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Addition by subtraction? Why Redskins offseason moves could shore up tackling problem

Addition by subtraction? Why Redskins offseason moves could shore up tackling problem

A skill taught to football players starting in Pop Warner, tackling proved to be a problem at times for the Redskins in 2016. Repeatedly at often critical junctures last season, Redskins defenders missed tackles, and the problem plagued Washington particularly on third downs.

The 'Skins third down woes are well chronicled as they ranked worst in the NFL allowing first down conversions. There were plenty of defensive problems in 2016, but it appears the team looked to address the missed tackles. Two of the team's biggest offenders from 2016 will not be back in 2017.

Duke Ihenacho led the Redskins with 15 missed tackles. Further, he registered 60 tackles for the season, which means he missed tackles on about a quarter of the plays he was in position for the stop. Ihenacho only played 638 defensive snaps in 2016, 10th on the team. The stats suggest more snaps would have meant more missed tackles. Washington made no moves to bring Ihenacho back, and he's still on the free agent market. 

Another poor tackler was David Bruton, who didn't even last the full 2016 season with the Redskins. In just four games and 234 defensive snaps, Bruton registered eight missed tackles. Projected out, that would mean 32 missed tackles in a 16 game season. Woeful. Bruton is currently unsigned. 


Sandwiched between Ihenacho and Bruton comes Will Compton. In 2016, the Redskins defensive captain missed 13 tackles. Now, for the full picture, Compton played more than 900 snaps and registered more than 100 tackles. The former Cornhusker would likely admit he missed too many tackles last season, but for a high-volume tackler, some misses are going to happen. 

As for the Redskins free agent additions, safety D.J. Swearinger missed 11 tackles over the course of 839 snaps in Arizona. Less misses, more snaps than Ihenacho. New linebacker Zach Brown missed 15 tackles last year, but he also made almost 150 tackles on nearly 1,000 snaps for the Bills. 

Remember, it's hard to make tackles in the NFL. The guys running with the ball are also paid, and it's their job to avoid tacklers. 

Missed tackles happen. They will continue to happen. But by letting go of two of the team's worst tacklers, maybe the Redskins will get better in 2017.


Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Adrian Peterson visit part of Redskins contingency planning at running back

Need to Know: Adrian Peterson visit part of Redskins contingency planning at running back

Here is what you need to know on Monday, August 20, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

Jay Gruden added some clarity to the Redskins’ running back situation, although questions remain. 

First, and perhaps most important, he said that there are no immediate plans to sign Jamaal Charles or Orleans Darkwa, both of whom visited Redskins Park on Sunday, or Adrian Peterson, who is scheduled to come to Ashburn today. 

"Well we want to bring them in to get physicals on them just in case,” said Gruden. Like I said, we have had very [unlucky] situations with our running backs with obviously Guice and Marshall and Samaje, if something else happens, we are going to be really, really, really thin, so we just want to make sure we are covering all our bases right now and we will address it when we feel like we have to." 

Derrius Guice is out for the season with a torn ACL. Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine suffered injuries last Thursday against the Jets. According to media reports, Perine should be out a week and Marshall for two to four weeks. 

The key to what Gruden said was the part about “covering all of our bases right now”. Things are tight at running back now. But they are a Rob Kelley injury or a Perine setback away from being in big trouble. They would need to go to Plan B and that might be Peterson or Charles or Darkwa. 

But the Redskins have a short-term problem. Assuming Perine won’t play on Friday in the third preseason game against the Broncos, the Redskins would only be left with Kelley and Kapri Bibbs to handle most of the load in that game. Chris Thompson is scheduled to play some, but only for about a quarter. The Redskins will want to acquire at least one other running back to play on Friday. 

It sounds like that back won’t be someone like Charles or Darkwa, but it could well be someone you’ve never heard of. It was somewhat surprising that they didn’t have a new running back at practice today, but it’s very likely that they will have someone in place in time for practice on Tuesday. 

Bureau of statistics

2017 stat slash lines for RBs visiting the Redskins

Darkwa (NYG) 171 att./751 yds./4.4 yds per att./5 TD
Charles (DEN) 69/296/4.3/1
Peterson (AZ/NO) 156/529/3.4/2

The agenda

Today: Off day

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 4 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 12 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 20 days

In case you missed it

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

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The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

After sustaining a number of injuries to their running back group, the Redskins need help at the position. 

In that quest, the team will bring in veteran Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Arguably one of the best all-time running backs in the NFL, Peterson not being on a roster at this point in the season might be a surprise. Last year, Peterson split time between New Orleans and Arizona and rushed for more than 500 yards. 

Peterson built his fame and name with a long run of success in Minnesota, including a 2,000-yard season in 2012. In 123 games with the Vikings spanning 10 years, he rushed for nearly 12,000 yards and 97 touchdowns. 

Washington is in serious need for depth and talent at RB. 

Rookie Derrius Guice went down for the season in the preseason opener, and last week Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall sustained injuries. 

At Sunday's practice, head coach Jay Gruden joked that his son, Jack, should take some practice reps at the position. 

Currently, the Redskins only have Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs as running backs on the roster, and Thompson hasn't played yet this preseason as he's working back from a broken leg last November.

The Redskins also worked out veteran runners Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa. Peterson has the biggest name of all of them.

This offseason, Peterson also worked out with Redskins tackle Trent Williams.


For more analysis on Peterson's visit, check out this RB-oriented episode of Redskins Talk.