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'Something we really needed:' The Redskins secondary is committed to relearning the basics

'Something we really needed:' The Redskins secondary is committed to relearning the basics

After coaching in college for the past decade, Torrian Gray is now back in the NFL. But the Redskins' new secondary coach is still treating his group of defensive backs like college kids in at least one aspect.

You won't catch DeAngelo Hall rolling his eyes at the angle Gray is approaching his new gig, though. In fact, he fully supports how the assistant is going about things.

"Just seeing the players he’s helped bring up and produce and recruit, you know those guys have a good football IQ," Hall said this week during Washington's minicamp. "It’s something I feel we’ve kind of lagged a little bit in years past. We didn’t get a lot of that technique work. A lot of coaches, when they get into the league, tend to let guys kind of do it their way. They think, 'They’re professionals, let them do it their way.'

"He came in with kind of a college mentality," the veteran added. "Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good. For us, it was great."

Hall is the second DB this offseason to lament the way previous coaches instructed them. The first was Will Blackmon, who told the Washington Post in late May that he doesn't "count last year" as the year he switched to safety and that this season he's "actually learning football."

Count Jay Gruden among those who are welcoming Gray's methods, too. The Redskins' head coach backed up Hall's assertion that Gray differs from his predecessors and reiterated how necessary it is for the team's corners and safeties to focus on what's apparently been overlooked stuff. 

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"He's a fundamentally sound guy," Gruden said at a minicamp presser. "No disrespect to the coaches we had, they were more of the big-picture-type coaches and they're good coaches, but Torrian is more of a hands-on, fundamental technique guy and I think that's something we really needed to work on." 

Really? How about really? Since 2010, the Redskins have allowed opposing quarterbacks to put up the second-highest passer rating in the NFL. Only the Saints — a unit that every fantasy player in America hopes their starters will be lucky enough to face — have been worse in that span, according to CSN's Rich Tandler. 

That stat is just one example why a change in the manner the secondary is being managed, led by figures like Gray and new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, is being embraced.

Come to think of it, even some of Gray's answers in interviews are basic. The man knows how to stay on brand.

"All I want to do is give those guys information to have the best success that they can have," Gray responded matter-of-factly when asked how he'll aim to turn around the back end of the Redskins' maligned defense. "All I know is I like the talent that we got and the best thing I know how to do is just coach the guys and try to put those guys in position to have success."

Hall, who's busy rehabbing from a torn ACL, has remained a fixture on the sidelines and served as a primary witness to his immediate boss's early days on the job. So far, so good, he says.

"You see our guys competing every single play and Torian’s always reminding them, screaming at them and yelling at them, just trying to work on the basics," Hall observed. "I’m definitely, thoroughly impressed with him."

He's not just using his voice to reinforce his lessons, either. Gray admitted last week he held up a sign during a session in Ashburn that read, "Greatness is in the details," just in case it wasn't clear enough what he's all about. It remains to be seen whether his messages truly sink in, of course, but if they do, Gray's sure that they'll lead to better production. 

Really sure, actually. 

"If we're detailed," he said, "we don't have any other choice but to be great."

RELATED: EVEN WHILE HURT, DEANGELO HALL HELPS THE REDSKINS

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Need to Know: Will Zach Brown stay with the Redskins or go?

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Need to Know: Will Zach Brown stay with the Redskins or go?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 23, 52 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 42
—NFL Draft (4/26) 93
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 229

Five Redskins free agents—Stay or go?

Kirk Cousins isn’t the only Redskins free agent whose future with the team is up in the air. Let’s break out some imaginary casino chips and budget a maximum of $100 on whether each of the following free agents stays with the Redskins or plays elsewhere in 2018.

ILB Zach Brown—I’m starting with the toughest one first. He seems to be a good fit in the Redskins’ defense and he had a good year playing in it. The six-year veteran didn’t express any great desire to stay in Washington when talking to the media, but that is just the smart thing to do. At age 28, this probably is his best shot at getting a big contract and he may simply go to the highest bidder. If he has to go to his fourth different team in four seasons to get it, he probably will. $55 on stay

OLB Junior Galette—Galette still has the Redskins tattoo on his arm, but he might have to start calling it a buffalo nickel tat if the wants to get more playing time. He’s still grateful that the Redskins stuck with him through two seasons lost to Achilles injuries. But he can read a depth chart and he knows that his playing time will be limited as long as Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are around. $80 on go

OLB Trent Murphy—You can’t have too much pass rush. If Galette leaves, the Redskins could have too little if Murphy also bolts in free agency. Ryan Anderson may develop but he is not someone the Redskins can count on as their first option off the bench. It’s easy to forget the nine sacks and 45 pressures Murphy had in 2016 before tearing his ACL in a preseason game last summer. Although another team could swoop in and grab him, a one-year deal with some performance incentives should work for both sides. $60 on stay

OL Spencer Long—The easy talking point is that the Redskins will keep Chase Roullier at center, let free agent Shawn Lauvao walk, and have Long play left guard. But the word is that the Redskins are looking for an upgrade at LG in either the draft or in free agency. That would leave the 2014 third-round pick looking for a new employer. It’s possible that the Redskins will look for a replacement and not be able to find one who is both significantly better and affordable, leading back to Long. $65 on go

WR Ryan Grant—This is a simple case of Grant likely being worth more to the Redskins than he is to other teams. Jay Gruden and the other coaches appreciate his hard work in practice and his ability to line up at any wide receiver spot on the offense. After three years of learning, his work finally showed up on Sundays as he exceeded the combined production of his first three seasons with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns. It seems likely that the team and player will continue their mutually beneficial relationship. $75 on stay

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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Senior Bowl Preview: All eyes on the quarterbacks as Redskins must consider options

Senior Bowl Preview: All eyes on the quarterbacks as Redskins must consider options

MOBILE — Kirk Cousins remains the best option to be the Redskins quarterback of the future, but that future isn't very secure. For the past two seasons, Washington has been unable to get a long-term deal done with Cousins and optimism is low heading into the 2018 negotiating period. 

At this point, after consecutive franchise tags, it might be time for the Redskins to look at options beyond Cousins. Colt McCoy is under contract for 2018, and head coach Jay Gruden has repeatedly voiced confidence in the famed Texas product. 

Big picture, however, the Redskins need to find their QB for 2018, and beyond. Perhaps that will be Cousins, but it's time for serious due diligence. 

That means the Washington contingent heading to Mobile, Alabama, this week for the Senior Bowl needs to be watching the quarterbacks. And there's a lot to watch. 

Senior Bowl rosters are loaded with future NFL talent at all different positions. NBC Sports will have much more on that later in the week, but to kick things off, start with the passers. 

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  • 1) Baker Mayfield - Nobody will have a brighter light on them in Mobile than Mayfield. The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner made big splashes on the field for Oklahoma, posting video game numbers. He threw for more than 4,600 yards in 14 games to go with 43 touchdowns against only six interceptions. He completed a crazy 70 percent of his throws, which is very high for a college passer. There was some off-field immaturity, and a February 2017 arrest, but those issues aren't expected to cause him to slide in the draft. A number of draft experts predict Washington drafting Mayfield with the 13th overall pick, but there will be plenty of teams ahead of the Redskins that need a passer. Mobile will give the Redskins brass a chance to meet and learn who Mayfield is off the field, and that will be vitally important, along with figuring out if there are reasons to be concerned about his height on the pro football level. 
  • 2)  Josh Allen - Big arm and traditional pocket passer, Allen will ace the eyeball test from talent evaluators. His 2017 numbers from Wyoming will not, however, and he will need a strong showing at pre-draft workouts. Mel Kiper suggested Allen could go as high as No. 1 overall, and at 6-foot-5, 230 lbs., there is clearly not a lack of physical talent. In his last two seasons at Wyoming, Allen threw for more than 5,000 yards along with 44 TDs against 21 INTs. Don't try too hard to compare Mayfield and Allen's stats, as comparing the talent and situations at Oklahoma and Wyoming are wildy different. Many NFL scouts love Allen, but some worry about his accuracy. In college, he completed just 56 percent of his passes. He may be a boom or bust type pick, but after the success of Carson Wentz coming out of North Dakota State, teams will be more willing to roll the dice on the Wyoming Cowboy in Allen. 
  • 3) Mason Rudolph - Upstaged by Mayfield's success at Oklahoma, Rudolph put together a terrific season of his own at Oklahoma State. A prolific passer for three seasons in Stillwater, as a senior, Rudolph tossed 37 TDs against nine interceptions along with nearly 5,000 passing yards. At 6-foot-5, Rudolph faces no questions about NFL size, and he certainly has a strong enough arm to play in the pros. Rudolph won't be practicing at the Senior Bowl but is expected to interview with NFL teams. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has said before the interviews are arguably the most important part of the pre-draft process, and this could be a big meeting. Rudolph isn't expected to go quite as high as Allen or Mayfield, and could even be drafted in the back half of the first round. 

There will be other quarterbacks playing in Mobile, including Washington State's Luke Falk, Nebraska's Tanner Lee, Virginia's Kurt Benkert, Troy's Brandon Silvers, Western Kentucky's Mike White and Kyle Lauletta of the University of Richmond. There is some intrigue surrounding Lauletta and White, especially as small school QBs continue to thrive in the NFL and both passers have NFL size and play best from the pocket. Not for nothing, Bruce Allen played football at Richmond too. 

It's a little weird that both Allen and Mayfield are on the same team, splitting reps in practice and snaps in the game. Then again Allen might not even play, so it could be irrelevant. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the week for updates from the Senior Bowl. 

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