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Redskins over/under: Wins and losses

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Redskins over/under: Wins and losses

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.

What stats will the Redskins accomplish as a team?

350 points scored—After ranking 4th in the NFL in 2012 with 436 points scored, the Redskins’ point production declined to 334 (23rd) in 2013 and 301 (26th) last year.

Tandler—Over: The most important factor here may not be on offense. They will be able to score about an extra field goal per game on average if the defense and special teams can provide some improved field position. Oh, and improved quarterback play would help as well.

El-Bashir—Over: Field position and quarterback play are paramount to scoring more points. But so is avoiding drive-killing flags. The Redskins took 57 penalties on offense last season, which was the fifth most in the league. They simply aren’t good enough to give yards away. Discipline was a major emphasis this offseason, and I think it’s going to improve.

450 rushing attempts—The Redskins want to run more than they did last year when they had 401 attempts (21st in NFL). The top rushing teams had around 500 attempts.

Tandler—Over: Again, the defense is part of the puzzle here; if they constantly find themselves behind by 14 in the third quarter they aren’t going to be able to run much. But it also will take a change of Jay Gruden’s mindset. I think he intended to run more last year but didn’t follow through when it came time to relay the play to the quarterback. Having Bill Callahan in his headset every week will help.

El-Bashir—Over: GM Scot McCloughan didn’t throw all that money at run game guru Bill Callahan for nothing. I expect the Redskins to run the ball—a lot—with a combination of Alfred Morris, Matt Jones and Robert Griffin III pushing the team’s attempts into the 450-460 range. Last year, that would have put them 10th in the NFL.

390 points allowed—They did improve last year, giving up 438 points after getting lit up for 478, almost 30 per game, in 2013.

Tandler—Under: The under here is good for the Redskins, so nobody is confused. Even though it will take some time for the new players on defense to gel, 390 is a pretty modest goal.

El-Bashir—Under: Even with an infusion of new talent, I don’t expect the defense to make an enormous leap in Joe Barry’s first year. But I do expect the unit to be better. Getting into the top-20 last year required keeping opponents under 375. That’s doable.

6.5 wins—This is the line most often seen for the Redskins when perusing Vegas and offshore betting sites so we’ll use it here for entertainment purposes only.

Tandler—Under: I have them at six wins right on the nose. As I noted a couple of weeks ago, they have a major hole to climb out of after being outscored by 137 points last year. They could play a lot better and still show only incremental improvement in their record.

El-Bashir—Over: Improvements on defense and along the offensive line + second year under Jay Gruden + the NFC South = 7 wins. I’ve been saying that for months. No reason to revise it—yet. But I reserve the right to make an adjustment after the Redskins host the Dolphins and Rams to open the season.

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Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

There are a lot of questions stemming from Reuben Foster's injury at Redskins OTAs, which looks to be a season-ending one.

Where does Foster, whose career has really yet to take off due to other injuries as well as numerous off-field troubles, go from here? What are Washington's options at inside linebacker now, since they were counting on him to produce?

And then there's this: How does Foster missing this year affect his contract with the 'Skins?

The answer, according to salary cap expert J.I. Halsell, is not much.

"When a contract tolls, that means basically the pause button is pushed and whatever you were supposed to make in 2019 carries over to 2020. That's not the case for Reuben Foster," Halsell said Tuesday while on the Redskins Talk podcast.

"Reuben Foster will earn his $1.29 million salary regardless of if he plays this season or not. While he'll probably spend his entire season on injured reserve, he'll make his $1.29 million in 2019."

Essentially, everything proceeds as normal. And that in and of itself is a decent setback for the organization.

One of the reasons the Redskins dealt with the controversy and backlash when they claimed Foster last November was because they were adding a first-round talent on his rookie contract. The team was hoping they could secure two years of elite play out of him at a bargain price, and then potentially exercise the fifth-year option on him to keep him in D.C. through 2021.

Now, however, they're losing one of those precious seasons and will have to make that decision on his fifth-year option next offseason without any tape or experience to really base that decision on. That's an important choice, and one that will carry significant financial implications as well.

"The fifth-year option for the 2021 season will be pretty expensive," Halsell said. "The long and short of it is it's going to be a lucrative dollar amount and given his injury history, his current injury, you would think that when they have to make that decision by the 2020 Draft, they will decline that option."

Haslell's right. The likelihood of the Burgundy and Gold committing big money to a guy with literally one rep in their uniform — and it's not like he was proven for the 49ers, as a linebacker or as a person, either — feels unbelievably slim. 

Yet — and now we're looking pretty far down the line — if he is able to return from this injury and contribute in 2020, the franchise could still look to keep him beyond that. There's a ton of time between now and then, but it's certainly possible.

"Theoretically, even though you don't have the fifth-year option for 2021, you can work on a contract extension for Reuben Foster assuming he comes back to full health," Haslell explained.

Still, not only does the injury hurt the player as well as the unit the player was going to start on, but it limits the team's potential payoff from claiming the player. The situation, from every angle, is an unfortunate one. 

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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

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USA TODAY Sports Imahes

NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

NEW YORK -- The NFL and the players' union have two new agreements to address player health in the areas of pain management/prescription medications, and behavior well-being.

The joint agreements, announced Monday, are designed to lead to advancement and understanding of dealing with pain and to improve potential treatments. The league and union also will add to programs already established in education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

"I was hired two years ago and when I was hired I was asked about areas of concern," said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's medical chief. "And I said these were two areas I saw from my knowledge of someone taking care of athletes for over two decades. I felt a real need there."

"We've been working together with the players' union to come up with something that would work proactively for both. We have the same goal, to take care of the whole player and in a holistic way, and to focus on prevention."

Among the stipulations in the pain management area will be formation of a committee of medical experts appointed by the league and union that will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies in pain management and the use of prescription medication by players. The committee also will conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.

That committee will receive periodic reports from a newly developed prescription drug monitoring program that will monitor all prescriptions issued to NFL players by club physicians and unaffiliated physicians.

Each NFL club must appoint and pay for a pain management specialist before next season.

All this builds on the programs in place.

"We've had an electronically submitted health record for each club in place for a number of years," Sills said. "Medical providers enter the prescriptions they have given to the players. Periodically, our medical advisory committee and the NFL Physicians Society would issue white paper guidelines around strategies. The important change here is obviously it creates a committee tasked with overseeing our educational efforts -- the best practices around pain management."

All 32 teams now must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players' emotional and mental health and well-being. The old bromide of "toughing it out" when someone has such issues has long been discarded, Sills said.

"This is not novel to the NFL or to sports," Sills added. "It applies across all levels of society at all age groups and walks of life, and we know these are issues we need to address."

While the NFL and NFLPA have had previous joint programs in these health areas, Sills and NFLPA President Eric Winston note these initiatives are a major step forward in medical care.

"These agreements are positive developments for our membership as they will provide new and important resources to help players and their families," Winston said. "Our union has always advocated for advancements in health and safety and we think this work with the NFL is another important step to improve care for NFL players."

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