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'Something we really needed:' The Redskins secondary is committed to relearning the basics

'Something we really needed:' The Redskins secondary is committed to relearning the basics

After coaching in college for the past decade, Torrian Gray is now back in the NFL. But the Redskins' new secondary coach is still treating his group of defensive backs like college kids in at least one aspect.

You won't catch DeAngelo Hall rolling his eyes at the angle Gray is approaching his new gig, though. In fact, he fully supports how the assistant is going about things.

"Just seeing the players he’s helped bring up and produce and recruit, you know those guys have a good football IQ," Hall said this week during Washington's minicamp. "It’s something I feel we’ve kind of lagged a little bit in years past. We didn’t get a lot of that technique work. A lot of coaches, when they get into the league, tend to let guys kind of do it their way. They think, 'They’re professionals, let them do it their way.'

"He came in with kind of a college mentality," the veteran added. "Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good. For us, it was great."

Hall is the second DB this offseason to lament the way previous coaches instructed them. The first was Will Blackmon, who told the Washington Post in late May that he doesn't "count last year" as the year he switched to safety and that this season he's "actually learning football."

Count Jay Gruden among those who are welcoming Gray's methods, too. The Redskins' head coach backed up Hall's assertion that Gray differs from his predecessors and reiterated how necessary it is for the team's corners and safeties to focus on what's apparently been overlooked stuff. 

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"He's a fundamentally sound guy," Gruden said at a minicamp presser. "No disrespect to the coaches we had, they were more of the big-picture-type coaches and they're good coaches, but Torrian is more of a hands-on, fundamental technique guy and I think that's something we really needed to work on." 

Really? How about really? Since 2010, the Redskins have allowed opposing quarterbacks to put up the second-highest passer rating in the NFL. Only the Saints — a unit that every fantasy player in America hopes their starters will be lucky enough to face — have been worse in that span, according to CSN's Rich Tandler. 

That stat is just one example why a change in the manner the secondary is being managed, led by figures like Gray and new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, is being embraced.

Come to think of it, even some of Gray's answers in interviews are basic. The man knows how to stay on brand.

"All I want to do is give those guys information to have the best success that they can have," Gray responded matter-of-factly when asked how he'll aim to turn around the back end of the Redskins' maligned defense. "All I know is I like the talent that we got and the best thing I know how to do is just coach the guys and try to put those guys in position to have success."

Hall, who's busy rehabbing from a torn ACL, has remained a fixture on the sidelines and served as a primary witness to his immediate boss's early days on the job. So far, so good, he says.

"You see our guys competing every single play and Torian’s always reminding them, screaming at them and yelling at them, just trying to work on the basics," Hall observed. "I’m definitely, thoroughly impressed with him."

He's not just using his voice to reinforce his lessons, either. Gray admitted last week he held up a sign during a session in Ashburn that read, "Greatness is in the details," just in case it wasn't clear enough what he's all about. It remains to be seen whether his messages truly sink in, of course, but if they do, Gray's sure that they'll lead to better production. 

Really sure, actually. 

"If we're detailed," he said, "we don't have any other choice but to be great."

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The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The 2018 NFL schedule is here, but we still don't really know anything

The NFL dropped the Redskins' 2018 regular-season schedule on Thursday and everybody will predict the team’s season-long record. 

It’s a fun exercise, and something the football world enjoys doing.

Myself included. 

But don’t read much, if anything, into the schedule right now. 

Every year, some teams look mighty in the offseason only to fall apart in the regular season. 

Need an example? Many predicted the Giants to be the beasts of the NFC East in 2017, and the Eagles to finish last in the NFC East. 

What actually happened? The Giants finished 3-13 and the Eagles won the Super Bowl. 

The NFL cannot be predicted year to year. It can hardly be predicted week to week. 

Last season, two December home games against the Broncos and Cardinals looked very daunting when the schedule came out. Instead, that was a two-game win streak. 

Enjoy the schedule release. It’s a fun time to guess what will happen in 2018.

But remember, once the games start, anything can happen. 

(For the record: My prediction is 9-7.)

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Another Thanksgiving game for Redskins

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Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

Redskins release official 2018 regular-season schedule

The 2018 NFL regular-season schedule is finally here.

We’ve known who the Redskins will play in the 2018 season and where the games will be played since the regular season ended.

Now we know the when.

Here is the Redskins 2018 schedule; games are at 1:00 Eastern unless otherwise indicated.

The first thing that jumps out is the Thanksgiving game. This will be the third straight year that the Redskins have played on Thanksgiving. Two years ago they lost at Dallas and last year the got a win over the Giants at home. 

Three Thanksgiving games in a row for a team that is not the Lions or Cowboys, the two teams that traditionally host on Turkey Day, is not without precedent although it is unusual. Besides Dallas and Detroit, only two teams have played in three straight Thanksgiving games since the 1970 merger.

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 the played at Dallas on Thanksgiving.

Washington Redskins 2018 Regular-Season Schedule

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9. 4:05 PM at Arizona Cardinals
Week 2 Sunday, 9/16 vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 3 Sunday, 9/23 vs Green Bay Packers
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 Monday, 10/8. 8:15 at New Orleans Saints 
Week 6 Sunday, 10/14. vs Carolina Panthers
Week 7 Sunday, 10/21. 4:25 vs Cowboys
Week 8 Sunday, 10/28.  At New York Giants
Week 9 Sunday, 11/4. vs Atlanta Falcons 
Week 10 Sunday, 11/11. At Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Week 11 Sunday, 11/18. vs Houston Texans 
Week 12 Thursday, 11/22 (Thanksgiving).  4:30 at Dallas Cowboys 
Week 13 Monday, 12/3. 8:15 at Philadelphia Eagles 
Week 14 Sunday, 12/9. vs New York Giants 
Week 15 Sunday, 12/16. At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16 Sunday, 12/23.  At Tennessee Titans (Time TBD)
Week 17 Sunday, 12/30. vs Philadelphia Eagles

2018 REDSKINS SCHEDULE NOTES:

  • If the Redskins are going to take advantage of home cooking, they will need to get off to a good start. They have five home games in the first half of the season. After Week 9 they have just three home games and they face a stretch of four road games in five weeks in late November and December. Three of the teams in that stretch, the Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans, made the playoffs and won at least one game. The Eagles, of course, won it all. The other road game in that stretch is against the Cowboys, who finished 9-7 last year. 
     
  • The Redskins will open on the road for the first time since 2014 when they opened in Houston. This year they will have to travel west to Arizona and try to win to remove the goose egg in Jay Gruden’s 0-4 opening-game record as coach of the Redskins.
     
  • They get an early bye, in Week 4. That will be their earliest bye week since 2007 when the bye also came in Week 4. 
     
  • On the plus side, their two games in Florida come at times when hot weather is unlikely to be a factor. Their game in Tampa comes in November and the contest at Jacksonville comes in mid-December. 
     

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