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Redskins defense shows life in second preseason game

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Redskins defense shows life in second preseason game

BY JEFF SLADE  

It was a night of ups and downs on a rainy Thursday in the Redskins second preseason contest against the Lions. 

Most of the focus will center on the injury to starting quarterback Robert Girffin III, and the questionable offensive line play that led to that injury. Some focus will also be turned to the play of the backup quarterbacks, and the strong rushing attack that propelled the team to a 21-17 victory. 

There’s also another side to the story, however, as the Redskins defense showed some signs of being a productive unit for the coming season. The defense was highlighted by a strong front seven that emphasized shutting down the opposing rushing game and they did just that, limiting the Lions to three and a half yards per carry. 

“I don't know what they ended on rushing yards, but I think we did a good job of stopping the run and getting after the passer,” defensive tackle Chris Baker said.

“We’re just really attacking the line of scrimmage, knocking people back and disrupting in the backfield,” defensive end Jason Hatcher continued. “I think that plays a big load on the offensive line if you’ve got guys getting off the ball versus last year we were just kind of stepping sideways.” 

Shutting down the opposition on third down will be a major focus for the defense this year. Detroit’s five for 12 third down efficiency on Thursday showed that progress is indeed being made. 

“We made the offense have a difficult time on third down,” said defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois. “It gave a better chance for our defensive coordinator to open up the playbook.” 

Even with the strong play so far this preseason, however, there's always room for improvement. 

“I believe we can improve,” Francois said. “Stopping the run – I understand they had a little bit of yardage. They’re so many areas there’s not just one thing to pick out.” 

What’s most important to success for the defense going forward? In addition to the focus on third downs, limiting big yardage plays will be pivotal in any success or failure. 

“Keep up the communication and making sure we don't give up any big runs or big plays on defense,” Baker said. “So far we’ve been doing a good job.”  

True, but it’s only the preseason and fans won’t blink an eye until that 2-0 preseason record carries over to when it counts. There remains high hope and confidence in the locker room, though, as the defense is excited to implement the new scheme come September 13th. 

“It’s a great scheme – I’m really enjoying it,” Hatcher said. “Still yet to learn everything I can about it, so I’m excited to see where we’re at come Miami.” 

MORE REDSKINS: After a slew of hits, RG3 leaves with apparent injury

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 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 underrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/29/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.  

Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.

Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.

Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.

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) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199

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Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Miami tagged Jarvis Landry, but what does that mean for the Redskins?

Everything in the NFL feels like a powder keg, but the reality of Tuesday's opening of the franchise and transition tag period will play out as much more of a slow burn.

Few teams ever actually make moves on the opening day of the tag period, though the Dolphins bucked that conventional wisdom and used the non-exclusive franchise designation on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. 

Astute Redskins fans know the tag system all too well. Landry can now sign a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Dolphins worth more than $16 million, the average of the top-five paid receivers in the NFL.

They can also trade Landry and the compensation discussion with a non-exclusive tag begins at two first-round draft picks, though it can eventually be settled for much less. 

RELATED: BEST AND WORST OF REDSKINS' FIRST-ROUND DRAFT HISTORY

What, if anything, does Miami's move mean for the Redskins? Let's take a look:

  1. Not gonna work here - Landry never really seemed like a great fit for the Redskins as a free agent, and that was before the franchise tag. He's a really good slot WR, but Washington already has that in Jamison Crowder. Whether or not Landry actually gets a deal done with the Dolphins or gets traded, it seems highly unlikely the Redskins are his next team. 
  2. "Spirit of the tag" - Miami putting the tag on Landry so early in the process signals that the team might be trying to trade him instead of actually trying to sign him. If that's the case, and plenty of people are suggesting just that, it would seem to be in contrast with the "spirit of the tag." The idea is that a franchise or transition tag is supposed to be used as a tool by an NFL franchise to get a long-term deal done with one of their own players facing free agency. Using the tag as a mechanism to pull of a trade seems very different. Why does any of this matter for Redskins fans? As reports emerged that Washington might look to use a tag on Kirk Cousins and work to trade him, the Cousins camp has made clear they would file a grievance against that technique. Why? Because it would violate the spirit of the tag. Well, it sure looks like Miami is doing the same thing, and as of now, nobody has complained. The situations aren't identical; few resemble the Redskins long, slow, awkward dance with Cousins. But it's certainly worth monitoring. 
  3. Wide Receiver$ - The Redskins could use a veteran wideout to help their young group of Crowder and Josh Doctson. Well, with Landry getting tagged, the price tag just went up. The player that seems to make the most sense in Washington would be Jaguars wideout Allen Robinson. Coming off a knee injury in 2017, some thought Robinson could be signed on a somewhat team-friendly deal. If Landry can get franchised after a season where he didn't even get to 1,000 yards receiving, any thought of a team-friendly deal for Robinson is dead. Make no mistake, Landry and Robinson are good players, but the ever-increasing NFL salary cap will make both young receivers very well paid. 

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