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Redskins' playoff hopes still alive after comfortable win over Bears

Redskins' playoff hopes still alive after comfortable win over Bears

CHICAGO—The Redskins came into Soldier Field in desperate need of a win and they played like it. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, intercepted Bears quarterback Matt Barkley five times, and rolled over the Bears by a score of 41-21.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins bounced back for a shaky performance last Monday night against the Panthers. He completed 18 of 29 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two scores.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Redskins ran the ball well, picking up 208 yards on the ground. It was their best game running the ball in since they rushed for 230 yards in their Week 6 win over the Eagles.

DeSean Jackson was Cousins’ favorite target in the first half with five receptions for 114 yards. He left the game early in the third quarter with a jaw injury and did not return. Check back here for updates on Jackson’s status.

Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland had two interceptions each and Will Blackmon had the other one. The Redskins got 13 points off of the turnovers.

At 8-6-1, the Redskins will still be alive in the playoff race going into next Sunday’s game against the Giants at FedEx Field. They will need help but after today’s game they are very much in the picture.

Injury Updates:

RB Rob Kelley left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. His return was announced as questionable. He returned to the game in the third quarter.

CB Bashaud Breeland left the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter. His return was announced as questionable. He returned to the game later in the third.

WR DeSean Jackson left the game in the third quarter with a jaw injury. His return was announced as questionable.

S Donte Whitner left the game in the fourth quarter with a quad injury.

Scoring drives:  

First quarter           

Thompson 7 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards, 3:35

Drive summary: The Redskins got moving on their second possession with Rob Kelly runs of five and eight yards and then Kirk Cousins passes to Pierre Garçon for 16 and DeSean Jackson for 21 got a first down in the red zone at the Chicago 15. On third and two at the seven Chris Thompson popped up the middle and into the end zone for the score.

Redskins 7, Bears 0 7:43

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Thompson 17 pass from Cousins (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 5 plays, 80 yards, 2:25

Drive summary: The Redskins got started with a Cousins pass over the middle to Jackson. The receiver tucked in and raced for 57 yards to the Chicago 18. On third and nine at the 17 Cousins flipped a screen pass to Thompson and he followed his blocking and ran into the end zone.

Redskins 14, Bears 0 0:57

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Second quarter      

FG Hopkins 29

Drive: 9 plays, 88 yards. 4:40

Drive summary: The Redskins started in a hole at their own one yard line after a Bashaud Breeland interception but they got out of it quickly with a pass from Cousins to Garçon for 45 yards. A few plays later on third and one Cousins went deep to Garçon for 46 yards to the Chicago 16. On third and seven, Cousins’ pass to Jackson was short of the sticks and Hopkins came in to extend the Redskins’ lead.

Redskins 17, Bears 0 10:07

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Langford 1 run (Barth kick)

Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:47

Drive summary: The Bears converted a third and seven with a nine-yard pass from Barkley to Alshon Jeffery to start the drive. On the next play Jordan Howard ran for 13 yards and then 15 more were tacked on for a horse collar tackle. That got the Bears a first down in Redskins territory at the 35. On third and eight at the 33 Barkley fired to Cameron Meredith over the middle for 32 yards to the one. On the next play Jeremy Langford powered up the middle for the touchdown.

Redskins 17, Bears 7  6:20

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Cousins 9 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 9 plays, 91 yards, 4:39

Drive summary: The Redskins got a couple of third and long conversions of their own to jump-start this drive. On third and 10 from the nine, Cousins went over the middle to Jackson for 29 yards. A few plays later on third and 11 Jackson drew a pass interference flag that move the ball into Bears territory at the 35. Two Kelley runs gained a total of 11 yards for another first down. Then Kelley found room up the middle for 15 yards for a first and goal at the nine. On the next play Cousins ran a read option around right end for the touchdown.

Redskins 24, Bears 7

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Meredith 21 pass from Barkley (Barth kick)

Drive: 4 plays, 75 yards, 1:07

Drive summary: The Bears got a quick drive after getting possession in the last two minutes. Barkley went deep to Jeffery for 37 yards to the Redskins 21. On the next play Barkley found Meredith open in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

Redskins 24, Bears 14 0:34

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Third quarter               

Cousins 1 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 13 plays, 55 yards, 6:37

Drive summary: The Redskins got good field position at their own 45 after a Josh Norman interception. On third and six, Cousins scrambled for eight yards and a first down at the Chicago 43. On third and one, Kelley fought for a yard and was awarded the first down after a measurement. A few plays later on third and five at the 28 Cousins scrambled around in the pocket and found Vernon Davis near the sideline for 13 yards and a first down at the 15. On third and two at the seven, Kelley was stuffed for no gain but a hands to the face penalty gave the Redskins a first and goal at the three. Two plays later Cousins snuck in for the touchdown.

Redskins 31, Bears 14

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Fourth quarter

FG Hopkins 20

Drive: 4 plays, 8 yards, 1:43

Drive summary: Will Blackmon got the Redskins’ fourth interception of the game and returned it 79 yards to the Chicago nine. On third and goal at the one Cousins threw incomplete and Hopkins came in and kicked the short field goal.

Redskins 34, Bears 14

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Thompson 3 pass from Barkley (Barth

Drive: 11 plays, 85 yards, 5:05

Drive summary: The Bears got a late, window dressing scoring drive, using Jordan Howard’s running and Barkley’s passing to a first down at the Redskins 33. Barkley the went to Meredith for 17 yards and then to Jeffery for 14 yards to the three. On the next play Barkley went to Deonte Thompson for the score.

Redskins 34, Bears 21 1:21

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Brown 61 run (Hopkins kick)

Drive: 3 plays, 67 yards, 0:24

Drive summary: The Redskins were just trying to run out the clock when Mack Brown went up the middle, burst into daylight, and motored 61 yards into the end zone.

Redskins 41, Bears 21 0:57

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, defense

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 22, 66 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins player one-liners, defense

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 defense; the offense was up yesterday

Defensive line

—Even though he played just 159 snaps last year before getting injured, the experience that Jonathan Allen gained in the offseason and training camp last year will help him get off to a strong start this season. 

—​Daron Payne will improve as the season goes on but he should be of some help stopping the run, the team’s most glaring weakness, right off the bat. 

—​Matt Ioannidis could play his way into an early contract extension a year from now, something nobody saw coming a year ago. 

—Last year Anthony Lanier played a little over half a season’s worth of snaps and got 5.0 sacks so I’ll put his over/under for this year at 7.5. 

—I think many fans see “Redskins veteran free agent D-lineman” and associate “bust” but Stacy McGee played pretty well last year. 

—Will Tim Settle be in at nose tackle for the first snap in Week 1?

—The coaches would like to be able to keep Ziggy Hood on the roster, but injuries and other issues could make him a victim of the roster numbers game. 

Inside linebackers

—​Zach Brown struggled a bit before injuries forced him out of the last three games, but he still finished in the top 10 in the NFL in tackles. 

—The team re-signing Mason Foster in late January was a low-key but potentially very impactful move. 

—After getting cut and then returning in November last year, Zach Vigil probably will be employed with the Redskins for all of the 2018 season. 

—It will be interesting to see how much the Redskins try to get out of converted safety Josh Harvey-Clemons as a nickel linebacker this year. 

—The Redskins moved up in the sixth round to draft Shaun Dion Hamilton, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he has a regular role on defense before the season is out. 

Outside linebackers

—All Preston Smith needs to do to hit it big in free agency is add a few sacks to his 2017 total and get a few more takeaways. 

—​Ryan Kerrigan already got paid, he’s a few more good years away from making the Redskins Ring of Fame. 

—I predict that Ryan Anderson gets his first NFL sack in Week 2 against the Colts. 

—You usually think of outside linebackers rotating in when it’s the nickel defense, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Pernell McPhee be a regular in short-yardage situations. 

Cornerbacks

—I think Josh Norman will the dancing in the end zone at some this season; he is long overdue to get a pick six (or a pick of any sort for that matter).

—The first time I noticed Quinton Dunbar playing cornerback was when he lined up against Odell Beckham in 2015. 

—The success of the Redskins’ decisions to trade Kendall Fuller and to let Bashaud Breeland leave as a free agent will hinge mostly on how well Fabian Moreau plays in his second year in the NFL.

—Realistically, the Redskins can hope to get 10 or 12 good games out of Orlando Scandrick

—And because Scandrick is unlikely to be healthy for 16 games, the ability of Josh Holsey to step in when needed will be critical. 

—If the Redskins can get a few good punt returns and 75 snaps at nickel corner from Greg Stroman he will be worth the seventh-round pick they used to draft him. 

Safeties

—With a year in the defense under his belt, D.J. Swearinger is a candidate to make his first Pro Bowl. 

—After Jay Gruden compared him to Jordan Reed, there is a lot of pressure on Montae Nicholson to stay on the field and perform well when he is out there. 

—Even though he started eight games last year I think the coaches view Deshazor Everett as more of a special teams guy and situational defender than a safety they want playing 70 snaps a game. 

—​Troy Apke has a lot to learn and it remains to be seen if he can go from being a fast guy to being a fast NFL football player.

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) 21
—Training camp starts (7/26) 66
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 80

The Redskins last played a game 142 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 110 days. 

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Trades, misses and mistakes explain the Redskins' dead cap situation

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Trades, misses and mistakes explain the Redskins' dead cap situation

Cut bait. Sunk cost. Under water. 

Whatever the term might be, all industries deploy a certain phrase for wasted money. In the NFL, that term is dead cap, or the salary cap space a team must allocate for a particular player that has been cut or traded. 

In the specific case of the Redskins, the team carries more than $5.2 millon in dead cap space. Where did it come from? Who's to blame? Let's take a look.

Terrell McClain ($3.75M) - The Redskins signed McClain away from the Cowboys early in the 2017 free agency period. The move wasn't quite a disaster, but it wasn't very good. Washington gave McClain a four-year deal worth $21 million, and paid out nearly $7.5 million for the 2017 season. McClain never played well for the Redskins, started just two games and this offseason he agreed to give up a significant chunk of guaranteed money. Without that move from McClain, this cap hit would have been much worse. 

Su'a Cravens ($711k) - The money isn't as big of a loss as the talent. The Redskins selected Cravens in the second round of the 2016 Draft and he showed promise as a rookie while also dealing with injuries. In 2017, however, things fell apart as Cravens dealt with a training camp injury, discussed retiring from football and eventually found himself on the reserved/left squad list for the season. Prior to the 2018 Draft, the Redskins worked a deal to send Cravens to Denver for an additional fifth round pick as well as swapping picks. 

Kendall Fuller ($360k) - A promising young cornerback, the Redskins traded Fuller to Kansas City this offseason as part of a package to acquire QB Alex Smith. Losing Fullers stings — even head coach Jay Gruden admitted that — but Washington had to find a quarterback after the long-discussed Kirk Cousins saga veered toward, and eventually ended in, separation. 

Matt Jones ($150k) - One of the worst Redskins draft picks in the last five years, Washington reached for Jones in the third-round in 2015. As a rookie, Jones looked like a solid contributor, but in the 2016 season he developed a bad fumbling habit and found his way to the bench. From there, things got worse, as Jones ended the season on the inactive list after a squabble about playing special teams. In 2017, Jones was cut. He signed with the Colts, where he played in just five games and was cut earlier this year. This offseason, Jones signed with the Eagles.

Arie Kouandjio ($130K) - This is a weird one. Kouandjio was selected by the Redskins in 2015, and cut by the team in 2017. The dead money comes from that rookie deal. When Washington brought Kouandjio back late in the 2017 season off the Ravens' practice squad, the dead money from the rookie deal remained. Now, Kouandjio is injured and a candidate to start the 2018 season on the PUP list or maybe even the IR. 

Robert Davis ($103k) - Drafted as a sixth-rounder in 2017, Davis did not make the team leaving training camp. Even though he got signed to the practice squad, the dead money tolls from the rookie deal. 

Nate Sudfeld ($69k) - A late-round developmental prospect from the 2016 draft, Sudfeld made the team as a rookie but couldn't survive cuts in 2017. Quickly signed by the Eagles, Sudfeld ended up as the backup quarterback in Philadelphia's improbable Super Bowl run earlier this year. Dead money on the Redskins cap, but a Super Bowl ring in Philly. Strange. 

Tyler Catalina and Kevin Bowen account for about $12,000 in dead cap space as well. 

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