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Grading the Redskins: Defense picked apart in Pittsburgh

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Grading the Redskins: Defense picked apart in Pittsburgh

Defense

Grade vs. Steelers: D 

Comment: Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers produced all the points they would need on their first three drives. In fact, the Steelers scored on four drives in a row to start the game, opening a 20-6 lead before halftime.

Roethlisberger passed for 173 of his 222 passing yards in the first half as he used an array of short and intermediate passes to pick apart the Redskins’ maligned pass defense.

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said Roethlisberger’s short drop, quick release passes – and the Redskins’ inability to get to the veteran quarterback – were the key to the Steelers’ victory. Roethlisberger was not sacked and was only hit once while attempting a pass, according to NFL stats.

“He was throwing the ball quicker than you would think,” Kerrigan said. “That was a bit of an adjustment for us. We’re used to him scrambling around a lot. That’s what we’ve seen on the film, but he was able to do more three-step drops.” 

The Redskins’ run defense didn’t fare much better against reserve tailback Jonathan Dwyer. Washington had held its previous five opponents under 100 yards, but the Steelers racked up 140 – 107 of which were accumulated by Dwyer, who started because of injuries to Rashard Mendehall and Isaac Redman.

Missed tackles hurt the Redskins. But so did the Steelers’ new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, who kept Washington’s defenders guessing – up front and on the backend.

“They had us kind of off balance, between the runs and the passes,” veteran cornerback DeAngelo Hall said afterward. “They called a great game.”

When the Redskins host the Panthers next week, they’ll be one of only five teams yielding 400 or more yards per game. They’ll also rank last in passing yards (314.3) allowed per game and passing touchdowns yielded (19).

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Redskins rank surprisingly low on oddsmakers list of landing spots for Kyler Murray

Redskins rank surprisingly low on oddsmakers list of landing spots for Kyler Murray

The Redskins need a quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, but plenty of other teams do too. At least that's the way oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag believe.

The sports book released future landing spots for Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, who declared for the NFL Draft on Monday, and the Redskins don't crack the Top 5. 

Per BetOnline, the most likely spot for Murray to land is with the Raiders. Oakland holds the fourth overall selection, and the three teams ahead of them all have quarterbacks in place (Arizona/Rosen, San Francisco/Garoppolo, New York Jets/Darnold).

While Murray isn't likely the top QB on the draft board, that would be Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, it might make sense to give the Raiders the best chance of landing the Heisman winner since hypothetically Oakland will be the first team stepping to the podium looking for a passer. The Raiders still have Derek Carr under contract, but Oakland boss Jon Gruden hasn't seemed too enamored with his signal caller. 

After Oakland, three more teams pop up before the Redskins. Below is the full list. 

BetOnline: Who Will Draft Kyler Murray 2019 Draft?

Oakland Raiders        3/1       
Jacksonville Jaguars   7/2       
New York Giants        4/1       
Arizona Cardinals      5/1       
Denver Broncos         8/1       
Miami Dolphins         8/1       
Washington Redskins    8/1       
Tampa Bay Buccaneers  12/1

There is a lot to digest from this list, especially given that the Cardinals have higher odds of taking Murray than other QB needy teams. Arizona just spent a first-round pick on Josh Rosen last season. He wasn't particularly impressive as a rookie, but will the Cards give up on him that quick? Keep in mind there has been a coaching change in the desert and new head man Kliff Kingsbury has talked gushingly about Murray's talent. 

The Jags and the Giants make sense. New York holds the 6th overall selection and Jacksonville the 7th, and both need QBs. Even if the Giants want to keep Eli Manning another season, they'd be crazy not to snap up Haskins if he gets to six. And if Haskins goes at six, maybe the Jaguars take Murray at seven. Clearly the oddsmakers see that as a more likely scenario than the Giants picking Murray.

Finally, the Redskins. 

Tied with two other QB needy teams at 8-1, the Redskins odds actually seem appropriate: Hardly a sure thing, but it could happen.

Washington has Alex Smith and Colt McCoy under contract for 2019, but Smith seems unlikely to play next season after suffering a severe leg injury in 2018. McCoy should be healthy, but he's had plenty of injury issues in the past and will be in the last year of his contract. The Redskins need a QB, both for 2019 and for the future. The real question is if the organization wants to commit a first round pick on any passer, let alone somebody that lacks prototypical size like the 5-foot-10 Murray. 

The Broncos and the Dolphins both pick before Washington, and keep in mind the NFL Draft is always full of unexpected trades, especially when first-round QBs are in sight. Miami has no starting QB under contract for 2019, and the Broncos have Case Keenum for another season but hardly seem married to the journeyman. 

Tampa Bay making the list as the long shot adds up. The Bucs just hired Bruce Arians to come in and make things work with former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. Drafting another QB in the first round seems unlikely for Arians, but after four years of Winston, not completely out of the question either. 

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Three questions for a potential Derrius Guice-Adrian Peterson-Chris Thompson backfield

Three questions for a potential Derrius Guice-Adrian Peterson-Chris Thompson backfield

Fewer than 24 hours after the 2018 season ended, Chris Thompson was already looking ahead to 2019 and what could be a very dangerous Redskins running back group.

"He's going to be ready for sure," Thompson said about Derrius Guice. "You know how AP came back from his [torn] ACL, how freakish he was after that, so I'm excited for him."

"Speaking of AP," he added, referring to Adrian Peterson, "I'm excited for him, too, and I hope we can get him back as well."

Fans of the Burgundy and Gold are right to be concerned about a lot of the team's future. But a running back trio of Thompson, Guice, and Peterson would be one huge reason to anticipate next year.

With that being said, while those names look tremendous on a depth chart, questions still remain about how it'd all work on the field. Here are three of the biggest ones worth asking.

1) How would Peterson and Guice fit together?

Peterson's a free agent, so first, the team would need to re-sign him. If they do, next up would be figuring out how to make sure he and Guice could co-exist.

The future Hall of Famer is a classic No. 1 option, the type of guy who thrives the more times he gets to carry the ball and who stares at his head coach when he's not receiving enough action. His best games with the 'Skins came when his attempts neared or exceeded 20, and while game flow played a large role in determining the number of rushes he racked up, he simply plays better the more he gets to wear down a defense.

Next year, though, Washington will want to get a lot out of their 2018 second-rounder and see how dynamic he can be as a pro. Peterson's recent stint with the Saints was a brief but unsuccessful experience for him trying to fit in amongst a rotation of RBs, and though he's said he'd have no problem splitting carries with Guice, it remains to be seen how effective that timeshare would be.

2) Could all three stay healthy enough?

A three-headed monster is significantly less useful when one or more of those heads is in street clothes or on IR. Unfortunately, that's something the Redskins would have to worry about with this lineup.

Guice had knee issues late in his career at LSU and went down with a season-ending knee injury in his first preseason game last August. Thompson has missed six games in each of the past two seasons. Weirdly enough, the 33-year-old Peterson has the most recent track record of durability, but how long can that realistically last?

If there's been anything to learn about this franchise the past few seasons, it's that injuries will strike and, often times, they'll strike key players. Perhaps they'd be better served moving forward with Guice and then substituting Thompson and/or Peterson for a younger or more durable threat. 

3) Could Jay Gruden figure out a way to use combinations of them at the same time?

If all three backs return for 2019, putting any one of them on the field would give Jay Gruden an enticing talent to use. Where things could really open up, however, is if he could play two of them in the backfield at the same time.

Gruden put together packages for Peterson/Thompson and Byron Marshall toward the end of last season, but those packages were sent out behind a torn up offensive line and with very limited QBs.

A Guice-Peterson pair or Guice-Thompson pair behind healthy blockers and a non-Mark Sanchez passer, though? Now you're putting some fear into a defense and giving your offense the advantage. But it'd be on Gruden and other offensive coaches to scheme those up and then deploy them enough to find a rhythm. 

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