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Schedule analysis: Redskins will have opportunity early and late in 2017

Schedule analysis: Redskins will have opportunity early and late in 2017

Here are some notes and highlights from the Redskins’ 2017 schedule:

—The Redskins open at home for the third straight year. They are 0-2 in their last two home openers, losing to the Dolphins in 2015 and to the Steelers on a Monday night last year.

—They have three trips to the West Coast and the schedule makers spread them out through the schedule. They travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams in Week 2 in September, visit the Seahawks in Week 9 on November 5 and then they visit the Chargers, also now based in Los Angeles, in Week 14 on December 10.

—Their bye week comes early, in Week 5. The last two years the bye has fallen around midseason so they were due to get it early.

—For the second straight year, the Redskins will play on both Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas Eve. Both of those holiday games were on the road last year. This year they both are at home. For the first time, ever they will host a game on Thanksgiving Day. It will be against the Giants with an 8:30 start. On the day before Christmas they host the Broncos with a 1:00 start.

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—Last year there were some complaints by the Redskins because they played a Sunday night game at home prior to facing the short week and hitting the road to Dallas. This year they are on the road before their Thanksgiving game but it is a relatively short trip to New Orleans.

—In another first, the Redskins will play back-to-back Thursday night games. A week after that Thanksgiving encounter they travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on November 30.  

—The Redskins alternate home and road games for the first 11 weeks of the season. Then that November 30 game in Dallas is followed by the trip to play the Chargers. Right after those trips they get back-to-back home games against the Cardinals followed by that Christmas Eve game with the Broncos. They finish the season at the Giants on New Year’s Eve.

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—In addition to the two Thursday games the Redskins have three other prime time games. The first one comes in Week 3 when they host the Raiders. The following week the get a Monday night game at Kansas City. Then in Week 7 they go to Philadelphia for another Monday night game.

—The schedule starts and ends with relatively easy games (in as much as a team that has been around .500 the last two years can call anything “easy”). Their first two opponents, the Eagles and Rams, finished 2016 with losing records. And three of their last four opponents finished out of the playoffs last year.

—The meat of the schedule is in the middle with six of their 10 games coming against playoff teams. But they don't play more than two games in a row against 2016 postseson participants. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.


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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins President Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."