Redskins

Turner believes Falcons can fix holes in run game

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Turner believes Falcons can fix holes in run game

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner has heard the critics say that he's too slow and too old to convert short-yardage downs.

He couldn't disagree more.

``Everybody's going to nitpick,'' Turner said on Thursday. ``We're a different team this year, obviously, with philosophies and things like that, but I mean we're 8-1. That's the bottom line. To get Ws. We're not worried about it.''

Coming off their first loss of the season, Turner and the Falcons were punchless in short-yardage situations last week at New Orleans.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back was held to his least productive day in five seasons with Atlanta, running 13 times for 15 yards.

But Turner said that the Falcons have done far more right offensively this season than they've done wrong.

Atlanta ranks fourth in passing and seventh in scoring, but just 26th in rushing. Turner insists that the Falcons only need to make a few corrections against Arizona (4-5) on Sunday to get the running game operating efficiently.

Last week was ugly. On eight plays, New Orleans stuffed Turner either for no gain or lost yardage. The worst came on third-and-goal at the 1 in the game's final 2 minutes.

The Falcons lined up in a seven-man front, sent tight end Michael Palmer in motion and had fullback Mike Cox ready to take on a defender to spring Turner.

Instead, a blocking breakdown by left tackle Sam Baker trigged a collapse that allowed three Saints to tackle Turner in the backfield. On the next snap, Matt Ryan's go-ahead touchdown pass to Roddy White was knocked down.

Turner gave the Saints credit instead of blaming his teammates.

``Sometimes defenses are going to have good schemes against us and be able to get good penetration and things like that,'' Turner said. ``It's just something we have to handle and run different types of plays sometimes and just clean it up.''

Still, the problems must be corrected quickly. The Falcons want to repair the blow to their collective ego from last season's 24-2 playoff loss at the New York Giants.

Three times they lined up to convert short-yardage plays against the eventual Super Bowl champions and three times they failed.

It wasn't the first game in which Atlanta and Turner had struggle struggles. In 40 attempts inside the opponents' 10-yard line last season, Turner averaged a paltry 1.1 yards. The year before, he had just 1.3 yards on 41 attempts.

``We don't take anything for granted,'' Turner said. ``You've got to expect things to get tougher as the years go on and especially if you're a good team, people are going to give you their best shot. So we have to be prepared for everybody's best shot.''

For this same problem to be cropping up again seems like a bad harbinger.

``It's inexcusable,'' tight end Tony Gonzalez said. ``We are too good to let that happen. We should be able to convert those downs especially with a guy like Michael Turner back there. We should be able to get that first down, and I think we will in the future. It's just all about execution, and guys all being on the same page.''

It didn't take long for offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to see the problems on film.

On several short-yardage plays that failed, the Falcons either missed a blocking assignment, didn't account for an all-out blitz or had multiple issues in protection.

``Yeah, it's a bad thing,'' Koetter said. ``If you had a magic wand and could wave it, then it would be easy to fix everything if you had that magic wand. Again, that's one part of the game. We came up short in that part and eventually that added up to us coming up short on the scoreboard.''

Turner believes that the Falcons must stay persistent and not give up on themselves just because a few plays didn't go their way.

``Of course, of course, but it seems like everybody's finding what's wrong with us and finding reasons to doubt us more than just say things that we're doing good at,'' he said. ``But that's fine. Nobody's putting any more pressure on us than we're putting on ourselves. Our expectations are high, and we take pride in being great and doing the things we need to get better at. We can obviously see it, and we'll take care of it.''

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The 2005 draft link that bonds the Redskins and Packers ahead of Week 3

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AP

The 2005 draft link that bonds the Redskins and Packers ahead of Week 3

Looking back at NFL Drafts can be a frustrating task for Redskins fans. Missed opportunities and botched picks litter the record books, though the organization has made plenty of good picks, too. 

This weekend marks an interesting intersection of past drafts and current reality when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come to visit the Redskins and Alex Smith.

Way back, in the 2005 NFL Draft, the 49ers selected Smith with the No. 1 overall pick. He was a major prospect and the consensus top pick in the draft coming out of an outrageous year playing under Urban Meyer at the University of Utah. 

Later that same draft, all the way down to the 24th pick, Green Bay took Aaron Rodgers out of the University of California Berkeley. At the time, the selection turned heads, as the Packers had future Hall of Famer Brett Favre at QB. 

The Rodgers pick turned out to be pretty smart, to say the least. Smith’s tenure in San Francisco had high points, but nothing that lived up to his lofty draft position. 

Rodgers and Smith have talked about being from the same draft class, and the two have developed a friendship off the field. 

“You know, he's a decent player,” Smith joked about Rodgers on Wednesday. 

“He and I [have] been around each other a lot of time now, always linked, pretty good buddies. Certainly, kind of I think follow each other's career from afar.”

Fair or not, Smith and Rodgers have been linked ever since that 2005 draft. Those weren’t the only two QBs taken that year though. 

The Redskins selected Jason Campbell out of Auburn with the 25th pick. If Rodgers had slipped just one more spot, maybe the Redskins take Rodgers instead.

Just to make one more connection, albeit an odd one, but Rodgers wasn’t even the only guy with that last name taken in 2005.

The Redskins selected cornerback Carlos Rogers with the ninth overall pick. Imagine if they took the QB with the slightly different last name. 

 

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Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

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USA Today

Wizards' 2018-19 storyline No. 4: How will all the expiring contracts work out?

With Wizards training camp set to begin next week, we at NBC Sports Washington are counting down the five biggest storylines for the team as they start a new season. Today, at No. 4, a look at the amount of expiring contracts on the roster and how those situations will work themselves out…

One way or another, what happens for the Wizards in the 2018-19 season will be determined in part by seven players operating in the final years of their contracts. That seven does not include Dwight Howard, who has a player option for the 2019-20 season worth just $5.6 million. If he’s lumped into that group, only the L.A. Clippers have more players entering walk years.

The Wizards players in their contract years include Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre, Jr., Austin Rivers, Tomas Satoransky, Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith. That will present a unique dynamic to the Wizards’ roster and it may affect guys differently.

Some may thrive, knowing how much money they stand to gain with a big year before free agency. Others may succumb to the pressure as they find their niche on a team with a lot of added depth at several positions.

Let’s start with Rivers. The challenge for him will be going through his contract year while taking a reduced role from what he was used to with the Clippers. Last season, he started in 59 games and averaged 33.7 minutes and 13.2 field goal attempts.

Now in Washington, Rivers has to play second fiddle to two All-Star guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal. The minutes and shot attempts will almost certainly go down in a year where he would understandably want all of his numbers to go up.

Green may also have a smaller role than what he was in Cleveland where he started 13 games and averaged 23.4 minutes. But this is his fourth straight year playing on an expiring contract and knows what he’s getting into. He should be fine.

Meeks and Smith are in an interesting spot because they are longtime NBA veterans who don’t have defined roles entering this season. They, of course, would like to put up good enough numbers to earn their next NBA contracts, but will have a tough time getting minutes.

Oubre and Satoransky are in unique spots because this is the first time in their careers they have played in contract years. Oubre, in particular, has a lot of money on the line as a former first round pick who is just 22 years old.

A big year for him could mean a lucrative contract next summer. He has seen how breakout seasons in walk years has helped Beal and Otto Porter, Jr. get paid and surely wants to follow that same career path. The Wizards would certainly welcome that type of emergence from Oubre, as he could drastically transform their ceiling as a team.

Satoransky, 26, is older than Oubre, but has intriguing potential based on his athleticism and versatility. The problem, however, is that recent history shows his minutes are anything but guaranteed.

Morris is in his own category among the Wizards’ expiring contracts because he’s 29 and probably facing his best opportunity for a long-term payday. Morris also has some money to recoup from taking a hometown discount from the Suns years ago, one that didn’t pay off as he hoped.

Howard, though technically under contract for 2019-20, is susceptible to the same factors as the others on expiring deals. If he puts up strong numbers and helps the Wizards succeed, he could opt out and cash in.

The Wizards are confident the expiring contracts will not be a detriment to their locker room. But in order for that to be the case, the players will need to compartmentalize and focus on the team’s goals rather than their own. For some, that might be easier said than done.

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