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Gruden wants a Redskins locker room "full of Ryan Kerrigans"

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Gruden wants a Redskins locker room "full of Ryan Kerrigans"

RICHMOND—The second-happiest man in Richmond after Ryan Kerrigan agreed to a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension was Jay Gruden.

The Redskins head coach is a big fan of the fifth-year linebacker. “Great kid, obviously. Drafted here. A Redskin,” Gruden told the media on the eve of training camp. “He loves the area, loves this football team. We love rewarding guys like that. . . . We’re happy to have him. We’d love to have a locker room full of Ryan Kerrigans, that’s for sure.”

Gruden thinks that Kerrigan is capable of having better seasons than the one he had last year when he registered 13.5 sacks, a career high and the seventh best in the NFL. But he needs some help.

“He can get to another level, we have to give him a chance to get to another level,” said Gruden. “We have to play with a lead, make teams have to throw in the fourth quarter so he can get his numbers up . . . Unfortunately, we were behind in a lot of games in the fourth quarter.”

Among other topics covered by Gruden at his news conference:

—The entire 90-man roster should be able to take the field tomorrow. There were some injury concerns about OT Trent Williams, Kerrigan, OL Morgan Moses, CB DeAngelo Hall, and TE Jordan Reed.  “So far we have clearance on all of those guys,” said Gruden. “We expect them to be full go. We’ll monitor them as they go.”

—The team’s top priority will be what you would expect with a team that has won a combined seven games in the last two year. “We’re trying to improve as a football team, No. 1,” said Gruden. “That’s what we’re trying to do every day is improve in a certain area of our game. We also critique our players and find out who our best 53 are. That’s an ongoing process.”

—Now that Kerrigan has signed the team shifts it’s attention to re-signing Williams, the team’s Pro Bowl left tackle. Gruden said that talks are ongoing and that they will not be a distraction. “I saw him out there running today, he looked like a gazelle,” Gruden said of the 6-5, 318-lb. lineman. “He’s in great spirits and he’s going to work hard no matter what the contract situation.”

— The team made a lot of changes from signing five defensive free agents, making 10 picks in the draft, brining in a new defensive coordinator, several new position coaches, a new strength and conditioning staff, and a new general manager in Scot McCloughan. “We had to make some changes,” said Gruden. “If you keep everything status quo you’re probably going to get the same results . . . I feel like we’re a lot better,  no question about it. We attacked free agency in a positive way . . . We did a good job in the draft, we got some young players with very talented skills and we feel good about moving forward.”

—Gruden was not concerned about some negative, anonymous comments about fourth-year quarterback Robert Griffin III. “There’s always comments about the quarterback position, good and bad, no matter where you are,” said Gruden, a former college and Arena League QB. “It’s just something you have to deal with as a quarterback . . . We’re excited about him here, the work that he’s put in to get his body right. The work he’s put in to get his mind right. Now it’s just a matter of going out here and continue to coach our offense and watching him get better.”

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

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Need to Know: The five best teams the Redskins will play in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 15, 11 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best teams the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Most of the focus will be on individuals such as quarterbacks and pass rushers, but we’re going to get started with the best teams on the schedule. These are roughly ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. 

1. Eagles (13-3, Super Bowl champs)—They were fifth overall in DVOA and the second-ranked team on the schedule. But DVOA is calculated for the regular season only and you have to say that by the time the playoffs were over that the Eagles had taken their game up a few notches over everyone else. They haven’t lost much over the offseason, putting them at the top of the heap and the Redskins play them twice. 

2. Saints (11-5, lost in divisional round)—New Orleans was the top team in DVOA in 2017. After a couple of mediocre seasons, the Saints have retooled, and they will make a push to get Drew Brees his second Super Bowl ring. They play in Week 5, which means that Mark Ingram will be back from his four-game suspension to open the season and he will be alongside Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield. They both had over 100 yards from scrimmage when the teams played last year. 

3. Jaguars (10-6, lost AFC title game)—They finally made the jump after failing for the last few years as the trendy preseason pick. It was no fluke as they outscored their opponents by 149 points on the season. Their quarterback situation is far from ideal with Blake Bortles, but they are strong enough defensively (first in defensive DVOA) to rely on their running game. 

4. Panthers (11-5, lost in wild-card round)—They certainly have had the Redskins’ number, winning the last six matchups, a streak going back to 2009. This doesn’t seem to be one of those fluke situations. The Redskins simply have problems matching up with Cam Newton. Carolina also is solid defensively (No. 7 in DVOA). 

5. Falcons (10-6, lost in divisional round)—Even though the Cowboys ranked a couple of notches ahead of the Falcons in DVOA, I’m putting the Falcons ahead of them. Dallas doesn’t have a good enough defense to win with their running game. I’ve always been a big Matt Ryan fan and a lot more people would be too if he hadn’t been victimized by poor defense and bad play calling in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. Add in Julio Jones and their running backs and you have a scary offense. Defensively they are not that good but I still like their unit better than that of the Cowboys.

Rest of top 10:

6. Packers—Almost put them ahead of Falcons, their DVOA suffered last year with Rodgers out.
7. Cowboys—Even with problems on D, still have the Redskins’ number.
8. Texans—Way down the DVOA rankings last year but they will the tough with J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson back. 
9. Titans—I’m not sure if they’re ready to take the next step up but they will be hard to beat. 
10. Bucs—The bolstered a defense that already with tough with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea.  

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) 11
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 25
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 48

The Redskins last played a game 196 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 56 days. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Breaking down the Alexander pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 14, 12 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

Is Junior Galette hinting at a possible return to the Redskins? I would be very surprised if Galette ever wears a Redskins uniform again although it would make sense for them to talk to him. I think the Redskins should be very nervous about their depth at outside linebacker. Pernell McPhee can get them some pressure, but he has missed 10 games over the last two seasons. Ryan Anderson’s next NFL sack will be his first. You can’t have too many pass rushers; the Redskins could well find themselves in a spot where they don’t have enough. 

Upside outweighed risk in Redskins' selection of Alexander—The selection of Adonis Alexander wasn’t quite a no-brainer, but it was not a tough call for the Redskins to make. Torrian Gray, who recruited and coached Alexander at Virginia Tech, gave the green light so it came down to his potential and what draft pick they were willing to give up. They have two in the fifth round next year and they had three in the sixth. They might as well get one of those late Saturday afternoon picks in a year early and see what they have. We have more analysis of the Alexander pick here and here

If Guice is legitimate, the Redskins running game could explode—With the exception of the 2012-2013 seasons, when quarterback Robert Griffin III was kicking in a lot of yards on the ground, the Redskins have not been in the top 10 in the league in rushing yards since 2008. Derrius Guice could help change that. Read the post for my in-depth look at the running back position. 

Madden has a clear answer for the Alex Smith-Kirk Cousins debate—I don’t know much about Madden ratings, so I don’t have a lot to add here. It doesn’t look to me like the difference between the ratings of Smith and Cousins constitute and “clear” advantage but, again, what do I know?

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Joe Jacoby belongs in the Hall of Fame. If you’re reading this, I think you know that. 

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

Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 12
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 26
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 54

The Redskins last played a game 195 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 57 days. 

In case you missed it