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Redskins' improving defense deserving of praise, not criticism

Redskins' improving defense deserving of praise, not criticism

The Redskins’ defense likely will continue to be viewed with some degree of scorn after they let a 14-0 second-quarter lead slip away against the Vikings.

They probably will stay ranked around the bottom-middle of the pack in points allowed and yards against. Some fans this week will again call for coordinator Joe Barry’s job.

But if you don’t realize that the defense deserves a ton of the credit for the Redskins’ 5-3-1 record and their position in the thick of things in the NFC wild card picture you haven’t been paying attention.


The smart observer will note that the Vikings’ touchdown just before halftime came after a Chris Thompson fumble set the Vikings up with just 33 yards to go for the touchdown. And that the Vikings didn’t score at all in the second half. And with the offense unable to get the ball in the end zone in the second half it was the defense that came up with the big plays.

Preston Smith gave the offense a short field with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter with his first career interception and ensuing 22-yard return.

Then after the Redskins were forced to settle for a field goal they snuffed out Minnesota’s last chance with two sacks of Sam Bradford. Trent Murphy got the first one and then on fourth-and-17 with the line of scrimmage at the Redskins’ 28 with 11 seconds left Smith blew through and nailed Bradford to finish it off.

“We shut them out in the second half and that’s big,” said Gruden. “And the big drive at the end of the game, to get the stop . . . Credit the defense. They did a great job hanging with us, sticking with the plan, and not getting too down on each other, making good sound tackles and did a good job.

Smith, who led all NFL rookies with eight sacks last year, had just 1.5 sacks in the first half of the season and he had no part in any takeaways. Against the Vikings he had a sack early in the game to go with the fourth-down sack and the big interception.

Gruden indicated that the coaches were growing somewhat impatient with Smith’s slow start to the season.

“We’ve been riding Preston pretty hard, quite frankly,” said Gruden. “We’ve all expected so much from Preston because he’s such a big, good-looking player. Today he answered the bell, he really did.”

A rushing defense that has been porous most of the year held Minnesota to an average of just 2.2 yards on 21 rushing attempts. Sam Bradford had a good day passing, especially when he targeted former Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs (13 receptions, 164 yards). But they were patient against Bradford, who had thrown only one interception all year. When the opportunity came for the pick, Smith grabbed it.

So now the Redskins have held their opponents to 20 points or fewer in five of their last six games. In their four wins in that span they held the other team to a total of 15 points in the second half.

If they keep doing that, nobody will care if they don’t look like a dominant D when looking at the stats.


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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


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 guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract

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Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details.

Until now.

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. The top line numbers are five years, $111 million, an average annual value of $22.2 million per year. 


Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer).

But there is another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million.

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith, but since we have no details, we’ll set those aside for now.

The cap hits on the contract are as follows:

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022.

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five.


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.