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In honor of the NBA trade deadline, revisiting 5 Redskins trades that will raise your eyebrows

In honor of the NBA trade deadline, revisiting 5 Redskins trades that will raise your eyebrows

The whole world seems to go nuts for the NBA trade deadline, and as the Wizards make a number of moves that seem somehow illogical and logical at the same time, it makes for a good time to remember some recent Redskins moves. 

[Ed. Note: I miss Rich Tandler often, but particularly on a day like this. I know the Redskins traded for Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Ken Houston, and I know they got a steal of a trade to acquire Earnest Byner. But I just don't know enough about the situations surrounding those trades. I can't provide the context necessary, so I'm going to arbitrarily only look at trades since 1992.]

Since 1992, the Redskins have made a number of trades that impacted the direction of the franchise. We're going to rank a number of them below, but one stands above the rest.

  1. RG3Mania - The Redskins gave up a boatload of picks to move up to the second overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft and acquire Robert Griffin III. The Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor came into the NFL with a cool nickname and a rocket arm. He tore up the league and everything seemed like it was going to be awesome, forever, right up until it wasn't. Griffin got hurt, his relationship with the coaching staff went sour, and the picks used to get RG3, along with a $36 million salary cap penalty levied by the NFL, proved to be a downfall for the team. 
  2. Offense for Defense - Arguably the biggest player for player trade EVER, in 2004 the Redskins sent cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick to the Denver Broncos for running back Clinton Portis. At that point, Bailey and Portis were probably the best in the NFL at their respective position, and both played great for their teams for a number of years. In hindsight, the second-round pick probably tilts this trade in Denver's favor, but Portis delivered some incredible seasons for the Redskins with Joe Gibbs on the sideline. Bailey did just get elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame though. 
  3. Solving the Kirk Crisis - Recency bias will make some think this should be higher, and the Redskins certainly stole the show a year ago leading up to Super Bowl 52 when the Burgundy and Gold traded a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller to the Kansas City Chiefs for quarterback Alex Smith. A quality veteran coming off his career best season, Smith seemed to solve the perpetual riddle Washington stumbled into with previous QB Kirk Cousins. Having Smith allowed Cousins to walk in free agency, and it meant the Redskins stabilized the most important position on the field. And it was working too. With Smith at the helm, the Redskins reached a 6-3 record and looked to be in the driver's seat for an NFC East title. Until he got seriously hurt in Week 10, and now with his football future in serious jeopardy, his 2018 contract extension looks like an anchor for Washington's future salary cap.
  4. Mike Ditka and wild things in New Orleans - In 1999, Mike Ditka told anybody would listen he just had to draft running back Ricky Williams out of the University of Texas. To do so, Ditka said he would trade his entire draft, and the Redskins obliged his largesse. The 'Skins got the Saints entire 1999 draft, all of it, so New Orleans could move up from the 12th pick to the 5th pick and take Williams. The 'Skins made moves of their own with all the new draft picks, moving up to the 3rd overall pick to draft Champ Bailey. The biggest piece that came from the trade was New Orleans' first round pick in 2000, which the Redskins used to take Penn State LB LaVar Arrington. This was a wild scenario, and a lot happened, but in the end, the the on-field production never matched the trade fireworks. 
  5. Go big (house) or go home - In 1992, the Redskins really wanted Desmond Howard, a Heisman Trophy winning receiver out of Michigan. At that point in time, the 'Skins were defending Super Bowl champions and the best run franchise in the NFL. So when Washington gave up two first-round picks and a third-rounder to move up from the 6th spot to the 4th spot to take Howard, it seemed like he would be the next bright star in the Redskins solar system. It didn't work that way. Howard had just three catches as a rookie and never had a 1,000 yard season as a receiver. NFL rules at the time did not protect wideouts and allowed defensive backs to play a very physical brand of football, and at just 5-foot-10 and 185 lbs., Howard struggled to get off the line of scrimmage. He did remain a dangerous punt and kick returner, and won MVP honors in Super Bowl 31 for an outstanding performance that included a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

There are other trades. The team traded down one spot to take Josh Doctson in 2016, and the results are, uh, not emphatic. The team also traded back with the Cowboys in the second round of the 2015 draft, which allowed Dallas to take DeMarcus Lawrence and the 'Skins landed Trent Murphy. Dallas won that one. 

[Another ed. note: If I missed any important trades drop them in the comments. Also, this list started in 1992 because that's the first 'Skins trade I remember. I will never forget where I was when I saw the Desmond Howard trade news break. I was in Wilkesboro and I was a little kid and I was CONVINCED it was the greatest trade I ever heard of.]

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One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is made up of a 36-year-old tackle who showed up on July 31 and a guard who's played a grand total of two games at the position. The other side, meanwhile, features a third-round pick who signed a pricey extension in 2017 at tackle and a two-time Pro Bowler at guard.

The first pair, somehow, is holding up OK through two contests this year. It's the second pair that's having trouble. And no one really expected that to be the case.

In Washington's Week 1 loss against Philadelphia, Morgan Moses — the one with the hefty contract — committed two penalties, a holding and a false start. Another holding call was declined.

In the team's Week 2 loss to Dallas, meanwhile, Brandon Scherff — the one with the Pro Bowls — was whistled for holding twice.

Beyond the penalties, though, Moses and Scherff haven't helped out the running backs. At all.

So far, according to the NFL's logs, the Burgundy and Gold have had 11 runs to the left for 46 yards, which comes out to an average of 4.18 yards per carry. There have been 14 carries to the right, on the other hand, for just 27 yards, which comes out to an average of 1.92 yards per carry.

To be fair, it's not like Donald Penn and Ereck Flowers are totally tearing it up at left tackle and left guard. But those stats show they've been surprisingly effective as run blockers and, overall, they're giving the Redskins all they could've hoped for. Moses and Scherff simply aren't.

Now, on the list of problems Jay Gruden's squad is facing, the defense's discouraging start is at the top, while injuries and poor adjustments follow. They need to seriously evaluate how they're trying to stop opposing offenses and what they are (or aren't) doing at halftime.

But Moses and Scherff's slumps are high up on that list of problems as well, because they were supposed to be two reliable veterans and pave the way when they were asked to.

Instead, they're holding the offense back, sometimes literally, sometimes because of sloppy play. The right side of the O-line is currently on the wrong side of things, which wasn't supposed to be the story up front.


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Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

After two games, the Redskins defense clearly does not appear ready for some of the expectations that arrived before the season. That's obvious. What isn't is why. 

In consecutive losses, Washington's defense has given up more than 30 points-per-game and more than 400 yards-per-game. With just two sacks, the defensive front hasn't generated much pressure at all. The sack numbers are low, but opposing quarterbacks aren't taking many hits or pressures either. Heck, on Sunday against Dallas, Dak Prescott completed every pass he threw during the second half. 

Before the year started, the Redskins defense looked poised for a breakout. The team had strong young talent up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis. The edge rushers were a pair of first-round picks in veteran Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Montez Sweat. Landon Collins was supposed to provide Pro Bowl play at safety. 

It just hasn't worked. 

The biggest Redskins struggles have come on third down. The defense just can't get on the field. In a Week 1 loss, the Eagles converted 11 of 17 third downs and went on long drives throughout the second half. Against the Cowboys in a Week 2 loss, Dallas never punted in the second half.

Against Philly, the Redskins gave up 4 yards-per-carry, which is usually a losing formula. Against Dallas, the Redskins gave up more than 6-yards-per-carry, which is definitely a losing formula. 

There are plenty of stats to show how bad the Redskins defense has been. These are just a sample. The bigger issue, however, is why it's happening.

And there aren't easy answers.

Injuries are a part of the equation. Losing Allen hurts a lot, as does losing cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau for the Dallas game. But still, injuries aren't a full explanation. 

Scheme is part of the problem. The Redskins tend to play conservative defense, without much blitzing or disguised looks. And if the defensive front isn't getting home, it's big trouble for the secondary when the quarterback has plenty of time. 

Coaching is a problem too. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is in charge of the conservative scheme. He could change that, and maybe should change that, but so far he has not. In his post-game comments, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said his staff isn't "reaching" the defensive players yet. That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence. 

Players also need to play better. Sweat, Ioannidis and Kerrigan aren't generating much pass rush, and that's a major problem. Josh Norman needs to be better too. 

There are no easy fixes here. There's no silver bullet, no singular answer. 

Gruden said there would be no coaching changes because it's so early in the season. That doesn't mean the questions won't keep coming. 

"There are no excuses to be had. We have to look at ourselves, and we have to play better," the coach said of his defense after the 31-21 loss to Dallas.

"We’re minus a couple pieces in the secondary, that has an issue. But really, we should be better than this."

Through two games, the Redskins defense should be much better than it has been. Gruden knows it. Fans do too.