On the same day the NFL distributed a memo informing teamsthat replacement referees will work games in Week 1, a source with knowledge ofthe locked-out officials thinking said the union remains strong.The sides have not had a formal bargaining session sincelate July, according to the source, and none are currently scheduled.Wednesdays memo is another one of their tactics to try andbreak the union, the source said. When a deal was not reached last week, thesource added, the NFL Referees Associations 120 members realized the league hadno intention of using them in the opening week of the regular season, which kicksoff next Wednesday when the Cowboys visit the Giants.Replacement referees, many of whom are from second-tiercollege conferences, have officiated the preseason occasionally withembarrassing results.One of the latest slipups came Wednesday night at FedExField. After a lengthy review to determine the correct spot of the ball, thereferee returned to the review monitor for a second time, saying over the P.A.system, Were going to look at it one more time to groans and boos from the spectators.In the Redskins preseason opener in Buffalo, there also werea number of miscues, including a botched touchback ruling on a punt.Theyve been put in an unfair position, the source said.They are not professional officials and it shows. It takes three or four yearsto get comfortable officiating the game at this level. The replacements havehad one preseason as on the job training.The NFLRAs members were locked out in early June when thesides reached a stalemate on salary, pension and other issues. Another stickingpoint was the NFLs desire to add three seven-member officiating crews to therotation.They want to add officials but not add any money to thepot," added the source, who also pointed out that officials are now being asked to do more, such as identifying potentially concussed players.Despite being locked out, the referees have continued towork out, review film and conduct a weekly conference call, led by veteranreferee Ed Hochuli, to discuss rules and other matters, the source said.But with six days remaining before the season opener in NewYork, theres no end to the lockout in sight.There could be a happy medium if the NFL comes to thetable, the source said. The league wants to divide the union and its notgoing to be divided.
Those who doubted the wisdom of the Redskins drafting a guard with the fifth overall pick in 2015 (yes, I was one of them) should be preparing to eat their words.
On draft day and during the two and a half years since then, there has been plenty of talk that the Redskins would regret taking Brandon Scherff, who played tackle in college but seemed destined to play guard in the NFL, so early. Not that anyone thought that Scherff would be a bad NFL player but given that they left DL Leonard Williams and edge rusher Vic Beasley on the board, he needed to develop into an All-Pro caliber guard to justify such a high pick.
Well, don’t look now but Scherff is making his way towards becoming one of the best guards in the game. Not just Pro Bowl good; he checked that box last year. Scherff could become the first Redskins position player to be named a first-team All-Pro since Darrell Green and Jim Lachey earned the honors in 1991.
MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS 26, 49ERS 24
Asked about Scherff’s play this year, Jay Gruden was effusive in his praise.
He’s reacting. He’s anticipating. He’s pulling. He’s pass-blocking. He’s run-blocking. He’s double teaming. He’s doing everything you want him to do out in screens, out in space. He’s the best guard out in space by far in this league. It’s fun to watch him.
You can listen to Gruden’s full comments on Scherff in the video above.
Gruden is not exactly an unbiased observer. But other, more neutral analysts also have been heaping praise on Scherff.
An article on Pro Football Focus said that Scherff had an “elite” game against the 49ers, not allowing any pass rush pressures and dominating as a run blocker.
Two other analysts clipped some plays from the 49ers game to illustrate just how well he was playing.
This one from Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network shows one play, the 49-yard screen pass to Chris Thompson on which Scherff threw a key block.
I’m not sure what the scouting credentials Brandon Thorn has but he did put together a nice collection of clips of Scherff making quality blocks both in space and in the interior vs. the 49ers.
Will Scherff earn All-Pro honors? That could depend on how well the team does. While the All-Pro teams are supposed to be individual honors, it’s tough for an offensive lineman to get many votes if he’s not on a winning team, especially on like Scherff who would be trying to break into the club for the first time.
But the Redskins are not really worried about All-Pro votes. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing and he gets no such consideration it will be fine with them.
Here is what you need to know on this Friday, October 20, three days before the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles for Monday night football.
Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences, open locker room, after practice approx. 3 p.m.
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 9
—Redskins @ Seahawks (11/5) 16
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 34
Injuries of note:
Not practicing: OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Ty Nsekhe (core muscle)
Limited: CB Josh Norman (rib), CB Bashaud Breeland (knee), S Deshazor Everett (hamstring), RB Rob Kelley (ankle), OLB Ryan Anderson (back), S Stefan McClure (knee). OL Tyler Catalina (concussion protocol).
It was encouraging that Breeland and Norman practiced although Jay Gruden noted that they both took place only in individual drills. See the full injury report here.
First look at Redskins vs Eagles
Number that pops out—LeGarrette Blount, who had a career average of 4.4 yards per carry coming into the year, is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, fourth in the NFL. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be a lumbering power back. The key to stopping him is the same as it always has been, getting the north-south runner to go east-west. The Redskins did a solid job against him in Week 1, limiting him to a 3.3-yard average on his 14 carries.
The clutch gene? Carson Wentz is the MVP favorite right now and the thing is that his stats are very good but not very impressive. He ranks 10th in net yards per attempt, 25th in completion percentage, eighth in yards per game, and seventh in passer rating. But he gets it done when it counts. Seven of his 16 touchdown passes have come on third down. His passer rating of 130 on third down is 10 points better than the second-best in that category, a guy named Tom Brady. As a result, the Eagles get first downs on 53 percent of their third-down passes, also best in the league.
Third down passing the key—The Redskins allow conversions on 35.7 percent of third-down passes, 16th in the NFL. If this game ends up with third downs near the Redskins’ season performance they will be in good shape. If the Eagles convert half of their third downs or more, the visitors will be in trouble.
Protecting Kirk Cousins—The Eagles have 14 sacks on the year. They got four against the Redskins in the season opener so they have 10 in their five games since. Their leading sacker is Brandon Graham, who has four on the season. Two of those came in the opener so he has two in the other five games. He will again be lined up against Morgan Moses, who had one of his worst games since becoming a starter against Philly. If Moses plays as well as he has since Week 1 Cousins could have time to have one of his usual big games against the Eagles.
Yes, Ertz is a pain— This is kind of hard to believe but Zach Ertz, who has been in the league since 2013, is third all-time in tight end receptions against the Redskins with 54. He’s behind only Jason Witten and Jackie Smith and ahead of Jeremy Shockey, Mark Bavaro, and Jay Novaeck. Ertz has played nine games against Washington; Witten has played 28 and Smith played 27. So if it seems like Ertz is always a thorn in the Redskins’ side, it’s because he is.
Potpourri: Wentz is the Eagles’ second-leading rusher with 133 yards on 32 carries . . . The Eagles have the third-best special teams DVOA in the league. On punt returns, they are averaging 16 yards per and giving up an average of 5.6 yards. That’s a lot of hidden field position.
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From the locker room
Josh Norman talking about how it felt when he put some stress on his broken rib during practice on Thursday.Posted by Rich Tandler on Thursday, October 19, 2017
In case you missed it
- Maybe the D isn't as banged up as we thought
- What will the Redskins do after Allen's injury?
- Redskins practice from the sideline
- Francis added to roster ahead of MNF vs. Eagles
- Four things we learned about Kirk Cousins