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Need to Know: The Redskins month that was—Salary cap, schedule, the draft

Need to Know: The Redskins month that was—Salary cap, schedule, the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 30, 24 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 12
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 24
—Training camp starts (7/27) 88
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 133

A look at the Redskins month that was

Here is a look back at some of the most popular and talked about posts of April on CSNmidatlantic.com and on RealRedskins.com. 

2011 bill comes due, Redskins' salary cap space shrinks—The sudden disappearance of $4.5 million in salary cap money got a lot of fans riled up. But it goes back to 2011 when the cap unexpectedly shrunk with the new CBA and teams were allowed to “borrow” cap money from future years and pay it back by 2017. The Redskins’ bill came due and, as they had planned, they had to pay it back.

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—I think most agreed that it was a pretty fair schedule. The only complaint I had was that they have to play on the road before hosting their Thanksgiving Day game. But it’s just a trip to New Orleans for a 1:00 game, only one time zone over. It’s not ideal but it is a much better deal than having to play a Sunday night game and then go on the road for Thanksgiving like they had to last year. It’s a moderately tough slate but that was determined already by the rotation of playing the different AFC and NFC divisions.

Redskins agree to deal with big free agent—When it was reported that Pro Bowl linebacker Zach Brown was coming to Redskins Park for a visit, nobody thought that much would come of it. Brown had been trying to reach a deal with the Raiders and it looked like his visit was just a negotiating ploy. But he signed a one-year deal and the inside linebacker corps got an injection of speed, athleticism, and playmaking ability

Impossible to probable? Draft day slide could land Redskins a steal —Nobody thought that Jonathan Allen, a consensus top-five talent, would fall to the Redskins at pick No 17. Well, nobody but colleague J.P. Finlay and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Media, anyway.

Redskins have kept focus on defense at the Draft—This was written after the first three rounds. For the first time in 20 years, the Redskins had drafted defensive players in the first three rounds. And after they added another defensive player, safety Montae Nicholson, with the second pick of the fourth round they had taken a defensive player in each of the firrst four rounds of the draft for the first time in the common draft era (since 1967). Add to that Brown and three other defensive free agents signed prior to the draft and you have the organization making an effort to upgrade the defense, just like they said they would.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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The Redskins' inability to execute one of football's simplest plays is maddening and costly

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The Redskins' inability to execute one of football's simplest plays is maddening and costly

On the list of factors why the Redskins lost to the 49ers on Sunday, it's not as high up as Adrian Peterson's unfortunate second half fumble, Dustin Hopkins' early missed field goal or the passing game's immense struggles in some disgusting weather.

But Washington not being able to pick up a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter against San Francisco hurt quite a bit. Unfortunately, the Burgundy and Gold are seemingly incapable of executing one of the simplest plays in football, which prevented that 10-play drive from continuing and possibly prevented the game's end result from being different.

In recent seasons, when teams use a QB sneak on third- or fourth-and-1, they convert almost 90-percent of the time. When they opt to hand it off for an inside or outside zone run, meanwhile, they convert a little less than 70-percent of the time.

Yet against the Niners on that second quarter possession, Bill Callahan and Kevin O'Connell called for a Peterson run up the middle. Peterson was stuffed at San Fran's 29-yard line, ending what was one of their better chances at putting up points on a day where they'd ultimately be shut out.

Could that decision have been influenced by something that happened back in Week 3? It's possible.

In their Monday night matchup with the Bears, Case Keenum and the offense were trying to generate a late comeback and found themselves facing a fourth-and-1 at Chicago's 16. They were down 13 points and had seven minutes left. It was a long shot, yes, but they had a shot.

In that spot, thankfully, Jay Gruden and Co. chose to sneak it. However, Keenum tried to go over the top — which is basically an unheard of maneuver anywhere except the goal line — and he was stripped. It was a disastrous disaster.

Maybe that turnover affected the non-sneak versus the 49ers. Maybe it didn't. Either way, the Redskins botched a sneak once this year then went away from it in another key situation. It has now cost them twice already in seven contests. 

In case you forgot, here's a reminder: QB sneaks are successful almost 90-percent of the time when one yard is needed to move the chains. For some reason, Washington can't take advantage of those odds.

It's not exciting. It's not complex. But the QB sneak is as close to automatic as it gets in the NFL. The only thing more automatic these days, apparently, is the Redskins making the incorrect call when it matters most.

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Awful loss or strong effort? Redskins have to fight the status quo

Awful loss or strong effort? Redskins have to fight the status quo

In the last week, the Redskins won their first game of the season in Miami and held an undefeated San Francisco team to just nine points in a tough loss. 

If you want to believe those are good results and the first steps toward redemption in an otherwise lost season, then stop reading. 

The reality is far uglier than those numbers.

Washington barely beat a terrible Dolphins team in a game that came down to literally the last second and a dropped two-point conversion. A win is a win in the NFL, but in the ranks of wins, it wasn't worth significant celebration. 

Then came Sunday's game against San Francisco. In the first half, the Redskins defense impressed, holding Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo to just 10 yards passing. 10 yards! The game looked quite winnable at the half, and really into the third quarter. Eventually, however, the Redskins fell apart. San Fran figured out a way to move the ball, Adrian Peterson had an incredibly poorly timed fumble, and the Washington offense proved completely inept of any chunk yardage plays through the air. 

If the Redskins beat San Francisco, things would be different. They didn't.

An intense rainstorm that hovered over FedEx Field during the game was Washington's biggest advantage. The weather hurt both offenses, but rendered the Redskins pass game completely inept. Quarterback Case Keenum finished the game with fewer than 80 yards passing, and while Garoppolo wasn't impressive, he still nearly doubled that total.

Keenum isn't the Redskins only problem, but he is a problem. And the bigger issue is the team's reluctance to go to rookie QB Dwayne Haskins.

The 15th overall pick from Ohio State might not be a completely developed prospect, but he also seems capable of hitting the numbers Keenum has in the last two games. In those two contests, Keenum has 243 passing yards, good for an average of 121.5 pass yards-per-game.

If Haskins can't deliver that level of performance then the Redskins have a big problem. If the team is committed to giving Haskins the full year on the bench for development, then come out and say it. Lay out a specific plan for the rookie, but don't just make vague statements about his readiness level and decide to stick with Keenum. 

"Dwayne’s still learning. I think he’d be the first one to tell you that," Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said after the 49ers game.

"We still have faith, total faith, in Case and his ability to manage this offense and run this offense and execute everything within it. We’re moving forward with Case at this juncture," Callahan said.

The weather absolutely limited Keenum's ability to make plays in the pass game against San Francisco, but Garoppolo played in the same weather. The Patriots have total faith in Tom Brady. The Texans have total faith in Deshaun Watson. The Redskins have total faith in Case Keenum?

The idea here isn't to make things completely about the quarterback position. The Redskins issues are bigger than that, and it'd be naive to pretend differently.

A major issue for the organization comes from complacency, a comfort with the status quo. Obviously the team made a major change two weeks ago to fire Jay Gruden. Booting a head coach in season, after five weeks, is a major decision, but in Washington it did not bring major change. 

Gruden wasn't great, but he was a cog in a machine that churned out mediocre football. This season the machine went from mediocre to bad. Firing Gruden might not fix that machine. 

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