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Need to Know: Shanahan defends play calling

Need to Know: Shanahan defends play calling

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, September 24, five days before the Redskins visit the Raiders.

Nickel coverage

Five key quotes from Mike Shanahan’s Monday press conference:

1. Along with many, I commented on the Redskins’ play selection with 50 passes called in what was a one-score game most of the way. I realized that it got skewed in the latter stages of the game when the Redskins fell behind by 10. Mike Shanahan gave the following, more detailed explanation:
“I think when you take a look at that ratio, you have to look at the total game. We had 22 passes that were with 38 seconds left; we had five at the end of the half, we had 17 at the end of the game. Then you take 12 third-down passes, and you get 35 passes there. Then you take your first-down ratio of run-to-pass; I think we had 14 runs, 13 passes. Then you take second-down; I think we had five runs and 11 passes. That’s the type of ratio that we’re looking for. Once you get into the two-minute situation, those numbers can get really carried away one way or the other and that’s what happened.
2. Why hasn’t Bacarri Rambo been playing? This explanation if kind of, well, ouch:
“When he gets his opportunities, he’s got to take advantage of it. We’re not here to keep his spirits up. When he does play special teams or whatever role you’re in, you better play it 100 percent and make some plays. If he doesn’t play anything on defense, he better play well on special teams and if you don’t play well on special teams and you’re not a starter on defense, then you won’t be dressing. So everybody’s got a role and it changes during the season.”
3. Why didn’t Robert Griffin III slide feet first on that critical fourth-quarter play?
“Like I said after the game, I’ve had a lot of guys do it both ways. A lot of people would rather go feet-first, other guys want to get the extra yards and go face-first. Sometimes they feel a little more protected going head-first. I told Robert he can do it any way he wants to, he just has got to hold onto the football if he goes face-first.”
4. Here are his comments on putting Josh Morgan in on kickoffs:
“He’s still a legitimate guy, a legitimate threat as a kick-off returner. Josh [Morgan] has a little bit more wiggle than Niles does. He’s more of a power-type runner. We thought we’d give Josh a shot at it.”
5. Finally, he had this puzzling positive comment on Griffin’s second-quarter interception.
“That was not his fault. I was very upset during the game. I thought he just kind of threw it haphazardly, and really it was a great throw. It just didn’t work out that way. I’m not going to go through the blame, but as I said after the game, I thought it was just a mistake, and it was a good throw.”
Stat of the day

—This via my friend John Keim and ESPN Stats and Information: In first two games, Matthew Stafford completed 1 of 8 passes on throws of 15-plus yards. On Sunday he was 7-9 for 22.2 yards/attempt.

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—Born on this day: current WR Aldrick Robinson (1988), former RB Joe Washington (1953), former C Casey Rabach (1977)

—Days until: Redskins @ Raiders 5; Redskins @ Cowboys 19; Bears @ Redskins 26

—Today’s schedule: Day off, no availability

Shanahan talks turnovers

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Defensive starters

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Defensive starters

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 22, 35 days before the NFL draft.  

Redskins starters quick hitters—defense

The last couple of days here I looked at how the depth charts are shaping up with a little bit of commentary (offense, defense). Today and tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the starters with some quick hitters about each one. Yesterday it was the offense, now the defense is up.  

DE Jonathan Allen—He was close to being ready to practice during the last couple of weeks of the season so his Lisfranc rehab is going well. Anticipation will be high when he takes the field in Week 1.

DE Stacy McGee—From looking at my social media timelines I can conclude that many Redskins fans hear “free agent D-lineman” and automatically say “bust”. That’s not the case with McGee. Last year he was the Redskins’ most consistent defensive lineman.

NT Ziggy Hood—I’ve said this before and it still holds true—Hood should not be a starting nose tackle. He would be very good as a rotational defensive lineman.

OLB Preston Smith—Sure, he’s inconsistent. But he’s on often enough to be a very valuable player. He lacks eye-popping sack totals but since he came into the league in 2015, only Smith has at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and four forced fumbles.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—He will turn 30 during training camp but he shows no signs of slowing down.

ILB Zach Brown—The Redskins needed to bring him back and they got it done. He does struggle in coverage at times, but the defense is much better with him than without him.

ILB Mason Foster—He and Allen saw their seasons end due to injuries at about the same time and the defense wasn’t the same after that. Foster brings experience and toughness to the defense that is hard to replace.

CB Quinton Dunbar—It’s possible that Fabian Moreau will beat him out for the starting job before the season starts. But Dunbar has come a long way since the former wide receiver volunteered to help out at cornerback when a rash of injuries hit during his rookie season. I wouldn’t bet against him.

CB Josh Norman—He certainly didn’t play poorly last year but the goose egg in the interceptions column is a black mark. The thing is, with quarterbacks like to test Dunbar and Moreau playing on the other side, he might not get many opportunities to pick off passes this year, either.

S D.J. Swearinger—After signing as a free agent, he put himself on the line, saying he was the leader of a defense before he had even played a snap with the group he wanted to lead. He walked the walk, filling both the leadership vacuum and the lack of quality safety play.

S Montae Nicholson—Jay Gruden said that Nicholson was the defensive version of Jordan Reed, a player who changes what the unit can do when he is on the field. High praise, but also a lot of pressure to stay on the field.

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

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 26
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 128
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 172

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Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?


Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?

The Redskins sure hosted a lot of free agent defensive line visits in the second week of free agency, but so far, no signed contracts. 

Johnathan Hankins came to Ashburn. Sylvester Williams came to Ashburn. Pernell McPhee came to Ashburn. All three left without a done deal, and now for Redskins fans, the question becomes not about when a deal will get done, but if any deals will happen.

Actually, one deal did happen. According to a report, Williams has signed with the Lions. 

Since visiting the Redskins on Monday, Hankins also took a trip to see the Lions. McPhee, who was offered a contract by the Redskins, has since taken a trip to visit the Falcons. 


Keep in mind too, Washington expressed interest in nose tackle Bennie Logan last offseason, and the 6-foot-2, 309 lb., former Chief is again on the market. A visit from Logan would surprise nobody, though it hasn't been reported yet. 

Mother Nature might also be an impediment for the Redskins. A March snowstorm shut the D.C. region down on Wednesday, which could have limited potential free agent visits.

What's clear is between Hankins, McPhee and Williams this week, in addition to Muhammad Wilkerson and Benson Mayowa last week, the Redskins are obviously looking to upgrade their defensive line. Combine that with a contract restructure for incumbent Terrell McClain, and Washington has the flexibility to improve on last season's NFL-worst run defense. 

That doesn't mean, however, the Redskins will absolutely sign one of the above mentioned players. And it doesn't mean outside linebacker Junior Gallete won't return to the Redskins either. 

Many fans wonder if a McPhee signing means the Redskins would move on from Galette. It might, but that's no sure thing. 

Washington went into the 2017 season with five outside linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Galette, Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter. Right now, the 'Skins only have Kerrigan, Smith and Anderson under contract. The team needs to add at least one OLB, but likely two.

McPhee also carries about 20 extra pounds on his frame than Galette, giving the former Bear and Raven more flexibility to play against the run. Galette is a speed, leverage and moves player, focused on getting to the quarterback. He's capable against the run, but in the same way a sports car shouldn't carry a snow plow, Galette should be used to pressure QBs. 

Point being: McPhee and Galette could both make sense for the Redskins, if the team can work out the cash. 

Money usually matters the most in free agency, and it's clear the Redskins haven't made the type of offers that any of these players felt compelled to immediately sign. Deals could still happen though. Hankins didn't sign last offseason until April and Galette seems to thank Redskins fans via social media with relative frequency. 

Washington also had some success with the patient approach to free agency. The team was able to keep Zach Brown, though it took some nervous days of allowing the tackling machine linebacker to test the free agent market. With that win in hand, don't expect the Redskins brass to change their philosophy. 

Until further notice, it's hurry up and wait season in Ashburn.

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