Redskins

Quick Links

Preview: Can the Redskins end their road futility?

redskinsroad.png

Preview: Can the Redskins end their road futility?

What: Redskins (5-7) at Bears (5-7).

When: Sunday 1 p.m.

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago.

Watch: Redskins Kickoff on CSN Mid-Atlantic (12 p.m.); Redskins Postgame Live (4 p.m.).

My five storylines/matchups to monitor:

1-Road woes. The Redskins are a league-worst 0-5 on the road this season and haven’t won a game on away from FedEx Field since upsetting the Cowboys on Oct. 27, 2014, a span of nine contests. That’s the longest active road losing streak in the NFL, and it’s nudged them one defeat away from setting a franchise record for consecutive losses away from home. Three of the Redskins’ final four games will be played away from FedEx Field. To put it bluntly, there’s absolutely no chance they’ll qualify for the postseason unless they end the drought. And, if you’re being realistic, it could take a couple of road wins to get in. Interestingly, the Bears are almost as bad at home as the Redskins are on the road. In fact, they’re 1-8 at Soldier Field dating to last season.

RELATED: Santana Moss on Jamison Crowder: 'He just has it, man'

2-Running back rotation. Earlier this week, Coach Jay Gruden said Alfred Morris remains the Redskins’ No. 1 running back, despite the fact that he played only eight snaps in Monday’s loss to the Cowboys. But as I’ve often said, it’s more important to watch what a coach does, rather than listen to what he says. And recent history (as I outlined in this article earlier this week) shows that Matt Jones’ involvement has continued to grow as Morris’ production has continued to diminish. Who’s going to get the majority of the work Sunday? That’s unclear. But we can be sure of this much: if the Redskins are going to enjoy any success on offense, they’ll need to exploit a bad Bears’ run defense that’s allowing 128 yards per game (29th). Interesting number: The Redskins are averaging 129.6 yards on the ground at home but just 44.8 on the road.

3-Pass rush production. After sacking Eli Manning three times in Week 12, the Redskins’ pass rush had a quiet night against the Cowboys. In fact, Matt Cassel was sacked just once and rarely touched, which helped the journeyman signal caller rebound from a ragged start. Things don’t figure to get any easier Sunday when Washington faces Jay Cutler, who has been sacked only 16 times (23 quarterbacks have been sacked more). But the Ryan Kerrigan-led rush will need to find a way. “As a group, we do have to get better,” Gruden said. “And in order to get better, we need to get more third-down-and-medium-to-longs, so we can really tee off and rush.” Overall, the Redskins rank 26th in the NFL with 21 sacks. Kerrigan has a team-best 6.5 sacks and Chris Baker has 5; no one else has more than 3.  

4-Special or nah? The special teams units had been performing solidly…until Monday night, that is. There was a missed field goal in the fourth quarter. DeSean Jackson’s fumble. The Cowboys’ 44-yard kickoff return in the final seconds. It all added up to a gut-wrenching loss. Will those late struggles carry over? Or can Dustin Hopkins and Co. put it in the review and rebound against the Bears? Since replacing Kai Forbath in Week 2, Hopkins has been good on field goals (87.5 percent/12th-best) and outstanding on kickoffs. Sunday will mark the first time he'll have to bounce back from a shaky performance.      

5-Alshon Jeffery vs. Bashaud Breeland. Despite ranking just 24th in points per game, the Bears' offense has some weapons. Included in that arsenal is Jeffery, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver who plays even bigger. Although he has only two touchdowns, the 25-year-old is the Bears' most productive player. He's averaging 98.6 yards per game, which ranks third best behind Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. Lining up across from him figures to be Breeland, who is playing as well as any corner in the NFL right now. Indeed, it's going be a matchup to savor. So sit back and enjoy.  

Finally, the Redskins have some injury concerns heading into Sunday. Gruden is not optimistic about Chris Thompson (shoulder) suiting up, which could mean Jones getting more snaps on third down and a practice squader like Mack Brown or Christine Michael getting called up. Linebacker Perry Riley (foot) will be replaced by surprise performer Mason Foster for a second straight game. Defensive end Stephen Paea (toe) is not expected to suit up. There’s also some concern about end Jason Hatcher, who is battling a pinched nerve and an ankle injury. Later Friday, Gruden will rule the injured players as probable, questionable, doubtful or out. So check back for an update.

MORE REDSKINS: With six takeaways in the last two games, Redskins surpass last year's total

Quick Links

Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

doctson_td_vs_nyg_usat.png
Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196

Quick Links

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

norman_2_usat.png
Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197