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Need to Know: One-liners on every Redskins player, defensive edition

Need to Know: One-liners on every Redskins player, defensive edition

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 28, 6 days before the Washington Redskins play the Arizona Cardinals.


Today's schedule: Off day

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 13; Panthers @ Redskins 21; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 26

Redskins roster one per player one liners—defense

Over the next two days I’ll do a quick assessment of every player on the roster. I looked at the offense yesterday, here's the defense. 

DE Chris Baker isn’t racking up a lot of sacks but will the other things he’s doing be enough to get the Redskins (or another team) to give him a solid contract to a lineman who will turn 30 early in the 2017 season?

—The new Redskins fullback is OLB Houston Bates, has been doing it occasionally while playing sparingly on defense.

S Will Blackmon has done a competent job at free safety since stepping in for the injured DeAngelo Hall but the Redskins likely will seek to upgrade the position in the offseason.

—I think that both the Redskins and CB Bashaud Breeland are going to want to see what the player can do in 2017 before committing to a long-term contract.

—When it comes to getting the defense lined up ILB Will Compton does a good job but he does lead the team in missed tackles.

—I don’t understand why many fans and some in the media are so anxious to move LB Su’a Cravens to safety when he’s making such a big impact in his current hybrid role in the front seven.

CB Quinton Dunbar is still learning how to play cornerback and he’ll be pretty good (not great) when he gets it figured out.

S Deshazor Everett has been active every game but he hasn’t played a snap on defense; all of his action has come on special teams.

ILB Mason Foster has been ceding some snaps to Cravens and it seems to be helping him; he has been making plays sideline to sideline when he has been in.

—At the start of the year CB Kendall Fuller was on the bench and if he doesn’t work through his current problems pretty quickly he could find himself back there.

ILB Terence Garvin is another special teams specialist, playing only 37 snaps on defense this year.

—Nobody was sure if DL Ziggy Hood would make the team and although he hustled and makes some plays here and there the fact that he has played nearly 500 snaps is an indictment of the quality of the D-line.

—The word on S Duke Ihenacho is that he freelances too much and that hurts his playing time opportunities.

—Fifth-round draft pick DE Matt Ioannidis was able to work his way off of the practice squad and he got some snaps early but lately he has been a regular on the healthy inactives list.

DE Ricky Jean Francois is a team leader and a great locker room guy who does a pretty good job in the 25 snaps or so he plays per game.

—The fact that the Redskins picked up DE Cullen Jenkins in Week 2 is yet another indictment of the quality of the line although, like Hood, he works hard and is a good presence on the team.

—Although OLB Ryan Kerrigan is among the league leaders in sacks with 9.0 it would help if he can help out more in the takeaway department; he has no fumbles recovered and just one forced.

—The coaches are excited about the prospects of DE Anthony Lanier developing into a good pass rusher but don’t expect to see much out of him until 2017, maybe 2018.

—Raise your hand if you thought that OLB Trent Murphy would be second on the team with 7.0 sacks through 11 games. Anyone?

CB Josh Norman is a lightning rod for attention but not so much for opponents’ passes; big plays have been lacking.

—The defense needs impact plays from OLB Preston Smith and, outside of the Vikings game, he hasn’t delivered this year.

—There aren’t enough snaps for ILB Martrell Spaight so his play mostly has been confined to special teams.

—During training camp it looked like CB Greg Toler would have a role in the defense but except for a couple of games when he filled in for injured players his snap count has been in single digits each week.

—The first week after he signed in Week 5 S Donte Whitner playing sparingly but since then he has missed just a handful of snaps. Again, the Redskins need to upgrade at safety.

And, let’s not forget about the specialists:

—Although K Dustin Hopkins has been in a bit of a slump the Redskins are better off letting him work through it than they would be exploring other options.

—What looked like an early slump by P Tress Way is something he now carries into November, with his net punting average and kicks inside the 20 both second worst in the league.

—We have received no estimate on how long LS Nick Sundberg will be out but you have to think that if he’s not ready soon he could head to IR and Rick Lovato would handle the snaps the rest of the way.

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.


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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins GM Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."