yes, he has left the field the last two games with the Redskins in great position to win. But if he can take advantage of more red zone opportunities and occasionally hit on a deep pass perhaps he could sometimes walk off of the field late in the game up by multiple scores instead of leaving it up to the defense or a kicker.

RB Matt Jones—There seems to be a line of thinking that says that the Redskins can’t/shouldn’t rely on Jones, that Rob Kelley can get the job done. But over eight games the optimal situation would be for Jay Gruden to be able to utilize the strengths of Jones, Kelley, and Chris Thompson to keep defenses off balance and take pressure off of Cousins. Jones will go back to school on ball security and if he can hold on to the ball he can be an asset going down the stretch.

DL Chris Baker—He hasn’t been playing poorly but there is a feeling that he can do more. He has two sacks but just one in the last five games. Baker has two forced fumbles, a total on which he can improve. The veteran is the only real playmaker on the defensive line. If he can pick things up a notch the defense will benefit.

OLB Preston Smith—This one is pretty obvious. He has just 1.5 sacks and he hasn’t forced or recovered a fumble. Smith came on strong at the end of last season and the expectation was that he would continue rolling this year. If Smith can get going he, Trent Murphy, and Ryan Kerrigan could be a formidable trio of pass rushers down the stretch.

CB Bashaud Breeland—He was expected to team with Josh Norman to form a solid pair of cornerbacks but it hasn’t worked out that way. Perhaps it was asking too much to have him cover Antonio Brown during much of the season opener but his coverage has been spotty against receivers who are not of Brown’s caliber.

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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.