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The Ins and the Outs--Who Made it and Why

The Ins and the Outs--Who Made it and Why

The Ins and the Outs: Who Made it and Why

There was perhaps more than the usual number of surprises as the Redskins reduced their roster to 53 players. Yesterday, we looked at the final cuts; today, here are those who made it:

Offense:

QB’s (3) – Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell
This makeup of this trio was preordained when on draft day when the Redskins took Campbell in the first round. Ramsey starts, Brunell will back up and Campbell will be the emergency quarterback.

RB’s (4) – Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Nehemiah Broughton, Rock Cartwright
There was a lot of speculation that Broughton and Cartwright were fighting for one roster spot, but it became apparent a few weeks ago that both would make it. Cartwright is on because of his special teams prowess and Broughton because the team needs a power back to pick up those pesky third and one situations that have plagued the team last year.

WR’s (5) – Santana Moss, David Patten, Taylor Jacobs, James Thrash, Antonio Brown
As he so aptly demonstrated during the Ravens game, Brown is still a project at wide receiver. In releasing Kevin Dyson, the team is taking a gamble here that Jacobs can stay healthy and productive. He should be back at practice on Monday.

TE’s/H-backs (4) – Robert Royal, Chris Cooley, Mike Sellers, Brian Kozlowski
It appeared all along as if the Redskins would keep five players here, but Manuel White Jr.’s broken leg changed the plans. White probably would have been a game-day inactive for most of the season anyway as he was having a tough time with the transition from college running back to NFL H-back. Kozlowski beat out Robert Johnson, who has more physical talent but less experience, for the last spot here.

OL (9) – Chris Samuels, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas, Jon Jansen, Ray Brown, Jim Molinaro, Cory Raymer, Lennie Freidman
Before camp started, few would have bet much on the chances of both Raymer and Freidman making the final cut; the team didn’t need two backup centers, especially two somewhat pricey veterans. Freidman, however, saved both of their jobs by making himself valuable as a backup at both guard spots and as a tight end in “heavy jumbo” package situations. Molinaro is happy that players are judged on what they have done throughout OTA’s and camp, not just on their latest performances. On Thursday, he was hapless in pass protection.

Defense

DL (9) – Renaldo Wynn, Brandon Noble, Cornelius Griffin, Phillip Daniels, Joe Savale’a, Demetric Evans, Ryan Boschetti, Nic Clemons, Cedric Killings
Oddly, Killings was probably the main beneficiary of Manuel White’s injury. It appears that the slot freed up by the team carrying only four TE/H-backs went to the defensive line. He’s made the tour of the NFL with stops in San Francisco, Cleveland, Carolina, Minnesota, the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe and a coule of stints with the Redskins. Nic Clemons played better and better as camp progressed and he makes it after two years on the practice squad.

LB’s (7) – Lavar Arrington, Marcus Washington, Warrick Holdman, Lemar Marshall, Zach Keasey, Chris Clemons, Khary Campbell
The single biggest surprise was that Keasey, an undrafted rookie out of Princeton. In the season preview here, I said that, “It would be an interesting story if a Princeton product could make a cut or two, but it’s unlikely to happen. History has shown that winning the Poe-Kazmaier Trophy as Princeton’s best on the gridiron doesn’t do much for you in the NFL.” Maybe the coveted trophy did not help, but his hard hitting and great hustle certainly did. Keasey didn’t really “beat out” Robert McCune, the team’s fifth-round draft pick who was released as McCune is a middle linebacker whereas Keasey nominally plays the outside. Even though Gregg Williams says that every LB has to learn the Mike position, this probably means that the team is counting on Holdman to move to the inside and back up Marshall once Arrington is back in the starting lineup.

CB’s (4) – Shawn Springs, Walt Harris, Carlos Rogers, Ade Jimoh
In a conversation I had with Jimoh in training camp, he stated flatly that he hoped that he contributed more the team on special teams and not on defense. Most Redskins observers agree with that statement wholeheartedly. Truth be told, most gave him no shot at making the final roster. The fact that he’s there means that a). Gibbs is dead serious about his commitment to great special teams play and b). Gregg Williams believes that he can scheme to minimize the impact of a weak nickel back, at least for a game or two. All it would take is one corner being nicked up for “Uh-Oh” Jimoh to become the team’s nickel back.

S’s (5) – Sean Taylor, Matt Bowen, Ryan Clark, Pierson Prioleau, Omar Stoutmire
Bowen (knee, chest) and Clark (knee) have been in and out of the lineup for much of the preseason so Stoutmire’s nickname should be “Allstate” as he is on the roster as insurance. If and when the coaches decide that Bowen and Clark are fully healed, Stoutmire could be let go to make room for another cornerback or receiver.

Specialists

LS (1) – Ethan Albright
He had the most job security on the team; not a single challenger or backup was brought in.

K (1) – John Hall
He dusted off the surprisingly weak challenge of Jeff Chandler early. He appears healthy and ready for a good season.

P (1) – Andy Groom
It was apparent early in camp that Groom has an NFL leg, but the thinking was that the coaches’ comfort level with incumbent veteran Tom Tupa would mean that Groom would be displaying his talents elsewhere. However, Tupa hurt his back and the door opened for the younger kicker. His stock soared as he kicked well in two preseason games, displaying both power and good direction on his kicks. It dropped as the team brought in veteran Chris Mohr, who, after one unimpressive practice got a one-game tryout after Tupa was placed on injured reserve. The decision the coaches had to make was if they wanted to sacrifice a degree of comfort when it came to holding for Hall—Mohr has been doing it for years in difficult conditions in Buffalo—for the added distance on punts that Groom would bring. They went with the leg and will trust that Groom’s hands will get the job done as the holder.

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The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

With the NFL schedule dropped last week, many fans and media types went through and predicted wins and losses for the teams they follow, just for fun. But others predict the records of teams and it’s not for laughs, it’s for very high stakes.

The betting houses in Las Vegas and offshore have established their lines for over/under in wins. They then take this a step further and go through the playoffs to establish the odds of winning the Super Bowl. 

Over the weekend, BetOnline published one of each and let’s just say that they do not like what the Redskins have done this offseason. Or, more accurately, they think that the public perception is that the Redskins will not be a very good team this year. 

Their over/under for wins is 5.5. They won seven games last year so the under would represent a decline of at least two wins. This line seems to be low. The Redskins won seven games last year with the worst injury situation in the league, per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders. They also faced one of the toughest schedules in the league in terms of opponent winning percentages. 

Yes, they did lose Kirk Cousins to free agency but they replaced him with Alex Smith, who, like Cousins, is not elite or even in the top 10 but in the category of solid, reliable quarterbacks. The QB exchange was close to a wash. But despite the fact that the chances are they will suffer fewer injuries and face a schedule that isn’t as much of a meat grinder, this over/under has the Redskins producing double-digit losses. They have managed to stay out of 10-plus loss territory for three straight years. 

There are more reasons to think that they will win at least as many games as they did last year than there are to think that they will win fewer. If I’m betting, which I’m not, I’d be tempted to hit the over on that pretty hard. 

I would keep my money in my pocket when it comes to betting on the Redskins’ chances of winning the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’re close, but I think they’re much closer than the Browns but BetOnline has Cleveland and Washington with the same odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Redskins, Browns, and Bucs are at +6600 to win it all. The Redskins odds are worse than all but six other teams. 

Again, I don’t think that the Redskins are going to win the Super Bowl. Winning a playoff game would be quite an accomplishment for them. But same could be said of the Colts, Giants, Chargers, and 49ers, but they all have considerably better odds than the Redskins. 

In fact, there may be some irrational exuberance with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo. They have the seventh-best odds at +1600. Sure, Jimmy G was very good in five meaningless games at the end of last season. Let’s see how he does with some pressure on and after defensive coaches have had a chance to study how to take away his strengths. It just goes to show you how little real analysis goes into this. 

I get a little annoyed when teams play the disrespect card, especially when they have to look too hard to find it. But if the Redskins look at this, they certainly can embrace the underdog role if they want to. What they do with it, we will find out starting September 9. 

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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/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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5 draft scenarios that make sense for the Redskins in the 1st round

5 draft scenarios that make sense for the Redskins in the 1st round

As NFL Draft Week starts in earnest, a million scenarios will get presented. Hypothetical trades, absurd reaches and nonsenical slips will get discussed, most likely to not happen. 

For the Redskins, the team could go a number of different ways, and plenty of them make sense. Let's take a look at those options.

  • Draft Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne- The Redskins had the worst run defense in the NFL in 2017, and defending the run has been a problem for Washington for some time. Vea would help, immediately, both on the front line and the linebackers making tackles. Washington could make this pick at 13 and nobody would question it. Drafting Payne would be a move for higher potential, rather than immediate performance. Vea has been the more impressive college defensive lineman, but that doesn't mean Payne couldn't be the better professional. Payne could develop pass rushing skills, becoming a valuable interior pass rush disruptor. Vea seems a longer shot to do so. 
  • Draft Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James - Neither of these players should last to 13, but because of the expected run on quarterbacks, it's entirely possible James or Fitzpatrick last until the Redskins' pick. Both players are versatile and highly capable, both could help the Redskins in 2018, and maybe more in the years following their rookie season. Position questions will get sorted out, whether it's at safety or corner or some hybrid of roles. Listen to the folks from Tallahassee or Tuscaloosa, and the word on these two secondary players is elite potential. 
  • Go linebacker - Roquan Smith seems undersized for the NFL, but he will help an NFL team. He is a high floor, low ceiling player. Tremaine Edmunds could be much more. He has outrageous measurables and is only 19 years old (see video above). Smith is an interior linebacker that will make a ton of tackles; Edmunds can rush the passer and be disruptive in pass coverage. It's entirely possible neither make it to Washington at 13, but if either do, that would mark a good option for the Redskins. 
  • Trade down - Bruce Allen made clear speaking with NBC Sports Washington in March that the organization would look for opportunities to trade down, and it would be a wise strategy. Most top draft analysts believe the value in this draft comes from the 30th to 100th best players, not necessarily the Top 30. Washington gave up its third-round pick in the trade to acquire QB Alex Smith. If an opportunity presents itself to move back in the first round and gain additional picks the team needs to give that offer strong consideration. A player like Payne might be had around the 20th pick in the first round, or there are other defensive linemen available. The Redskins also need interior offensive line help, and a number of quality candidates will likely get picked in the bottom third of the first round.
  • Catch a falling star - This plan worked great for the Redskins in 2017. Nobody expected Alabama DL Jonathan Allen to slip to the 17th pick, but sure enough, he did. All Washington had to do was wait for their pick and take easily the best player available. That could happen again. The expected early run on QBs will drive top talent down the board, and if one or two teams make surprise, reach picks, the Redskins could again win out. It seems unlikely, but if a talent like Denzel Ward or Quenton Nelson falls to 13, the Redskins should pounce. 

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