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Need to Know: Will the Redskins' special teams improve in 2015?

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Need to Know: Will the Redskins' special teams improve in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 28, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

Today’s question is from Twitter:

The Redskins’ special teams did improve last year but they were historically awful in 2013 so they were still among the worst in the league.

Per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders, the Redskins’ special teams DVOA (their metric for measuring a unit’s performance) was minus-12 percent. That was the worst in the league by almost five percentage points and one of the worst special teams performances since they started tracking these numbers.

Last year Washington’s special teams DVOA was minus-5.4 percent. That was better but still an unacceptable 29th in the NFL. It’s hard to celebrate it as a great achievement when there still are only three teams worse than you are in that category.

But improvement is improvement and all the Redskins can do now is try to continue to get better. I think the chances are pretty good that they can for three main reasons:

They’re in a second year under Ben Kotwica—There is every reason to believe that Kotwica will be able to get the job done. The team improved under him last year with a minimal improvement in personnel.

Jamison Crowder could be a quality returner—Andre Roberts didn’t scare any opponents last year, posting pedestrian averages of 7.4 yards on punt returns and 23.7 on kickoffs. He never threatened to break off a long return. Crowder has a quick first step, good speed, and solid instincts and should be a solid upgrade.

Better personnel—As noted, the Redskins did little to enhance the personnel on special teams after the 2013 debacle. This year they brought in a few draft picks in addition to Crowder who know right off the bat that special teams will be a primary part of their duties, players like Kyshoen Jarrett, Evan Spencer, and Martrell Spaight. They also retained veteran Niles Paul, a special teams mainstay for the past several seasons.

We will see what happens. Injuries could take a toll and things might not click for other reasons. But there seems to be an active awareness of the problems and, hey, there is no place to go but up.

Timeline

—It’s been 182 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 77 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 32; Preseason opener @ Browns 46; final cuts 69

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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When is Super Bowl 52? Date, time, TV channel, halftime performer, odds

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When is Super Bowl 52? Date, time, TV channel, halftime performer, odds

Super Bowl LII (52) will feature the New England Patriots/ Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC Champion) against the Minnesota Vikings/ Philadelphia Eagles (NFC Champion) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4, 2018.

If they go on to advance, the Vikings would become the first team to ever ‘host’ the Super Bowl in their home stadium. They are the third to play the game in their home state. Minnesota will be looking for their first Super Bowl title in five tries, the most appearances by any team without a championship.

Philadelphia is looking for their first title ever as well, and doing it with a back-up quarterback Nick Foles. They have been the underdog in every game this postseason; it would be no different in the Super Bowl.

New England is looking for their third Super Bowl over the past four years and their sixth championship since 2001. However, their path in the AFC Playoffs is arguably the easiest in their history. A win by the Patriots would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in NFL history with six.

The new kids one the block, the Jaguars are one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance in what is already the best year ever for the franchise. If Jacksonville were to pull it off, they would be the tenth team in NFL history to win in their first Super Bowl appearance.

Super Bowl LII Information:

When is Super Bowl 52?

6:15 pm ET, February 4, 2018

Who is playing in Super Bowl 52?

New England Patriots/ Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Minnesota Vikings/ Philadelphia Eagles

Where is Super Bowl 52?

U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota

How can I watch Super Bowl 52 on TV?

NBC

Where can I stream Super Bowl 52?

The Super Bowl can be streamed for free on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.

Who are the announcers for Super Bowl 52?

Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya, Heather Cox

Who is performing the Super Bowl 52 halftime show?

Justin Timberlake is the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime performer. It is his third Super Bowl performance, previously performing in Super Bowl XXV and more famously in XXVIII with Janet Jackson.

What are the odds for Super Bowl 52?

New England Patriots: 6/5
Minnesota Vikings: 7/4
Philadelphia Eagles: 7/1
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8/1

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

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Need to Know: A random walk through the Redskins past for edition No. 2000

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 21, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 44
—NFL Draft (4/26) 95
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 231

Need to Know No. 2000

This is a special edition of Need to Know. It was 2,000 days ago, on July 31, 2012, that this post designed to give Redskins fans the news and views they need to get their days started was posted for the first time. And it has gone up every single morning since that day, 2,000 mornings in a row.

There is no reliable way to measure how many have read the post since site redesigns and name changes have made reliable tracking difficult. But NTK page views are estimated in the tens of millions. Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting, both on the site and on social media. It’s the passion of Redskins fans that makes the job so enjoyable.

Here is a look back at some of the “landmark” editions of Need to Know. I can’t like to all of them because of the aforementioned changes but it’s an interesting, random walk through Redskins history.

No. 1, “Hits to the depth chart”, 7/31/12—The Redskins were trying to deal with the losses of LB Jonathan Goff, who had suffered a season-ending knee injury, and G Kory Lichtensteiger, who was out after getting his knee scoped. Also, the Saints, who were the Redskins’ opponent in the opener, were complaining about the Bountygate penalties. A lot. See, even during training camp in 2012, NTK was able to look beyond RG3 hysteria to get you to the other important stories of the day.

No. 500, “Nickel coverage—Jordan Reed misses practice”, 12/13/13—Yes, the more things change the more things stay the same. The talented tight end, then a rookie, was still trying to a recover from a concussion he suffered a few weeks earlier. Reed ended up going on injured reserve, missing the last six games. Also, Mike Shanahan said that didn’t pay any attention to all of the negative talk about the team in the media and Kyle Shanahan said that didn’t have any input into the decision to bench RG3 and play Kirk Cousins. Both claims were greeted with skepticism.

No. 1,000, “Can the Redskins draft an immediate O-line starter?”, 4/27/15—This was just a couple of days before the draft. Brandon Scherff, who ended up being Redskins’ top pick at No. 5 overall, is not mentioned but he did indeed become the team’s selection. This was Scot McCloughan’s first draft and the identity of the Redskins’ first pick was still a mystery. Although Scherff’s name often came up, most mocks had them going with edge rusher Dante Fowler, who ended up going to the Jaguars at No. 3.

No. 1,500, “Redskins searching for back to back playoff spots”, 9/8/2016—This was a “By the numbers” look at the team as it approached their season opener against the Steelers. They were coming off of a playoff berth in 2015 and, as we know now, their streak of consecutive seasons without going to the playoffs at least two straight years would continue. In 2016 were able to stop a 19-year streak of not having back to back willing seasons, just barely, by going 8-7-1. One more interesting number from the post—Kirk Cousins’ pass completion percentage at home in 2015 was 74.7 percent, the highest in NFL history.

Again, thanks for reading. See you tomorrow for edition No. 2,001.

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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