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10 Questions to training camp: How to sort out the defensive line rotation?

10 Questions to training camp: How to sort out the defensive line rotation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

On a team with few definitive strengths, the defensive line ranks as easily the best position group on the 2019 Redskins.

The team boasts two first-rounders in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. The team also just paid fourth-year pro Matt Ioannidis, giving him a contract extension to lock him up before free agency next year. After that, this year there are expectations that Tim Settle and Caleb Brantley should play expanded roles.

And in many ways, that has to happen.

Allen and Payne played too much last season, especially early. In a Week 4 win against the Packers, Payne and Allen played more than 90 percent of the Redskins' defensive snaps. In a Week 5 loss to the Saints, both players were on the field for more than 75 percent of the team's snaps.

Keep in mind, too, Payne was a rookie and Allen was in his second NFL season after only playing a handful of games as a rookie. In hindsight, the Redskins needed to deploy more of a rotation along the defensive line in 2018, and in 2019, would be crazy not to.

Payne and Allen both have Pro Bowl potential. Ioannidis has proven elite pass rush potential when he's on the field and needs to be on the field more. Then there are Settle and Brantley, two players that Redskins coaches have praised extensively this offseason.

The best defensive lines have talent and depth. The Redskins definitely have talent. Payne, Allen, and Ioannidis prove that.

The Redskins need to have depth. A fresh defensive line, or even a less beat up defensive line, can make a huge difference in the second half of the season. Jim Tomsula says the Redskins have the talent to go deep in their linemen rotation.
In 2019, the team needs to show it.

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If you never got to see Sonny Jurgensen throw the football, you must watch this video

If you never got to see Sonny Jurgensen throw the football, you must watch this video

Many younger Washington fans know Sonny Jurgensen for his wit and wisdom, shared every Sunday in the fall for decades via the Redskins radio broadcast.

For plenty of other fans, however, Jurgensen is arguably the best passer to ever wear Burgundy and Gold. Even though he played more than 40 years ago in a very different version of the NFL, Sonny still holds a number of team passing records, including most touchdowns in a season (31).

Saturday marks Jurgensen’s 85th birthday, and to celebrate, this highlight video popped up on Twitter. For the fans that never saw Sonny, this will be a lot of fun.

Jurgensen was known for incredible arm strength and touch, and that’s on display in the video. Another Redskins Hall of Famer looked pretty great too - No. 42 wide receiver Charley Taylor.

The most ridiculous throw? At the 1:30 mark when deep in the back of his own end zone, Jurgensen uncorks a throw between the goal posts (then located on the goal line) and deep down field for a TD.

It’s important for Washington fans that never got to see Jurgensen play to watch the video, as this fall, he stepped down from his role as the lead analyst during Redskins games. It’s a sad moment for the fan base, but understandable for an 85-year-old man.

Happy Birthday Sonny.

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'Just plain dirty': Trevor Matich blasts Keanu Neal after hit on Jordan Reed

'Just plain dirty': Trevor Matich blasts Keanu Neal after hit on Jordan Reed

On Thursday, the Redskins earned their first preseason victory of the season, defeating the Falcons 19-7 on the road in Atlanta.

But after the game, celebrating an exhibition win was not in the cards. Attention was turned directly to the health of Washington's star tight end.

After absorbing a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from Falcons safety Keanu Neal in the second quarter, resulting in his helmet flying off, tight end Jordan Reed was forced to exit the contest. No. 86 started feeling concussion-like symptoms at halftime, and head coach Jay Gruden confirmed after the game that Reed had entered the concussion protocol.

The tight end has a history of concussions. If diagnosed with a concussion again, this would be the seventh documented instance for Reed since he started playing college football.

On Redskins Postgame Live, saying that NBC Sports Washington's Trevor Matich was furious about Neal's hit would be an understatement.

“Just looking at that hit, I thought it was a dirty hit. It was dirty," Matich said. "The safety coming up had plenty of time to see what was going on. Reed was in the grass. Reed didn’t duck his head down, and ended up taking a helmet to his head because of a defender coming in low and didn’t expect Reed to duck."

Matich completely put the blame on Neal and emphasized that there's no place for a hit like that, especially during exhibition football when the games don't count in the standings.

"Reed didn’t duck his head. That defender came in high," he said. "That was a dirty hit. It would have been dirty in the regular season, and especially dirty in the preseason.”

The play resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. But it's fair to question whether Neal deserved a harsher punishment.

Santana Moss was asked whether he thought Neal should have been ejected for the hit, and he had no doubt in his answer.

“It should have been," Moss said. "I saw last week in a preseason game a guy had one shot to the head and he was out of there."

Inconsistent officiating has been an issue in the NFL for several years. 

As the league continues each year to alter the rules in order to make the game safer, Moss wants to see the officiating improve its consistency as well.

"That’s one thing I wanted to see, that our officials do better," Moss said. "We talk about all the rules they are changing and the way they’re going to ref these games. When you see something like that, instantly get the guy out of there. This is something that we’re not trying to tolerate. If you allow guys to do this, you’ll find guys in situations like Jordan Reed.”

The NFL continues to try and make the game safer. Many rules have been put into effect recently to eliminate hits like Neal's. Of course, defenders largely dislike these guidelines, claiming it takes away from their ability to defend receivers. Some fans may dislike the lack of contact as well. 

“It takes away some spectacular hits that fans want to see," Matich said.

But at the end of the day, the NFL is a business. 

"Ultimately, this is family entertainment in the NFL. Head trauma is not good for business," Matich said. "It’s just not. You have an expense of losing some of those fantastic hits, but you also have fewer concussions and problems."

While Neal's hit may have been deemed acceptable and regarded as a great hit a decade ago, there's no place for a hit like that in today's NFL.

"I thought that hit right there was just plain dirty," Matich said.

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