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Strong finishes not part of Redskins' recent history

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Strong finishes not part of Redskins' recent history

The Redskins finished the first half of their season with a 3-5 record and in last place in the NFC East. One of the primary reasons they have a losing record is that their defense has allowed 227 points, tied for the second-worst performance in the NFL.

Naturally, the Redskins hope to improve substantially in both areas for the second half of the season. If they want to make a run at a playoff spot they will have to go 6-2 and hope that other teams falter enough so that 9-7 will get them in on tiebreakers. And if they are going to do that, it would help to cut back the points scored against them to something closer to the NFL average, which is about 185.

If they accomplish either one of those goals, however, they would be bucking some pretty strong historical trends.

Let’s look at the record first. The Redskins have finished each of the last four years with identical records of 2-6. That spans the two years of Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan’s two seasons.

You have to go back to 2005, the second season of Joe Gibbs II, to find a Redskins team that had a winning record in the last eight games of the year. That team went 5-3 in the second half of the season, matching the record they had in the first half. That 10-6 record got them a wild card playoff berth.

The Redskins have not followed up a losing record in the first half of the season with a winning record in the second half since 2001. That year Marty Schottenheimer’s team went from 3-5 in the first half (after an 0-3 start) to 5-3 in the second.

The last time they went 6-2 in the last half of the season was in 1989.

As far as points given up, the Redskins’ opponents have scored more points against them in the second half of the season than they did in the first in each of the last five years. The last time they improved was in was in 2007 when they went from giving up 160 points in the first half to 150 in the second.

The last time the Redskins made a substantial improvement in points allowed, one on the order of what they would like to accomplish this year, was in the 2001 season. They gave up 193 points in the first half of the year and 110 in the second.

This isn’t to say that the Redskins have no hope of improving this year. It doesn’t mean that they are doomed to going 2-6 again and to giving up over 200 points. After all, only a handful of players who were part of the 2-6 collapse in 2008 are still on the roster. And with RG3 behind center, they have an asset they have not had in decades.

But losing in November and December seems to be ingrained in the team’s culture and unless can buck the trend they are headed for more disappointment.  

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It looks like Gregg Williams will coach with the Jets after all

It looks like Gregg Williams will coach with the Jets after all

After an interesting 24 hours of speculation, it looks like the Jets will finalize terms with Gregg Williams to be their next defensive coordinator.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the finished contract is near completion and that New York wanted Williams to run their defense all along, regardless of who took the job as head coach. 

Reports of Williams going to the Jets began as early as last week, but in the last two days, it seemed the contract got held up. New Jets head coach Adam Gase held an introductory press conference on Monday and Williams was not discussed as the contract wasn't finished. 

At Redskins Park, there was some hope Williams would come in for a meeting as his talks with the Jets stalled, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. 

Washington already met with Todd Bowles and Steve Wilks this offseason before both men took jobs with other teams as defensive coordinator. Bringing Williams in would be a selling point for fans that remember his work with the Redskins during Joe Gibbs second stint as head coach from 2004 to 2007. 

Nobody from the Jets or the Williams camp denied that the Redskins were interested or the deal was complete. 

In the end, it's entirely possible Williams or his representatives leveraged the Redskins interest into greater compensation or operational control from New York. That's the way business gets done. 

Now, it looks more and more like the Redskins will keep Greg Manusky on as defensive coordinator despite meeting with Bowles and Wilks and trying to meet with Williams. Awkward. 

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The case for Gregg Williams to pick the Redskins over the Jets

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USA TODAY Sports

The case for Gregg Williams to pick the Redskins over the Jets

Things looked like a done deal with Gregg Williams taking over as defensive coordinator of the New York Jets. 

Until they weren't

New Jets head coach Adam Gase held a 20-minute press conference on Monday, and there was no discussion of the future defensive coordinator. 

It appears contract discussions between Williams and the Jets hit a snag, and in the meantime, the Redskins are working to bring him down to Ashburn for a meeting, sources told NBC Sports Washington. 

That prospect is quite exciting for a number of Redskins fans. Of the last 20 years, Williams was here for the best seasons in Burgundy and Gold. He served as Joe Gibbs' defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2007, and the team twice made the playoffs. 

Yes, the 'Skins currently have Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator, but Williams is much more accomplished in that same position. 

The question in this process isn't why the Redskins would want Williams. That's obvious.

It's why would Williams want the Redskins?

Despite a seemingly endless series of calamities since the mid-November signing of Reuben Foster, the Redskins job should appeal to Williams. To start with, the Redskins are strong up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis. Ryan Kerrigan is a perennial Pro Bowler on the edge. 

For a defensive coordinator that prides himself on aggressive schemes and running a 4-3 base defense, Williams would have some excellent tools in those four players. Add in Tim Settle and Ryan Anderson, and there are young developmental pieces in place as well along the defensive front. 

Beyond personnel, Williams might like the Redskins opportunity for the exact reason a number of other defensive coordinator candidates did not. 

In 2019, Jay Gruden will be coaching in the sixth-year of a seven year contract. Few coaches work on the last year of their deals, so in the pressure-packed world of NFL coaching, it's easy to look at next season and as make or break for Gruden.

For many coordinators, they'd rather sign up to work with a head coach that has lots of job security, armed with at least a four-year contract.

Williams might not mind a spot with a potential change on the horizon. 

In 2007, Williams was considered the heir apparent to Gibbs. Only when Gibbs retired, Williams did not get the top job, and he quickly moved on. There was talk of ill will between Williams and the organization, but the word around Ashburn is all of that has been smoothed over.

Now, if Williams believed he could come back to Washington and possibly be first in line for a head coaching opportunity if things go poorly for Gruden next season? That might be appealing. And knowing that the Redskins offense has major question marks at quarterback for 2019? Even moreso. 

That situation might be a better spot than the Jets, where Gase has the full support of ownership to develop young QB Sam Darnold.

Gase will get at least three years in New York. Gruden only has two years left on his contract. 

That kind of math is pretty simple for a 60-year-old coach that might want one last shot at being the boss. 

Something else could be afoot too.

Whatever the contractual holdup is with the Jets, leverage could help Williams get what he wants. A meeting with the Redskins represents that leverage. 

Williams could be meeting with the Redskins as soon as Tuesday. The team has already met with Steve Wilks and Todd Bowles, a pair of other highly regarded defensive coordinator candidates that took jobs elsewhere. 

In a lot of ways, Williams is the Redskins' last hope for a new, big-name coordinator in this coaching cycle. And he's certainly the name that will excite the fan base most. 

It's been a tough offseason in Washington, and it's only mid-January. Getting Williams in the building, and his name on a contract, would be a big win for the Redskins.

But for Williams, coming back to Washington more than a decade after his first successful stint as defensive coordinator, might offer a lot to like too.

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