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Need to Know: Redskins need to make hay while the sun is shining

Sep 19, 2015, 5:12 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 19, one day before the Washington Redskins host the St. Louis Rams.

Redskins need to take advantage of early schedule

Yesterday in the game prediction post I looked at some of the opportunities that the Redskins failed to capitalize on against the Dolphins—dropped interceptions, fumbles there for the taking, drives deep into Miami territory that came up empty.

But there is another, bigger opportunity that the Redskins have that they could let slip through their fingers and that is their early schedule.

They have already lost to the Dolphins, who were a mediocre 8-8 last year. Next up are the Rams and Giants, both of whom were 6-10 last year.

Up next are the Eagles. They were a cut above the first three opponents but the Redskins beat them at FedEx Field last year after giving them all they could handle in Philly. After that it’s on the road to play the Falcons and Jets before returning home to play the Bucs. Those three teams combined to go 12-36.

Summing up the first seven games before the by, there is one with a winning record in 2014, one that finished .500 and five coming off of double-digit loss seasons.

It’s a different story after the Week 8 bye. There are four games against 2014 playoff teams including a visit to the defending champion Patriots right off the bat plus two more against teams that finished with winning record. At this point we don’t know how teams will be playing in November and December but that looks like a considerably tougher slate.

This is not the ideal schedule structure for a team that is trying to find its way. At this point, as the try to gel as a team, particularly along the offensive line and at defensive back, they are underdogs at home to the Rams, despite the fact that they have been every bit as mediocre as the Redskins over the past several years.

It should be noted that even though the season has started we really can’t be sure of which teams will be quality teams in 2015 and which ones will struggle. It’s probably safe to say that the Patriots will be in Super Bowl contention again and that the Bucs will have a top 10 draft pick. But most of the other teams could go either way.

The Redskins have no control over it one way or the other. All they can really do is try to gel sooner and beat some of the lesser teams coming up in the coming weeks. On Friday about 25 minutes after practice ended there were 10 players still out on the field in small groups, working to get better. It’s a good sign that I haven’t seen in previous years.

But, in terms of the schedule, the sun is shining and the Redskins need to make some hay.


Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Redskins Park; no availability

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 1; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 5; Eagles @ Redskins 15

In case you missed it

  1. troylok - Sep 19, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    November might be the month that loses Gruden his job. December might be the beginning of the Callahan era.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:47 AM

      Callahan for President!! Oops I mean head coach… Tis the season.

    • Alisa the Doula - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      We can only hope. Anyone but Gruden at this point. Abject failure.

    • Trey Gregory - Sep 20, 2015 at 3:10 AM

      I’m not sure why everyone is on this “Callahan for HC” bandwagon. He’s obviously a hell of an Oline coach, but that doesn’t mean he is a good HC. It seems every Raiders fan I talk to hates Callahan and thinks he took over a good team and ran them into the ground. Thus, any success he had was because he was playing with someone else’s team then his true HC chops came out later. I wasn’t really paying attention to the Raiders back then, so I don’t have my own opinion about it. But what has this guy done to make you all think he will be an upgrade at HC? Wouldn’t it make sense to try to retain him as Oline coach and get a new HC with more experience as a HC under his belt, preferably someone who is proven?

      I also don’t see what we would gain by getting rid of Gruden in the middle of the season. Except more reports about how dysfunctional we are. If he’s that bad through the month of November, the season is already lost. Why not just wait for the season to end, then get rid of him, and start a new HC hunt with a GM who knows what he’s doing? And hopefully retain Callanhan as Oline coach in the process. Gruden may not be cut out for head coaching duties yet, but I love the staff he put together. We risk losing some of his staff if we don’t treat this right.

      • abanig - Sep 20, 2015 at 8:30 AM

        Raiders fans must forget that Callahan was the offensive coordinator on their teams of the early 2000’s that got to the AFC Championship game several times and when he was HC they got to the super bowl.

        Sure it didn’t last, that was because the team was very old and the guys he had gotten to the super bowl with wasn’t the same after they lost that super bowl. Callahan wasn’t given the chance to rebuild the Raiders over 3-4 seasons after those great teams he helped build in the early 2000’s.

        • Trey Gregory - Sep 20, 2015 at 10:47 PM

          Yeah. Like I said. I didn’t really pay attention to the Raiders back then. And I’m not questioning his value as a coordinator. I’m just not convinced that he would be the HC upgrade that some other people think he would be.

          What I do know, and what a lot of Raiders fans say, is that he took over for a very good John Gruden team. Many think he basically went to the SB with Gruden’s team, and lost. Then he was only HC for two years before they moved on right? He just doesn’t have a proven track record as a HC. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t do it though. Be we do know he’s arguably the best Oline coach around, and we already have him. Why risk promoting him and losing that asset if it doesn’t work out instead of trying to retain him as Oline coach while hiring a more tried and true coach?

          To repeat myself, I just don’t see any value in letting Gruden go before the end of the season. If we are to part ways with Gruden, treat him right, do it in the offseason, hopefully his staff feels this organization treats its staff fairly and stay on, then try to find a better option at HC. Who knows who will be available in the 2016 offseason. But then again, it’s only the second week of the season and people are predicting Gruden’s demise based off a bad rookie head coaching year. He just had a great, great win over STL and a tough defense. A few more wins like that and I doubt he gets cut lose.

        • abanig - Sep 21, 2015 at 12:20 AM

          I don’t think they’ll fire Gruden during the year, Snyder has done that before with Norv and risked a possible playoff appearance because of it.

          Also, if we fire Gruden after the season and don’t promote a coach from the current staff to be the HC, the next HC should have the decision on who he wants to keep.

          We don’t want to repeat what we did to Jim Zorn, hired him and told him who his staff would be!

          That doesn’t work!

    • abanig - Sep 20, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      I don’t see Snyder ever firing a coach during the season again like he wrongly did with Norv Turner in 2000 when the Skins had a winning record and probably would have had a winning or .500 season had he stayed.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Rich, how have injuries impacted our team vs. the average of the NFL? It really seems that we have lost more key impact players only 1 game into a 16 game season vs many of these other hardened NFL teams.

    What is our issue? They changed trainers but we still have issues. I have a hard time believe we are unlucky every year. That flys in the face of the definition of luck.

    So what gives? Is our training and development that substandard to the rest of the NFL?

    • troylok - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:56 AM

      My feeling is it isn’t that the Redskins have had more injuries than other teams; they just don’t have the depth so every injury means a scrub is filling in. It really stands out. Look at the tight end situation and look at the cornerback situation.

      • colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:21 AM

        Very true. Our CBs were toast before the first preseason game. Everyone knew going into the season we had zero depth at TE and it unfolded. To contrast, look at the TE depth chart for the Stealers in preseason. They had 6 TEs, ranging from the shortest at 6’4″ to tallest at 6’7″. Look at the niners, they have 3 TE sets most plays. They are basically 250-270 lb WRs. And we thought Niles Paul with pass dropping issues, Jordan Reed with injury issues, and Paulson that is purely a blocking TE, would get us through the season. Pretty horrific planning on the skins part. The league has evolved to the TE being one of the most valuable positions, and we basically are checking the box at that position. Very sad.

        • sidepull - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM

          Yea I think going into the draft and free agency they had so many needs across the board they could only do so much. It is going to be a process and no overnight fix. They were working on the trenches and I bet next season TE is going to be one of their priorities for all of the reasons you site.

        • abanig - Sep 20, 2015 at 8:16 AM

          You realize that all out of 1 of those Steelers tight ends suck!

          I’m a steelers fan also – after the Redskins because my parents were when they came to DC in 1978 & my sister is – but the steelers TEs suck outside of Heath Miller.

      • sidepull - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:26 PM

        Sometimes they draft players with injury history as well. Its a gamble and no exact science that’s for sure. It is also a violent game. Players are going to get whacked. It sure does seem to me as well the Redskins just cannot field a starting unit with the roster they have in mind. Its like wishful thinking right?

    • Rich Tandler - Sep 19, 2015 at 2:27 PM

      I have seen no evidence that the Redskins are worse off in injuries than any other NFL team. The Giants have all kinds of injury problems, including Victor Cruz and John Beason. Dez Bryant is going to miss more than half of the season. The Eagles aren’t in bad shape except for Marcus Smith but they got slammed last year.

      If you can find something comprehensive that says that year after year the Redskins lose more games to injuries than your typical NFL team I’ll be happy to look at it. But a lot of fans think that their team is harder hit by injuries simply because it’s the team they pay the most attention to.

      So nothing “gives”, there is no “issue”. Injuries are part of the game. The Redskins got some injuries. Absent any big picture evidence to the contrary, that’s the story.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    They must cut down on the penalties.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:50 AM

      Penalties typically happen when the player gets beat. So to cut down on penalties, our players have to compete better. Not so sure it is that easy to just stop drumming up penalties when our talent is beliw the competition. Gonna take more than a pep talk.

      • troylok - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:15 AM

        I’m not sure that I agree that the issue is enitrely the players getting beat. I saw a few false starts in the Miami game, a roughing the passer call, delay of game, illegal formation… those penalties come about because of a lack of focus / discipline. It was later in the game when some of these penalties occurred, and players had been grinding for awhile, but being tired can’t be an excuse.

        • colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:26 AM

          Agree discipline type penalties are mental fixes. However, Some of those come becsuse they are so anxious from being beat, they want the edge. The false starts, roughing (frustration from being beat play after play). Illegal formation and delay of game is total discipline issues. Agreed there.

  4. gonavybeatarmy - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:07 AM

    There’s no reason to believe that this season will be anything other than a trainwreck. This is year one in probably a three-year McCloughan rebuild.

    “Let me tell you something friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. It will drive a man insane.”-Red to Andy Defresne.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:20 AM

      I somewhat agree. Our defense will eventually stop trying if our offense does not hold up their end of the bargain. I would like to see MORRIS and Matt Jobes in the field at the same time. Why not?

    • troylok - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:26 PM

      I’ll just hold on to my hope, thank you very much. The play of the defense last game gives me a little hope. Alfred Morris over 100 yards rushing in the first game gives me hope. They are going to win some games – probably not enough to save Gruden’s job but there are some bright spots.

      • abanig - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:36 PM

        I agree, to me this team seems better than the 2010 & 2011 teams which won 6 & 5 games, except for special teams of course. Special teams has cost the skins several wins over the past 3 years.

  5. abanig - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    I think the Falcons are the best team in the NFC south, I’d be totally shocked if we win that game in Atl.

    We have a chance to win tomorrow if our OL can play similar to how it played last week and our special teams doesn’t have any huge gafes against a great special teams unit like the Rams have.

    I think the skins beat the Bucs and either beat the Giants or the Eagles, but not both.

    I think skins are 2-5 at the bye week, at best 3-4 and could very well be 1-8 especially because they won’t have Djax for at least the next two games. It’s going to be a long sept and oct for the Redskins, but I think they will play better in the second half of the year.

    Still, their schedule isn’t easy especially with how strong the jets &
    Bills defenses have looked and with how good Tyrod Taylor has looked.

    It’s possible the skins go 7-9, but most likely we’re looking at a 5 or 6 win team. I guess that’s progress over the previous two years, but not the kind of progress Redskins fans want to see.

    • abanig - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:38 AM

      7 & 9, 7-9

    • shermanp79 - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:51 PM

      To get the progress we want to see, we need a whole bunch more talent. That is the reality,no matter who is the coach

      • abanig - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:51 PM

        We do need more talent, but our coach seems like a major problem.

  6. rickjamesinfo - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    Last years record of any team has nothing to do with their ability to win a particular game the following g year. That has been proven. It’s about this years player and not last years schedule

    • Rich Tandler - Sep 19, 2015 at 2:18 PM

      It’s proven? are you telling me that you have proof somewhere that a team with a better record the previous year doesn’t beat the team with the worse record the previous year? It has nothing to do with it? I’d like to see this proof, please let me know where I can find it.

  7. shermanp79 - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:44 PM

    I hate looking at last years records. Things change with a new year. We have totally stunk against all teams anyway.
    The betting line is a better reading on things. I think we are underdogs by 3 points as the home team. I know it’s not a perfect predictor but most believe the Rams are a better team. I think they have more talent and beat us bad last year. So throw records out. We have been in down pours for a long time now. We have no easier games and haven’t for years. Somehow-someway we find ways to lose against all of them.

  8. hk2000 - Sep 19, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    To make hey, it’ll take years of sunshine to dry that grass. Like I mentioned in a comment on a previous blog, I don’t see any team on the schedule that the Redskins can beat- not one!!! So yeah 0-16, and the end of Gruden is in sight.

    • colorofmyskinz - Sep 19, 2015 at 3:50 PM

      The only good thing would be first pick.

  9. OYBOYZ - Sep 19, 2015 at 3:16 PM

    Hey Rich U think RG3 is in by WK4

  10. Yonas - Sep 19, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    RG3 not starting QB . it is different team for fans and the team market……

  11. bob - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    If you have a good defence and a good running game. You can win. Small things help or hurt. Penalties can get coached out. Teach Way to punt. Turnovers will come. By the way, play Doss. You will be surprised.

    • abanig - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:37 PM

      You’re right, except for its “Ross,” not Doss.

      • bob - Sep 21, 2015 at 1:23 AM

        My bad,

  12. russellwilsonis2short - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:23 PM

    Seriously i hate how every other teams writers and sports talking heads simply wrute the redskins off as a dysfunctional mess and are by far the worst (or one of the worst) teams in football. When was the last time the Rams or Vikings made the playoffs? The eagles have NEVER won a superbowl. Why do i always have yo hear how good the rams are when they havent made th ed playoffdvin like 10 years….thats dysfunction…especially “with all those rg3 picks” same goed for the Bills and Dolphins a nd San diego and cleveland and houston and every other team that has been spinning there wheels for years. What makes thr Skins so much worse. Teams try coaches and qb’s and gm’s and a lot of times it doesn’t work out…usually until you get lucky and get s franchise qb to build around. Imagine if we just lost every game in 2011. Skins would have luck, Shanahan would still be coach and no one would call us dysfunctional. Sometimes it just tskes a bad team at the right time to become “a functional franchise” again.

    • abanig - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:30 PM

      Sometimes it takes a brain also, in 05, the Redskins passed on Aaron Rodgers for Carlos Rogers. Archives

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