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Need to Know: Has the Redskins' defense improved enough?

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Need to Know: Has the Redskins' defense improved enough?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 24, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 135 days ago. It will be 111 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 65; Preseason opener @ Falcons 79; Final roster cut 102

Question of the day

I’ll combine these two into on answer since the two inquiries are closely related. Let’s take a look at the major players they have added and lost on defense on defense this offseason:

  • On DL, added Kendell Reyes (FA), Matt Ioannidis (D-5), Trent Murphy (position change). Subtracted Terrance Knighton, Jason Hatcher.
  • At LB, added Junior Galette (injury return), Su’a Cravens (D-2). Subtracted LB Keenan Robinson, Murphy
  • At DB, added Josh Norman (FA), Kendall Fuller (D-3), David Bruton (FA), Duke Ihenacho (injury return). Subtracted Chris Culliver, Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson. Possibly losing Kyshoen Jarrett due to injury.

To address Jonathan’s question about the D-line first, I think that you have to say yes, it does look like a weak spot. It wasn’t very good last year (26th vs. the run) and although Hatcher and Knighton had their issues you can’t really look at Reyes, a lower-level free agent signee, and Ioannidis, a fifth-round pick, as upgrades. Murphy could help out but we’ll have to see. Perhaps he will come through, Stephen Paea will stay healthy and catch on in his second year in the defense and Ioannidis will be a fast learner and contribute right away. Still, it’s hard to see the unit being substantially better than it was last year.

But I think that the rest of the defense has been upgraded significantly. Assuming Galette is healthy—he will have had nearly 13 months to rehab his Achilles by the time the season opens—he will be a major upgrade over Murphy. Cravens will play all over the defense and as he learns more as the year goes on he should get better and better. Fuller and Norman join Bashaud Breeland to give the Redskins one of the better sets of cornerbacks in the league, a weakness turned into a strength. Safety remains something of a question mark but with DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon working at the position full time it is less shaky than it was last year.

In fact, “less shaky” cold probably describe the entire defense. I think they’ll be better but it’s hard to see them cracking the top 10. The top half is a more realistic goal and maybe that is a touch too ambitious. So, Randy, to answer your question, I don’t think they will be able to ride their defense to the NFC championship game. They could contribute more takeaways, particularly interceptions, and sacks than they did last year but they will give up a lot of yards, particularly on the ground. When it's over, they will go as far as Kirk Cousins, his receivers, and whatever sort of rushing game they can cobble together will take them.

Tweet of the day

They’ve hired three new game officials. But none of them will replace Redskins fans’ least favorite referee. Unfortunately, Football Zebra's answer to my query was no, there are no new referees. Incompetence continues.

In case you missed it 

 

 

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Fantasy Football -- Updated Week 7 rankings

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Fantasy Football -- Updated Week 7 rankings

The latest Week 7 fantasy football (standard) rankings are out and updated following various injury updates around the league. That includes Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston cleared for action and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman sitting down for another week with a rib injury. As a reminder, get your Lions and Texans out of lineups this week. 

Quarterbacks

1.  Tom Brady, NE
 
2.  Dak Prescott, DAL
 
3.  Drew Brees, NO
 
4.  Carson Wentz, PHI
 
5.  Matt Ryan, ATL
 
6.  Kirk Cousins, WAS
 
7.  Cam Newton, CAR
 
8.  Tyrod Taylor, BUF
 
9.  Alex Smith, KC
 
10.  Marcus Mariota, TEN
 
11.  Russell Wilson, SEA
 
12.  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
 
13.  Carson Palmer, ARI
 
14.  Jared Goff, LAR
 
15.  Brett Hundley, GB
 
16.  Blake Bortles, JAC
 
17.  Derek Carr, OAK
 
18.  Jameis Winston, TB
 
19.  Philip Rivers, LAC
 
20.  Andy Dalton, CIN
 
21.  Case Keenum, MIN
 
22.  Josh McCown, NYJ
 
23.  Trevor Siemian, DEN
 
24.  C.J. Beathard, SF
 
25.  DeShone Kizer, CLE
 
26.  Jacoby Brissett, IND
 
27.  Jay Cutler, MIA
 
28.  Mitch Trubisky, CHI
 
29.  Eli Manning, NYG
 
30.  Joe Flacco, BAL

Running backs

1.  Kareem Hunt, KC
 
2.  Le'Veon Bell, PIT
 
3.  Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
 
4.  Leonard Fournette, JAC
 
5.  Todd Gurley, LAR
 
6.  LeSean McCoy, BUF
 
7.  Jay Ajayi, MIA
 
8.  Melvin Gordon, LAC
 
9.  Devonta Freeman, ATL
 
10.  Mark Ingram, NO
 
11.  Jordan Howard, CHI
 
12.  Carlos Hyde, SF
 
13.  LeGarrette Blount, PHI
 
14.  C.J. Anderson, DEN
 
15.  Jerick McKinnon, MIN
 
16.  Adrian Peterson, ARI
 
17.  Doug Martin, TB
 
18.  Alvin Kamara, NO
 
19.  Chris Thompson, WAS
 
20.  Christian McCaffrey, CAR
 
21.  Joe Mixon, CIN
 
22.  Tevin Coleman, ATL
 
23.  Javorius Allen, BAL
 
24.  Marshawn Lynch, OAK
 
25.  Derrick Henry, TEN
 
26.  DeMarco Murray, TEN
 
27.  Duke Johnson, CLE
 
28.  Frank Gore, IND
 
29.  Aaron Jones, GB
 
30.  Orleans Darkwa, NYG
 
31.  Ty Montgomery, GB
 
32.  Isaiah Crowell, CLE
 
33.  Jonathan Stewart, CAR
 
34.  Mike Gillislee, NE
 
35.  Dion Lewis, NE
 
36.  Alex Collins, BAL
 
37.  James White, NE
 
38.  Marlon Mack, IND
 
39.  Latavius Murray, MIN
 
40.  Chris Ivory, JAC
 
41.  Tarik Cohen, CHI
 
42.  Matt Forte, NYJ
 
43.  Thomas Rawls, SEA
 
44.  Wendell Smallwood, PHI
 
45.  Giovani Bernard, CIN
 
46.  Robert Kelley, WAS
 
47.  Andre Ellington, ARI
 
48.  Matt Breida, SF
 
49.  Bilal Powell, NYJ
 
50.  Wayne Gallman, NYG
 
51.  Jamaal Charles, DEN
 
52.  Eddie Lacy, SEA
 
53.  Samaje Perine, WAS
 
54.  Shane Vereen, NYG
 
55.  Elijah McGuire, NYJ
 
56.  C.J. Prosise, SEA
 
57.  Jalen Richard, OAK
 
58.  Mike Tolbert, BUF
 
59.  DeAndre Washington, OAK
 
60.  Charcandrick West, KC
 
61.  Alfred Morris, DAL

Wide receivers

1.  Dez Bryant, DAL
 
2.  Antonio Brown, PIT
 
3.  A.J. Green, CIN
 
4.  Julio Jones, ATL
 
5.  Michael Thomas, NO
 
6.  Mike Evans, TB
 
7.  Larry Fitzgerald, ARI
 
8.  Chris Hogan, NE
 
9.  Brandin Cooks, NE
 
10.  Demaryius Thomas, DEN
 
11.  Michael Crabtree, OAK
 
12.  Alshon Jeffery, PHI
 
13.  Tyreek Hill, KC
 
14.  Jordy Nelson, GB
 
15.  Jarvis Landry, MIA
 
16.  Adam Thielen, MIN
 
17.  Doug Baldwin, SEA
 
18.  Pierre Garcon, SF
 
19.  Davante Adams, GB
 
20.  Keenan Allen, LAC
 
21.  Rishard Matthews, TEN
 
22.  Kelvin Benjamin, CAR
 
23.  T.Y. Hilton, IND
 
24.  Devin Funchess, CAR
 
25.  John Brown, ARI
 
26.  DeSean Jackson, TB
 
27.  Eric Decker, TEN
 
28.  Terrelle Pryor, WAS
 
29.  Danny Amendola, NE
 
30.  Amari Cooper, OAK
 
31.  Nelson Agholor, PHI
 
32.  Kenny Stills, MIA
 
33.  Cooper Kupp, LAR
 
34.  Robert Woods, LAR
 
35.  Ted Ginn, NO
 
36.  Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
 
37.  Martavis Bryant, PIT
 
38.  Robby Anderson, NYJ
 
39.  Allen Hurns, JAC
 
40.  Bennie Fowler, DEN
 
41.  Sammy Watkins, LAR
 
42.  Randall Cobb, GB
 
43.  Taylor Gabriel, ATL
 
44.  Sterling Shepard, NYG
 
45.  Ricardo Louis, CLE
 
46.  Tyler Lockett, SEA
 
47.  Mohamed Sanu, ATL
 
48.  JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT
 
49.  Willie Snead, NO
 
50.  Jeremy Maclin, BAL
 
51.  Paul Richardson, SEA
 
52.  Tyrell Williams, LAC
 
53.  Kendall Wright, CHI
 
54.  Josh Doctson, WAS
 
55.  Jamison Crowder, WAS
 
56.  Torrey Smith, PHI
 
57.  Mike Wallace, BAL
 
58.  Jaron Brown, ARI
 
59.  Roger Lewis, NYG
 
60.  Zay Jones, BUF
 
61.  Donte Moncrief, IND
 
62.  Cole Beasley, DAL
 
63.  Kenny Britt, CLE
 
64.  Brice Butler, DAL
 
65.  De'Anthony Thomas, KC
 
66.  Travis Benjamin, LAC
 
67.  J.J. Nelson, ARI
 
68.  Marquise Goodwin, SF
 
69.  Terrance Williams, DAL
 
70.  Jeremy Kerley, NYJ

Tight ends

1.  Rob Gronkowski, NE
 
2.  Zach Ertz, PHI
 
3.  Travis Kelce, KC
 
4.  Delanie Walker, TEN
 
5.  Jimmy Graham, SEA
 
6.  Evan Engram, NYG
 
7.  Hunter Henry, LAC
 
8.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ
 
9.  Jordan Reed, WAS
 
10.  Austin Hooper, ATL
 
11.  Kyle Rudolph, MIN
 
12.  Cameron Brate, TB
 
13.  George Kittle, SF
 
14.  Jason Witten, DAL
 
15.  Zach Miller, CHI
 
16.  Jared Cook, OAK
 
17.  Ed Dickson, CAR
 
18.  Benjamin Watson, BAL
 
19.  Jack Doyle, IND
 
20.  Martellus Bennett, GB
 
21.  Nick O'Leary, BUF
 
22.  Tyler Kroft, CIN
 
23.  Vernon Davis, WAS
 
24.  Coby Fleener, NO
 
25.  Julius Thomas, MIA

Defenses

1.  Minnesota Vikings, MIN
 
2.  Seattle Seahawks, SEA
 
3.  Jacksonville Jaguars, JAC
 
4.  Pittsburgh Steelers, PIT
 
5.  Tennessee Titans, TEN
 
6.  Buffalo Bills, BUF
 
7.  Denver Broncos, DEN
 
8.  Carolina Panthers, CAR
 
9.  Miami Dolphins, MIA
 
10.  New Orleans Saints, NO
 
11.  Kansas City Chiefs, KC
 
12.  Los Angeles Rams, LAR
 
13.  Baltimore Ravens, BAL
 
14.  New York Giants, NYG
 
15.  Philadelphia Eagles, PHI
 
16.  Cincinnati Bengals, CIN
 
17.  New York Jets, NYJ
 
18.  Chicago Bears, CHI
 
19.  Arizona Cardinals, ARI
 
20.  Dallas Cowboys, DAL

Kickers

1.  Stephen Gostkowski, NE
 
2.  Dan Bailey, DAL
 
3.  Jake Elliott, PHI
 
4.  Harrison Butker, KC
 
5.  Matt Bryant, ATL
 
6.  Will Lutz, NO
 
7.  Ryan Succop, TEN
 
8.  Greg Zuerlein, LAR
 
9.  Graham Gano, CAR
 
10.  Justin Tucker, BAL
 
11.  Josh Lambo, JAC
 
12.  Blair Walsh, SEA
 
13.  Adam Vinatieri, IND
 
14.  Nick Novak, LAC
 
15.  Mason Crosby, GB
 
16.  Robbie Gould, SF
 
17.  Kai Forbath, MIN
 
18.  Aldrick Rosas, NYG
 
19.  Steven Hauschka, BUF
 
20.  Brandon McManus, DEN

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Josh Norman out against Eagles in Monday night matchup, plus full injury report

Josh Norman out against Eagles in Monday night matchup, plus full injury report

The Redskins will be without one of their top defenders when they take on the Eagles on Monday night.

Jay Gruden announced that CB Josh Norman is out for the second straight game with a broken rib. Norman was able to practice on a limited basis earlier this week but he did not practice today. Gruden said that the recovery from the injury just had not progressed to the point where the doctors would clear him to play.

Bashaud Breeland, the other starting cornerback, is listed as questionable with a knee injury he sustained last week against the 49ers. “He did a good job today,” said Gruden. “He’s looking better.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24

Gruden said that a final determination on Breeland’s status will be made on Sunday.

With Norman out, Quinton Dunbar, who did a good job filling in against the 49ers, will start. If both of the starters are sidelined, rookie Fabian Moreau will get the start opposite Dunbar.

Also listed as questionable are RB Rob Kelley (ankle), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), S Stefan McClure (knee), and LB Mason Foster (shoulder).

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Kelley is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against the Chiefs on Oct. 2 but he has looked good while practicing on a limited basis this week. If he can’t go it seems likely that Samaje Perine will start in his place.

It should be noted that the term “questionable” on an injury report means that it is “uncertain if the player will play”. Many say that means that there is at least a 50 percent chance that the player will be active for the game. So there are a lot of scenarios that could unfold with that designation.

Reserve offensive linemen Ty Nsekhe (core muscle) and Tyler Catalina (concussion) also have been declared out for Monday night.

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.