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Redskins Wide Receiver Offseason Plan: Part 1

January 17, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

One of the Redskins many offseason needs this season is to upgrade their receiving corps, and give Robert Griffin III more weapons to work with. The question isn't should the Redskins upgrade their receivers, but rather how much should they invest in the position.

Receiver is one of the more overhyped, and low impact positions in the NFL. While everyone of course wants to have elite receivers, there is little to show that elite receivers equal success in the NFL. When you look at the top quarterbacks in the NFL, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers all made the postseason this year and we see them there every year.  Top running backs maybe don't have the same success rate, but of the top 10 RB's in terms of rushing yards, 6 of them made the postseason. While you can look at other categories like TD's, yards per carry or yards per game and you will similarly find 5-6 guys from playoff rosters. Receivers though are a completely different ball game. Of the top 10 receivers in catches, you have just three guys who made the playoffs: Julian Edleman, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas. Total yards saw four guys (Thomas, Green, DeSean Jackson and Jordy Nelson). Now touchdowns saw 5 of the top 10 receivers in the playoffs, but they come solely from the Broncos (Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker) and Bengals (Green and Marvin Jones), so 10 of the playoff teams didn't have a guy with 10 or more receiving TD's. Despite the great years that they had Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Antonio Brown, Pierre Garcon, Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson and Dez Bryant were shutout of the playoffs. And really it's not anything new. Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald have represented sort of the elite tier of receivers, yet they have very few playoff appearances between them. Leonard Hankerson

This is not to say that a top receiver can't have an impact, particularly in the postseason, but rather that without them being on a quality team they aren't going to matter much for a team's win-loss record. This is even more true for the Redskins given that with a young quarterback going through growing pains and a star running back, they should clearly be a run first team. They only have to look at teams like the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks with young mobile quarterbacks of their own (and they aren't struggling as much) who win by establishing a strong running game and tough defense, as the example they should try to follow. Those three teams were the bottom three teams in the league for passing attempts yet they won at least 12 games apiece. The 49ers were without their top receiver, Michael Crabtree, for most of the season and the Seahawks were missing their top two receivers, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, yet in neither case did it really phase this team. Had they been without either their quarterback or running back for that long, it would have cost them more games.

The Redskins already have a good start with Pierre Garcon at one receiver spot. Garcon isn't what you'd call an elite receiver, but he's a very good receiver and capable of tearing up defenses when given the opportunity. Garcon gives the Redskins one weapon to build around, and they potentially have another in tight end Jordan Reed's promising rookie season was cut short due to injury.If Reed is healthy for 2014 there is no reason why he can't be a top 10 receiving tight end. The problem is after Garcon and Reed things thin out fairly quickly. Leonard Hankerson was having a productive third season and looked poised to take over the starting role opposite Garcon fulltime. Unfortunately a late season ACL injury leaves his status for next season in doubt. He wasn't playing great, but he was solid and at the very least would have given the Redskins someone capable opposite Garcon. With Santana Moss a free agent and Josh Morgan's contract being voided the Redskins don't have much else for next season. Aldrick Robinson should be back, but he's been inconsistent and is more of a one-trick pony.

The Redskins are going to need to bring in 3 or 4 receivers this offseason, and at least one needs to be capable of starting or playing a significant role. Now that makes it sound like the Redskins should spend quite a bit of resources on the position, but I don't think that is the case. The Redskins need to follow the 49ers/Seahawks/Panthers approach and build up the defense and boost the rushing attack by upgrading the offensive line (this also helps the passing attack). Instead of spending big free agent dollars on a receiver or using a 2nd or 3rd round pick on the position, the Redskins should focus those resources elsewhere. Instead the Redskins should sign one or two cheaper stopgap free agents and draft receivers in say the 4th and 7th rounds.

In terms of free agents the Redskins need to pass on any big name guys who are looking for big pay days. Instead they need to focus on those 2nd tier guys who are looking for modest or minimal salaries to prove themselves. The last couple of years we've seen guys like Julian Edelman and Donnie Avery have big seasons after signing contracts like this (plenty of other solid examples as well). Preferably one of the receivers the Redskins sign also has return abilities as well.

Some guys to be on the look out for:

Dexter McCluster:

-The Chiefs haven't known what to do with McCluster throughout his career and they've utilized him at running back and receiver during his time in KC. He could be a solid slot receiver option (and help out in the back-field at times) as well as being an impressive return man. McCluster has some added benefits as being a guy who the Redskins could use in a variety of roles, particularly with any option concepts involving RGIII. He really shouldn't be too expensive maybe $14 million over 4 years.

Jacoby Jones:

-Jones is a big play return man with some of the most impressive returns over the past two years. He's an okay receiver with some nice deep speed, but he's not consistent enough to be a full-time guy. Still his special team ability would be nice and he shouldn't be too expensive either, maybe a 3 year $10 million deal.

Jeremy Maclin:

-Maclin is a former first round pick from the Eagles. He's coming off an ACL injury that knocked him out for the entire year. He's shown good potential in his career, but he's yet to have posted a 1,000 yard year. He's going to be looking for a 1-year deal to boost his value, and may decide the the Eagles aren't the place for him, given the presence of  Jackson and Riley Cooper (assuming the Eagles re-sign Cooper). You are probably looking at a 1 year incentive laden deal. The downside is if he has a big year the Redskins need to re-sign him for quite a bit more in 2015.

Ted Ginn Jr.:

-Ginn is a big time return man, but he also had a nice year as a receiver this season. He offers deep speed and some big play ability. He's not going to break the bank and could be signed for something reasonable like a 2 year $4 million deal.

Andre Roberts:

-Roberts is a solid 2nd tier slot receiver, which could be a good fit for the Redskins since they aren't likely to throw the ball 600+ times next year. He could help boost the Redskins presence inside and give them an underneath option for Griffin. While he's put up solid numbers in his career, Roberts is probably looking at a 3 years $9 million type of deal, which is reasonable for the 26 year old receiver.

Mario Manningham:

Manningham had a promising career as the Giants 3rd receiver and came up with a big catch to help them in their win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl two years ago. He signed with the 49ers in 2012, and started 10 games but battled some injuries. An ACL injury wiped out most of this past season, but he should be healthy for 2014. He's still just 28 years old and could be worth a 1 year $1 million type of contract.

Danario Alexander:

-Alexander is an immensely talented receiver, who unfortunately just can't stay healthy. After a big 2nd half of the season for the Chargers in 2012, Alexander was expected to do big things in 2013, but an ACL injury wiped out his season. Alexander has now had major knee injuries to both knees and isn't worth much more than the league minimum given the risk, but the potential is there as well. The Skins likely probably won't be near the top of his list to have a bounce back season, but if they guarantee some additional money or offer a bit more (within reason) they could maybe bring him in.

Jerricho Cotchery:

-It's been years since Cotchery has had a top 3 receiver role with a team, but he stepped up for the Steelers this year catching 40+ passes for over 600 yards and 10 TD's. He's never been a star, but has shown to be a solid receiver, and having a nice veteran presence could be a good thing for RGIII. He should be able to be signed on the cheap for less than $2 million for next season, since he'll be 32 next year.

Brandon LaFell:

-LaFell has never taken his game to the next level for the Panthers, as he's been in the 40 catch, 600 yard range for the past three seasons. He's got solid size and could maybe be signed on a cheap 2 year deal as he looks to prove himself. Anything more than $3 million a year should be considered too much at this point.

Part 2 i'll look at some mid-round draft prospects that could make sense for the Redskins.

5 Ways to Overcome the Reed/Hankerson Injuries:

November 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Redskins are losing their number two receiver Leonard Hankerson for the rest of the season and Jordan Reed is out for Monday night's game. Here are the 5 ways the Redskins can cope with these injuries:

1. Run the ball 40+ times this game:rg3alfredmorris

-The Redskins have to find a way to not be throwing the ball 40+ times a game and need to ensure they are running the ball at least that much. This Redskins offense can't effectively throw the ball that many times with Reed and Hankerson, they aren't going to find it any better without them. Washington needs to run the ball early and often and try to wear down this 49ers defense. Obviously Alfred Morris needs to be the bell cow, and RGIII should be involved as well, but they need to get Young and Helu involved as well.

2. Utilize the screen game more this week:

-Last year the Redskins threw the ball behind the line on over 22% of the time, this year they are throwing it behind the line 13% of the time. This is pretty big drop off, and helps to explain the lower completion percentage. The Redskins have had a number of big plays off the screen this year, and while you can't always count on that the Redskins should be able to count on positive yards on these plays. That can help put the Redskins in better 3rd down situations (or not force the Skins into those situations). The screen game will probably be the easiest way to get Pierre Garcon involved, but they should also utilize Moss, Nick Williams and Roy Helu in the screen game as well.

3. Show you aren't afraid to use Morgan and Davis:

-The Redskins have been so reliant on Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Leonard Hankerson this year and there has been some controversy surrounding Fred Davis and Josh Morgan. The Redskins have to show that there are no issues in the locker room/huddle and get Morgan and Davis involved early on. Robert Griffin needs to establish a connection with these guys and get in an early rhythm. If they can get involved early on, they can perhaps start to draw some attention from the 49ers defense allowing some other things to open up, and maybe limiting the double coverage of Garcon.

4. Utilize the backs more in the passing game:

-Roy Helu has gotten some targets and every now and then Darrel Young gets a shot, but Alfred Morris has barely seen the ball in the passing game. The Redskins should try to get all three backs more involved this week and even run some sets with both Helu and Morris on the field. The Redskins need to do some things the 49ers won't expect and getting the backs more involved is a good way to do that. Now this doesn't just mean utilizing them in the screen game or to dump the ball off (though that is a great way to help neutralize the blitz). The Redskins should have them running some routes down the field in the intermediate game. Helu is the best of the bunch and will present the biggest threat to the 49ers. This would be a great game to get him the ball 4-6 times. Morris is the guy who it would be nice to see him more involved in the passing game. He only has three catches a year and defenses definitely don't respect him as a threat. In fact he is so rarely in there on passing downs that they can cause quite a bit of confusion for the 49ers.

5. Use Garcon as a decoy:

-Most weeks Pierre Garcon is the focal point of the passing game, and typically you are calling plays to get him the football. That can maybe work if you have some other targets that defenses have to respect, but this week without Hankerson and Reed, Garcon is probably going to see a good bit of double-coverage. The Redskins need to use that to their advantage. Now it doesn't sound like a big advantage, but it can be if executed properly. The other part of this is with defenses being able to predict the plays, you can catch them guessing and exploit their aggression. If Garcon runs certain routes, it is very likely you can get corners and safeties to commit early and clear out an area for another wide receiver. Now obviously you want to get the ball to Garcon some and the screen game is a good way to do that, but it's doubtful the Redskins can win if they are trying to force him the ball 10-15 times this game.

Ranking the Redskins Wide Receiver Options

March 29, 2013 in Redskins Personnel

Currently the Washington Redskins have seven wide receivers under contract, and are likely to bring 10-12 to camp. Though it seems like it would be a big offseason need to fill those 3-5 roster spots, it's actually not that pressing since their top 6 wide receivers from last year are all returning. The Redskins kept 8 receivers (including Brandon Banks) in 2011, and seven receivers (again including Banks) last year. Though it is obviously possible they could keep that many, I'd be shocked if they kept more than six. Also given how much of a focus the running game is becoming in their offense they could decide to keep only five. Here is how they rank, including predictions for where they end-up. Tiers are based off of what their expected value is for 2013, due to a combination of past production and likely potential. Overall potential, or contract status is not really taken into account.

Rankings: Offensive Tackles | Interior Offensive Linemen | Quarterbacks | Running/Fullbacks | Tight Ends

Tier 1:

Description: Top level starter, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won't face any competition for his job.

None

 

Tier 2:

Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Should both easily make the team and start.

Pierre Garcon:

-While some may make a case for Garcon to be in Tier 1, he isn't worthy of that status. He's not a number 1 wide receiver and probably not among the 25 best receivers in the league. What he is though is a good number 2 receiver and really that is all you need in the NFL to be successful. Garcon has very good top end speed and though he's never been a real deep threat, he can at least challenge defenses vertically. He's at his best in the intermediate area where he can create some separation and pick up yards after the catch. He's physical for his size, and showed himself to be a good down field blocker. His hands have always been a bit suspect, and there have been some consistency issues in the past. But none of those concerns are big enough to cause a worry in Washington. Garcon should hopefully be fully healthy this year, and give Washington a 1,000 yard receiver, something they've lacked the last two seasons.

Santana Moss:

Moss was coming off an injury filled 2011 season that saw his production and impact dropoff considerably. He came back healthier and in great shape, and ended up with a big year for the Redskins. His target to reception ratio, yards per catch, 1st downs, and yards after the catch were neck-and-neck with Garcon, while his 8 touchdowns doubled the next highest. Moss also made some huge catches throughout the year, both on third downs and touchdowns, he came up with some of the biggest plays for the Redskins. Moss has always had a higher drop percentage than you'd like, but the real question with him is how much will he play? Last year Moss was used basically exclusively from the slot. That kept him involved in more than 60% of the passing plays, but still below what the outside starters were getting, which limits some of his effectiveness. Moss though is a Tier 2 guy, because of the impact that he had in the slot last year, which was huge, and the fact that he has a good career track record, and in 2010 did go over 1,000 yards for the Skins.

Tier 3:

Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won't consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.

Josh Morgan

-Morgan was a free agent pick-up from the 49ers last year, and ended up leading the team in catches, targets, and 1st downs. He isn't a vertical threat or a dynamic player who will do a lot after the catch, but he's consistent. Morgan was a favorite 2nd or 3rd option for Griffin on a lot of plays in the short area where he'd pick up 8-10 yards and keep the chains moving. Morgan also showed himself to be a good down field blocker as well. Morgan is a good possession receiver and is a nice complement to the big play abilities of Garcon and Moss.

Leonard Hankerson:

-I'm probably higher on Hankerson than most as I don't see him as a bust or even close to that. Keep in mind that receivers (even a number of really good ones) typically take 2-3 years before they really can be counted on. Hankerson is heading into his 3rd year, but he's also had to deal with the fact that the lockout wiped out much of his development time as a rookie, and then the hip injury knocked out 40% of his rookie year, plus much of his first real offseason. Though many may look at him as a disappointment, consider this. His 14.3 yards per catch were on par with Garcon and Moss, his 3 TD's were better than Morgan and just one behind Garcon despite not getting the targets they did. Also his 8 catches of 20 or more yards were 3rd on the team and his 25 first downs were just one behind Moss/Garcon. Finally though he had a couple crucial drops, his drop percentage was the best on the team. He maybe didn't take the league by storm, but when given opportunities Hankerson produced, his numbers are just down due in part to the Redskins spreading the football around and how little in general they threw the football. This will be a big year for his development as he's fully healthy and will have a full offseason. He will be limited in his effectiveness given the crowded depth chart, but if called upon he should do fine.

Tier 4:

Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He's a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.

Aldrick Robinson:

-Robinson was a 6th round pick in 2011. Initially he was just on the practice squad that year, but was called up to the 53 man roster later in the season. Last year after a strong preseason, he was given a chance for an expanded depth role. With Pierre Garcon's early season injury he got an expanded role early on as an outside receiver. Robinson showed some flashes, particularly as a vertical threat where he could utilize his top notch speed. Robinson had just 11 catches, but averaged 21.5 yards per catch, and had 3 touchdowns and four receptions over 20 yards. The real issue with Robinson going forward is he's mainly a one trick pony at this point. He can do well vertically, but doesn't fare as well on some of the shorter routes. Given how little the Redskins threw deep, that limits his effectiveness. Also, holding him back is the fact that he hasn't shown any ability to play inside in the slot position. Given his size and frame, you'd at least expect him to be an option inside, but he lacks the route running and short area quickness to be effective. Robinson though should continue to develop and give the Redskins good situational reps and depth.

Dezmon Briscoe:

-Though Briscoe didn't really see the field much last season, he's still a Tier 4 player for me. He's quite a bit more talented than what most teams have as their 5th or 6th receiver. In 2011 he had 35 catches for 387 yards and 6 TD's. He's a bigger possession receiver who can be pretty effective in the red zone. He's buried in Washington, but if the Redskins had a couple of injuries I do believe he'd pick-up the slack, especially since he's now had a year in the offense. I wouldn't expect big things from him in a developmental sense, but he's a solid back-up who if needed could have a defined role as a bigger red zone target.

Tier 5:

Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn't really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn't even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn't be considered a starting option at all.

Tier 6:

Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn't even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.

Darius Hanks:

-Hanks was an undrafted rookie free agent last year, who was waived after getting injured. He was then placed on injured reserve after not being claimed, and the Redskins retain his rights going into camp this year. He obviously made enough of an impact for the Redskins to hang on to him, and will look to fight for a roster spot. His chances aren't that great given how deep the Redskins are at wide receiver, and since it is clear the Redskins will bring in 3-5 additional guys to compete with him, for possibly a single roster spot. Hanks though could possibly be in line for a practice squad spot, something to consider given that Morgan, Moss and Briscoe are all free agents after this season.

What do you think? How would you rank the Redskins wide receiver options? And do you think they should look to upgrade?

Washington Redskins Postgame Thoughts Week 16

December 24, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

My postgame thoughts on Washington Redskins must-win over the Eagles:

1- My first thought after the game was that was too close of a win against a bad Eagles team.

But then I thought about it and a win is a win and that makes six in a row.  Now the Redskins have a week to get ready for the Dallas Cowboys and a chance to win the NFC East.  I didn't expect the Eagles to lay down especially in Andy Reid's last home game.  It wasn't spectacular on either offense or defense like we have seen in recent weeks but it was a win and that is what Washington needed.

2- Robert Griffin's return was solid as expected.  By the stats he put up another 100+ QB rating which is what he does every week.

The early one run to the right didn't look like the RG3 we are used to seeing but everyone knows by now that RG3 is a complete quarterback.  We love that he can take off and go for 20, 30, 40 or more at a time but he can also stand in the pocket and make all the throws.  Griffin moved the ball down the field all game and especially in the first half before Alfred Morris got going.  I would expect RG3 to be ready for next Sunday and put on another show.

One coaching call I didn't like.  I think that Shanahan or Shanatan according to Rob Riggle, should have gone 4th and 1 late in the game.  Morris could have gotten that yard.

3- Everyone knows what Pierre Garcon has brought to this team since his return by now Josh Morgan is making a difference also.

Unlike Garcon, Morgan is not putting up bigger numbers but he is becoming a threat to get into the endzone.  A receiving core that looked very shaky after Fred Davis went down has stepped up during the winning streak.  Passes are being caught and I would not put the Griffin interception on Morgan.

I love what Leonard Hankerson is adding in the blocking game.  Actually I like what a lot of the receivers are doing in the blocking game.  And it would be wrong to not mention Santana Moss and what he has done.  I have lost track on how many big touchdowns he has pulled in.

4- I wasn't thrilled with what the defense did today.

The return of Lesean McCoy made it a much tougher day for Haslett's crew.  Madieu Williams always seems to be a second late, especially in the red zone.  We are seeing that way too much and probably why DeAngelo was playing a lot of deep safety today.

Big ups to Ryan Kerrigan today.  Kerrigan has been good, but not great all season, which he needs to be with the injuries.  Today he was great getting after Foles and hopefully he can do the same versus Dallas.  I love the effort by Barry Cofield getting to the outside in stopping screens and quick passes.  I wish the last two drives the Redskins went after Foles like they did earlier in the game.

5- Finally, an easy one.  IT's freakin' DALLAS WEEK!!!

 

 

Observations on Victory Tuesday from Redskins Huge MNF Win

December 4, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

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By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Here are my five observations from the Washington Redskins huge win over division rival New York Giants. What better way to enjoy your Victory Tuesday:

1.  RG3 – you heard the chants.

Sorry but he has to be number one again.  Actually not sorry, and maybe this is going to sound as a homer, but he is just that special.  Robert Griffin III once again showed he is a superstar in the making, if not already one.  The kid is never frazzled and even though the numbers were not spectacular, he always looked in control and gives everyone full confidence when he is under center.

If he stays healthy Griffin is they type of player that guarantees at least one championship.  Not just in football, but all sports special players like him always at least get one.  Dan Marino is probably the only superstar quarterback not to win a championship, so the odds are in Washington's favor.  Even though he was killed for years, you knew that LeBron was not going to get shut out also.  RG3 is that type of star and I am very confident in what the Redskins have in him.

2. I love how the Redskins ran once again last night.

The league's best running team pounded the Giants all night and especially on the final drive.  It is getting to the norm that Alfred Morris will not go down on first contact and is always going to get 2-3 more yards than most backs per run.  Morris should at least be in the Rookie of the Year discussion as well, although the play of Griffin, Luck and Martin will overshadow the consistent solid year he has had.  The Shanahans know they have a workhorse who is showing no signs of letting up.

Who else knows?  Other teams now and the Redskins and RG3 are able to pummel teams with play action out of the read option.  The Giants never could stop it from the first drive to the last.  I hope that Darrel Young gets a Pro Bowl nod as the fullback.  He is the fullback on the #1 rush attack and when he does get the ball positive things happen.  I expect he won't because everyone in Wisconsin will vote like 10x for John Kuhn, but Young deserves the honor.

3. Defense Stepped Up.

The much maligned defense had a long first half but when it mattered down the stretch stepped up.  Holding the Giants to only 16 points and one touchdown was the difference on Monday night.  Everyone felt the frustration of the first half as the defense failed to get off the field 3rd down after 3rd down.

But Haslett's crew adjusted and adjusted well and were able to in the second half.  Helped by poor Giants starting points all second half, the defense came up with enough key stops to hold the Giants to just a second half field goal.  The yards allowed may not look pretty but I think the defense which has been criticized all season should be given credit today.

4. What a difference Pierre Garcon makes to this team.

Garcon showed how valuable he is to the surging Redskins.

Garcon showed how valuable he is to the surging Redskins.

I am sure his foot is bothering him but you would never know based on how he has played the past couple weeks.  Garcon's ability to catch the ball in open field and go for big gains is something we haven't seen on a consistent basis in years.  Santana did some but not as the threat that Garcon is.  The Giants could not stop that play action post all night.

I also should give credit to a huge grab by Leonard Hankerson on a bad toss by Griffin.  Ball was clearly behind him and Hankerson adjusted to make a huge grab.

And if I needed mention it would just be wrong but the offensive line deserves big credit.  Obvious we ran the ball once again but Griffin was given time to throw against the Giants "Nascar" pass rush we heard about all night.  Just like Young, Trent Williams deserves the Pro Bowl trip especially going out there hurting last night.

5. Finally maybe the lone bad.  Brandon Banks has to go and go now.

Niles Paul can handle kickoffs just fine and I still think Santana Moss should be back on punts.  I think the Redskins would be smart to cut Banks and add a kickoff specialist.  Forbath cannot get touchbacks and when the NFL is giving you that by moving kickoffs to the 35 you must not allow teams to get returns.  I am afraid one of these times the Redskins will get burned.  I think that roster spot would be much better utilized in that manner now that Banks isn't even used to scare defenses as well.

As for Forbath, I don't like the kickoffs but once again he comes through on field goals.  Not only is Forbath making kicks but they seem to go right down the middle each time.

Now the Baltimore Ravens come down 95 to FedEx on Sunday.  I have a lot of friends who are Ravens fans so this should be an interesting one.  We will look at that game later in week as we celebrate Victory Tuesday today!

 

 

Washington Redskins Offseason Additions Coming Up Short:

October 10, 2012 in NFL, Uncategorized

The Washington Redskins broke camp this year with a 53 man roster that had 18 new players that they either signed or drafted that weren't with the team in 2011 (either on the 53 man roster or practice squad).Of those new players, many were thought to play significant if not starting roles on this team. Yet with the exception of a few key players, the Washington Redskins haven't gotten positive early returns from these new additions, and haven't come close to seeing these guys meet their expectations.

Three rookies have been the only ones so far to buck the trend and actually produce as expected. The good news for the Redskins is one of those rookies, QB Robert Griffin III, was their first round pick, the bad news for the Washington Redskins is that the other two rookies are 6th round rookie Alfred Morris, and 7th rounder Richard Crawford. Luckily both Griffin and Morris have had a major impact on the Washington Redskins, and are a big reason why Washington has been in every game. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the majority of the Redskins draft picks or their major free agent signings.

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Pierre Garcon:

-Garcon signed a 5 year $42.5 million deal with the Washington Redskins this offseason. His average value of $8.5 million is the 7th highest average annual value among all wide receivers on multi-year deals, and near the value of a franchise tag. Garcon started out the year on fire, with a four catch game against the New Orleans Saints, where he had 109 yards and a TD before leaving the game with injury early in the first quarter. Garcon then missed the next two games with injury before playing in the last two weeks. Over the last two weeks, Garcon has just 4 receptions in 8 targets (with two drops) these past two weeks. He was also flagged for two costly penalties against the Buccaneers. Garcon has been a big addition in downfield blocking, though other receivers have stepped up in this area. Between the injury and his play the last two weeks, Pierre Garcon hasn't come close to showing that he was worth the big investment this offseason. Going forward, Garcon has to eliminate the drops and penalties which are just killers for wide receivers. At the same time he needs to show he is capable of more big plays. After 99 yards after the catch on those first four receptions, he's had just 17 in the four since.

Josh Morgan:

-Morgan signed with the Washington Redskins on a 2 year $12 million deal, and was expected to team up with Pierre Garcon to form a much improved receiving corps. .So far this season Morgan has just 16 targets (4th on the team), 13 receptions, and 159 yards. His 12.2 YPC is the lowest among wide receivers on the team (Fred Davis is above him as well), and he has yet to see the end zone. Like Garcon, Morgan has been very effective as a blocker, and he's been an effective underneath target (eight of his 13 receptions have gone for first downs), but that doesn't come close to justify spending the money they did for him. He's on pace for just 509 receiving yards this year, and that number could be inflated given that Pierre Garcon hasn't played in 11 of the 20 quarters the Redskins have played this season. Morgan also cost the Washington Redskins a chance to tie their game in St. Louis, when he threw the football at an opposing player at the end of the game. Taking the Redskins from a 4th and 1/47 yard field goal attempt to a 4th and 16/62 yard field goal attempt.

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Brandon Meriweather:

-Meriweather is a naturally talented safety, who has had issues with his previous two employers (Patriots and Bears) due to his inability to learn and play within their system. The Washington Redskins took a shot on him, giving him a 2 year $6 million contract. Since then Meriweather's Redskins career has consisted of three injuries, one injured teammate and one DUI, while playing in zero games. Meriweather might not be a major upgrade to this secondary, but he couldn't hurt them at this point, yet the Redskins still don't know when he will see the field. Coach Shanahan has already confirmed that he will miss at least the next month as he recovers from his latest knee injury and his season very much could be in jeopardy.

Josh LeRibeus:

-Josh LeRibeus was the Washington Redskins 2nd draft pick this past April (3rd round, 71st overall), and was considered by many to be a reach pick and a project. Most thought the SMU product, was more of a 5th-7th round pick, and not too close to being NFL ready (especially given that he missed his entire Junior year to an academic suspension). Those concerns may have been proven valid, when despite starting LG Kory Lichtensteiger missing all of the preseason due to injury and starting RG Chris Chester missing the first two preseason weeks, LeRibeus still worked with the 2nd team offense. In the five games this season LeRibeus has been inactive for four of them, and didn't see the field in the 5th game. Despite Lichtensteiger's struggles this year, LeRibeus doesn't appear to be a threat to unseat the impending free agent, and claim a job for the future. Though he could still develop and have a productive career, the fact that he's buried on the roster of a team with little depth speaks volumes. Few other top 75 picks have had as little impact as LeRibeus this season, and plenty of guys drafted after him have played key roles for teams.

Keenan Robinson:

-Robinson was the Washington Redskins 2nd of two 4th round picks, and was drafted 119th overall. Though he came in with pretty solid expectations, he's yet to really show himself in preseason or limited regular season work. On Special teams he hasn't really established himself, and has just 7 defensive snaps to his name so far. What's troubling with that is the fact that the linebackers have struggled so much this season in coverage, which is an area where Robinson excels at. Though he is being groomed as the future replacement for London Fletcher, the early returns are a bit disappointing. What's even more troubling is that more pressing needs were ignored despite the fact that there were quality prospects still on the board.

Kirk Cousins:

-Cousins was the Redskins first 4th round pick, drafted 102 overall. Though considered a steal in terms of value, Cousins was a bit of a questionable pick given the massive trade to acquire Robert Griffin the III. This meant that the Redskins essentially spent their 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks on Quarterbacks (to say nothing of two future first rounders). That is quite a bit, given all the holes the Redskins are looking at, and how many good players were still on the board. Though Cousins has shown that he has quite a bit of upside, unlike Robinson and LeRibeus he likely won't be in a position to ever showcase that with the Redskins.

Tanard Jackson:

-Jackson unlike the other names on this list, actually didn't make the 53 man roster, but still remains a cautionary tale as to the Washington Redskins moves this offseason. Jackson has had dynamic playmaking ability, but injuries, suspensions, work ethic and holes in his game have kept him from being considered a good starter. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut ties with their young safety and the Redskins were only too happy to pick him up. If he could get on the field, Jackson was familiar with new secondary coach Raheem Morris, and could hopefully provide at least a solid level of production. Unfortunately getting on the field was harder than it looked as both minor injuries and other "personal" concerns had him missing time in training camp. Those personal concerns turned out to be another failed drug test, and Jackson going through the appeals process. Given his prior offenses, Jackson was automatically suspended for a year (at least). Luckily the Redskins didn't invest much money in Jackson, but they did invest time which can hurt equally as bad. Having Jackson in the mix could be one of the reasons why the Redskins chose not to address the safety position until the 7th round. What's most concerning though is the fact that despite knowing that this suspension was looming over Jackson, and even if it were to be reduced he'd miss at least 8 games, the Redskins gave so much of their preseason and training camp work to Jackson. Was it that important for him to beso game ready given the chances of him ever suiting up were so small?

Cedric Griffin:

-Griffin signed a one year $2.5 million deal to add depth and be the Redskins nickel corner this year. Despite coming off some down years of late it seemed like a fair deal given, how productive he once was and the fact that he appeared to be fully healthy. Unfortunately Griffin's level of play has slipped. He's been a liability in coverage and has basically been outplayed by 7th round rookie Richard Crawford. Griffin has now missed nearly the entire last three games (playing just 2 snaps against the Bengals) due to a hamstring injury, and it is unknown when he will return. It doesn't look promising that the Redskins will see a return on their investment in Griffin this season.

Conclusion:

-It is definitely early enough that some of these guys can change their impact on the season, but it is troubling that so many of these guys that the Redskins used key resources on aren't producing. Garcon can't afford many more dud weeks like these last two if he wants to come close to proving his value this year. Josh Morgan is solid, but looks to be no better than the 4th or 5th best target in this offense, one that ranks 26th in the league in attempts this season. It will be very hard for him to come close to proving his value. The Redskins spent $5 million on Meriweather and Griffin to help their secondary and aren't likely to see any results. Though the long term book is wide open for the Redskins 3rd and 4th round picks, it is troubling that there is zero immediate return, and it doesn't appear to be a situation that will change this season. For a team with a number of holes and limited resources given both the cap penalty and the trading away of draft picks, the Redskins could ill afford to miss on even a couple of these players, and right now it is looking like they missed on the majority of them (at least for the short term). Not only does that hurt their chances to contend this year, but it puts them in a hole for next year if some of these guys don't turn it around.

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Washington Redskins Post Game Thoughts

October 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

1. This Loss Should Not be Blamed on Kirk Cousins:

-Yes I know he threw two interceptions at the end of the game that allowed the Falcons to run out the clock, but this loss is not blamed on him. Cousins is a rookie who barely gets any snaps in practice, especially with the starters. So it is not surprising to see him and Fred Davis on a different page on a timing route (1st interception). As for the 2nd pick, I'll be interested to see the game film, but he was under heavy pressure and forced a ball trying to make a play. Cousins had little time in the pocket, and there is no guarantee that Robert Griffinwould have done any differently down the stretch.

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2. The Hit:

-I know many will say that it was a cheap shot and illegal hit on Robert Griffin, but there was nothing malicious or wrong with the hit. Griffin didn't fully slide and it wasn't helmet to helmet. Nor could Sean Weatherspoon be expected to stop in time. Griffin needs to throw that ball away instead of taking the sack (I wouldn't be surprised if they recalculate it as a negative run). Given the struggles of Billy Cundiff the idea of losing two yards is not a favorable one. These are the hits that are completely avoidable, and ones that Robert Griffin III will be better about staying away from in the future. Hopefully the concussion doesn't have too many lingering effects and he can return next week. They said it was a mild concussion, but the reports of him not knowing where he was or the score of the game are not promising.

3. Why is Rex Inactive?

- I know most Washington Redskins fans would hate the idea of Rex Grossman coming in, but it probably would have been the right call in that situation yesterday. I'm as big a Kirk Cousins fan as there is, but I don't see how you can expect a rookie to effectively back-up another rookie, especially coming on in relief. Maybe Kirk Cousins with a full week of work, could start a game in place of an injured Robert Griffin III, but asking him to come in with little practice time is putting quite a bit of pressure on the rookie. Cousins even talked about how little practice time he gets with the first team, "I go in for a couple hand offs now and then to give Robert a breather, otherwise just the scout team.” I understand that making Grossman active means that either Kirk Cousins is inactive, or a spot for a guy like Brandon Banks may not be available, but either is preferable to forcing Cousins into a bad situation.

4. Billy Cundiff Needs to be Held Accountable:

-Billy Cundiff missed another 30 yard field goal yesterday and while it may not have been the difference in the game, it is possible that it could have changed the dynamic of the game. Regardless of how much impact it would have had there is no excuse for missing a 31 yard field goal. It wasn't raining at the time, and the snap and hold looked pretty good. Mike Shanahan needs to show that he made a mistake with choosing Billy Cundiff over Graham Gano and fix it. Billy Cundiff doesn't deserve anymore chances after that missed kick.

5. Alfred Morris Continues to Roll:

-Morris was the one bright spot offensively for the Washington Redskins yesterday (well that and the Santana Moss TD), Morris had 115 yards on 18 carries (6.4 ypc) and added a reception for 20 yards. On a day where the passing game couldn't get going, Morris helped keep the Redskins in the game.

6. Pierre Garcon Needs to Show Up:

-Since his 88 yard catch and run TD versus the New Orleans Saints, Garcon has disappeared for the Washington Redskins. Now for the rest of the Saints game and the next two games it was understandable because he was injured. These last two weeks though there is no excuse as he really hasn't been a factor. Against the Falcons, he was unable to come up with any real big catches (and had some big drops). He had the most targets of any Redskins pass catcher, but really didn't show up. The Washington Redskins obviously expected more when they gave Garcon a contract that averages $8.5 million a year. Garcon needs to be a more featured part of this offense if the Redskins are to be successful.

7. It is Easy to Blame this Defense, But They Were Okay Today:

- I know the defense gave up 340 yards passing, and allowed the Falcons to control the clock for much of the game (though a lot of that was on the offense), but overall I thought they did a good job all things considering. The Falcons averaged less than 4 yards per carry, and the Redskins got two turnovers. The first was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, and the 2nd gave the Redskins good field position, before the missed field goal. Also holding the Falcons to just 24 points, is a pretty good accomplishment in and of itself. Three of the Falcons points were due to Matt Bryant kicking a 51 yard field goal (yes some kickers can make kicks like that) Whether that kick went in or not, that is a win for the defense to not only keep Atlanta out of the endzone that drive, but to force a 50 yard + kick, which isn't a high percentage play. One area of concern for the defense was the general lack of a pass rush on Matt Ryan. On most plays Ryan had a pretty clean pocket and he was able to wait for someone to come open. Giving any quarterback 4+ seconds to throw is asking for trouble, and giving ti to a budding star like Ryan is a death sentence for the secondary.

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Redskins and Bengals Injury Reports Could Have a Big Impact On Sunday's Game

September 21, 2012 in NFL

The injury reports from Thursday's practice came out and there are a number of interesting names for both the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals who either didn't participate or were limited in their ability to practice.

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Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, safety Brandon Meriweather and cornerback Josh Wilson were all listed as limited in practice

Pierre Garcon: Garcon missed last week's game after leaving the Saints game early in the first quarter with a foot injury. Though he's been limited in practice all this week, it sounds like Garcon is at least 50/50 to return this week. His addition (even at less than 100%) would be a major boon for the Redskins offense. Garcon has already established himself as the favorite target of Robert Griffin III. Garcon's impact goes even deeper as he's a strong blocker for a receiver, which is key given the number of wide receiver screens the Redskins have been running. If he can't go it would be a pretty big benefit for the Bengals as they wouldn't have to cover the Redskins best receiver, and their offense wouldn't be at 100%. With some of the Bengals top corners banged up (more on that below), the loss of Garcon would definitely help even things up for Cincinnati if they are out.

Brandon Meriweather: Meriweather has missed the first two weeks after spraining some ligaments in his knee before the season. He was expected to miss up to a month, so it is a bit surprising if he's healthy enough to play. Which means it is probably below 50% that he's ready to go this week. If he's back he will likely assume the starting strong safety job from Dejon Gomes. Gomes had an interception versus the Saints, but struggled in coverage against the Rams. Meriweather though may not be the upgrade people are hoping for given his poor play in Chicago last year (and up-and-down play in New England). He has a lot of potential and talent, but he tries to free lance too much which leads to big plays for the other team. One area where Meriweather can help is in coming up to stop the run. The Redskins got run over by the Rams last week, and part of that is due to poor tackling by the secondary. If he can't play the Bengals should have an easier time, both against the run and the pass. Despite the uncertainty of Meriweather's performance, he does at least pose a bigger threat to stop the Bengals passing attack than Dejon Gomes. Expect more running room as well if Meriweather can't go.

Josh Wilson: Wilson suffered a concussion versus the Rams, and while he's been able to practice on a limited basis, it is still unclear if he'll be okay to go this week. The Redskins need Wilson given that A.J. Green is coming into town. Green is one of the emerging young star receivers in the is league and needs to draw the attention of a team's top cornerback. Wilson is that guy, and has the best hope of slowing down Green. If Josh Wilson can't go, then stopping A.J. Green will be pretty impossible. Wilson is the only defensive back who has shown any consistency this season, so losing him would be devastating, especially given the decrease in pressure expected due to the absence of Brian Orakpo.

Cincinnati Bengals:

Leon Hall: Hall is the Bengals best cornerback and one of the better young corners in the league. He's capable of shadowing and slowing down the league's best receivers He showed up on the Bengals injury report after practicing all week, but not practicing on Thursday.His loss would be huge for the Bengals to try to overcome. It's unclear what his status is for Sunday, but it obviously doesn't bode well that he couldn't even practice on a limited basis. If Leon Hall is out the Redskins receivers would gain a major advantage as Hall is capable enough to shut down the Washington Redskins receivers (even if Pierre Garcon plays). The Bengals have enough to worry about with stopping Robert Griffin III on the ground, adding holes to the secondary is going to be nearly impossible for the Bengals to stop this Redskins offense.

Dre Kirkpatrick: Kirkpatrick was the Bengals top pick in this Aprils draft, but has yet to see the field after a preseason injury. While originally there was some hope he'd return for this game, he's been ruled out by coach Marvin Lewisafter not practicing again this week. Even if he was healthy his impact may have been minimal, though he definitely had the potential for big things. Still the Bengals secondary is missing one of their projected starters, and with their top corner also in a position to miss the game the Redskins could have a big advantage.

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Ranking the Redskins Roster in terms of Fantasy Football Value

September 6, 2012 in NFL

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Washington Redskins Top Fantasy Football Players

1. Pierre Garcon:

-Regardless of whether its a PPR league or not Garcon should easily be the Redskins top fantasy football option. He has already developed some nice chemistry with Robert Griffin, and appears to be the focal point of the offense. Though He might not be a touchdown machine, 7-9 touchdowns should be very likely for the year. I'd guess 80 catches for around 1,150 yards is a fair estimate for Garcon. Also if your league gives any bonuses for big play touchdowns, don't be surprised to see Garcon haul in a couple this year. I'd say Garcon is a solid number 2 receiver or Flex play most weeks for your fantasy football team.

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2. Fred Davis:

-Davis is the Redskins 2nd best fantasy option, but it might be by default more than merit. Yes Davis is coming off a really good 12 game campaign last season, but he may not see anything close to the same numbers this year. Davis was targeted just two times in the preseason, and neither were down the field targets. Right now it looks like Davis is more of an underneath target rather than a guy who can create mismatches down the field. Even if he does start to be more of a focal point, I'd still expect his numbers to go down this year. The Redskins are likely to pass less this season than last, and with the poor blocking of the offensive line, Davis could have fewer routes as he's asked to stay in to block. Davis has also never been a great red zone weapon so I wouldn't expect a spike in TD's. 50 catches for 750 yards and 5 touchdowns seems like a fair amount. I would still consider him a starting TE, but I'd want a pretty solid back-up who depending on match-ups would steal some starts.

3. Billy Cundiff:

-It's never good when a kicker is your third best fantasy football option, but that is probably the case here. Last year the Redskins had 41 field goal attempts and 26 extra point attempts. With an improved offense, led by Robert Griffin and Pierre Garcon the Redskins could see those numbers go up. The 41 attempts was 2nd in the league last year so if that number stays the same, and Cundiff can convert a high percentage, he'd be well on his way to being a valuable kicker. The extra points number should go up as well, and could see an increase by 7-10 more chances.

4. Robert Griffin III:

-Rookie quarterbacks are poor fantasy football starters, especially those with a suspect offensive line and a tough schedule. While many people may see the next Vick or Newton given Griffin's running ability, it shouldn't be enough to propel Griffin to be a top 10 or 12 quarterback. I would put Griffin somewhere in the 3,500 yard range, with 20 passing touchdowns and another 4 rushing TD's. As a rookie though his turnovers could be a bit high, which will negate some of his value. He could end up being a solid back-up option, especially if you have a riskier starting quarterback like Peyton Manning, Michael Vick or Matt Schaub.

5. Evan Royster:

-It's next to impossible to determine what back will get the majority of carries in any given game, but Royster is probably the safest bet. He's not a game breaker, but he's a smart runner who fits the Redskins offense pretty well. He will definitely split time, but I think he'll end up leading the team in both rushing yards and touchdowns. He should also get a few passes thrown his way as well. It might be tough for him to crack a 1,000 rushing yards, but 800+ seems fair and i think 8 touchdowns is likely. I wouldn't start him many weeks, given the uncertainty around the Skins running back depth chart, but he could be a decent bye week replacement a couple of times.

6. Santana Moss:

-Moss isn't really the number two receiver, and could see his snaps limited as he figures to play only in the slot this year. Still he's probably the Redskins 2nd best receiver option in terms of fantasy. Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson will probably split snaps on the outside, and likely won't have the same chemistry with Robert Griffin as Moss. Even though Moss will only play in the slot, he could see a number of targets. Griffin is going to be most comfortable when the Redskins spread the field, and let him work out of the shotgun. Moss should be in on those plays, and he's the smaller, quicker receiver that Griffin is used to targeting from his Baylor days. As defenses begin to try to take away Pierre Garcon, Moss could find a lot of favorable coverages working inside.  I could see Moss catching 40 balls for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns. He's only going to be an injury replacement type of optoin, but against the right option

7. Washington Redskins Defense:

-I know some people want to think of the Redskins defense as an up-and-coming unit, but really it's a bad fantasy play. Sure they figure to do well in sacks which you like, but they are horrible at creating turnovers, which is a big points area in fantasy. Since they don't create a lot of turnovers, their chances at a defensive score are very slim, and should not be expected. For all the hype of their special teams, they didn't come close to returning a kick for a score this year, and will be lucky to get one this year. While as a team they ranked well in yards allowed from a fantasy perspective, they didn't do too well. They allowed 300+ yards (which is the typical cutoff for positive points) 12 times last year, and 350 or more (where negative points start kicking in) eight times. In terms of scoring they allowed teams to get more than 17 points (the cutoff of positive fantasy points) 12 times last year. What makes matters worse is the Skins this year play a far tougher schedule with more dynamic offenses. Overall the Skins defense has a couple favorable match-ups (Rams, Bucs, Vikings, Browns) that could be good days for the defense, but that is about it.

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