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Five observations from the Redskins' Monday night flop in New Orleans

Five observations from the Redskins' Monday night flop in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS -- There was optimism for the Washington Redskins heading into Week 5 with a big Monday night showdown in New Orleans.

Washington did was Washington does on Monday nights and fell to the New Orleans Saints 43-19 and it wasn't even close.

Here are Rich Tandler's observations following the Redskins’ blowout loss to the Saints.

1. No contest

The Redskins weren’t flat when they came out after their bye week, but they didn’t play very smart football, either. The offense went three and out after taking the opening kickoff and then the defense committed some dumb penalties (detailed below), and before you knew it the Saints had a 26-6 lead late in the second quarter. They extended it to 40-13 by the middle of the third quarter. It just wasn’t a contest.

2. A bad day for Peterson and Smith

Alex Smith put up some late stats, but he just couldn’t get things going consistently like he did against the Packers last week. One reason for Smith’s struggles was that the Redskins didn’t develop anything remotely resembling a rushing game. Adrian Peterson had just four carries for six yards. He suffered a hyperextended knee and a combination of that and the lopsided score kept him on the bench for most of the second half.

The Saints came into the game with one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL but they sure got healthy against the Redskins tonight.

3. Dumb defensive mistakes

The Redskins’ defense couldn’t get out of its own way in the early going. The Saints nearly went three and out on their first possession, but a holding call continued the drive, which resulted in a touchdown. The next time Washington was on defense Ryan Kerrigan stopped them with a third-down sack, but a dumb personal foul on Montae Nicholson kept the drive alive. The Saints eventually got a TD following another third-down penalty, a holding call. In all, the Saints got 264 yards of offense and four touchdowns on their first four possessions.

The Saints made it six for six on touchdowns by the time the third quarter was half over. The Redskins need to go back to the drawing board and figure out what happened to a defense that was ranked in the top five in the NFL before the game.

4. Unable to cash in

The Redskins offense had some chances in the first half, but they just couldn’t cash in. A nice drive got them down to the Saints five, but instead of punching it in to take an early lead a sack forced them to try a field goal. A later foray into Saints territory stalled and resulted in another three points. They didn’t get a touchdown until the end of the first half when a Pernell McPhee fumble recovery gave them a short field. At halftime, playing against one of the weakest pass defenses in the league, Alex Smith had completed barely half of his passes (11 of 21) for 131 yards.

It didn’t get much better after halftime. Smith threw a fourth-down interception that the Saints turned into a touchdown to essentially end the competitive phase of the game. The rest of the contest was extended garage time.

5. Where to go from here?

They go back to where the schedule makers say they go, two home games starting Sunday. The Panthers come to town first and then the Cowboys. Tonight, Redskins undid a lot of the good feelings they created by winning two of their first three. They have an opportunity to rebuild those on friendly turf over the next two weeks.

In this game they ran into a buzz saw, with a combination of a wild Monday night atmosphere with the fans ready to explode when Drew Brees broke the NFL all-time NFL record for career passing yards. And Brees obliged them. Early in the fourth quarter he had as many touchdown passes as incompletions (three of each) and he was averaging 13.4 yards per pass attempt. The good news is that they won’t face another QB as good as Brees the rest of the season. The bad news for next week is that they have never beaten Cam Newton.

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Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

Cardale Jones and the DC Defenders ready to kick off an updated XFL

The reboot is almost here. 

The second edition of the XFL, the infamous football league brought to you by WWE founder Vince McMahon for a memorable, combustible one-year run in 2001, begins play in February. It is a second chance for the league and for the players who’ve joined, including former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones.

Jones is the quarterback for the DC Defenders, Washington’s newest pro franchise that will play its home games at D.C. United’s Audi Field. The first game isn’t until February 8 after the NFL’s season concludes with the Super Bowl, but the organization opened its offseason camp at the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House indoor facility on Thursday. The debut is just over two months away. 

“I love it. It’s pretty cool to be part of something that’s going to be a first, a historical moment of the return [of the XFL] and to be in [the D.C.] area,” Jones said. “Hopefully not just me, but this team can leave a lasting impression.”

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the Defenders will make on a crowded winter sports scene with the NHL’s Capitals and NBA’s Wizards playing and the World Series champion Nationals starting their title defense just across the street from Audi Field in April just as the XFL plays its final two games and its two playoff rounds. 

Jones, of course, led Ohio State to the national championship in 2014 when he came off the bench to replace two injured starters and led the Buckeyes to wins in the Big 10 championship game and two more in the college football playoffs. He started seven games in 2015 as a redshirt junior, but lost his job and turned pro after that season. 

Part of the appeal of the XFL is to get another shot at an NFL opportunity. Jones was drafted in the fourth round by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 and made his debut in a game late that season. He was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 and spent that year on the practice squad. Jones was with the Seattle Seahawks this summer and again cut from the practice squad in September.  

“My focus is strictly on the XFL and the DC Defenders, nothing more, nothing less,” Jones said. “I do have long-term goals and aspirations, but all of them consist of being a better player and teammate to this franchise and this organization.”

Pep Hamilton is the head coach and general manager of the Defenders. Quarterback at Howard in the early 1990s, Hamilton has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL and was most recently the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator at Michigan. 

That drew a laugh from Jones, who was going back and forth with Hamilton to set up a meeting after the Defenders’ roster was announced. Hamilton still has a home in Ann Arbor so that’s where Jones, the ultimate Ohio State guy, had to go. 

“Right around the corner from the University,” Jones cracked. “So I had to drive past the Big House every freakin’ time I’d go up there. Monday through Wednesday I’d have to go past there.”

Jones laughed and said he was driving through campus one day and saw some players he recognized wearing Michigan gear. He yelled out the car window “O-H!” and sped past them cackling. Every workout Jones makes sure he has his Ohio State cleats on and Hamilton wears his Michigan shoes. 

Jones, Hamilton and the rest are all on the same team now, though, and it will take lots of repetitions throughout the offseason for players from colleges all over the country to come together and form a cohesive group. There isn’t much time. Walk throughs and team meetings began this week and continue into next week. Then come OTAs next weekend and finally a two-day minicamp on Dec. 16-17. 

“This is going to be interesting,” Jones said. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I sense a great buzz. We did a couple of appearances and some meet-and-greets with the fans and I was shocked by the response that we got and how excited people are around the city. It’s football all year round.” 

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Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

Nate Orchard was installing windows prior to signing with the Redskins

A week ago, many Redskins fans were not familiar with the name Nate Orchard. But after No. 54's exceptional performance in the Redskins' Week 13 victory over Carolina, he's turned into a feel-good story in an otherwise tough season in Washington.

As many Redskins fans know by now, Orchard was signed just days before the Week 13 game. Due to injuries to linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat, as well as Ryan Anderson being ejected, Orchard was forced to play meaningful snaps towards the end of Sunday's victory. He finished with a sack, recovering a fumble, and two tackles for loss in the win.

The former star on HBO's Hard Knocks while he was with the Cleveland Browns had worked out for 10 (!!) teams this season, but none chose to sign Orchard until Washington did last week. It makes sense why he was so emotional postgame.

So, how was Orchard spending his time before joining the Burgundy and Gold? 

Orchard, who spent most Mondays and Tuesdays this season working out for NFL teams, was installing windows in Utah a few days during the week, according to 106.7 The Fan.

"A typical week for me, I would leave for a workout Monday, get back Tuesday night," Orchard said on 106.7's Grant and Danny"Wednesday morning, I'd hit the gym early, then go and install windows from 7 [o'clock] until about 3 [o'clock], then come back to my family and rest up. [I would] repeat that Thursday and Friday."

Orchard admitted that he questioned whether he should continue to train and wait for a call, but says his wife encouraged him to stay motivated and continue to workout.

They say hard work pays off, and Orchard's whirlwind of a season thus far ended up being very rewarding for him this past Sunday.

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