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Shanahan: coaches have 'productive' bye week

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Shanahan: coaches have 'productive' bye week

While the bye provided a welcome break for players, Mike Shanahan spent much of the week hunkered down at Redskins Park studying all aspects of his struggling program.

Although he wouldn’t go into detail, or divulge what changes might come as a result of his exhaustive review of the season’s first nine games, the head coach described the sessions as “productive.”

“You look at personnel,” Shanahan said. “You go back and you evaluate the players and you look at your scheme.”

He added: “You take a look at the things you’ve done poorly and you try to correct it. Obviously, I’m not going to go through all the details of the things that we’re going to work on. But it [was] a good, productive week.”

Shanahan said the majority of what he studied during the bye week centered on personnel, particularly reserves who have been pressed into the starting lineup because of injuries and whether adjustments are necessary to accommodate those changes. 

“What you do is you really go back and study players,” Shanahan said. “You go back and study the new guys that came in maybe the second, third game of the season. You evaluate their play. A lot of times when you’re looking at schemes, you don’t really get a chance to study these players as much as you’d like to, like you do in the offseason.”

How much Shanahan and Co. actually accomplished, though, could become evident Sunday, when the Redskins (3-6) host the Michael Vick-less Eagles (3-6) in an NFC East contest that amounts to an elimination game for both clubs. The Redskins are 0-4 since 2007 in the week following the bye, according to this post by Rich Tandler on Real Redskins. 

“Now, there’s no room for error,” Shanahan acknowledged when asked about his message to the players. “You have to play your best from Philly on.”

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Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Daniel Jones seems unlikely to be the best quarterback in the 2019 rookie class. He also seems unlikely to be a bust.

Given the Redskins' history at the quarterback position, both recent and ancient, Jones’ lack of sexy upside might be his most attractive quality. 

Polarizing might not accurately portray this class of QBs. Divisive might be the better word. 

Kyler Murray ranks as the top prospect, and seems likely to be drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Still, some teams don’t believe he has the size or commitment to make it as an NFL signal caller.

After Murray there’s even less consensus. 

Dwayne Haskins has a big arm and great size, but only started one year in college and didn’t show much ability to read defenses in the Ohio State offense. Drew Lock makes some 'Wow!' plays, but then he also makes terrible plays. His most consistent traits are arm talent and inconsistency. 

In some order, Murray, Haskins and Lock probably mark the top three rated passers in the 2019 draft. 

Then comes Jones. 

The Duke quarterback does nothing that screams first-round pick. His combine numbers were good and his game film seems good. At the same time, there aren’t any real knocks against him either, other than Jones doesn’t have the super star potential the other three have shown. 

Jones isn’t a sexy pick. He’s not even a PG13 make-out scene pick. 

And that might be just what the Redskins want. 

For months, the Washington front office has repeatedly talked about being “close.” Close to what remains a question, but it must at least mean competing for the NFC East title and winning a playoff game. 

Well, of all the rookie passers, Jones might be the one that presents the least risk. He might not make jaw dropping deep throws or electric moves outside of the pocket, but he probably won’t throw 20-plus interceptions either. 

Last year, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith to run their offense. Smith’s best traits are controlling the football and making the smart, not sexy, play. 

You know what rookie could fit that mold? 

Certainly isn’t Murray. Probably isn’t Lock. And Haskins likely needs to sit a year to learn NFL offenses. 

Jones, however, has been playing in a pro system for years at Duke. He’s been coached by the Manning-Whisperer in David Cutcliffe. 

Veteran NFL personnel executives believe in Jones in a major way. Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame former Cowboys GM, compared Jones to Peyton Manning. Seriously.

"When you watch him and you go back (20) years and watch Peyton Manning, you are watching the same guy. He's athletic," Brandt said on an SiriusXM pre-draft conference call. "He doesn't have a rocket for an arm, but neither did Peyton. Very smart."

ESPN's Mel Kiper believes Jones will be the best QB in this draft. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly thinks Jones is the most ready for the NFL of any 2019 passer.

Add all of that up, and the Redskins taking Jones with the 15th overall pick starts to make sense. Then go back and listen to some Jay Gruden quotes, and it makes even more sense. 

Speaking at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden explained that he likes winning low-scoring, grinding football games. 

"You try to protect the football and let the strength of your football team carry you through the tough times and hopefully your team or offense or special teams or offense will come through and make a play at a critical time," Gruden said. " It was a great recipe for us early. I like playing that way."

Of the rookie quarterbacks the Redskins might be able to get, Jones could be best suited for that style, especially in 2019. Not every analyst believes in Jones, including NBC Sports' Chris Simms. He doesn't even rate Jones in the top four QBs available this fall.

Regardless of the analysts, the Redskins believe they’re close, and need a quarterback that won’t lose them games. Of the rookie collection, Jones best fits that role.

Just by his risk taking nature, Lock will probably lose some games as a rookie. Maybe throughout his career. Haskins can play but the speed of the NFL will require a major adjustment for his game. Murray is dynamic, but his skill set requires a complete offensive overhaul for whatever team takes him. 

Add any of those three QBs to the Redskins and it’s hard to imagine the team competing for the playoffs in 2019. In the penultimate year of his contract, Gruden needs to compete for the playoffs in 2019. 

Last season, ugly or not, the Redskins legitimately looked on their way to a playoff spot. In Week 10, the team was 6-3. Injuries derailed those plans, but the roadmap was established. 

Even at 6-3, the Redskins hardly played aesthetically pleasing football. It sure as hell wasn't sexy. 

If the Redskins want to recreate that formula, and build on it for the future, Jones might be the best pick. 

In football, in sports, even in life, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid a major mistake and play it safe. 

The Redskins tried to that last year with Smith, but a broken leg disrupted the plan. 

It's entirely possible the Redskins don't take a quarterback in the first round, but if they do, Jones offers the best chance for a mulligan.

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Redskins 2019 7-round mock draft: #3 The 'Best Available' Scenario

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Redskins 2019 7-round mock draft: #3 The 'Best Available' Scenario

Time for the third and final look at the Redskins’ projected 7-round draft, each with a different approach but ultimately the same goal: Fill holes and upgrade the roster.

These choices are based on a combination of conversations with league sources, homework, intuition plus remaining needs. These different paths are akin to a “Choose your adventure” book. The Redskins have four of the top 97 selections and a lengthy needs list.  

We went “Living on the edge” in the first version and didn’t pass on the future in the second. Click here for the latest two-round NFL mock draft, but only after reading the second path.

PATH 3 -- Best available

First Round, Pick No. 15: Cody Ford, T/G, Oklahoma

Maybe we can quibble over the likely best offensive lineman if not player, but there's no denying the need and CBS Sports ranks Ford No. 16 overall. The buzz remains positive for the mauler who doubles as the top guard prospect and for some the third best tackle prospect. The Redskins should be desperate to fill their vacant left guard spot after the revolving door the prior two seasons.

Ford would also provide a tackle hedge should Trent Williams or Morgan Moses deal with injuries again. It’s also worth noting Brandon Scherff’s contract extension remains in limbo.

Second Round, Pick No. 46: Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State

The only thing larger than this massive 6-foot-5 target is his wide draft range. The Draft Network views the Baltimore native who averaged 22 yards on 60 receptions last season a top 20 selection. ESPN considers the same player, one with drop concerns, outside the top 75. What we know is the Redskins have stated publicly the need for size -- and production -- at receiver.

Third Round, Pick No. 77: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame

Some believe that corner ranks among the Redskins' top concerns considering Quinton Dunbar's season-ending nerve injury, Josh Norman possibly turning into a cap casualty or not returning in 2020, and overall depth. Love played 38 games over his three seasons with the Fighting Irish.

The All-American corner was the rare defensive back not repeatedly tortured by Clemson passer Trevor Lawrence during the college football playoffs. His draft projected fits on the second/third round line.

Third Round, Pick No. 97: Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis

These first four selections in this path are with a BPA mindset. On Day 2 that strict approach could easily mean one of several running backs including this explosive game-breaker. The 5-foot-8, 208-pound Henderson averaged 8.9 yards per carry in each of the past two seasons while scoring a combined 31 touchdowns. While grabbing an RB seems highly unlikely, let’s remember that Adrian Peterson is now 34, Derrius Guice is coming off a torn ACL, and the shifty but injury-prone Chris Thompson enters free agency in 2020.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 154: Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State

Is it outrageous to think the Redskins could select two wide receivers in the draft? Go look at the depth chart before answering no. In this case, the target has skills worthy of first-round consideration, namely an impressive catch radius and willingness to fight for contested throws. Character red flags dropped Williams into the middle rounds if not off the board for some teams.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 174: Evan Worthington, S, Colorado.

The 6-foot-2 can play a variety of spots including the neede high safety. Nobody would expect a fifth-round pick to start, but that's possible simply considering the current uncertainty with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix joining the Bears. From NFL.com: "Worthington's value to teams could depend on where they project him since he's played all over the field. He has the size, athleticism and ball skills to handle a variety of man-cover targets from the slot or as a deep safety."

Sixth Round, Pick No. 208: Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State

The East Carolina transfer piled up the stats in his one year running Mike Leach’s offense, finishing with 4,779 yards, 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year is an accurate thrower, but his lack of size and fears of being a system QB work against him. Any quarterback drafted by the Redskins stands a chance at being the only healthy one on the roster entering next off-season.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 229: Jordan Brailford, DE, Oklahoma

The 250-pound edge rusher had 10 sacks in 2018 yet consistently ranks in the 200’s among 2019 draft prospects. The Draft Network on Brailford: “Not very nimble, off balance and ending up on the ground on multiple occasions.”

Seventh Round, Pick No. 255:  Keenan Brown, TE, Texas State

Granted the idea of selecting two tight ends seems odd. Pro Football Focus selected Brown first-team All-American based primarily on his work after the catch. He forced more than 24 missed tackles, more than double the next closest TE.

UDFA: Josh Watson, ILB, Colorado State

The 240-pounder receives virtually no interest from the public big boards despite amassing 240 tackles combined the last two seasons. One league source calls Watson a “steal.”

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