Redskins

Mystics trying to block out the Sun

Mystics trying to block out the Sun

The matchup: The Washington Mystics return home Tuesday night, attempting to avoid something they havent done since last season by doing something they havent done all season. Currently on a five-game losing streak, the only way for the Mystics (5-21) to not reach a season-high sixth straight loss is by defeating the Eastern Conference leading Connecticut Sun for the first time this calendar year.The two sides are meeting for the fifth and final time this regular season with the Sun looking for the series sweep for the second straight year. Connecticut has won eight straight over Washington and four straight at the Verizon Center, site of two victories this season including the narrowest contest. Despite Crystal Langhorne pacing five double digit scorers with 15 ;points and Michelle Snow notching 10 points and 11 rebounds, Washington fell 77-70 on July 10. The next day Connecticuts Olympic frontcourt duo of Asjha Jones and Tina Charles combined for 39 points and 16 rebounds in an 85-73 win. Washington, owners of the worst record in the league, hasn't lost six straight games since dropping nine in a row August 13-30, 2011. The first setback in that skid came against Connecticut.Jones 22 points stands as her season-high, but she has missed several games with an Achilles injury including Sundays 87-80 loss to Atlanta. Connecticut leads Indiana by 1.5 games. Charles (19.0 points against the Mystics) has been more than a handful, though the same can be said of the Sun dealing with Langhorne, who is averaging 17.5 points and shooting 56.4 percent (31 of 55) against Connecticut. Last time out: Leading New York 20-15 late in the first quarter, Washington surrendered the final seven points of the first quarter and then wound up on the wrong end of an 11-0 second quarter run, ultimately losing to the Liberty 79-73 on Saturday.Monique Currie led the way with 20 points and combined with Langhorne (19) and Jasmine Thomas (18) to score 57 of the Mystics 73 points. Thomas made 8 of 12 field goal attempts, but committed six of Washingtons 17 turnovers.Grasping for Griner, dreaming of Delle Donne: With eight regular season games remaining and the Mystics five games behind Chicago and New York for the final playoff spot, its not unrealistic to start pondering the future. In this case, by future we mean the WNBA Draft and more specifically, the draft lottery. Taking it even further, we mean what are the chances the Mystics land Baylors franchise-altering center Britney Griner, Delawares high-scoring forward Elena Della Donne or Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, the projected jewels of the 2013 class.The four non-playoff teams are part of the lottery process, one that NBA fans are familiar with. Last year Tulsa finished with the leagues worst record and had a 44.2 percent chance of landing the number one overall pick. At their current trajectory, the Mystics will find themselves in that position. If there is ever a year for a team to find itself in that position, its this year.Griner, the 2011-12 National Player of the Year spearheaded Baylors 40-0 campaign last season which ended with a National Championship. The 6-foot-8 interior dominator force on both ends of the court averaged 23.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.1 blocks. Della Donne, a 6-foot-5 power forward with range, led the nation in scoring with 28 points per game.As Notre Dame's point guard, the 5-foot-9 Diggins directed the Fighting Irish to last year's National Championship game, sharing the backcourt with Mystics' rookie Natalie Novosel.

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Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

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USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: What’s the outlook for the Redskins’ secondary in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 25, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Fan questions—The secondary

To be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the secondary and we’ll get into those in a bit. But the popular notion that the secondary struggled last year is not accurate.

Do you want to go standard stats? They were ninth in the league in passing yards allowed and 10th in opponent passer rating last year.

Do you prefer more advanced analytics? They were sixth in defensive passing DVOA and 11th in adjusted net yards per attempt.

That’s not a great pass defense but it was a pretty good one. It should be noted that they also benefited from a solid pass rush; they were seventh in the league in sack percentage. Still, you don’t finish in the top third of the league in pass defense without at least a competent secondary.

The question is, will it remain competent? Kendall Fuller was indeed a key player, one of the best slot corners in the league. Bashaud Breeland was inconsistent, but he did shine on occasion. But the fact that he is still available as a free agent indicates what the league thinks of him, problems passing the physical notwithstanding. Those two will have to be replaced.

It is likely that Quinton Dunbar will take Breeland’s spot on the outside. That is at worst a lateral exchange if not an improvement. Dunbar has been working for three years to get this opportunity and there is confidence among the coaches and, perhaps more importantly, the players that he is ready.

Orlando Scandrick is the probable starter at slot. He is a downgrade from Fuller, no question about it. If he is healthy—a big if—Scandrick is good enough to get the job done. Don’t let the star he wore on the side of his helmet for so many years blind you to the fact that he’s a solid player.

The depth at slot consists of second-year player Josh Holsey, who played all of nine snaps on defense last year, and rookie Greg Stroman. That’s not ideal but most of the other teams in the NFL have a similar depth chart.

The wild card who could be the difference between this secondary being better than last year or worse is Fabian Moreau. He played only 59 defensive snaps as a rookie but he did show off his speed and hard-hitting style on some of his 349 special teams snaps. During the offseason practices that were open to the media, Moreau was mostly Josh Norman’s backup at left cornerback. The feeling is that he won’t remain a reserve. We will have to see how things sort out during training camp.

There should be some improvement at safety if Montae Nicholson figures out how to stay on the field in his second year. If he struggles with injuries again and Deshazor Everett has to line up alongside D.J. Swearinger for a good chunk of the season, the safeties are no worse off because that's what happened last year. 

The bottom line is that a secondary that was good last year may take a step down in 2018 but the decline should not be steep. And if Moreau can be the player the organization thought he could be when they used a third-round pick for him, it could be just as good if not better.

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler.

Tandler on Twitter

I tweeted this in response to a discussion about the relative popularity of the NFL and NBA. Albert Breer’s tweet on the TV ratings for the leagues’ respective drafts was the nexus of the discussion.

Timeline  

Redskins cornerback Josh Holsey was born on this date in 1994.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 31
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 45
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 59

The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 76 days.

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Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

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USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.