Redskins

Bucs improve, but still far short of playoffs

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Bucs improve, but still far short of playoffs

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Josh Freeman became Tampa Bay's first 4,000-yard passer and also threw for more touchdowns in a season than any player in franchise history, yet the NFL playoffs will begin without the Buccaneers for the fifth straight year.

Sunday's 22-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons stopped a five-game losing streak and enabled the Bucs (7-9) to finish with three more wins than they did a year ago, when a season-ending 10-game skid led to the dismissal of former coach Raheem Morris and the hiring of Greg Schiano.

``Ending the season like this and not making the playoffs, it's unacceptable and it's not where we want to be,'' said Freeman, who threw for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns en route to also becoming the team's all-time leader in TD passes with 78.

``Obviously, it's what you play for. If you end the year without winning the Super Bowl, your season can't be considered a success,'' the fourth-year pro added. ``But certainly I'm optimistic. We've got a lot of pieces and a number of guys we'll get back on the team this offseason. Looking forward, I'm really excited.''

In addition to Freeman's record-setting season, Tampa Bay had a 1,400-yard rusher in rookie Doug Martin and a 1,400-yard receiver in Vincent Jackson. One of Freeman's other playmakers, Mike Williams, finished four yards shy of giving the Bucs their first pair of 1,000-yard receivers.

Still, Schiano enters an offseason in which one of the major priorities will be improving a porous pass defense and answering questions about whether Freeman, who has one year remaining on the contract he signed as a rookie, is the club's quarterback of the future.

Another unknown is the status of 16-year veteran Ronde Barber, who made the transition from cornerback to safety this season. The 37-year-old is one of 10 Buccaneers who will be free agents and has not indicated whether he would like to return in 2013.

For his part, Schiano said Monday that he's going to evaluate every aspect of the team in coming weeks, including Freeman, whose inconsistency contributed to the late slide that knocked the Bucs out of playoff contention.

``What I can say is, a 4,000-yard passer, touchdown record, there are a lot things that you say, `Wow.' Are there things that frustrate you? Yeah. There are things that frustrate him, too,'' Schiano said.

``But I'm not ducking the question, because quite frankly, I like Josh Freeman. But I don't want to get ahead of my skis here and really evaluate every single thing about what's best for this organization,'' the coach added. ``Do I think Josh Freeman is going to win Super Bowl's in this league? I do. I hope that happens here. But at the end of the day, I have to evaluate everything before I can say, `That's what we're doing.'''

Schiano said one thing he'd like to do before training camp next summer is increase competition for jobs at every position, including quarterback. Backup Dan Orlovsky appeared in one game this season, throwing seven passes in the fourth quarter of a 41-0 loss to New Orleans.

The coach met with the team collectively on Monday and said he planned to meet with Freeman individually.

``It was an up and down year, but ... there's a lot of positives, though. Certainly when the expectations level is what we make it and then you don't reach that, there is also disappointment,'' Schiano said. ``Josh is probably his own toughest critic. So I don't know if anything I'm going to tell him is going to shock him.''

The Bucs set club record for points (389), touchdowns (44) and yards gained (5,820). They also led the NFL in rushing defense, allowing a franchise-low 82.5 yards per game.

General manager Mark Dominik said he feels the team is headed in the right direction, despite fading after a 6-4 start. The Bucs last earned a playoff berth in 2007, and haven't won a postseason game since winning the Super Bowl 10 years ago.

Schiano, who left Rutgers to take over the Bucs last January, thinks there's been progress in changing the culture of the organization.

``Pro football is a little more difficult to do that because you constantly have turnover. You're bringing guys in from other places in the middle of the season, so what you need to do is make your culture so strong that anybody that comes in from the outside, whether it be a rookie, a free agent, in-season signing, that they just get swept up in the way things are done,'' he said.

``We're not there yet, we're getting closer.''

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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