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Redskins vs. Steelers Bold Predictions

Redskins vs. Steelers Bold Predictions

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

Last week, I went over some of the reasons why some fans thought that the Redskins would be able to win in Philadelphia last Sunday. There are some similar theories floating around out there this week:

  • Ben Roethlisberger is a rookie and he’s due to have a rookie-type game—While earlier I said that I wasn’t drop-dead impressed with Big Ben, this is more wishful thinking than logical analysis. In fact, one could argue that he had his rookie-type game last week when he took seven sacks, many of them not the fault of his line but of him holding on to the ball for too long, and fumbled once. His 15 for 21 passing for 138 yards looked like a rather efficient 6.6 yards per attempt, if you count in the sacks and the 54 yards lost on them the Steelers gained just 3.0 yards per pass play. Still, Roethlisberger had no interceptions and a similar performance could well be good enough to beat the Redskins.
  • This is a nothing game for the Steelers—If you’re going to lose a game, and this team isn’t going to go 15-1, the out of conference variety is the best kind to lose because it hurts you the least in the tiebreakers for home field advantage. Certainly, nobody thinks that Pittsburgh will go out and lose on purpose or anything like that, but Bill Cowher may want to pull back on the reigns a bit for this one. Again, this is wishful thinking. The Steelers will be more than ready enough to play.

All that being said, I think that the Redskins do have a chance in this one. The game matches the first- and second-ranked defenses in the NFL. That should equal a low-scoring affair and if that’s the case Washington will always be no more than one play away from being in it or even from winning it.

The question is, where will that big play come from?

  • Clinton Portis?—Although the Steelers have a tough run defense, Rudi Johnson did have some degree of success against them last week. Portis could bust one, but he’ll need more than the 17 carries he’s had each of the last two games in order to do it.
  • Patrick Ramsey?—As discussed in this space earlier this week, he’ll need Joe Gibbs to take the shackles off if he’s to make a game-winning play. I think that Gibbs will to some extent, but it’s not like Ramsey will be out there pitchin’ it around much.
  • Sean Taylor?—He has a pick in each of the past two games and last week he showed some great RAC ability. It’s only a matter of time until the gets one and takes it to the house.
  • Marcus Washington?—No doubt that it’s in Gregg Williams’ game plan to have Washington spending a lot of time in the Steeler backfield. Perhaps Washington can get the defender’s triple play and sack Roethlisberger, strip the ball away, and score a touchdown.

Out of these four, I’ll pick Taylor to make the big play, but I still don’t think it will be enough. The game will be competitive into the second half but the Steelers will hang on.

Pittsburgh 20, Washington 16

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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back
Georgia

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

redskins_helmets_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.