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Results more important than process

Results more important than process

The main complaint about the Washington Redskins draft that is making the rounds is that they didn't "address" the defensive line. It's a complaint heard almost every year as the Redskins do generally ignore the D-line during the annual selection meeting.

Of course, Rob Jackson of Kansas State, the defensive end that the Redskins took in the seventh round in the last dozen picks might take umbrage to such remarks, but nobody is expecting big things out of him, probably not even Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.

Not since 1997, when they tabbed Kennard Lang in the first round, have the Skins used their initial pick for a defensive lineman. Since then the first line of defense has received very limited draft-day attention in the form of late-round draft picks like Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston.

A funny thing has happened during the time that the Redskins have been neglecting the defensive line on the last weekend in April. The defense has been pretty good. Not necessarily great, not dominant, but good enough to win with.

How good? Starting with the 2000 season, the Redskins defense has been ranked 7, 13, 21, 24, 5, 9, 27, and 11 in points allowed. In those eight years they've been in the top 10 three times and in the top half of the league a total of five times.

Whatever method the Redskins are using to acquire defensive players has been working. To worry about where they have acquired their personnel is to be concerned with process over results.

The Redskins have not been mediocre this decade because of their defense. They have struggled because they haven't been able to score points. In that same eight-year span, from 2000-2007 their NFL rankings in point scored have been 24, 28, 25, 22, 31, 13, 20, and 18. They haven't been in the top 10 once and they were in the bottom half of the league in seven of the eight years.

That sounds to me like a team that needs to score more points. They have a ways to go here to move from being awful to merely run of the mill.

We keep on hearing that the Redskins should go after beefing up the defensive line because that's how the Giants won the Super Bowl. It's a copycat league and trying to overwhelm the other team with a fierce pass rush is a solid strategy in any era.

But the Giants weren't the team that was on the verge of being anointed the greatest of all time. That team was the Patriots, the team that added three veteran wide receivers in the offseason and became the greatest scoring machine in league history.

Now, which team do you want to copy? The one that lost six games, had to become road warriors, and needed a miracle throw and catch to become the champs? Or the one that cruised through its schedule undefeated, stayed at home for the playoffs and was a mis-timed jump by Assante Samuel on what would have been a game-ending interception away from the best season ever?

It's funny how just a couple of plays can turn the perception of how you should build your team. If the ball bounces out of David Tyree's grasp when he hits the ground, you should build your team to score points and obliterate the opposition. He catches it and suddenly every team needs to find an Osi and a Strahan in the middle rounds.

Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, and Malcolm Kelly will not turn Jason Campbell into Tom Brady. The Redskins will not win their first 18 games in 2008 or set the all time scoring record. But in time, perhaps as early as midseason, Thomas, Davis, and Kelly will be helping the Redskins score more points. By then Campbell should find the trio providing much more appealing targets than were Keenan McCardell, Reche Caldwell, and Todd Yoder.

If that happens, the biggest problem the team has had over the past eight years will be on its way to being solved.

They do not have to become a Pats-like dynamo to win more games. If they consistently can even score as many points as the average team in the league, that will be a major improvement.

Those who would rather fret over the process rather than look at the result will continue to do so. Too bad, they could be missing out on a lot of fun.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

In case you missed it

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Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Titans. 

Week 16 December 22 or 23, Nissan Stadium (the date of the game will be determined no later than Week 8 in early November)

2017 Titans: 9-7, Second in AFC South, lost in the divisional round 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8

Early line: Redskins +5.5

Key additions: CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan, RB Dion Lewis

Key losses: DT Sylvester Williams, RB DeMarco Murray

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Marcus Mariota improved from his rookie year and had a solid 2016. But he regressed last season. In which direction is his career headed?
  • After head coach Mike Mularkey took the Titans to the second round of the playoffs he was summarily fired. Will they regret making to switch to Mike Vrabel?

Series history

The all-time series between the two teams is tied a 6-6; the teams split six games when the franchise was the Houston Oilers and they have gong 3-3 since the move to Tennessee. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1971, RFK Stadium—The Redskins offense didn’t score a touchdown but that often didn’t matter when George Allen was the head coach as they still won 22-13. Washington’s scoring came on five Curt Knight field goals and on an 18-yard interception return by defensive end Ron McDole. That touchdown came on one of five takeaways by the Redskins defense. 

The last time: October 19, 2014, FedEx Field—Quarterback Kirk Cousins was struggling in the first half, losing a fumble and throwing a head-scratching interception. With the Redskins trailing the 2-4 Titans 10-6, Jay Gruden decided it was time for a change and Colt McCoy came in to play QB in the second half. 

Things clicked immediately as McCoy threw a short pass to Pierre Garçon, who turned upfield and rolled in for a 70-yard touchdown. It was back and forth in the second half and the Redskins were trailing 17-16 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 3:14 to play. McCoy led a 10-play drive that consumed all of the remaining time and culminated in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal to win it 19-17. 

The best time: November 3, 1991, RFK Stadium—To win nine straight NFL games to start out a season, you need solid blocking, accurate passing, hard-hitting tackling, inspired play calling, crisp execution and, as was the case today, a little bit of luck. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 41-yard field goal for Washington to give the Redskins a 16-13 overtime win over Houston. Darrell Green’s interception at the Houston 33 set up the kick. All of that, however, would not have happened if not for Oiler placekicker Ian Howfield. 

After Houston tied the game on a one-yard run by Lorenzo White with 1:42 left in the game, Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Oilers prime field position. Howfield came in for a 33-yard field goal attempt with one second left. It appeared that the winning streak would end at eight. “You don’t exactly give up, but you’re not far from it,” said Andre Collins. 

The snap was perfect as was the hold, but Howfield’s kick was wide right. 

On Houston’s second offensive play of overtime, Oiler quarterback Warren Moon got bumped as he threw an out pass and Green picked it off. Three Ernest Byner runs preceded Lohmiller’s game-ending kick. 

The worst time: October 30, 1988, Astrodome—Washington entered the contest riding a three-game winning streak and appeared to be rounding into form to defend their Super Bowl title. Warren Moon threw three touchdown passes to Drew Hill, however, and the Redskins took a 41-17 whipping that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

Redskins schedule series

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  @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler