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Need to Know: 5 burning Redskins questions on offense

Need to Know: 5 burning Redskins questions on offense

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 4, 13 days before the start of minicamp.

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After a 3-13 season there are always plenty of questions surrounding an NFL team. Here is a look at the five top questions facing the Redskins’ offense (yesterday we answered five burning questions about the defense).

Will DeSean Jackson be DeSean Jackson? Sometimes a change of scenery is just what a player needs. But often changing everything that led to a player being successful can result in a drop off in production. Everything is different for Jackson this year and we’ll see if he’s energized or lost.

Can an effective line be cobbled together? It seems that Jay Gruden still wants to be able to run the outside zone plays that have been so successful for the Redskins recently but he also wants size on the line to form a solid passing pocket. Well, I’d like to eat whatever I want, not exercise, and still lose weight. But I can’t have it both ways and Gruden may not be able to either. If his line is going to work he may have to go with beef on the line and put Morgan Moses and Spencer Long into the lineup and hope that Alfred Morris can be effective in a power running game.

Can Jordan Reed stay healthy? It’s almost an unfair question since last year was the only time in his football career he missed any significant time. But it’s a legitimate concern with the emphasized sensitivity to concussion issues. Reed could be the different between the offense being very effective and being just OK.

Is Alfred Morris a top five back? He was in 2012 but his production slipped last year. That could well have been due to an offense that just wasn’t hitting on all cylinders. But he thrived as a rookie when Robert Griffin III had the read option going. Gruden has said that that offense is going to be much more of a wrinkle than a staple. Will Morris be able to thrive in Gruden’s scheme?

How well does RG3 bounce back? This is the overriding question. It’s difficult to see the Redskins having a successful season without Griffin performing more like he did in 2012 than he did in 2013. There is reason to believe that a return to full health and an offseason spent polishing his game rather than rehabbing his knee will result in better play. Until we see it on the field, however, that’s just an assumption.

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Timeline

—It’s been 157 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 95 days until they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Minicamp starts 13; Training camp 50; Redskins @ Eagles 109

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

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NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities. Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention.

Think about that. After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world.

That’s wild.

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet.

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. And fans loved him for it. The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.
Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air.

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run in by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in.

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action.

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it.

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same.

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics.

It wasn’t all laughter.

Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast.

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated.

As for crying, Tandler wasn’t much of one. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye.

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend.

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Fans, Redskins pay tribute to longtime NBC Sports Washington reporter Rich Tandler

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NBC Sports Washington

Fans, Redskins pay tribute to longtime NBC Sports Washington reporter Rich Tandler

NBC Sports Washington lost an important piece of its family this week when longtime Redskins reporter Rich Tandler died on Tuesday. He was 63.

Tandler joined NBC Sports Washington in 2011. He began his writing career in his 40s after working in restaurants and created his blog, Real Redskins, in 2004, which became the longest-running blog on the team. He also wrote three books on the Redskins and posted an estimated 2,300 consecutive “Need To Know” posts, becoming a must-read for Redskins fans as part of their morning routine.

“We’re devastated to learn of the loss of one of our most loved and valued media members, Rich Tandler of NBC Sports Washington,” Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement. “His dedication to covering the Redskins over the past 14 years has made him an irreplaceable presence among our media corps, and he will be in our hearts. Our thoughts are with his family, our family at NBC Sports Washington, and the entire Redskins community. He will be truly missed.”

The team will hold a moment of silence for Tandler before its game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and will keep his regular seat on press row empty. On Wednesday, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith offered his “thoughts and prayers to his family.”

“Rich’s kind and warm nature made him a good friend and an especially close colleague to many of us at NBC Sports Washington,” NBC Sports Washington General Manager Damon Phillips said in a statement. “His passion for his work and the Redskins was inspiring and made him a critical part of many of our successes over the past seven years. This is a very big loss for the sports community. Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.”

Fans, Redskins players, fellow reporters, and friends of Tandler paid tribute to him on social media.

“Incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of NBCSW’s Rich Tandler. He was a great talent and an important voice in the DC sports community. Our thoughts are with his wife @MissSkeetersmom, his family and his family at @NBCSWashington,” Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis wrote on Twitter.