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Redskins Superlatives: These two veterans pick up the Most Likely to Become a Head Coach Award

Redskins Superlatives: These two veterans pick up the Most Likely to Become a Head Coach Award

This week, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will be handing out Redskins Superlatives as they continue to preview the 2020 season.

Next up: They give their Most Likely to Become a Head Coach Award.

Pete's pick: Alex Smith

If Alex Smith wants to be a dentist when his NFL career is over, I bet he'd become a successful one. 

If Alex Smith wants to be a pilot when his NFL career is over, I bet he'd become a successful one. 

And if Alex Smith wants to be an antique art collector when his NFL career is over, I bet he'd become a successful one. 

All of that is meant to illustrate that I think Smith has the smarts and the personality to excel in whatever profession he chooses when his football playing days are officially done, but if he wants to stay in the sport, I could see him becoming a respected and winning head coach.

Now, his press conferences may not be the most interesting, and he wouldn't necessarily be the kind of guy to light into his team at halftime with an epic rant. He'd be more on the reserved and quiet side of things, far from the likes of Jon Gruden and Pete Carroll.

But don't doubt for a second that he wouldn't find a way to get it done. Ask any Redskin who has shared a locker room with him these past few years about his leadership abilities. Then take the extreme adversity he's handled after his unfortunate leg injury and add that into the equation.

Smith is a special person. And if he ever went in that direction, he'd be a special coach.


JP's pick: Thomas Davis

A first-round pick in 2005, Davis has played nearly 200 career NFL games. He's made three Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro linebacker in 2015. He's played in a Super Bowl and dealt with major injuries. 

Any experience that players can go through, Thomas Davis has been there. 

And that might be why he projects best to be a head coach, especially considering how he talks about Ron Rivera in the role:

"He’s not a coach that beats you when you’re down. He’s not a coach that if you make a mistake or if you go out and you don’t have a particularly good game, he’s not that coach that’s going to be the guy that cusses you, he’s going to do whatever he can to lift your spirits and make sure that he motivates you to be better the next game. He’s not a coach that is going to go out and throw his players under the bus, he’s going to take full responsibility for whatever happens.”

Davis has seen his greatest successes playing for Rivera, another former linebacker. Davis has natural leadership abilities and an engaging charisma, similar to Rivera. 

Guessing what player will become a head coach is hard, and often, players that find a lot of individual success don't last in the gig. 

Davis seems different, though. As coaches say, Davis seems like he could be the guy to run his own room. 


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Redskins LB Thomas Davis has two pieces of advice for Chase Young, other young Redskins

Redskins LB Thomas Davis has two pieces of advice for Chase Young, other young Redskins

Thomas Davis is entering his first season with the Redskins, but he comes to Washington arguably the most accomplished defensive player on the roster.

The 37-year-old linebacker is a three-time Pro Bowler and was named to the NFL's first-team All-Pro in 2015. Entering his 15th NFL season, he's seen a lot of football.

As the veteran presence on an otherwise young Redskins defense, Davis was asked during the Redskins Offseason Update Live show on Monday what advice he has for Washington's young core, and in particular, top draft pick Chase Young.

While Davis did not necessarily single out anything he's specifically looking at from the No. 2 overall pick, the linebacker gave two pieces of advice that Young and the rest of the team's youthful defense can follow.

The first thing Davis stressed was how important it is to know the playbook.

"When it comes to being able to pour back into the younger guys on the team, it's all about pressing upon them the importance of understanding you have to know your playbook," Davis said. "First and foremost, to be able to go out there and play fast and compete at a high level, you have to understand what you're doing when you're on the field."


The Redskins, along with every team, have been unable to conduct in-person offseason activities due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the team went through a virtual offseason program starting in late April, where Young and his teammates got their hands on the team's new defensive playbook for the first time.

It's not just Young and the rookies that have to learn a new defensive playbook, either. With new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in charge and the team switching from a 3-4 base to a 4-3, there have been several changes made schematically to the Redskins defense.

The virtual format has forced the Redskins defensive unit to get creative on how to teach a new system over Zoom. Davis said that the defense has brought competitive energy to the Zoom calls and used the Kahoot app to quiz each other on the playbook in order to make sure everyone is staying on top of their information.

The second piece of advice Davis had, which was more directed towards Young, was emphasizing the fact that where you get drafted doesn't matter. Davis, who was the 14th pick of the 2005 draft by Carolina, pointed to his own career as an example of that once the draft is over, coaches don't care when you were picked.

"It doesn't matter where you get drafted at," Davis said. "I fell into that my rookie year. When I got drafted in the first round, I kind of thought, 'Hey, I'm a first-round pick, so I'm going to be a starter.' I started my first game, then I didn't start [anymore] until the next year."

Young comes to Washington with enormous expectations. Throughout the draft process, many called the pass rusher a generational talent. Some experts are even predicting him to break the NFL's rookie sack record.

While the 21-year-old may have plenty of talent and enormous potential, he does join the deepest unit on the Redskins, with Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat still in the fold. Young will certainly get his opportunities as a rookie, but the Redskins have plenty of other options should the pass rusher struggle in 2020.


Linebacker Cole Holcomb, a 2019 fifth-round pick, finished second in tackles for Washington a season ago. Matt Ioannidis, a fifth-rounder in 2016, led Washington in sacks last season. Kendall Fuller, who just inked a four-year deal with Washington this offseason, was originally a third-round pick by the club in 2016. Bashaud Breeland, a fourth-round pick in 2013, became an immediate starter for four years in D.C.

As Davis said, it doesn't matter when you get drafted. What matters is what you do once you are drafted.

"That's one of those things you got to understand," Davis said. "This is a professional league. This is a business. I got to make sure that I'm on top of my game."

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Position Group Rankings: Linebacker lacks star power but has potential to be reliable

Position Group Rankings: Linebacker lacks star power but has potential to be reliable

After each ranking the Redskins' position groups on a list that went from worst to best, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will now spend the rest of the week and weekend delving deeper into every spot on the roster.

Next up is a position group that largely looks the same as last year, except for one key addition: Linebacker.

Currently on the depth chart: Thomas Davis, Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson(?), Kevin Pierre-Louis, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Khaleke Hudson, Jared Norris

Who's in charge?: Steve Russ (three years of NFL experience; held the same role with the Panthers in 2018 and 2019)

Quick overview

Thomas Davis is the headliner here, as the 37-year-old is set to reunite with Ron Rivera. The two were together in Carolina from 2011 to 2018. 

Kevin Pierre-Louis and Khaleke Hudson are two more new faces who figure to factor in on the defense's second level, alongside returnees Jon Bostic and Cole Holcomb.

Reuben Foster is obviously the wild card. Right now, this unit has the makings of a reliable one. But if Foster can get healthy and suit up, he immediately elevates everyone's potential.


Pete's notes

*I'm a dumb blogger and podcaster, so I want to say that before I say this: I'm very high on what Thomas Davis can offer the Redskins when it comes to improving their culture, but not so high on what he'll do for them on the field every week. Again, I'm a dumb blogger and podcaster, so who am I to doubt someone who's been in the league since 2005 and coming off of a triple-digit tackle season? Ron Rivera and Davis absolutely get each other, and I think that synergy will be very useful as the former tries to set the tone with his new franchise. I'm just a bit skeptical of how much of an impact a 37-year-old can have each Sunday. But, just to reiterate one last time, I'm a dumb...

*Someone I am anticipating a lot out of, on the other hand, is Cole Holcomb. My major gripe with Washington's linebackers, and a reason I had them ninth out of 10 positions in our initial rankings (JP, by comparison, had them fifth) is that there simply doesn't appear to be enough athleticism and speed in the unit. Holcomb, though, is the exception. The fifth-rounder was far from perfect as a rookie, but he also popped plenty and is the lone guy in the corps who can really run with opponents and track people down. I can't wait to see how he grows under Rivera and Jack Del Rio.

*When it comes to Reuben Foster, I hope the Burgundy and Gold aren't planning on him contributing or even really holding out hope that he contributes. In my opinion, because of how serious Foster's injury is, the team should almost proceed like he's not even in the picture. That may sound crude -- they should involve him in everything they do this offseason and help him in his rehab and do what it takes to get him healthy, of course -- but he was a liability before severly damaging his leg last May. If he comes through, that really upgrades this spot as well as the defense overall, but that in no way should be the expected outcome. 

*Who knows if linebacker is where Khaleke Hudson ultimately takes the majority of snaps this year or in his career, but regardless of where he settles in, I'm a fan of his. He's undersized, which may prevent him from being a full-time member of the front seven, but he produced some gaudy numbers at Michigan and Rivera clearly values the kind of flexibility that guys like Hudson bring. The 2020 season may not hold much for Hudson as he transitions to life as a pro, but the years after could make the initial wait worth it.


JP's notes

*It's bizarre how Pete can barely grind out 300 word stories, but then you ask for some notes about linebackers and he goes 500 words deep. 

*It's not harsh to not consider Foster in 2020 planning. It's just reality. If he comes back it will be a great story, but the Redskins coaching staff has to prepare with what they've got.

*One name that hasn't been included here but maybe should be is Ryan Anderson. The 2017 second-round pick has talent, but so far, it hasn't been harnessed. Ron Rivera seems like he's trying to fix that: "Ryan Anderson is a guy that we obviously have to find a home for. We have to find how we can use Ryan with his particular skillset." Anderson is currently listed on the Redskins roster as a linebacker, and while at 255 lbs. he's heavier than most of the traditional LBs, he does seem capable of playing the run as a strong side backer on early downs. As the fall inches closer and the coaches try to figure out roles for specific players, keep Anderson in mind. 

*I like Holcomb, and for good reason. He's young and fast and a pretty good tackler. I like Davis. He's close to my age and has been incredibly productive for the last decade. Those two players have obvious roles at weak side and strong side LBs. The guy in the middle remains a clear question. Bostic? Maybe. He was somewhere between fine and pretty good last year. Pierre-Louis? Maybe. He's pretty much been a special teamer his whole career. Shaun Dion Hamilton? Maybe. But he was drafted by the previous regime and has struggled to stay healthy. That middle linebacker spot looks uncertain, at best. 

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