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Need to Know: How hot are seats getting at Redskins Park?

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Need to Know: How hot are seats getting at Redskins Park?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 12, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 12
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 19
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 135

Four Downs

First down

In their last two games, both blowout losses, the Redskins have had one play that went for 30 yards or more. They are not that different from most other NFL teams in that they aren’t going to consistently grind out touchdown drives; there are too many chances for errors. “We’re not making any plays,” said Jay Gruden when asked why the team has struggled. “Offensively we made a couple of plays to get six points on the board but after that we missed throws, we didn’t target some runs right, we didn’t block at the point of attack correctly, we didn’t tackle, we didn’t make any spectacular plays, athletic plays like you are used to seeing this team make. When that happens, your offense is going to sputter.”

Second down

How hot are seats getting at Redskins Park? While it’s difficult to read the tea leaves there, I don’t think that we are looking at wholesale changes in coaches or upper management. Jay Gruden just signed an extension. Greg Manusky has only been on the job for a year. Doug Williams hasn’t even been through a draft or free agency cycle in his new personnel job. Special teams coach Ben Kotwica’s changes have played well the last two years and certainly, injuries played a key role in the struggles there this year. While it might be tempting to do some house cleaning after a disappointing season, the likely outcome is that the injuries give everyone a pass and we see what happens next year.

Third down

Bashaud Breeland didn’t exactly get benched against the Chargers but Quinton Dunbar did play more as the No. 2 cornerback. Dunbar played 47 of the 72 snaps and Breeland played 28. This could be one of the first moves we’ve seen with an eye on 2018. Breeland will be an unrestricted free agent and Dunbar will remain under team control as a restricted free agent. The conventional wisdom is that Breeland will be gone next year as he will command a contract in the $8 million to $10 million range. Dunbar has played plenty of snaps and has been in games during many key situations during his three years here so the move wasn’t that eye-opening. Putting in Dunbar was not as risky a move as putting in, say, Fabian Moreau would have been. The rookie has played just 54 defensive snaps all year.

Fourth down

Kirk Cousins’ 151 yards passing were the fewest he has had in a game that he started and finished in his NFL career. It was as unproductive a game as we’ve seen from him. After scoring a touchdown and then losing the ball on downs in Chargers territory in the second quarter, the Redskins had seven straight drives that ended with punts from their own territory. Of course, the problem wasn’t just the offense. As Dan Steinberg pointed out, this was the first game since 1978 that the Redskins allowed more than 480 yards while gaining less than 210. This team isn’t tanking to try to get a better draft pick but if they were, the Chargers game is what it would look like.

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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Report: Dan Snyder was leading Redskins pursuit of Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams

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Report: Dan Snyder was leading Redskins pursuit of Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams

Despite speaking with a number of hot candidates on the job market, the Redskins did not make a change at defensive coordinator. Greg Manuksy will remain in that role.

That doesn't mean the team didn't try, as multiple reports showed that Todd Bowles and Gregg Williams were priority targets for Washington. 

On Sunday, a CBS Sports report from Jason La Canfora said that Redskins owner Dan Snyder was the driver in pursuit of first Bowles and then Williams. The story also points out that the Redskins owner was leading the effort, not head coach Jay Gruden.

The story says Snyder put the 'full-court press' on Bowles and offered to make him the highest paid coordinator in the NFL. 

When Bowles decided to go to Tampa and work with Bruce Arians, Snyder turned his focus to Williams. From the story:

Williams and Snyder have a strong relationship from his years serving as coordinator there under Joe Gibbs, and his previous head coaching experience, in Buffalo and Cleveland, also made him attractive. The team set up a formal visit and interview with Williams after he was let go as the Browns interim head coach, but the sides never met. 

La Canfora also contends that Snyder making aggressive pushes for both Bowles and Williams might not be good news for Jay Gruden in 2020.

The 'Skins head coach has two years left on his contract that pays him $5 million per year. Gruden has been assured he will remain the head coach for 2019, but few NFL coaches work in the last year of their deal. A 'lame duck' year for Gruden would come in 2020 unless the team and coach agree to another contract extension. 

The Redskins have not made the playoffs in the last three seasons, and have not won a playoff game in over a decade.

If Snyder is frustrated, he has reasons for it. 

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Forget about the RG3 trade and realize that good teams are making bold moves for QBs

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Forget about the RG3 trade and realize that good teams are making bold moves for QBs

Forget about RG3 for a second. 

For some NFL teams, trading up for a quarterback actually works out well. 

That will be on display Sunday when Patrick Mahomes starts the AFC Championship game for the Chiefs. Two seasons ago, Kansas City traded up to draft Mahomes even though Alex Smith was on the roster at the time. 

The Chiefs gave up a first-rounder and a third-rounder to go from the 27th pick to the 10th pick and take Mahomes, and he's been dynamite since taking over the starting spot this year. He threw for 50 touchdowns this season and seems very likely to win the NFL MVP Award. 

The Chiefs made an aggressive move to get a franchise quarterback and it worked. 

They’re not alone. 

The Eagles did the same thing in 2016. Philadelphia moved up from the eighth overall pick to the second overall pick to select Carson Wentz.

The trade required the Eagles giving up additional picks, including a first-rounder in 2017 and a second-rounder in 2018, but the move has been great for Philly. Even with injury troubles for Wentz, the Eagles are committed to their young franchise passer, so much that they will likely lose Super Bowl MVP backup QB Nick Foles this offseason. 

In Chicago, a 2017 trade to acquire Mitchell Trubisky has paid dividends.

The Bears gave up a lot to move up just one draft spot to be sure they could get Trubisky, and this year, the Bears won their first division title since 2010. As a passer, Trubisky is hardly a finished product, but he's given the Bears offense some playmaking ability at the most important position on the field. Chicago's team is driven by a great defense, but Trubisky has plenty of upside. The Bears are certainly happy with the trade. 

That's a long way of saying that not all NFL teams regret trading up in the draft for a quarterback. 

There have been other examples where the trade doesn't work, and probably the most notable is in Washington. 

For one season, Robert Griffin III looked like the future of the NFL: A strong-armed, lightning fast quarterback that could beat defenses multiple ways. Early on, the league didn't know how to stop Griffin. Eventually, teams figured out how to slow the read option and RG3's body took a lot of abuse. 

It's now a cautionary tale, especially because the 'Skins gave up a lot to get RG3, but it's also worth pointing out that 2012 was their best, and maybe only, chance at real playoff success in the last decade. Griffin was the engine.

What does all this mean for the 2019 NFL Draft?

With Alex Smith's significant leg injury, quarterback is again a position of need for Washington. The draft has one elite QB prospect in Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, and then a number of other passers with upside but question marks. Is Kyler Murray big enough to hold up? Has Daniel Jones shown enough? Is Drew Lock accurate enough? 

Moving up to get Haskins would be a bold move for Washington. The team has a number of holes and could use a strong draft to fill them. Going to get Haskins would sap the organization of their stable of picks. 

The flip side is nothing can change the tide of an organization like a really good QB. How different were the Colts this season with the return of Andrew Luck? Yes, it helped a lot that they invested on their offensive line and defense, but an elite arm throwing the ball changes everything for a football team. 

It might not be prudent for the Redskins to try and go get Haskins, but it might not be dumb either. It would be bold. 

In a league where aggressive moves are becoming the path to the playoffs, maybe Washington needs to try strong actions. 

Go back to the Bears. A year after giving up a lot to take Trubisky, the team then gave up another first-round pick to acquire Khalil Mack. Mack's been a star for Chicago, turning their defense from good to great. 

Bold moves can work. 

There is a big difference, however, between bold and reckless.

It's hardly a sure thing the Redskins will take a quarterback in the first round, and even less of a definite that the club would move up in the draft for a QB.

Still, framed by the incredible success of Mahomes in Kansas City, the Redskins cannot approach the 2019 offseason scared of making a move for a quarterback.

What the team cannot do — cannot — is make a move just to create buzz. This is not a deep draft class at QB, and paying up for any player other than Haskins seems like a short-sighted investment. 

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