On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

Top Four Redskins Observations at Mid-Season

October 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

1- DeSean Jackson was well worth the money.     grudenandjackson

Every time the ball goes up deep to Jackson I feel he is going to come down with it if he has any chance.  I don't think I have ever seen someone at his size be able to judge the ball and make the catch no matter how covered he is.  It almost got to the point that the Redskins whoever is behind center should toss a deep on to DeSean every series because it works.

And for those who have been concerned with his gang activity or acting up can't say anything because DeSean has been quiet.  I don't like the after play stuff but I can live with it if he continues to have 100 plus yard games.  Again, I don't know what the Eagles were thinking letting Jackson go.

2- A lot has been made of Alfred Morris' year so far and how he hasn't had a 100 yard game forever.  I think Morris will be OK and with Griffin returning he should get a solid bump.

But I do like that the Skins are playing Roy Helu around the same amount of plays as Morris even in games were they are not down.  When Helu gets a little bit a room he can take the ball for 20-30 more yards just because his field vision is so impressive.  If they set up the correct screen to Helu it can break into huge play.  I wonder what happens after the season with him but I hope they look to keep him.

3- I don't understand the fear of playing Jordan Reed only 25 plus plays?     jordanreed2

If it is a fear of his health that really concerns me for the long term.  Reed is obviously a difference maker in this offense and needs to be out there.  If it has to do with his run blocking then I am really concerned that he can't get better especially with his size.  The coaches need to make him a better blocker then.

I agree with a point Chris Cooley made to get Reed on the field more by using him as a slot receiver in Andre Roberts' role since he has had struggles catching the ball.  Reed needs to play, it is that simple.

4- I am still in shock over the performance of Bashuad Breeland on Monday night.

Not that he doesn't have the talent, but that he did it so early in his rookie campaign.  Or maybe the Redskins have Dez Bryant's number?  I doubt that.

If Breeland can continue to do what he did Monday it can change the whole future of the roster.  To get a legit starting corner in the 4th round would be huge to an organization that has struggled in the draft.  We are due on of these breaks.  Seattle is an obvious example where a move like this was able to boost them to the top.  It does concern me that he has a marijuana issue already so he will have to be smart.  But everyone has to like what they saw from Breeland so far.



Redskins vs Cowboys: Keys to the Game

October 27, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Protect Colt McCoy:

-The Redskins will be trotting out their 3rd QB of the year to try to win this rivalry game on the road. It's not going to be easy and if they don't keep a clean pocket for McCoy it could get ugly fast. Now hopefully replacing Tyler Polumbus for Tom Compton is a step in the right direction, but it probably only fixes part of the problem. The Redskins have seen other linemen as well as backs and tight ends struggle in protection as well. They can't afford to give up pressures and sacks if they want McCoy to succeed. The good news is the Cowboys don't have any truly dominant pass rushers, but they have done an okay job at getting pressure on the QB this season.

2. Get the run going early:

-The Redskins inability to get the running game going has been a major issue this season, but this is a game where they ideally should find success. The Cowboys have not been strong versus the run and the Redskins need to exploit this. They have to get it going early to hopefully get a lead, otherwise they won't even be able to run the ball later in the game if the Cowboys can put this one out off reach. Alfred Morris really needs to carry the load in this game, and they have to find away to get him 25 carries against this defense.

3. Sustain drives and keep Dallas off the field:

-One problem the Redskins have had all season is their ability to sustain drives. Given that they typically have had awful field position this has hurt their ability to put up points or flip the field on opposing teams. While it's been nice that the Redskins have had some big splash plays, when that is all you are relying on it makes it very tough to win. The Redskins also need to sustain drives to keep the Cowboys offense off the field. Dallas's entire defensive gameplan revolves around controlling the clock and tempo on offense, so why not give them a taste of their own medicine.

4. Take some chances in this game:

-The Redskins are sitting at 2-5 with really nothing to lose in this game. They need to take some chances early on to try to steal this win. Whether that is trick plays, on-side kicks or going for it on 4th down situations the Redskins need to find ways to catch the Cowboys off guard and get some big plays. They can definitely come back to bite you if you don't succeed in scenarios like this, but at this point what do the Redskins have to lose.

5. Win on 1st and 2nd down defensively:

-The Cowboys run game this year has been simply dominant and it is making the life of Tony Romo that much easier as he is constantly ahead of the chains. The Cowboys aren't getting in a lot of 3rd and long situations, which forces defenses into some bad situations. If the Redskins can't force the Cowboys into some 3rd and long situations there chances of slowing down this offense are extremely slim. The good news is the Redskins run defense has been pretty strong, but this will be an extremely tough test against Murray and this offensive line. If the Redskins get the better of it, then perhaps you can get some pressure on Romo and force a couple of turnovers.

6. Win the penalty and take-away battles:

-Let's be honest, the Redskins aren't a good football team right now and they definitely aren't as good on paper as the Cowboys. So this is not a team that is going to win on the road if they are turning the ball over or giving up free yards with penalties. The Redskins have had issues in both areas this season (though have improved lately with penalties) and it's cost them some of their losses. Against Dallas the Redskins are going to have to be nearly perfect and can't afford big mistakes. On the flip side they have to try to create some turnovers defensively to set up some short fields for their offense.


Redskins Trade Deadline Scenarios

October 26, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

While it is true that the NFL trade deadline is not as big of an event as the trade deadline's in the other 3 major sports which see a flurry of activity, the NFL trade deadline will likely see a couple more deals. Teams like the Redskins who are basically out of contention right now, should look to shop any excess players or expiring contracts.

Unfortunately for the Redskins since they aren't that great of a team and they are dealing with a number of injuries, they don't have many players that they would either want to part with or that other teams would have much interest in. That being said there are a couple players that the Redskins could possibly move at the deadline. Of the players that might draw some interest, the one that is probably the most likely to be moved is back-up RB Roy Helu Jr.

RB Roy Helu Jr.:

Why he is available:

-Though the Redskins ground game has been struggling, it doesn't appear that the Redskins believe that Roy Helu Jr. would be part of the long-term solution at running back. Despite a down year, Alfred Morris is still the number one back in Washington and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. Helu is the Redskins 3rd down back, but since he's an impending free agent and the Redskins are unlikely to re-sign him he's expendable to the Redskins. Even if the Redskins were interested in bringing him back next year they could easily sign him off the open market next March.

What teams could be interested:

Helu Jr. might not be considered a top starting running back, but he's a capable back who could fill in for a team missing a starter. He would also be considered an upgrade for teams looking for a good 2nd running back or a 3rd down back. As it stands now among contenders the Patriots, Dolphins, Bills, Chargers, Broncos, Eagles, Lions and Panthers have all dealt with one or more semi-serious to major injuries in their backfield. Now not all of those teams may be willing to give up a late round pick to get Helu, but a couple could be interested.

Buffalo Bills:

-The Bills have lost C.J. Spiller for the season and Fred Jackson for at least a month and sit at 5-3 on the year. They are very much in the playoff mix this year and with a new ownership group taking over the team, the front office and coaching staff is on the hot seat if they don't show good results this season  That could lead the Bills to consider making a deal to get another back to help replace Jackson until he comes back and then split time with him when he's healthy.

San Diego Chargers:

-The Chargers have lost Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown to various injuries this season, and though Mathews and Brown should be back soon, San Diego might consider adding to Brandon Oliver as Brown has been ineffective this year and Mathews has dealt with injuries in the past. San Diego has lost their past two games and may feel they need a shake-up in the backfield.

Carolina Panthers:

-The Panthers aren't exactly a great contender, but they do currently lead the NFC South and it appears that it will come down to them and the Saints for the South. The Panthers have dealt with a ton of injuries at the running back position and they haven't been able to count on anyone to stay healthy. If they want to ensure a spot in the playoffs.

What they could get in return:

The Redskins aren't going to get a lot for an average RB in the final year of his deal, but it would possible for the Redskins to get a 6th or 7th round pick for Helu. Given that multiple teams could be interested in adding a back, the Redskins may be more likely able to extract a 6th from one of these contenders

Ways the Redskins Can Beat Dallas Monday Night

October 24, 2014 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

1.  Dez Bryant breaks his ankle on the first play from scrimmage.

Seriously, I don't think the Redskins can win against Dallas on Monday.  And it is not because I think the Cowboys are invincible I just don't like this matchup since DeAngelo Hall will not be there.  Dez should destroy the Skins secondary without Hall.  For any chance the Redskins have, both Breeland and Amerson will need to lock down Bryant one on one.  I don't expect this at all mainly because the Washington safeties will be no help.  So back to my main point, Bryant must get hurt early for them to have a chance.

2. Simple.  Control the clock with the run and keep the Dallas offense and Washington defense watching.         alfredmorris

The run offense has dipped this season over the past few.  I really think Bobby Turner was a huge loss to the coaching staff.  It is sad he didn't have a Tampa connection like some of loser coaches the Redskins decided to keep.  I don't care if it is Morris, Helu, Redd, Jackson on a reverse or zone read with McCoy or Griffin.  Have to move the sticks so they don't end up trounced by 9:30pm.

3.  Still Talking Offense.

Maybe the Dallas defense has been getting lucky and is due to go back to 2013 form starting this week.  The sad part that scares me is that even how bad the Cowboys 2013 defense was they really shut down the Washington offense in both meetings last season.  Everyone else tore the Cowboys up a year ago except the Skins, Griffin and Cousins.

Maybe Colt McCoy is the difference?  I doubt it but you never know.  Carr and Scandrick do not scare me at all.  Garcon and DeSean should own them but they need to get the ball to do that.  Can Gruden, McVeigh and whoever is behind center get them the ball is the question?

4. Unfortunately I don't see any new additions making a huge impact on Monday.

Trent Murphy is in for Brian Orakpo.  And even though Rak pulled only a solid 1/2 sack, I don't think the rookie Murphy is any kind of upgrade right now.  Good thing is with this team he needs to play and get experience.  Maybe Stephen Bowen can add something to the d line depth and help some but I don’t expect any true impact.

If it’s McCoy I am not convinced much will change and the 11/12 versus Tennessee wasn't really what McCoy is.  Tom Compton at right tackle?  OK it could be an upgrade over the Swinging Door Polumbus but are we really convinced Compton won't get a QB killed?  I guess this one wasn't really a reason how they can win in the end.






Thoughts and Observations from the Redskins vs Titans Game

October 20, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. What the Redskins win means:

-The number one thing this win means for the Redskins is in terms of confidence boosting for this team. They had lost four straight games and were embarrassed they last time they were on their home field, so the Redskins were desperate for something positive to come out of this game. The fact that the Redskins were able to come from behind in this game is big for this team which had struggled throughout the season to play from behind. Also there were a couple of instances where it would have been very easy for this team to give up and let the Titans take over the game, but instead they held their ground and kept it close.

While the Redskins got their 2nd win, it wasn't exactly pretty as they struggled in a number of areas. Once again they were really bad on 3rd downs, converting just 3 of 11. The Redskins were 0-4 in the red zone and couldn't get their run game established, in a game where they had to turn to their 3rd QB. This is not a recipe for continued success, and a lot of what happened in this game needs to be fixed as the Redskins look to build upon it in their final 9 games. While they did get the win, and kept playoff hopes alive, it is still a major long shot that they could get to the post season. The Redskins would probably need 10 wins to get even a wild card berth in the NFC this year, and it is very tough to find 8 more wins on their schedule. What's most important though is to try to fix what went wrong and build upon it for the future. If that leads to the playoffs that is great, but what's most important is figuring out who can be apart of this team going forward.

2. Colt replacing Kirk:

-The Redskins made the decision at halftime to bench Kirk Cousins and go with the more veteran Colt McCoy at quarterback. McCoy sparked the offense and the crowd, with good safe throws and composure when the game was on the line. Until Robert Griffin III returns from injury, it appears that Colt McCoy will be the starting quarterback on this team. McCoy is not a savior for this team, but he likely won't make some of the same mistakes we've seen in recent weeks with Kirk Cousins. McCoy will hopefully put the Redskins in position to win some games while RGIII remains sidelined and will be a capable back-up when Griffin returns.

3. Tyler Polumbus or Tom Compton:

-The Redskins began rotating their right tackle position in the 2nd half, using both Tyler Polumbus and Tom Compton in that role. Polumbus has struggled mightily this season and he gave up some big pressures early in the game. Compton came in as the only active back-up tackle and though he was maybe slightly better, he struggled as well to maintain his blocks. It's a positive that the team is showing signs of being willing to move on from Polumbus, but Tom Compton is clearly not the answer either. Hopefully the Redskins can look to turn to their rookie 3rd rounder Morgan Moses shortly to handle the position. Though he might make some mistakes as well, Moses has the size, strength and potential to handle the position long term. His mistakes will be more due to his inexperience, rather than simply just not being able to get the job done like Polumbus/Compton.

4. Injury to Brian Orakpo:

-Brian Orakpo suffered his third injury of the year and unfortunately it is the most serious, as he tore a muscle in his right pectoral that will sideline him for the rest of the year. While Orakpo had only gotten .5 a sack this season, he's still been pretty solid, especially considering he was dealing with a broken finger and sprained ankle. Orakpo was definitely a disappointment in terms of being the Redskins' franchise player, but his play wasn't as bad as some make it out to be. He had gotten a decent number of pressures this season, maybe they weren't at his typical pace, but they were at an above average clip. Orakpo had also made some big plays in the running game and was decent in pass coverage.

Now taking his place will be 2nd round pick Trent Murphy. Murphy hasn't really ever projected as a right side pass rusher, so it will be a tough assignment for the rookie to fill Orakpo's shoes. In limited work this year, Murphy hasn't done much to show that he was ready for a starting role, and unless he really picks it up it could end up being a major hole in this defense.

5. Running game woes continue:

-The Redskins tried to be more committed to the run in this game, but it didn't change the outcome for the running unit. While the final number of 100 yards is okay, it took 26 carries to get to that mark for a below average 3.8 yards per carry. What's even worse is that number is inflated due to a couple draw plays that Roy Helu had some nice gains on to boost the overall number. When the Redskins tried to actually run in normal situations they weren't that successful. Alfred Morris managed just 54 yards on 18 carries for a very poor 3.0 ypc. The Titans had an average run defense coming in, that looks considerably better now after shutting down Morris.

Morris had a couple nice runs, but there were other times where he went down too easily or didn't seem to get to the hole quick enough. Other factors were the run blocking, which was once again pretty bad and the play selection. The good news was the Redskins didn't abandon the run like they had in the past, but they also weren't creative in their run play calling in terms of down and distance and out of particular formations. It led to a fairly predictable run game that the Titans were able to key in on.

This is something the Redskins need to fix ASAP, as they can't afford to not have a strong running game. Despite all the receiver/Tight end talent, this team needs to succeed on the ground to win football games. They aren't a team that is going to sustain drives, and that is what is going to hurt them going forward.

6. Pass Blocking struggles continue:

-While this was mentioned in the Polumbus vs Compton item above, the struggles in pass blocking go well beyond the RT position. In fact it even goes beyond the OL position group as we've seen backs and tight ends miss crucial blocks as well. The end result is that a team that is very weak at rushing the passer, was able to get a couple of sacks, a couple of penalties and some key pressures as well. This has been a problem all season and it's only going to get more exposed when RGIII returns. Griffin might be more mobile, but he also holds on to the ball longer, so the protection must even be better for him than the other QB's. Another thing to worry about with the return of Griffin is that you probably don't want him running around trying to escape pressure on that ankle. The Redskins have to improve their blocking this season and it won't be an easy thing to accomplish.



5 Changes I Want to See the Redskins Make This Week

October 16, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Run the football at least 25 times a game:

-Honestly I'd love to see this number be more like 35 or 40, but I'll take baby steps here with at least getting up to 25 rushing attempts. The Redskins are a better running team than a passing team, and that is even with the influx of receiver talent this year. The Redskins theoretically haven't invested heavily in the offensive line for the reason that in a zone scheme it's more about type of lineman and working together than getting 3-4 really good OL out there (I'd still love to try that approach). These linemen are all better at run blocking than pass blocking, and that even includes the Redskins one elite talent Trent Williams. Yet overall the Redskins have 239 dropbacks (pass attempts + sacks) and 144 rushing attempts. That means the Redskins are running the ball only 38% of the time which is pretty low.

Now part of the problem can be attributed to a lack of success in the ground game or even the score, but really that is a bit of a cop out. In the four games this season where the Redskins had less than 25 carries a game (all four ended up in losses), the Redskins weren't really "out of the game" in any of them until at least mid-way through the 3rd quarter. Even among those only the Giants game really was ever out of hand. It is true that with the exception of the Texans game, the rushing attack hasn't been too effective in the losses, but some of that is on the coaching for the play calls and the abandonment of the run game. Calling running plays without imagination, or in heavy packages are going to tip off the defense when a run is coming so they can stack the box. The Redskins have to do a better job of mixing up their play calls and running out of formations and situations that they typically don't run from. It will lead to some plays and drives that get stalled, but that is happening as it is so why not try it to see if it can help break the running game out of it's rut. Asking any quarterback in this offense, much less your back-up to throw the ball 30 times a game, is a recipe for disaster, so it is time to put the ground attack to work.

2. Live and die by the Blitz:

-I know the Redskins envisioned that they could get a lot of pressure with 4 man fronts this year with some combination of Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Chris Baker and Trent Murphy rushing the passer, but it's just not happening on a consistent enough level to keep sticking with it. Whether it is a result of the players under-performing, injuries mounting or just coaches not getting their guys free (most likely it is a combination of everything), the end result is opposing teams have far too clean of a pocket in which to throw from and are picking apart the Redskins weak secondary. It doesn't matter if there are 7 or 8 guys in coverage, there will be a breakdown which opposing QB's can exploit. The Redskins have to ramp up the pressure in the hopes of getting more big plays on defense, and the best way to do that is more blitzing and having 5-6 guys attacking on every play.

Yes there can be a downside there as some teams will be able to pick up the blitz and it can leave you exposed on the backend, but the backend is getting exposed as it is so why not risk it for the chance of more big plays on defense? The frustrating thing is the Redskins have already seen the positive impact of blitzing as when they have done it this year they've gotten some big sacks or some pressures that led to bad throws.

I know situationally it can be risky to blitz on 3rd and short or a 2nd and 5 type of play, but at this point the Redskins need to take these risks. Playing it safe just isn't working right now.

3. Keep Will Compton in at ILB:

-Last week Will Compton took over for Perry Riley on defense as Riley was dealing with a knee injury. Riley had been victimized all season, and has been a big liability on defense for the Redskins. Compton showed some improvement (though the same size is definitely limited at this point), and it would be good to see more out off him this year. The Redskins need to figure out if Compton can be more than just a stop gap option for this year, or if his future is to be just a back-up/special teamer. I know that there will be some loyalty to Riley, but to go back to him fulltime when he's healthy just doesn't make much sense.

4. Give Moses, LeRibeus, and Long a shot:

-Speaking about figuring out what the Redskins have for next year, it's time to see what the back-up offensive linemen can do. Now Tom Compton could also be considered, but nothing in his profile or preseason work has really suggested he's anything more than a back-up. He's gotten about 50 snaps this year, and he's struggled in that time, giving up some really bad pressures. From a physical standpoint and a potential standpoint he's not on the same level as the other younger back-ups. Josh LeRibeus has actually played over 90 snaps this year, getting extensive work in both the Eagles and Giants games and it hasn't been too pretty so far, he still deserves a more expanded opportunity to see if there is any future there. Moses and Long have 10 snaps between them, and are the most inexperienced of the bunch, but also have the best upside.

Of the young offensive linemen, Moses is the one who should be given the largest opportunity to shine. Not only does Moses have the best size and potential mix of the three offensive linemen in question, he also would fill in at the Redskins weakest offensive line position. That's not to suggest that Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, or Chris Chester should be buying new Hawaiian shirts or are a part of the future for the Redskins, but they bring good with the bad. There is a real chance that the growing pains suffered by LeRibeus or Long will weaken the performance of the line. Moses on the other hand would be replacing Tyler Polumbus, who has been down right awful this year. He's been a liability pretty much every week and it has led to a number of big negative plays for the Redskins. Moses will surely have rookie mistakes and will probably cost the Redskins on some plays, but at this point he would almost have to be actively trying to have a worse performance than Polumbus. Moses has the best chance of being part of the future of the Redskins line, so he deserves to have the largest opportunity to see if he can reach his potential.

Now I realize that a number of people may harp on Moses' poor performance against Seattle (in all of 5 plays), as he gave up a big QB hit that simply shouldn't have happened. While that was an ugly play, that is an unfair play to judge Moses' potential on. He got beat because he either didn't know the snap count or believed that he wasn't responsible for the defensive end. Either way he messed up, but that is what happens when you throw a rookie into a game without him practicing with the starters all week. That wasn't a play that happened because Moses lacked talent. Each week Bashaud Breeland makes multiple rookie mistakes that costs the defense, but most Redskins fans understand that he's a 4th round rookie being thrown into a bad situation and those mistakes are going to happen. The same is true for Moses, and he should be held to a similar standard.

5. Limit DeSean Jackson's presence on running plays or on screen plays to his side:

-There is no doubt that DeSean Jackson is an explosive playmaker, who has made some HUGE plays for the Redskins offensively this season. If not for Jackson's big plays the Redskins probably wouldn't have been as close in some of their losses. At the same time though, it's also pretty apparent that DeSean Jackson hurts this team when he's not getting the ball in his hands. It's tough to obviously assess a player's mindset, but from a close observer standpoint, Jackson just isn't caring enough on a per snap basis. At times he's running lazy routes or has had some drops, which shows a lack of concentration, but what's most troubling is his inability to make any sort of effort blocking either in the run, the screen game, or even down field when another guy catches the ball.

Albert Haynesworth gave more of an effort on that play where he fell down and took a nap versus the Eagles in the Monday Night Massacre in 2010, than Jackson does on a typical run or screen play. Yes that play from Hayensworth was awful in the end, but he was the first guy off the ball on the snap and pushed his guy back 3 or 4 yards before he fell and took the rest of the play off. At least he tried (and had success) initially before he cared more about himself than the success of the play. Jackson doesn't even seem to try on these blocks. That is pretty troubling and has to at some point spill over into the lockerroom.

Yes Jackson is a smaller receiver and shouldn't be known for his blocking ability, but at least try and make an effort. There are a number of small receivers who are successful blockers (Santana Moss being one of them), and do their best to impede their guy from making the play. Jackson on the other hand is just flat out giving up, which is causing some real negative plays for the Redskins.

It's at the point now where the Redskins have to start limiting when and where Jackson can be on the field. If the Redskins are running a screen pass and the ball isn't going to Jackson, he either needs to be on the other side of the field or better yet on the sideline. The same is true on rushing plays. If it's a running play to either side, Jackson can't be asked to be involved in the play or there's a chance he ends up costing the Redskins. Unfortunately just by having to scheme around Jackson it costs the Redskins because it begins to telegraph things to the opposing defense and makes their job far easier.

Five Mistakes That Hurt the Redskins (not including Griffin trade), Yet

October 15, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Drafting Josh LeRibeus in the third round and still being a backup in year three.

I am not a draft expert but it happens often that teams miss in round three of the draft.  The problem I have is I don't think you can afford to miss in round three on interior offensive line positions.  And obviously the Redskins missed here.  Steve Shoup said it on draft day and I hoped he was wrong but it is looking like LeRibeus will never be a legit starter for Washington.

2. Not truly addressing safety concerns in the past 5 years?

I like Ryan Clark and his leadership but he was far from helping improve a horrible secondary unit.  The Redskins had a chance to add a legit safety in Mike Mitchell and failed to pay up.  Really, the Redskins failed to pay up.  Mitchell isn't Ronnie Lott but he would have been a huge upgrade over what they put out there.  Maybe Mitchell saw the Redskins as a disaster and would have never signed here but again we still haven't seen them do anything.  Waiting on another suspension to end for Tanard Jackson won't do it.

3. The Daryl Sharpton mess.

You sign him to help at a weak inside linebacker position and with a pathetic special teams?  Only to IR him before the season, then cut him a few weeks in.  Well, he is on the Bears right now and guess what the inside linebacker and special teams crews are still a mess.  Maybe Akeem Jordan can prove us wrong.  I am joking.  Should have been patient with Sharpton and understand this team was not a true contender that had to rush things.

4. Easy one.  Not addressing right tackle just like the safety position.     tylerpolumbus

Tyler Polumbus has been killed for three years now but I give him credit for going out there and playing every week.  Problem is he has to because they have no other answer.  Everyone was excited about Morgan Moses sliding to the Skins in round three.  But maybe we have already seen why he slid as he was inactive last week.  Moses did give ESPN the C'mon Man of the year against the Seahawks though.  There have been slim pickings for an impact safety in free agency but there has been plenty of serviceable tackles.  Inexcusable by Allen.  Maybe he will see a talented one while he is making decisions on replays.


5. This one really hasn't hurt yet but I think it will.  Putting too much money into one position, wide receiver.

Garcon and Jackson are paid like pro bowlers and Roberts is paid like a solid number two.  I like all three but again the Redskins like putting money and time into fantasy type spots.  Garcon still seems to not be as explosive as before the foot injury.  Which I think I could hinder him being around long term if the cap becomes an issue in the next two seasons.  Maybe the team will add a fourth high priced receiver in March though.



Thoughts and Observations from the Redskins vs Cardinals

October 13, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. The Redskins are a bad football team:

-If the 1-5 record with the only win against a hapless Jaguars team wasn't proof enough. Watching the Redskins week-in-week-out it is very clear that this team just lacks talent and their coaching staff isn't getting the most out of the talent that they do have. The Redskins on offense have serious questions at QB (and that does include RGIII), 4 positions along the OL, RB (see below), and TE (can Reed stay healthy). On defense there are question marks surrounding just about every player with the possible exceptions of Ryan Kerrigan and Keenan Robinson. Now that is not to say that there isn't talent at some of these positions. Guys like Alfred Morris, Brian Orakpo and Jason Hatcher have talent, they just aren't producing like they should. Other positions have been weakened by injuries, but even then some of those positions still weren't going to be that strong. The Redskins once again were beaten in every phase of the game versus the Cardinals and nothing looks like it is going to improve anytime soon. The scary thought is things could get worse before they get better. The Redskins are naturally talent deficient, have numerous players underperforming, appear to be getting out-coached/schemed, and are dealing with a number of injuries. This is a recipe for a disaster and if they don't turn it around in the next three weeks it could get really ugly.

2. Kirk Cousins struggles when the pressure is on:

-For three quarters Kirk Cousins did a nice job taking what the Cardinals gave him and making some really good throws. He was off target on some throws and maybe missed a couple open receivers, but typically those were on plays where the defense got some pressure and they were more excusable. You wouldn't have said it was a great day for Cousins, but he was doing his job and making good throws. Unfortunately there is a 4th quarter for football and that is where the wheels came off the wagon. Cousins just started making really questionable decisions in the 4th quarter and was forcing throws at a time when he really didn't have to. The Cardinals were up 10 points, before Cousins first INT, but the Redskins still had 10 minutes left to overcome that deficit or at least play for overtime. In the end it might not have mattered as the Cardinals may have still won the game, but the first two Cousins interceptions were just back breakers (the 3rd was from a fantasy football perspective), for a team trying to stay competitive in a game and find positive things to build upon for the future.

3. Where has Alfred Morris gone:

-Alfred Morris was a stud for the Redskins his first two years, and looked to be a top 5 pure rusher in the league (his lack of skills in the passing game have held him back), but this season he has all but disappeared. Morris has yet to break 100 yards this year (though it wasn't his fault versus the Texans), and has rushed for an average of less than 4.0 yards per carry in 4 of the 6 games this season. Now part of his issue can be attributed to a lack of carries, particularly the past three weeks where he's seen just a total of 38 carries, but that isn't the only reason for his running woes. Morris just hasn't been as productive when running the football as he was the past two years. While Jay Gruden needs to find ways of using Morris more often (and effectively), some of it is on Morris as well. If Morris is only getting 1-3 yards on a first down carry, it's tough to go back to the run on 2nd down. Now it isn't all on Morris as of course the run blocking has been somewhat ineffective this year, and in this game in particularly not having Darrel Young fully healthy was going to limit his rushing ability. Morris these past two years did a better job of breaking tackles and making yards after initial contact. That isn't happening as much this year and it's been a noticeable difference.

4. Lack of a pass rush is extremely troubling:

-The Redskins were facing off versus a weaker offensive line yesterday and a quarterback who isn't exactly known for his mobility. The end result was the Redskins got one sack on a play where there was a bad snap that Carson Palmer tried to pick-up and didn't immediately throw it away. The Redskins were able to manage some decent pressure and generated a few holding calls, but it wasn't good enough in a pretty favorable match-up. They have to find a way to get sacks and even more pressure on the QB in general and that has to happen given how bad/injured this secondary is. Schematically the Redskins need to do more as a defense to get their guys home, but the individual effort needs to be more as well. The Redskins have a number of picks and contracts invested in these guys, and they need to expect more out of them.

5. Where do the Redskins go from here?

-It's sad to say but in the 2nd week of October the Redskins season is all but over right now. We are 6 games into the season (10 teams have only played 5 games), after tonight's MNF game and the Redskins sit tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the worst record in the NFC at 1-5 (even if the Rams lose tonight they will be only 1-4). The Buccaneers haven't looked great overall, but they've arguably played better than the Redskins. Both teams are pretty bad, but the Buccaneers did get their win on the road against a Steelers team that is definitely better than the Jaguars. So through nearly 40% of our season the Redskins are possibly the worst team in our conference. The chances of the Redskins righting this ship are slim-to-none at this point as, there isn't much the Redskins can look at as a success this season.

With the Eagles and Cowboys both sitting at 5-1 it would be nearly impossible to beat out both of them for the division at this point and the wild card race isn't any more promising. With their playoff window basically closed, the Redskins need to start figuring out who can play for next year, and try to build something to prevent this losing from continuing.

Redskins versus Cardinals: Keys to the Game

October 12, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Bottle up Andre Ellington:

-The Redskins run defense has been pretty good this year, but we've seen some signs of cracks. Ellington presents a fast back who the Cardinals will probably look to rely on given their QB situation right now. If they can get Ellington going and stay in 3rd and short situations it is really going to make it tough for the Redskins Defense to find success stopping the pass today. Ellington isn't just a threat as a runner though as he presents a pretty significant as a receiver out of the back-field as well. The Cardinals love to get the ball to Ellington in space and they figure to throw to him 4-7 times a game. If he is unaccounted for he will definitely make the Redskins pay through the air as well.

2. Blitz early and often:

-Now if it was Logan Thomas playing QB, the game plan should be to blitz every single play and let the rookie try to beat you. With Carson Palmer there is a bit more concern of him being able to exploit the blitz, but at the same time it is clearly what the Redskins have to do to win this game. If Carson Palmer gets 2.5-4 seconds in a clean pocket, one of his receivers are going to come open. It doesn't matter if the Redskins have 7 or 8 guys in coverage, someone is going to mess up, and Palmer is smart enough to figure out this defense. Palmer is coming back from a nerve issue so it is likely he doesn't have his full velocity as it is, the Redskins can compound that as an issue if Palmer is forced to throw on the run or can't step into his throws in the pocket, given extra pressure. The Redskins need to challenge Palmer who is sure to have some rust if he does actually play.

3. Limit Penalties:

-Last week the Redskins did a great job limiting their penalties, and it is something they need to be disciplined again this week as well. Penalties were a major issue for the Skins the first 4 weeks, so they can't get sloppy again and start committing penalties. This is not a team that can afford to give up free yardage. It's definitely going to be harder to stay focused on the road, but it is something the Redskins have to do if they want to win.

4. Use your passing weapons as decoys in the run game:

-Darrel Young is questionable for this game and that is going to make Alfred Morris's job that much more difficult. One thing the Redskins can do to make Morris's job easier in this game is to spread the field and take defenders out of the box. The Cardinals have been a really good run defense so far, but if the Redskins can force their linebackers and safeties to line up outside of the box it could free up some room for Morris to work with. No matter what it is going to be tough sledding for Morris against this defense, particularly if he's without his lead blocker, so the Redskins should try to take defenders out of the play schematically.

5. Use the Tight ends as safety valves:

-The Cardinals love to blitz so on a number of drop backs Kirk Cousins may need to unload the ball quickly, this is where Jordan Reed and NIles Paul need to come up big. There will be natural holes in the defense where the Cardinals are blitzing from and the Redskins need their tight ends to exploit those holes and present a quick, safe target for Cousins when he is in trouble.

6. Try to get the running backs involved in the passing game:

-The past couple of weeks the Redskins have gotten some big plays from Roy Helu and even Alfred Morris in the passing game, and that would be a good trend to continue this week. The Cardinals love to blitz and one of the best ways to combat that blitz is to throw screens to take advantage of that aggressiveness by the defense. If the Cardinals blitz and they don't recognize a screen is coming they could be out of position and give up some big chunks of yards on some safe throws. Sometimes the Redskins will be forced to keep the backs in to pick-up the blitz, but they should look to leak the back out if the line can handle the blitz on their own. This can be another quick safety valve for Cousins, so he doesn't have to sit in the pocket to wait for his downfield routes to develop, an their will be likely holes to exploit with the defense blitzing.

7. Make positive plays on special teams:

-Another week another special teams miscue. Last week the Redskins allowed a key 4th down conversion on a fake punt and made a poor attempt at an onside kick. In addition to those big plays the Redskins saw their typical short kick-offs and good returns allowed (both Punt and Kick). What they continued to lack was positive plays from their special teams unit. Even Tress Way's booming punts were called into question as he often out-kicked his coverage. Week in, week out the Redskins continue to give up yards and points on special teams and it is absolutely killing both their offense and defense. Now it would be nice of course if the Redskins could have some big special teams plays of their own, but at this point they should just be happy if they can be above average. They need to get a couple solid returns to set up good field position and conversely they have to limit that from the Cardinals.

Redskins need their young corners to step up

October 11, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

The Redskins knew their secondary was going to be a work in progress this season, but the hope was they would be able to cobble together a unit that was at least average on the back-end. At corner the Redskins hoped to mix veterans DeAngelo Hall and Tracy Porter with youngsters David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland, to give the Redskins a combination of corners who could hopefully improve on the unit from last season. At safety the Redskins employed a similar strategy, bringing in veteran Ryan Clark to go along with Brandon Meriweather, to compete with 2nd year players Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. Safety was considered to be more of an issue, as there were more question marks and a less upside. The corner position though had a healthy case of optimism entering the season with their top 4 guys in place.

DeAngelo Hall was coming off easily his best year as a Redskin, and arguably his best season in the league last year. Hall had always been a big play corner, but his problem was inconsistency where he would disappear for games on end. Last year, he still had a couple bad games, and bad portions of games, overall he was much more consistent and limited or shut down a number of the top receivers in the league. The hope was that while Hall was getting older he still had a couple good years left in him and this promised to be set up for a good season for the veteran. Moving into the starting line-up opposite Hall, would be 2013 2nd round pick David Amerson, who played in a 3rd corner role last season. Amerson teased big play ability as a rookie, but had a number of struggles facing off versus 2nd and 3rd receivers last year. He had the physical tools though and just about every offseason report praised him for the steps that he was taking and it appeared he was ready to play up to his draft status. The team had such confidence in him that they said that they wouldn't have Hall trail team's opposing top receiver, so Amerson would be challenged some by the best in the NFL.

To fill out the corner depth chart the Redskins signed veteran Tracy Porter to handle slot corner duties and drafted Bashaud Breeland in the 4th round to fill in as needed. Porter has had an up-and-down career, which has been filled with injuries that limited him. He was coming off a healthy year in Oakland, though his results were mixed. Breeland similar to Amerson was a bigger corner who has the size/speed combo that teams love to add. He was a bit of a raw corner, but he displayed plenty of potential and looked to be able to contribute in at least a limited role as a rookie. The Redskins also had veteran corner E.J. Biggers as a 5th corner and another guy with some starting experience.

Unfortunately for the Redskins their corner depth has been tested as DeAngelo Hall tore his Achilles in the 3rd game of the season and Tracy Porter has played only a handful of snaps this year due to a hamstring injury (he's already been ruled out for tomorrow). That has forced David Amerson to become the de facto number 1 corner (though he's still facing a lot of 2nd and 3rd WR's), and made Breeland into a starter and Biggers into the slot corner role. The results have not been pretty. The Redskins are allowing teams to throw on them at will these last couple of weeks, and there seems to be at least one blown assignment in the secondary (not always the fault of the corners) on just about every play. This is just making it too easy for opposing offenses to move the ball through the air, and play basically mistake free football.

One big issue facing the Redskins young corners is their inflexibility. Both Breeland and Amerson are better on the outside and have very limited ability to play in the slot (Breeland has more ability here than Amerson). This allows teams to move their best option into the slot role to match him up versus a safety or E.J. Biggers, which is going to be a win in most situations for the opposing offense. Another area where the Redskins young corners are struggling is their inability to play press coverage. Both Amerson and Breeland are bigger corners, and by looking at them you would think that press coverage would be a strength of their's. Neither corner though really did this in college and when asked to do it in the NFL they have really struggled. This inflexibility really limits what the Redskins can do defensively and allows for offenses to come up with a game plan that exposes these weaknesses.

The Redskins young corners face an uncertain match-up this week, as the Cardinals quarterback situation is considered murky at this point. One thing they do know for sure is they will face a pair of talented receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald and Floyd have been limited due to injuries at the quarterback position this year, but both pose a legitimate threat. From a pure talent perspective they are probably the best two receivers the Redskins have faced this year (a case could be made for Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins), and both are big physical receivers with a large catch radius and good speed. Amerson and Breeland need to find away to maintain their coverage and hopefully be in a position to take advantage of any mistakes the Cardinals QB might make. If the two young corners can't step up this week, and not have the blown assignments that we've seen each week, then it won't matter what QB the Cardinals are starting as they will find one of their top receivers open.

While injuries have obviously shaken up the Redskins corner back depth chart, Washington needs to see more from their two young corners this year. It is unclear when Porter can return to the line-up full time and even then he will be working some in the slot, leaving the outside corner duties to the young guys. They need to play better or they will continue to be exposed, particularly as the Redskins face better receivers and quarterbacks throughout the season. They obviously aren't going to turn into a great unit overnight, but they can't be a liability if the Redskins have any hopes of turning their season around.