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Redskins offseason Q&A: In McCloughan we trust?


Redskins offseason Q&A: In McCloughan we trust?

With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.

Will Scot McCloughan be the franchise savior?

The Redskins stunned everyone in early January when they hired Scot McCloughan, who helped build NFC powers in Green Bay, Seattle, and San Francisco, as their general manager. Since then he has made his mark on the team, bringing in six free agents on defense and doing some wheeling and dealing to be able to draft 10 players. It looks like McCloughan is off to a good start but can he build the Redskins into a consistent contender, a team that will annually be in the mix to win the Super Bowl?

Tandler: In addition to a noted eye for being able to evaluate talent, McCloughan brings a philosophy to team building, something that has been lacking in the rudderless Redskins organization. Even better, you can write it on a matchbook cover—“Big guys win”.

Armed with this guiding principle, McCloughan signed Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea on the defensive line and spent his first three draft picks on big offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, long-armed outside linebacker Preston Smith, and bruising running back Matt Jones. It all looks good right now but there is a long way to go before the Redskins become playoff contenders.

Whether McCloughan can get the Redskins there may well depend on if he can find a quarterback. If Robert Griffin III works out, that’s great but that’s far from certain. If the team is going to be in need of a quarterback it will be up to McCloughan to pick one. How well that player works out will go a long way towards determining the fate of the Redskins and likely will be the determining factor in how McCloughan’s legacy is ultimately judged.

El-Bashir: So far, I really like most of what McCloughan has done. He resisted the urge to throw around a lot of money in free agency, which would have been easy to do given the team’s many holes. That’s not to say he was cheap; he dipped into Dan Snyder’s wallet and made some solid signings. Just as important, though, he bowed out of the bidding for more expensive free agents when the dollar amount and term exceeded the value he placed on the player.

I also liked how McCloughan handed his first draft in Washington. He hoped to make 10 picks. And, thanks to a couple of shrewd moves, he ended up doing just that, while adding a sixth rounder next year, too. It’s far to early to declare this year’s draft a success, but drafting in volume and accumulating picks is a key part of McCloughan’s philosophy.

In the end, McCloughan stayed true to what has worked for him in the past. I saw that as a good sign.

But on the horizon there are some potentially tricky waters that McCloughan must navigate. The general manager didn’t hire the head coach, the starting quarterback or much of the front office staff—three of biggest factors in building a winner. That doesn’t have to be a problem. But it’s not ideal, either. If it becomes obvious that changes need to be made, will The Football Guy have the autonomy to football decisions?

Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy


NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.