POINT – COUNTERPOINT: Offensive Position Battles
By Staff Writers John Manuel & Steve Shoup:
Last week we discussed position battles on defense and now it is time to look at the offensive side of the ball. Training camp and the preseason will determine many of the starting and regular playing spots on this offense.
Not a whole lot of new names but we have a few returning from injury as well as a couple guys who will have the chance to take it to the next level. Quarterback is not a position battle as both the two top spots looked to be in locked in with Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins. Only question is the health of the Griffin and each week it seems to look better.
I think the most competitive battle will be in the backfield this summer. Alfred Morris is an obvious lock to look to get the bulk of the carries but after that is a true battle. Roy Helu returns from injury and is said to be 100%. This could be a huge factor for the Skins if he is able to return to his end of 2011 form. And unlike last season he should be able to help lower the work load for Morris although Alfred was very strong down the stretch.
The two draft picks should also get their chance to show something this summer. Both Chris Thompson and Jawan Jamison will be interesting to watch also to see if one or both of them can continue the Shanny late running back surprise tradition. Could Evan Royster end up the odd man out in this competition? And what are the chances Roy Helu can be a major factor with the zone read?
I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw a decent size drop in Alfred Morris‘ yard total in 2013. And I don’t mean it as a bad thing I just see more options to spread out the carries and still be at the top of the NFL’s team rushing battle.
I agree with you the running back position battle will be interesting to watch, but I want to throw one other hat into the ring, Keiland Williams. No he’s not much of an offensive threat, but if the team keeps four running backs (like I think they should) perhaps they’d consider Williams because he can back-up both RB and FB, while playing really good special teams.
I don’t think it is the most likely, but I think it is worth mentioning, especially if he also shows he can contribute as a personal protector for RGIII like Manumana was for Paul Blake in Necessary Roughness.
My ideal four backs though would have to be Helu, Jamison and Thompson to go along with Morris. I do think both Helu and Thompson could be dangerous on a lot of pitches, targets out of the backfield, and zone read plays. Jamison to me was a big sleeper and would be the most natural back-up RB to Morris.
Speaking of skill position battles the Wide Receiver race really heated up with some recent signings, how do you see that playing out?
Just like in the past the Shanahans are not afraid to kick the tires on wide receivers and go to camp with a boat load. I have no problem with them bringing in guys like Stallworth and Henderson to challenge last year’s group. It’s much better than the Ole Ball Coach bringing in Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony.
Although we have discussed that there is no true number one guy on the roster I think we have plenty of fellas who can play. The Redskins were a different team when Pierre Garcon was on the field and the record showed. But I am still concerned with that toe, so others need to step up. The two guys who fit the step up bill have to be Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan.
Just like the coaches I loved seeing both of these guys help the run game with down field blocks but it’s time for one or both to be a consistent passing game threat. Santana is Santana and should do the things he did last season but I doubt we can count on him for the surprisingly high touchdown total.
I think a guy like Devery Henderson to make this team would have to beat out Desmon Briscoe for sure and probably Aldrick Robinson. But I think Robinson will be able to hold him off as long as he doesn’t hurt his own players like Merriweather again.
Either way once again we should have an interesting battle with the wideouts all summer long. I know you love Robinson but do you think he holds off the new vets? And with the depth at running back in camp and also tight end with Fred Davis’ return and Jordan Reed, someone kind of shocking is not going to make this team.
I do agree that these pick-ups are better than Spurrier’s boys or Galloway and Roydell Williams from A.C. 1(After Cerrato). I’m still not sure it makes a lot of sense to bring them both in (maybe just one I would like more). We only have 90 roster spots and we just added two receivers without releasing any to make room.
Instead we cut a TE (albeit an injured one), despite the fact our top two guys are coming back from injuries (obviously Peterson needed to go, but why not bring in another TE), and a defensive end, despite Adam Carriker reportedly out until at least until the start of the regular season. Also other positions like guard, running back and safety look thinner on paper. Wide receiver is the one position where we are looking pretty good.
Sure Garcon is recovering from an injury, but Moss, Morgan and Hankerson all look to be healthy and ready to produce. Guys like Aldrick Robinson and Dez Briscoe are young with a little potential as well. Unless there is another injury this just doesn’t make sense to me.
I also don’t get it from a long term perspective. Already Moss and Morgan (and Briscoe) are free agents next year, if Henderson or Stallworth make the roster it could be at the expense of Robinson, or take playing time away from Hankerson. I would maybe like it more if I thought either were return men or special teamers, but despite their speed neither player ever has been a primary returner in the NFL and they don’t really play special teams.
I would really hate to see one of them make it over Robinson who I thought really showed well as a deep threat, and could have some further development potential.
Speaking of Davis and Reed, how many tight ends do you see the Skins carrying?
I would have to lean towards four right now. If they decide to go with three though my guess is Fred Davis is in trouble. I know Mike Shanahan seems to really like what Fred Davis can bring but you have to think that the other options have roles they can’t risk giving up. Reed is a lock based on he just got drafted. Paulson is needed because of he may be the only true blocking tight end.
And maybe Niles Paul would be considered the fourth best of the group but without Lorenzo Alexander you have to think his special teams and return skills keep him here. Plus he is cheap. Maybe Jordan Reed isn’t 100% and they take it slow with him to start so Davis is then needed. But what if Davis isn’t ready also? But what if Reed comes in and shows Shanny and Lil Shanny he can play right away and a major starter at another position goes down? Could Davis be gone to make room for someone else?
Ideally I would like to see what the two can do together this season and then decide on Davis next February although the Gronk and Hernandez comparison are way off. I think you make a real good point with the 90 man roster situation it’s gonna be interesting where the 53 man roster decisions go with these skill positions. They are going to cut talented guys for once unlike the Vinny days.
I even like that they brought in a kickoff guy this week since I was calling for that the whole second half of the season. Cobra Kai was weak on kickoffs and thankfully it didn’t really hurt them but I would hate to risk that again with the OMG running down on kickoffs.
I see four tight ends as well, because simply I can’t see how you cut any of Reed, Paulsen or Paul for really all the reasons you listed. With two tight ends banged up, keeping four I think is a must. I do think you mentioning Davis’ spot as the one in trouble is pretty interesting. It definitely makes sense from a value stand point, and a logic stand point with the other 3 TE’s cheaper and under control for longer, but I just don’t see it happening. I think they would do something crazy like IR Reed (even if they really didn’t have to) or cut Paulsen/Paul before cutting Davis.
The 53 man roster will get really interesting, but the game day roster could be even more intriguing. It’s one thing to keep four TE’s on the 53 man roster, but can you really justify that on game day? If Davis is the pass catcher, Paulsen the blocker and Paul the ST guy, does that mean Jordan Reed is inactive every week? That really isn’t the most productive use of a 3rd rounder if that is the case.
I know this is supposed to be on the offensive side of the ball, but I think you raise a good point about the kicking battle in camp. We know Forbath is the kicker, and Rocca should be the punter. But could a kick-off specialist win an extra spot (which is also another game day spot)? Or do we now regret re-signing Rocca and want to use this guy as a punter/kick-off specialist?
I’d be a bit shocked if either were the case as it doesn’t seem to be Mike Shanahan’s M.O., but as you mentioned the coverage unit is weaker now, and our defense is bad enough that I think we need to save yardage where we can.