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Tuesday Take—The Drive

Tuesday Take—The Drive

Make no mistake about it, the Washington Redskins' 26-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys was no fluke.

The better team won.

Not the better collection of talent. Jerry Jones has pieced together an excellent mosaic of individual talent. They are big and fast on defense, quick and sharp on offense.

The Redskins aren't as impressive under the stop watch or doing the bench press. They sent three players to the Pro Bowl, 10 fewer than did Dallas, and one of them was their long snapper.

But in the fourth quarter of a six-point game, the Redskins got it done and the Cowboys didn't. The Skins came together as a team while Dallas was focused on one tile in its mosaic.

Dallas took possession with 10:48 after the Redskins had taken that six-point lead. Washington had turned Chris Horton's interception of Tony Romo into a field goal. Romo, of course, is one of the NFL's glamour boys while Horton is a rookie seventh-round pick. But the rook jumped the route and picked off the Pro Bowler.

So the Redskins go back on defense with some of their backs sidelined with cramps and other muscle ailments. The Cowboys go three and out with all three plays being passes going to a tightly covered individual, one Terrell Owens.

Were the three attempts to TO an response to "give me the ball" complaints on the sideline, an effort to prevent a blowup by #81?

As far as I know, nobody asked those questions.

In any case, the Redskins took over at their own 34 after a punt. What followed hasn't been talked about much, but if this turns out to be a special season for the Washington Redskins the 12-play, 6:54 drive that followed will be one of those moments to remember.

Back in the prime of The Hogs, game-clinching drives like this one were accomplished primarily through brute strength with the offensive line blasting back a tired defensive front and a big back slamming in behind them.

This drive was achieved by using a combination of brains and brawn.

Watching it again and breaking it down, I noted that on a few occasions Dallas was in a pass-defense alignment, with only five in the box, when it seemed apparent that the Redskins were in a running frame of mind. This was a result of Jim Zorn's play calling in late-game situations over the last two weeks when he has shown a willingness to pass in run-out-the-clock scenarios.

1-10-WAS 34 (10:16) 26-C.Portis left guard to WAS 37 for 3 yards (94-D.Ware).

Dallas has the two outside linebacker crowding the line with an inside linebacker five yards off the line.

2-7-WAS 37 (9:38) 26-C.Portis up the middle to WAS 48 for 11 yards (25-P.Watkins).

The two outside backers are again at the line with the two inside LB's within five yards. The safeties both are fairly shallow, about 11 yards downfield. The offensive line gets about three yards of push and Sellers clears the way for Portis to break for the last five yards.

1-10-WAS 48 (8:58) 26-C.Portis right end to DAL 39 for 13 yards (55-Z.Thomas).

Every Dallas defender except one safety is within five yards of the line. There isn't as much surge by the line this time but a large hole opens between Jansen and Thomas. Portis shakes off an attempted tackle by Bradie James (who was expending an awful lot of energy preening and celebrating earlier in the game) and breaks loose for five more.

1-10-DAL 39 (8:18) 17-J.Campbell pass short right to 47-C.Cooley pushed ob at DAL 33 for 6 yards (98-G.Ellis). Pass complete off play-action and roll right.

Only six in the box this time, a pass defense alignment. Cooley sets up as if to block for a moment and Greg Ellis and a safety are fooled. Cooley slides into the flat and catches Campbell's throw off of the bootleg.

2-4-DAL 33 (7:43) 46-L.Betts left tackle to DAL 31 for 2 yards (94-D.Ware; 55-Z.Thomas). Timeout #1 by WAS at 06:58.

Three linebackers crowd the line and the line gets no push.

3-2-DAL 31 (6:58) (Shotgun) 26-C.Portis up the middle to DAL 31 for no gain (94-D.Ware). PENALTY on DAL, Defensive 12 On-field, 5 yards, enforced at DAL 31 - No Play.

All 12 defenders are within five yards of the line with nine of them on the line. I'm not sure how Wade Phillips could be paying attention and not see the mistake. As you know, it wasn't one of these situations where a player is caught running off the field at the snap. They were all right there, seven crowding the middle, two corners in press coverage and a linebacker and a safety—apparently the extra defender—five yards back.

1-10-DAL 26 (6:32) 26-C.Portis right end to DAL 25 for 1 yard (96-M.Spears).

Dallas has six in the box. The Redskins get no push and Marcus Spears gets penetration and trips up Portis before he got going.

2-9-DAL 25 (5:52) 46-L.Betts left tackle to DAL 18 for 7 yards (72-S.Bowen).

This is where it looks like the fact that Zorn has shown that he's willing to call a pass in what normally would be a running situation pays off. The safeties are 10 yards downfield, the corners are playing seven yards back from Moss and Randle El, and Zack Thomas is six yards downfield. So in a situation where the other team is pounding the ball down your throat and is in an I formation with a tight end, the Dallas D is lined up just like it would be in the second quarter of a 7-7 game. The offensive line gets a nice surge and Betts follows the pile for seven yards.

3-2-DAL 18 (5:07) 46-L.Betts right guard to DAL 16 for 2 yards (99-C.Canty; 96-M.Spears).

The entire Dallas defense is within eight yards of the line this time. Betts disappears into the pile at the line of scrimmage and finds enough daylight in between three Dallas defenders to get just enough for the first down.

1-10-DAL 16 (4:22) 46-L.Betts left guard to DAL 16 for no gain (96-M.Spears).

The defense is bunched at the line, Betts has no chance.

2-10-DAL 16 (3:37) 26-C.Portis right guard to DAL 12 for 4 yards (55-Z.Thomas). Timeout #2 by DAL at 03:30.

Again, the Cowboys are playing loose. Only six defenders are within five yards of the line.

3-6-DAL 12 (3:30) 26-C.Portis up the middle to DAL 11 for 1 yard (97-J.Hatcher). Timeout #3 by DAL at 03:26.

Zorn got the defense spread out by lining up with four wide receivers, but the line couldn't get any push despite a 5-4 man advantage. The run up the middle kept the ball in the center of the field for Suisham's clincher.

4-5-DAL 11 (3:26) (Field Goal formation) 6-S.Suisham 29 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-67-E.Albright, Holder-14-D.Brooks.

WAS 26    DAL 17    Plays: 12    Possession: 6:54

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

There's still time to vote on this one:

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Who will be the Redskins' core offensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core offensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. The offense is up today, the defense later this week.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory. If you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.   

Offense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Brandon Scherff (29), Morgan Moses (30)
Changes from last prediction: Moses added, removed Trent Williams (33), Jordan Reed (31)

Scherff and Moses both are two young players who should get better with more experience. The right side of the line will be in good hands assuming the Redskins will be able to re-sign Scherff, who will be a free agent following the 2019 season.

MORE REDSKINS: WHAT CAN THE REDSKINS LEARN FROM THE PLAYOFFS?

Williams will be 33 in 2021. He can play at a very high level at that age but I think he will be just below the perennial Pro Bowl status he enjoys now. Although I think that the Redskins can still get some good play out of Reed in the next couple of years, it’s hard to imagine him staying productive into his 30’s. He is under contract through 2021 but it’s hard to see him playing in Washington past 2020.

Solid starters: Jamison Crowder (28), Josh Doctson (27), Chris Thompson (30), Williams
Changes: Doctson, Thompson, Williams added, Kirk Cousins (33), Terrelle Pryor (32), Moses removed.

I’m probably higher on Doctson than most. I don’t see him attaining All-Pro status or catching 100 passes in a season but his physical talent is so good that he will be a solid, productive receiver for the next several years. The Redskins will need to find a third receiver but they will have two good ones in Crowder and Doctson.

Third-down back isn’t technically a starting position but Thompson should still be contributing as much to the offense as many starters.

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I think that Cousins will be a solid starter somewhere in 2021 but it is not looking like it will be in Washington. Pryor obviously did not work out and he is very likely to be playing elsewhere next year.

Potential starters: Spencer Long (30), Rob Kelley (28), Samaje Perine (25), Chase Roullier (28)
Changes: Added Roullier, moved Doctson up

Long could be a fixture on the O-line in 2021 or he could be signed by a different team in March. I don’t think that Kelley or Perine will be workhorse backs but either or both could be a part of a tandem. Roullier could move up to the “solid starters” category if he can repeat what he did in a small sample size (7 starts) in 2017.

There are other players who could end up on these lists a year from now. But we haven’t seen enough of 2017 draft picks TE Jeremy Sprinkle or WR Robert Davis to offer an intelligent assessment of where their careers are headed. It’s the same with undrafted linemen Tyler Catalina and Kyle Kalis. They might not make the team in 2018 or they could be competing for starting jobs in 2019.

There also are reserves like Ryan Grant (30) and Ty Nsekhe (35) who still could be on the roster but who would only be spot starters.

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.