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Need to Know: This time, it's really a must-win for the Redskins

Need to Know: This time, it's really a must-win for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 7, the day the Washington Redskins visit the Minnesota Vikings.

This time, it's really a must win

After the Redskins lost their opener to the Eagles, some members of the media asked the players if their next game against the Packers was a “must-win”. No, the players said. It was too early.

The same line of questions came up after they lost in Green Bay and prepared to play the Lions. No, they said. Even though 0-3 was not a place where the defending division champs wanted to be, their season wasn’t over if they lost to Detroit.

And so on. Before virtually every game this season someone asked the “must-win” question. And the answer was usually no.

This week, the question wasn’t asked much if at all because the answer is obvious.

Tonight’s game against the Vikings is a must-win game.

For one thing, the Redskins are running out of games. Yes, they were 3-6 last year before embarking on their season-ending run to the division title and they would again be 3-6 if they lose this game. But they can’t keep digging a hole every year and then rely on being able to climb out of it. There is a reason that just four of the 110 teams that started 3-6 since 1990 have made the playoffs—it’s hard to do. The odds of pulling it off for the second year in a row are extremely daunting.

But the main reason they have to win tonight is because if they can’t beat the Vikings you have wonder who they can beat. Their season is in a free fall at 1-7. They have had a revolving door at quarterback; they have tried two different players to replace Christian Ponder but neither Matt Cassel nor Josh Freeman could play well enough to keep Ponder on the bench. They have running back Adrian Peterson and not much else on offense.

On the other side of ball then do have Jared Allen who once was a feared pass rusher. But this year he has given his team 4.5 sacks in exchange for a cap figure in excess of $17 million. Their defense is ranked 29th.

Their talent level is further depleted by injuries. Five Vikings have been ruled out of tonight’s game including a starting cornerback and safety on defense and their starting tight end and right tackle on offense. Meanwhile, the Redskins could dress and play all 53 players if the rules permitted.

In short, even though the Redskins are not exactly world beaters at 3-5, this game is a mismatch. Given the Vikings’ injuries the only position on the field where they have an advantage over the Redskins is at running back. And even there isn’t not a huge advantage; Peterson has just 25 more yards rushing this season than does Alfred Morris (711-686) and Morris has a considerably better average yards per carry (Morris 5.2, Peterson 4.6).

All that said, it’s an NFL game and anything can happen. If things don’t happen the right way for the Redskins tonight they will be 3-6 and a week of talking about another lost season will ensue. If they win they will move to 4-5 and will be able to sit back and see if they can get some help from the Saints (hosting the Cowboys) and the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers (hosting the Eagles). If those games turn out well for the Redskins they will be in second place just a half game out of the division lead.

But it all starts with tonight’s must-win game.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins’ opponents in the games they have played so far have a cumulative record of 38-28. The teams they have beaten are 12-12 and the teams they lost to are 26-16.


—Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 10; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 18; Giants @ Redskins 24

—Today’s schedule: Redskins at Vikings 8:25.

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler


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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 

Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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