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Redskins Bye Week Grades: Outside and inside - linebackers are making plays

Redskins Bye Week Grades: Outside and inside - linebackers are making plays

Redskins bye week grades: Linebacker

At times the Redskins look like a team that could make some serious noise in the playoffs and at other times they look like a team that will struggle to make the playoffs. At 4-3-1, they’re still in the thick of things as they catch a breather at the bye. It’s been an interesting couple of months, indeed, and over the next few days CSN Mid-Atlantic reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will hand out their first half grades, position-by-position.

Tandler: If I told you before the season that two of the Redskins’ top performers at linebacker would be former second-round picks you would have bet the ranch that one of them was Preston Smith. But actually those two second rounders are rookie Su’a Cravens, who has made a number of key plays including a game-saving interception against the Giants, and Trent Murphy, who has matched his career total coming into the season with six sacks.

Smith has not played poorly but his lack of impact plays—he has just 1.5 sacks and he hasn’t forced or recovered a fumble—is a concern. Ryan Kerrigan leads the team with seven sacks. On the inside, Mason Foster and Will Compton started off slowly but they were solid contributors to the streak of four straight games where the Redskins held the other team to 20 points or fewer.

In grading the defensive line I said that you can’t put all of the Redskins’ poor performance against the run (26th in yards/game, 31st in yards/attempt) on the line, so the linebackers, who have been out of position against the run too often, get dinged for that here. Given the resources the organization has invested at linebacker they probably should be better. But they are pretty good and the unit is making plays to help the team win.

Grade: B-

Finlay: Much like my complaint about grading out receivers with tight ends, I'd argue these ranks would be more effective if we seperated the inside backers from the outside bunch. That said, Kerrigan has been the best of the bunch, and it's not really a surprise. Seven sacks through eight games, his season would still be on a different plane if he had been able to scoop his strip sack of Ben Roethlisberger in the first game of the year.

Cravens looks like a future star with his knack for big plays and defensive coordinator Joe Barry must figure out a way to have him on the field more. Perhaps that will come at safety as both Compton and Foster are playing pretty well. 

The Redskins have gotten quite lucky that Trent Murphy is finally putting it all together, as Preston Smith is not. One thing to remember about Smith - the bulk of his sack production (5 of 8) last year came in the final three games, including a three-sack effort Week 16 against the Eagles. If the second-year man out of Mississippi State can get on another hot streak, his numbers could jump in a hurry. 

The Redskins have playmakers at their linebacker spots, but the defensive scheme is predicated on hitting assignments and making tackles. Probably asked to do more than they should against the run because of the subpar D-line, while the 'Skins LBs have proved capable of getting to the QB and forcing turnovers, they must plug their gaps and bring down runners to get higher grades.

Grade: B

Consensus Grade: B-

Tandler and JP grade the Redskins at the bye:

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Bashaud Breeland the latest former Redskin to fail a physical; won't be signing with Panthers

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Bashaud Breeland the latest former Redskin to fail a physical; won't be signing with Panthers

The Redskins had to say good bye to several key players as the 2018 NFL free agency period began.

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland was one of those players.

On Tuesday, Breeland reported agreed to a 3-year, $24 million deal with the Carolina Panthers.

But on Friday afternoon it was reported that Breeland failed a physical, which means he won't be signing with the Panthers, per Panthers reporter Bill Voth.


If this sounds familiar, it's because it is familiar.

Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant intended on signing a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens. But a failed physical just a day before his introductory press conference meant a voided contract and back to the drawing board.

According to multiple reports, Breeland's failed physical was due to a recent non-football injury. Breeland and the Panthers could still come to an agreement, but the former Clemson star is now back to being a free agent and will have to pass a physical before officially signing with a new team.

According to ESPN's David Newton, Breeland injured his foot on vacation in the Dominican Republic and will need his skin grafted in order to repair the injury.

The Redskins were one of the NFL's most injured teams in 2017, and that trend appears to have extended to the offseason.


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With Zach Brown back, a look at the Redskins' inside linebackers depth chart

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With Zach Brown back, a look at the Redskins' inside linebackers depth chart

The Redskins went into the offseason with their inside linebacker position very much up in the air. Starters Zach Brown and Mason Foster and top backup Will Compton were all heading into unrestricted free agency. They faced the prospect of needing to start all over.

Things started to look better in late January when Foster re-signed, agreeing to a two-year deal. “I had unfinished business here,” Foster said at the time.

As long as Brown remained unsigned, the Redskins also had unfinished business. They got it done yesterday as Brown inked what is reported to be a three-year deal worth $24 million. We will need to see some details to know just what the contract entails but it looks like a fair deal for both sides.


Compton remains unsigned. With Brown and Foster back he will not be in line for a starting job. We will see how things shake out for him.

Looking at the players under contract, the Redskins have Zach Vigil, who played well as a starter late in the season after injuries struck, Martrell Spaight, and Josh Harvey-Clemons.  

Vigil was released on the final roster cut and returned on November 15 after Compton went to injured reserve. He had 55 total tackles in seven games. If you project that out over a 16-game season that’s 126 tackles, which would have placed him in the top 10 in the NFL. He also plays special teams well. Vigil went from expendable last September to a very valued reserve at this point in time.

Spaight has been a spot starter when starters have been injured. This will be an important year for him as he goes into the final year of the contract he signed after the Redskins made him a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft.


The Redskins might have been happier if Harvey-Clemons, a 2017 seventh-round pick, didn’t have to play all last year but injuries forced him into a regular role. He was converting from college safety to NFL nickel linebacker and was very much considered to be a project. Harvey-Clemons still needs to add some weight and he has a lot to learn. Still, even if injuries don’t hit this year he should play considerably more than the 93 snaps he logged as a rookie.

The Redskins usually carry nine total linebackers, going with either five inside and four outside or vice versa. So they could be set or perhaps they will bring back Compton or sign another veteran to compete with Spaight for the last roster spot.  

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.