Chemistry.Its a word that gets tossed around a lot when discussing NFL field goal and punting units. Yet it remains hard to define and, for some teams, can prove elusive.After adding kicker Billy Cundiff on Aug. 28, the Redskins field goal kicking operation found its groove last week. Now, though, the unit must start all over again as Justin Snow replaces Sundberg, who broke his arm against the Saints on Sunday.Obviously, two out of the three of us are new in just last two or three weeks, said Snow, who was signed Tuesday. Billy got a rhythm with Nick and Sav, and now its all changing again.What shouldnt be underestimated is the importance of the connection between snapper, holder and kicker. Or, for that matter, snapper and punter.Against the Saints, the Redskins field goal unit had no issues as Cundiff made all four of his attempts and four more PATs in a 40-32 victory at the Superdome.But on Monday night, an injury to Pro Bowl snapper Jon Condo cost the Raiders a game. Oakland was forced to use to an ill-prepared backup, who rolled two snaps to the punter and botched another. The miscues led directly to a 22-14 loss to the Chargers.A lot of times it gets overlooked until a situation like that happens, Snow said of the importance of long snappers. Then you end up losing a game. Theres only one of us, and unless you have a great backup, that can happen.Rocca said Snows snaps on punts shouldnt be a problem, given Snows experience. Field goals? Well, thats something else entirely because of all of the moving parts.Its timing, Rocca said. There is a moment where I look away, then look back at the snapper. Once we get all that timing down, that shouldnt be a factor. Its just those couple of days where we iron out all the creases."Snow knows. Hes used to it all, Rocca added before making a joke about getting a new kickerandsnapper less than a month: It keeps things interesting, thats for sure.Of the three, Snow, 35, figures to have the most information to process.Its all the same snap, he said. But you have different language, different verbiage. You have to learn what their calls are, what to expect, just figure out that chemistry with the others.Then theres the actual snap.How far back does the holder need to be to catch 12 oclock laces? Snow continued. The guards on the punt team, figuring out the blocking scheme. Its all the same, but its different as well.Snow, who was unceremoniously released by the Colts after 12 seasons in Indianapolis on cutdown day last month, beat out five other snappers to fill the Redskins opening. Sundberg was granted the teams only injured reserve exception and is expected to take back his spot when his arm heals.For me, I just know I have to perform, Snow said about the temporary nature of his job. Thats all I can control.Cundiff said it took about a week to get comfortable with Sundbergs snaps and Roccas teeing up the ball after he arrived in Washington. He expects the same timeframe with Snow entering the equation.My mantra since I got here essentially is, Be comfortable being uncomfortable, Cundiff said. So, if you start working backward, it took about four times working together before we really started clicking.This week, he added, well probably get two times in practice, then the game will be the third time. So it will be really close.How close? Well find out Sunday.
The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries.
Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday.
"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."
Williams' words were true, and telling.
First the true part:
- In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.
Now the telling part:
- The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure.
That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.
That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent.
"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said.
Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018.
When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.
"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.
"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."
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The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down.
Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely.
“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said.
Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone.
“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”
The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick.
“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”
Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day.
Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done.
“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”
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