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EL-BASHIR: For Redskins, 2nd half schedule allows for some playoffs hope

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EL-BASHIR: For Redskins, 2nd half schedule allows for some playoffs hope

“Everything we want is still in our grasp,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said afterSunday’s 27-10 loss to the Patriots.

“It’s just one game,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry reassured players as they trudged off the field in Foxboro.

And they’re right. Getting blown out by Tom Brady and the defending champions, as unsightly as it was at times, didn’t end the competitive portion of the Redskins’ season, nor did it count for more than one ‘L’ on their record.

It did, however, narrow the Redskins' margin for error. They’re now 3-5 at the midway point of the season, with Drew Brees and the Saints (4-5) coming to Landover on Sunday.

“If we don’t play better, then nothing is in our grasp,” Gruden said Monday afternoon, asked about his message to the team this week. “We’ve got to make sure that we turn up the heat a little bit, challenge these guys, try to get more out of them as coaches. Hopefully, we play better because we are right in the thick of things, as far as the division is concerned.”

MORE REDSKINS: HOW TO FIX THE RUN GAME 

If you’re ready for a few paragraphs of unbridled optimism, here’s a heaping dose of it.

Assuming 8-8 or 9-7 will be good enough to take the decidedly mediocre NFC East then, yeah, a playoff berth is certainly within the Redskins’ grasp.

In fact, the second half of their schedule seems quite favorable when compared to their division rivals’ remaining slates.

Of the Redskins’ eight remaining games, only two of them are against opponents with winning records (at Carolina and vs. the New York Giants). The combined records of their opponents are 31-34. 

The Giants (5-4), meantime, face four teams with winning records down the stretch, including three division leaders (vs. New England, vs. Carolina and at Minnesota). The combined records of their opponents are 37-19.

The Eagles (4-4), on the other hand, face three teams with winning records, including two division leaders (at New England and vs. Arizona). The combined records of their opponents are 33-32.

(For the purposes of this discussion, I’m leaving out the 2-6 Cowboys. They’re done.)

Now for a dose of reality. 

For the Redskins to have any hope, they’ve got to engineer a midseason turnaround in a number of critical areas. Among them:

  1. They’ve got to fix the ground attack. Much has been made about the running game’s struggles over the past month, but there has been little change in the bottom line. Overall, the Redskins have averaged only 43 yards per game over the past four contests. That’s not just bad, it’s historically bad.  
  2. They’ve also got to stop the run better, too. Like a lot better. Including the 161 yards gained by LaGarrette Blount and the Patriots, the Redskins have allowed a whopping 187 yards on average the past four games. Their record is 1-3 in those contests. That’s no coincidence.
  3. They also need more production overall from the Kirk Cousins-led offense. Through eight games, they’re averaging just 19.8 points per game. Only Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit and San Francisco are averaging fewer—all of whom are .500 or worse.   
  4. And, finally, they’ve got to find a way to eke out a win (or two) on the road—a feat they’ve mustered just once in the Gruden Era. They face road tests at the Panthers, Bears, Eagles and Cowboys down the stretch.

That’s it. Just those four not-so-insignificant things.

Sound like a long shot? It probably is. Almost as long as the Redskins’ odds of actually making the playoffs. But there’s a chance. And right now that’s what Gruden and his players are clinging to.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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Adrian Peterson's impressive day vs. the Panthers wasn't exactly supposed to happen

Adrian Peterson's impressive day vs. the Panthers wasn't exactly supposed to happen

When you don't hear from someone you wanted to hear from, you typically follow up.

But on Sunday during the Redskins' 23-17 win over the Panthers, Jay Gruden actually didn't follow up with Adrian Peterson about a plan the two first discussed leading up to kickoff.

Everyone associated with burgundy and gold should be OK with that, however, after seeing how things played out.

During his weekly, exclusive interview with JP Finlay on the Redskins Talk podcast, Gruden explained how Peterson's injury situation almost prevented the running back from posting his crucial 17-carry, 97-yard stat line. 

"I talked to him before the game, had a sit-down with him," the head coach said. "I told him I was probably only gonna use him on short-yardage and goal line if that, you know? Because I want him to heal, we have a long season ahead of us." 

Heading into Week 6, Peterson was dealing with shoulder, ankle and knee issues. Plus, he's 33 years old at a position where that number is way more common on a player's jersey than in his bio under "age."

So, Gruden's concern made some sense, especially considering how necessary a productive Peterson has been to the 'Skins' success in 2018. Problem is, the two never connected again, so the coach's pitch count was never executed.

"He says, 'Oh, just let me go early, I'll let you know how I'm doing,'" Gruden recalled. "We let him go early and I never heard from him so I just kept him in there. He played great. He's a pro, he's a stud."

For those of you now wondering if this means you should start ignoring emails from your boss or not text your buddy back and still expect success, let's not get too carried away here. In this instance, a lack of communication worked for the future Hall of Famer, but that doesn't mean it's going to work for you.

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