Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 28, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
Question of the day
A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.
I’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up email@example.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please.
Today’s question is from Twitter:
@Rich_TandlerCSN #ntk how bad was special teams last season? Do you anticipate improvement? If so, how? If not, why?— Melanin Monroe (@SheriNotCheri) June 25, 2015
The Redskins’ special teams did improve last year but they were historically awful in 2013 so they were still among the worst in the league.
Per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders, the Redskins’ special teams DVOA (their metric for measuring a unit’s performance) was minus-12 percent. That was the worst in the league by almost five percentage points and one of the worst special teams performances since they started tracking these numbers.
Last year Washington’s special teams DVOA was minus-5.4 percent. That was better but still an unacceptable 29th in the NFL. It’s hard to celebrate it as a great achievement when there still are only three teams worse than you are in that category.
But improvement is improvement and all the Redskins can do now is try to continue to get better. I think the chances are pretty good that they can for three main reasons:
—They’re in a second year under Ben Kotwica—There is every reason to believe that Kotwica will be able to get the job done. The team improved under him last year with a minimal improvement in personnel.
—Jamison Crowder could be a quality returner—Andre Roberts didn’t scare any opponents last year, posting pedestrian averages of 7.4 yards on punt returns and 23.7 on kickoffs. He never threatened to break off a long return. Crowder has a quick first step, good speed, and solid instincts and should be a solid upgrade.
—Better personnel—As noted, the Redskins did little to enhance the personnel on special teams after the 2013 debacle. This year they brought in a few draft picks in addition to Crowder who know right off the bat that special teams will be a primary part of their duties, players like Kyshoen Jarrett, Evan Spencer, and Martrell Spaight. They also retained veteran Niles Paul, a special teams mainstay for the past several seasons.
We will see what happens. Injuries could take a toll and things might not click for other reasons. But there seems to be an active awareness of the problems and, hey, there is no place to go but up.
—It’s been 182 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 77 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.
—Days until: Redskins training camp starts 32; Preseason opener @ Browns 46; final cuts 69
If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.