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Redskins defense bends but does not break vs. Eagles

Redskins defense bends but does not break vs. Eagles

PHILADELPHIA—It’s kind of like a quarterback being called a “game manager”. No defense likes the term “bend but don’t break”.

But that shoe fit the Redskins against the Eagles on Sunday and they will be happy to wear it as it led to a 27-22 win.

The Eagles outgained the Redskins 383 yards to 334. Rookie Carson Wentz was operating the short passing game like a veteran, completing 32 of 46 passes for 314 yards. Ryan Matthews was efficient, running for 60 yards.

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But the Eagles got the ball into the end zone against the Redskins just once. The defense had the knack for tightening up at just the right time to force the Eagles to settle for field goals.

Or for nothing.

Philadelphia’s second possession made it all the way down to the three yard line before safety Deshazor Everett, who had played only on special teams until this game, picked off a Wentz pass in the end zone. That marked the first time that the Redskins had stopped a team from scoring a touchdown after it had attained a first and goal since Week 3.

They tightened up in the second half, holding the Eagles to just a field goal (Philly’s touchdown came on an interception return for a touchdown). But it got frightening in the late going after the Redskins scored to take a 27-22 lead with just under two minutes left.

The touchdown was a great moment but the finish by the defense was more like a horror movie sequel; call it Scary Movie IV.

The defense started bend and then bend some more. They gave ground all the way to where the Eagles had a first and 10 at the Washington 14 with about 30 seconds left.

It was the fourth time this year that an opponent has had the ball in Redskins territory in the last two minutes down by more than three points but by less than a touchdown. Previously they had held on against the Ravens and Vikings but they broke and lost against the Lions.

“We have been tested in every area that should be tested in situational football,” defensive end Chris Baker said. “I think this game helped us and let us realize that no matter the situation, if we continue to stick together we can find a way to make the play and win the game.”

This was one of the happy endings. Ryan Kerrigan got a sack and strip of Wentz and Trent Murphy picked it up to secure the win.

“It helps that we’ve had a couple, that they know how to react and how to respond,” said Jay Gruden of the hair-raising finishes. “It’s just guys stepping up and making plays and not blinking. It was great. It was a great game.”

Another 14 yards for the Eagles and would not have been so great as far as Gruden is concerned. But the defense came through when it had to and they will gladly take a road division win however they can get it.

MORE: With free agency coming, Eagles fans were very nice to DeSean Jackson

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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

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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Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

It looks like the Redskins are moving on from Junior Galette.

Citing a team source, Chick Hernandez of NBC Sports Washington is reporting that the team has withdrawn its contract offer to Galette, the veteran pass rusher who finally got on the field last year after missing all of his first two seasons in Washington with injuries. He is an unrestricted free agent.

The Redskins may have a replacement for Galette lined up. They had former Bear Pernell McPhee in for a visit earlier this week and there was a report that they made him a contract offer after that. McPhee subsequently visited the Falcons facility, but he has not signed anywhere. However, there have been no reports that a deal is imminent as of this morning.


As for Galette, Hernandez mentions two possible destinations. One is the Browns, who have two key connections to Galette. Scot McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who signed Galette after he was cut by the Saints after the 2014 season is in the personnel department in Cleveland. In addition, Gregg Williams, who was the Saints’ defensive coordinator when Galette made the team as an undrafted rookie, currently has the same position with the Browns.

Another possibility is the Rams. The connections there are Joe Barry, the linebackers coach in LA who was Redskins’ defensive coordinator during Galette’s first two years with the team, and head coach Sean McVay, who was the offensive coordinator in Washington while Galette was on the other side of the ball.

Galette has said on social media lately that his first choice is to remain with the Redskins but that the money had to be “fair”. The interest in a return to Washington was mutual but evidently, the organization’s idea of fair and Galette’s differed by too great a margin to bridge the gap.  

Last year, Galette didn’t have an impressive sack total, getting three in a backup role. But he got plenty of pressure on the quarterback and that can be just as important as sacks.


Galette developed into a feared pass rusher with the Saints, getting double-digit sacks his last two seasons there. After signing him to a lucrative contract extension, the Saints abruptly released Galette due to some off-field issues. McCloughan and the Redskins signed him soon after the start of training camp in 2015 but before he could even play in a preseason game, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in practice and he was out for the year.

His much-anticipated return the following year ended before it even started. Shortly before it was time to report to training camp, he tore the other Achilles and he was on the shelf again.

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.