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Grading the Redskins at the bye: Pass catchers


Grading the Redskins at the bye: Pass catchers

Bye week grades: Tight ends and wide receivers

Through seven games, the Redskins rank as one of the NFL’s most inconsistent teams—from week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, heck, play-to-play. But at 3-4, they’re still in the thick of things as they catch a breather at the bye. It’s been an interesting couple of months, indeed, and over the next few days CSN Mid-Atlantic reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will hand out their first half grades, position-by-position.

Tandler: What was supposed to be a major strength on the team has been reduced to a fairly effective but somewhat scuffling group. DeSean Jackson was supposed to help out all of the other pass catchers by drawing attention as a deep threat but he has not been seen since he pulled a hamstring going deep in the first quarter of the season opener. Jordan Reed has moved the chains and served as an effective red zone target but he missed two games, both losses, with a concussion. Derek Carrier filled in for Reed and caught a few passes but he’s not an impact player. While Jackson has been out, Ryan Grant has been starting and his productivity has been subpar, with 17 receptions for 194 yards. The two pass catchers who save the group grade here are Pierre Garçon, who is the team leader in receptions and the emotional leader on offense, and rookie Jamison Crowder, who has some clutch catches and a few spectacular grabs. I’ll put an up arrow next to the grade here as Jackson should be back soon after the bye and Reed seems to be healthy.

Grade: C.

El-Bashir: This group has been a little underwhelming given its immense talent, but that’s mostly because of the injuries to DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. Could Jackson have avoided the hamstring tear by doing more in the preseason? Perhaps. But that’s an argument for another day. As for Reed, his performance Sunday (11 receptions, two touchdowns) underscored just how important he is to this offense and to Kirk Cousins’ success. When healthy, Reed’s a game-breaker. When he’s not, well, he’s one of the league’s biggest teases. Pierre Garcon, meantime, is on pace for 85 receptions and 800 yards, which seems about right. Andre Roberts has only reeled in nine of his 18 targets, which, unfortunately, also seems about right. Ryan Grant has had some okay efforts (as well as a costly slip in Atlanta), but the second year pro has yet to really break out. Can Grant take the next step? I’m starting to wonder about that. And, yes, I did save the best for last. Jamison Crowder has been a revelation. In fact, the fourth rounder has been the Redskins’ second best offensive player (behind Reed), racking up 19 first downs and 122 yards after the catch. With Jackson expected back after the bye, Reed healthy, Crowder gaining confidence and Cousins seemingly on the upswing, I expect this group to finally fulfill its potential and the Redskins' 17th-ranked passing attack to make a move. 

Grade: C+.

Grading the Redskins at the bye:

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Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Is Adrian Peterson a good fit with the Redskins?

Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs in NFL history.

But is he the best running back for the Redskins right now?

The Redskins signed Peterson, 33 years old and a 12-year NFL veteran, to a one-year contract. They have been hit with injuries at the running back position, most notably the loss of second-round pick Derrius Guice for the season with a torn ACL. They didn’t make any moves when that diagnosis was announced a week and a half ago. But they lost two more backs to short-term injuries last Thursday and they decided that now is the time to go out and get somebody.

Is the need for a running back really there? Rob Kelley was the starter for the last half of the 2016 season and for seven games last year before a variety of ailments sent him to injured reserve. Samaje Perine became the starter after that and while he struggled at time he also showed growth potential.

Kelley is 25 and Perine is 22. In the absence of Guice, they could develop and when Guice returns next year the team would have a good stable of young running backs.

But now, Peterson is in the picture. We don’t yet know what his role will be, but they did not sign him to be the back who is inactive on game days. He will get some carries and that will take work away from Perine and Kelley.

Now, if Peterson is more productive than either of the two younger backs then that is a worthwhile swap. But what does he have left in the tank at age 33?

Last year, playing for the Saints and Cardinals he gained 529 yards on 156 carries, a very pedestrian average of 3.4 years per carry. That is very similar to the production of Perine, who had 175 carries for 603 yards, a 3.4 average. In his two years in the NFL, Kelley has averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

By signing Peterson, however, the Redskins are hoping that Peterson has one more big year, or at least a medium year by his standards, left in him. After all, it was just in 2015 that he led the NFL in rushing for the third time in his career as he ran for 1,485 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. The Redskins would be delighted if he could get half of that total.

Any free agent signing can only be evaluated when the contract details are available. We only know that it’s a one-year deal and according to some reports he did not get any money guaranteed at signing. That seems to be a team friendly deal, but we will have to see what might kick in if he is on the Week 1 roster.

As with everything else, time will tell if this move works out. If the money is right, it’s a low risk transaction with some possible upside for Washington.

Back during minicamp while talking about how quickly Alex Smith would have to get up to speed with the offense, Jay Gruden said that the Redskins are not in a rebuilding mode and that they need to win now. After the trade for Smith, the Peterson signing is another indication that patience may be wearing thin.

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

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Former MVP Adrian Peterson signing with Redskins amid mounting RB injuries

Former MVP Adrian Peterson signing with Redskins amid mounting RB injuries

The Redskins agreed to terms with free agent running back Adrian Peterson, per multiple reports and confirmed by NBC Sports Washington.

Washington added Peterson as their running back group took a number of hits this preseason. Rookie Derrius Guice was lost for the year in the preseason opener, while Byron Marshall, Martez Carter and Samaje Perine got hurt in the second preseason game against the Jets.

Peterson is a huge name. He’s likely headed for the Hall of Fame when his career ends, and he’s one of only a handful of rushers to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season.

His best seasons came with the Vikings, but Peterson hasn’t delivered top flight results since 2015.

If he’s healthy and ready to go, Peterson could be a tremendous steal for the Redskins. There is no way to know until he suits up in the preseason, which could happen as soon as this Friday night against Denver.

On the roster, Washington has Rob Kelley, Kapri Bibbs and Chris Thompson available at running back. At his best, Peterson is significantly better than that group.

Will the Redskins get Peterson at his best?

That’s the big question. And with two preseason games remaining, he will get the chance to prove it.