On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

5 Things to Watch for as the Redskins take on the Giants

December 14, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Check out my breakdown of why the Redskins can win on BleedBigBlue.com

1. Will DeSean Jackson Play:

-Pierre Garcon was good as Jackson's replacement as the featured member of the Redskins pass offense last week, but he lacks the big play element that Jackson brings to the table. If Jackson can go this week it could be a major boost to the offense and give the Redskins a threat that will hopefully keep the safeties deep to allow for more running room for Morris. Even if Jackson  can only play on a limited basis he could be enough of a threat to open up other areas of the offense (though that hasn't always been the case this year). If Jackson can't go again then it will severely limit the Redskins passing attack versus one of the better pass defenses in the league.

2. How will Colt McCoy do with the injury:

-The Redskins are still sending Colt McCoy out there despite the fact that he was dealing with a neck injury all week. Now he's been cleared to play medically, but after taking a hit like that (and all the cumulative hits he has been taken) how will he fare against a pretty good pass defense. The Giants have done a nice job getting pressure, forcing INT's, and limiting completions this year and make it very tough on opposing quarterbacks to beat them through the air. Really only Matt Stafford and Andrew Luck have had really good (or great) passing games versus the Giants so if the Redskins go down early and the game is put in McCoy's hands he will have a tough task keeping the Redskins in the game. The good news is the Giants run defense is very porous so if the game is close the Redskins hopefully won't need to rely on McCoy.

3. Will the defense have an answer for the Giants passing attack:

-The last time these two teams faced off in Washington, Eli Manning had a monster game and torched the Redskins coverage unit. What's even scarier is star rookie Odell Beckham wasn't even active in that game (though the talented Victor Cruz was healthy). The Redskins secondary has been getting worse and worse (if that is even possible) and now they will be without safety Brandon Meriweather and their best coverage linebacker Keenan Robinson. If the Redskins can't find away to pressure Eli Manning he will have a field day against this unit. For the Redskins to win this game they will need Jason Hatcher (who is questionable and might not play) and Ryan Kerrigan to really bring the heat. If Hatcher can't go the rest of the defensive line has to step up, as does rookie OLB Trent Murphy. If you can get Manning off his spot and force him to throw it early that is how you can get those multiple Eli interception games. The Redskins can't hope to win consistently enough in coverage so it's going to be about bringing the heat. It will leave them even more exposed on the back-end if the pressure doesn't get there, but it's a risk the Redskins need to take.

4. Will we see improved blocking both in the run and pass games?:

-The Redskins blocking continues to get outmanned week-in-week-out. While much of the blame is of course directed to the offensive line, the backs and tight ends are becoming some of the biggest culprits. It's getting to the point now where if a back or TE is one-on-one with a blitzer you should probably just consider that a negative play and move on to the next down. These guys are getting beat every week for key sacks and losses in the running game. Combine that with an already undersized and talent deficient offensive line and you have a recipe for disaster. Of the Redskins 9 rushing attempts (by a back) last week there were maybe 2 or 3 that were correctly blocked. Even Alfred Morris's 12 yard run allowed penetration, but Morris was able to see it in time and adjust. You just aren't going to be able to establish the run if on just about every carry you have to dodge a defender or two in the backfield.

As bad as the run blocking is the pass blocking may be even worse. Tight ends and running backs are just whiffing at their assignments allowing free rushers to get pressure/sacks on their quarterback. The offensive line is good for 2-3 sacks allowed a game as well, and there will be a good 6-10 additional pressures on top of that. Right now with Trent Williams banged up the Redskins don't have one OL that they can count on to win 95% of the time and it's really limiting what they can do offensively. While much of the issue is just lack of talent (or injury for Williams), there are some communication and recognition lapses as well. We've seen multiple times in recent weeks, players getting confused about picking up stunts, which leads them to being late to get over and leads to either a pressure/sack/or offensive holding penalty. Delayed blitzers, particularly up the middle are also being recognized late and a guy will stay with his double team instead of picking up the free rusher. There are just too many fundamental breakdowns here, particularly for a group that is loaded with experience at 4 out of the 5 positions.

5. Will anyone step up and make a play for the Redskins?:

-One of the more troubling things with the Redskins season is the fact that there is just a sheer lack of impact plays being made for this team. Sure there have been some big catches, big runs, and a few big plays on defense, but compared to other teams it just seems like the Redskins are lacking, particularly in crucial situations. How often are the Redskins in a 3rd and long play and they fail to covert? Or on the flip side allow an opponent to make a big conversion. The Redskins aren't a talented enough team to win and compete if they are giving up too many big plays and not making enough of their own. They need some players to step up and make impact plays in this game, and it needs to happen more frequently than it has been happening. That doesn't always mean it needs to be a 40 yard TD pass on offense or a turnover on defense (though both would be nice), but just plays that can swing the game in their favor.

Top 10 Redskins I Don't Want to See Back in 2015

December 12, 2014 in Redskins Offseason, Redskins Personnel

10.  Tyler Polumbus      tylerpolumbus
Just end it please.  Can't see him coming back no matter how bad the other options are at this point.  Rather see Shar Pourdanesh get a crack at right tackle.

9. Perry Riley Jr.
Take the cap hit and sell number 56 jerseys with the name Dead Money well spent.  I guess a lot depends on who is running the defense next season but if it’s a 4-3 set, I can't see him having a chance.

8. Chris Chester
Easy call to save $2.7 mil on the cap next season,  so see ya.  Started as a bad call then he looked OK in 2012 when everyone fooled us.  Time to use the cap space elsewhere.  Maybe Shar can move inside.

7. Brian Orakpo
Remember him?  Obviously no way they franchise him again but this is the Redskins and maybe Has can sell him again if he stays.  Now a legit injury concern maybe they can get him back on the cheap?  I would just cut ties.

6. Stephen Bowen
Same as Chester but add the Orakpo injury prone part also.  Shocked he made it through this season on the roster but then again they redid his contract.

5. Tracy Porter
Got 0 from him this season pretty much.  I pushed for them to look at Antonio Cromartie but instead they went Porter right away.  Give him a signed VHS of his Super Bowl pic 6 and release him.

4. Shawn Lauvao
Just get rid of any offense lineman not named Steiger or Trent and any 2014 free agency pick up not named DeSean.  It was doomed from the signing when no one knew who he was and the Browns laughed when we gave him $17 mil at 4:01pm.

3. Ryan Clark    
The first time around Clark was one of my favorites and it was an idiotic mistake to let him walk.  It would have made it so we didn't sign Archuleta and draft Laron Landry in the top 10.  But now it has been ugly each week.  ESPN will have a new full time talent by playoff time.

2. Pierre Garcon    kyleshanahan
Kind of a joke here.  They need him and he is worth the money.  I am looking out for Garcon and for his sake, another team would be great for him to help win.

1. Anyone who has had a say in the past drafts and free agency
See ya Bruce, Scott Campbell, Danny Snyder…well we can't get rid of him.  Everyone knows they need to revamp this whole department.  I doubt it happens but we have to keep hope.  Free agency last Spring was embarrassing although they will tell all about DeSean which was just luck.

Footnote:  I didn't add Robert Griffin on this and this doesn't mean I am a supporter.  But just like the Redskins I have no clue what to do with him. 

 

 

 

 

 

Redskins need to come up with a 3-year plan

December 11, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Now some people may be worried from the title that a 3-year plan, implies that the Redskins can't compete for at least three years, that is not necessarily the case. A three- year plan is what every team should have regardless of where they are in terms of contention and roster development. Whether you are a team like the Broncos or Patriots with a veteran QB and on the cusp of a Super Bowl or a rebuilding franchise like the Raiders and Jaguars who are starting a rookie quarterback and figure to have a top 5 pick in next year's draft. What your team's priorities in that three year plan may be different as top contending teams may see a shrinking window, while rebuilding clubs may look to stockpile draft picks or cap money and prioritize youth and development. In the NFL three-year plans should be on a sliding scale so once a season ends you go from a 2014-2016 three-year plan to the 2015-2017 three-year plan. For teams that are well run, they can seamlessly transition from one plan to another, for team's not so well run there are major bumps in the road, and for the Redskins they show no signs of having any sort of long term plan so it is time to start.

Before I get into the Redskins specifically, why do I suggest the Redskins should (and the whole NFL) should adopt a 3 year sliding plan model? Well it's simple, that is how the NFL is set up. Everything about the NFL's structure points to having a three-year flexible game plan as the way to conduct business. With non-fully guaranteed contracts like other sports, NFL teams can get out of contracts sooner than the total number of years. Typically when a 4-7 year long term contract is signed, a player is "locked" into being with that team for the first three years. In that three year window it is very difficult for a team to get out of a deal without taking a significant cap hit (relative to the contract). So when an NFL team signs a free agent for 5 years, they know that it is essentially a 3 year deal with in essence a "buyout" for the final two years. As that contract progresses, that window for that player becomes smaller. Pierre Garcon is the perfect example of this type of situation. Even if Garcon was a disappointment in his first two years the Redskins weren't going to get rid of him in the third year as they would have taken an $8.4 million cap hit compared to his $9.7 million hit for being on the team. Now though entering next season that debate is very different as the cap hit for cutting/trading him is $4.4 million compared to $9.7 million. Now if the player still proves their value then you "pick-up" the final two years of that 5 year contract, but if not you have an out. For some mega-deals it can be more of a 4 year window where you really have to keep a player, but by in large it is a 3 year window that players should be viewed by. When looking at a free agent or re-signing a player, a team needs to consider how that player fits into their three year plan and what can be expected of them in that time frame. Those extra years can be nice, but really they are meaningless unless a player produces in the initial 3 year window.

Draft picks can also be judged on a three-year window with the way the CBA is set up. All draft picks are signed to a very reasonable 4 year contract, with first round picks the team having the option of a more expensive (though typically cheaper than free agency) 5th year if they want it. Despite the 4 year terms and the possibility of a 5th year option, the first three years are key for draft picks. The NFL is not a developmental league, where they draft a player and season them in the minors for a couple of years like the NHL or MLB. They don't have any sort of developmental system like even the NBA with their D-League. Players have a short window to show they can play in this league and for draft picks it is typically no more than three years. That is not to say that there can be any developing for young players, but they have to do it as part of the "major league" roster. Whether that means learning on the bench or with game action, you have to prove you are worthy of a 53 man roster spot. The first three years are key also because, that is when teams are first confronted with making a long term decision on a player. Regardless of what round a player is drafted or how well they are preforming they can't even think of renegotiating a contract with a team or signing an extension until after being in the league for 3 years. The same is true for whether or not teams will pick up a 1st round pick's 5th year team option. Teams have to decide to pick it up after three seasons, otherwise a first round pick will be entering a contract year in their fourth season if it isn't picked up. For the vast majority of players you know what you have after three years of NFL experience, there can be some late bloomers from time to time, but overall you have a good understanding of a player's ceiling and floor after that time frame.

So the three-year sliding window makes sense from how the league is set up, and for most teams that is how they conduct business. For the Redskins there seems to be very little semblance of a real long term plan, much less a three-year plan of knowing the long-term goals of this team. Whether this team views itself as a contender or a re-building team you need to have a plan in place to execute for that strategy, the Redskins don't seem to be taking either approach and it is costing them. Each and every move seems like it is in a vacuum with no real indication of a greater plan. The Redskins also don't stick with a game plan year-in-year-out, alternating between aggressiveness and conservative approaches. Nor do the Redskins show an understanding of spreading out your resources across various position groups. This has left the Redskins at a point that even when they do make a good move (drafting Ryan Kerrigan, signing Barry Cofield, signing DeSean Jackson), it's mitigated by the four wrong moves they made with it or the lack of a game plan.

Take the DeSean Jackson signing the Redskins made this offseason. Signing a young dynamic wide receiver, who is under 30 years old and one of the top 15-20 receivers in the league, looks like a tremendous signing in a vacuum. Jackson is a big time playmaker who can stretch the field and can be a major piece in a high-powered offense. The problem is the Redskins really weren't in a contending position, and they just weren't going to have a high-powered passing offense. Even if Robert Griffin turned the corner and reached the heights of his development this year, the Redskins weren't going to be a team that threw the ball 650-700 times this season. Because of that it not only puts a cap on Jackson's value, but it also means that in a crowded pass catching group with Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and Jordan Reed someone is going to see their value fall dramatically. So while Jackson has been every bit the weapon as advertised and is playing at a Pro Bowl level despite the issues at QB, Garcon and Roberts have seen their value's plummet. This is a perfect example of taking one step forward, but two steps backwards for the Redskins. Jackson is a great receiver and individually he's earning every penny of his pay check, but it means the Redskins have too much invested in their WR group and just aren't getting enough of a return on that investment to justify it. This was a move that was not made as part of a long term plan, and in the long run that will cost the Redskins some, and it likely means that Garcon will be playing elsewhere next year.

Overall you can point to the Redskins not having a long term plan, but one of the worst areas for the Redskins this has shown up of late is the safety position. Since their big signing of O.J. Atogwe in 2011 (a signing that lasted just one year and cost them a pretty penny), the Redskins have all but ignored the safety position. Their big "signing" since then has been Brandon Meriweather, and they have tried to combine that with other stop gap signings (Madieu Williams, Tanard Jackson, Ryan Clark) or mid-to-late round draft picks (Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, Jordan Bernstein). That is just embarrassing for this team as those are the high water marks of their investment in the position group. Where was the plan for this group to be anything above awful, much less average? It's one thing to try stop gap players for a year or try to develop young guys, but they just haven't done that. The Redskins will once again head into the offseason needing to make a major move(s) at this position. That is just inexcusable to ignore a position group for so long.

For all moves, be it signings, re-signings, or draft picks the Redskins need to adopt a three year plan and weigh how they will impact the team and their cap in that time frame. Until Washington adopts that style of game plan they won't ever get out of the cellar on any sort of consistent basis.

Redskins' issues start at the top

December 10, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

The Redskins sit at 3-10 with three weeks left to go, and there is a real possibility that they end up at 3-13 for the 2nd straight season. Much of the fan ire appears to be pointed at first year head coach Jay Gruden, and while some of it is deserved he shouldn't be the one held most accountable. The person who deserves the lion's share of the blame (other than Dan Snyder but we can't fire him) is President and General Manager Bruce Allen. Allen had played 2nd fiddle to Mike Shanahan over the past 4 seasons, but with the coaches departure this offseason he decided to promote himself to head of personnel duties as opposed to bringing in a top scouting/personnel mind from another organization (or promoting from within). This has led to the Redskins having perhaps one of their least productive offseasons (which is saying something) in recent memory.

It wasn't supposed to be this way as the Redskins were finally out of the cap penalty (though Mike Shanahan did leave them with some bad contracts to deal with), and they could be more aggressive on the FA market. This was supposed to be the year that really jump started the Redskins and got them to progress going forward. Instead these moves set the Redskins back going forward and their record hasn't seen any sort of improvement. Here is a look at some of the Redskins moves and how it worked out for them:

Wide Receiver: Signed Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson

-Roberts was a good initial signing by the Redskins on paper as they didn't need a big free agent splash with Pierre Garcon manning one wide receiver spot. With the Redskins not figuring to be a major passing team they didn't need to get into the Eric Decker or Golden Tate markets. Roberts  should have served as a solid number 2 receiver for the Redskins on paper at what looked to be a fair contract and price. Roberts hasn't lived up to that billing though perhaps it's not entirely his fault given that he hasn't had the opportunities.

Later in the free agency period DeSean Jackson was released and the Redskins decided to bring him into the fold as another weapon. While Jackson has been great, it now means that the Redskins are spending way too much money on the receiver group. What makes it even worse is it's not a diverse receiver group with guys of really varying different skill sets or that can really complement each other. Jackson is the best of the bunch, but a lot of routes that he's good at are routes that Garcon and Roberts could do as well, and it forces them to do things they aren't as strong at. Jackson's presence will likely force the Redskins to look to move Garcon this offseason.

While the Redskins couldn't predict that Jackson would end up being released, they spent way too much money on a position group that just doesn't return a major impact unless you are a team that throws the ball 650 times a year or have an elite pocket QB. Neither applies to the Redskins so the value of the receivers is clearly lessened. Also by signing Jackson late the Redskins aren't going to have money to carryover to their cap this year, which will lessen what they can do in this free agency period.

Offensive line: Signed Shawn Lauvao, retained Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Polumbus and Chris Chester

Shawn Lauvao was a starting guard in Cleveland and was hitting free agency at a pretty young age. Without knowing how he did in Cleveland one would think that he would have a robust free agent market. So the Redskins giving him one of the highest paid interior lineman deals this offseason would make sense. Unfortunately it made zero sense because Lauvao really struggled in Cleveland and was not highly thought of as he entered the free agent market. Whether you looked at how the Browns fans/bloggers/beat writers viewed Lauvao, took a look at advanced stats, or analysts (some of whom were former front office guys), Lauvao was widely considered to be one of the worst free agent guards on the open market. Given his age someone was going to take a shot on him, but ideally it would be a cheap, short term deal without a guarantee that he'd be a starter. The Redskins thought otherwise and opened up their check book for Lauvao, and he has been just as bad as everyone else feared. This has been a major bust for the Redskins and will cost them either a dead money hit or dead weight on the roster.

For the rest of the line the Redskins decided to trot out four returning starters, with the only competition being cheap free agents, incumbent back-ups or rookies. This was just a really bad strategy as outside of Trent Williams this group of returning starters is really bad. Most teams would have looked at the production of these players and their salary cap hits and made the decision to cut bait with them to clear up the cap going forward. Chester and Polumbus in particular could have saved the Redskins a good chuck of money that could have either been invested in other linemen or saved to use on the cap this year. Instead the Redskins kept all three and their play has been very suspect to say the least. Not only is it continued bad play from this group, but it is  another waste of money.

Defensive Line: Re-signed Chris Baker, Signed Jason Hatcher, Signed Clifton Geathers, Restructured Stephen Bowen

The Redskins made a smart re-signing in bringing back Chris Baker on a solid contract. Baker isn't a star player and is never going to carry the unit, but overall he gives good snaps and is a pretty solid run defender. This really could be one of the better moves of the front office, which is a pretty bad sign of where this team is overall. Clifton Geathers was a cheap signing to bolster the DL depth, he stuck around for a little while, but didn't do much. No real harm here, but he also didn't help either.

Jason Hatcher was the big offseason signing and he was supposed to bolster the Redskins pass rush. He was coming off a strong 3 seasons, including a break-out, Pro Bowl year in 2013 (albeit in a 4-3 defense). Hatcher was a late bloomer and already over 30 making him a risk for a long term high money deal. This is particularly an issue for a team that probably isn't ready to compete. The Redskins ignored the warning signs and made him one of the offseason's highest paid defensive linemen, giving him a big money 5 year deal. Hatcher has been good, but he's not living up to this contract and given that the Redskins don't look any closer to competing it's going to be tough to justify this deal.

As for Stephen Bowen, the Redskins re-structured his deal for this season as he was high priced and coming off a late season micro-fracture surgery, unfortunately they didn't do anything in regards to his 2015 cap hit. So while they did reduce his 2014 number, the Redskins will still have to pay money in 2015 for cutting him. Had they cut him last year (and if you really wanted him back re-sign him at a league min rate) it would have been better long term.

Linebacker: Franchised Brian Orakpo, re-signed Perry Riley, Signed Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan

The signings of Hayward, Sharpton and Jordan were cheap and while they didn't work out it is hard to fault the Redskins too much here.

As for the Redskins big move to Franchise Orakpo while it's been very disappointing, it was still the right thing to do. Though Orakpo's injuries this year shortened his season and limited his effectiveness the Redskins couldn't have let him walk this offseason for nothing. He was coming off a very good year, was sub-30 years old and played the premium position on defense. To let him walk without compensation is not a smart move for a team. Now obviously this backfired on the Redskins and hurt them because it was a significant cap hit for below average production, but there wasn't another pass rusher they could have signed to replace Orakpo, and the only benefit would have been the saving of the money.

Perry Riley was even worse of a move for the Redskins because while he didn't make big money like Orakpo, the Redskins did give him a multi-year deal and pay him despite the fact that he's never showed anything above average production. He was a big liability on defense for the Redskins the year before, and they rewarded him by paying him more money and giving him more years. He's a young player so you hope that it clicks with him at some point, but it's tough to improve a bad defense when you bring back struggling players and pay them more.

Defensive backs: re-signed DeAngelo Hall, re-signed Brandon Meriweather, signed Ryan Clark, signed Tracy Porter

Re-signing Hall was the right move as while he maybe wasn't going to have as strong of a year that he had in 2013 again, he was signed at a reasonable rate and would hopefully help break in some of the young corners. Hall wasn't playing at a high level when he was injured, but his loss is still a big one for the Redskins. Coming off two Achilles injuries, the Redskins don't know what they will have in Hall next year. This contract could cost them some dead money if they need to end up cutting Hall, but it was still the right move at the time.

Bringing back Meriweather was not so much a smart move. Meriweather was a major liability last year and his head hunting tactics made him a target for league punishment. Given his erratic play he wasn't what you would consider a good mentor for young safeties, and he's not a great stop gap option because he looks to be a guy you just can't count on. The signing of Ryan Clark was a similarly odd move, not that he was expected to be a star, but just given that the Redskins brought in two stop gaps to a position that desperately needed an influx of talent and production. If the Redskins had maybe brought in a young safety early in the draft it may have made some sense, but they didn't they ignored the position completely and instead relied on Phillip Thomas (coming off an injury) and Bacarri Rambo (coming off an awful year) as the "next wave". Neither was a real waste of major resources, but combined it's a pathetic effort to bolster a major weakness on defense.

The Redskins other free agent signing for the secondary was signing Tracy Porter to a two year deal. The Redskins needed a 3rd corner, particularly a guy to work the slot and they settled on Porter for that role. Though Porter has had some good production in the past, he's struggled to stay healthy and has really been inconsistent throughout his career. Bringing him in was risky enough, but giving him a two year deal was a really bad decision by this front office.

 

 

Redskins Fans, Four Signs it Could Get Worse

December 4, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. If good teams start with solid line play, the Redskins are in horrible shape. It is possible that none of the current defensive lineman will be on the roster in two years.

Actually Chris Baker may be and that is it. Possibly Jarvis Jenkins, but he's probably not much of a factor. Cofield, Hatcher and Bowen will be history and Bowen should have already. They will have to do a complete revamp of this crew in the next two years. And do you trust the personnel crew to do this?

As for the other side of the line? Could be just as ugly. You can tell me Trent Williams is the savior but a decision has yet to be made on him. He is currently hurt and does bring up the question if he is a big money investment? They probably have no choice. Kory Lichtensteiger is solid but you can have the rest. Recent picks on the line have shown nothing so far to get hopeful for either. It's damn ugly.

 

2. Who is the future at quarterback? You tell me because no one knows.    no-means-no

Griffin most likely is done, Cousins is buried and no one really believes in Colt long term. Who is the QB in 2015 or 2016? Do they have to use a high pick now again on it? What a disaster this has become. I think getting a better look at Cousins is the best hope but for now McCoy has played the best.

What's the best case? McCoy plays strong the last month and at least gives them a QB to start 2015. But that could be the worst case because McCoy can roll after the season or the "braintrust" could take a break from trips to reservations to give him a crazy dollar deal. Honestly this could be the greatest throw a dart at the dart board and whoever it hits go with him situation.

 

3. If it's mid-January and the main personnel guys are Bruce Allen and Scott Campbell, I am out. Then we have reached not joke status but beyond joke status.

Not sure what that is called. Worse than Al Davis at the end, worse than Peter Angelos' worse, worse than Manny Pacqiauo playing point guard for his own pro basketball team in the Philippines.

Sad part is I have complete confidence nothing will change come the offseason. I bet firing Haslett will be their big move that they think will win back the fans. That's how clueless I expect Snyder on down to be. Maybe they can roll blame Shanahan again which could be ironic if say Mike is coaching a team like the Niners.

 

4. The team has put too much of their cap into the receiver position and it could get interesting quick.    grudenandjackson

I like Pierre, I like DeSean and I am cool with Andre but for a team that has nothing invested in their secondary, could this be too much? Garçon and Jackson have big cap numbers and Roberts is big for a 3rd receiver and bad return man. So I wonder if Garçon is at risk of moving on?

He has had a tough season although it's mostly not his fault. Then again maybe Garcon would welcome the Lav Coles treatment? I probably would if I was him at this point. Either way signing both Jackson and Roberts is a mistake we have seen in the past. DeSean is no Randle-el or Lloyd but Roberts is close. Either way they have to get better at so many spots other than wide receiver.

 

 

Possible Pierre Garcon Trade Scenarios

December 3, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

All Cap data courtesy of Over the Cap

Just one year removed from leading the NFL in receptions Pierre Garcon looks to be on his way out in Washington. Though fans might not like it, Garcon's production has plummeted this year with the offseason signings of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts and the production from tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul. With the Redskins on a pace for just 550 passing attempts this year there just isn't enough targets to go around. Garcon is also visibly frustrated in most games and he would likely welcome a trade to a place where he could be more involved. The Redskins passing attack isn't going to become elite overnight, and they don't figure to be a team that has high attempts (Jay Gruden's Bengals offenses never threw the ball a lot either), so keeping Garcon at a $9.7 million cap hit next year makes little sense. The Redskins can trade him and save $5.5 million in cap room next year as well as clearing an additional $10.2 million off the books in 2016.

Despite the down year Garcon could be pretty attractive to prospective teams. Though a number of big name receivers are set to become free agents this offseason (Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Jeremy Maclin, Randall Cobb, Torrey Smith among others), few will actually make it to free agency without a Franchise Tag (most will likely re-sign). That means teams in need of receiver help will have limited options. Unlike last year where the draft was stocked with impact WR talent, this year's class is definitely down. That isn't to say there aren't some quality guys, but you aren't going to get the major impact and early impact guys that were in this class. A team trading for Garcon can get good receiver production for a pair of mid round picks and a contract that is going to be less than what a top free agent would want. Any team trading for Garcon would be responsible for salaries of $7.1 million in 2015 and $7.6 million in 2016, with an additional $400K in bonuses each year. None of that is guaranteed so a team could get out of it in 2016 if Garcon's production doesn't pick up or he gets injured.

Here are some trade scenarios that could make sense for both teams:

Cleveland Browns:

Assuming Kyle Shanahan doesn't get a head coaching job somewhere, this makes perfect sense for all parties involved. Shanahan's offense got the most out of Garcon in 2012-2013, and that was despite the fact that the system wasn't necessarily receiver friendly. The Browns are looking for a compliment to Josh Gordon and trading for Garcon would mean they wouldn't have to use one of their two first round picks to fill the position. Garcon and Gordon would be a great one-two punch on offense that could help Johnny Manziel grow as a quarterback. With the Browns showing signs of being a contender, it makes even more sense to add a more experienced receiver to the mix opposed to a rookie. With a ton of projected cap room the Browns could target any top receiver that hits the open market, but they may prefer to spend less money and years on Garcon and get similar production. Even if a number 1 receiver like Randall Cobb were to hit the market, Cleveland might not want to sign him since he'd be their number 2 guy at best.

In addition to having the system, need, and cap room to make a deal for Garcon to work, the Browns have the advantage in another area of well; draft picks. With two first round picks the Browns are already in a better position than any other team to move mid-to-late round picks to acquire a talent like Garcon. On top of that Cleveland has additional picks in both the 4th and 6th rounds, meaning they could trade two picks and still be set with 8 draft picks.

Oakland Raiders:

Now a lot will depend on who the Raiders next coach is, but Oakland is a place that could make a lot of sense. Assuming they stick with Derek Carr (which they should), they need to get him some additional weapons to work with particularly a go to target. James Jones and Andre Holmes have been okay for the Raiders, but they are more complementary receivers as opposed to a real number 1 or number 2 guy. Garcon has shown he can be that go to receiver and he makes more sense than a rookie who might need some developmental time. The Raiders could avoid having to spend an early round pick on a receiver, and address other key needs on their team. While Oakland isn't a contender like Cleveland, adding Garcon makes sense to help in the development of Carr. Whatever free agent receivers do hit the market it will be tough to bring in a top receiver to Oakland given the team's struggles. The only way they are getting a quality receiver on the open market is to overpay them, and that just doesn't make much sense for a rebuilding team. The Raiders don't have extra picks to deal from, though ti wouldn't be shocking if they look to trade back in the first round to add some extra selections. Since the Raiders have a high pick in each round they would probably be able to get away with trading a single pick (say their 4th rounder) to get a deal done. Oakland projects to have the most cap room in the NFL so their are no issues with affording Garcon.

Kansas City Chiefs:

The Chiefs are a really good football team, but they have probably the worst receiving corps in the league this year and it is costing them. Kansas City has gone 12 weeks without a receiver catching a TD pass, that is ridiculous, particularly since Alex Smith is playing well. Kansas City needs to add one or two receivers this offseason (and may look to cut Dwayne Bowe). While they figure to target one in the first couple rounds of the draft, they might be in a bad position to draft one in the first round. Likely the top 2 or 3 guys could be off the board by the time they select and then they might need to reach for one. Even if they do select one in the first round they don't figure to be someone who will make an immediate impact as a top target. With a team that is in "win now" mode they need someone who they can count on from day one. The main issue facing the Chiefs is that they don't have a lot of cap room (in fact they are barely over the projected cap). The good news is there are a lot of ways they could increase their cap space next year fairly easily through cuts and restructurings, so it probably won't be a major barrier.

Seattle Seahawks:

The Seahawks tried the big name receiver option with Percy Harvin and it failed miserably, which has left their receiving corps in the hands of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. They did draft receivers in the 2nd and 4th rounds this past year, but so far they have nothing to show for it. This is a team who is one of the top contenders in the NFL, with basically nothing in the way of receiver/TE talent. They have considerable cap space heading into next season, but they probably would be pretty hesitant to spend big on a free agent, given that they still need to extend some key players so they might not want to give out a massive 5 or 6 year deal. Trading for Garcon would allow them to boost their WR production without committing significant long term resources. Given their status as a contender they would have no issue shipping a pair of mid-to-late round picks for Garcon.

Indianapolis Colts:

The Colts have both Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks hitting free agency this offseason. While it's possible Wayne could be back, he could retire after this year. If Wayne were to come back it would be at a cheaper rate and in a reduced role. That would leave the Colts with T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief as their primary receivers. That definitely isn't bad, but when you have Andrew Luck you want more weapons not less. Garcon could be the stop gap if you don't feel Moncrief is ready to be a full time starter, and since it is a shorter commitment the Colts wouldn't be tied into a big money deal long term. The Colts have a lot of cap room this year, but they probably don't want to spend it all with so many key players coming up for extensions. Garcon would give the Colts a good veteran receiver who the organization (albeit a different front office) is familiar with. They offered Garcon a deal to re-sign there back in 2012, but he left to go to Washington. They clearly like him in Indy and would probably be okay making this type of trade. One issue with the Colts is they would probably try to split the picks between 2015 and 2016, perhaps a 4th rounder this year and a 5th or 6th next year.

Denver Broncos:

This definitely seems like more of a long shot, but assuming Peyton Manning is back, and particularly if you believe he will play the next two years that Garcon is under contract this make some sense. The Broncos due have a lot of cap room for next year, but they have a lot of guys that they need to re-sign (namely Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas), which many would think would preclude the Broncos for considering a deal like this, but really for Denver these next two years anything goes. Your window to win a SB (or possibly multiple Super Bowls) is now. Trying to ensure your cap is clean in 2017 and 2018 doesn't make much sense, so if you need to restructure deals or backload other contracts to fit in Garcon (and other possible offseason additions) you do it. With Wes Welker a free agent after this year, the Broncos could use a 3rd WR to pair with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. They drafted Cody Latimer in the 2nd round, but he has just one catch in 12 games and wasn't able to take advantage when other receivers/tight ends were out. Denver might not be too apt to trust him as the 3rd option next year. Now given their cap situation the Broncos could look to try and find an undervalued FA receiver like they did this past year in Emmanuel Sanders, but given their window don't be surprised if they would consider Garcon.

 

Thoughts and Observations From the Redskins vs Colts Game

December 1, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. There are serious issues in our secondary:

-There is no doubt the Redskins are faced with a number of daunting issues this coming offseason, but perhaps the most troubling is what is going on in the secondary. Andrew Luck absolutely torched the Redskins secondary and it was a down right embarrassment just how many times and how many guys were running free back there. The sad part is these issues occur just about every week, but most QB's the Redskins have played haven't been able to take advantage of it on the same level that Luck did. One can look back to the Viking game and think that a more experienced QB could have hung 45 points on the Redskins Defense in that game as well. What's really troubling is that one of the biggest culprits with the secondary and coverage lapses this year has been David Amerson, the 2nd year second round pick who is supposed to be the future at CB for this team. Each week that outlook is more and more murky as he continues to blow simple coverages.

2. Colt played well, but at best he's a short term answer:

-Colt McCoy by no means lit the world on fire with his play yesterday and Redskins fans definitely shouldn't be ordering up his jersey's any time soon. McCoy struggled a considerable amount in the first half (with the exception of one really nice drive) and for the most part his play wasn't that much better than Robert Griffin III's was the previous couple of weeks. In the 2nd half though that began to change as McCoy played much better and was running the offense at a competent level. McCoy was able to use his playmakers (though for some reason Pierre Garcon remained invisible) and move the ball down the field. It wasn't a great performance and it clearly showed that QB wasn't the only issue on this offense (not sure many people really thought it was), it also showed that Jay Gruden made the right call because McCoy clearly could run this offense far better than we've seen from Griffin this year (as a whole). McCoy should continue to start this season for the Redskins and could possibly earn himself a shot as the starter next year as the team looks to rebuild and fix the other issues on the team.

3. The Offensive Line continues to be a major issue:

-Trent Williams is no doubt one of the toughest players in the NFL, but he shouldn't be playing right now on a bad knee. Not only does he potentially risk a more serious injury, but his level of play is drastically reduced. The Colts don't have any premier pass rushers, yet Williams consistently struggled in this game. Now Williams was hardly the only issue along the line, but since he normally plays at such a high level, his performance was scary for the Redskins. The rest of the line did what it normally does as Guards Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester routinely ended up in the backfield (both on pass and running plays), Kory Lichtensteiger was solid, but still had some mistakes and RT Tom Compton just couldn't get the job done. The Redskins are going to need to find 3 or 4 starters this offseason to go with Trent Williams and until they do it will be tough going for the offense.

4. Where was the pass rush:

-The first play of the game Ryan Kerrigan sacked Andrew Luck and forced a fumble setting up the Redskins offense inside the 20. In Andrew Luck's remaining 27 dropbacks he wasn't sacked once, was only hit twice and rarely was under pressure. The pass rush made one big play and then they disappeared. While it is tough to sack Andrew Luck because he does an excellent job of feeling pressure, it's something a team has to do if they want to beat the Colts. And even if you don't sack Luck, hit him, pressure him, do whatever it takes to get him off his game. The Redskins couldn't do that and Luck made them pay. The sad thing is the Colts don't have a particularly good offensive line. They have a good (but not great) LT, but their LG is a rookie, their center is an undrafted rookie, their RG was a back-up and their RT (who has struggled this year) has been dealing with an injury. Despite that the Redskins couldn't take advantage and Luck had all day to pick the Redskins apart.

5. Redskins can't take advantage of opportunities:

For as bad as this game was on the final scoreboard, the Redskins had some chances to make it look at least respectable if not somehow get a win. In the first half the Redskins Defense forced 3 turnovers, yet the Redskins offense did nothing with it and only managed a FG (they were already in FG range). In the 2nd half the Redskins had the ball at the one yard line and they couldn't score a point (turnover on downs), their next drive they again got it inside the Red Zone, but failed to get a TD, having to settle for a FG at a time when the Colts were scoring TD's at will. Now whether or not these drives would have changed the course of the game is definitely up for debate, but if the Redskins at least scored TD's on the two drives they had to settle for a FG and on the drive where they were stopped at the 1, this would have been a game.

6. Where do they go from here:

-Well despite some issues, Colt McCoy was able to get the offense moving a little bit. It wasn't great and early on it looked awful, but the Redskins were able to get some things going offensively behind McCoy that they haven't in recent weeks behind Griffin. That being said it is still not enough from this offense which has seen major investments of resources in recent years. The Redskins need to continue to look at tweaking the line-up and trying to find some pieces before the start of next year. Defensively the Redskins need almost a complete overhaul as they just can't point to a number of players who are playing at a high level right now. With so many issues on this team, it's tough to see the Redskins squeaking out more than one win the rest of the way.

5 Things I Want to See from the Redskins Today

November 30, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Instead of "Keys to the Game", I decided to change it up this week and look at 5 things the Redskins need to show this week to build on going forward. That isn't to say the Redskins can't win this game, because in the NFL anything can happen, but it is going to be tough and while you are trying to win the game, the evaluation process needs to be on going.

1. How does the offense function with Colt McCoy:

-Look Colt McCoy isn't going to take over this offense and it is going to become the "Greatest Show on Turf" this weekend and it's probably not going to be above average, but even if it gets up to an average offense that will be a massive improvement for this team. The Redskins do have some weapons in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson (Jordan Reed when healthy as well) and a top 10 RB in this league in Alfred Morris. Despite their offensive line issues they need to get these playmakers more involved. That comes from being more efficient on offense and putting these players in good situations. Colt McCoy is not going to cure all that ails this team and it's not going to happen overnight, but if he can show progress with this offense then maybe he could be a stopgap option for this team next year.

2. Can Morris have a big game?

-One of the popular arguments to support RGIII was that his presence enabled Alfred Morris to have more success. Now numbers definitely back that up as Morris has played much better these past 3 weeks, but how much of that was Griffin's influence is unknown. With Griffin out of the line-up, what will that mean for Morris? In some ways things could improve with McCoy at the helm if he can keep the Redskins offense moving. The past couple of weeks with the pass offense in shambles it led to a lot of situations where Morris wasn't on the field b/c the Redskins were in obvious passing situations. That could still occur here if the Redskins Defense can't slow down Andrew Luck, but early on I'd imagine Morris gets a lot of work on the ground. The game situation may dictate Morris's workload, but what he does with his opportunities will be key.

3. Can the defensive line win up front?

-With a line that consisted of veterans Barry Cofield and Jason Hatcher as well as younger players with promise Chris Baker and Jarvis Jenkins the Redskins defensive line was supposed to be a strength of this team. Unfortunately due to injury and ineffectiveness it really hasn't made a big positive impact this year. Hatcher has been strong as a pass rusher when he's been in there, but some nagging injuries have limited his snaps and he also seems to wear down in the 2nd half of a lot of games. Cofield has played just 80+ snaps this year, and has had very limited effectiveness when he's been in there. Baker has been up-and-down this year and continues to look like more of a role player than a starter, while Jenkins has struggled considerably this season. This is the type of game the Redskins on paper should have an advantage as the Colts offensive line is pretty weak and missing multiple starters. Unfortunately the Redskins health is an issue as well. Both Baker and Hatcher are listed as questionable and though both are expected to play, how effective they are is far more debatable. If the line can't succeed up front, it's going to be a long day for the Redskins Defense.

4. The continued evaluation and development of Trent Murphy?

-Trent Murphy has been forced into the starting line-up for ROLB Brian Orakpo and he remains a mixed bag in terms of production. He's made a number of nice plays against the run (though some have been down field), and has kept up Orakpo's ability to affect the running game on that side. As a pass rusher though Murphy has not done nearly as good of a job and almost never wins one-on-one battles. He typically faces the LT which is making it tough on the rookie, but if he's going to inherit that role full time next year he's going to have to show more of a pass rush going forward. It won't be the easiest of tasks today as Andrew Luck does a good job overall of getting rid of the football and not being overly affected by the rush, but Murphy still needs to try to get in there and make some plays.

5. Growth from the young members of the secondary:

-A lot of people are excited about the Redskins pair of young corners going forward with David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland potentially both locked into starting jobs heading into next year. While it looks good on paper, the results on the field have been much more mixed. Breeland a rookie 4th round pick has been the better of the two and the one the Redskins should feel more comfortable about at this point. While he's made more than his fair share of rookie mistakes, he's also come up with numerous big plays to help balance it out. Given that he was already considered raw coming out and thrust into the starting line-up due to injury it is easier to gloss over any issues that he may have. Amerson was the more highly touted college player and the higher draft pick, but his results don't match the hype. Despite playing a considerable amount last season and working as a starter all offseason, he's making mistakes at a higher rate than Breeland and isn't making the same number of big plays to counteract the negatives. It's too early to close the book on Amerson, but he's still very much a work in progress. Both young corners are going to have their hands full today facing off with Andrew Luck and this Colts passing attack. T.Y. Hilton is clearly the biggest threat, though he'll line up some inside and may be matched-up with the slot corner on a number of plays. Reggie Wayne isn't the threat he once was, but he still remains a dangerous option, and with his veteran savvy he could exploit any mistakes in coverage from the young corners. Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief aren't on the same level as the other two, but they both present their own challenges.

Redskins make the right move to bench RGIII

November 26, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

It's a move that shocked much of Redskins nation and has led to a large amount of frustration, but in the end Jay Gruden didn't have an alternative to his decision to bench former 2nd overall pick and 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Robert Griffin III. Griffin who was considered the savior of this franchise two years ago, has now turned into a major liability. His play has deteriorated to the point that not only were the Redskins losing games, but he was holding back the entire offense. When you break down Griffin's game tape you see a quarterback, who is a shell of what he was 2 years ago and showing zero signs of development. Now three well respected offensive minds in Mike and Kyle Shanahan last year and Jay Gruden this year have seen Griffin's struggles and not felt they could be fixed. This left Gruden and the entire Redskins in the unenviable position of basically giving up on their former "franchise quarterback".

I understand that in many circles of the Redskins fan base this isn't a popular move, but that doesn't mean it was the wrong move. Like it or not, Griffin has struggled now far more than he's been successful and his play this season has been pretty bad. What we've seen from Griffin this year is a quarterback who took a lot of sacks, missed wide open receivers, lacked the ability to throw with anticipation, was too quick to check the ball down and every now and then would scramble. That isn't the profile of a franchise quarterback, in fact that is the profile of another recent Redskins quarterback, John Beck. Now some may say that is unfair, but it's not far from the truth.

Griffin's flaws aren't your traditional "growing pains" or "learning a new system" as many have tried to suggest. Griffin has been failing at a fundamental level, displaying a complete lack of pocket awareness, poor footwork, staring down receivers, poor defensive recognition, not seeing open receivers, and an inability to throw receivers open. It's not that he has these issues on every single play as you can find examples of him doing each of these things well every now and then, but every quarterback has plays where they do these things well. When the Redskins crushed the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this season, the Jags starting QB Chad Henne had many of these same issues, but there were still a few plays where he executed well and made nice throws. The issue wasn't that he was incapable of doing it completely, the problem was that he couldn't do these things well on a consistent basis to be even a below average starting QB. The same is true for Griffin as too often one or more of these flaws crop up on a particular play.

If there were just one or two issues that were consistently holding Griffin back, perhaps those could be worked on and fixed with further development. But when there are this many issues after three years (we'll get to the injuries soon), and there are only signs of regression, that doesn't bode well that these are fixable. The Redskins have even tried to cover up Griffin's deficiencies by simplifying the offense these past two weeks, and Griffin has played his worst football including one awful game right after a bye versus a horrible defense. Gruden has brought back some of  what worked in 2012 in an effort to make things more comfortable for Griffin and even there Griffin hasn't been able to execute at a positive level (with the exception of a few plays). The other issue is those are very limiting play calls and if you try to rely on them the defense will figure it out (like they did in 2013).

Many people who are against this move and think that Griffin should still be the starter, point to the success he had in 2012 as the reason why he not only should remain the starter, but that he can become a top 10 QB. Ignoring the injury issue for second, going back to the 2012 offense fulltime just isn't feasible (and also not a positive sign of development for a quarterback). Defenses are defending the pistol and read option so much better than they were in 2012, that you can only rely on them so much now on offense and even then they can't be as simplistic as they once were. That is just not going to be a sustainable offense, particularly if the QB is struggling with fundamentals and showing an inability to use advanced concepts. The only benefit would be that it would continue to hide some deficiencies and have Griffin as the 25th best QB in the league rather than the 30th (and you could make a case that he's been the worst starter over the past two weeks).

The other excuse you hear in regards to sticking with Griffin is that injuries have set him back. While there is validity that injuries have hurt him some, they don't make for a good "excuse". Injuries, particularly those of a serious level (like a 2nd ACL tear), don't exactly bode well for improving a career. Like it or not, now with a pair of ACL injuries going back to his college days, Griffin's at a greater likelihood for another serious knee injury in the future. That isn't a positive for his outlook. And though the injuries have taken away some on field work for Griffin over the past two years, he has still gotten plenty of overall work. Griffin now has 33 career starts (34 if you count the playoffs) and all the practice work that comes with that. As a rookie he took the vast majority of camp/preseason snaps. Though he missed much of that in year two, he was getting some (not preseason but camp work) and working with coaches on the side during camp. This offseason he again got the vast majority of camp and preseason work and of course all the practice reps leading up to his 5 starts. That is a pretty significant amount of time and work to fix some of these issues.

Also, even while he was injured, Griffin could have worked on a number of his problems with film study and work with coaches on understanding how to develop better. When Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Packers he got limited camp and preseason work, but still was able to fix issues with his delivery while he sat. Now maybe Griffin should have sat as well, but that ship has sailed and if that is the case then the injuries can't be blamed for holding him back.

While I understand this news was a rude awakening for many Redskins fans who bought in to the idea that Griffin was the savior of this franchise, it really has been a long time in the making. In 2013 while some of Griffin's struggles could be attributed to "rust" or being "injured", these issues were creeping up as well, despite the fact that the Redskins were using a very simplistic offense and tailored everything to Griffin's strengths. Griffin had very few positive games last season and his numbers were inflated by a lot of garbage time production (particularly early in the season). Griffin wasn't doing much to help put his team in a position to win football games and major cracks were starting to appear in his game. The hope was this year that Gruden's offense could add complexity to hopefully keep defenses honest, while new additions at receiver would further ease Griffin's transition into a more pro style offensive system. Unfortunately those two things didn't "fix" Griffin, and there were problem signs early on.

From the start of camp there were media reports that looked to temper expectations for what Griffin could accomplish this year. Those reached a fevered pitch after a week of practicing with the Patriots led New England beat reporters to question Griffin vs Cousins, and who would be the better QB. Though those reports were dismissed by the team and the fan base, they should have served as a major red flag. Griffin had an unimpressive first preseason game that saw a few issues with footwork and throwing receivers open, but in a small sample size was easy to ignore. The next two weeks are where Griffin's problems became more apparent, as he took pressure and made some really bad throws versus the Browns and played even worse the next week versus the Ravens. Though he played more in both of those games, most people pointed to the "new system" angle as to those troubles. Since it was preseason, the concerns publicly were minimal, but you have to believe that Gruden was far more concerned by that time.

Week one versus the Texans (a pass defense that currently ranks in the bottom 3rd in most categories), we saw Griffin play with training wheels, as he was very limited in what he could do and threw a ton of short passes to try to keep the chains moving (it didn't work too well). This was a clear sign by Gruden that he didn't feel that RGIII could handle a more complex offense and be at the forefront of this team. Griffin wasn't going to carry the offense, and even in a limited gameplan his play was extremely mixed. Griffin ran into pressure/sacks, missed open receivers and was indecisive with the football. While he didn't have any catastrophic mistakes and completed a large percentage of his passes, Griffin also didn't make a look of good throws or really helped put his team in a position to win a very low scoring football game. In the battle of two game managers, Griffin lost to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The issues that were present in the preseason, and even that week 1 game versus the Texans have become magnified and have multiplied over the past two weeks. Griffin wasn't even completing the simple passes he was (on the same level at least) versus the Texans Defense, and had become a major hindrance to the overall performance of this offense and the team in general. It's not surprising that this has boiled over into some reported issues in the locker room. At that point coach Gruden's hands were tied as he couldn't risk a full mutiny of this team, just to continue to trot out a quarterback who was showing no real signs of promise.

The final chapter in Griffin's quarterback career has not been written yet and if he spends time developing and working on his problem areas maybe a couple years down the road he can become a decent quarterback, but the Redskins just couldn't wait around for the hope that it clicks. Griffin's time in DC is coming to an end, and though it is tough as a fan to see the hopes of this franchise dashed, this is the right move long term for the Redskins. If Griffin isn't going to be the guy (and there is little evidence to suggest that he can be), it has to be time to move on and look towards the future.

Redskins vs 49ers Keys to the Game

November 23, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Keep it simple for Griffin:

-The reasons for Robert Griffin III's struggles and his future with the team are another debate, what is definitive is right now the Redskins need to take a step back and simplify things for Griffin. He's struggling with a lot of areas of being a QB and they can't hope to have a full game plan versus a good defense under those circumstances. The Redskins need to get back to basics and call a lot of simple concepts like they used when he was a rookie. Now that really limits what you can do offensively, and the 49ers Defense is not likely to be fooled, but they don't have many other options at this point.

2. Stick with the ground game:

-The 49ers are very tough to run against ranking top 10 in every major rush defense category, but the Redskins need to find a way. They simply can't hope to put the ball in Griffin's hands 30+ times in this game and win. He's struggling considerably right now and his job isn't going to be easier with the pass rush the 49ers can bring. Alfred Morris needs to carry the load this game, and the Redskins need to stick to it even if it is tough going initially.

3. Find some way to stop Aldon and Justin Smith:

-It's unlikely that Trent Williams plays this week (and even if he does he'll be well below 100%), and guard Shawn Lauvao is listed as questionable as well. That means the Redskins options are going to be rookie Morgan Moses at LT and either Lauvao or Josh LeRibeus at LG. Those will be the primary guys responsible for blocking All-pro's Aldon and Justin Smith from living in the Redskins backfield. This is a very difficult task and last year when Trent Williams was healthy he struggled immensely with blocking these guys. The Redskins are going to need to bring in some extra help on a lot of plays, or it could get ugly fast. This will limit what the Redskins can do offensively, but the alternative is letting these two run free in the backfield.

4. Limit turnovers and penalties:

-For as bad as the Redskins played as a whole last week one of the worst parts of their game was the number of offensive penalties. Coming off a bye, at home the Redskins had multiple false starts and illegal formation penalties, how does that happen? Those penalties were back-breakers versus a bad team like the Bucs and will be much worse versus the 49ers. The turnovers are even a bigger issue, the 49ers Defense is 3rd in the league in creating turnovers so they will definitely take advantage of any poor throws or runners not protecting the football. If the Redskins are going to upset the 49ers they have to protect the ball, plain and simple.

5. Blitz Colin Kaepernick:

-Like a lot of young, mobile QB's Colin Kaepernick has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long and will take some unnecessary sacks. Given that the 49ers are now without two of their starting 5 OL for this game the Redskins might have a window to disrupt Kaepernick and limit this offense. Three games ago against Dallas the blitz calls were working and it led to some big plays and a win, since then though the blitzes by in large haven't been effective and it has left the Redskins exposed. Given the fine line that the Redskins have to walk, I wouldn't look for too many all out blitzes, but I'd frequently bring an extra rusher or two. If Kaepernick has time he will pick the Redskins apart and one of the 49ers talented weapons will end up wide open. This has to be a game where the pass rush steps up and makes some big plays. Even if it's not always getting sacks, but forcing errant throws or maybe holding penalties.

6. Make them earn their drives:

-The 49ers are not a team that turns the ball over a lot and they play pretty smart football so they are capable of sustaining drives, but they've been up and down this year so they have had some issues with consistency in this area. Last week the Redskins continuously got torched for big gains and Touchdowns through the air and it put that game out of reach. This week the Redskins need to ensure they aren't giving up those 20 and 40 yard (or more) type of plays. Maybe the result will be the same with the 49ers scoring TD's, but maybe the Redskins can get them to stall out more drives or force them to settle for FG's. At this point the Redskins have to be a bend but don't break type of defense, because they simply aren't the type that will create turnovers or completely limit another team.