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Redskins over/under: QB Robert Griffin III

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Redskins over/under: QB Robert Griffin III

In the coming days, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to have some fun with numbers—Las Vegas style. Each morning, we’ll pick a player or unit that’s expected to make a major impact for the Redskins in 2015, set an over/under and then make our predictions. We encourage you to play along in the comments section below.

We’ll get the series underway with a look at the most important player on the team: Robert Griffin III.

10.5 starts—Griffin started seven games last year, missing six with a dislocated ankle and three after he was benched in favor of Colt McCoy

Tandler—Over: I don’t see Griffin getting benched this year. When Jay Gruden tried that last year, the results of two Colt McCoy starts were a 22-point loss to the Colts and a 24-0 loss to the Rams. Griffin may be dinged up a few games but no more than three or four.

El-Bashir—Over: I think Griffin stays healthy and continues to improve incrementally throughout the season. Enough to keep his starting job, anyway. If McCoy and/or Cousins had planned to mount a training camp challenge, they’re off to a slow start. If anything, Griffin appears to have increased the gap between himself and the other QBs.

18.5 touchdown passes—Griffin had 16 in 2013, the middle year in his career both chronologically and in terms of performance.

Tandler—Over: Better red zone play and a better third-down conversion rate (it has no place to go but up) should help the Redskins move up from 26th in the NFL in scoring. The three quarterbacks who started games for them last year had a combined 18 TD passes so a healthy Griffin should throw a few more than that.

El-Bashir—Under: But just barely. For comparison’s sake, Cam Newton, Kyle Orton and Alex Smith tossed 18 touchdowns apiece last season, while Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick each had 19 and Russell Wilson had 20. If Griffin stays healthy and hangs onto his starting job, that’s the company I think he’ll keep.

350 yards rushing—Griffin’s rushing totals have dropped each year from 815 as a rookie to 489 in 2013 to 176 last year.

Tandler—Over: If he starts 16 games, this is a shade over 20 yards per game. That’s about right; I think there will be some read option mixed in here and there and Griffin will make some plays with some legs after scrambling from the pocket. I’ll go with the over but just barely.

El-Bashir—Over: My gut tells me the Redskins are going to run the ball—a lot—and that Griffin is going to factor into that equation. More so that last year, anyway. When it's all said and done, I expect Griffin to rank No. 2 in rushing yards behind Alfred Morris. I also don't think it's a stretch to expect him to hit 90-100 carries and produce 500-600 yards on the ground. Again, that would put him in Cam Newton territory.

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, offense

Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 21, one day before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Redskins player one-liners, offense

A few weeks ago, I did an early projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster on offense and defense. As the team gets ready for OTAs here is a comment on each player expected to make the team on offense; the defense will be up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks

—It seems likely that Alex Smith will jump right into the leadership role on the offense, unlike his predecessor, who often seemed to be a reluctant leader. 

—Since Smith has missed a few games with injuries here and there, the chances of the team needing Colt McCoy to come in and win a key game are greater than they were the past three years. 

Kevin Hogan has from now until the end of the season to show that he can be a viable No. 2 quarterback to help ensure that he has a job here in 2019. 

Running backs

—It’s been a while around here since expectations were this high for a player picked late in the second round but Derrius Guice will try to meet them. 

Chris Thompson could be ready to participate in OTAs but look for him to get a very light workload if he puts on a helmet at all. 

—If Rob Kelley wants to be a regular on the 46-man game day inactive list he will have to play a lot of special teams, something he has done sparingly in his two years in the league. 

—Since the team likely will monitor Guice’s workload as a rookie, Samaje Perine will get some carries in key situations this year. 

Wide receivers

—While Josh Doctson does need to get more chances to use his huge catch radius and take balls away from defenders, he also could benefit by working to get more separation on a regular basis. 

—Smith was one of the best deep ball throwers in the league last year and if he is going to maintain that status he will need to look for Paul Richardson at least a few times per game. 

—After his play leveled off in his second and third years in the league, will Jamison Crowder have a contract year breakout? 

—It will be interesting to see what Maurice Harris can do if he stays healthy and get some consistent playing time. 

—Will Trey Quinn be a project or will the last pick in the draft have some instant impact on the offense? 

Tight ends

—​Jordan Reed could be an All-Pro or he could be a cap casualty in 2019. 

—The numbers say that Vernon Davis needs to have Reed on the field to be consistently productive; he had no more than two receptions in any of the last six games. 

—​Jeremy Sprinkle will be relied upon to block and play special teams and anything he produces in the receptions department will be a bonus. 

Offensive line

—After making the Pro Bowl while dealing with a serious knee injury last year, who knows what Trent Williams can accomplish if he can, you know, practice during the week.

—Right now Shawn Lauvao is the Redskins’ starter at left guard but a trade or free agent signing could change that in a heartbeat.

—Jay Gruden has a great deal of confidence in Chase Roullier as the starting center and the hope is that he keeps the job for many years to come. 

—Will Brandon Scherff take the next step and attain All-Pro status?

—​Morgan Moses dealt with injuries to both ankles last year, but he was the only offensive lineman who didn’t miss at least two starts.

—If I had to bet right now I’d say that Ty Nsekhe will start the season as the backup tackle on both sides and not as the starting left guard. 

—As long as Nsekhe is the swing tackle, Geron Christin is likely to be inactive on game days. 

—​Tyler Catalina will have to battle his way onto the roster but his ability to play both guard and tackle will land him on the 53. 

—​Tony Bergstrom is the answer to the question, “Who is the Redskins backup center?”

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 22
—Training camp starts (7/26) 67
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 81

The Redskins last played a game 140 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 112 days. 

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 20, two days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins

Last week I took a stab at figuring out what the best-case and worst-case scenarios were for the key players on offense and defense. While individual stats are fun to track, it’s what the team does that really matters. What range of outcomes is realistic for the 2018 Redskins? While anything is possible, here are my thoughts on the best they are likely to be able to do and the worst. 

In both cases, I am assuming that the Redskins have reasonably good fortune when it comes to injuries and that the good and bad bounces of the ball equal out over the course of the season. 

Worst case: 6-10, last in NFC East

This is based mostly on Alex Smith having a tough time adjusting to Jay Gruden’s offense, his new teammates, and the NFC. Thinking he could struggle is not just negative thinking, there is history to back it up. 

Smith was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs in 2013. In his first nine games, he completed just 59.7 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and four interceptions He had an adjusted net yards per attempt of 5.23. Had he finished the season there he would have ranked 28th in the NFL. His passer rating was 81.4, which would have ranked 25th. It’s safe to say he was off to a very slow start. 

But the Chiefs went 8-1 in those nine games. It is doubtful that the Redskins could survive such a slow start. In the past three seasons, with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, they were 4-17 in games where Cousins’ passer rating was under 90. If you drop the ceiling to 81, the record drops to 0-14. 

Kansas City managed to start 9-0 in 2013 because of a running game that produced at least 100 yards rushing every game and a defense that got at least one takeaway every game and got three or more turnovers in a game five times. 

Could the Redskins duplicate that and survive a slow start by Smith? It’s possible, but this is the worst-case scenario. And there is no guarantee that the Redskins will significantly improve a running attack that was 27thin the league last year or a rushing defense that was dead last. 

Offensively, the hope is that Derrius Guice will improve the running game. But rookies are, well rookies. And being a high draft pick is no guarantee of success. In the past three drafts, 20 running backers were drafted in the first three rounds. Of those players, four rushed for 750 yards or more as rookies. Maybe Guice will be one of the productive players but the odds are not in his favor. This isn’t saying he will be a bust; however, he may not have instant impact. 

One other note about the rushing game. It’s important to remember that both tackles are coming off of surgery, the right guard was injured last year, the center has all of six starts under his belt, and left guard remains up in the air. Maybe everything will hum when the season starts but that seems like a tall order. 

Improvement in the stopping the run also relies at least in part on rookies. Daron Payne will have an adjustment period as will Tim Settle. The inside linebacker spot should be stronger but it’s hard to say that it will be a strength. The rushing defense probably won’t be last again, but it may not climb out of the twenties in the rankings. 

The Redskins haven’t been awful at getting takeaways, but they have not done it at a consistently game-changing level. They have three or more takeaways in a game five times in their last 30 games. I don’t see any reason to think that this will change dramatically. 

To put the 6-10 worst-case scenario onto the schedule, the Redskins could go 2-4 in the division with splits against the Cowboys and Giants and getting swept by the Eagles. Against the NFC South, which had three teams with 10 wins or more last year, they might be 1-3. That leaves a split with the AFC South (two of the final eight teams in the playoffs last year) and of their two other NFC games for a 6-10 record. 

Best-case scenario: 10-6, Wild card, win a playoff game

This scenario doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation beyond flipping the elements of the worst case into more positive outcomes. 

Smith could pick up where he left off last year when he completed 67.5 percent of his passes and was third in the league with 7.2 adjusted net yards per attempt. Maybe the yards per attempt will drop some as he tries to find a consistent deep target.

A healthy Jordan Reed would help Smith out tremendously. If Reed can participate in most of training camp, the two could hit the ground running. Smith’s ability to connect with Josh Doctson on some 50-50 balls also will be important. 

As for the running game, Guice could break out early behind a line that gels quickly. It’s not out of the question for him to gain 1,000 yards (that’s just about 65 yards per game), maybe a little more. A healthy Chris Thompson could kick in over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. 

Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis could pick up right where they left off last year before Allen was lost for the season with a foot injury and Ioannidis missed two games with a broken hand and was hampered by the injury for a few weeks after that. That would let Payne and Settle, well, settle into the pro game. 

The Redskins also would need at least to maintain the solid pass defense they had last year. And they would benefit from fewer turnovers on offense (27 last year, 26thin the NFL) and by adding a few takeaways to the 23 they got in 2017.

So how could they pull this off? The would need to go 4-2 in the division, with a sweep of the Giants and splits against Philly and Dallas. They then would need 2-2 records against the NFC South and AFC South. That part of it is probably the toughest task. To get to 10 they would need to beat the Cardinals on the road in the season opener and then have a good day against Aaron Rodgers and get a win over the Packers. It’s not an easy road but if enough pieces fall into place it’s not out of the question. 

A 10-6 record should be good enough for a wild-card spot. If they get through their fairly tough schedule with double-digit wins, they should be good enough to go on the road and take out the three or four seed. 

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

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 23
—Training camp starts (7/26) 68
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 82

The Redskins last played a game 139 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 113 days. 

In case you missed it