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Redskins need RG3 to be efficient, not spectacular

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Redskins need RG3 to be efficient, not spectacular

RICHMOND—Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III didn’t do anything spectacular during Friday’s practice. But he was quietly efficient, which is more like what the Redskins are looking for.

Griffin went seven for seven during full team drills according to those who tracked him. There was a long pass to DeSean Jackson but mostly it was a short dart here, a screen pass there.

Scot McCloughan spent the offseason trying to build a team that wouldn’t have to rely on spectacular quarterback play to succeed. He used free agent dollars and some draft picks to try to bolster a defense that gave up a touchdown per quarter on average last year. On the other side of the ball McCloughan spent the No. 5 pick on the offensive line in tackle Brandon Scherff and a third-round pick on running back Matt Jones. He also brought in one of the best offensive line coaches in the business in Bill Callahan, who also will coordinate the running game.

A good defense and a strong running game are a quarterback’s best friends. But the quarterback needs to embrace them and help the other elements of the game help him. A quality running game won’t do a team much good if the quarterback holds on to the ball too long trying to make a play and gets sacked. Second and 17 is not a running down. Nor does it help when the quarterback throws an interception that makes the defense defend a short field.

Griffin doesn’t get picked off an inordinate number of times but sacks were a problem in 2013 and, especially, 2014. No matter how strong or weak the offensive line may be, the key is getting rid of the ball in a hurry. On Friday, he did that for the most part. It needs to be noted that he is wearing a yellow “no contact” jersey and the players will not be in pads until today’s practice. We can’t draw any firm conclusions on his improvement in the sack avoidance department until the first preseason game in Cleveland on August 13.

For now we can look for signs that things are improving. We’re not very far along but it’s so far, so good. 

MORE REDSKINS: BREELAND INJURY NEWS BETTER THAN EXPECTED

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How did the Redskins end up as the favorites to be featured on Hard Knocks?

How did the Redskins end up as the favorites to be featured on Hard Knocks?

There's a solid formula to land on the HBO series Hard Knocks, and a rookie quarterback can play a big role. Last year, HBO picked the Cleveland Browns, and much of that was to showcase No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. Three years ago, HBO did the same thing with the Rams and Jared Goff. 

This year, the No. 1 overall pick landed on a team that can't be shown on Hard Knocks, as Kyler Murray will play for new coach Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. Teams with coaching changes are ineligible for the show, as are teams that made the playoffs the previous season. 

Well, the Redskins didn't make the playoffs last year and didn't make a coaching change. What other QBs were taken in the first round?

The New York Giants took Daniel Jones with the sixth pick, and the Redskins took Dwayne Haskins at 15. 

Hmmm.

For years, the idea of the Redskins on Hard Knocks seemed far fetched. Team president Bruce Allen is not particularly fond of the media or inside access for television cameras. Allen comes by that honestly, his father Hall of Fame coach George Allen liked to practice in complete secrecy. Like father, like son. And as much as HBO and the NFL can force a team to do Hard Knocks, if the team doesn't want to be a part of it, the access can be very limited. 

So, has that changed? Maybe. 

Oddsmakers have established the Redskins as the betting favorite to land on the show, with the Oakland Raiders and the Giants just behind them. Both the 'Skins and Giants have rookie QBs, but the reception around each rookie has been quite different. While generally, Washington fans are very excited about Haskins, the New York crowd seems non-pleased with Jones. 

The NFL rarely does things that upset the Giants, and in an offseason of turmoil for Big Blue, it's hard to see the team wanting the increased scrutiny of the documentary show. Between trading Odell Beckham, drafting Jones at six, and a series of odd quotes about Eli Manning's future, New York GM Dave Gettleman has become a national punch line. It seems highly unlikely Giants ownership wants their GM on national television, especially in an unguarded format like Hard Knocks, and usually, when Giants ownership wants something, they get their way. How many cold weather cities have hosted an outdoor Super Bowl again?

There's also the Raiders. 

Jon Gruden would be a star because he already is a star. The team traded for Antonio Brown, who is also a star. The Raiders would make great television.

But wouldn't they rather go on Hard Knocks next season when the team moves to Las Vegas? How glitzy is that? There won't be a coaching change — Gruden is armed with a 10-year contract — and the team should be better as their three first-round draft picks will have a year of experience. The Raiders on Hard Knocks in 2020 seems like a slam dunk. 

The Lions and 49ers are also options, but less appealing. Detroit is a perennial also-ran, and San Francisco lacks sizzle. 

So back to the Redskins. 

The team would be appealing for HBO. Washington has a huge fan base across the country, and the television network is already familiar with the team's Richmond training camp setup. In 2015, HBO chronicled the Houston Texans' training camp, and that included a trip to Richmond for joint practices. Everybody remembers that trip. 

But if the Redskins didn't want Hard Knocks before, why is this time different? Oddsmakers think things have changed, and digging in, maybe they're right.

By all accounts, the 'Skins had an excellent 2019 NFL Draft. They added their quarterback of the future in Haskins, and aggressively traded back into the first round to grab Montez Sweat, a potential beast of a pass rusher. The team also signed Landon Collins this offseason to an $84 million contract, and have pieces in place for a Top 10 defense. Offensively, Adrian Peterson is going into the Hall of Fame and second-year RB Derrius Guice should return from a knee injury to push for carries. 

Maybe, just maybe, the Redskins are willing to let HBO inside their walls because they want to brag a little bit. 

In the weeks after the draft, Allen did appearances on ESPN's First Take along with a host of national radio interviews. Stephen A. Smith interviewing Bruce Allen was wildly unexpected, and it corresponds to a noticeable increase in accessibility with the Redskins front office boss. Allen has conducted more media availabilities this offseason than he had in the previous two years combined. 

For all the talk of dysfunction that gets thrown around at Redskins Park, the reality is quite different. At least on the football side. The team did fire a number of high ranking business executives late last year after employing them for less than a season. That was an ugly scene.

On the field, however, things have been fairly steady for years. The team is aggressively mediocre in the Jay Gruden era, which is more stable than the franchise has been for the last 25 years. And Gruden would be hysterical on Hard Knocks, along with Rob Ryan and Jim Tomsula. 

Maybe going on Hard Knocks will change the perception around the team that owner Dan Snyder calls all the shots. Maybe going on Hard Knocks will get fans excited for the Haskins era, and get those fans to buy tickets. FedEx Field was noticeably empty last year. Maybe none of it happens too. 

Despite being the betting favorite, it is far from certain the Redskins land on Hard Knocks later this summer. But there are reasons to believe maybe this could be the year. 

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Redskins Depth Chart 2019: Position-by-position preview

Redskins Depth Chart 2019: Position-by-position preview

Coming off a 7-9 season and a disastrous situation at the quarterback position, the Washington Redskins look to move forward and improve next season.

After the Redskins made a splash in the draft by drafting hometown talent Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State and star end Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State, the team looks like they are on their way to do great things next season.

Here's is the outlook of each position coming into the 2019 season for the Redskins.

Defensive Line

Out of all the positions on the 53 man roster for the Redskins, the defensive line looks to be the best part of the team.

Led by Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis, the trio combined for 21.5 sacks and they are all under 25.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS DEFENSIVE LINE DEPTH CHART

Edge Rushers

Even with the team having Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson and Montrez Sweat, this position could give the Redskins some trouble coming into the 2019 season.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS EDGE RUSHERS DEPTH CHART

Linebacker

Reuben Foster can keep his act together and play well with former teammate Shaun-Dion Hamilton, the linebacking position should be in great shape for Washington this coming season.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS LINEBACKER DEPTH CHART

Cornerback

The question is do you pay Josh Norman the $15 million he's owed or do you use it on other resources.

The problem with that is there is not much on the depth chart after Norman so the Redskins are better off cutting the check to Norman.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS CORNERBACK DEPTH CHART

Safety

The Redskins made a splash in the off-season in this position when they signed Landon Collins from the Giants to a $45 million contract. The Redskins are hoping that Collins can duplicate his 2016 performance in New York when he made the NFL's All-Pro Team.

The only question at this position can Collins match well and play with the third-year pro, Montae Nicholson.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS SAFETY DEPTH CHART

Quarterback

The main questions about this are can 1) Can Case Keenum return back to that season he had in Minnesota where he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game and 2) How will Dwayne Haskins perform during practices and the preseason.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS QUARTERBACK DEPTH CHART

Offensive Line

The offensive line is not bad but it is not great. Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff are some of the games' best at protection and clearing space. Beyond that, however, the team needs work in the other three positions on the line.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS OFFENSIVE DEPTH CHART

Running Back

The Redskins running back position seems to be in good hands with Adrian Peterson. The 34-year-old showed last season that he still has something left in the tank as he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and more than four yards-per-carry in 16 games played. Behind Peterson, the Redskins have Chris Thompson, Derrius Guice, Bryce Love, and Samaje Perine. 

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS RUNNING BACK DEPTH CHART

Wide Receiver

A big question mark falls here for this position for the Redskins in that no receiver last season caught more than 45 passes or two touchdowns. The team lost Jamison Crowder to the Jets this offseason and declined Josh Doctson's fifth-year option, which means he could be out the door next season. The Redskins appeared to fill the void by drafting Terry Mclaurin out of Ohio State and Kelvin Harmon out of NC State but that might not be enough to help the team this season at this position.

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS WIDE RECEIVER DEPTH CHART

Tight End

The Redskins come into this season with two solid players that have question marks at tight end in Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. The concern about both players is that both of their gameplay has declined in the recent years and are due most of $19 million that is to be paid out to the position. 

READ JP FINLAY'S FULL ANALYSIS ON REDSKINS TIGHT END DEPTH CHART

Offseason Dates and Roster Change Deadlines

Mid-May: Redskins rookies attend rookie minicamp
Mid-May to Mid June: Redskins OTAs
Late July:Training Camp opens up
August 1: Preseason Starts with Hall of Fame Game in Canton Ohio
August 8-11: Preseason starts for the rest of the league
August 31: Rosters are cut from 90 players to 53
September 5: Regular Season kicks off the 100 anniversary season