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Third down conversions vital in Redskins' win


Third down conversions vital in Redskins' win

As the Redskins were in the process of losing two of three coming into Sunday’s game in Chicago, one issue on offense stood out. They had all of a sudden lost their touch on third down.

In the first nine games of the season they converted 56 of 125 third downs, a success rate of 44.8 percent. But in the three games that followed they converted 12 of 40 chances, a rate of 30 percent. That makes it tough to sustain drives and for a team with only occasional big-play pop that is a problem.

But yesterday they got it back in gear on third down. The Redskins were successful on seven of 12 third down attempts, a solid 58.3 percent rate.

The conversions helped them get off to a good start. They were two for two in their game-opening 15-play touchdown drive, with Kirk Cousins passing to Rashad Ross for 17 yards on third and 12 and Alfred Morris finding five yards up the middle on third and three.

The two most important conversions came in the second half. After the Bears had cut the Redskins’ 14-0 lead down to 14-7, Washington drove to a third and goal at the five. Cousins stood patiently in the pocket while Reed worked himself open over the middle. The quarterback fired the pass and Reed made the catch to put the Redskins up 21-7. The touchdown gave them some margin for error and they would need it.

Then with just over four minutes to play the Redskins led 24-21 and were trying to run out the clock. Facing third and six, Cousins scrambled to his right and threw to Reed across the field. Reed batted the ball but couldn’t make the catch. But Matt Jones saved the day with a heads-up play as he caught the ball after bobbling it. The play allowed the Redskins to burn off two more minutes of clock before punting to the Bears.

For the day Cousins was five of six on third down with four of the completions going for first downs. He picked up another conversion on a two-yard sneak. Cousins did take two sacks on third down.

In addition to his deflected reception, Jones converted two other third downs, those coming on the ground. The first one came early in the third quarter when went of left guard and fought for two yards to convert a third and two. That kept alive the drive that ended with Cousins’ touchdown to Reed.

The Redskins may not have needed Jones’ last conversion, a tough eight-yard run on third and seven with 47 seconds left to play. They may have been able to run out the clock without a fourth-down snap even if he had not made it as the Bears had burned all of their timeouts. But it was a good way to cap the win. 

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins playoff scenarios—Resting the starters in Dallas?

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 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 underrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/29/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.  

Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.

Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.

Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.

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) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199

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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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