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Washington Redskins go back to work seeking consistency

Washington Redskins go back to work seeking consistency

The Redskins will get back to work today, getting back together at Redskins Park for an 11:00 practice. This will be a light session as they have a week to get ready for their next game against the Saints next Monday night. 

The main thing they will have to work on defensively is figuring out how to contain quarterback Drew Brees, Mike Thomas, and Alvin Kamara. 

As far as the quarterback and his favorite target go, they will be studying some film from the Saints’ game against the Giants yesterday. Brees came into the game with a completion percentage of over 80 and gaining 8.4 yards per pass attempt. The Giants cooled him down, holding him to 57 percent completions and a very mortal 6.8 yards per attempt. Thomas had at least 10 receptions in each of the Saints’ first three games. The Giants held him to four catches for 47 yards. 

When it comes to Kamara, they won’t learn much from yesterday. The second-year running back rolled for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. The Saints also get back Mark Ingram, who ran for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, after his four-game suspension. Going into the game the Redskins are giving up an average of 4.5 yards per carry, 23rdin the NFL. Rushing defense will be a big priority in Ashburn this week. 

Just as important as preparing for their upcoming opponent is the need for the Redskins to work on some persistent issues that have popped up during their 2-1 start to the season. One is the aforementioned rushing defense. In the big picture, the defensive line usually gets the job done as designed but the linebackers, both inside and outside, are not always there to make the stop. They haven’t been burned by the rushing defense problems yet as the most rushing yards they have given up in a game is 104. But upcoming opponents will look at that 4.5 yards per carry average the Redskins are giving up and will test it. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the Redskins need to get their wide receivers more involved in the offense. None of the three starters has double-digit receptions. The long receptions for Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson are 18 and 14 yards, respectively. Paul Richardson has receptions of 46 and 34 yards and the Redskins need to see more of that. 

The other area the Redskins need to improve is not a matter of X’s and O’s or getting the players to execute those plays better. It’s about consistency. Their last time out, the Redskins beat the Packers, who are likely to finish the season with a winning record. The Saints probably will finish above .500 as well. Since Jay Gruden has been the Redskins’ head coach they have not won back-to-back games against teams that finished the season with a winning record. The lack of consistency has been maddening and costly. The Redskins inability to get a winning streak going prevents them from getting into legitimate, consistent playoff contention.

The same inconsistency prevented them from being 3-0 with the early command of the NFC East. Strong efforts against the Cardinals and Packers led to comfortable wins, but a flat performance against the Colts resulted into their only loss. If they can avoid games like the one against Indy they could exceed the expectations of many. 

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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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