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Bubble watch version 2.0: Predicting the Redskins' 53-man roster

Bubble watch version 2.0: Predicting the Redskins' 53-man roster

The Redskins now have four days of training camp under their belts. They still have a few dozen practices and four preseason games until head coach Jay Gruden and GM Scot McCloughan trim the roster down to the final 53. Here are my projections of who will end up on the roster when the dust settles on September 5 plus a look at who is just hanging on and four who are just on the wrong side of the bubble.

Offense

Quarterback (3): Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

Offensive line (9): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Tom Compton, Morgan Moses, Arie Kouandjio, Josh LeRibeus

Wide receiver (6): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder, Evan Spencer.

Tight end (3): Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

Running back (4): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson

Defense

Defensive line (7): Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Stephan Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse

Outside linebacker (4): Ryan Kerrigan, Junior Galetts, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith

Inside linebacker (5): Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight, Adam Hayward

Cornerback (5): Chris Culliver, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tevin Mitchel, Justin Rogers

Safety (4): Dashon Goldson, Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson, Kyshoen Jarrett

Specialists (3): LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way, PK Kai Forbath

Changes from last prediction: At OLB, Galette added and moved to starter, Murphy to reserve, Trevardo Williams off; At CB, Bashaud Breeland off (suspension), Hall to starter, Justin Rogers on; At S, Ihenacho to starter, Johnson to reserve.

The numbers: 25 offense, 25 defense, 3 specialists; 16 new to the Redskins organization in 2015 including nine draft picks

Last 4 on

CB Justin Rogers—When Breeland went out injured, Rogers came in at slot corner. He played some in the slot last year so that might give him an edge over rookie Tevin Michel, who currently is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Rogers has looked OK in practice, although he might be looking over his shoulder at Kyshoen Jarrett, who may move from safety to the slot.

RB Chris Thompson—It’s so far, so good for Thompson, who has stayed on the field and has looked good with the football in his hands both running and catching passes.

DL Kedric Golston—The longest tenured Redskin will do what he has to do to keep himself on the roster. But outside factors may come into play. If there is an injury situation on either side of the ball or if there is a promising prospect that the organization believes it must keep, the decision may be made to keep six defensive linemen instead of seven. That could endanger the survival of the 32-year-old Golston.

OL Josh LeRibeus—LeRibeus was the next player the Redskins took after drafting Griffin in 2012 and, like the QB, he is in a make or break year. He has been working at center in addition to his usual guard spot to develop some flexibility. But he needs to play center well enough to convince Gruden that he is a viable option there should an injury need arise. He’s not there yet.

Four more close to the bubble: QB Colt McCoy, CB Tevin Mitchel, DL Frank Kearse, ILB Adam Hayward

Last 4 cuts

S Trenton Robinson—It’s a tough numbers game at safety with three new or nearly new players being added to the top of the depth chart in Goldson, Johnson (signed as free agents), and Ihenacho (injured most of last year). If Jarrett can pick up the slot corner spot, Robinson might be able to stick on the roster.

RB Silas Redd—If Thompson doesn’t shake his injury bug, Redd is likely to be in. Even of Thompson does stay healthy, Redd could win the job anyway. Right now Thompson has the edge because of his speed but Redd will not give up easily. Redd hasn’t done anything to stand out in camp but there is time for him to make an impression.

C Austin Reiter—If LeRibeus can’t function as a backup center then perhaps Reiter, the team’s seventh-round draft pick, can pick up guard well enough to squeeze onto the roster.

RB Trey Williams—He could be the “must-keep” prospect that bumps off someone like Golston or McCoy. The undrafted free agent has speed to burn but we will need to see if he has what it takes to survive in the NFL at 5-7, 195.

Four more just on the wrong side of the bubble: CB Trey Wolfe, NT Jerrell Powe, TE Devin Mahina, OLB Jackson Jeffcoat

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Week 7 NFC East Update: As Giants derail rest of division rebounds

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USA Today Sports

Week 7 NFC East Update: As Giants derail rest of division rebounds

In Week 5, every NFC East team suffered an embarrassing defeat. In Week 6, every NFC East team rebounded, except for the New York Giants.

The Redskins rebounded from their ugly Week 5 loss in New Orleans with a home win over a strong Carolina team. Dallas logged the division's best win, stomping Jacksonville 40-7, while the Eagles took no mercy on the Giants, beating them 34-13.

Now, three teams sit at the top with three wins, while the Giants lag quite far behind in the basement. Here's the update:

Washington Redskins (3-2)

Only by virtue of an early bye week do the Redskins rank slightly ahead of the Eagles and Cowboys, thanks to a .600 winning percentage. This week will change that, as the Redskins play their first NFC East division game when they host the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Defensively, Washington should match up well with Dallas, a run-first team that is challenged in the vertical pass game. But the Redskins have plenty to deal with internally, including major injuries at WR as well as a four-game losing streak to their rival. The Redskins haven't beaten the Cowboys at home since 2012. 

Up next: Oct. 21st vs Dallas (4:25 p.m.)

Dallas Cowboys (3-3)

Coming off their most impressive win of the season, Dallas will march into Washington on Sunday full of confidence and defensive swagger. The Cowboys defense held the Jaguars to only 204 total yards last Sunday and posted three sacks with two turnovers. The strength of the Dallas defense comes up front, with a menacing defensive line that confuses their offensive counterparts with significant movement and stunts at the snap of the ball. Now, all of that said, the Cowboys posted their standout defensive numbers against Blake Bortles and a bad Jaguars offense that was playing without injured running back Leonard Fournette. The Cowboys defense is good, but maybe not quite as good as they looked against Jacksonville. It's also a good time to point out that on the 2018 season, Dallas is 3-0 at home, and 0-3 on the road.

Up next: Oct. 21st @ Washington (4:25 p.m.)

Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

Don't look now but the defending Super Bowl champs might be getting their act together. The Eagles scored more than 30 points for the first time this year in a demolition of the Giants last Thursday night, and snapped a two-game losing streak. Carson Wentz threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns, his best performance since coming back from knee surgery. Defensively, the Eagles sacked Eli Manning four times, but rookie sensation RB Saquon Barkley was able to gash Philly on the ground. The Panthers will present a very strong run game this Sunday and if Philly is all the way back, they need their stout run defense from 2017 to reappear. 

Up next: Oct. 21st vs Carolina

New York Giants (1-5)

Woof. Not much to celebrate in the Big Apple. It's become very obvious that Eli Manning is no longer a starting caliber QB, but the Giants have no other real options. And for all the complaints about Eli and the Giants offensive line, the defense hasn't been very good either. New York has a -45 point differential on the year. The Giants need to rebuild their offense around Saquon Barkley, who has looked outstanding, and hope Eli can hit Odell Beckham on play action. Barkley must get more carries for the Giants; that's the only way to salvage an already broken season.

Up next: Oct. 22nd @ Atlanta (8:15 p.m.)

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Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 16, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking Points

A better 3-2

For the third straight year, the Redskins are 3-2 after five games. As you know, they did not make the playoffs after either of the last two seasons. But they are in better shape in the standings now than they were in 2016 or 2017. Last year they were in second place in the division, a game and a half behind the 5-1 Eagles. They were worse off two years ago as they were in third place behind the 3-1 Eagles and the Cowboys, who were 4-1. 

It’s still very early, but it’s better to be in first place nearly a third of the way into the season than it is to be in second or third place and being in a position where you have to chase one or two teams. 

Take it away

The Redskins had three takeaways against the Panthers—the fumble recovery on the punt, Josh Norman’s interception, and the fumble forced by Norman and recovered by Mason Foster. They did not give the ball away. The last time they got at least three takeaways without giving the ball up was on Christmas Eve, 2016 in Chicago. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the last game in which Norman had an interception until Sunday. 

After being either even or in the positive in takeaway ratio in four of their five games this year, the Redskins are now tied for fourth in the NFL with a plus-four turnover margin. If they can stay on the even or plus side from week to week they will have a very good chance at being successful. 

Rushing D much improved

After finishing 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in 2017, the Redskins are currently sixth, giving up an average of 90.2 yards per game. The improvement has come even though they have faced premiere running backs David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Christian McCaffrey. They have allowed no more than 104 yards on the ground in any of their five games. Last year's opponents ran for 127 yards or more 10 times. Their defense will be tested on Sunday against the Cowboys, who average 147 rushing yards per game on the ground, second in the NFL. 

Looking in the mirror

When the Redskins take a look at the Cowboys they might feel like they are watching themselves. Both teams run the ball well, although Ezekiel Elliott is more consistent than Adrian Peterson. Alex Smith has better passing stats than Dak Prescott but both teams are in the bottom third of the league in passing yards. The defenses on both teams are strong. Washington is sixth in yardage allowed per game and the Cowboys are fifth. 

And both teams have started off the season alternating wins and losses. Dallas started with a loss to the Panthers then beat the Giants, lost to the Seahawks, won over the Lions, suffered an OT loss to the Texans and then thumped the Jaguars. It will be an interesting match up on Sunday.

The agenda

Today: Off day, no media availability

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants 12; Redskins @ Eagles 48

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