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Putting Gruden's coaching decisions under the microscope


Putting Gruden's coaching decisions under the microscope

In a game with as many twists and turns as the Redskins’ loss to the Falcons had, there are always coaching decisions that are questioned. Let’s look at a few of Jay Gruden’s calls that are being questioned by many and a few others that may have been questioned had they turned out differently.

Situation: Early in the second quarter of a scoreless game the Redskins faced fourth and one at the Atlanta 10. Gruden decided to go for the first down and they made the yard on a quarterback sneak.

Pro: The Redskins had to settle for too many field goals and it almost cost them the game against the Eagles a week ago. Against an undefeated opponent on the road they had to go for it.
Con: If it had not worked, the Falcons home crowd, which had not had much to cheer about to that point, would have gotten into it and the momentum would have switched to the players in the red shirts. 
Result: The Redskins converted and drove in for the score. The sneak is a high-percentage play and Cousins made it with ease. The odds favor getting the yard so it was the proper, moderately aggressive call.

Situation: Working with a 7-3 lead, the Redskins had a nice drive going but it stalled at the Falcons’ 35. In a similar situation against the Eagles Gruden decided to punt. This time the call was to send out Dustin Hopkins to try a 53-yard field goal. It was wide right.

Pro: At that stage of the game it was apparent that a shootout was not in the making and that every point would be precious. 
Con: It looked like Tress Way was punting with some precision (two of his four punts on the day ended up inside the 20) and he could have pinned the Falcons back. With points at a premium, maybe field position would have been a better play.
Result: The Falcons took possession at their own 43 and drove down to the Washington 10 but they had to settle for a field goal. Bottom line, I think that Hopkins’ later 52-yard boot justified going for the points in the dome.

Situation: Midway through the fourth quarter the Redskins scored on a two-yard run by Matt Jones to take a 13-12 lead. Instead of going for one, the Redskins tried a two-point conversion but the pass was incomplete.

Pro: Simple math. With either a one- or two-point lead a field goal would give the Falcons the lead. A two pointer makes it so a field goal can only tie.
Con: If the Redskins had that one point when the clock hit 0:00 in regulation they would have won.
Result: While it’s not arguable that the additional point could have made a difference, we don’t know how the rest of the game would have played out. The Falcons would have gone for two after their TD with 24 seconds left. That would have given them a three-point lead, so the situation would have been the same.

Situation: After Bashaud Breeland picked off a Matt Ryan pass and returned it to the Atlanta 21, the Redskins moved to a first and goal at the 10. After that, the play calling seemed to be geared more to burning off some clock and settling for the field goal. Hopkins’ field goal put Redskins up 16-12 with 2:42 to go.

Pro: The Falcons had burned a time out on defense earlier and the clock was the Redskins’ ally at that point. And even if the Redskins did get a touchdown and conversion, it’s still a one-score game with the Falcons able to tie with a touchdown and a field goal. 
Con: The Redskins needed every point they could get. The difficulty of getting the TD and the two-point conversion is much greater than just getting a touchdown. 
Result: I think virtually any NFL coach would have been happy to burn off some time off the clock and make the other guys need a touchdown to beat you. 

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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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 and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

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

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price


Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 


Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!