Quick Links

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take — Three chances for the Redskins to make statements are coming up

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take — Three chances for the Redskins to make statements are coming up

Here is what you need to know on Tuesday, October 2, six days before the Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints.  

Talking points

Usually, an opportunity for a statement game is something that comes up for a team once or twice a year. This month, the Redskins have a chance to make three statements in three weeks. It’s not an exaggeration to say that their coming three games could determine the shape of the 2018 season. 

Monday @ Saints

In case you have blocked the Redskins’ last visit to New Orleans out of your memory, here is a quick recap. The visitors grabbed a seven-point lead early in the second quarter and built it up to 15 with just under six minutes to play. And then, well, I’m not going to recap the rest because you either remember it or, if you don’t, you want it to remain forgotten. 

This Monday is not really about “revenge”. The Saints didn’t do anything dirty and the Redskins have no reason to think that they were cheated (even though that intentional grounding flag in the last minute was very shaky). The game will be about showing that the Redskins can win this type of game and, after having beaten the Packers last week, show that they can put together two quality wins in a row. 

October 14 vs. Panthers

Carolina is 2-1 and they also had their bye this past weekend. They are coming off of an 11-win playoff season. It’s a home game and a conference game for Washington and the Redskins need to gather as many wins as they can in those kinds of games. 

But the importance is not what makes this a potential statement game for the Redskins. It’s the fact that they have not beaten Carolina in over 10 years. It hasn’t happened since 2006, a losing streak of five straight games. The common denominator in the last four losses has been quarterback Cam Newton. The Redskins have yet to beat him. If they are going to make headway in the NFC, they are going to have to get past Newton and the Panthers. 

October 21 vs. Cowboys

The Redskins’ losing streak against the Cowboys is not as long as the one against the Panthers — it stands at four straight losses — but it has been more painful for the fans and for the organization. Winning the home game against the Cowboys would make a statement that the Redskins can take care of business in the division at home. 

It’s probably asking too much for the Redskins to sweep all three of these statement games. But two out of three would put them at 4-2 and as long as one of the wins of over Dallas that would be a good performance for the team at that point in the season. 

The agenda

Today: Off day

Upcoming: Redskins @ Saints (October 8) 6 days; Panthers @ Redskins 12; Cowboys @ Redskins 19


Quick Links

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.” 


Quick Links

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.