Redskins

Quick Links

Jay Gruden explains why Redskins didn't target a nose tackle in the 2017 draft

Jay Gruden explains why Redskins didn't target a nose tackle in the 2017 draft

After months of hand-wringing over the state of the defensive line, the Redskins certainly addressed the position group in the NFL Draft. The first two picks went to the front seven, first with Jonathan Allen to play defensive end and second with Ryan Anderson to play outside linebacker. 

The additions of Allen and Anderson will boost the D-line immediately. That's clear. 

Yet it's also clear that the Redskins did nothing to address the nose tackle position. Even with 10 picks, and four picks in the last two rounds, Washington chose to again ignore the middle point of the team's three-man front.

It doesn't sound like it was an accident either.

"I feel good," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of nose tackle after the draft. "I think a lot of people don’t know the guys we’ve had here or the guys there were on our practice squad."

The "guys that are here" include Matt Ioannadis and free agent Phil Taylor. The practice squad guys would be Joey Mbu and A.J. Francis.

RELATED: 2018 mock draft has Redskins taking a QB

It's entirely possible Mbu or Francis can develop into rotational pieces at the nose. Both undrafted, Francis goes 6-foot-2 and 305 pounds, while Mbu stands 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds. They have good size and work hard, in the weight room and on the field. Still, neither player has a single start in two years in the league.

Ioannadis, who is 6-foot-3 and 309 pounds, did not make a start for the Redskins last season as a rookie. In fact, he was active for only 10 games and registered six tackles. For a fifth round pick, his impact was negligible. 

Then there is Taylor, the true wild card for Washington at nose tackle. A first-round pick in 2011, Taylor is a D.C. native looking to again prove he belongs in the NFL. He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons, and played just five games in 2014. Injuries derailed his career, but his first three seasons in the NFL, Taylor showed he could be a force.

At 6-foot-3 and 337 pounds, Taylor goes about 30 pounds more than the other possible Redskins nose tackles. And he's performed at a high level. As a rookie in 2012, he started 16 games, made 37 tackles and logged four sacks. 

"We added Phil Taylor. He’s an ex-first-round pick, had a couple of injuries but he’s looking good out here. He looks healthy and [he is] rolling," Gruden said. 

May is the time for optimism, and in Taylor's case, his return would be a boon for the 'Skins. He's signed to a minimal deal. If he can get back, and it's a huge if, could be true value for the defense.

Washington does not seem overly concerned about the nose tackle position. Remember Gruden explained at the NFL Owner's Meetings in March that he fully expects defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle.

"If you look at his track record, you look at the nose guards he’s had, none of them have been priority first-round draft choices," Gruden said of Tomsula. "He’s made nose guards. He coaches that position extremely well, and I have faith that he’ll do that."

Beyond what Gruden said about Tomsula, the quotes might reveal an organizational mindset about the position. Fans might overestimate the importance of the nose, or at least what should be invested in the position.

RELATED: DB draft picks have an uphill battle for roster spots

Consider that nose tackle is one of the most physically demanding positions in football, and add in that playing nose requires serious size, particularly weight, and it can be hard for guys to maintain their endurance while carrying 325 lbs. or more year after year.

On most defenses, resources get spent in two main areas: sacking the quarterback and defending the pass. The big money goes to the edge, pass rushers and cornerbacks. Those two positions also tend to dominate draft capital. 

The Redskins are no different. The highest-paid players on Washington's defense are Ryan Kerrigan and Josh Norman. The team's first two draft picks will be expected to pressure opposing QBs, and their third-round pick is a cornerback. The team also added two safeties and another corner in the later rounds of the draft while not drafting a nose.

The lesson? Gruden's comments, and the team's action made it clear: Nose tackle just isn't the priority that some Redskins fans want it to be. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Exclusive: JP Finlay sits down with Bill Callahan after the Redskins' first win

Exclusive: JP Finlay sits down with Bill Callahan after the Redskins' first win

Following every Redskins game of the 2019 season, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay will sit down with an exclusive, one-on-one interview with interim head coach Bill Callahan to discuss the team's performance.

Here's what Callahan had to say following the team's Week 6 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

JP Finlay: This time last week, you had just taken this job. A lot has happened in a week. You were able to get your first win. How does all of this feel?

Bill Callahan: It's been a whirlwind. It's been a tough situation. Bittersweet. It was great for our team to come away with a win in Miami. This franchise hasn't won on the road in Miami forever. To come away with a win in those elements, in the situation we were, with the heat and everything else, was tremendous for our team. We're looking forward to building upon that as we move forward to San Francisco.

JP: That game looked pretty in-hand, then Ryan Fitzpatrick comes in late and things get nuts. What was going on, on your sideline, late in that game when they go for the two-point conversion? How relieved were you at the end?

Callahan: I thought our defense did a great job stopping the two-point play. We took a timeout prior. We took what we call a 'Kodak,' we took a picture of that offensive formation for that defense before they came back to it again. They showed the same play twice. Kudos to our defense and what they did. I got help from the box. Kevin told me, 'hey, let's take a timeout here. Let's take a Kodak moment.' We had a timeout to burn there, so we utilized it, and it really helped out defense diagnose what was going to be anticipated, what the play was going to be at that time.

JP: Bigger picture now, you've got 10 games left. What are your goals? Obviously, you're climbing out of an 0-5 hole. How do you tell these guys what the plan is next?

Callahan: It's one week at a time. The way the division is right now, it's a little bit crazy. If we just focus on what we need to get done and improve from week to week, that's all we can control. The vision is, 'let's get better this week. Let's build on what did last week. Let's improve the techniques and the schemes and the game management items that we weren't as good as, or could have been good as in Miami and carry our focus.' That's our intention going forward.

JP: You've been very clear with it, and you stuck to it [against Miami], this team is going to run the football. Is that replicable when you're not going against the Dolphins? The Dolphins were giving up 40 points per game, you came out with 17. That won the game. Do you want to stick with that formula against a 49ers time that scores a lot more?

Callahan: Well, I think every game is different. This game coming up may be different than last week. We may take certain shots on certain downs and distances, and change our tendencies as we go forward. That's always fluid. I think that you are gameplan specific based on your opponent. Obviously, you want to take advantage of the things you can do. We will certainly focus in on that as we delve into the 49ers.

JP: Last week, much was made about when Bruce Allen talked about the culture at Redskins Park. I wanted to give you the opportunity; this team is yours now. How would you describe the culture of this team?

Callahan: Well, we're trying to establish structure. More discipline. Be more focus-oriented in the meetings and our preparation and on the practice field as well. We're a little bit more situational-oriented on the practice field. So that's a little bit of a shift. That's my personal thoughts. It's no disrespect towards Jay or anybody. I think anybody that would take over the team at this time would implement their own thinking, their own philosophy, and thoughts they believe could help improve the football team. All I'm trying to do is the best job for our team. I've got a lot of help from our players. I talked to our team captains, I get their input. I talk to our staff quite a bit, get their input. No man can do this alone. Trust me. There's a lot of help I'm grateful for, believe me. It's not about me, it's about our team. The more help I can get to help us win, I'm all for it.

JP: The situational football, the play call of that game, to me, was the play-action, down at your own goal line. Did you practice that this week?

Callahan: We did. I thought it was a great play, a great play call by Kevin. We're at first-and-10 at the minus-1, got stuffed. We came right back to the run-action pass, and what a beautiful ball by Case [Keenum] to Terry [McLaurin]. Great route, great stem. He separated beautifully on the deep cut, the throw was precision-oriented, and the offensive line and tight ends did a great job max blocking it. We were in eight-man protection.

JP: It takes some guts to call that down there. Any hesitation when you heard Kevin say it?

Callahan: Oh, no. Not at all. That was the right call. It was one that was planned. When you get in a backed-up situation, you want a set of plays, runs and passes, that complement each other. It was well-orchestrated, well prepared for, and well-executed.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Trent Williams rumor emerges from Cleveland but Redskins sources say nothing imminent

Trent Williams rumor emerges from Cleveland but Redskins sources say nothing imminent

A report emerged that Washington left tackle Trent Williams could land on the Browns roster in the coming days, but sources close to the Redskins front office told NBC Sports Washington that no move was imminent, though a trade with Cleveland was not ruled out.

Williams has not reported to the Redskins this year, holding out for both contract issues and personal issues. At least three teams contacted the Redskins about a possible Williams trade during training camp, sources told NBC Sports Washington, but the team did not engage in trade talks then.

Many with the Washington organization believed Williams would show up once regular season games started. He didn’t and based on his Instagram feed doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to coming back to the Redskins.

At 1-5, it makes total sense for Washington to move on from Williams. The team should get as much as they possibly can rather than continue with the sideshow of his holdout.

Redskins President Bruce Allen has said repeatedly he doesn’t plan on trading Williams, but things can always change. After a coaching change last week, perhaps the organization has changed its stance, too.

The deadline to complete trades in the NFL comes at 4 p.m. on October 29th. Sometime between now and then it seems possible Williams might be on a new team.

There was chatter, however, that other teams were scared off about Williams wanting a new contract. His current deal has two years remaining at more than $12 million per season, though barely any of that cash is guaranteed.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: