Redskins

QBs to split more snaps for No. 15 Stanford

201210272055753314678-p2.jpeg

QBs to split more snaps for No. 15 Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) The competition to be Andrew Luck's long-term replacement is not as settled as it once seemed.

With Josh Nunes struggling to consistently move the offense, Stanford coach David Shaw said Tuesday that he plans to play backup quarterback Kevin Hogan more. Hogan will take about 12 to 20 snaps at Colorado on Saturday, putting pressure on Nunes to improve after several sloppy starts.

Hogan, a redshirt freshman, played only about six downs in each of the last two games. While most of that time has been as a read-option or wildcat-style quarterback, expect more passes and packages soon.

``He's not ready to take it all right now,'' Shaw said, ``and I'm not ready to take it all away from Josh.''

Nunes has started all eight games since the Indianapolis Colts selected Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. The redshirt junior completed 7 of 15 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown as Stanford squeezed past lowly Washington State 24-17 last week. He never found his rhythm, and at times looked lost.

The defense, which has carried the Cardinal all season, sacked Jeff Tuel a school-record 10 times, and Ed Reynolds returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to bail out the offense again.

Now the No. 15 Cardinal (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) head to Boulder to face the beleaguered Buffaloes (1-7, 1-4). Future playing time could be at stake with matchups against No. 13 Oregon State and second-ranked Oregon that will decide the Pac-12 North Division up next.

Asked if he'd consider starting Hogan should the trend for both quarterbacks continue, Shaw said: ``Anything is possible. Anything is possible, which is always the thing when you're going to give a guy more time at any position.

``We just can't have another half like we had this past game where we had 15 plays the whole first half. We have to be more efficient.''

Washington State, the only winless team in Pac-12 play, had 25 first downs to 12 for Stanford. The Cardinal converted five of them, only put together one complete drive all game, and Shaw spelled Nunes for five consecutive plays with Hogan between the third and fourth quarters.

Apparently Shaw has finally seen enough to audible from a formula that so often hasn't worked.

Nunes beat out strong-armed Brett Nottingham, once considered the favorite for the starting job, in fall practice. Hogan emerged late in that competition, and even though the depth chart still lists Nottingham as No. 2, Hogan has since passed the redshirt sophomore for playing time.

While Shaw said in spring practice he disliked a two-quarterback approach because it could disrupt rhythm, circumstances have forced him to consider otherwise.

``It's not so much a change in philosophy as saying, `This is what is prudent. This is what is the smart thing to do,''' Shaw said.

Nunes has completed 52.6 percent of his passes. Shaw has said all year he wants that figure to be at about 70 percent, especially considering Stanford doesn't throw deep that often.

Nunes has thrown for 1,620 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His struggles have been well documented in losses at Washington and Notre Dame, but so have his highlights. He led Stanford to a 21-14 victory against then-No. 2 Southern California, and rallied the Cardinal from a two-touchdown deficit to stun Arizona 54-48 in overtime.

Nunes has shouldered the blame for any offensive struggles.

``It starts with me,'' he said Tuesday, adding that he isn't bothered at all by splitting time with Hogan, and praising his budding backup. ``I just need to make the throws and be more consistent and get us into the right plays more often.''

Shaw also is quick to point out that not all the blame falls on Nunes.

Top wide receiver Ty Montgomery has missed three straight games with a lower leg injury, and he dropped two key passes in the loss at Washington, among others. Stepfan Taylor ran for a career-high 189 yards against Cal two weeks ago, but then the young offense struggled to create lanes against the Cougars. The senior ran for only 58 yards on 21 carries.

Hogan has seven carries for 16 yards in four games and has only thrown the ball once, connecting with tight end Levine Toilolo for a 9-yard touchdown in Stanford's 21-3 win at rival California.

Shaw said Hogan has an ``added mobility,'' earned more playing in practices, and has ``done exceptionally well'' with the small amount of offense he has run. Shaw said he isn't worried about the potential impact on Nunes' confidence and expects the move to only motivate both quarterbacks more.

``As I said in front of the team, this is big-time college football. There's competition everywhere,'' Shaw said. ``Josh has responded great in practice, and so has Kevin. It's not necessarily to compete to be the starter. It's competing for plays.'''

---

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Quick Links

Drafting a first round QB outside of the top two picks has largely backfired

Drafting a first round QB outside of the top two picks has largely backfired

Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes are two quarterbacks who were taken in the middle of the 2017 NFL Draft's first round, and they serve as two recent examples that you don't have to have a pick at the top of that round to land a star passer.

Problem is, they're basically the only recent examples, too.

In the past decade, teams who've tried to find their franchise signal-caller in the first round outside of either the first or second pick have failed time and time again. Since 2009, those prized QBs have mostly been selected No. 1 or No. 2 overall or mined beyond the first round. 

The following list, compiled by Redskins Talk co-host Mitch Tischler, shows how many mediocre to straight-up bad options franchises have found using picks 3-32:

  • Mark Sanchez — 2009 pick No. 5 — 37-36 career record
  • Josh Freeman — 2009 pick No. 17 — 25-36 career record
  • Tim Tebow — 2010 pick No. 25 — 8-6 career record
  • Jake Locker — 2011 pick No. 8 — 9-14 career record
  • Blaine Gabbert — 2011 pick No. 10 — 13-35 career record
  • Christian Ponder — 2011 pick No. 12 — 14-21-1 career record
  • Ryan Tannehill — 2012 pick No. 8 —42-46 career record
  • Brandon Weeden — 2012 pick No. 22 — 6-19 career record
  • EJ Manuel — 2013 pick No. 16 — 6-12 career record
  • Blake Bortles — 2014 pick No. 3 — 24-49 career record
  • Johnny Manziel — 2014 pick No. 22 — 2-6 career record
  • Paxton Lynch — 2016 pick No. 26 — 1-3 career record
  • Patrick Mahomes — 2017 pick No. 10 — 13-4 career record
  • Deshaun Watson — 2017 pick No. 12 — 14-8 career record
  • Sam Darnold — 2018 pick No. 3 — 4-9 career record
  • Josh Allen — 2018 pick No. 7 — 5-6 career record
  • Josh Rosen — 2018 pick No. 10 — 3-10 career record
  • Lamar Jackson — 2018 pick No. 32 — 6-1 career record
     

That list is one the Redskins — who own the 15th pick in the 2019 draft and who are beginning to be linked heavily to Kyler Murray — should pay close attention to.

The 2018 class is too young to judge, and as mentioned earlier, the 2017 class is providing quality returns. But none of the other names on that list have turned into anything useful, not to mention anything resembling special.

Of course, if you go back farther into the past, you'll find that QBs like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers were snagged during the meat of the first round, so it's not impossible. However, the last 10 years have shown it can be very difficult to nail a pick in that range.

The logic feels simple: The truly elite talents, such as Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, are snatched up immediately. The QBs who are found in the mid- to late rounds, meanwhile, are given more time to develop and/or find themselves on rosters that have been built up more.

Those non-elite first-rounders, on the other hand, are generally caught in between: not skilled enough to help turn around a team singlehandedly but, because they're high investments, they're forced into those tough situations and end up floundering.

There's no doubt that the 'Skins need a new hope under center. Where they should commit to that hope, though, is something that must be considered.  

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

Dozier and Long a match made in launch angle heaven

briandozier.jpg
USA Today Sports

Dozier and Long a match made in launch angle heaven

Brian Dozier came to a realization following his rookie season in 2012. Why not hit the ball more often in the air and accentuate a strength? Instead of drilling to fix a weakness -- like opposite-field hitting or even ground ball rate -- choose to club away, in the air, to the pull side, as often as possible.

No en vogue terminology explained Dozier’s pursuit of six years ago. Omnipotent terms like “launch angle” remained shrouded and in development. Dozier didn’t need a phrase. He just needed to do what worked more often.

The idea took with career-altering results. Dozier hit 18 home runs, then 23, then 28, then 42. Pull-side fly balls turned him into an All-Star and commodity at second base. His new one-year deal with the Nationals brings him a hitting coach who is elated by the idea of hitting up and over.

Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long is the effervescent patriarch of launch angle. “We want to hit it over the shift,” Long will tell anyone willing to listen. Do damage, hit bombs, whatever slang term is preferred. Just hit the ball in the air. On the ground equals outs. In the air produces runs.

Melding a second baseman in search of a reboot after a down year with a hitting coach who is going to trumpet a cause the infielder already backed could be a powerful formula.

“When I changed my approach at the end of 2012 going into 2013, there was no launch angle, any of that stuff, but looking back at it now that’s kind of exactly what it was,” Dozier said Tuesday on a conference call. “We just didn’t have a name for it. “[It’s] recognizing your strength and doing everything you can to be really good at your strength rather than try to tweak weaknesses and stuff. And one of those strengths for me is hitting the ball in the air to left field, left-center field. Once I kind of got that part of it, I really enjoyed doing that. It’s going to be a fun year with a hitting coach that kind of sees the same thing, whether your strength is hitting the ball in the air or hitting the ball the other way, I believe in really honing into your strength and really running with that. Some guys’ strengths aren’t hitting the ball in the air, which is fine.”

The numbers coinciding with Dozier’s rise from eighth-round pick to among the league leaders in homers from 2014-2017 are stark. His fly ball rate increased year after year until peaking in 2016 at 47.7 percent, the same season he hit 42 home runs. His 120 OPS-plus in that span showed what kind of work he performed in Minnesota’s cool and spacious Target Field.

However, 2018 brought a significant recession when an April bone bruise in his left knee hindered him throughout the season. Tuesday, Dozier explained the importance of load bearing and stability from his front leg in order to execute his upward swing. Instead of landing on the front of his foot, the knee bruise pushed him back to his heel, opening his hips early. Grizzly results followed: 21 homers, a .215 average, sub-.700 OPS.

Dozier said Tuesday his knee is healed. Finally receiving a break from baseball following the World Series allowed him to recover. That’s also when he had to decide his future. Dozier wasn’t sure how the market would react to his down season following years of being one of the heaviest second base bats in baseball. He said he received multiple offers -- some providing more years and money than the Nationals’ one-year, $9 million deal he settled on -- before selecting Washington. Conversations with his ex-Minnesota teammate Kurt Suzuki, in his second stint with the Nationals, and former Washington outfielder Josh Willingham, who played with Dozier in Minnesota, too, helped sway his decision.

“It just seemed like a really good fit,” Dozier said.

That is applicable to this coming partnership between Dozier and Long. In the air, often and to the pull side. It’s a subtle pairing that could help Dozier return to the 30-home run mark, and the Nationals to receive inexpensive bop from an infield spot.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: