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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

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Fletcher: 'You can feel the excitement'

In summary: Only one thing mattered to 37-year-old London Fletcher following Monday night’s 17-16 victory over the Giants: The Redskins' season remains relevant. 

“Playing meaningful games in December, it’s just a different atmosphere, a different feeling, a different preparation,” Fletcher said after gutting out another game on a gimpy ankle. “You can tell the excitement of the fans, the city. Just coming into the stadium, you saw how many people were out here early, ready for this game.”

Fletcher was asked if he could recall the last time FedEx Field rocked the way it did Monday. 

“This is the loudest I’ve seen FedEx since the Dallas game, the last game [of the] 2007 season,” he said after a moment of contemplation. Fletcher was referring to the Redskins’ wild-card clinching victory over the Cowboys in the 2007 season finale.

With their third consecutive win, the Redskins, at 6-6, have vaulted themselves back into the thick of the NFC East and wild card races. The Giants, meantime, fell to 7-5, while the Cowboys also sit at 6-6 after Sunday’s victory over the Eagles.

If you think about it, if we lose this game, we go down three games to the Giants,” Fletcher said. “It would have been highly unlikely for us to have a chance of winning the division. But now we’re a game back. We just made it very interesting.”

Interesting, indeed. 

Turning point: Early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins found themselves trailing 16-10. But Robert Griffin III directed a methodical, 12-play, 86-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard Pierre Garçon touchdown reception that put the home team ahead for good. Garçon finished with eight receptions for 106 yards – three yards shy of his season-high.

“We came through when we needed to,” Garçon said. “That’s what a good team does when their back is against the wall.”

Offensive play of the game: Late in the first quarter, Josh Morgan scored his first touchdown of the season in bizarre fashion. The wide receiver was the pitchman on an option when Griffin, tucked the ball and turned up field. Griffin, however, fumbled at the Giants’ 13-yard line, bobbling the ball up in the air – and right into the hands of a streaking Morgan.

“It just bounced my way,” Morgan said laughing. “We game planned the option. We ain’t game-planned for him to do it the way he did it, but he made it happen. It worked out.”

It marked the second time this season a wide receiver recovered a Griffin fumble for a touchdown. In Tampa, Garçon pounced on a loose ball in the end zone.

Defensive play of the game: In the fourth quarter, the Redskins were clinging to a one-point lead when the pass rush finally delivered. Linebacker Rob Jackson sacked Eli Manning for a seven-yard loss at the Giants’ 14-yard line. The sack forced the visitors’ to punt and swung the momentum toward the Redskins for good.

Special teams play of the game: As important as Kai Forbath’s 33-yard field goal in the second quarter proved to be in a one-point victory, the Redskins benefited greatly from Lawrence Tynes missing a 43-yarder a few minutes earlier. Tynes entered the game tied for the league lead in field goals made (29) and was 6 of 7 from 40-49 yards out.

Injury report: Tackle Trent Williams said after the game that his bruised thigh, “felt terrible.” But he played through the pain and helped pave the way for the Redskins’ 207 yards on the ground. 

…Fletcher did not arrive in Landover wearing anything on his sprained left ankle but he left wearing an immobilizer boot. He said he did not reinjure the ankle and that the boot was for precautionary reasons.

…Giants tackle Sean Locklear was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, according to Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.

Quote of the day: Coughlin on his team scoring only three points in the final 30 minutes: “This is not real complicated. I don’t know what happened in the second half. They certainly didn’t come out and play.”

Quote of the day, Part II: Griffin joking about the fumble that resulted in a touchdown: “We’ve already gone through this. It was a pitch to Josh. I knew he was going to be there and I’m going to stay with the story.”

Game ball: Alfred Morris gets it after rushing for a career high 124 yards on 22 carries. With 1,106 yards, he broke the Redskins’ rookie record for rushing yards and moved into a tie with Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin for the league lead among rookies.

“It’s huge,” he said. “So much history here and to be able to do that, it says a lot. It’s a blessing, coming from where I came from. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to make the team. But I made the team. I’ve rushed for 1,000 yards and done a lot of things I didn’t think I was going to be able to do. But I believed in myself. And I have a coach that believes in me, and that makes me push that much harder."

By the numbers: The Redskins became the first team in NFL history to have a rookie pass for 2,000 yards and a rookie rush for 1,000 yards, according to the team.

By the numbers, Part II: The Redskins ended a 10-game losing streak at home on Monday night football. Their last win on MNF was over the Cowboys in Oct. 2007.

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

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Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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