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Redskins' third-down play a smash-mouth surprise


Redskins' third-down play a smash-mouth surprise

Under Jay Gruden, Redskins fans have accused the coach of being predictable in his play calling. Sometimes the criticism has been justified and often it has not. But perhaps the predictability meme turned a corner with a play call in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ win over the Rams.

Here was the situation. The Redskins were holding on to a 17-10 lead with 3:35 left to play. It was third and eight at the St. Louis 13. Last year, the Redskins faced third and eight or longer 92 times. They dropped the quarterback back to pass 85 times. Of the seven handoffs to running backs all but one were either in garbage time or in give-up situations such as third and 21. The other one came on third and 10 in a tie game just before the winning field goal against the Eagles in December.

So, it was rational for the Rams to expect a pass. But they didn’t get it. Rookie Matt Jones was the lone running back and took the handoff and headed off left tackle. The Redskins had lined up all three of their tight ends on that side and they sent left guard Shawn Lauvao pulling in that direction. Center Kory Lichtensteiger got to the second level while left tackle Trent Williams with a pancake block on end Robert Quinn.

Jones had to skirt around a little traffic in the backfield but he quickly got up a head of steam. When he was two yards from the first down line he lunged forward and crashed through a couple of defenders to pick up the first down with a yard to go.

Gruden obviously was pleased with the call and a result and he said a few factors went into the decision to run.

“ We were playing the clock and a field goal there would've given us a 10-point lead, two-possession game,” said Gruden. “We were having success running the ball, so we didn't want to risk putting the ball up in the air – interception, tipped ball, sack-fumble, something like that. We wanted to run the ball, keep them in bounds and eat another 45 seconds off the clock. Worst case scenario, we kick a field goal, go up 10 and that's two possessions and that's tough to overcome with three or four minutes to go and a couple timeouts. That was our thinking there and we had some runs that we liked and Matt Jones got a big first down on it."

Two plays later, Lauvao pulled to the left again, Jones followed him, and crashed the last couple of yards for the clinching TD.

Here’s one more note on the play. As Gruden said, the Redskins were working the clock. It was running as they lined up for the play. Kirk Cousins let the play clock run all the way down to one second before calling for the ball to be snapped. Smart football by a relatively inexperienced player.  

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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. 


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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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 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 Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200