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Why Redskins game was over before it really got started

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Why Redskins game was over before it really got started

FOXBOROUGH, MA—We always hear talk that a football games lasts for four quarters and that every play is important. Today’s game between the Redskins and Patriots, however, really last just one quarter. It was essentially over after 15 minutes of play.

The Patriots took the opening kickoff and reeled off an 84-yard, 13-play drive that culminated in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman. They did have to convert a fourth down to keep the drive going but other than that it was smooth sailing with just one third down conversion needed. The drive was a good mix of running and passing and Tom Brady, as he so frequently does, made it look easy.

The Redskins didn’t get a chance to respond immediately. Bill Belichick called for a surprise onside kick and the Patriots recovered. Gruden seemed frustrated by the play, saying that it did not catch them by surprise.

“No, [wide receiver] Ryan Grant was right there, it just hit him in the thigh. I don’t what else he can do. He’s just got to recover it. Ball bouncing weird. That’s why they call it pigskin I guess, but Ryan would normally… He was in position, it wasn’t like it surprised him or anything like that he just didn’t recover it.”

So instead of the Redskins having a short field, the Patriots stole an extra possession. They eventually cashed in but not until an exchange of turnovers. First, Redskins cornerback Will Blackmon stripped the ball away from wide receiver Julian Edelman and recovered the ball at the Redskins 26. It was a sudden change and they wanted to take advantage.

MORE REDSKINS: 5 THINGS WE LEARNED IN WASHINGTON'S LOSS TO NEW ENGLAND

The first play was Kirk Cousins pass to Pierre Garçon that was designed to tear off a big chunk of yardage. The ball popped out of Garçon’s hands, bounced into the air, and was hauled in by cornerback Logan Ryan.

It was the first of at least half a dozen drops on the day for the Redskins. You don’t have to read between the lines to figure out that the drops frustrated Gruden.

“Yeah, I mean it’s maddening,” he said. “I can’t explain it. I don’t know why. We had guys that dropped balls that don’t drop balls very often. And I’ll throw it to them again and again and again, and I won’t expect them to drop ever again. It was just one of those days. I don’t know what happened.”

What happened was that after the Garçon drop the Patriots moved in for another touchdown. They got the ball and finished two yards back from where Edelman had fumbled. Six plays later, LaGarrette Blount powered into the end zone from five yards out to make it 14-0.

At that point, with 4:30 left in the first quarter, the Patriots had run 24 plays to just one for the Redskins, had 130 yards of offense to none for the Redskins, had a takeaway and an onside kick recovery, and that 14-0 lead. Even though the Redskins overcame a 24-0 deficit in their last game, the Patriots are at a much higher level than the Bucs are and there wasn’t going to be a comeback on this day.

It’s ridiculous to say a game was over in the first quarter. But this one was.

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 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 Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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