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Three and Out: Training Camp Week 1

Three and Out: Training Camp Week 1

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net

After a week of dropping a few pounds in the heat and
humidity at Redskins Park—pounds that those of you who know me know were ones I
can well afford to lose—here are my three random observations of Week 1 of
Training Camp 2005.

  1. I don’t know if Lemar Marshall if big enough to make it at middle
    linebacker, but it’s sure easy to root for him to do so. The other day he
    has his jersey and pads off and was talking to a group of reporters and,
    looking from 15 yards away, I thought, “Who is this receiver all these
    guys are talking to?” He not tiny, mind you, but standing there in his
    sweat-soaked Under Armor shirt, he just didn’t have the look that one
    associates with the likes of classic MLB’s like Butkus or Singletary. In
    talking to him, though, he seems to have the mental side of it down.
    Marshall has a quiet, intense personality like those of his new teammate
    David Patten and, going back a little further, Art Monk. Since Gregg
    Williams’ scheme doesn’t place as much importance on the size of the Mike
    man, emphasizing instead smarts and toughness, Marshall’s lack of stature
    and bulk doesn’t preclude success for him. As Marshall said, “It's not
    about your weight, it's about your heart."
  2. Kevin Dyson, the touchdown scorer on the Music City Miracle and the near-TD
    scorer on the last play of the Titans’ Super Bowl loss to the Rams, is
    also easy to root for but he is struggling on the practice field. He’s an
    engaging guy, quick with a smile and always willing to talk. On the field,
    however, he looks like what he is, a guy who hasn’t played much in the
    past two seasons (he missed most of 2003 with an injury and all of 2004
    after getting cut in camp). His movements are not fluid, he seems to be
    out of synch with the quarterbacks and his hands haven’t impressed. The
    good thing for Dyson is that his primary competition for the last roster
    spot at receiver is Darnerien McCants, who has had a severe case of the
    dropsies himself. The bad news for both of those players is that the
    performance of those two has opened the door for receivers like Jimmy
    Farris and Jamin Elliott to move up there and steal that last spot.
  3. Patrick Ramsey has been unimpressive. Not great, not terrible, just
    unimpressive. Don’t project that assessment beyond the first week of camp,
    it’s just for right now. It is based mostly on the longer throws, which
    are supposed to be both Ramsey’s strength as a quarterback and the new
    focus of the offense this year. Bombs tend to rely less on “chemistry”
    between the QB and his receiver than do shorter routes when the
    quarterback has to throw the ball before the pass catcher cuts. Ramsey
    seems to do fine on the deeper passes in pitch and catch stuff, where
    there is no defender on the receiver. The ball has a nice trajectory and
    the receiver doesn’t have to break his stride to run under the ball. When
    a defender gets involved, however, it’s a different story. The receiver
    has to adjust, the defender is able to make a play, or, most frequently,
    the ball is overthrown beyond the reach of anyone. It’s not like this
    happens all the time, but enough so that it’s disturbing. Nothing to
    portend doom and gloom here, mind you. It’s just something to look for
    when the start playing against guys in different-colored uniforms.

OUT!!

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Need to Know: Quarterbacks win championships and other lessons for the Redskins

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Need to Know: Quarterbacks win championships and other lessons for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 22, 51 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 43
—NFL Draft (4/26) 94
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 230

Quarterbacks win championships and other lessons the Redskins can learn

Quarterback matters: We had the setup of the three castaway and ridiculed quarterbacks leading their teams into the NFL’s final four. But, the two who survived were one of the greatest of all time and one who found his groove and had 10.7 yards per attempt and a 141.4 passer rating. Yes, Tom Brady and Nick Foles had a lot of help and we’ll get into that in a minute. But, without excellent play from their quarterbacks, it may have been a different story for the Eagles and Patriots. This doesn’t mean that the Redskins need to send truckloads of money to Kirk Cousins’ house, but if they don’t, they do need a quality alternative. You won’t win with Bortles-level play.

Defense matters: The Vikings rolled right down the field on their first possession and it looked like the Eagles defense was going to have a long night. But then Chris Long got pressure on Case Keenum leading a pick six that apparently energized the Philly defense. Rookie Derek Barnett knocked the ball out of Keenum’s hand when the Vikings were threatening to make a game of it. Minnesota came up empty in its last eight possessions. As the Eagles offense started to build a lead, their defense played faster and more aggressively. At this point, the Redskins don’t have the personnel or the mindset to play that way on defense.

Does running really matter? It’s a small sample size here but in the two games yesterday it did not. The Patriots ran for all of 46 yards. The Eagles got 110, but at the point in the third quarter where they took a 31-7 lead, they had 202 yards passing and 40 yards rushing. Running the ball was not decisive in either game. Offensively, the games were won in the air. Jay Gruden’s “pass happy” approach can be a winning approach.

Stay aggressive: At times during the year, Cousins expressed some frustration in the Redskins’ inability or perhaps unwillingness to keep the pedal mashed to the floor when they had a lead. I hit on the Eagles’ aggressiveness on defense, but their offense didn’t slow down either. They were up 21-7 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 29 seconds left in the first half. In that situations, the Redskins—and, in fact, most other teams—would run a draw, throw a short pass, and let the clock run out. But Doug Pederson was having none of that. Passes for 11, 36, and 13 yards got them down to the Vikings 20 and they kicked a field goal to close out the half. If the game wasn’t over then, it was early in the third quarter when Pederson called a flea flicker and Foles hit Torrey Smith for 42 yards and a touchdown.

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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What can the Redskins learn from the Eagles run to the Super Bowl?

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What can the Redskins learn from the Eagles run to the Super Bowl?

For Redskins fans, it's probably a tough pill to swallow that the Eagles are in the Super Bowl. Making matters worse, Philadelphia got to the championship game without their star quarterback Carson Wentz.

Beyond the feelings that fandom incites, which are real and severe, what does the Eagles' breakthrough season mean for Washington? Let's take a look. 

Perhaps the most incredible part of the Eagles' success is that wunderkind QB Wentz is not at the helm. The second-year player was an MVP candidate all season but got injured late in the year. Nick Foles, the Philly backup, took over and played well in both Eagles' playoff wins. 

Does that mean much, if anything, for the Redskins? 

Some will argue it means Washington should not look to invest top dollar in QB Kirk Cousins. Foles is not considered a top-flight quarterback and still was able to maneuver his squad to the Super Bowl.

Whether or not that argument makes sense, Redskins fans should prepare to hear a lot of it over the next two weeks. 

There is also a theory that the Redskins should eschew spending at QB in favor of spending on defense. 

That may very well be the right move, but don't look to the Eagles to support the theory. 

Philadelphia spent $47 million on the defensive side of the ball in 2017. On offense, they spent $56 million.

What is definitely true?

The Eagles played terrific football in the postseason, and catapulted through the NFC by playing the underdog role.

Redskins fans might hate it, but the Eagles absolutely earned their Super Bowl appearance. 

That doesn't mean Redskins fans have to like it. 

Philadelphia has never won a Super Bowl. 

Now, standing in the way of their first Lombardi Trophy: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. 

Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!