Rich Tandlers five thoughts possibly related to the Washington Redskins and other matters (special rookie minicamp edition).5. It wasnt stunning news when Shanahan said yesterday that Robert Griffin III will be working with the first-team offense when the offseason program resumes on May 14. Still, it was important to have the coach say, Hes the starter, period. It was also interesting to hear Shanahan talk about tailoring the offense to what Griffin is comfortable with. Of course, Donovan McNabb and other critics dont think that Shanahan is capable of adjusting because ego will get in the way. Words are one thing and how the development of Griffin actually plays out is another. Not much is at stake here, just the teams success or failure over the next decade or so.4. Will Josh LeRibeus challenge Will Montgomery at center? The Redskins third-round pick spent most of the weekend snapping the ball to Griffin and Mike Shanahan said that he is capable of playing either guard or center. Montgomery got a 2.5 million roster bonus to re-sign before free agency started so he is not going anywhere this year. However, a bonus like that is not a guarantee of a starting job. It seems likely that either the rookie or Montgomery will be the starting center and the other will be a reserve at both center and guard. Its likely that Monty is the starter when the season begins but he will have to battle to hold off LeRibeus.3. Ill have a post on rookie linebacker Keenan Robinson coming up in the next day or two, I talked with him while he was coming off of the field on Sunday. He probably wont see much action on defense this year or maybe even next year. But he plans on doing what Perry Riley did, which was to glom on to London Fletcher and absorb as much knowledge as he could. It got Riley into the starting lineup a year and a half after the Redskins drafted him in the fourth round in 2010. It might take Robinson a bit longer to crack the first team as Fletcher is likely to be around for two more years but if the athletic ex-Longhorn is a student of the game and an enthusiastic pupil of Fletchers he should be ready to go when his turn comes.2. Look for a post about running back Alfred Morris, too. He grew up a Redskins fan so he was thrilled to be drafted by Washington. Last Saturday, Shanahan said that Morris is a tailback but he did line up at fullback from time to time during drills on Sunday. Since there is no backup to Darrel Young currently on the roster, Morris could enhance his chances of making the team and contributing this year if he can fill both roles. At 5-9, 219 he has the size to play fullback.1. Circling back to RG3, its easy to go overboard at how a quarterback looks when hes in shorts, not playing against a pass rush, and his receivers are either uncovered or guarded by someone who is unlikely to ever see a regular-season NFL snap. But Griffin did look the part of an NFL quarterback out there. His passes had zip and, for the most part, accuracy. For a quarterback who rarely played under center at Baylor, his footwork during his dropbacks was excellent. It seems apparent that he did a lot of work prior to the draft to get ready. This by no means indicates that he is a sure thing to be an NFL star. But it is a good start.Days until: OTAs start 14; minicamp 35; preseason opener 94; Redskins at Saints 125Rich Tandler blogs about the Redskins at www.RealRedskins.com. You can reach him by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.
We don’t know if there will be major changes on the Redskins if they don’t make the playoffs this year but getting into the postseason and getting a win when they get there would make a decision to keep going in this direction very easy.
Yes, a lot of the pressure lies on the shoulders of Jay Gruden but winning games usually comes down to the players on the field. How do the players the Redskins have today compare to those on the last team that made the playoffs?
Here are the players who started in the last playoff game that involved the Redskins, a 35-20 Wild Card round home loss to the Packers, side-by-side with the anticipated starting lineup for the 2018 season with some unscientific comparison of the quality of the two teams.
Position—2015 starter, 2018 starter
LT—Trent Williams, Williams
LG—Spencer Long, Shawn Lauvao
C—Kory Lichtensteiger, Chase Roullier
RG—Brandon Scherff, Scherff
RT—Morgan Moses, Moses
How do the 2018 versions of Williams, Moses, and Scherff compare to the ones who started the playoff game? They’ll be about three years older but they have gained valuable experience. Remember that Lichtensteiger was activated off of injured reserve the week before the playoff game after missing 11 games with a neck injury so he was not close to 100 percent against the Packers. Josh LeRibeus was center for most of the year. Roullier is at least a good as he was. Long is no All-Pro but he is better than Lauvao. Comparison: Even
Offensive backs and receivers
Position—2015 starter, 2018 starter
QB—Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith
RB—Alfred Morris, Derrius Guice
WR—Jamison Crowder, Crowder
WR—Pierre Garçon, Josh Doctson
WR—DeSean Jackson, Paul Richardson
TE—Jordan Reed, Jordan Reed
We can debate Smith vs. Cousins all day but we really won’t know until they start playing games. Guice has the potential to be better than the 2015 version of Morris, who averaged 3.7 yards per carry while gaining 751 yards. Reed has his best season in 2015 with 87 receptions for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was arguably the best tight end in the game in 2015. Reed has to demonstrate that he can be that guy again. Crowder will be better than he was as a rookie but there are clear downgrades at the wide receiver positions. Comparison: Edge to 2015
Position—2015 starter, 2018 starter
DE—Chris Baker, Matt Ioannidis
NT—Terrance Knighton, Daron Payne
DE—Jason Hatcher, Jonathan Allen
ILB—Mason Foster, Foster
ILB—Will Compton, Zach Brown
OLB—Ryan Kerrigan, Kerrigan
OLB—Trent Murphy, Preston Smith
I don’t think we need to go into much discussion here to sort out which team has the better front seven. The interior line plus Brown makes this year’s front clearly superior. Comparison: Solid edge to 2018
Position—2015 starter, 2018 starter
CB—Will Blackmon, Josh Norman
CB—Bashaud Breeland, Quinton Dunbar
SS—DeAngelo Hall, Montae Nicholson
FS—Dashon Goldson, D.J. Swearinger
Breeland was very good in 2015, tallying two interceptions, three forced fumbles, and two recoveries. Dunbar could be a downgrade but I don’t think he’ll be a significant one. This year’s team is clearly better off at the other three positions. Comparison: Solid edge to 2018
If defense wins championships then you have to give the overall edge to this year’s team. But the offense will be important and Smith, Guice, and the wide receivers will need to come through if the Redskins are going to play a game in January of 2019.
More 2018 Redskins
Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 25, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.
Fan questions—The secondary
The last few seasons our secondary has been in rough shape. With injuries and lack of depth we were trying anyone out with a heartbeat. I've heard allot of good things so far this yr. Do you think we've gotten better even with the loss of Fuller?— BRuss (@Allhail76) June 22, 2018
To be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the secondary and we’ll get into those in a bit. But the popular notion that the secondary struggled last year is not accurate.
Do you want to go standard stats? They were ninth in the league in passing yards allowed and 10th in opponent passer rating last year.
Do you prefer more advanced analytics? They were sixth in defensive passing DVOA and 11th in adjusted net yards per attempt.
That’s not a great pass defense but it was a pretty good one. It should be noted that they also benefited from a solid pass rush; they were seventh in the league in sack percentage. Still, you don’t finish in the top third of the league in pass defense without at least a competent secondary.
The question is, will it remain competent? Kendall Fuller was indeed a key player, one of the best slot corners in the league. Bashaud Breeland was inconsistent, but he did shine on occasion. But the fact that he is still available as a free agent indicates what the league thinks of him, problems passing the physical notwithstanding. Those two will have to be replaced.
It is likely that Quinton Dunbar will take Breeland’s spot on the outside. That is at worst a lateral exchange if not an improvement. Dunbar has been working for three years to get this opportunity and there is confidence among the coaches and, perhaps more importantly, the players that he is ready.
Orlando Scandrick is the probable starter at slot. He is a downgrade from Fuller, no question about it. If he is healthy—a big if—Scandrick is good enough to get the job done. Don’t let the star he wore on the side of his helmet for so many years blind you to the fact that he’s a solid player.
The depth at slot consists of second-year player Josh Holsey, who played all of nine snaps on defense last year, and rookie Greg Stroman. That’s not ideal but most of the other teams in the NFL have a similar depth chart.
The wild card who could be the difference between this secondary being better than last year or worse is Fabian Moreau. He played only 59 defensive snaps as a rookie but he did show off his speed and hard-hitting style on some of his 349 special teams snaps. During the offseason practices that were open to the media, Moreau was mostly Josh Norman’s backup at left cornerback. The feeling is that he won’t remain a reserve. We will have to see how things sort out during training camp.
There should be some improvement at safety if Montae Nicholson figures out how to stay on the field in his second year. If he struggles with injuries again and Deshazor Everett has to line up alongside D.J. Swearinger for a good chunk of the season, the safeties are no worse off because that's what happened last year.
The bottom line is that a secondary that was good last year may take a step down in 2018 but the decline should not be steep. And if Moreau can be the player the organization thought he could be when they used a third-round pick for him, it could be just as good if not better.
Tandler on Twitter
I tweeted this in response to a discussion about the relative popularity of the NFL and NBA. Albert Breer’s tweet on the TV ratings for the leagues’ respective drafts was the nexus of the discussion.
As long as the NBA regular season remains essentially meaningless and only two or three teams can realistically win the title, a sizable gap will remain.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) June 23, 2018
Redskins cornerback Josh Holsey was born on this date in 1994.
—Training camp starts (7/26) 31
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 45
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 59
The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 76 days.
- Jay Gruden know the pressure is on him in 2018
- The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor
- Redskins face a tough road test against the Titans in Week 16