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After a tumultuous week, Redskins get a desperately needed victory

After a tumultuous week, Redskins get a desperately needed victory

FEDEX FIELD -- They needed that.

After a tumultuous week where headphones and Hollywood dominated the conversation, the Redskins needed that win over the Carolina Panthers. 

It wasn't always pretty, and late in the game it seemed to be slipping away, but Jay Gruden's team showed determination in a spot where plenty expected them to fold. 

"I don't think anybody can enjoy success all the time. You're going to face adversity and we have to meet it," Gruden said following the 23-17 win. "It was great to see our guys bounce back."

The last time Redskins fans saw the burgundy and gold, the team had just been dominated by the Saints. The secondary played bad as Drew Brees went for more than 360 yards, and gave up multiple big chunk plays for touchdowns. The Monday night meltdown in New Orleans made for an uneasy week in Ashburn, and that was before a series of media reports challenged the team and cornerback Josh Norman. 

He was a big part of the errors in New Orleans and then got into a Twitter beef with Saints WR Michael Thomas. After that, former Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall suggested Norman was too focused on his post-NFL television career to play his best football.

Whether or not the "Hollywood" criticism bugged Norman, he responded in a major way with an interception and a forced fumble against Carolina. 

"This week was a little bit different, I'm not going to lie. People came from everywhere," he said. 

After the Saints game, Norman explained that he called a team meeting to clear the air with the secondary. Blown coverages could not continue if the Redskins were to get back to winning games, and Norman wanted to change things. Maybe the meeting helped. 

"Everything we do, we do as a unit, as a group. Regardless of what the outside noise, outside of us, we got to come together," Norman said. "And we got to come together now."

That formula worked well for Norman, and for much of the game, it worked for the Redskins.

The offense played well in the first half, though again struggled to score TDs in the second half. Through five games, the Redskins have just one second-half touchdown, and that came in the blowout Saints loss. 

Newton drove the Panthers down the field for the possible game-winning TD. The former MVP had four chances to win the game, but the defense held. Newton lost for the first time in his career against Washington, bringing his all-time record to 4-1. 

But all games aren't created equal. 

Sure, the Redskins snapped a five-game losing streak to Carolina. Washington hadn't beaten the Panthers since 2006. 

Bigger than that, however, Gruden's team showed the ability to fight back from a demoralizing loss. Too many Redskins teams of the past folded under the pressure of bad losses and outward noise. 

This Redskins team didn't.

"We've been tested, and you have to respond," Redskins WR Paul Richardson said after the game.

The high-priced free agent addition from this past offseason, Richardson played well against Carolina, hauling in a first-half touchdown. He also understands the enormity of the victory.

"I think even in losing a game like we did last week, we were tested as men to bounce back, to lock in, to focus and make this game important. And we did that."

There is plenty to critique and question from the Redskins win. The second-half offensive struggles are significant, and QB Alex Smith again did not make enough plays down the field. 

The Redskins got the win though, and sometimes getting the win is enough.

Remember, they needed that.


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Four takeaways from D-line coach Sam Mills III's media session, including his take on Chase Young

Four takeaways from D-line coach Sam Mills III's media session, including his take on Chase Young

Washington Football Team defensive line coach Sam Mills III spoke to the media on Monday evening. Here are four takeaways from his session on Zoom.

1) Chase Young's intelligence has jumped out

The second overall pick didn't become the second overall pick just because of his supreme physical traits. The 21-year-old is very sharp, too, and that's what Mills III has noticed in working with him so far at training camp.

"The young man is determined," Mills III said. "When we did get to see him fly around on the grass, you can tell he's been studying. ... I'm excited about his future and I'm excited about how fast he's picking everything up."

After choosing Young back in April, Ron Rivera revealed how a 15-minute Combine conversation convinced him that Young was the right choice for the franchise, because in that chat, Young's personality and focus really came through. Sounds like Mills III is seeing those same mental qualities early on, too.

2) Be ready for a rotation

Mills III is one of the team's few position coaches who can look at his section of the depth chart and call it well-stocked. Many are already labeling it with far more complimentary terms than that. 

Thanks to that wealth of talent, Mills III is planning to feature everyone often instead of only a few all the time, which he believes will lead to better production from the group.

"A typical game, if we're playing good on defense, we should be on the field anywhere between 55 and 65 snaps," he said. "You don't want a guy to play all of those snaps, there's no need when we have able bodies to go along with him. So we can have a fresh rotation and everybody can get a piece."

That sounds fun for Washington and not fun for the QBs slated to face Washington.


3) Mills III is aware of the expectations for the D-line

Because of the presence of Young... and Ryan Kerrigan... and Montez Sweat... and Jonathan Allen... and Matt Ioannidis... and Daron Payne... and Tim Settle... there is a ton of pressure on the collective unit to create pressure and carry the defense to a much better 2020.

There's no need to tell that to Mills III, however. He's already acknowledging it himself.

"If we're going to lead our defense — which, hey, let's be honest, this room is supposed to lead this defense — if we're going to lead our defense, we're going to have to be accountable to everyone," he said.

Having a coach embrace that responsibility, instead of shy away from it or play it down, could set a really strong tone for all of his players.

4) There was more Tim Settle hype

Settle is usually the last name that gets mentioned by fans and analysts when discussing the line's outlook. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio haven't hesitated to praise the third-year pro this offseason, though, and Mills III followed them on Monday with these words.

"Tim is a talented, talented young man who's got a very bright future," he said. "He's been learning from the vets and he's been very, very active in the meetings. I can't wait to get him in here and start working with him."

With the way his bosses are talking him up, don't be surprised if Settle turns out to be something far more dangerous than the reliable depth option he currently checks in as.


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NFL announces fineable violations for 'High Risk COVID-19 conduct' including night clubs

NFL announces fineable violations for 'High Risk COVID-19 conduct' including night clubs

If the NFL is going to pull off a season during the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most important factors will be players, coaches and staff remaining diligent when it comes to how they handle themselves outside the facility. One wrong choice could lead to an outbreak in the locker room.

In order to try and keep that scenario from playing out, the league has shared a list of fineable violations related to COVID-19 conduct for the 2020 season. The activities mentioned in a memo sent to teams are considered high risk.

The updated list of offenses includes attending a nightclub, bar, house gathering or sporting event in which the player does not have protective equipment and/or is in a situation where there are more than 10 people and social distancing is not possible. As NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero noted, a church is not considered to be an area of high risk that could result in a penalty.

Should a player break one of these rules, they could be subjected to a fine of one week's salary, or they could be suspended without pay for a maximum of four weeks. Pelissero also reported that non-player employees of the team such as coaches and medical staff could be given similar punishments.


Major League Baseball is currently dealing with outbreaks on multiple teams, including a situation with the St. Louis Cardinals in which it was reported that some players had left the team hotel to go to a casino. Clearly, the NFL is trying to make sure that idea is never considered by its players. 

In the week-plus since training camp began, the league has already seen numerous positives pop up across the league, as players are being sent to the COVID-19 reserve list on the daily. At the same time, a population of the players has opted out of the season amid concerns about their health and safety. Any others considering a similar course of action will have until Thursday, August 6, to do so.


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