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Breaking down the Redskins Receiver Battle:

August 15, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

How man Receivers should the Redskins Keep?:

NFL teams typically keep between 5-7 receivers, with the majority keeping 6 given how the passing game has expanded in recent years across the league. With three established starters in Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts you can make a good case that the Redskins only need to keep 5 wide receivers since they won't need to rely on their depth as much as some other teams. It would make even more sense considering that Jay Gruden and the Cincinnati Bengals were one of the teams who utilized 3 (or more) wide receiver sets the fewest in the league last year. Also, with tight end Jordan Reed a potential emerging weapon in the passing game, the need to go 3 or 4 wide is lessened. Despite all the reasons they don't have to go with 6 or 7 wide receivers, it would probably be a mild surprise if the Redskins didn't keep 6 wide receivers to start the season. There isn't any real compelling reason behind this, it just seems to be the direction they are going in.

How the Depth Chart is shaping up:

1. Pierre Garcon- Garcon should once again be the Redskins number 1 receiver and RGIII's favorite target this season. Though Jackson may be the bigger threat to defenses, Garcon is the guy the Redskins will count on for consistency and to move the chains.

2. DeSean Jackson- As mentioned above Jackson is the biggest weapon on this team and probably the better receiver, but he's not a guy who typically catches a lot of balls. He's more of a home run threat and should lead the Redskins in catches over 20 and 40 yards. Also given his deep threat ability Jackson could be the Redskins leader in touchdowns.

3. Andre Roberts- Roberts was the Redskins first free agent WR signing and looked poised to be the starting receiver opposite Garcon. Jackson's signing changed all of that and it now makes Roberts one of the better 3rd wide receivers in the league. Roberts has the ability to play both in the slot and on the outside, displaying good speed and route running ability. Roberts will be the primary 3rd receiver when the Redskins go three or four wide, and he should also come in for both Jackson and Garcon to give them breathers. Roberts is also expected to start the year as the Redskins primary return man.

4. Santana Moss- The veteran has a lot going for him in this position battle as he's versatile enough to play any WR position, he's a smart, crisp route runner and has already worked considerably with RGIII. Moss is a leader on the team and has shown a willingness to help out with punt return duties. He's an ideal 4th receiver because of his experience and ability to back-up multiple positions.

5. Ryan Grant- The 5th round rookie has been very impressive in camp and has opened some eyes with his route running and catching ability. Grant doesn't have great size or speed, but he's a hard worker and has impressed the coaching staff. He might not get much work this year, but he looks like he's being groomed for at least the 4th WR role in the future.

6. Leonard Hankerson- Hankerson still isn't off the PUP list after a late season surgery to repair his ACL last year. Hankerson though could be the ideal option for the 6th WR spot if he can make it off the PUP list before the start of the season. Hankerson has the best size among the top receivers and has been solid in his time with the Redskins. No he hasn't developed into a top starter, and there are some health questions, but Hankerson hasn't been bad and offers nice depth for a year. If Hankerson isn't off the PUP list by the time the season starts he will be a mid-season replacement for someone on the roster (perhaps this would be the one way the Skins break camp with 5 WR).

7. Aldrick Robinson- Robinson has been on the Redskins active roster the past two seasons, but despite a myriad of injuries and ineffectiveness among the Redskins receivers, Robinson was never able to really carve out a serious role for himself. His best trait is his ability to get vertical, but the Redskins no longer need him as a situational deep threat with the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. Robinson had a nice first preseason game, but he's got an uphill climb to make the roster, particularly if Hankerson is healthy.

8. Nick Williams- Williams was activated late in the year by the Redskins last season, but he didn't do much (particularly in the return game) during his time in DC. Williams is a long shot to make the roster, as he's really limited as a slot receiver/return guy. He could fight for another year on the practice squad.

9. Rashard Ross- Ross had a nice game against the Patriots and opened a few fans eyes, but he's an extreme longshot to make the team. He wasn't a highly used receiver in college and doesn't have a ton of buzz overall. He is an interesting kick return option, but he's not good enough that the Redskins will just give him a roster spot. He could earn a practice squad spot though to try again next season.

10. Rashard Lawrence- Lawrence is a UDFA signed this year from Northwestern and not really in consideration for a 53 man roster spot. He could begin to challenge Williams and Ross for a spot on the practice squad though.

11. Cody Hoffman- Hoffman was considered a priority UDFA and though he's not a fast or agile wide receiver, he was a sleeper at the start of camp given his size and college production. It has been a quiet camp for him so far, but if the coaches are impressed his potential could get him to stick around. The practice squad has limited spots though so it's doubtful more than 2 WR's will be on it and even 2 could be a stretch.

12.  Lee Doss- Another UDFA this year and another long shot to even make the practice squad.

Why Re-Signing Moss Might Not Be a Bad Thing For the Redskins

February 9, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

With the report the other day that the Redskins were interested in bringing back WR Santana Moss, a large debate started throughout Redskins Nation about whether or not this was a good idea. The general consensus seems to be that this is a bad idea and it is time to move on from Moss. Now it is easy to see why that is the current conventional wisdom, as Moss, who will be 35 next season, is coming off his worst season of his career. Moss last year dropped a number of big catches and didn't get open on a consistent basis, for many this is a sign that Moss is done and should be put out to pasture. But would it be such a bad thing for the Redskins to sign Moss for next season? When you really look at it, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

While Moss struggled mightily this past year, the season before Moss was an instrumental part of the Redskins offense. Without Moss in 2012, the Redskins likely wouldn't have won the division, and Robert Griffin III might not have had such a successful rookie year. Moss came up with clutch catch after clutch catch that season, many of which resulted in TD's. While it's possible that Moss can't return to that level of play next season, it's not hard to imagine that he can be as effective in 2014. And given how small of a deal that he'd have, it would be extremely low risk for the Redskins. santanamoss

Last season Moss took a pay cut, reducing his nearly $4 million salary to $2 million to help out with the Redskins cap situation. Unlike a number of other players, this wasn't a restructure where the money was pushed to another season, but a straight pay cut. So while Moss had a pretty un-productive season, his 42 catches, 450 yards and 2 TD's didn't come at a steep price for the Redskins. In fact his season while disappointing, wasn't as bad when looking at it from a general perspective of production vs cost. Where it was such a let down was based on Moss's previous success. Moss likely this year would have to settle for a smaller deal, and will likely have to play for the veterans minimum deal which for this season will be $0.955 million for a player with 10 or more years of service time. If Moss were to sign that deal and receive no more than $65K in a signing bonus, the Redskins could use the veterans exception, and reduce the cap hit of the deal. The cap hit would go from $1.020 million to $0.635 million. That is about as cheap as you are going to get for a veteran receiver and there would be little guaranteed money.

One thing that has been missing from the discussion about whether or not to re-sign Moss is the fact that there is little to no risk here. If Moss were to take the veteran deal listed above, then the only guaranteed money is the $65K. If the Redskins are in camp and Moss gets hurt, isn't playing well, or simply gets beaten out by other options, the Redskins could cut him and it would only cost them $65K, which is really nothing. Moss is a pretty good and cheap insurance policy to have around and there is little downside for doing a deal like this. So from a financial stand point there is nothing wrong with bringing Moss back.

Having a veteran receiver is something that could be pretty important for the Redskins next year, even if it is just in camp. Yes Pierre Garcon has been in the league 6 years now, but Moss has 13 years and has been in a variety of situations and has had to help break-in a number of quarterbacks. With Robert Griffin III struggling so much last season, particularly with his timing, surrounding him with a bunch of brand new receivers could be a recipe for disaster. With Leonard Hankerson's status up in the air as he returns from an ACL injury, Moss could serve as that veteran option to go along with Garcon for Griffin. Moss has worked with Griffin quite a bit these past two years and unlike guys like Garcon or Hankerson, he hasn't missed any significant time do to injury. The familiarity is definitely there with Griffin, so that could give Moss another advantage over a stop gap free agent veteran from another team.

In addition to being a team leader, a cheaper option, and a receiver who is familiar to the young developing quarterback the Redskins are hoping to build around, Moss has one final positive that he brings to the table; versatility. Moss Has shown himself to be quite effective in the slot and running the shorter, quicker routes. Moss though also has plenty of experience on the outside and can play that in a pinch if necessary. He's a good blocker in the run game and can be used as a player who can line-up in the backfield or on reverses. On special teams Moss can also be a player used to return punts. He may not be as dynamic there as he once was, but he's a better option than a number of guys the Redskins tried there in 2013. Though Washington will clearly look to upgrade the position, it's nice to know they have a competent back-up option.

Saying all of this is not to suggest that Moss is going to be the be all, end all for the Redskins wide receiver woes next season, but rather to point out that bringing him back isn't a bad thing. In fact there are a number of positives that come with bringing Moss back, even if it's just for a look in camp. Moss is going to be a cheaper option than just about any free agent (particularly from a cost vs production standpoint), and having him around means that Redskins won't be forced to rush a rookie into more playing time or count on a guy like Hankerson who is coming back from a serious injury. Bringing Moss back at the veteran minimum (which is highly likely), could be seen as smart, shrewd move and one that is extremely low risk and could have a moderate to high reward.

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?

Redskins Cap Series Part 5: Washington Redskins Extension and Restructure Candidates

February 8, 2013 in Washington Redskins Salary Cap

Redskins Cap Links:

Part 1:  Redskins Salary Cap Breakdown

Part 2:  Redskins Restricted Free Agents

Part 3:  Redskins Unrestricted Free Agents

Part 4:  Savings From Cuts

Part 5:  Savings from Restructuring and Final Thoughts

Players to Restructure W/O Extension:

Pierre Garcon:

2013 Cap Hit: $8.2 million

Cap Hit after restructure: $4.75 million

Savings: $3.45 million

$1.15 million is tacked on to each of his remaining 3 years

-They absolutely should restructure Garcon, yes it pushes more money going forward, but Garcon is young and doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere anytime soon.

Trent Williams:

2013 Cap Hit: $8.000 million

Cap Hit after restructure: $5.16

Savings: $2.830 million

$1.415 is tacked on to each of his remaining 2 years

-They could look to work out a longer term extension, but in the meantime they need to restructure his deal. It’s a good amount of savings for a key cog on this team.

Barry Cofield:

2013 Cap Hit: $6.300

Cap Hit after restructure: $3.825

Savings: $2.475

$0.825 tacked on to each of his remaining 3 years

-Another good bet to restructure. It is such a small increase over the remaining part of the contract that it shouldn't hurt the Redskins going forward. Also Cofield is coming off a good season, so they aren't likely looking to get rid of him in the next year or two.

Stephen Bowen:

2013 Cap Hit: $5.500 million

Cap Hit after restructure: $3.400 million

Savings: $2.10

$1.05 is tacked on to each of his remaining 2 years

-Maybe not as likely to restructure. Bowen has been a solid player, but I don’t know if you want to add guaranteed money on his contract going forward. If he doesn’t pick up his game in 2013, he could be on the hot seat in 2014.

Chris Chester:

2013 Cap Hit: $4.300

Cap Hit after restructure: $2.800

Savings: $1.500 million

$0.750 is tacked on to each of his remaining two years

-Another guy the Redskins should have no problem pushing a little money forward with.

Total Savings: $12.355 million

Total Extra Money Added to 2014: $5.19 million

*Note: The Redskins need to be careful here. They don’t want to push too much money forward or getting that cap penalty money back in 2014 won’t look quite as good. $5 million and change isn’t too bad, especially considering the players involved, but it can’t be ignored either.

Restructured Contracts with Extensions:

*Note I’m not noting the extra money going forward, but it is something to keep in mind. Given that they are all impending free agents, the Redskins can figure out how to structure their 2014 salary in an extension to ensure that it isn’t prohibitive.

Brian Orakpo: (based on adding 4+ extra years)

2013 Cap Hit: $4.225

Cap Hit after restructure: $2.700

Savings: $1.525

-The team would be wise to work out an extension now, as his price tag will be down a little bit and they can save an extra $1.5 million.

Josh Wilson: (based on adding 3 extra years)

2013 Cap Hit: $5.333

Cap Hit after restructure: $2.970

Savings: $2.362

-There has already been some mention of extending Wilson and it makes sense. He’ll only be 28 this season and has been pretty productive for Washington. The Redskins can save a bit of money and ensure that they have a veteran corner under contract going forward.

Santana Moss: (based on adding 2 extra years)

2013 Cap Hit: $6.167

Cap Hit after restructure: $4.067

Savings: $2.10

-It is a big question mark as to if Moss will extend given his reduced role, but the Redskins should consider it. He came up with a lot of big catches last year at key spots, including doubling the next highest TD total. He came up big in the 2nd half of games and on third down and would be tough to lose. The fact that he’s a fan favorite helps as well, and the difference in savings between cutting him and extending him is $2.400 million. The only question is will he agree to a reduced role, and minor contract extension?

Josh Morgan: (based on adding 3 years)

2013 Cap Hit: $6.750

Cap Hit after restructure: $4.310

Savings: $2.440

-Morgan is still young and had a solid year as a possession receiver for the Redskins, the one problem with extending him is he’s not worth the nearly $6 million a year the Redskins were paying him. He’d have to accept a lower extension for it to make sense. He could though, given his local ties, and the fact that unless he has a huge year this year (which is not very likely given how much the Redskins run) he probably won’t get major offers on the free agent market. If the team can clear other money they may just wait till next year to re-sign him so as not to burden the cap too much in 2014 or 2015.

Total Savings: $8.427 million

Notes:

Trent Williams could be extended and perhaps save an extra $1.5 million on his 2013 Cap hit. DeAngelo Hall isn’t a go candidate for an extension since he’s due $17 million over the next two years. He’d have to leave a significant amount of money on the table to make it even logical for the Redskins to extend him. Given that the money isn’t guaranteed, it would make more sense just to release him and try to work out a new contract if you want to retain him.

Overall Savings Prediction:

Cuts: Hall, Brown, and Carriker for $12.05 million

Restructuring: $12.355 million (I would end up restructuring all of Garcon, T. Williams, Cofield, Bowen, Chester)

Extensions: $3.887 (Orakpo and Wilson)

*Fletcher and Moss to me are real wild cards here and depending on what happens could jump the Redskins cap savings between $2-8.5 million. Remember though, either of them leaving creates more holes on this team.

Total savings: $28.292

Minimum Cap Overage: $16.658

Cap Space: $11.634 million

I know that $11.6 million sounds like a lot, but the Redskins need to be really smart with it. Remember the Redskins added $5 million to their cap in 2014 (and that doesn’t include the extra money in extensions to Wilson and Orakpo), with the restructuring of contracts. Also remember some of that $11.6 million will be taken up by the guys who take the place of Hall, Brown and Carriker in the top 51 contracts of the team. The Redskins would be wise to look for values as opposed to grabbing the first free agent or two on their wish list. If they spend all that money on guys who are signed beyond this year they could quickly have some more cap issues in the coming years.

Another important thing to consider is the Redskins are essentially using up all of their salary cap flexibility for the next couple of years. While getting the Hall, Carriker and Brown contracts off the books in 2014 and 2015 are helpful, there really aren’t going to be any other major guys that can be released next year or the year after. Guys that you just restructured will now have more guaranteed money that would need to be accounted for to release them. You are also unlikely to restructure them again as it would get more prohibitive going forward.

This cap room gives the Redskins the breathing room they need, and an ability to add some talent and depth to this team, but it absolutely should not be an invitation for the Redskins to have a major spending spree.

Redskins Cap Links:

Part 1:  Redskins Salary Cap Breakdown

Part 2:  Redskins Restricted Free Agents

Part 3:  Redskins Unrestricted Free Agents

Part 4:  Savings From Cuts

Part 5:  Savings from Restructuring and Final Thoughts

Dallas Week: Washington Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Cowboys

December 28, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Its Dallas Week.  Here are my keys to the game for the Redskins to beat the Cowboys in the Sunday Night Showdown at FedEx for the NFC East crown.

1 – I will get right into it with first and foremost we need to look at the opponent.  The Dallas Cowboys are an 8-7 football team not a 10-5 or even 9-6.  They are what their record is.  And honestly if Antonio Brown could have protected the football on a punt return this game could have been meaningless for them.  I do think they can be explosive and play like they did week one versus New York but that was week one, not seventeen.

Although the Redskins have not had any games of this magnitude in years, Dallas has had a few and when they have they failed.  The Cowboys have been up and down all season, eking out wins the past two months usually having to come from behind late in games.  The Redskins did the same versus Baltimore but took care of business against teams like Cleveland, in Dallas, New York and last week in Philadelphia over this six game win streak.  Yes, the games ended close but except versus Baltimore, Washington had the lead in all those games down the stretch of the fourth quarter.

2- I could almost copy the same thing I had on the quarterbacks before the Thanksgiving game in Dallas.  Tony Romo did have a big statistical game that day almost all in the second half after the Cowboys fell way behind.  The knock on Romo has been that he can't win these types of games and now to do it on the road gives me confidence he won't be able again.  Before the season I thought Dallas could be a disaster waiting to happen and that Romo could be the fall guy by seasons end.  I will admit that Romo has played very well but let’s see what he does Sunday night.

On the other hand we as Skins fans have full confidence that Robert Griffin III will show up and do what he has done all season.  Yes, the knee will have an effect but all Griffin does is move the ball, don't turn it over and put up 100+ passer rating performances.  And oh yeah, be a true leader as a rookie.  A captain.  That is what he does.

3- Everyone's main concern this week is dealing with Dez Bryant.  And by having to deal with Dez Bryant does that open it up for Jason Witten and Miles Austin.  Bryant last week was as good as anyone other than Calvin Johnson and clearly the weakness of the Redskins is in their secondary.  But will Dez Bryant show up?  Does Dallas add 2 or 3 more chaperones this week to make sure?  I still think that the Cowboys need to watch over a 24 year old is a joke by the way.  Though every time Dez Bryant looks to be on the right path, he does something stupid.  As for on the field, I do think he will be tough to handle.

The return of Demarco Murray also will be a factor in the Washington defense being able to slow down the Dallas offense and force turnovers.  Washington's bend but don't break approach has worked in recent weeks but it has worked because of causing timely turnovers.  Ryan Kerrigan has to do what he did last week.  Rob Jackson has to get back to level of play versus the Ravens as well to help the struggling secondary face the likes of Bryant, Austin and Witten.

4- The first game showed a head to head coaching advantage for the Redskins.  This must happen again.  Mike Shanahan has obviously been in more big games than Jason Garrett and Shanny needs to win the coaching battle.

Can Shanahan win the coaching battle Sunday night?

Can Shanahan win the coaching battle Sunday night?

The obvious battle between the coaches will pit Kyle Shanahan and his offense against Rob Ryan and his defense.  Shanahan worked Ryan in Dallas on Thanksgiving and I would expect no change this week.  Rob Ryan like all the Ryans', is a clown.  Kyle has had his ups and downs but right now has it going and going good.  Ryan will not be helped by Demarcus Ware being far from 100% but Ware is tough and even at 70-80% will give Pro Bowler Trent Williams a handful like always.

On the other side it was turning into a long season for Jim Haslett until the win streak occurred.  His defense is still giving up yards but just holding opponents points down enough to win.  Just holding them down this week may not work so he will need to find holes in a suspect Dallas offensive line.

5- Maybe the most famous Redskins/Cowboys game for Washington fans is 1982 NFC Championship Game.  The game will be mostly remembered for Darryl Grant's touchdown and Dexter Manley knocking out Danny White but what can't be forgotten is how the Redskins were able to run the ball down Dallas' throat with John Riggins all day.  Washington must do the same Sunday night with Alfred Morris.

Morris has proven all season to be this team's Diesel.  And although I doubt Alfred Morris needs any motivation losing out on a Pro Bowl nod to Frank Gore makes for adding motivation.  I expect Griffin to be more of a run threat Sunday night which will open it up more for Morris as well as the receiving core.  Dallas has been torched like the Redskins many times this season so matching big plays with Dallas will be a key as well.  But I would love to see the 2012 Cowboys get pounded into the FedEx turf like 1982 Cowboys were at RFK.  Here is a link to that game.

As for what will happen.  It is crazy to say that we finally have a huge game at FedEx Field after so long.  It is actually embarrassing after the success the team had for many years under Gibbs' first coaching run.  But I have confidence in my quarterback and I have confidence in our leaders like London Fletcher.

Over the past six weeks these guys have yet to fail us on the field and I don't see it happening Sunday night.  I see a win and a division title but not as high scoring as Thanksgiving and more like the Giants Monday night game.  Redskins 23  Dallas 17

 

 

 

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!!!

 

 

Dallas Week: Big Short Week as Redskins Prepare for Thanksgiving Match-up

November 21, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Now that the Redskins are back in the playoff race (well slightly) after beating a horrible Eagles team, the next two weeks will clearly determine where they end up this season.  Win both and they are sitting in great shape in the NFC East.  Lose both and they are done.

The Redskins vs. Cowboys rivalry heats up on Thanksgiving Day this year with 2nd place in the NFC East on the line.

The Redskins vs. Cowboys rivalry heats up on Thanksgiving Day this year with 2nd place in the NFC East on the line.

Last time we looked at a two game stretch it was New York and Pittsburgh and that didn't go well.  So let’s just start with Dallas for now and Thursday’s game.  Here are five things that must happen to win there.

1- Dallas seems to play everyone the same no matter how good or bad a team is.

Go to Atlanta and barely lose, home to Cleveland and barely win.  Each week their opponent is in the game so it comes down to things like turnovers and penalties.

As for penalties, we must worry because the Skins are the worst.  So this needs to change right away.  The Dallas crowd doesn't really concern me so hopefully false starts will be at a minimum.  We can't get 15 yarders either.

As for turnovers, Griffin has been amazing but they cannot have key fumbles like the second half of the Giants game.  Have to get to Romo also but we look at that next.

2- And here we go on Tony Romo.

Washington needs to get to Romo early and often.  Last week we said they need to take advantage of the Eagles poor offensive line and they did.  Time to do this again.  And if the ball bounces off Dez Bryant's hands they need to be there to snag it.  That's if Bryant doesn't break curfew Wednesday night, a traditional party night.

Romo like Griffin can buy time and our defensive backs really don't like sticking with receivers for long periods of time, so we have to run him down quickly.  I predicted before the season a beginning of the end of Romo's time in Dallas and this would be a good week to start that.

3- Make Jason Garrett coach.

The Redskins need to get up early and see if Jason Garrett is a true NFL coach.  He was able to bring them back against the Browns last week but that was against a horrible coach in Pat Shurmur.  So it’s time to call out the $7 million tan man Mike Shanahan and see if he can out-coach Garrett.  Shanahan proved me right week one against the Saints but many times has killed me.  A good sign will be Jerry Jones on the sidelines by the mid third quarter if things are going well.

4- Is Brandon Banks still on the roster?

I think so but he is now really only known for being part of shaky offensive play calls.  Do something Banks in the return game and do it this week.  As I have said many times I wouldn't mind giving Santana a chance on a punt return or two because we need something.

Really think Shanahan blew it not adding Shawne Merriman and dropping someone like Banks or Grossman.  Merriman is older and worn down but he looked pretty good for Buffalo last week.  Key again is that they need something from Banks.  Special teams have covered fine and Kai Forbath has been perfect on kicks, so it’s time for the return game to step up.

5- Finally I think Robert Griffin plays big in a nationally televised game back in his home state.

This season has shown for him not to fold at all under pressure in these types of situations.  RG3 and Luck have gone back and forth all season as the better rookie quarterback and last week Griffin proved better and I think it will continue this week.  The Skins have to attack downfield like last week and look for big plays.

I think they can run the ball against Dallas without a guy like Lee in there but Griffin has to be able to do more than slants and screens.  Garcon although hurt does make the defense have to watch for him, and hopefully he can go.  I could easily see Griffin putting on a show in Big D on Thanksgiving.

 

 

Washington Redskins Week 11 Post Game Thoughts

November 19, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

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1. Defense Shows Up:

The Redskins much maligned defense showed up yesterday in a big way. They forced three turnovers, had four sacks, and kept the opponent out of the endzone for the first time since 2008. The biggest difference today was the pressure, as in edition to the sacks, the Redskins were able to keep pressure on quarterback Nick Foles throughout the game. Jim Haslett who has been on the hot seat all year, dialed up a great defensive game plan, with a number of exotic blitzes. One of the better parts of the game for the defense was the fact they weren't committing as many penalties as they had been prior to the bye. Though it was a really strong performance of the defense and the best so far of the season, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that the Eagles didn't help themselves at all. Not only was it a rookie quarterback behind a banged up offensive line, but Philly continuously shot themselves in the foot with penalties, missed assignments and dropped passes.

2. Robert Griffin III Saves the Day:

For as good as the defense was the offense was overall pretty ordinary, but they were still able to put up 31 points due to some big plays by Robert Griffin III. Much will be made of his 14-15 passing including four touchdowns, but the most impressive part of his game was what he did with his legs. Griffin scrambled a number of times to extend drives and pick up big chunks of yards on the ground. In fact he ended up running nearly as many times (11 to 15) as he attempted a pass. Griffin did made some big plays through the air as well that obviously resulted into points, but much of those wouldn't be possible if not for him setting them up with plays on the ground.

3. Offensive Line Woes Continue to Plague the Redskins:

The reason why Griffin was so key, was because the Offensive line was so bad. They allowed a number of runs to be stopped for little or no gain, and gave up just a ton of pressure. If not for Griffin's ability to scramble, the line may have given up 6 or 7 sacks. On top of that the line was once again the main culprit in giving up penalties, which helped stall multiple drives. The Eagles lost contain on Griffin, but a more discipline team would be able to capitalize on the offensive line issues to the point of stopping the Redskins, on a short week the Redskins need to get this fixed fast.

Quick Thoughts:

Santana Moss: It might have just been one play, but what a tremendous catch and effort by Moss to get that touchdown. That play rivaled Robert Griffin III's run against the Minnesota Vikings to seal that game. It also once again brings to mind the question, why is Moss not getting more snaps and targets. He's been so productive this year when given the opportunity, why are the Redskins limiting him?

Penalties: The Redskins came into the game averaging 8.3 penalties (accepted penalties) a game, which was the highest in the NFL, so how do they come out at home after the bye? They commit 13 penalties, about 5 more than their average. The offense was the biggest culprit, which is unacceptable as multiple of the penalties were false starts. How you commit multiple false starts at home is beyond me.

Play-calling: Once again there were a number of questionable play calling decisions by the offense. Going for ti on 4th and 1, inside the red zone when a field goal would essentially ice the game made little sense. Yes a first down and eventual TD would have been better, but a field goal made it a three TD game. It would have been one thing if the Skins were inside the 5 forcing them to drive 95+ yards, but from near the 20, that gave Philly solid field position. Their play calling on the drive after the fumble recovery before half was also problematic, and something that better teams would have exploited. Finally, why the Redskins were continuing to run Griffin, late in the game when it was already out of reach is beyond me. Look what happened on the side when LeSean McCoy gets injured on a meaningless play at the end of the game, and that was with the team being down. At least there you can make the case that they are trying for the miracle comeback, or working on plays for the rest of the year. The Redskins need to be smarter and either pull Griffin in those situations or don't put him in a position to take hits. .

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5 Washington Redskins Players Who Should Be Benched

November 14, 2012 in Redskins Personnel, Uncategorized

1. Brandon Banks:

Not only is Banks a disaster waiting to happen every time he touches the ball, due to his fumbling issues (luckily none have been lost…yet), but his play-making ability has been grossly exaggerated. It turns out he's not that hard to defend on offense, and has in fact cost the Washington Redskins yardage on a number of occasions. In the return game he remains one of the league's worst overall return men, not only because he lacks many big returns but his decision making as well. He continues to take kicks out deep from the end zone and then fails to make it past the 20 yard line. During punt returns he often dances around back there trying to find a hole, only to lose yardage or have a short gain. On many of those occasions had he just gone forward he could have gained 7-10 yards.

2. Kory Lichtensteiger:

Lichtensteiger has done a nice job returning from a serious knee injury, but he's once again showing that he's at below replacement level status. He leads the team in penalties committed and has missed a number of key run blocking assignments. Lichtensteiger is an impending free agent and given the Redskins cap situation is unlikely to be re-signed. Washington should begin to give experience to 3rd round rookie Josh LeRibeus, whom the team needs to step up. If he's not ready, 2011 7th rounder Maurice Hurt would be an option as well since he's likely to be here next year.

3. Leonard Hankerson (part time):

Now Hankerson definitely deserves some playing time, but he can't be counted on for starting reps. Especially since Hankerson playing is at the expense of Santana Moss sitting. Yes Moss is a veteran and may even be a cap casualty next season, but he's been by far the Redskins most consistent and effective receiver this year. Having him on the field more is a must (there are games where he gets less than 20% of the offensive snaps) Even if he's not a long term answer, he can help Robert Griffin III develop in the short term. I know the coaching staff wants to use him in the slot, and obviously when the Skins go three-wide that can be his role, but he's been way too productive to limit him this much.

4. London Fletcher and Perry Riley (limited):

London Fletcher is the heart and soul of this defense, but unfortunately his age has begun to catch-up with him. He's really struggling in both coverage and run support this year, and could use more time on the sideline to stay fresh. He also may end up needing to be cut next year, leaving a hole for the future. Keenan Robinson, was drafted in the 4th round to be his future replacement, but now needs to step up and show he's ready. While he's gotten some playing time, he needs more. Not only should Robinson get some of Fletcher's reps, but the team should look to sub out Riley who looks to have regressed some to be just an average starter this year. Between the two, Robinson could end up with 40% of the snaps from here on out, giving the team a nice trial run for next year, and hopefully some better play this season.

5. Madieu Williams:

Williams has been part of the Redskins secondary woes this season, and while he's not the only guy to blame, the team should look for a younger solution. Unfortunately there isn't any immediate option. Perhaps when Brandon Meriweather returns to strong safety the team can move Jordan Pugh over to free safety, but that isn't too ideal. Neither is the idea of Meriweather playing free safety. It likely won't make much of a difference, but at least Pugh and Meriweather (if he's not cut) could be on the team next year..

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