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How Su'a Cravens was utilized as a rookie illustrates Joe Barry's faults

How Su'a Cravens was utilized as a rookie illustrates Joe Barry's faults

Su’a Cravens’ first season was filled with indecision about what position he would play, and while there were lots of reasons Joe Barry got fired, the rookie second-round pick's positioning may have played a role.

Late in the year, Cravens announced via Instagram he would play safety in 2017, despite spending nearly all of 2016 at inside linebacker. That decision came against Joe Barry’s will, per a source with knowledge of the situation, after months of resistance to the switch. 

Drafted in the second round, Cravens came to the 'Skins out of a hybrid safety/linebacker role at USC. Mike Mayock of NFL.com gave the following analysis: "Cravens is an outside linebacker-safety hybrid. He's a really good matchup with pass-catching tight ends. They asked him to do a bunch of stuff at USC. This is a really solid second-round pick."

At Barry’s direction, Cravens started the season at inside linebacker and played the position exclusively. 

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Some within the organization wanted Cravens to play safety, but Barry insisted the rookie stay at inside linebacker. Eventually, a source explained, the decision to move Cravens to the secondary was made and Barry was forced to adjust. 

Though Cravens never played at safety for Washington, he was included with the secondary position group during practice at the tail end of the season. Should the ‘Skins have reached the playoffs, sources said Cravens would have played through his arm injury at safety.

Barry wasn’t wrong to want Cravens to learn the linebacker position. For a versatile player, he should know the calls and coverages of the defense. At the same time, the Redskins dealt with numerous injuries as well as some poor play at safety, and as the season progressed, multiple voices at Redskins Park wanted the rookie in the secondary.

Regardless, Cravens stayed at inside linebacker. That decision was not what got Barry fired, but it does show a repeated flaw of the former defensive coordinator. 

Early in the season Barry was slow to let Josh Norman travel to cover opposing team’s best receivers. Later in the year, Barry kept Kendall Fuller in the slot a few weeks too long. And for most of the season, Donte Whitner was a liability at safety. Either Cravens or second-year man Deshazor Everrett deserved a shot.

Liked by his players and most who know him, Barry displayed a continued reluctance to make personnel moves, and it might have been part of Jay Gruden's decision to move on. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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Jonathan Allen wants Jim Tomsula back - but he understands if he puts his family first

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USA Today Sports

Jonathan Allen wants Jim Tomsula back - but he understands if he puts his family first

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Redskins offseason thus far comes from the lack of change. Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden, Greg Manusky are all coming back. 

One name that is less certain, and is widely loved, is defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. 

For Tomsula, there is no pressure on him to perform better. His work in developing Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle probably ranks as the most impressive on the team. 

"Jim [Tomsula] is definitely my favorite coach I've ever had," Redskins defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said this week. "I don’t really count [University of Alabama] Coach [Nick] Saban because he wasn’t my position coach, but as a position coach, love Jim Tom."

The Alabama product's comments came during a charity even at National Children's Hospital, and they came during an interesting time for the Redskins defense. The organization spoke with a number of highly sought after defensive coordinator candidates in the last few weeks, but stuck with Manusky at the position. The team claimed, through an unnamed source in a Washington Post article, that the meetings were just to gain different perspectives. Interesting. 

Now that Manuksy is back, however, the future for Tomsula becomes one of the biggest questions for the club. 

It sounds like Allen is prepared for any outcome. 

"I don’t know if he will be back. I would love to have him back but he has a family, definitely he’s a big family guy and his family is in Florida," Allen said. "I can completely understand his reasons for not coming back."

Any conversation with Tomsula always centers around family. He's one of the few coaches that remembers reporters' kids' ages and often asks about them. It's a genuine thing for Tomsula, and it's impressive. 

He is also close friends with Manuksy, and the coordinator's return could help in keeping the fiery D-line coach. If Tomsula does leave Ashburn, he's already made a significant impact for players like Allen.

"Regardless what happens I wish him nothing but the best and I’m just glad I got to spend two years with him."

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Would pursuing Antonio Brown be worth it for the Redskins considering their QB situation?

Would pursuing Antonio Brown be worth it for the Redskins considering their QB situation?

The Redskins need a stud wide receiver. Badly.

Antonio Brown is a stud wide receiver. Undoubtedly.

So, Washington should pick up the phone, call Pittsburgh and figure out a way to work out a trade for Brown, right? 

It's not that easy.

There are plenty of obstacles between Brown becoming a member of the Redskins, as Washington would have to clear out quite a bit of salary to make room for him and also weigh whether he'll fit into their locker room.

Another thing worth considering, too: What's the point of acquiring Antonio Brown without a QB to maximize his talents?

There are serious questions about whether Alex Smith will play next season, or ever again. That means, barring a drastic move, the Redskins will go into 2019 with someone like Colt McCoy or an unproven youngster starting under center.

Sure, you could argue that Brown would make that passer's life a lot easier. He would, to an extent. But ask someone like Odell Beckham or Larry Fitzgerald what life is like on the outside, even as an elite talent, when the guy getting you the ball isn't properly equipped to do so.

Brown is one of the best pass catchers of his generation and will likely end up as one of the best of any era. Whatever offense he's lining up for next season will be better thanks to his presence.

However, this is a guy who's grown frustrated in a franchise that's made the postseason four of the past five years and is unhappy in a place where he's paired with a top-tier signal-caller. 

The Redskins, on the other hand, have neither the track record of success or a settled situation at QB, so it's fair to be very skeptical of how he'd handle a move to D.C.

Now, for this organization to break out of football's middle class, an area they're stuck in, going after a star and taking a risk is absolutely worth trying.

Unfortunately, the quarterback depth chart will affect every potential move. And when that potential move involves heavily investing in a premier wideout, the quarterback depth chart should probably dissuade anyone from ultimately making that move.   

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