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Just Shut Up

Just Shut Up

Sometimes what is written here results in great acclaim for the author. Other times the comments are a mix of applause and contempt. The reader reaction to the entry about the Redskins’ limiting of public and press access to training camp practices, though, was something entirely different. I was told, in a variety of ways, and by almost everyone who commented, to shut up about it.

I do plead guilty one of the charges leveled at me by some readers, that I was “selfish” in requesting that Joe Gibbs open more camp time to observation. That is certainly true. The amount of time that the public and press can watch the Houston Texans’ camp practices is of zero interest here and there couldn’t any less interest in how John Gruden chooses to operate access to the Bucs’ camp. I only care about how much I can watch the Redskins’ camp because that affects me and people I know and converse with.

However, there were a few things mentioned about the concept of having fans at camp sessions or not that I thought were off base and I want to comment on them here.

First, there were some comments that the presence of a lot of fans and reporters during camp sessions will distract the team. First of all, it didn’t seem to prevent Gibbs’ teams from focusing enough on practice when they were winning three Super Bowls in ten years. And if you can’t focus in front of a few thousand friendly fans, most of whom are just conversing among themselves while trying to catch a glimpse of what’s happening out there, what’s going to happen on September 19 in front of some 60,000 hostile folks in Dallas who will be trying like crazy to distract you? Trust me, if you can’t block out the training camp crowd, you can’t even block out the friendly home crowd much less a fiercely hostile throng on the road.

Others expressed fears that writers, or fans, or scouts from other teams will reveal secret strategies that the team will be working on during camp. These fears are unfounded. Scouts from other teams are prohibited from going to training camp unless, as the Redskins did a few years ago, the team charges admission. Fans can’t see much. And if someone can find a single instance of a writer revealing a specific strategy that he unearthed while observing Redskins camp practices, before, during, or since Gibbs I, please cite that instance for me, because it will be the first one I’ve ever heard about. Remember, Gibbs always said that he changed about 40 percent of his offense from year to year, so it wasn’t like there wasn’t a lot of new material to be installed every year.

Another line of thinking was that if it leads to more wins, it was the right way to go. That’s would be great if it were that easy. If closing camp practices equals more wins, then why not close all of them? Why not hold them in North Dakota or someplace where only the most sophisticated satellite surveillance could see what’s going on. I’ve beaten the theme of Gibbs’ previous tenure to death here, so let’s skip over that easy one. Look around the league and you’ll find no correlation—zero—between the number of closed camp practices and the number of games a team wins. It’s just nonsense.

That leads in to another chorus of folks who said that if that’s what Joe Gibbs wanted then that’s all they need to know, it was fine with them. Now, anyone who has read what’s been written in this space more than once or twice knows that I am not one who is quick to be critical of the Hall of Fame coach. If anything, I’ve drawn heat for agreeing with his actions too often. I just think that in this particular case Gibbs is doing the team and its fans a disservice and perhaps he wasn’t looking at the whole picture when he decided to have so little of camp open to the press and public.

In what way is Gibbs doing them a disservice? Other than in the ways that I discussed on my original blog, training camp is the only chance that many—make that the vast majority of—Redskins fans have to see their team in person. With preseason tickets now being part of the season ticket package there is no opportunity to see them there. Training camp is the only opportunity.

And this leads to the point about the harm being done to the team. Maybe the Redskins don’t think that they need to attract and keep new fans, but they do. There is constant competition for the dollars and attention of the sports fan everywhere and Washington is no exception. The team has been hit from the south by the Carolina Panthers and from the north by the Baltimore Ravens and internally by the Nationals and Wizards. Many a casual fan has been turned into a lifer with an autograph and a smile from a Redskin player at camp and the loyalties of many impressionable kids have been sealed for life as well with the same.

One of the few readers who tended to agree with my position was a poster on the board who goes by Tennessee Carl. He summed it up better than I could:
When I was up at Carlisle, there were little ol' couples who'd been to camp with the Redskins since the 1960s. It was their vacation. How do you measure that sort of loyalty in your fan base? And don't you lose something when you close that door?

As I said earlier, give us Ws and nobody will care much. But we aren't winning. So when the franchise goes into seclusion and comes out with another crappy product on the field, it just breeds more fan alienation.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, has more respect for Joe Gibbs than I do. I just respectfully disagree with his stance here. And if I told him my opinion it’s very likely that he, just like most of the readers here, would tell me to just shut up.

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical, he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

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

Tandler on Twitter

In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly closing in on deal with new team

Terrelle Pryor reportedly closing in on deal with new team

Former Washington Redskin Terrelle Pryor may have found a new home after a tumultuous season in Washington.

The 28-year-old wide receiver appears to be on the way to the New York Jets for the 2018 season according to Ian Rappaport.

Last season, Pryor only played in nine games for Washington and was sent to injured reserve after Week 11. His season ended with ankle surgery and it closed the book on a short stint in the nation’s capital.

In his nine games, he never got on the same page with former Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins. Targeted only 37 times, the six-year veteran only had 20 receptions for 240 yards and a single touchdown.

This is coming after a 1,000-yard season on the dismal Cleveland Browns team that went 1-15 in 2016. As a free-agent, he signed with Washington on a ‘prove-it’ deal for one-year, eight million last off-season. He was expected to a significant amount of touches alongside Josh Doctson.


With so much anticipation it was easy to say that Pryor’s lone season in Washington was a disappointment.

If he does sign with the Jets, Pryor joins a New York franchise that is still continuing to rebuild. They currently own the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and are in search of a quarterback.  A year ago they finished 5-11 under third-year head coach Todd Bowles.

Transitioned to wide receiver in Cleveland, Pryor was drafted into the league as a quarterback.  He spent three seasons in Oakland (2011-13) all as a quarterback making 10 starts. In Cleveland (2015-16) he made the transition to wide receiver before going to Washington in 2017.