With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, CSNWashington.com reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.
Will Scot McCloughan be the franchise savior?
The Redskins stunned everyone in early January when they hired Scot McCloughan, who helped build NFC powers in Green Bay, Seattle, and San Francisco, as their general manager. Since then he has made his mark on the team, bringing in six free agents on defense and doing some wheeling and dealing to be able to draft 10 players. It looks like McCloughan is off to a good start but can he build the Redskins into a consistent contender, a team that will annually be in the mix to win the Super Bowl?
Tandler: In addition to a noted eye for being able to evaluate talent, McCloughan brings a philosophy to team building, something that has been lacking in the rudderless Redskins organization. Even better, you can write it on a matchbook cover—“Big guys win”.
Armed with this guiding principle, McCloughan signed Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea on the defensive line and spent his first three draft picks on big offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, long-armed outside linebacker Preston Smith, and bruising running back Matt Jones. It all looks good right now but there is a long way to go before the Redskins become playoff contenders.
Whether McCloughan can get the Redskins there may well depend on if he can find a quarterback. If Robert Griffin III works out, that’s great but that’s far from certain. If the team is going to be in need of a quarterback it will be up to McCloughan to pick one. How well that player works out will go a long way towards determining the fate of the Redskins and likely will be the determining factor in how McCloughan’s legacy is ultimately judged.
El-Bashir: So far, I really like most of what McCloughan has done. He resisted the urge to throw around a lot of money in free agency, which would have been easy to do given the team’s many holes. That’s not to say he was cheap; he dipped into Dan Snyder’s wallet and made some solid signings. Just as important, though, he bowed out of the bidding for more expensive free agents when the dollar amount and term exceeded the value he placed on the player.
I also liked how McCloughan handed his first draft in Washington. He hoped to make 10 picks. And, thanks to a couple of shrewd moves, he ended up doing just that, while adding a sixth rounder next year, too. It’s far to early to declare this year’s draft a success, but drafting in volume and accumulating picks is a key part of McCloughan’s philosophy.
In the end, McCloughan stayed true to what has worked for him in the past. I saw that as a good sign.
But on the horizon there are some potentially tricky waters that McCloughan must navigate. The general manager didn’t hire the head coach, the starting quarterback or much of the front office staff—three of biggest factors in building a winner. That doesn’t have to be a problem. But it’s not ideal, either. If it becomes obvious that changes need to be made, will The Football Guy have the autonomy to football decisions?
Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:
- Who will start at strong safety?
- Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- Who will be the third down back?
- Which rookie will have the most impact?
- How will the carries be divvied up?
- What will the QB depth chart look like?
- Who will the third running back be?
- Which free agent will have the most impact?
- Which new assistant coach will have the biggest impact?
- What team is the biggest threat to win the NFC East?
- Will Jason Hatcher live up to his contract?
- Who will be the training camp phenom?
- What will the cornerback depth chart look like?