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Redskins rewind: A look back at Friday's preview


Redskins rewind: A look back at Friday's preview

Three days ago, I listed five storylines to follow during Sunday’s showdown against the Steelers in my preview on Now it’s time to examine how those keys to the game played out at Heinz Field, where the Redskins suffered an ugly 27-12 loss.

1—Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Redskins’ pass defense. As we mentioned, Roethlisberger recently described the Steelers’ air attack under new coordinator Todd Haley as “dink and dunk.” And true to form, Big Ben and his talented crew of receivers picked apart the Redskins with short and intermediate passes. 

In fact, of the Steelers’ first 17 plays, 10 were short passes by Roethlisberger, including a one-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Pope. Roethlisberger used five different receivers on those first two drives, which resulted in a 10-0 lead the home team would not relinquish.

Roethlisberger finished the game with a 72.7 completion percentage and three touchdowns of 1, 7 and 1 yards, respectively.

2—London Fletcher’s status. It was clear from pre-game warmups that he intended to suit up and extend his streak of consecutive games to 232, the longest among active players.

Fetcher missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with hamstring and balance issues. On Sunday, he and Ryan Kerrigan were the only defensive players to take every snap (61). Although the 37-year-old linebacker was not at his sharpest, he finished with six combined tackles, including a big hit on Chris Rainey on a screen pass that resulted in a five-yard loss in the third quarter.

Fletcher acknowledged that he played through some discomfort, but declined to put a percentage on his health, saying, “I was well enough to play.”

Shanahan, meantime, said Sunday he would not grade Fletcher’s performance until he had an opportunity to watch the film.

3—When will all the injuries become too much to overcome? That time might be approaching, if it hasn’t already arrived for a team saddled with an $18 million salary cap penalty.

On Sunday, the Redskins were missing tackle Jammal Brown, linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Adam Carriker, wide receiver Pierre Garçon, tight end Fred Davis as well as safeties Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson – all of whom had been penciled in as starters or major contributors during the offseason.

Overall depth is better than it’s been in recent seasons. Everything, though, has its limits. Consider: Much of the blame for the loss was laid at the feet – er, hands – of the Redskins’ receivers, who dropped 10 passes according to Coach Mike Shanahan’s subjective count.

Of course, there’s no way to know if having the team’s No. 1 and 2 passing options on the field instead of the sideline would have helped. But you can’t convince me that Garçon would have dropped the ball that Leonard Hankerson did, or that Davis wouldn't have made a difference.

Shanahan is usually very measured in his postgame remarks but he did not mince words when asked about the drops, issuing this stern warning to his receivers, “I don’t care where the placement is. As long as it hits your hand, you better catch it or else you won’t be in the National Football League for very long."

4—Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris vs. the Steelers’ run defense.

The Redskins entered the game averaging a league-leading 177.7 yards per game on the ground. Against the Steelers, they amassed a season-low 86 yards. The lowest previous output was 129 against the Falcons.

The Redskins’ 21 rushing attempts tied for a season low (Falcons). Against the Giants, they attempted 38 runs.

Alfred Morris’s 13 carries, meantime, were a career-low for the standout rookie.

5—Chris Cooley’s first game in 53 weeks. Cooley didn’t expect to get much action and, indeed, it was limited. The tight end played 19 snaps – 37 fewer than Logan Paulsen.

It will be interesting to see if their roles change in the coming weeks as Cooley works his way back into football shape after sitting out the season's first seven games.

“It was a pretty emotional day for me,” he said. “It felt great to get the start. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me.”

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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.