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Need to Know: Redskins' Hall says he wants to be 'a damn good safety'

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Need to Know: Redskins' Hall says he wants to be 'a damn good safety'

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 21, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Carolina Panthers.

Read and react

A few things I heard around Redskins Park this week and my reaction to them:

DeAngelo Hall was asked if a move to safety would extend his career:
I’m not going to go play safety to try to extend my career, I’m going to play safety to try to be a damn good safety. I’m not in the business to try to tack on years. I can go home and hang with my kids. But I think I could make a difference at safety somewhere. The mentioned it to me and I said, cool, let’s do it.
Two things are interesting here. He’s right about not needing to extend his career, at least not financially. He’s signed a couple of big contracts, and he could spend more time with his kids if he wanted to. But he likes playing. The other part of this quote that drew my attention was the part about making a difference at safety “somewhere”. In 2016 he will be going into the third season of a four-year deal he signed in 2014. His cap number will be $5.1 million and the team could save $3.4 million by releasing him. Hall turned 32 yesterday and he seems to realize that a combination of his age and cap number might make him a cap casualty in the spring. The veteran could be auditioning for a job in 2016.

Trent Williams on Kirk Cousins:
He’s gaining game experience. He’s never been handed the keys to a team and I think that’s a culture change to a person. You go from playing in spots to this team is yours and as well as you play will be as far as we go. He just had to deal with it the first few weeks and now he’s way more comfortable, he’s got his feet wet. He’s just more comfortable in being that guy. I think that’s the difference. It’s not that he’s made throws that he couldn’t make before. He’s always had a talented arm, he’s always been a talented quarterback. Now it’s all about him. The team is his.
Cousins is one of the few starting quarterbacks in the league who is not a team captain, so having the support of the offensive captain is important. This is some solid praise from Williams, who in five and a half seasons has now blocked for six different starting quarterbacks. Cousins now seems to be settled in; during the last seven games we will see if that elevates his play.

Joe Barry on continuing problems with the running game:
“Well, it gets old after a while just for the simple fact that the common theme has been tackling. We missed a big tackle in the hole last week and then, bam, the guy goes 70 yards. It’s obviously addressed every week, it’s preached every week — talking about the tackling. As much as we do from a physical standpoint on Wednesday, that’s our most physical day, we try to tackle, we try to simulate tackles at least. You can’t do any live tackling. It’s just we’ve got to keep preaching it and talking about it.
The subject of tackling is one of those battlegrounds when it comes to debating whether results on the field emanate from coaching or the players themselves. And there really is no answer. On the one hand, players who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at the least and tens of millions at most should be able to execute a tackle. The fundamentals are not complex and it’s something every player has been doing since putting on a helmet. But it’s up to the coaches to drill them enough to keep their tackling skills sharp and making sure there are multiple players around the ball so that one player does not have to make the stop. On the 70-yard run by Mark Ingram Barry is referring to, Dashon Goldson missed a tackle near the line, but just getting by that tackle should not have led to a near-TD.

Jay Gruden on holding lively practices:
“A little bit. You know, it’s starting to grow. The effort was great today — had even a couple little skirmishes out there, which is good to see every now and then – but the intensity level is rising. You can see it — the confidence, the intensity, all that — which is good.”
Cousins on the same subject:
I remember my rookie year, several weeks at the end of the year we just had walkthroughs and only one day of the week we had practice. Even when we did, it was more relaxed and we had a seven-game winning streak and won the division. So I’ve seen that work, and I’ve seen having a spirited practice at the end of the season that was very physical and very competitive lead to a win as well.
The higher intensity at practice has been a topic of conversation around Redskins Park this week. According to the players they started to pick up the tempo at practice last week and after they beat the Saints they continued this week. But the opposite approach of short, low-tempo practices in December of 2012 also worked. Going at a high tempo is great but players can tire and it’s harder on their bodies, especially near the end of a long season. A slower tempo can work but it doesn’t come close to game speed so the value is lessened. The bottom line is that practice is important but it’s what you do on Sunday that really matters.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Travel to Charlotte, no media availability

Days until: Redskins @ Panthers 1; Giants @ Redskins 8; Monday night Cowboys @ Redskins 16

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Week 7 Redskins-Eagles Preview: Monday night means more than it usually does

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Week 7 Redskins-Eagles Preview: Monday night means more than it usually does

After five straight defeats, the Eagles decided enough was enough and beat the Redskins on their home field in Week 1. In a bizarre turn of scheduling, Washington will face Philadelphia for the second time this season before playing any other NFC East opponent. 

For the Redskins, that means the time for a win is now. Behind the arm of Carson Wentz, the Eagles have streaked out to a 5-1 record, not to mention 2-0 in the division. Jay Gruden's squad sits at 3-2 and 0-1 in the division. Another loss to the Eagles, even though it's still early in the year, would put a major dent in the Redskins hopes of a NFC East title. 

"It’s a big game. The NFC East, they’re in the lead. They’re 5-1 and we’re 3-2. I mean, just do the math," Gruden explained this week. "If you look at 3-3 and 6-1 and we’ve lost twice to them, that’s a big difference. 4-2 and 5-2 and we’re right there in the thick of things as far as the NFC East is concerned."

MORE: TEN TIMES PHILADELPHIA FANS WERE THE WORST

The coach knows the stakes. Redskins fans certainly do, too. All the coverage starts at 7:30 on NBC Sports Washington with Redskins Kickoff, and here are three storylines to watch for the game:

  1. Blount force - In the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins defense did a fine job of stopping the Eagles rush attack. Zach Brown and the 'Skins held Philly to just 58 yards rushing. In that game, LeGarrette Blount rushed 14 times for only 46 yards, averaging less than 3.5 yards-per-carry. Well, Blount and the Eagles run game looks mighty different now. In their last four games, Blount is averaging more than 6 yards-per-carry and posted more than 330 yards. Known for his strength between the tackles, Blount will present a problem for the Burgundy and Gold playing their first game without rookie star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. The challenge will be real, and D-coordinator Greg Manusky knows it: "He does a great job of making people miss at the hole, in the hole. So we have got to make sure we get in his face and be able to get him down. He is a big-body guy." 
  2. No wiggle room - For the most part, the Redskins defense did a solid job against Carson Wentz in the first matchup against the Eagles. Unfortunately, with a mobile QB like the 6-foot-5, 240 lb. Wentz, a few broken plays can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of the game. Think back to early in Week 1, the Redskins forced Wentz from the pocket and as he scrambled, he kept his eyes downfield and connected with WR Nelson Agholor for a long touchdown. On that play, two different 'Skins defenders nearly brought Wentz down in the backfield. But they didn't. And the 'Skins secondary did a good job in coverage for more than eight seconds. In that ninth second, however, Wentz struck. He's been doing it each game since, as he's emerged as an NFL MVP candidate with more than 1,300 pass yards to go with 13 TDs against just 3 INTs through six games. His ability to escape trouble must be incredibly frustrating for defenders, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson explained his passer's skill, saying, "He is strong in the pocket and usually the first guy, an arm-tackle guy, can’t bring him down. He usually sheds that block and can escape."
  3. 8 or more - Throughout the 2016 season, the Redskins frustrated their fans by getting out to slow starts. In 2017, the opposite has been true. In four straight games, Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins offense have scored a first quarter touchdown and taken early leads. In the second half, however, the offense has stagnated. While the Redskins average about 23 points-per-game, the team is only scoring about 8 points-per-game in the second half. Against a Philly team capable of scoring every time they touch the ball, Washington will likely have to score more in the second half to get a victory.

News & Notes

  • This will mark the Redskins 70th game on Monday Night Football, and their ninth MNF matchup against Philadelphia.
  • Kirk Cousins enters the game 3rd in NFL history in completion percentage (65.9) among players with at least 1,500 career attempts.
  • With 100 yards receiving, Chris Thompson could break a tie with Dick James, Craig McEwen and Larry Brown (two each) for the most career 100-yard receiving games by a Redskins running back in records dating back to 1960.
  • A win would snap a four game losing streak on Monday Night Football for the Redskins and give the Redskins their first Monday win since a 20-17 overtime win at Dallas on Oct. 27, 2014.
  • The Redskins rank first in the NFL and the NFC in fewest penalty yards (204).

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Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Those who doubted the wisdom of the Redskins drafting a guard with the fifth overall pick in 2015 (yes, I was one of them) should be preparing to eat their words.

On draft day and during the two and a half years since then, there has been plenty of talk that the Redskins would regret taking Brandon Scherff, who played tackle in college but seemed destined to play guard in the NFL, so early. Not that anyone thought that Scherff would be a bad NFL player but given that they left DL Leonard Williams and edge rusher Vic Beasley on the board, he needed to develop into an All-Pro caliber guard to justify such a high pick.

Well, don’t look now but Scherff is making his way towards becoming one of the best guards in the game. Not just Pro Bowl good; he checked that box last year. Scherff could become the first Redskins position player to be named a first-team All-Pro since Darrell Green and Jim Lachey earned the honors in 1991.

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

Asked about Scherff’s play this year, Jay Gruden was effusive in his praise.

He’s reacting. He’s anticipating. He’s pulling. He’s pass-blocking. He’s run-blocking. He’s double teaming. He’s doing everything you want him to do out in screens, out in space. He’s the best guard out in space by far in this league. It’s fun to watch him.

You can listen to Gruden’s full comments on Scherff in the video above.

Gruden is not exactly an unbiased observer. But other, more neutral analysts also have been heaping praise on Scherff.

An article on Pro Football Focus said that Scherff had an “elite” game against the 49ers, not allowing any pass rush pressures and dominating as a run blocker.

RELATED: IN A MUDDLED NFC WHY NOT THE REDSKINS?

Two other analysts clipped some plays from the 49ers game to illustrate just how well he was playing.

This one from Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network shows one play, the 49-yard screen pass to Chris Thompson on which Scherff threw a key block.

I’m not sure what the scouting credentials Brandon Thorn has but he did put together a nice collection of clips of Scherff making quality blocks both in space and in the interior vs. the 49ers.

Will Scherff earn All-Pro honors? That could depend on how well the team does. While the All-Pro teams are supposed to be individual honors, it’s tough for an offensive lineman to get many votes if he’s not on a winning team, especially one like Scherff who would be trying to break into the club for the first time.

But the Redskins are not really worried about All-Pro votes. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing and he gets no such consideration it will be fine with them.

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.