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Redskins' special teams ranking takes a leap


Redskins' special teams ranking takes a leap

As the Redskins’ improvement from their 4-12 record in 2014 to 9-7 and the NFC East title this past season gets analyzed and broken down, the focus is on the progress at the quarterback position with Kirk Cousins and a defense that produced 27 takeaways and got better at getting off the field on third downs.

The one improvement that is not talked about much is in the third phase of the game, special teams. Every year, respected Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin goes through the numbers and does a composite ranking of special teams. He looks at the team rankings in 22 kicking-related categories and then assigns point values based on that, with the top-ranked team getting one point and the worst getting 32. He adds up the points and the ones with the lowest totals are the best teams.

In 2013 the Redskins were dead last in Gosslien’s ranking—really dead last. The Bills were 31st with 463.5 points. Washington was a mile behind with 559.5. In this ranking they were about 20 percent worse than the second-worst team in the league.

They improved somewhat in 2014 under new special teams coach Ben Kotwica. They had 444 points but they still ranked 30th.

In 2015, the Redskins took a leap up into the middle of the pack. Gosslien’s system assigned them 350.5 points, putting them 13th in the big picture.

The Redskins were ranked first in just one category, special teams points scored. The scored 20 points with three touchdowns (Rashad Ross on a blocked punt recovery, Ross on a kickoff return, Andre Roberts on a kickoff return) and a safety when the tackled the punter in the end zone at the very end of the Panthers game. Washington scored no points on special teams from 2011-2014.

One other area of great improvement was in kickoffs. In 2014 Kai Forbath sent 18 of his kickoffs for touchbacks (31st in NFL) and was 31st in net kickoff average. After Week 1 this year Dustin Hopkins replaced Forbath and booted 52 touchbacks (T-7th) and was eighth in league in net kickoff average.

The Redskins still have plenty of work to do. For one, they averaged just 4.8 yards per punt return, 31st in the league. But Kotwica certainly deserves some credit for helping to turn the special teams around and getting this headed in the right direction and the special teams as a whole needs to be acknowledged for playing a role in the team’s improved record.

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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.