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Assessing the Redskins' needs on offense

Assessing the Redskins' needs on offense

Everyone knows the Redskins have plenty of personnel needs on both sides of the ball and the temptation is to say that they just need everything. And while there isn’t a position on the field where they can’t use some help, some areas are in more dire need than others.

In an attempt to quantify that, let’s put each position group on a needs meter. The scale is 1-10 and here’s the scale:

1—The depth chart at the position is completely set with players entering prime ages with market value contracts.
5—The team has enough NFL-caliber players under contract at the position but it could use quality depth and some replacement planning for aging players.
10—There are no players under contract who could reasonably be expected to start 16 games.

We’ll look at the offensive side of the ball today, the defense next week.

Offensive line—They have four of the players who started most of the year under contract plus Shaun Lauvao and Kory Lichtensteiger, who missed most of the season with injuries. The unit did well on pass blocking but run blocking left a lot to be desired. They are locked in at two positions, with Trent Williams at left tackle and Brandon Scherff at right guard, and Morgan Moses is probably set at right tackle, although if an upgrade was available in the draft Scot McCloughan might pull the trigger. They have some young depth in Arie Kouandjio and they got some good play from Ty Nsekhe, who is a low-mileage 30 years old.

Need Meter: 5 They need to upgrade a center sooner or later and add some depth as Lauvao is a question mark due to health issues.

Running back—Alfred Morris is a free agent and he is likely (although not certain) to be playing elsewhere. Matt Jones may have a chance to grab the starting job but he has a lot to learn and a lot to prove. Third-down back Chris Thompson should be recovered from shoulder surgery by the time training camp comes around but he’s not a workhorse back. Also returning from injury is Silas Redd but he has a lot to prove as well.

Need meter: 8 Even if Jones proves he can be a starting NFL back there is still a need for depth. Redd may prove to be the guy but some free agent dollars and/or a draft pick must be invested in the position.

Tight end—Jordan Reed is a star in the making if he’s not a star already and Niles Paul should be healthy enough for OTAs and work as Reed’s backup. Derek Carrier is pretty good pass catcher but blocking is not his forte as is the case with the other two.

Need meter: 6 A blocking tight end would be a great addition but as colleges go more to spread offenses that don’t utilize big-body tight ends they get tougher to find.

Wide receiver—There is plenty of discussion about Pierre Garçon and/or DeSean Jackson becoming cap casualties. Whether they are or aren’t, there is still a need to get some quality receivers in the building. Both are approaching the age of 30 and will be in the last year of their contracts. Jamison Crowder is fine in the slot. But with Andre Roberts likely to be gone the only receivers left on the roster are Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross. Close your eyes and envision them at your 2017 starters.

Need meter: 7 This is not quite as urgent as the running back position is as they should be in good shape in 2016. But with the future looking shaky some more quality depth is needed.

Quarterback—The reasonable assumption is that Kirk Cousins will be back either under the franchise tag or with a long-term deal. Then it gets iffy. Robert Griffin III will be released. The Redskins probably will want Colt McCoy back but he might want to go somewhere with a shakier quarterback situation where he has a chance to start some games. And whether he goes or stays the team will still need a developmental quarterback on the roster.

Need meter: 8 This is based on the notion the McCoy leaves for what he perceives to be greener pastures. A veteran backup who could step in if there is an emergency would be needed in addition to the developmental QB. If McCoy stays this drops down to about a 6.

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

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Need to Know: If Kirk Cousins leaves, with the Redskins rebuild or retool?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 16, 57 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 49
—NFL Draft (4/26) 100
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 236

Nickel coverage—Five Redskins questions

Taking a look at some of the key questions surrounding the Redskins, sometimes coming up with more questions in the process. Yes, it's going to be that kind of offseason. 

What will the Redskins do at left guard? It would be better for the Redskins to find their left guard in the draft, but assuming that the successor is picked after the second round, they will want someone to start until the rookie is ready. That could be Arie Kouandjio or maybe a veteran free agent.

Can the Redskins make do with what they have at running back? The short answer is no. The running back situation needs attention. It’s hard to picture Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley forming a formidable tandem, or even a very good one. I’m wary of spending a high draft pick on an RB, but the success of the likes of Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette have to be factored into the thinking.

Are the Redskins OK with Zach Brown and Mason Foster at inside linebacker? For the time being they are, assuming that they are able to sign both of the unrestricted free agents, however the Redskins need to continue to build that position. That means continuing to develop Josh Harvey-Clemons to use in nickel situations and spending draft resources there. Even if Brown and Foster are back, the Redskins might be smart to grab Roquan Smith out of Georgia if he’s there in the first round.

If they are without Kirk Cousins, will the Redskins rebuild or retool? This is a key question for the organization. If Cousins leaves, do they just try to plug in the best available/affordable quarterback they can find and roll on with the same basic personnel with which they have hovered around .500 the last three years? Or will the make other changes, perhaps moving on from Josh Norman and Jordan Reed to save cap money for future seasons and give their younger players a chance to establish themselves? The latter might be the better way to go but this organization rarely considers short-term pain for long-term gain.

If Junior Galette leaves, who replaces him? While Galette did not light it up in the sack department, he put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He is likely to leave since he would remain behind Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan on the depth chart if he re-signed in Washington. Can they rely on 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson to take a giant leap in his sophomore season? Will they try to lock up free agent Trent Murphy and hope that he can bounce back from an ACL injury he suffered last August and regain his nine-sack form of 2016? I don’t see how they can rely on Anderson to suddenly provide pressure after recording zero sacks this past year. Whether it’s Murphy or another free agent, someone with a better track record has to be in the picture. If Anderson improves enough to move ahead of that player on the depth chart, so much the better.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

There is nothing quite like January playoff football and Sunday night's Vikings vs. Saints game further proved this point.

In case you have been off the grid the past 12 hours, the Minnesota Vikings literally got a last second win against the New Orleans Saints.

With 10 seconds left in the fourth and facing a 3rd and 10, quarterback Case Keenum heaved the football near the sideline to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who dodged two defenders while managing to stay inbounds for a 61-yard touchdown as the clock expired. 

It was one of the most remarkable playoff walk-off wins, if not the most remarkable one, in football.

So, where does it stand among the others?

RELATED: FORMER TERP PLAYS HERO IN VIKINGS' MIRACLE PLAYOFF WIN

Broncos vs. Steelers 2011 AFC Wild Card game: Remember Tim Tebow's 80-yard overtime touchdown to Demaryius Thomas during the 2011 Broncos vs. Steelers AFC Wild Card game? It was the first and last snap of overtime and it was wild.

Mile High Miracle: On third and three with 43 seconds left in the game, Ravens' Joe Flacco launched one towards wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who got in front of the Broncos receiver and ran the ball in for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown. The Ravens would eventually go on to win the game in double overtime. Some could argue it was the defining moment in the Ravens' Super Bowl run. 

Cardinals vs. Steelers Super Bowl XLIII: Under the brightest lights of all, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds in the fourth in the back of the end zone for a toe-dragging, Super Bowl-winning catch. 

RELATED: WHAT REDSKINS CAN LEARN FROM THIS WEEKEND'S PLAYOFF GAMES

Saints vs. 49ers 2012 NFC Divisional game: Sunday's loss wasn't the first time the Saints have experienced a fourth quarter letdown. Back in 2012, Alex Smith threw one to the endzone on 3rd-and-three with 14 seconds left that sealed a win.

While these are only a few, we can't wait to add more to the list in years to come.