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Need to Know: The Redskins can't get hot and stay hot

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Need to Know: The Redskins can't get hot and stay hot

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 14, five days before the Washington Redskins play the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome.


Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 5
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 9
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 16

Winning streaks elusive for the Redskins

The Redskins have a problem stringing wins together. And it’s going to be more than a month before we see if they can fix it.

Since Jay Gruden became head coach of the team in 2014, the Redskins have two winning streaks of four games. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But they have been unable to extend success beyond four games. They hit a brick wall and just can’t go any further.

But is that common? How hard is it for a NFL team to win five or more games in a row?

As it turns out, it’s not that hard. Since Gruden arrived in Washington, a winning streak of five games or longer has been accomplished 30 times during that three-and-a-half-year span (via Pro Football Reference), an average of about 11 times per season. A total of 24 different teams have winning streaks of five or more games.

As you might guess by looking at the fact that there are 24 teams with five-plus game winning streaks, a team can pull one off without being an NFL power. The Bengals, Lions, Texans, Dolphins, Vikings, and Bucs all have at least one such streak to their names.

And to be clear that I’m not necessarily blaming Gruden here, the inability to win five or more in a row goes back further than his tenure here. Since 2008, there have been 102 winning streaks of at least five games by 29 different teams. The Redskins own one of them, their 7-0 end to the 2012 season. So, absent magic from RG3 (and for a game and a drive, Kirk Cousins), the Redskins have not been very good at getting hot for coming up on a decade now.

What is the issue? Why can’t they sustain success? D.J. Swearinger was talking about just the game against the Vikings, a game in which they could have built a two-game winning streak, but the comments seem familiar from previous times the Redskins have failed to build on success.

“We relaxed as a defense, we didn’t pay attention to the details as we should,” he said. “I guess we got too high on ourselves . . . A lot of the first half, guys, they wasn’t playing the game mentally. We’ve got the play the game mentally first before we can go out there and make plays.”

I’m not sure why a 4-4 team that has lost two of its last three games should be high in itself but that’s what the man said.

Gruden didn’t have much in the way of a response when asked about this comment and some others by various players.

“For the most part, players have to get ready to play,” he said. “And I have to do a better job of getting them ready to play, and if they’re not ready, then that’s on me.”

Maybe it’s in the makeup of the team, although the personnel have turned over many times since 2008. Maybe it’s bad luck, although that should even out over the course of a decade.

But one thing for sure is the Redskins won’t get to be consistent contenders until they learn to get on a roll and stay on it. The win a couple, lose a couple pattern that they have had on display for most of the past couple of years won’t get them where they want to go.   

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond. 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series