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Need to Know: Haslett makes case for 'elite' Orakpo

Need to Know: Haslett makes case for 'elite' Orakpo

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 20, three days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Nickel coverage

Five notes and quotes from Thursday's press conferences.

1.Nothing against former Denver center J. D. Walton, who the Redskins claimed off of waivers yesterday. But this transaction makes no sense. “No, I think this is for the future. He would not play this week or next week,” said Mike Shanahan (complete news conference transcript). That might be fine except that Walton’s rookie contract expires after this season. So he will be a Redskin for two games. And he gets to walk in to an environment where distractions are many and playoff possibilities are zero. Strange.

2. I was one of the few who didn’t object when Kyle Shanahan (complete news conference transcript) called a play-action out of the Redskins’ end zone. Even though it ended up being picked off, I liked the aggressive style. “I always feel if you punt when you’re backed up, I look at that as we as an offense just gave the other team three points. All they need to do is go about 10 yards after they catch that punt and they already have a field goal, so I feel it’s very important when you’re backed up to get a first down. We’re not just going to play conservatively to not get a safety.

3. Jim Haslett (complete news conference transcript) made the case that Brian Orakpo is an elite pass rusher. He made a valid point that while he doesn’t have the sack numbers that others do he doesn’t rush the passer on every down. “I don’t know what you’re calling elite, but I’ll say sack-wise, numbers-wise, he’s got 10, and you’ve got [Green Bay linebacker Clay] Mathews has 16 who rushes every down, [Rams defensive end Robert] Quinn who has 15 I think, he rushes every down — I don’t know who else is in between — but I would say that’s fair because he doesn’t rush every down. He rushes every time on third down or nickel, but he does drop into coverage.”

4. Aldrick Robinson has been more productive in the last two games than he was in the first 12 combined. Kyle hopes he can use his speed to open up other things. “Aldrick, everybody knows he’s our fastest player and you usually like to send your fastest player deep over your slower players, but there’s not really a play in our offense that just says we’re throwing it deep. I kind of want them to cover Aldrick deep. Please cover him so we can throw it to open people underneath, as long as we’re sucking up the linebackers on a play-fake.”

5. It seems that most of the players have picked up this message from Mike Shanahan; the effort from all but a few has been solid. “No, it’s not really, not if you’ve got the right guys, you’ve got the right character. You’re getting full-speed effort. They understand that this is their profession and if they don’t handle it that way, then the chances of them being around for any length of time is not very good.”

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Stat of the day

—On first and 10 this year the Redskins have run 179 times for a 3.6 average per play and they have passed 191 times for an average of 7.2 yards.

Timeline

—Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 2; Redskins @ Giants 9; Opening Sunday 2014 262

—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:50; Mike Shanahan news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:15)

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Haslett talks about Romo 

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

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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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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