WAIT. Why is RG injecting himself between Trent's fist and Richard's face? Too funny.
WAIT. Why is RG injecting himself between Trent's fist and Richard's face? Too funny.
The Washington Redskins will play 13 of the NFL's 31 teams during the 2014 season. I have thoughts on these games. Sort of. We won't know until April what the schedule looks like, unfortuately, but we do know that Washington will be playing against the AFC South (that's good!), and the NFC West (that's bad!) next season. Here are some thoughts on those opponents.
Chip Kelly's squad will enter next season as the favorite in the NFC East, but this division is completely up for grabs. Kelly patched together a 10 win season with a comically weak roster, finding strong quarterback play through Nick Foles. Foles-Griffin has a chance to emerge as a fun quarterback rivalry in the future, long after the Manning's and Romo's are out of the division. On the other hand, Foles is also the most tradeable piece of the Eagles roster, and it wouldn't be horribly shocking if the progressive-minded Eagles tried to capitalize on Foles' great season by trying to get a first rounder and then some in exchange for the former third rounder.
That would hurt the Eagles chances in 2014, but the roster has warts. The best defensive player on the team, Trent Cole, has been terrorizing quarterbacks since 2005, which is when DeMarcus Ware came into the league. He'll be 32 next year. Offensively, the Eagles are great, but they were really healthy, and are lacking a ton of upside. They can be better in 2014 than in 2013, but it would take a whole lot of stuff beyond their going right. And Philadelphia only had a chance in the division this season because Washington imploded in comedic fashion right from the first snap.
The Cowboys enter the offseason more than 30 million over the cap, which sounds bad, and may be worse, because Anthony Spencer (who missed the 2013 season while under the franchise tag) isn't under contract, and doesn't count towards that number. Miles Austin is going to be the most obvious salary cap casulty. He fought injury and didn't contribute this season. But after that, Dallas is going to have to start going through their most productive pieces to find enough cap space to sign their rookie class this season.
Dez Bryant can restructure his deal, Romo can restructure his deal, they can reduce Ware's cap number, and then they have a decision to make on Jason Witten, who should remain productive. None of these actions actually fix the Cowboys cap issues though, they just push them off another year, and prevent them from improving the roster in the short term. More than any other team in the NFL, Dallas needs to blow up their whole team structure, but because these are the Cowboys, they just extended the QB and MLB, are bringing the head coach back, and won't part with any player that has a modicrum of marketability (except Austin). Exactly the kind of stability no one wants or needs. This is a 4-12 disaster in 8-8 clothing.
New York Giants
The Giants are heading in a new offensive direction in 2014, hiring Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo to be offensive coordinator. I fully expect him to bring James Jones with him to replace Hakeem Nicks in three WR sets, and try to get the most out of third year WR Rueben Randle. But the Giants offense is the single biggest question mark in the division this upcoming season. Why was it so bad last season? In 2012, both the Eagles and Chargers offenses struggled all season with most of their talent healthy and in the lineup, and went into the offseason with major questions. Both teams fielded top 5 offenses in 2013. The Giants will look to make a similar rebound next season, and need to get the offensive line settled in order to be back in the playoffs in 2014.
The Cardinals had their best regular season in the last 25 years in 2013, and didn't get to go to the postseason. It took QB Carson Palmer 7 starts to get comfortable in Bruce Arians offense, but when he learned how to be successful and not take unnecessary hits, the whole team came around. Palmer is a declining player who is going to struggle at times as his enters his mid-thirties, but he is going to see the full contract value of the extension he signed with Cincinnati before the 2005 playoffs. It took three different stops to make it, but Palmer managed to avoid being released, and will accrue more than $125 million in earnings in his career. The 2014 Cardinals figure to be Palmer's best team since the 2006 Bengals. It's probably going to be his final shot at a Super Bowl title.
San Francisco 49ers
The Niners are going to have to tweak their defense for the 2014 season, although you would expect all the principal members to return, with the exception of Carlos Rogers (who would make a lot of sense in a return to Washington). But the San Francisco free agent the Redskins really need to be in on is WR Anquan Boldin, who is coming off a career year at age 33. Boldin cannot separate from defenses even a little bit, but he was one of the best receivers in football this year, and as a big, physical target who is never not open, he's the kind of player that Robert Griffin has not gotten to play with at any level, and would most directly fix the issues that plagued Griffin this season. It's going to cost about $8 million a year over the next three years or so to get it done, but Boldin's old-mans game makes him a safe investment deep into his thirties.
The Vikings are not going to be a trendy surprise team, especially as Adrian Peterson enters his twilight years, but one thing that new OC Norv Turner inherits is a really nice set of offensive talent. The Vikings have the pieces on the line, in the backfield, and are getting there on the outside (which Turner will help). The quarterback situation is in flux, but there's no huge contract to deal with, and the list of guys who can look good handing off to Peterson is probably 50 names deep. In other words, the issues with the Vikings are pretty much on the defensive side of the ball, and new head coach Mike Zimmer is kind of good at his job. The Vikings are an obvious candidate to improve by 5 or more wins in 2014.
The Texans' main issue this year wasn't a lack of talent, although the talent level wasn't helping a lot either. There were a lot of injuries and they'll return a lot of key pieces to the field in 2014 under new head coach Bill O'Brien, who should feature a potentially explosive offense after he de-Kubiaks the whole unit (which could take years, frankly). It's certainly an interesting franchise to have the first overall pick. Teams with the first pick almost always are adding the best piece of their team, but for the second year in a row, the first pick will be added to a veteran-flavored roster. The correct pick, of course, is Teddy Bridgewater. Every other pick is not correct. Houston is not going to go worst to first under O'Brien in year one, but there are no sacred cows in the AFC South, and there are no dues the Texans have to pay to reach the top. They just need to add talent.
The Colts have gone to the playoffs in back to back seasons and now in 11 of the last 12 years. But this will be the most critical offseason in Indy over that timeframe because it is going to be the offseason that defines Andrew Luck as the Colts' quarterback. The Colts have built the roster too weakly, spent too frivilously on players with established track records like Erik Walden and Trent Richardson, and are far too reliant on Luck's late game heroics. With Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen, and TY Hilton returning, there is absolutely no reason the Colts shouldn't be able to put enough talent around luck to make him a pro-bowler and a playoff-winning quarterback as soon as next season (he did acheive both of those on technicalities this season). Another mediocre statistical season from Luck just makes him look a lot more like the next Sam Bradford than the next Peyton Manning.
The Titans are expected to move on from the reasonably priced Jake Locker in the offseason, but first, they already moved on from former Redskins coaches Jerry Gray and Gregg Williams on the defensive side of the ball, replacing them with Ray Horton, the former defensive coordinator of the Browns. They're also expected to move on from RB Chris Johnson in the offseason, who was last productive in 2010. They have already moved on from head coach Mike Munchak, and have replaced him with Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt really struggled to pick a quarterback in Arizona that could execute even the simplest play. This team could be in trouble, but one similarity that Whisenhunt will enjoy from his time in Arizona that the Titans do have is a young, explosive receiving duo in Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright, 23 and 24 years old respectively. The problem, of course, will be at quarterback where a team that hasn't gotten it right since drafting Steve McNair in 1995 as the Houston Oilers adds a coach that hasn't gotten it right since making Kurt Warner the starter in 2007 when Matt Leinart got injured.
There is at least a decent chance the Jaguars will not draft a quarterback with the third overall pick in this upcoming draft, opting instead to address the position in the second or the third round, and then making that rookie second day draft pick the starting QB. Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson, Geno Smith, and Colin Kaepernick were three of the most recent day two draft selections at QB to follow this path, and none have produced a single losing season. Nick Foles lost only one game for the Eagles this year. Mike Glennon may have been the best of the 2013 rookie quarterbacks for the Buccaneers. It used to be a losing strategy to go best player available in the first round with a quarterback need, but the breed of passers falling out of the first round is far better than it used to be. It's now a winning strategy to grab an elite talent at the top of the draft, and a passer that your coaching staff really likes in the second or third, because with moderate investment from the team, those picks are turning out as well as ever.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs may not have a better option than to stick with Mike Glennon at quarterback under Lovie Smith, but the Bucs may also benefit from doing the opposite of the Jags, and moving up in the draft to second overall to land either Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater. Glennon is both a competent player, and an obvious spot to improve. Beyond him, the Bucs have all sorts of pro-bowl type players added under the prior regime that you haven't heard about yet (Lavonte David, Gerald McCoy) and a few you have (Darrelle Revis). The last time Tampa took a QB in the top ten? 1994. Trent Dilfer. Who now evaluates guys like Bridgewater and Manziel on television.
St. Louis Rams
Can the Rams afford to draft another defensive player (Jadaveon Clowney) if they keep the second overall pick? If they can reduce Sam Bradford's cap number, sure. With more mutiple fronts being played, the lines of designation between defensive tackle, defensive end, and outside linebacker are getting more and more obscure, but one thing that modern defensive coaches seem to agree on is that it is optimal when facing pass-first offenses to play with two traditional interior linebackers, and then as many guys on the line as the offensive personnel package will allow for. Basically, there's no reason that Clowney wouldn't be a good fit for the Rams or that they would have to change their defense significantly if they drafted another end. More now than ever, getting the best 11 guys on the field is just more important than how you align them.
The Seahawks look like they'll be even stronger in 2014 than in 2013, and they're headed to the Super Bowl. A reminder for those unfamiliar: the Seahawks were in the same place when Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010 than the Redskins were when Mike Shanahan took over. The Redskins are 3-13 and dont have a first round pick in 2014. The Seahawks will pick 31st or 32nd in the draft, and yes, that will be before the Redskins select. Even though the NFL likes to promote it's parity, Seattle, San Francisco, and Denver, the top teams in the league, are big proponents of building their roster so the rich can get richer. So that more stars can join those teams in the offseason.
This is not something that is beyond the Redskins abilities, as athletes would flock to D.C. to play for a winner. But they have to first defeat the culture of there being a "right way" to build a team. Mike Shanahan's single biggest limitation was a devotion to an outdated relic of teambuilding where the central piece was himself, as the head coach. If the Redskins are going to compete with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, two teams that are winning a ton of games with underdeveloped dual-threat quarterbacks, they need to build the kind of program that athletes want to be a part of. Instead of picking fights with your athletes in the media, try things like promoting your team and your organzation as a fun place to work. And try to make it one as well.
It works a lot better.no comments
London Fletcher is one of the 300 best players to play pro football.
His remarkable career spanned 16 seasons, 256 games (with the final 240 of them starts), and another 9 postseason starts -- more postseason games than the average 10 year career. He won a world championship with the 1999 St. Louis Rams.
The record will say Fletcher was a four time pro-bowler, but for the first 13 years of his career, no one thought of Fletcher as a deserving pro-bowler. Fletcher famously referred to himself as the 'Susan Lucci fo the NFL,' as someone who always would get the nomination, but never the end of season honors.
Fletcher performed at the level of an all-pro linebacker for more than a decade. But his time in Buffalo (he signed in Buffalo as a free agent following the Super Bowl in 2002 to play for head coach Gregg Williams) was the most uneven time of his career. Fletcher was the captain and best player on one of the league's best defensive units in 2004, but the 2004 Buffalo Bills became one of the all-time "what-if' teams when they missed the postseason by losing on the last week of the season to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were resting their starters (including rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger). Fletcher may have been the best linebacker in pro football that season at age 29. He was not elected to the pro bowl. He would not be elected to the pro bowl in any of the next four season either.
As the pro-bowl rules started to relax and the honor was given to more, and more players every year, Fletcher started to be recognized as one of the very best linebackers in the game. He went to the pro bowl in 2009 for the first time, and then was elected three consecutive years from 2010-12, an honor he shared with Patrick Willis each season. Fletcher signed with Washington as a 32 year old linebacker with a nice 9 year career, but no real shot at Canton. He retired seven years later as one of the four best linebackers in the history of the franchise, and a strong case for the Hall of Fame.
The most recent Redskins Hall of Famer was also a four time pro bowler. Russ Grimm was a ten year starter on the Redskins offensive line, but he had just a six year stretch where he played in every game but one. Grimm may have been the best guard in football between the 1982 strike and the 1987 strike. Grimm, who never played for any other franchise, and Fletcher had similar Washington careers in terms of length and impact. But Fletcher has another decade as an underappreciated linebacker to add to his hall of fame case.
There are 23 linebackers currently in the pro football hall of fame. Derrick Brooks will be added to that list in a couple of weeks. Ray Lewis will be added to that list in 2018. Patrick Willis will also be hall of fame bound, and likely Brian Urlacher as well. Fletcher is not going to beat Lewis in, and he may not get in before Urlacher, meaning that by the time he is eligible, there will be at least 25 linebackers in the pro football hall of fame, and if Fletcher is going to the Hall, he's going to need to be able to have his argument as a top 20 player at his position of all-time.
Here's what London Fletcher may run into: the Hall voters have been incredibly stingy about electing linebackers. Only receivers and specialists have been held to a higher standard by the electoral body. Do you know when the last current HOF linebacker stopped playing? It was Derrick Thomas, voted in a decade ago (Thomas died in a car accident). On the last ballot, Kevin Greene was a finalist. Clay Matthews (Sr.) and Karl Mecklenburg were semi-finalists. No one else was even on the radar.
Among other active veterans and recent retirees, I think Fletcher has a better case than Tedy Bruschi and Lance Briggs. Bruschi essentially had the pre-Washington part of Fletcher's career, but not the post-age 31 part. Briggs peaked right around Fletcher's level as a near all-pro (he was elected all pro in 2005, a spot that could have easily gone to Fletcher). He's a Bears linebacker, which is basically like being an honorary Steeler, as far as the Hall is concerned. On the other hand, he played most of his career in the shadow of Urlacher.
James Harrison peaked higher than Fletcher did, twice an all-pro, and won defensive player of the year in 2008, an award that Fletcher was never a true candidate for. But Harrison is going to fall below most hall of fame standards, and even by the HOF standards of former Steelers (which are much more attainable than for players who didn't play in Pittsburgh), Harrison's case is too borderline to be taken seriously. Terrell Suggs has a great case, but also is going to be treated closer to a DE type than a LB for HOF purposes.
The most problematic case for Fletcher -- the guy who may ultimately block him from getting in -- is Zach Thomas, eligible for the first time this year. Thomas was pretty much the same type of player Fletcher was, but played the first part of his career in a larger media market, and thus was given the pro-bowls and all-pro honors Fletcher couldn't get. It's hard to remember now, but Thomas acutally got some of the all-pro honors that were typically reserved for Ray Lewis.
If Fletcher had played his whole career in Washington, he's a no doubt Hall of Famer. But because he wasn't recognized for the great player he was early in his career, there's going to be some doubt. It's going to be tough to get him into the hall of fame in 2019, the first year he's eligible. But of all the players who have had pro careers at the LB position and are not yet in the Hall, Fletcher is one of the five most deserving players for the honor. I can't yet say if voters will see his case the same way, but seven years as a Washington Redskin may have been just enough to get Fletcher over the threshold and into the Hall of Fame.no comments
The Washington Redskins shook up their coaching staff this morning, but did not completely clean house, when they hired former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be the team's head coach.
As part of the hiring, the Redskins have made a pair of coaching staff promotions from last year's 3-13 squad. Tight Ends coach Sean McVay will be promoted to offensive coordinator. McVay has been an offensive assistant since Bruce Allen was hired, and does not turn 28 until later this month (totally unrelated -- I feel unaccomplished). McVay was recruited to the Miami University football team when Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback in 2003.
He enrolled there as a freshman, ten years ago. Admit it: you feel old.
Raheem Morris is receiving a promotion to defensive coordinator from defensive backs coach, a position where he will presumably also still handle duties.
Jim Haslett is going to be retained. It is not clear whether he is receiving a promotion to assistant head coach from defensive coordinator, or whether he will share the defensive coordinator responsibilites with Morris.
Gruden has spent the last three years as offensive coordinator under Marvin Lewis. Under Gruden, Andy Dalton is a career 60.9% passer. Dalton's QBR increased each season from 11 to 13, and the improvement has been fairly incremental. He set a career high in TD tosses with 33 and YPA with 7.3 this season. But he remains an inconsistent player with a limited skill set. There is a good chance that Dalton would be the third best QB on the Redskins if he was added to the roster today, although he is more accomplished in the league than Kirk Cousins.
For Gruden, this is a case of a team wanting him so directly and obviously that it didn't make sense to take another position. His time in Cincinnati had run it's course, he's got multiple friends in the Redskins organization, and it was time to make the jump to head coach. He would have been in the running for other HC positions, such as with the Tennessee Titans, but the Redskins went all out and sold him on his chances to win here and put a staff together that would support him.
Jay Gruden is not a finished product as a pro coach. He's got just three years as a high level assistant, in addition to the seven years that he spent in Tampa with brother Jon. It's not going to be a slam dunk first year walk towards the Super Bowl. There's a lot of work that has to be done before the winning can start, and once it does, he brings the struggles-in-the-playoffs stigma with him to Washington. It will be a welcome sight when we get to approach Jay Gruden's playoff coaching aptitude in online print because it means that he will have brought the Redskins back to that point. But it's a stigma he won't shake until he wins in the postseason.
This is a winning hire for Bruce Allen, selling the guy he wanted all along on the head coaching position with the Redskins. The Redskins haven't hired a coach from the ranks of NFL coordinator since Dan Snyder has been the owner of the team. For my opinion that Hue Jackson would have been the better fit, he would have continued that trend. Allen gets a guy in Gruden who will offer valuable imput in terms of talent evaluation on the offensive side of the ball, a skill which I believe he (like his brother) has. It is something that Mike and Kyle Shanahan and to a lesser extent, Jim Zorn and Joe Gibbs struggled with. And the Redskins organization will be better for it.no comments
/logs into Redskins Hog Heaven...
Whoa? It's 2014?!
That's so weird. I fell into a coma in February and totally missed out on getting to watch Robert Griffin III become the second straight player to win the MVP off major knee surgery. I missed out on the Mike Shanahan contract extension. The second straight NFC East title. Brian Orakpo setting the single season sacks record. Looks like I missed wild card weekend too, but that's okay, we all knew the Redskins weren't playing that weekend anyway. I just feel fortunate to be up and ready for this weeks big playoff game against the Falc--
--I should probably catch up on the season to date. Can't belive I missed out on Hankerson's 1,000 yard season, the first of many, of course. Who could forget the formality that was Fred Davis' breakout year. Or the way that the Deadspin scandal helped drop Manti Te'o to the second round so that the Redskins could draft him. In fact, I just need to head over to Pro Football Reference to see how many tackles...
...wow. That didn't go as planned.
3-13? Hold on, this is a lot to stomach. Outscored by 144 points? I can't remember having a season like that. When was the last time the team got outscored by even 120 points in a season? Oh, that's right, 1961. The worst Redskins team in 50 years. At least offensively they're still...at 2009 levels. Good god. That may be the worst special teams until in modern memory. What a disgrace. Redskins defense...you're exonerated from this mess. Congrats on setting the bar low enough.
Good riddance, Mike Shanahan, you've left the place worse than you found it. And all it cost the organization was another Albert Haynesworth contract. Well, I'm not going to look it up now, but I'm sure they'll at least pick right at the top of the draft.
Time to build and move forward. The first question that needs to be asked before you start is: what pieces of value does the organization have? It doesn't have a first round draft pick in 2014. That's a Shanahan tax. It's strongest asset is Robert Griffin III's contract. Here's what Griffin did in 2013: he threw for a career high 3,203 yards on 456 attempts. Griffin completed 60.1% of those attempts. He failed to throw for 20 touchdowns, and set a career high in interceptions with 12. This is a mediocre year in a Shanahan offense (middle third, career wise, among seasons by Mike Shanahan QBs), and probably what you would expect from Kirk Cousins over a full season, but because NFL offensive averages have risen so much since 2009, Griffin's numbers actually rate on the wrong side of the league median.
Griffin had more or less the same season that Ryan Tannehill did in his second year, although Tannehill faced a stronger slate of defenses. That's not a great complement, and it makes the 2012 draft trade feel really Clownish, but it's to help keep perspective. Russell Wilson has enjoyed the best career to date of anyone from the 2012 QB draft class by a strong margin, but Griffin, Nick Foles, and Andrew Luck are already running pretty close to one another in terms of career value to date. It's silly to try to split a 32 game sample in any way to see how a player is progressing, and all you can do is take the career as a whole and look at the numbers. Griffin (62.7%, 7.5 YPA, 6.45 NYPA) and Foles (62.5%, 7.9 YPA, 6.80 NYPA) are pretty indistingulishable as passers, a point that I made before the 2012 draft. Luck is a lesser passer to date, but creates more big plays with his arm/legs than either Foles or Griffin. Many in the scouting community believe that the everydown consistency from Luck is only a matter of time.
Griffin has two well below market years remaining on his contract before an extension will be necessary, which creates a nice, soft, win now opportunity for a new coach. But that coach has to be capable of harnassing Griffin's talent, and bringing in enough talent from around the league to win in the short (but not immediate) term. A playoff appeareance should be the goal in 2013, but it's not like the Redskins should be expected to win 6 of their first 8 or something similar.
The new coach has to be new school enough to develop Griffin as a dual threat -- not a run first threat that throws to the sticks on third down -- but also old school enough to have a strong network of available talent with expiring contracts who will come play in Washington immediately. That's a tight line to walk and I believe Hue Jackson is the right coach for the Washington Redskins.
Jackson would have plenty of patience, but also little sympathy for Griffin as a 24 year old third year pro. The offense would be built around the quarterback's strengths. Jackson has not run an up-tempo offense in the past, but would certainly run one with Griffin. The foundation of Jackson's offense is in pro style running principles and the Air Coryell passing tree, but he's famous for being formation diverse to get the looks he wants to get from the defense. Jackson doesn't have a specific preference in the running game for the type of blocking he uses. He probably calls more inside zone plays than any other plays, but runs plenty of power and counter as well. His system is very RB friendly, without demanding a ton from the quarterback.
The foundation of Jackson's passing game is protecting the quarterback, by giving him enough options to get the ball out of his hands. You wouldn't see a ton of empty formations or spread-type option plays, but anything to get a player in space is something he may draw up. Most impressively, he understand's player tendencies very well, and since he knows Griffin will run the ball if the play breaks down, that takes away a lot of the necessity to draw up new opportunities for him to run.
I have found Hue Jackson's offense to be predictable in a good way. When he was running the Oakland offense in 2011, I could sometimes tell a few seconds before the snap based on alignment and tendency what mismatch Oakland was about to exploit. This is not because Jackson is some sort of genius, it's more because he has created an easily identifyable mismatch that the defense did not specifically prepare for that week. Then the ball is snapped and the play is executed as I imagined it would be. If the defensive coordinator is sitting in the box, he might realize what is about to happen, but it is already too late at that point. It's the opposite of the way Kyle Shanahan's offense was predictable, which is that you prepare all week to sit on the Redskins "money" routes and when you get an alignment you recognize, you don't bite on the route the receiver will show initially.
None of this is to disparage Jay Gruden as a Redskins head coach, but Gruden is going to have to swallow some lumps on the job, and the Redskins only have a couple of losses to give on their 2014 schedule before playoffs become a longshot. I believe Gruden would have no problem building an offense around Griffin's strengths -- heck, he did that with Andy Dalton -- but I also think Gruden would approach things much more conservatively in year one, and the the Super Bowl window that Washington opened last year with the Griffin trade is only going to last another two years.
I understand. The window doesn't feel open at all. Washington just had it's worst season since 1961. The talent on the roster is lacking at most critical positions. Everywhere except QB, RB, maybe OT and OLB (pending contractual situation) is a disaster zone. But it's not going to take the full $30 million dollars of cap space to replenish the talent on the roster. It's going to take an eye for talent. Not just offensive talent, which I think both Gruden and Jackson excel at identifying, but also DB talent, a position group Hue Jackson got to coach with Cincinnati in 2012 (and multiple members of that roster set to hit FA).
You upgrade the line with a couple of bigger guards, spend big on a receiver like Jeremy Maclin or Hakim Nicks, bring back Hankerson, Pierre Garcon, and Aldrick Robinson, then spend for two key pieces in the secondary, and the Redskins will enter 2014 not far from where they ended 2012. Then they still have additional cap space to improve the roster, although I'm not certain that they'll be able to go too far past that in a single offseason, and might be best saving that additional cap space. Improvement towards the top end of the league will require them to get some positive returns from the last three years of Mike Shanhan drafts, as well as instant contribution from the upcoming rookie class, and that's something I'm less optmistic about. Oh well.
I don't think Washington is a likely playoff contender in 2014, even though I think that should be the goal. More important than making the playoffs, Griffin needs to be in a system he has confidence in, and then needs to show the necessary improvement for the new coaches to have confidence in him. The roster should be built with the 2014 playoffs in mind, but towards the back of the mind. Same with the coaching hire. He needs to be mindful of reaching the playoffs with this roster, but not of single-mind focus, because player development over the next three seasons will be far more critical. That's why I believe Hue Jackson is the right hire for the Washington Redskins. If you get good people into the organization, the wins will come soon enough. And probably sooner than you anticipate.no comments
After a headache-filled 2013 Washington Redskins season, the franchise finds itself needing to make the most of their 2012 NFL Draft drafting of two quarterbacks. With Robert Griffin firmly entrenched as the starter for next year thanks to the sheer quantity of picks the team gave up to get him, Kirk Cousins is slated as the current #2 quarterback, but is too young, too talented, and too valuable to likely be forced into career backup duty.
But in a quarterback class that still has more questions than answers, where does Cousins stack up as a potential trade option for some team? That’s something we may very well find out sooner rather than later.
As All-Star Game and NFL Combine season approaches, evaluators hope that the 2014 quarterback class becomes much clearer than it is right now. Between juniors declaring, up and down senior campaigns for many, and injuries to top passers, the class is a proverbial mess to evaluate.
That being said, it certainly doesn’t lack depth, regardless of what type of scheme or situation you’re drafting from.
As of early January, there appears to be just two first round locks at the position: Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville (who I doubt gets out of the Top 10), and Derek Carr of Fresno State (who may not be perfect for everyone, but has the arm talent to remain a Top 20 pick).
After those two, a host of others may be in the first round discussion. Johnny Manziel is a “hate him or love him” guy for most teams, ranging anywhere from 1st to 3rd round grades. Blake Bortles of UCF has gotten attention late, but he’s not a lock for the first round until teams (and myself) go back and thoroughly evaluate his film. And AJ McCarron, though not the sexist pick, may receive some first round grades thanks to his perceived “safeness” as a prospect.
So where does Kirk Cousins fit into all this?
Cousins has the distinct advantage of having NFL film already on his scouting report. Cousins wasn’t flawless in his performances this season, but teams can have solace in the fact that they’ve seen him at potentially his best and worst, and have a much better feel for how he can handle the NFL game.
For teams such as Houston, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay, they have “win-now” type of rosters that their new coaches may not want to “waste” on developing a young quarterback. With Cousins, even though they’ll be the always prevalence of a learning curve, his ability to handle the NFL atmosphere is an invaluable skill set for a new coach looking to win now.
Cousins doesn’t have the upside to warrant trading a first round pick for. Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer both warranted first round (and more) picks, but both were more established and have better natural tools than Cousins does at this point in his career. Cousins still may end up being a “franchise passer”, but hasn’t proven that he’s anything more than a work-in-progress. And for that reason, he can’t be ranked higher than some of the high upside passers already slated to be in this 2014 class.
If the Redskins were to look for a trade partner for Cousins, they likely will find suitors, with a 3rd round pick the initial trade value. But as draft day approaches and where each quarterback will land becomes clearer and clearer, team’s will have a better idea of how draft day may unfold, as well as finalizing their own grades on these quarterback prospects.
Could Cousins land with the offensively loaded Texans and Bill O’Brien? Could he be Lovie Smith’s new feature passer in Tampa Bay? Or will Michael Lombardi/Rick Spielman opt for Cousins as opposed to drafting a new quarterback to go along with their not-yet-hired coach?
There’s still plenty of time for things to change, but as of today, the Redskins should be able to get a 2nd round pick for Cousins if they remain patient. A fourth of the league could be in the market for a new quarterback, and they all won’t view the draft as the feature option with only a handful of quarterbacks worth a Top 64 pick.
Patience and pessimism (on the 2014 quarterback class) will be the two key words as the Redskins look to find a suitor for Cousins. Patience they have, pessimism they can’t control. But if they want to get the most out of Cousins, they’ll need both. And it may take them right up until the Draft to capitalize on both.
Eric Galko is the talent behind Optimum Scouting covering college prospects for the NFL Draft on the Bloguin Network.
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The Redskins wide net coach search snagged an interview with Perry Fewell, defensive coordinator of Beast rival New York Giants.
Fewell is an acorn from the Tom Coughlin coaching tree which puts him in the Bill Parcells family of coach-think.
He has a small college background as a student athlete. After London Fletcher, we won't see that as a red flag. Fewell spent his NFL coaching career cycling through four teams as defensive backfield coach, beginning with Coughlin's Jaguars club in 1998. Coughlin hired him to be Giants' DC in 2010.
New York comments about Fewell fall in two extremes depending on when you read them. After the 2011 season, he was a Steve Spagnuolo defensive genius and bright head coach prospect, not unlike Kyle Shanahan in 2012. After the 2013 season, Giants fans see Fewell is spawn of Satan.
Hog Heaven turned to Andrew Furman, the talent behind Bloguin affiliate UltimateNYG covering the Giants to get the word on Fewell. Here is Andrew's profile.
"I hated Perry Fewell's Tampa2 scheme because it was too passive for today's NFL, where QBs with any ability can shred the zone. So it was 'built to fail,' as Fewell's defense feasted on the bad and got beat by the good teams.
(Well humph, what does that say about the Redskins? Oh. Wait. Never mind.)
"The giants were 7-7 in '11, so how did they run off 6 straight to win Super Bowl XLVI? A big part of the answer was Perry Fewell talking to his players and getting feedback on what worked and what didn't. The use of zone was dropped dramatically and the gashing stopped.
"Shocking? Not. The players bought in and there was a love fest. Google 'Afterburner' and 'NY Giants.' So I give credit to PF for seeing the light and not being dogmatic. In this regard I think he's a player's coach and that will get him out of the gate. The problem with players' coaches is that they have to make sure there is proper distance and discipline, else you get a Jim Schwartz debacle.
"I have absolutely no idea about his Head Coaching credentials. To be a HC is a different job from being a coordinator. You have to have great people and managerial skills. I have little idea beyond the example of PF flexing to listen to his defensive backs on the zone schemes. I just don't know who, if anyone, can coach [the Redskins], considering all of the experienced HCs that couldn't get it done in WAS.
"I actually believe PF has the self respect to hire good coaches underneath him and let those coordinators do their jobs. I don't know how strong he can be if/when things go wrong."
(Andrew amazed me with what he could type in an iphone.)
By Andrew's telling, Fewell is an older, more experienced version of Raheem Morris. And if the Redskins are thinking of Morris, they may as well look at Fewell. If nothing else, probing Fewell's thinking may give the Redskins insight into the Giants football schemes and front office.
After 11 years of Coughlin in New York, the 'Skins have a handle on Giants football. Any nuggets they glean on how the Giants' respctable front office does business is worth the conversation whether Bruce Allen is serious about Fewell or not.
The Giants paid Spagnuolo head coach money to stay with the team when Dan Snyder danced with him in the 2008 coach search. It would be telling if the Giants do the same with Fewell.
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