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Need to Know: The Redskins' five biggest 2014 roster blunders

Need to Know: The Redskins' five biggest 2014 roster blunders

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 14, 106 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock for the first round of the NFL draft.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question comes from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/PhonsyFmrCeo/status/554954064979443712

This is something that is more the subject of a series of articles rather than a single post but since it’s going to be a week or more before we can get to them, there are some quick takes about the roster going into the 2014 season and what went wrong:

Orakpo’s franchise tag—It wasn’t a terrible gamble and preferable to one alternative, which was to give into his camp’s demands for a long-term contract. But it sure did blow up on them, with Orakpo having just a half a sack in seven games before his season-ending injury. He was handling the other aspects of playing linebacker well, in coverage and against the run, but an $11.45 million dollar salary comes with expectations to be a playmaker and he did not deliver there.

Scrimping at right tackle—They could have had Donald Penn, who did a good job for the Raiders at left tackle this year, at right tackle but they wouldn’t up their offer and pay him a little closer to what a left tackle makes. Had the matched the Raider’s two-year, $10 million offer, or come close, he would have been with the Redskins. Instead, they paid Tyler Polumbus $2.5 million to play his way onto the bench halfway through the season. A Penn-Trent Williams bookend set would have helped the offense considerably and Penn could have slid over to the left side when Williams was injured.

Safety on the cheap—The Redskins and safety Mike Mitchell were about half a million bucks apart in their negotiations on the first night of free agency. They couldn’t close the gap and Mitchell signed with the Steelers. I don’t have to go into a lot of detail about what weaknesses at the safety position cost this team.

Lack of upgrade on special teams—The signed Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton, and Adam Hayward to help with special teams. Sharpton didn’t play at all and Jordan played just two games due to injuries. Hayward’s season ended early with a broken leg. Sharpton had an injury history so the Redskins perhaps should have known better than to rely on him.

Signing Jason Hatcher—Were the Redskins better of with him and his 5.5 sacks? Sure. But like Orakpo, the Redskins did not get enough bang to the buck. He will end up getting paid about $13 million for two seasons and will leave a dead cap hit of some $4.5 million if he is let go after the 2015 season.

Any more to add? Chime in below in the comments.

Timeline

—It’s been 17 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 242 days until they play another one

Days until: NFL free agency starts 55; 2015 NFL Draft 106

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the FedEx Field end zones ditched their usual gold trim for some pink instead. As it turns out, burgundy and pink go quite well together.

The reason for the change was to celebrate the Redskins Breast Cancer Awareness game as well as the 20th anniversary of Tanya Snyder's THINK-PINK! campaign.

Mrs. Snyder started the movement two decades ago by passing out 8,000 handmade pink ribbons at the team's stadium meant to remind people that early detection of breast cancer can make a major difference.

Now, her campaign has gone league-wide and is the reason you see so many players wearing pink in October, fans waving pink towels in the stands and other awareness-raising initiatives throughout the NFL.

"Very, very, very proud," Snyder said while handing out ribbons before the Washington-Carolina game. "We're not finished, but we are making a difference with early detection. So I'm beaming." 

For more information on Snyder and the NFL's breast cancer efforts, head to redskins.com/thinkpink. And for more details about the events held at FedEx Field during Week 6, check out the video above.

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Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

If you want to, you can find plenty of things wrong with the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers. The home team was up 17-0 in the second quarter and yet had to hang on as the Panthers reached the red zone with a chance to win in the last minute. The game got tight because the Redskins continued their second-half scoring problems, putting up just six points. Alex Smith passed for just 153 yards. 

But you can’t poke holes in the fact that the Redskins are 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Sure, there is a long way to go. But consider this—a Redskins schedule that looked rough at the beginning of the season doesn’t look quite as tough. In fact, right now the Redskins have a better winning percentage than any team they will play in their remaining 11 games. 

Yes, that’s right. They have six games to play in the division, two each against the Cowboys and Eagles, both now 3-3, and the 1-5 Giants. Their two remaining games against the NFC South are against the 2-3 Bucs and the 2-4 Falcons. The schedule is rounded out with games against three AFC South teams, the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars. All three of those teams are tied atop the division at 3-3. 

Of course, you can’t expect all of these teams to still be wallowing around .500 when they face the Redskins. It looks like the Eagles and Falcons are on the upswing and in today’s NFL any team can get hot at any time. 

And, as the Redskins demonstrated in their Week 2 loss to the Colts, they are capable of losing to a weak team. They still have plenty of issues they have to correct if they plan on maintaining their winning record and staying in contention for the division title. They won’t survive if they continue to have difficulty scoring in the second half (their only second-half TD this season came in garbage time against the Saints). They need to get more sacks from Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who have one combined. Plenty of details need to be ironed out. 

But the fact that they are a flawed team doesn’t take away from the fact that they got a quality win over the Panthers. Carolina was 3-1, coming off of an 11-5 playoff season. On top of that, the Redskins had not beaten the Panthers since 2006, a stretch that included an 0-4 record against Cam Newton. They didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this year and they got a season-high three takeaways. Christian McCaffrey came into the game averaging 83 yards per game and left it averaging 70 after picking up 20 yards on eight carries. 

With all of that said, the Redskins still have to overcome their inconsistency. They have won two games in a row just twice since the beginning of the 2017 season. Nobody is going to believe that anything is different about the Redskins until they can string together three or four wins in a row. Until then, skepticism will abound. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler