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Will injuries force D-line changes?


Will injuries force D-line changes?

This morning, we examined the Redskins’ 2014 outlook for the defensive line. Now,’s Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will give their take on the most pressing issue at the position entering the offseason: Is an upgrade at one or both end positions necessary?

El-Bashir: As we discussed earlier, it comes down to the health of Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker. If Bowen appears as though he’ll return to full strength from microfracture knee surgery and management is convinced Carriker can rebound and play at a high level after missing nearly two seasons due to a torn quadriceps tendon, an overhaul might not be needed. In 2011, Bowen and Carriker enjoyed career years. Bowen notched a career-best 41 combined tackles and six sacks, while Carriker recorded 34 tackles and a career-high 5.5 sacks. That wasn’t all that long ago. But there are also question marks behind them, as well. Jarvis Jenkins has shown flashes but struggled to establish himself last season following a four-game suspension to start the year. Chris Baker finished 2013 strong but started only three games at end and is scheduled to hit free agency. Kedric Golston, meantime, is a steady backup and should remain in that capacity. Again, depth isn’t the overriding concern. Finding two reliable, productive starters is. So if there are any worries about the health of Bowen and/or Carriker (and there probably will be), the Redskins must consider adding proven starter via free agency.

Tandler: Money matters when making decisions like this and it’s a big factor here because both Bowen and Carriker carry large salary cap numbers. Bowen’s is just over $7 million and Carriker’s stands at about $6.8 million. If they move on from Bowen they will save $1.98 million and releasing Carriker would add $3.17 million to their cap space. It would be very difficult to justify keeping Carriker at that cap number and with that much in potential cap savings. You have to appreciate his heart and desire to come back from that quad injury but at the same time you have a player who will be 30 in May and who will not have played in almost two full seasons. The best course here might be to release him and then, assuming he is healthy enough, sign him back to an incentivized deal that protects the team in the event of further injury complications. Bowen will be 30 next month but he had not missed a start in two and a half seasons prior to Week 11 last year. They could wait until closer to training camp and check on his condition then before possibly making him a post-June 1 release. 

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Redskins fans shouldn't forget about Colt McCoy because the coaches haven't

Redskins fans shouldn't forget about Colt McCoy because the coaches haven't

After a third surgery on his leg in April, Colt McCoy did not practice with the team during OTAs or mandatory minicamp. He was in Ashburn for many of the workouts, but did not take any team snaps.

In a normal quarterback battle, that would put McCoy at a distinct disadvantage, but the Redskins quarterback battle is not exactly normal. 

Veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins got nearly all of the work at signal caller during the spring practice sessions, and both showed signs of being able to take over head coach Jay Gruden's offense. Keenum proved he can handle the huddle and has quickness when plays broke down behind the line of scrimmage. Haskins showed a rocket arm and a ton of potential, but he's also a rookie trying to learn a boatload about life in the NFL in a hurry, like calling plays, and that showed too. 

All of that is a long way to say neither Keenum nor Haskins locked up the top QB job. And that means the door is still open for McCoy.

"We would love for him to take some reps, but obviously his health is more important right now than anything, and that is the most important thing for him," Gruden said about McCoy on the first day of minicamp. "When his time comes it will come quickly. He will be ready."

Gruden's quote speaks to the biggest advantage McCoy will have once he hits the field. He's been with the Redskins since 2014, and knows Gruden's version of the West Coast offense backwards and forwards. 

Throughout the spring sessions, Haskins made clear that his number one goal for the offseason was to learn the playbook and gain mastery of calling plays in the huddle. McCoy already has that.

Speaking with reporters on the last day of minicamp, Keenum explained that Gruden's offense is the seventh or eighth new system he's learned in the NFL. Keenum said each system is like learning a new language, and that "there is no Rosetta Stone for the West Coast Offense."

If there was a translator, its name would be Colt McCoy. 

Once doctors clear the former University of Texas star, he will immediately be the Redskins quarterback with the best understanding of the offense. That will show up on the field right away.

Remember too that Gruden has tried to turn to McCoy as his quarterback at a few different turns, but injuries have always derailed those plans. If McCoy gets fully healthy in time for Richmond, which team sources believe will happen, he has a chance to finally take over this job.

Make no mistake, Haskins is the Redskins long-term future at the quarterback position. He has the talent but needs to learn the speed of the NFL, from playcalling to pass rush. Eventually though, he will be on the field for the Redskins. 

If he wins the job, it's his.

Same for Keenum, who is probably better than he showed last year in Denver but not as good as his career season with Minnesota in 2017. Keenum could certainly start Week 1 in Philadelphia and is probably ahead of Haskins right now. 

But fans would be wise not to count McCoy out of the quarterback competition. The Redskins coaching staff definitely hasn't. 


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The Dwayne Decision: How should Redskins handle Haskins' first season?

The Dwayne Decision: How should Redskins handle Haskins' first season?

For the first time since 2012, the Redskins have a prized first-round rookie quarterback on their roster. 

Now, the team must decide how to approach Dwayne Haskins' first year in the NFL.

Does Washington give him the job right away and let him open up as the No. 1 option in Week 1? Do they let Case Keenum get the first shot, then insert Haskins if things don't go well? Or do they hold him out as long as possible, considering how inexperienced he still is?

Those are the questions the franchise must ask itself, because while Haskins' career is just beginning, it's crucial that things get off to a promising start. And those are the questions is asking, too.

Over the next few weeks, you'll hear from analysts like JP Finlay, Brian Mitchell, Pete Hailey and Grant Paulsen, as they all analyze how they would approach the Dwayne Decision. Before you hear from them, though, it's necessary to get Haskins' and Jay Gruden's thoughts on how the youngster handled his initial exposure to the pro level. 

So, here's the passer and the head coach. Check back as the summer rolls along for the takes from NBC Sports Washington's voices, too. And be ready to submit yours at some point, as we intend to let the fans chime in.

What Gruden and Haskins are saying (WATCH)

"We threw a lot at him: formations, motions, protections, route concepts, run concepts, audible, two-minute, no huddle, all of that stuff. There is a lot to learn for the kid, but we want to get it all out there for him so he has an understanding of what it is going to be like come training camp. A long way to go, but I like where he is at." - Gruden after June minicamp

"When I know what I'm doing, I feel like I'm pretty good... Once I figure out the plays, I feel like the sky's the limit for me." - Haskins after June minicamp