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Redskins report card: Aces for O-line, Gruden, DJax

Redskins report card: Aces for O-line, Gruden, DJax

Here is my report card on various players, coaches, and other aspects of the Redskins’ 41-21 win over the Bears. If I missed an important grade or if you disagree with my assessment, feel free to hit me up in the comments or on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

A

The Redskins’ offensive line allowed no sacks for the fourth time this season and the team rushed for 208 yards, the second-highest total of the season. There was nothing not to like.

DeSean Jackson was the only player to get an A after the Panthers debacle and he gets one again this week. Five receptions for 114 yards was impressive but he could have put up some historic numbers if he had not missed most of the second half with a jaw contusion.

On a short week after a bad loss Jay Gruden had his guys ready to play. The only strategic error he made was not challenging the spot after Jamison Crowder caught a third-down pass and appeared to have a first down before going out of bounds. It was marked short and it looked like a challenge would have been successful. Gruden kept the red flag in his pocket. But the score was 31-14 late in the third quarter so that can be overlooked.

Since returning from his suspension OT Trent Williams has not allowed a sack or a QB hit. And he was flatting Bears in the run game on Saturday. It’s hard to say that the four games off were a good thing but it Williams is much fresher than he normally is at this time of year after 15 games of pounding.  

Normally, passing for 270 yards and one TD might only warrant a B for QB Kirk Cousins. But adding in the two touchdown runs, one on the nifty read option play, and Cousins gets pushed up to an A.

B

How about RB Mack Brown coming in for a dinged-up Rob Kelley and picking up 82 yards on his first eight NFL carries? Brown put the bow on the Christmas Eve win with a 61-yard TD run.

I dog OLB Preston Smith when he is invisible during games so he gets some credit here. He flipped momentum with a field goal block and he also got a sack, a QB hit, and two hurries. If his other sack had not been negated by an unrelated hands to the face penalty he would have received an A (sorry, if it doesn’t count it can’t go into the grade).

RB Rob Kelley bounced back from having little production against Carolina (it wasn’t really his fault that he couldn't run through the wall of Panthers on every attempt) and had a solid game. It could have been a very good game but he played sparingly in the second half due to a knee sprain.

On four touches RG Chris Thompson gained 37 yards and scored two touchdowns. His grade is held back by his limited action. But he did make the most of what he got.

Not only did CB Josh Norman get his hands on some passes, he picked off two of them.

CB Bashaud Breeland got a pair of picks as well.

C

Jordan Reed has been out or very limited the last four games and TE Vernon Davis hasn’t filled his shoes. He had one reception for 13 yards and had a shot at a touchdown catch but it slipped through his fingers. In those four games, Davis has not found the end zone.

D

S Duke Ihenacho missed a couple of tackles and took some bad angles on Jordan Howard runs. The Bears’ back’s big game is not all on the D-line.  

The Redskins allowed an offense with a quarterback who couldn’t shoot straight to convert 70 percent of third downs. That’s some bad third-down defense.

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'There is no next Sean': Clinton Portis is against Landon Collins wearing No. 21

'There is no next Sean': Clinton Portis is against Landon Collins wearing No. 21

Landon Collins wore No. 21 with the Giants to honor Sean Taylor and now that he's with the Redskins, Collins wants to continue to do so if he gets permission from Taylor's family.

"I hope, that's big shoes to fill," the safety said at his introductory presser last week.

Clinton Portis, though, doesn't like the idea at all.

Portis, one of Taylor's closest friends and a longtime teammate of the beloved defensive back, has said in multiple interviews he has no interest in seeing Collins, or anyone for that matter, put on that jersey again.

"That's the one thing fans have to hold on to," Portis said while on 106.7 The Fan's Grant and Danny show. "I don't think he's going to be Sean Taylor. There is no next Sean."

"21, that’s sacred," he told The Athletic. "Why even play with people? Why even spark people’s memories? Retire that jersey." 

During a recent poll on NBC Sports Washington's Redskins 100 that more than 2,000 fans participated in, 52 percent said they wouldn't want to see Collins don the uniform, while 48 percent approved.

Like Portis, JP Finlay thinks Collins should find another set of digits, too. He explained why on the Redskins Talk podcast:

Of course, the decision really comes down to how Taylor's family feels about it, and there's no doubting how much Collins would appreciate the chance to take the field with No. 21 on his back.  

The fact that this is such a prominent discussion, though, shows how much Taylor means to the Redskins community. 21 isn't just a number when it's in burgundy and gold. In D.C. it means much, much more.

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: Are Byron Murphy and Dalton Risner legitimate options or luxuries?

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: Are Byron Murphy and Dalton Risner legitimate options or luxuries?

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Round 1: Byron Murphy vs. Dalton Risner

The second matchup in the 2019 Redskins Draft Bracket features two players with talent and potential you can't question.

What you can question, though, is whether they're legitimate choices at pick No. 15 or more on the luxury side of things, meaning the team would be better served scooping up someone who plays a position they need more immediate help at.

Murphy is a corner from Washington, while Risner is a versatile offensive lineman from Kansas State. As of now, you could make a relatively easy case that the 2019 Redskins have bigger needs at quarterback, edge rusher and receiver than they do in the secondary and up front.

With that being said, you still absolutely shouldn't count out either guy as viable selections for the Burgundy and Gold in the first round.

When it comes to corner, Josh Norman isn't on the most stable ground and he easily could be gone after this year. In 2017, the Redskins drafted Fabian Moreau despite being somewhat settled at CB because they knew Bashaud Breeland wouldn't be around much longer, guaranteeing they had a replacement ready to roll. Taking Murphy would give them similar insurance for a Norman departure.

NFL.com calls him a "ball-hawking man corner who makes up for a lack of physical tools with outstanding instincts, toughness, and short-area quickness." Sounds like a valuable asset in today's league, doesn't it?

As for Risner, his natural position is tackle, a place the 'Skins have two very expensive starters at already. His NFL.com profile, though, has an intriguing piece in it that makes him appealing as well.

"He has the necessary tools to get guys blocked on the NFL level... Risner will need to prove he can handle NFL edge speed, but a move inside could be a failsafe option for him."

If you're reading this blog, you're well aware how badly Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan need a left guard. Could Risner slide in there for the time being, then either remain there long-term like Brandon Scherff or become a tackle in a few seasons once Trent Williams moves on? If so, he too becomes a worthwhile pick.

The main takeaway is that you shouldn't get fully bogged down in what this franchise needs today. Injuries, contracts and underperformance can turn positions of strengths into major holes in one year.

If the Redskins end up with Murphy or Risner in April, sure, you may not be thrilled with it the moment after the card gets turned in. But there's a good chance you'd warm up to them very quickly, considering the way rosters rapidly change.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.

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