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Kicking units need to rekindle chemistry

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Kicking units need to rekindle chemistry

Chemistry.Its a word that gets tossed around a lot when discussing NFL field goal and punting units. Yet it remains hard to define and, for some teams, can prove elusive.After adding kicker Billy Cundiff on Aug. 28, the Redskins field goal kicking operation found its groove last week. Now, though, the unit must start all over again as Justin Snow replaces Sundberg, who broke his arm against the Saints on Sunday.Obviously, two out of the three of us are new in just last two or three weeks, said Snow, who was signed Tuesday. Billy got a rhythm with Nick and Sav, and now its all changing again.What shouldnt be underestimated is the importance of the connection between snapper, holder and kicker. Or, for that matter, snapper and punter.Against the Saints, the Redskins field goal unit had no issues as Cundiff made all four of his attempts and four more PATs in a 40-32 victory at the Superdome.But on Monday night, an injury to Pro Bowl snapper Jon Condo cost the Raiders a game. Oakland was forced to use to an ill-prepared backup, who rolled two snaps to the punter and botched another. The miscues led directly to a 22-14 loss to the Chargers.A lot of times it gets overlooked until a situation like that happens, Snow said of the importance of long snappers. Then you end up losing a game. Theres only one of us, and unless you have a great backup, that can happen.Rocca said Snows snaps on punts shouldnt be a problem, given Snows experience. Field goals? Well, thats something else entirely because of all of the moving parts.Its timing, Rocca said. There is a moment where I look away, then look back at the snapper. Once we get all that timing down, that shouldnt be a factor. Its just those couple of days where we iron out all the creases."Snow knows. Hes used to it all, Rocca added before making a joke about getting a new kickerandsnapper less than a month: It keeps things interesting, thats for sure.Of the three, Snow, 35, figures to have the most information to process.Its all the same snap, he said. But you have different language, different verbiage. You have to learn what their calls are, what to expect, just figure out that chemistry with the others.Then theres the actual snap.How far back does the holder need to be to catch 12 oclock laces? Snow continued. The guards on the punt team, figuring out the blocking scheme. Its all the same, but its different as well.Snow, who was unceremoniously released by the Colts after 12 seasons in Indianapolis on cutdown day last month, beat out five other snappers to fill the Redskins opening. Sundberg was granted the teams only injured reserve exception and is expected to take back his spot when his arm heals.For me, I just know I have to perform, Snow said about the temporary nature of his job. Thats all I can control.Cundiff said it took about a week to get comfortable with Sundbergs snaps and Roccas teeing up the ball after he arrived in Washington. He expects the same timeframe with Snow entering the equation.My mantra since I got here essentially is, Be comfortable being uncomfortable, Cundiff said. So, if you start working backward, it took about four times working together before we really started clicking.This week, he added, well probably get two times in practice, then the game will be the third time. So it will be really close.How close? Well find out Sunday.

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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