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NFC wild card race gets tighter but Redskins still in control

NFC wild card race gets tighter but Redskins still in control

The objects in the Redskins’ rearview mirror really are as close as they appear.

With one relevant game to go in Week 12, the 6-4-1 Redskins are still in the driver’s seat for the sixth and final NFC playoff spot. But they need to keep their foot on the gas as their margin for error is slim.

With a win over the Seahawks on Sunday the Buccaneers moved to 6-5 and the Vikings dropped to 6-5 after they lost to the Lions on Thanksgiving. Both of those teams are a half game behind the Redskins. The Eagles could join that group if they win at home over the Packers on Monday night.

Meanwhile, the Giants won over the Browns to move to 8-3. Nobody has clinched anything but New York is very much in control of the top wild card spot. Their schedule gets considerably tougher in the coming weeks, and they could falter, but for the time being we will put them into fifth seed, the top wild card spot, and look at what’s happening with the race for the sixth seed.

Here are the non-division leading NFC teams who have at least six wins plus the Eagles and their remaining schedules.

Redskins (6-4-1), @Cardinals, @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Bucs (6-5), @Chargers, Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Vikings (6-5), Cowboys, @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Eagles (5-5), Packers, @Bengals, Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—Wins in their last five games to move to 11-4-1 would clinch a playoff spot for the Redskins. No other team in the wild card picture can get to more than 10 wins. If the Redskins go 4-1 the rest of the way either the Bucs, Vikings, or Eagles would have to sweep their remaining games to knock the Redskins out of the No. 6 spot.

—While the Redskins are capable of getting hot and winning four or all five of their remaining games a 3-2 finish seems more realistic. If they finish 9-6-1 a team would have to go 10-6 to finish ahead of them. The Bucs or Vikings would need to win four out of five pass Washington and the Eagles would need five wins in their last six starting tonight.

—The only team the Redskins play that currently has a winning record is the Giants in the season finale. The Bucs and Vikings also play just one team over .500 each while the Eagles’ last four games are all against winning teams who are either leading their division or in a wild card position.  

—The Redskins and Bucs has three of their last five games on the road. Both the Vikings and Eagles have three of their final five at home, plus the Eagles are at home tonight.

—The wild cards in the wild card races are the games in Weeks 16 and 17. Will the Giants have their playoff position locked in when they come to FedEx on January 1? Will the Cowboys want Tony Romo to knock off some rust in the season finale in Philly? How badly will the Packers want to play spoiler to the Vikings’ hopes?

MORE: Questions mounting for Dustin Hopkins, but he's not making excuses

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Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, according to a report from ESPN

He will join the staff of first-year head coach Joe Judge.

Garrett was recently let go after a 10-year unimpressive stint with the Dallas Cowboys. In that span, he only led the team to three playoff appearances and with that two playoff wins. 

The team under-performed in 2019 after starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations. Stumbling to an 8-8 record, It became clear that Garrett was the not the answer at head coach. Following the end of the regular season, the team decided to go in another direction replacing him with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

The Princeton alum led the Cowboys to an 85-67 overall record during his tenure in Dallas.

As a former backup QB for the Giants (2000-03) and Cowboys (1993-99), he has an extensive background in game-planning against the NFC East.

Judge was named head coach on Jan. 7 after spending eight seasons with the Patriots. He was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2015, and also became the team's wide receiver coach in 2019.

Garrett and Judge will be tasked with developing a young roster with some intriguing options at their disposal, as well as the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft.

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DeAngelo Hall defends cornerback Josh Norman, but believes Redskins should move on

DeAngelo Hall defends cornerback Josh Norman, but believes Redskins should move on

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has drawn criticism because of his performance in D.C. during his 5-year, $75 million contract he signed in April 2016. Former Redskins defensive back DeAngelo Hall came to Norman’s defense during a radio appearance with Craig Hoffman on 106.7 The Fan on Friday.

“He does compete, he’s a competitor. And if I have a football player on my roster who’s a competitor, who wants to be out there, who fights hard and plays hard, I’m [going to] find a way to put him in position to make plays,” Hall said. “I think we could’ve done a much, much better job of putting Josh in position to make plays.”

In November, then-interim head coach Bill Callahan benched Norman, and the 32-year-old cornerback played just 10 defensive snaps over the last six games of the season. Should Washington choose to cut ties with Norman this offseason before June 1, the team would save $12.5 million of cap space.

Hall, who interviewed for the Redskins’ defensive backs’ coaching position last January, said Norman wasn’t given the chance to be the leader of the defense. Hall said some of that was self-inflicted because of Norman’s habits and preparation, but a portion of that was because of schematics. 

“I always told those coaches ‘If you want Josh to be a leader — because Josh wants to be a leader — you’ve got to put him in a position to make plays, the same way Carolina put him in a position to make plays,” Hall said. 

The peak of Norman’s career came in 2015 under the direction of Washington’s newly hired head coach Ron Rivera. In that all-pro season, Norman recorded 56 tackles, 18 passes defended, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two touchdowns. 

Hall believes Norman still possesses that all-pro ability; it just needs to be tapped with the right defensive scheme. Hall compared the situation to Richard Sherman, who has revitalized his career in San Francisco after battling injuries. 

“It’s not because [Sherman] is the best lockdown man-to-man corner. It’s because they play Sherm in a system that he’s able to succeed and shine, and they put players around him so that he can make plays,” he said. “If we [would’ve] done the same thing to Josh Norman, he could’ve been an all-pro player here, too, just like he was in Carolina.”

Despite Hall’s belief in Norman’s ability, and the presumption that Rivera and new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will run a similar system to what Norman played in with the Panthers, the former Redskins defensive back doesn’t think the $15 million price tag is worth it for a franchise that has other holes to fill.

“I, as a fan, would love to have Josh back on this team, in this defense that I feel will be similar to Carolina,” Hall said. “But to me, it doesn’t make sense to bring Josh back for $15 million. It’s just a big pill to swallow when you can do a lot with that money on a team that needs a lot of help.”

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