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Need to Know: Redskins' Robinson enters camp as established starter

Need to Know: Redskins' Robinson enters camp as established starter

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 28, two days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

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Five thoughts on the state of the Redskins with training camp just a couple of days away:

—I’m going to be very interested in seeing Trey Williams running in pads in training camp and in games with full contact in the preseason. It’s not that hard for a smaller guy with speed to look pretty good in shorts and helmets during OTAs and minicamp. It’s another step for a guy like Williams (5-7, 195) to get it going when the going gets tougher. He’s very much a long shot to make the roster but if he can survive getting hit the coaching staff could become very interested.

—It’s rather amazing that a year ago we really didn’t know if Keenan Robinson could fill the shoes of the retired London Fletcher at Mike linebacker. Going into training camp the position is no longer a question mark as Robinson was very good calling the defensive signals and making plays. Mike Shanahan is rightfully criticized for missing on many mid-round draft picks but he has to be given credit for taking Robinson in the fourth in 2012. There is plenty of talk about new contracts for Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams but Robinson is another 2016 free agent who needs a new deal.

—When Robinson was the heir apparent to Fletcher in 2012, he got onto the field in some situations (Robinson missed 2013 with an injury). That was an exception to how Jim Haslett usually did things. His philosophy was to play his defensive back seven starters nearly 100 percent of the snaps. I wonder if Martrell Spaight, who could be Perry Riley’s replacement, will get some snaps in situations this year. Will Compton, who also could replace Riley at some point, played very sparingly in the games he did not start last year. It will be interesting to see how much of a look Joe Barry will give Spaight and Compton.

—Speaking of new deals, my man JP Finlay has an interesting post on a possible future contract for Robert Griffin III. Joe Theismann thinks he’ll be in $100 million territory, former agent Joel Corry disagrees. It’s hard to say before the season unfolds but if he does end up playing well enough for the Redskins to want to extend him I think that most fans will find the announced numbers to be shockingly high. But how much the deal is really worth, of course, will depend on true guarantees and other details.

—According to the weather forecasters in Richmond, the Redskins should be able to avoid afternoon thunderstorms for at least the first several days of practice. They took a chance by moving the main practice of the day from 8:30 a.m. last year to 3 p.m. this year. With no practice bubble in Richmond and a propensity for thunderstorms to develop in the afternoon there Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen will both be counting the days that they get by without having to cancel a full practice.

Timeline

—Former Redskins Pro Bowl offensive tackle Chris Samuels was born on this date in 1977.

—It’s been 212 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 47 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 2; Preseason opener @ Browns 16; final cuts 39

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With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

The Redskins got going quickly on offense against the Packers on Sunday. They scored in four plays the first time they had the ball. After a three and out they drove to another touchdown. In the second quarter they embarked on the longest touchdown drive they have had since 1999, a 98-yard march. By the time halftime came they had scored 28 points. 

That’s great but that four touchdowns are not always enough to beat an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. In 2016, the last season that Rodgers played all 16 games, Green Bay averaged 27 points per game. Basically, no lead is safe. 

But Jay Gruden played it very safe with the offensive play calling in the second half. Alex Smith, who was on fire in the first half, attempted only five passes in the last 30 minutes. They had 57 yards rushing in the second half, 32 of which came on the Redskins final possession when they drove for a field goal, their only points of the final two quarters. 

It was a similar performance to their season opener against the Cardinals when they were up 21-0 at halftime and then posted just a field goal in the second quarter. 

While the lack of offense in the second half of the Redskins’ two wins has been a talking point among fans and in the media, the key point is that both games turned out in the Redskins’ favor. They now have a defense that Gruden can trust to hold a lead. 

In Arizona, the Redskins defense gave up a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but the lead was never in danger. On Sunday, a fourth-down stop and a takeaway kept the Packers game from ever getting to be a one-score game. 

In the second halves of their three games, including the Week 2 loss to the Colts, the Redskins have given up an average of 147 yards and seven points. It’s a small sample size but so far, they are doing a good job of shutting the door. 

Another thing the Redskins have been doing well defensively is preventing big plays. The longest play against them was the 64-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Packers. Other than that, they have given up just four plays that gained over 20 yards and none longer than 27 yards. 

They are second in total defense. They are giving up a miniscule 4.3 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, a full two yards less than the league average. If you prefer to use the more traditional passer rating stat, opponents have compiled a 77.0, well below the league aggregate rating of 91.2. Again, it’s early but this is a good start. 

The Washington defense will need to keep it going the next two weeks. First up after the bye is Drew Brees of the Saints, who is healthy and completing over 80 percent of his passes. New Orleans also has running back Alvin Kamara, one of the best two-way threats in the game. After that is Cam Newton of the Panthers, who the Redskins never have beaten, and his dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey. 

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NFC East Update: Eagles, Redskins separate from Cowboys, Giants

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NFC East Update: Eagles, Redskins separate from Cowboys, Giants

The season remains young, but a clear declination appears to be forming in the NFC East. The Redskins and Eagles boast capable offenses, and the Giants and Cowboys do not. 

With the Redskins getting the first bye of the division this week, records going forward will not reflect the same number of games played. In a way, that means this could be the most fair comparison for some time of the four NFC East squads. Let's get to it:

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)

The big news on Broad Street wasn't that the Eagles got a Week 3 win, but rather the successful return of QB Carson Wentz. He played fine in the 20-16 win over the Colts, not great, but having the gifted young passer back on the field for the first time since a 2017 knee injury provides a big boost for the Eagles.

Philly also piled up more than 150 rush yards in their Week 3 win while holding the Colts running backs to less than 40 yards on the ground. That's the Eagles formula to stack up wins.

Up next: Sept. 30th @ Tennessee

Washington Redskins (2-1)

Talk about a big rebound. The Redskins dominated the first half of play against Green Bay and finished with a double digit win over the Packers. In their two wins, the Redskins have looked like one of the best squads in the NFL. Unfortunately, the ugly loss to Indianapolis sits in the middle.

Still, with the Redskins on a bye for Week 4, fans should be quite encouraged with the state of their team. Adrian Peterson looks to have plenty left in the tank and questions about Alex Smith's ability to find his wideouts seem overblown. Defensively, a young, ferocious group of linemen appear to be the best the team has had in a long time. The offensive line is banged up, and the bye will be quite useful for that group. Of the NFC East teams, the Redskins have the best point differential at +20, which happens with two double digit wins.

Up next: Oct. 8th @ New Orleans

Dallas Cowboys (1-2)

Through three weeks, the Cowboys offense is terrible. Dallas ranks 30th in points-per-game and 31st in yard-per-game. There are only 32 teams. The pass game is killing the Cowboys, as Dak Prescott is averaging less than 150 pass yards per game. That's real bad, but it's not all his fault.

Dallas cut Dez Bryant in the offseason and did nothing to address his absence. The defense is active and physical up front, but in the NFL, teams need to score points. Right now, it's unclear if Dallas will be able to at a reasonable level. 

Up next: Sept. 30th vs Detroit

New York Giants (1-2)

The only team with a division loss, the Giants logged a surprise good win in Week 3 in Houston. Not quite as bad as Dallas on offense, the Giants merely rank in the bottom third of the league in total yards and points-per-game.

Despite the emergence of rookie Saquon Barkley, the Giants are averaging just 87 yards-per-game on the ground. The biggest problem for Big Blue remains the offensive line, and don't expect it to get much better this year. 

Up next: Sept. 30th vs New Orleans

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