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Enemy Intel: Patriots' Gronk a tough matchup for Redskins' D

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Enemy Intel: Patriots' Gronk a tough matchup for Redskins' D

Since free agency opened March 10, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and preparing for the upcoming season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the moves made by teams that appear on the Redskins’ 2015 schedule. Who’s gotten better? Who’s slipped a bit? Let’s take a closer look.

Up today…

New England Patriots (Week 9)

2014 record: 12-4.

Key additions: DL Jabaal Sheard (Browns), QB Matt Flynn (Packers), CB Bradley Fletcher (Eagles), TE Scott Chandler (Bills), RB Travaris Cadet (Saints), LB/special teams Jonathan Freeny (Dolphins), DL Malcom Brown (1st round pick/Texas), G Tre’ Jackson (4th round/Florida State), WR Brandon Gibson (Dolphins) and CB Robert McClain (Falcons).  

Key departures: CB Darrelle Revis (Jets), RB Shane Vereen (Giants), DL Vince Wilfork (Texans), LB Akeem Ayers (Rams), RB Stevan Ridley (Jets), CB Brandon Browner (Saints), LB/special teams Jonathan Casillas (Giants), G Dan Connolly (retired), TE Tim Wright (Buccaneers) and CB Kyle Arrington (Ravens)

Key move: Bill Belichick’s decision not to keep Darrelle Revis, who inked a five-year, $70 million deal (including $39 million guaranteed) to rejoin the AFC East rival Jets. The 30-year-old was the NFL’s fourth most effective corner last season, according to ProFootballFocus.com. With Revis’ departure, a position that had been a strength for the Patriots during their Super Bowl run has become a weakness.  

What it all means for the Redskins: The good news is that Jay Gruden and Co. will have two weeks to prepare for the Super Bowl champs after their Week 8 bye. 

The bad news is that Tom Brady figures to be making his fourth start after returning from a four-game suspension (unless he wins his appeal and comes back sooner). Either way, it’s likely he’ll still be plenty fired up about the whole Deflategate flap. 

The most noticeable changes for the Patriots are on defense, where they’ve said goodbye to cornerbacks Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington as well as massive defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. On paper, at least, New England appears to have taken a small step back on this side of the ball.

On offense, however, the core hasn’t changed a whole lot and the lineup appears as potent as ever. In fact, with the exception of losing pass-catching running back Shane Vereen, they’re mostly the same old Pats who ranked fourth in the NFL last season in scoring (29.3 points per game).  

Brady, 37, isn’t getting any younger but he remains one of the game’s elite signal callers, having passed for 4,109 yards, 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2014. And, of course, he’s still got Rob Gronkowski, who is virtually unstoppable. Gronk, 26, led all tight ends with 1,124 receiving yards and tied for the lead in touchdowns with 12.

Which brings me to the matchup to watch at Foxboro: Brady and Gronkowski vs. a Redskins defense that has routinely struggled to contain pass catching tight ends. Sure, it’s an obvious one. But it’s also a potential game-deciding matchup.

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Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Redskins sign linebacker Jon Bostic to try and help make up for the loss of Reuben Foster

Two days after losing Reuben Foster for the year, the Redskins made a move to at least provide reinforcements to a weakened linebacker group.

On Wednesday, Washington announced that they have signed Jon Bostic, a six-year veteran. The 'Skins also officially placed Foster on injured reserve.

Bostic was a 2013 second-round pick of the Bears out of Florida. He's since bounced around to New England, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh, where he started 14 times for the Steelers in 2018 and posted 73 tackles. He's been traded twice in his career and missed all of 2016 with a foot injury. 

So, what does the move accomplish for the Redskins?

Well, Bostic — or any other free agent signing at this point — isn't going to have close to the level of talent and potential that Foster had. However, getting another option at linebacker was necessary for the Burgundy and Gold, and the 28-year-old has played in 30 contests over the past two years, so he's relatively established. 

Yes, he's far from a gamechanger, considering he has just one interception and 5.5 sacks as a pro. But he's regarded as a solid run defender and tackler and should at least push Mason Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. His presence also could alleviate some of the pressure that would've been on rookie Cole Holcomb. 

Signing a defender who's been with five franchises in six years isn't exactly inspiring, but Bostic has experience as a starter and could give the Redskins useful snaps on first and second down at a minimum. Now it's on him to take advantage of the opportunity he's been given.

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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

You may not know the exact dates of the Redskins' two matchups with the Giants this season, which will take place Sep. 29 and Dec. 22 in 2019. But Landon Collins sure does.

"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," the 'Skins new safety told ESPN in a recent interview. 

No, Collins isn't circling those dates from now until 2024 because he wants to be very organized and ensure he doesn't have any scheduling conflicts. He's doing it because he's dying to get revenge on his former team, who let him leave as a free agent in part because of their "culture change," according to him.

"All we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins told ESPN, referring to himself and other now ex-Giants like Odell Beckham and Damon Harrison. "I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants... If it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."

In addition to the organization wanting to go in a different direction culture-wise, New York didn't want to pay the amount of money the Redskins ended up paying for Collins because he wasn't an ideal fit in their defense. The 25-year-old pushes back against the idea that he's strictly a "box safety," though, as do current and former players.

Interestingly enough, Collins isn't the only member of the Redskins' secondary who's in D.C. thanks to a decision by Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was also the same guy who decided the Panthers needed to move on from Josh Norman in April 2016.

Collins, for one, doesn't sound like he'll miss Gettleman at all. The defender didn't love how the GM consistently failed to make an effort to connect personally with his players. 

"I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was," he explained.

All that, however, doesn't matter anymore. Collins is going to be the foundation of the Redskins' defense for quite some time, and that's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," he said.

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