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Need to Know: Redskins RBs are holding on to the ball

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Need to Know: Redskins RBs are holding on to the ball

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 3, eight days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Walkthrough 10:30; Jay Gruden press conference 2:45; Practice (special teams only) 3:00

—The Redskins last played a game 206 days ago. It will be 40 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets @FedEx Field 16; Final roster cut 31; Cowboys @ Redskins 46

Breaking down camp

I have a lot of fun doing the live practice blogs but I can’t always get into much analysis since there is always something going on. So I’m going to pull out a few observations from yesterday and go into some more depth.
The defenders are trying hard to rip the ball out of the hands of all of the running backs, not just Matt Jones. So far I have not yet seen them be successful.
I’m not going to say that the running backs have not yet fumbled because I haven’t seen every play. But through five sessions I haven’t seen a fumble by a running back and, again, it’s not because the defense hasn’t been trying. I think that Jones picked up some bad habits last year and the team put an emphasis on teaching proper technique to Jones and to the rookies and the other young running backs on the roster.
In 11 on 11 in the red zone, Cousins threw a little swing pass to Jackson, who scampered in for the score. Jackson did not score a touchdown from a play from the red zone last year.
Jackson caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III in 2013. Since he has been with the Redskins his shorted TD reception other than that was a 28-yard catch last year. I don’t think you want to make him a regular red zone target but I think you could sneak him out there every once in a while the defense is focused on Reed, Davis, Garçon, Doctson and company in the red zone.
Preston Smith is not just a pass rusher. He just got in the backfield and disrupted a play with Jones going up the middle before it ever got started.
Smith didn’t really struggle against the run last year but it wasn’t a strong point of his either. He’s going to play a lot more snaps this year and they will test him in the rushing game. If he can make a few big players against the run they might not test him as much.
There have been a lot of yellow flags on the field during this 11 on 11 session. They're getting a bit ragged it appears.
They had a partial crew of actual NFL officials who were in town to explain the new rule changes to the players and media. It seemed like every time you looked up there was a flag for holding or for a false start or offsides against the defense. I'm not sure if the Redskins were just having a bad day or if the officials were catching things that they have been doing all along. The Redskins averaged nearly 19 fewer penalty yards per game last year compared to 2014 so they need that trend to continue.

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of Monday, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)