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Some positions become clear, while others get murky at Redskins OTAs

Some positions become clear, while others get murky at Redskins OTAs

As the Redskins near the end of OTAs, the positions of strength become more and more clear. On the flip side, so do the weaknesses. 

For somebody entering a new offense, Alex Smith seems to have few problems picking up Jay Gruden's terminology and scheme. In fact, it seems like Smith already has the nuts and bolts of Gruden's West Coast system under control. 

Particularly, Smith seems to be in a comfort zone with wideout Jamison Crowder. The two connected on a few routes during Wednesday's OTA session. There was plenty of other action on the field in Ashburn. 

  • Paul Richardson worked very well in misdirection schemes while in Seattle, and it seems like Washington intends to do the same thing. On one red-zone drill, Richardson went in motion toward the short side of the field, and the defense shifted to the wideout. At the snap, Derrius Guice leaked out to the opposite flat, and Smith found the rookie runner for an easy TD. 
  • Speaking of Guice, any questions about his ability catching passes are over. Gruden said of Guice after the session "it's been very exciting" watching the rookie as a pass-catcher. 
  • One more Guice note - on one catch near the sideline in a red zone drill, he quickly jumped and re-planted his feet. It looked like he was heading to the sideline, and that's where the defender went, only when Guice landed and cut inside the defender fell to the ground. Guice's quick feet caused the Ashburn grass to tear a bit, only when the linebacker on the ground tried to point to the grass as the reason he fell, one player from the offensive bench yelled out, "It's not the field."
  • As much excitement as Guice continues to create, don't sleep on Rob Kelley. He's looked good. 
  • Jeremy Sprinkle got a lot of reps with the first-team offense.
  • The Redskins offense worked A LOT with a fullback. Gruden after the session: "It’s good for our defense also to see some reps with teams with a fullback, so we are giving them a good look at lead plays and power plays and all that stuff so they can prepare for it. It was also a chance for Elijah [Wellman] to make the team whether we need a fullback or not."
  • Not everything was good news. Third-string QB Kevin Hogan had a rough day. He held the ball too long in both full team and 7v7 drills and didn't look accurate when he did throw the ball. For the small chorus of fans that thought Hogan could push Colt McCoy for the backup job, think again.
  • Speaking of Colt, he again connected on a deep pass to Robert Davis. Those two appear to have found some rhythm. 
  • Rookie Troy Apke still has a lot to learn. On consecutive plays during red zone drills, he appeared to get caught inside as plays developed in the outside corner of the end zone, and both resulted in touchdowns. 
  • A strong offseason continues for Quinton Dunbar. Challenged repeatedly, Dunbar broke up a few passes and seemed to be in good position on others.
  • At one point, Gruden flashed his temper. the third-team offense got to the line of scrimmage slow and then a tackle jumped offsides. Gruden wasn't pleased, barked at the team to get back to the huddle, and the play got run again. Having watched Gruden run through the monotony of OTAs and non-pad practices for a few years, it becomes clear he's willing to be relaxed, but will not tolerate sloppiness. Similar scenes have unfolded in Richmond in the past. 
  • Last note - there is a lot of down time during OTAs. Typically, the quarterbacks break off in their own cloister while much of the rest of the team takes part in special teams drills. On Wednesday, the QB group often had a special guest: Josh Doctson. It seemed like every chance, Doctson worked with Smith on timing routes and ball location. That's exactly the kind of stuff that should happen in June. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 15, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best teams the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Most of the focus will be on individuals such as quarterbacks and pass rushers, but we’re going to get started with the best teams on the schedule. These are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. 

1. Eagles (13-3, Super Bowl champs)—They were fifth overall in DVOA and the second-ranked team on the schedule. But DVOA is calculated for the regular season only and you have to say that by the time the playoffs were over that the Eagles had taken their game up a few notches over everyone else. They haven’t lost much over the offseason, putting them at the top of the heap and the Redskins play them twice. 

2. Saints (11-5, lost in divisional round)—New Orleans was the top team in DVOA in 2017. After a couple of mediocre seasons, the Saints have retooled, and they will make a push to get Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. They play in Week 5, which means that Mark Ingram will be back from his four-game suspension to open the season and he will be alongside Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield. They both had over 100 yards from scrimmage when the teams played last year. 

3. Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC title game)—They finally made the jump after failing for the last few years as the trendy preseason pick. It was no fluke as they outscored their opponents by 149 points on the season. Their quarterback situation is far from ideal with Blake Bortles, but they are strong enough defensively (first in defensive DVOA) to rely on their running game. 

4. Panthers (11-5, lost in wild-card round)—They certainly have had the Redskins’ number, winning the last six matchups, a streak going back to 2009. This doesn’t seem to be one of those fluke situations. The Redskins simply have problems matching up with Cam Newton. Carolina also is solid defensively (No. 7 in DVOA). 

5. Falcons (10-6, lost in divisional round)—Even though the Cowboys ranked a couple of notches ahead of the Falcons in DVOA, I’m putting the Falcons ahead of them. Dallas doesn’t have a good enough defense to win with their running game. I’ve always been a big Matt Ryan fan and a lot more people would be too if he hadn’t been victimized by poor defense and bad play calling in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Add in Julio Jones and their running backs and you have a scary offense. Defensively they are not that good but I still like their unit better than that of the Cowboys.

Rest of top 10:

6. Packers—Almost put them ahead of Falcons, their DVOA suffered last year with Rodgers out.
7. Cowboys—Even with problems on D, still have the Redskins’ number.
8. Texans—Way down the DVOA rankings last year but they will the tough with J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson back. 
9. Titans—I’m not sure if they’re ready to take the next step up but they will be hard to beat. 
10. Bucs—The bolstered a defense that already with tough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 11
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 48

The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 56 days. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 14, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

Is Junior Galette hinting at a possible return to the Redskins? I would be very surprised if Galette ever wears a Redskins uniform again although it would make sense for them to talk to him. I think the Redskins should be very nervous about their depth at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee can get them some pressure, but he has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Ryan Anderson’s next NFL sack will be his first. You can’t have too many pass rushers; the Redskins could well find themselves in a spot where they don’t have enough. 

Upside outweighed risk in Redskins' selection of Alexander—The selection of Adonis Alexander wasn’t quite a no-brainer, but it was not a tough call for the Redskins to make. Torrian Gray, who recruited and coached Alexander at Virginia Tech, gave the green light so it came down to his potential and what draft pick they were willing to give up. They have two in the fifth round next year and they had three in the sixth. They might as well get one of those late Saturday afternoon picks in a year early and see what they have. We have more analysis of the Alexander pick here and here

If Guice is legitimate, the Redskins running game could explode—With the exception of the 2012-2013 seasons, when quarterback Robert Griffin III was kicking in a lot of yards on the ground, the Redskins have not been in the top 10 in the league in rushing yards since 2008. Derrius Guice could help change that. Read the post for my in-depth look at the running back position. 

Madden has a clear answer for the Alex Smith-Kirk Cousins debate—I don’t know much about Madden ratings, so I don’t have a lot to add here. It doesn’t look to me like the difference between the ratings of Smith and Cousins constitute and “clear” advantage but, again, what do I know?

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Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame. If you’re reading this, I think you know that. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 12
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 54

The Redskins last played a game 195 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 57 days. 

In case you missed it