On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

You are browsing the archive for Washington Redskins Archives - Fanspeak Washington Redskins Blog.

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

December 14, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

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

1. Will DeSean Jackson Play:

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

2. How will Colt McCoy do with the injury:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redskins need to come up with a 3-year plan

December 11, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redskins' issues start at the top

December 10, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

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

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

Wide Receiver: Signed Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Possible Pierre Garcon Trade Scenarios

December 3, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

All Cap data courtesy of Over the Cap

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

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

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

Cleveland Browns:

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

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

Oakland Raiders:

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

Kansas City Chiefs:

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

Seattle Seahawks:

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

Indianapolis Colts:

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

Denver Broncos:

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

 

Thoughts and Observations From the Redskins vs Colts Game

December 1, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. There are serious issues in our secondary:

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

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

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

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

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

4. Where was the pass rush:

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

5. Redskins can't take advantage of opportunities:

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

6. Where do they go from here:

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

Redskins make the right move to bench RGIII

November 26, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redskins vs 49ers Keys to the Game

November 23, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Keep it simple for Griffin:

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

2. Stick with the ground game:

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

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

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

4. Limit turnovers and penalties:

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

5. Blitz Colin Kaepernick:

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

6. Make them earn their drives:

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

What is going on with the Redskins defense?

November 21, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

Lost in the poor play of Robert Griffin and all the surrounding controversy with the press conferences, is how once again the defense was really bad in this game. While this is not to say that the defense "cost us" this football game as the Redskins offense committed 3 turnovers and managed just 7 total points, the defense didn't do them any favors. Most troubling about the defensive performance is just how many mental mistakes continue to happen to this unit.

Not only are the Redskins generally defensively deficient from a talent and physicality perspective (at least relative to quality defenses), but they are severely lacking in the mental side of it as well. Each and every week we can point to multiple plays where 1 or more guys just flat out blows their assignment. While every defense is going to have this happen, it is becoming far too frequent. The fact of the matter is the Redskins have been somewhat lucky based on who they have played so far that they haven't been exploited more.

Take their previous game versus the Vikings, the same sort of mental breakdowns that occurred versus Mike Evans happened multiple times against Minnesota, the Redskins were just lucky that the Vikings didn't connect on those plays enough to really turn that into a blowout. It goes back further than that though, as you can look at a number of games where the Redskins opponents had big play opportunities but they just missed them. One game where it could have made a difference was against the Titans. We saw multiple coverage breakdowns, but the Titans missed them for whatever reason (having Charlie Whitehurst as the starting QB was probably a big factor).

These breakdowns just can't be happening at this frequency at the NFL level. Especially when you consider that the Redskins really only have 3 young guys (Keenan Robinson, Bashaud Breeland, and Trent Murphy), who haven't had significant NFL experience before. Of those players only Breeland has really had major lapses in his assignments and he's far from the worse culprit. This by in large is a veteran defense many of whom have been in this defense for multiple years. There is no reason that these guys don't know what their assignments are or how to execute them.

Now some of the blame definitely falls on the coaching staff in particular defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and DB coach Raheem Morris. These are two coaches who were retained from Mike Shanahan's staff and were ideally supposed to bring stability to the unit. Yet somehow the defense keeps failing in their job. Morris in particular deserves scrutiny, because the secondary remains the weak link on this team. While there are definitely talent issues in this group, their level of play has been really bad this season. While both coaches definitely deserve their fair share of blame and should be on the way out next season, the buck doesn't completely stop with them. These players are blowing simple assignments that would be in any defensive game plan (and that these players should already know), I don't know if there is a defensive coach out there that can get them to do their job.

Another major area of concern for the defense is the absolute lack of a pass rush the past couple of weeks. Against the Cowboys 3 games ago, the Redskins were relentless with their blitzes and shut down a Pro Bowl caliber QB in Tony Romo behind arguably the best OL in football. Since then the pass rush has completely withered against rookie Teddy Bridgewater and journeyman Josh McCown behind two of the worst OL's in football. That is just unacceptable for this team.

The Redskins got two sacks this past Sunday and they came on a play where the offensive lineman forgot to block Trent Murphy and a rollout play late in the game where McCown gave himself up instead of throwing the ball away or forcing a throw. Barry Cofield played that play well, but it was hardly a sign of a good pass rush. Beyond the lack of sacks is the fact that the Redskins aren't hitting the QB and pressuring him on enough plays. When they have blitzed these past two weeks, for the most part they haven't worked. They have maybe caused a few rushed throws and gotten a sack or two, but by in large the blitzers aren't getting home and quarterbacks still have too much time in the pocket.

Again this is definitely partially on the coaching staff, but the players need to be held accountable as well. Big name guys like Ryan Kerrigan and Jason Hatcher just aren't having the same sort of impact that they did earlier in the year (or were projected to at the start of the season). They should be winning individual battles at a high level even when there aren't extra blitzers and they just aren't doing that nearly enough. The Redskins need their pass rush to step up because they have some better opponents these next couple of weeks and the only hope for this defense is to make some splash plays.

Redskins will have tough questions to answer this offseason

November 19, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

I don't know if many people really thought the Redskins were set and ready to contend in 2014, but I think the general consensus was this team was building for the future. Now after 10 weeks the Redskins sit at 3-7 and there are growing concerns about the future of this team going forward. There aren't many positions that one can point to that Redskins fans can feel comfortable with going forward. Let's quickly breakdown some of these offseason questions and what could happen:

Quarterback:

-This is obviously the biggest question mark heading into the offseason. While it once seemed like RGIII was a lock for not only picking up his 5th year option, but an even longer extension those plans are likely to be scrapped this offseason. Griffin has shown regression and dealt with multiple injuries since his hot start his rookie year, and there is a serious question if he can regain the title of QB of the future for this organization. The Redskins could entertain trade offers for Griffin, but that probably won't end up working out this year. Griffin will likely be back, but without the 5th year option or extension, which means he would be entering his last year under contract, with his future very much in doubt. Kirk Cousins may be moved on from given how he played this year and the idea that a change of scenery could be good for him. Colt McCoy will be a free agent, but it's likely the Redskins will work to retain him as the fallback option if Griffin struggles next year.

Running back:

-Alfred Morris is set as the top back and will be entering his final contract year. The Redskins would be wise to try to extend him this offseason to ensure they don't need to worry about the starter. Roy Helu Jr. is the team's number 2 back and 3rd down back and he's an impending free agent. The Redskins may let him walk and hope that rookie Silas Redd can fill his shoes. If that is the case a 3rd (and possibly 4th) back will be needed. If they don't feel Redd is ready then the Redskins need to have a solid plan for the number 2 back.

Wide Receiver:

-Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are all free agents and are likely to not be back (or in Moss's case retire). The Redskins top three guys DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts are all under control through at least 2016, but at this point it wouldn't be surprising if Garcon is not on the Redskins next year. It's unlikely they would cut him, but a trade for a mid round pick could happen. Garcon is expensive, and seems unhappy in the offense right now. If he isn't going to get 120+ targets, it is tough to justify paying him that money. The Redskins do have Ryan Grant to hopefully step up, but they will need some additional wide receivers as well (hopefully some guys with size). It probably won't be a major need even if Garcon is traded, but it will be something to look out for.

Tight End:

-Jordan Reed can't stay healthy, Niles Paul is a free agent, and Logan Paulsen is flat out overpaid. Obviously Reed will be back next year, but the Redskins can't be sure he will be able to give them a full season. If they let Paul walk, not only does he weaken the depth as a decent pass catching TE, but he's been a very good special teams player for the Redskins. If they bring Paul back on the cheap it will probably be a smart move, but he would fit best as a 2nd receiving TE and given Reed's health issues he'll probably be pressed into a greater role. Paulsen has really struggled this year and will almost certainly be cut. The Redskins need to find a 3rd TE who can block and play special teams. That isn't the toughest thing to find, so the strength of this position really boils down to the health of Reed.

Offensive Line:

-Assuming he doesn't rush back and further hurt his knee Trent Williams will be locked in as a stud LT on this line. Kory Lichtensteiger has played okay this year and probably could give the Redskins another decent year next season (though the team should look to upgrade for the future). Beyond that though there are serious question marks here. Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester have been awful at guard this season and while Chester is basically a lock to be cut, Lauvao's contract might force the team to at least keep him on the roster. The Redskins have young guys like Tom Compton, Morgan Moses, Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long waiting in the wings, but they are all unproven. Moses is the best of the bunch and may very well be the RT next year, but the team needs to get better guard play. Relying on unproven guys like LeRibeus and Long is probably not the answer, particularly if you are somewhat rolling the dice with Moses.

Defensive Line:

-Jason Hatcher and Chris Baker are locked in to be back next year, but beyond that there are some question marks here. Barry Cofield contract is pretty expensive and coming off an injury filled year it could be tough to bring him back. Jarvis Jenkins is a free agent and Kedric Golston and Stephen Bowen will likely be released as well. Though Hatcher and Baker are good and solid players respectively, the Redskins need more from their defensive line. They need to add an impact player and may look to either the draft or free agency to hopefully find one. Even if they don't get an impact guy, they need to completely improve their depth and talent of this unit.

Inside Linebacker:

-The Redskins look like they have found one good inside backer in Keenan Robinson, but the other spot is a big question mark. Perry Riley was signed for a short term deal in the hopes that he would develop into the promise he's always had. It's been a rough year on Riley, which is troubling given that the talent has improved beside him and in front of him. The Redskins don't have another starting caliber ILB on the roster and would ideally like to find a good player to pair with Robinson.

Outside Linebacker:

-The Redskins franchised Brian Orakpo and drafted Trent Murphy at this position and so far neither move has panned out as the Redskins have hopped. Orakpo wasn't playing well to start the year and got injured seriously in the 7th game of the season. Trent Murphy has flashed a few times, but by in large has been invisible on this defense. There is little to suggest that Murphy could replace Orakpo on the right side so the Redskins have to decide what to do at arguably the most important position on defense. Do the Redskins re-sign Orakpo on the cheap and hope he can stay healthy and rebuild his value? Do they role with the unproven Murphy and hope he drastically improves? Do they slide Ryan Kerrigan over to the tougher position and hope that he can handle it? Or do you spend another top pick or make another big FA signing (not clear there will be any legitimate options in FA) to fill the position? A lot of tough questions here for the Redskins at a key position.

Corner back:

-DeAngelo Hall is coming off two Achilles tears and at 30 it's going to be tough for him to be fully ready by the start of they year. He may need to start on the PUP list, and even if he doesn't his effectiveness could be compromised. Young corners David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland have flashed at times and may be decent starters, but the book is still being written on them. At the very least the Redskins need to add a veteran corner who can play the slot and replace Tracy Porter and E.J. Biggers. They might need to add two capable corners if they are really concerned about Hall's status.

Safety:

-This was a position where the Redskins basically knew they were punting on this year as their only additions were Ryan Clark and bringing back Brandon Meriweather for a year. Both starting safeties have struggled and the young safeties the Redskins have/had (Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas, Duke Ihenacho), haven't done much to prove they are worth starting long term. The Redskins reasonably need to add two capable starting safeties this offseason and hope that some young guys can man the back-up roles.

Thoughts and Observations: Redskins vs Buccaneers

November 17, 2014 in Redskins Personnel

1. Boy I'm glad we had a bye to be ready for this game:

-Look this game shouldn't have been considered a guaranteed win despite the Buccaneers record coming in. Yes the Redskins were at home and coming off a bye, but they weren't exactly a good team themselves and the Bucs had played a number of average or worse teams tough this year. So while the Redskins losing this game stings given the situation, it's not completely unexpected. What is unexpected and frankly unacceptable is the fact that they didn't even show up in this game. The Redskins failed in just about every facet of this game, and that just can't happen coming out of a bye, especially at home. This was the type of game that you expect to have happen when you are coming off a short week, dealing with a number of major injuries. That's the exact opposite of what the situation was. The Redskins were the healthiest they've been since week 1, and had the most time to prepare since then as well.

2. There are serious questions surrounding the future of RGIII:

-I will delve more in to RGIII later, but this was a bad game by Griffin. He really couldn't do anything right and struggled in pretty much every facet of this game. While the first interception isn't all on Griffin, some of it definitely is as he threw a awful pass to Paul. It maybe was bad luck that it turned into an INT, but it was started with a poorly thrown ball. If you want to not fully hold Griffin accountable for the INT (which is fair), you also can't give him a lot of credit for the TD or yards in this game. The Redskins lone TD was a screen to Helu and the Bucs were basically in prevent mode. Griffin didn't do anything good on that pass (or that entire drive) that is really worthy of praise. The majority of Griffin's yardage was gained in YAC throughout the game. If guys like Jackson, Helu and Morris didn't turn short passes/screens into good gains, Griffin wouldn't have cracked 100 yards passing. And it's not a situation where Griffin threw a ball with anticipation and helped lead his receiver to get some big gains. These were simple passes that really any QB could throw. Griffin really didn't do anything beyond 10 yards in this game and he definitely missed some open receivers that he didn't even attempt to throw the ball to.

If Griffin's passing wasn't the only issue in this game, as his pocket awareness was horrible. Yes the offensive line deserves some major blame (see below), but Griffin could have avoided multiple sacks and multiple pressures. Considering how many passes were quick dump-offs/screens and quick hitters it is shocking that Griffin had so much pressure. A lot of that falls on him as he didn't read the defense correctly and get the ball out of there.

From a long term perspective the Redskins have to be concerned in Griffin's future. In now 31 starts (not counting the Jags game since he left on the 2nd drive), Griffin is just 12-19 and really hasn't played all that well since the ACL injury. While injuries are definitely part of the reason why Griffin hasn't developed faster, injuries don't help your case going forward. The Redskins still have a ways to go in their decision process with Griffin, but its very fair to suggest that there is a major concern here at QB for their future.

3. The offensive line is just atrocious:

-Look the offensive line was bad going in and we knew it would be worse when Trent Williams went down early with multiple leg injuries (though Morgan Moses didn't play bad), but this is getting laughable. Tom Compton nearly did the unthinkable for Redskins fans as he made them wish Tyler Polumbus was playing right tackle. Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester appeared to be having a contest to see who could miss the most blocks in this game (for those scoring at home Lauvao came out the "winner" despite having to leave the game early due to injury). Even Kory Lichtensteiger who has been the Redskins most consistent blocker of the year, struggled some in pass blocking (he did make a great block on the screen pass that went for a TD though). While much of the ineptitude was in the pass blocking, the run blocking wasn't much better. Multiple times Alfred Morris had to deal with defenders meeting him in the backfield and luckily some of those times he was still able to make plays.

The Redskins were facing one elite defender in Gerald McCoy, but the rest of the Bucs DL is considered below average as a group (not counting McCoy). Though McCoy definitely gave the Redskins headaches, they couldn't stop anyone in this game. This was just a pathetic performance from this unit.

4. Where was the pressure on defense?:

-The Buccaneers offensive line had given up a lot of sacks and pressures throughout the season and Josh McCown was hardly a guy known for limiting pressure. A week ago the Atlanta Falcons, who aren't exactly known for getting a lot of pressure on the QB, gave McCown all sorts of pressure throughout the game. The Redskins pressure was non-existent. They managed just 2 sacks (one of which McCown gave himself up instead of throwing it away) and 5 QB hits, despite the fact that the defense got the Buccaneers in a number of 2nd and 3rd and long situations, and brought extra rushers. When the Redskins blitzed, Josh McCown acted like he was Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers and stepped up or avoided the pressure and took advantage of 1-on-1 match-ups in the secondary. Rarely did he really seem rushed in his throws and the pressure was simply not effective in this game. This is supposed to be the area where the Redskins were still strong on defense, even after the loss of Brian Orakpo, yet it completely let them down.

5. Special teams miscues continue to haunt this team:

-The last couple weeks the Special teams really hadn't hurt the Redskins, but that ended on Sunday. They had muffed returns and returns that were short of the 20. Two missed FG's, poor punting and penalties. This was just a bad special teams game all-around and they were even gifted a muffed punt by the Bucs.

6. Why was Perry Riley assigned to cover Mike Evans 1-on-1 with no help?

-I'm seriously asking this question. Did Jim Haslett have Mike Evans in fantasy football this week? What other reason would there be to put Perry Riley on Evans 1-on-1? Perry Riley has been awful in coverage throughout his career, and that is just trying to cover backs and tight ends. There isn't a logical reason to think he could cover the 6'4" stud rookie receiver who was making plays on your corners and safeties. What's the game plan for next week, Barry Cofield covering Michael Crabtree? I understand that the play relies on the blitz to get to the QB and force the ball to come out quickly, but the problem is if it doesn't it is basically a guaranteed big play. If you want to bring an extra rusher why not bring Riley who has shown himself to be a capable blitzer in his career. The same result may have happened if Meriweather was on Evans, but at least there was a chance that Meriweather could cover Evans (not a great one mind you, but it would be there).

7. Final Thoughts:

-I would shut down Trent Williams for the rest of the year regardless of what the MRI says. His play hasn't been as good of late to begin with b/c he's already dealing with injuries, and now it would likely be even worse coming back at the end of the year from these injuries. Also if his MCL is injured, even when he's healthy enough to come back it would increase the likelihood of a more serious injury. It's just not worth the risk in a season like this.

-In Trent Williams place, Morgan Moses played pretty well at LT. It will be interesting to see if they move Moses to RT going forward since that figures to be his long term position, or if they let him play out this year on the left side.

-The Redskins shouldn't bench RGIII regardless of what happens the rest of this season. They have some tough decisions to make this offseason about his future, and they need these last 6 weeks to evaluate that fully. It may mean more performances like this, but playing Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins isn't going to give you the picture that you need.

-A game like this brings up serious questions throughout this organization. From the players on the field, the coaching and the personnel decisions, everyone is being called into question. There needs to be strong accountability after this season to fix these  issues, up-and-down the organization.

-Can the Redskins really point to any true "winnable" games throughout the rest of their schedule? 49ers and Colts are going to be very tough on the road. The Rams have just beaten the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos in 3 of their last 5 games and are clearly playing better. The Giants are struggling some, but they exploited the Redskins once this season and will be at home. The Redskins nearly beat the Eagles and upset the Cowboys on the road, but does this team really look like they are capable of sweeping either of those teams? It's likely the Redskins get a win or two, but it is tough to see any more than that.