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With division foes' seasons in tatters, can the Redskins take advantage?


With division foes' seasons in tatters, can the Redskins take advantage?

Some doors opened up for the Redskins yesterday. On Sunday we will see if they can walk through them.

Thanksgiving started off well for the Redskins when the Lions thumped the Eagles 45-14. The Eagles have now given up 45 points in two consecutive games and quarterbacks Jameis Winston of the Bucs and Matthew Stafford of the Lions each threw five touchdown passes. Chip Kelly used to be the smartest guy in the room. Now he’s “confused, tormented, forlorn,” according to one Philly columnist.

The loss dropped the Eagles out of a tie with the Redskins for second place in the NFC East. At 4-7 Philadelphia is a half game behind Washington. As another columnist put it, “now their season lies in irrevocable tatters.”

The Eagles have plenty of problems but they are in much better shape than the Dallas Cowboys are. Like the Eagles, they were not competitive in losing on Thanksgiving Day. Kurt Coleman got a pick six of Tony Romo on Dallas’ first possession and it was downhill from there. The final score of Panthers 33, Cowboys 14 did not indicate how thoroughly Dallas was dominated.

Rock bottom for Romo came in the third quarter when linebacker Thomas Davis slammed him into the AT&T Stadium turf, injuring the QB’s left collarbone. That’s the same one that he just spent eight weeks rehabbing. Early reports are that Romo reinjured his clavicle and will be out for the season.

The Cowboys won Romo’s first game back last Sunday against the Dolphins and Cowboys fans (and many Dallas cheerleaders in the media) had visions of Romo leading a winning streak that would carry his team into the playoffs. The fervor got to the point where the 3-7 Cowboys actually were favored over the 10-0 Panthers.

Dallas is now 3-8, alone in last place in the division.

So where does all of this leave the Redskins? In the short term, the picture is pretty simple. If they beat the 5-5 Giants on Sunday they will be tied for first place in the NFC East. The teams will have split their head-to-head series and the Redskins will have the edge in the next tiebreaker, division record. Beating New York would move the Redskins to 2-1 in the NFC East while the Giants would be 2-3.

Looking a little further down the road, the Redskins will have two games against the Cowboys, who presumably will be without Romo, and one against the lifeless Eagles. They also have a road trip to play the Bears, who upset the Packers on the road last night, and a home game against the Bills. The Giants’ remaining opponents include a Week 15 game against the Panthers, who won’t be resting their starters by then, and a trip the next week to play the 7-3 Vikings in Minnesota.

The Giants are currently ahead and would have to be considered the favorites. But if the Redskins do win on Sunday it becomes a legitimate two-team race.  

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Redskins make new hire at special teams coordinator, and he comes from Tampa Bay

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Redskins make new hire at special teams coordinator, and he comes from Tampa Bay

The Redskins announced the hiring of Nate Kaczor as their new special teams coach on Saturday morning. Kaczor will take over the role vacated by Ben Kotwica, who left Washington to take the same role in Atlanta.

Kaczor spent the last three seasons with the Buccaneers as special teams coordinator, but that coaching staff got let go this offseason. Prior to his work in Tampa, Kaczor coached in similar roles for the Titans and the Jaguars. 

It's not particularly easy to rank special teams, but Kotwica's groups did some things very well, particularly in punt coverage. Football Outsiders ranked all 32 special teams groups across the league based on a formula that combines field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kick returns, punts, and punt returns; The Redskins ranked 8th and Tampa ranked 29th. 

On the flip side, the Redskins had some of the lowest kick and punt return yardage in the NFL last season. The Redskins gained just 110 yards on all of their punt returns for the year. 

Head coach Jay Gruden spoke about bringing in Kaczor.

"We are excited to have Nate join our staff. We have had the opportunity to face his special teams play during his time at Tampa Bay and respected competing against him," Gruden said via press release. "He is a competitor and we have noticed and admired the intensity his units have played with through the course of his time as a special teams coordinator and assistant coach in the NFL."


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Kyler Murray is 'making a mistake' choosing football over baseball, according to Joe Theismann

Kyler Murray is 'making a mistake' choosing football over baseball, according to Joe Theismann

Joe Theismann wants Kyler Murray to have a "long, happy career" — as a professional baseball player.

In an interview with NBC Sports Washington, the former Redskins QB was asked what he thought of Murray's choice to pursue his NFL dreams over his MLB dreams for now. He didn't hold back.

"I think that he should choose baseball," Theismann said. "I think that he would struggle in the NFL."

As of now, many mock drafts are projecting the Heisman Trophy winner to be selected in the first round. His believers see him as an electric option who's entering a league perfectly suited for his skillset. 

Theismann is not in that camp, though.

"I understand a lot of guys work from the 'gun. You're away from the line of scrimmage," he explained. "But, sooner or later, defensive coaches in this league are going to figure out how to keep you in the pocket. And if you can't throw from the pocket, or you can't see from the pocket, it's going to become a problem."

Murray's height, which Theismann touched on, is a main concern for those skeptical of how he'd handle life in the NFL. Of course, being in the 5-foot-9 range matters far less on a MLB diamond.

Theismann also thinks that the Oklahoma product will need to be in an offense with a strong running attack. That's something any rookie passer needs to succeed, and without one, Theismann isn't sure if Murray can carry the load on his own.

In the end, Theismann told NBC Sports Washington that Murray is "making a mistake" by setting his sights on the gridiron. He simply doesn't see things going well for Murray as a signal caller.

"I think in professional football, it'll be a real challenge and an uphill climb for him to be able to do the things that he wants to do and a team wants him to do," he said.