Jim Haslett has been made a scapegoat. There's no question about that. He deserves better. He is a good football coach, who works his butt off to scheme and coach his players up.
What he doesn't have is that "it" factor that makes him really popular with anybody except for me and oh yeah, just about every player that plays for him. He also has a lot of support around the National Football League. The people that really know football respect him and understand that while he is far from perfect, you are a product of the talent around that you are stuck with.
I have long been a defender and I will again. I am sick and quite honestly exhausted of seeing a good man get trashed and crushed by fans and many members of the media, who have no idea what they are talking about.
Haslett will likely be let go in some form next week. He is under contract to the Redskins for next year, so he could possibly be retained but that decision will be based on who the new head coach (expected) is.
Haslett will get a good job pretty quickly, if he is allowed out of his contract. Dallas might be a good landing spot if the Cowboys decide to blow out Monte Kiffin. Haslett has consistently tied up Tony Romo and company in knots. He'll be free of Mike Shanahan's constant meddling and philosophies that have consistently hurt the overall product.
This I know, but let's take a look at how other NFL teams will view Haslett and some of the reasons why I defend him so vigorously.
In terms of net yards allowed, The Redskins defense was largely atrocious in their first three games allowing 441, 580 and 441 yards in losses to Philadelphia, at Green Bay and at FedEx against Detroit.
In those three games, they allowed a total of 1,464 total yards or 488.0/game.
Since that point, the Redskins defense has allowed 3,923 yards or an average of 326.91/game. Overall on the season they are at a average clip of 359.1 yards per game.
Of course you can't throw out the first three games, but if you just take the last 12 games (75% of schedule), Washington is at a clip of 8th overall in the NFL behind the full season averages of Seattle, Carolina, San Francisco, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Arizona, and Houston.
For the full season, the Redskins defense has gone from the worst defense in the league statistically up to # 21 in yardage allowed. This ranks them ahead of Denver, Kansas City, New England, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Dallas.
Haslett's run defense is 14th in the league, allowing an average of 109.8 yards-per-game. That's one spot behind the Seattle Seahawks (107.5). I've heard they are really good, aren't they??
Washington is 22nd in passing yards allowed per game, ahead of teams that have heavily invested in their defense like, the Chiefs, Jets, Broncos, Cowboys, and Raiders. They've allowed 2 more passing yards per game than St. Louis which is loaded on defense from Robert Quinn to Chris Long to James Laurinaitis and a secondary that benefits tremendously from a killer pass rush.
The Redskins defense has allowed 409 points or 27.2 points per game against. Anybody with half a brain (I hope that includes YOU) should understand that a defensive unit should not be charged for the SEVEN return touchdowns that the offense and special teams have gift wrapped for the Redskins opponents. That's 49 points taken away from the commonly cited 458 that you can not charge the defense with. They weren't even on the field.
The Redskins defense under Jim Haslett also begins drives with the worst starting field position in the NFL. According to FootballOutsiders.com defensive drive stats, Washington's opponents start their possessions at the 31.98 yard line on average. That reality is almost laughable.
As a point of comparison, San Diego is number one in the league at 22.79, so almost ten full yards better than Washington. The Chargers playoff hopes are very much in limbo, but the # 2 and # 3 teams in the league (Kansas City and New England) are postseason bound.
Perhaps the most damning stat that illustrates a defensive unit that has had their backs consistently against the wall, is that TEN of the 50 touchdowns the unit has allowed have been on drives of 30 yards or less. That's 20 % of all touchdown drives allowed. Don't know about you, but that is preposterous.
To further illustrate, six of those ten touchdowns have been scored on drives of 15 yards or less. Again, these are not excuses but the facts would suggest that the Redskins defense has been put in awful situations and while they have not been able to bail out the offense or special teams, they certainly are not as bad as many think.
Another factual observation to be noted is the Redskins defense is allowing an average of 31.53 yard per drive, which ranks # 22 in the league. The team right above Washington is the New England Patriots. A team that has failed to have a dominant defense for a while, averages 31.30 yards per drive according to FootballOutsiders.com
Yet another bottom line reality is that the Redskins defense lost three expected key contributors before the season even started. ILB Keenan Robinson tore his pectoral muscle on the first day of camp and was lost for the season. He would have played a huge role spelling London Fletcher and was a key contributor on special teams. Richard Crawford was perhaps the most improved player in OTA's and mini-camp according to several high ranking Redskins sources, and tore his ACL in the Buffalo preseason contest. That also hurt the punt return unit which has been mostly awful all year. Crawford would have likely played a bigger role in that area, but could have certainly helped at corner, in a league that is based on prolific passing attacks.
Fourth round selection, Phillip Thomas a hybrid safety was lost for the year because of a lisfranc foot injury during the first tune-up game in Nashville. Jarvis Jenkins was suspended for the first four games of the regular season. The third-year Clemson product was rising once again towards the end of last year and has yet to make the huge impact that was projected from a high 2nd-round pick because of a torn ACL and his own mistake.
OLB Rob Jackson was also suspended for the first four games of the season because he took a pain killer last December when recovering from wisdom tooth surgery. This loss, while Brian Orakpo was still trying to find his form after missing most of last season was noticeable as well. Brandon Meriweather once again re-injured himself on Labor Day (as he did in 2012) and missed the Monday Night opener against the Eagles, only to come back and get ejected early in the Green Bay loss for an illegal blow to rookie Eddie Lacy. Meriweather would later be suspended for the Denver loss.
Another blow during the first two games? Barry Cofield had to play with a club on his arm. You could clearly see it affected him from a run defense standpoint against Philadelphia, and overall against Green Bay. Cofield had a few strong games against Detroit and Oakland, but has not been the same type of impact player that he has been in the past.
Stephen Bowen's micro-fracture knee injury and surgery has also contributed down the stretch to a lack of depth and pass rush.
Excuses?? Maybe. Bottom line reality? The truth.
It also does not help that in the pursuit of a franchise quarterback and a stable backup option, the Redskins have spent a total of SEVEN draft picks ('14/#1 or # 2; '13 # 22; '12 # 6, # 39, # 102; '11 # 104; '10 # 37) ' in the first four rounds of drafts spanning from 2010 through the upcoming 2014.
That includes a top-two selection as the final payment for Robert Griffin III, one that will cost the Redskins a shot at UCLA"s Anthony Barr or South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
In the 2013 draft, the Redskins selected four defensive players out of their seven selections. In the 2012 draft, Washington selected nine total players despite the Griffin trade and chose three defensive players out of that group.
In the 2011 draft, the Redskins selected twelve players with an even six and six on both sides of the ball.
In Mike Shanahan's first draft, Washington had six selections after the Donovan McNabb trade and chose one defensive player in Perry Riley Jr.
The raw bottom line numbers look like this - 34 players selected over four drafts with 14 of those 34 players selected from the defensive side. Again, seven draft picks in the top 105 spots of five drafts were used on the pursuit of a quarterback that could play and handle the scrutiny of life with the Redskins.
If you don't think this has a huge impact on one side of the ball - you need your head examined.
For those tired of hearing about the salary cap penalty as an excuse, again you are completely out of your mind. As long as we're shooting straight, I should go all in.
While wondering what 36 million could have done to help this team, ponder this: Trent Williams base salary and roster bonus is worth six million in 2013. His cap number is a value of 7.98 million or 6.0/7.98
The entire Redskins starting secondary of DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Brandon Meriweather and for higher salary purposes, Reed Doughty makes 2.0/3.3 (Wilson), 1.2/1.6 (Meriweather), 1.15/1.5 (Doughty) and 1.25 (Hall) for a total of 5.60 million in base salary with a cap value of 7.65 million as a four man unit
Again, to put it in perspective - the ENTIRE Redskins starting secondary (they utilize different combinations) makes less in base salary and counts less against the salary cap than does Trent Williams.
Try and shut down teams with that.
Perhaps you see some of the reasons why I defend Haslett so ruthlessly. It's hard to make a great steak for dinner when you are using ground chuck.
Jim Haslett is not Dick LeBeau or even Mike Zimmer. However, he also has been asked to do what those two simply have not been asked - and that is to cook a top of the line meal, while shopping at Walmart on a 25 dollar budget.
Good luck Haz. You will be better off without having to deal with the completely unrealistic expectations that were constantly rubbed in your face.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Buffalo Bills visit the Washington Redskins on Saturday afternoon...It's the third and most meaningful preseason game, but it will be different than most years for various reasons.
First, with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins not available to play, Rex Grossman will start and play about a half, while Pat White will play the rest of the game. Normally at least three quarterbacks would play, and quite a few teams have five quarterbacks on their 90-man roster. The Redskins have only four, and are down to only two for this game.
Mike Shanahan would only say that Cousins is a "long shot" and the Grossman/White tag-team would be "pretty close to a 50-50 split."
Shanahan also said "I'm going to play the starters probably around 20 plays on offense and defense, and not much more than that. Somewhere in that area. He did make a small distinction when announcing that Josh Wilson would play in the preseason for the first time, and start. "We'll play him for in that area, 15-20 plays."
Brandon Meriweather is very unlikely to play Saturday according to Shanahan who did allow the possibility that he might play in Tampa "If I felt like he was ready, he would be in a game situation, practicing full-speed. I just don't feel like he's quite there yet. I like the strides that he's made, and I'm hoping by the Tampa game he can play."
From a game observation and X/O standpoint here are some things that I am curious about and want to see.
**Josh Morgan and Roy Helu each returned a kick on Monday night. Morgan for 21 yards, Helu for 13 yards. The Steelers had two touchbacks as well. Based on memory, and that's a dangerous thing - I believe Niles Paul was back for one and Morgan was the other. Either way, clearly the Redskins want to give themselves as many options as they can.
**Skye Dawson also had four punt returns for 53 yards (13.3 AVG). Can he make any kind of a desperation impression? Or is he ticketed for the practice squad (if that)?
**Will the Redskins run defense be more like they were in Nashville or against Pittsburgh? Against the Titans, they were gashed. Largely on two plays, Chris Johnson had the 58 yard touchdown run and Shonn Greene had a 19 yard scoring dash. They only gave up 126 total yards rushing, but Johnson and Greene only combined for seven carries. As a whole, they averaged 5.0 yards per carry allowed.
Monday night against Pittsburgh, the Redskins were much better. They allowed 95 yards on 27 attempts (3.5 AVG) and with the exception of two sizable runs by Jonathan Dwyer, they shut the door. It helped that rookie Le'veon Bell got hurt very early in the game.
With the very talented C.J Spiller coming to DC as a duel threat, and backed up by the hard running (but often injured) Fred Jackson and former Redskins back, Tashard Choice - this is a match up that will get the most attention for me. Spiller last year caught 43 passes for 459 yards and two touchdowns, along with 1,244 yards on the ground (6.0/Att).
Buffalo's offensive attack will be limited to some degree because first round pick and QB E.J. Manuel is out and Kevin Kolb will lead the way. However, they play at a very up-tempo pace which our pal John Keim covers (and a lot more) in this post, http://es.pn/1f89YEl.
Buffalo will be a good tempo tune-up for Philadelphia in just over two weeks. Jim Haslett mentioned on Thursday "they run the no-huddle or whatever they call it out of every personnel grouping, and they get a lot of plays off." In Buffalo's trouncing of Indianapolis, they ran 85 plays while scoring 44 points total. They did get a long kickoff return for a score, and a pick six but the point is they can run you out of the building. Buffalo only ran 78 plays in last week's win over Minnesota.
This is clearly another area to watch as the Redskins try to rotate personnel on what is expected to be a sunny Saturday afternoon with temps in the low to mid 80's.
On offense, I need to see more out of Chris Thompson and Keiland Williams (if he plays). Both had fumbles on Monday night, and both are on the outside looking in when it comes to the 53 man roster. A big day on special teams could help either one, especially Thompson who said he would return kicks last week, and it stands to reason he could make a splash that way.
I also want to see Jordan Reed improve on his performance. His first game was fairly rough around the edges. He had a contested drop, and did not run the correct route on Rex Grossman's interception. His blocking was also somewhat inconsistent.
Back to defense, Chris Baker had a hell of a series on Monday night - but want to see even more. He is a disruptive force to say the least. He just has to make sure he doesn't over run or over pursue in the backfield, like he did on one rush against Pittsburgh.
Bacarri Rambo needs to tackle better in space. We all know that. They know that. He knows that. Enough said.
Eager to see E.J Biggers play better than he did Monday as well. He missed a few tackles in space, and was also called for a defensive pass interference.
David Amerson also had some issues against Pittsburgh on two passing plays that were kind of easy to see. He did not get a good jam or re-route on his man on the play that ended in DJ Gomes personal foul for a push out-of-bounds. He was also lost in space on a 29-yard extended play by Ben Roethlisberger to a Steelers tight end.
Also want to see Phillip Merling and Darryl Tapp continue their excellent performances. Both have a roster spot in my eyes, partially thanks to their own performance but also because Washington has two spots that would normally be taken by Jarvis Jenkins and Rob Jackson free because of their respective suspensions.
Perry Riley busted through a blown protection, but came away with nothing except pressure as he sized up Bruce Gradkowski. Bryan Kehl did not waste such an opportunity as he lined up in almost the same spot and shot through the Pittsburgh line and missed block, for a sack. It would be nice to see the Redskins put Buffalo in some 3rd and long situations...
Finally, it would be great to see the Redskins close things out on third downs. They were excellent against Pittsburgh (1-13) after many issues in that area last year. Clearly the "Nasty Nickel" as Rick "Doc" Walker likes to call it, is making a difference.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
As you know the Redskins opened up the preseason with a 22-21 win over the Titans on Thursday. You might also know by now, that I don't like writing about what I consider "master of the obvious" type content.
A couple of items stood out to me, without having the ability to watch the All -22 coaching tape and only part of the television copy so far.
**I was very surprised to see Jim Haslett and the Redskins defense unleash one of their new wrinkles and looks in a preseason game. We've seen it in practice quite a few times, but that is closed off to other teams getting video of it. Now the Eagles and others have tape and can better prepare. That being said, I also understand it's one thing to practice it and another to execute in a game situation.
What is it? Ryan Kerrigan who is normally the left outside linebacker in the 34 scheme, is in a down position in the Redskins nickel package. This allows Brandon Jenkins to stand up in space and rush the passer from Kerrigan's traditional spot and Brian Orakpo to rush from the right outside spot.
The Redskins got consistent pressure from this alignment, which is the goal and more importantly a great indication of where certain guys are at. It also is a tip of the cap to Jim Haslett and his staff that they are finding creative ways to get different packages on the field and best utilize their talent.
On the Titans first offensive series, a 3rd-and-8 quickly turned into a sack and punt for Jake Locker and his crew as Jenkins , Kerrigan and Stephen Bowen (the other down lineman used in nickel) converged on Locker and sacked the third year quarterback.
On the next series, Orakpo blew past and under Michael Roos one of the best offensive tackles in the game with that personnel package on the field (according to my notes) and lit up Locker for a clean sack. Jenkins had several pressures throughout his time in the game, which was long after Orakpo and Kerrigan were finished.
After the game, I asked Orakpo about unleashing this new look " I wasn't surprised, but I was a little happy that he called it. Normally you save it for Week 1 but hey 'forget it.' We'll let everybody know how we're going to do things, and we'll get after it. I think it's going to be a great package."
This jumped out to those of us who cover this team on a regular basis in camp here in Richmond, and it is something that will be used again and again. I think it makes sense from a talent deployment standpoint, but also because it shows that the staff continues to maximize their personnel.
What good is Brandon Jenkins if he can't be on the field to wreak havoc? Ryan Kerrigan, while very athletic has a frame that is much more conducive to overpowering an offensive lineman from a down spot than does Jenkins, as the coaching staff realized. Now -- where do they go from here? Does Orakpo copy Kerrigan in the regular season to essentially flip the formation? I would think that's likely. Don't forget about how Perry Riley works into the mix. Riley proved to be more than a factor in creating pressure off the edge last year.
***David Amerson, by all accounts had about as good of a professional debut as you could ask for. He finished with three tackles including a third down stop. That wasn't what stood out to me, instead it was a pass breakup on the Titans second offensive play of the game.
Amerson lined up against Kenny Britt, one of the most talented receivers in the league. It was a match-up that I know for a fact Raheem Morris really was looking forward to seeing, and Amerson hit a home run on his very first 'at bat.' He allowed Britt to have a clean release because as he noted after the game when I asked him that it was "kind of a Cover-2, and I was looking for number two (another receiver running a dig route) and once I seen him going vertical, I looked to squeeze on number one (Britt), so that's why I was kind of behind on the play."
Amerson recovered quickly enough that along with his athleticism and long reach, he was able to knock away the pass that could have been a long gainer. "I kind of knew the ball was going there, so I just tried to hurry up and recover and get there as quick as I can. Luckily I got a hand on it."
Perhaps the most impressive element of the play to me is that Amerson realized and smartly anticipated what was happening on the 2nd play of his professional career. A very good sign. "It's kind of instinct. I knew that's what the quarterback was probably looking for. Most likely, the vertical route was to clear everybody out and run a dig under it. So you just try to recognize a route combination."
If Amerson thinks and reacts like that on a regular basis, the Redskins will have truly hit a grand slam.
**The other item that jumped out to me was the amount of pass knockdowns and deflections for the Redskins. Phillip Merling had one and a sack. Rob Jackson smartly looped inside to the middle of the Titans offensive line and knocked down a pass, and even little known Chigbo Anunoby got his paw on a pass. Three times in a preseason game, the Redskins did not have to depend on their secondary to make a play.
It shows penetration, timing and athleticism. It also tells you how important it is to practice and do everything you can to disrupt the timing and the clear vision lane of a quarterback when you can't get close to him. Again, this is not done for no reason. Barry Cofield is probably the best at it, and I am pretty sure it is a focus of Jim Haslett and his staff.
***The Redskins did not have a 'takeaway' on Thursday night, but Chase Minnifield broke up a pass for a near interception and pick six. Richard Crawford, should have had a interception in the end zone, but there was not enough evidence to clearly overturn the initial call on the field. Here's the bottom line, you don't have to feast on turnovers (as the Redskins did late last year) if you are doing all of the little things right. Timing pass breakup's and anticipating what is happening, getting your hands up when you can't get to the target and smartly using/maximizing your personnel.
Still want Jim Haslett fired?? I was absolutely against it then, and much to your dismay - fought hard for him to stay. Aren't you glad Mike Shanahan realized that Haz was not the issue?
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
This is a list of things about the Skins' 2012 season that I want to remember when we get to free agency, draft, and beyond.
1. RG3's Spectacular Season. The whys and hows of his injury will dominate the offseason discussion but let's not let it totally overshadow the greatest rookie season in franchise history. His debut game in New Orleans was stunning. The final drive in Tampa, the 76-yard game-clinching run against Minnesota, and the go-ahead touchdown drive late in the 4th quarter in East Rutherford were breath-taking early-season moments. The 7-game season-ending win streak featured 8 touchdown passes in back to back wins over Philly and Dallas, a clutch go-ahead touchdown pass against the Giants in a huge Monday night win, and two clutch throws on the final drive against Baltimore on one leg. He threw 20 touchdowns against just 5 picks with a 102.4 QB rating.....as a rookie! Oh and by the way, he rushed for 815 yards while leading the league in yards per carry at 6.8. The list of eye-popping plays he made during the course of the season are too numerous to mention but how's the 88-yarder to Garcon in the opener, the 4th and 10 to Paulson the first Giant game, the 76-yard TD run against Minnesota, the 30-yard go-ahead TD pass to Moss in the first Giant game, and the TD pass to Moss just before the half on Thanksgiving in Dallas for starters.
2. Pierre Garcon's Impact on W's and L's. With Garcon the Redskins were 9-2, without him they were 1-5. He was a difference-maker for sure.
3. Alfred Morris. He was the perfect zone-stretch and zone-read runner. He set the franchise record with 1,613 yards with the perfect combination of vision and power. His 33 carries for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns in the NFC East title game against Dallas in the season-finale is one of the franchise's all-time great individual performances.
4. Santana Moss Wasn't Done. The 33-year old led the team with 8 touchdown catches and was third on the squad with 41 catches.
5. The Offense Was Top 5 and Could've Been Better. They finished 5th overall, 1st in rushing averaging 169.3 per game, 4th overall in scoring at 27.3 points per game, and it could've been better if their defense didn't rank towards the bottom. Imagine that offense with a defense that gave them the ball back quicker.
6. Offensive Innovation. Mike and Kyle Shanahan introduced the NFL to the "Pistol". The "Pistol" was nothing more than a formation that allowed them to more effectively run their traditional zone-stretch offense while also threatening defenses occasionally with the lethal "Read-Option". Once the Shanahans introduced RG3 as a run-threat out of the "Pistol", the offense became nearly unstoppable. The most overrated talk during the season was how many times RG3 ran from the "Pistol" while underrated was what the threat of him running did to defenses. Separating truth from fiction, the "Read-Option" was not only the most effective passing offense the Redskins ran, it was the safest and cleanest pocket for RG3. He barely got hit on throws on the "Read-Option" and his primary receiver was almost always open. By midseason, San Francisco and Seattle were among the teams copying what the Redskins were doing.
7. Turnover Margin. The Skins ranked 3rd in the league at +17 and led the league with just 14 giveaways. A big reason for their 7-game season-ending win streak was 15 takeaways and a plus-10 margin.
8. Defense Got Better. 28th overall isn't good and leaves a ton of room for improvement but after the bye at 3-6, a defense that couldn't stop anybody started to and a team that couldn't generate any pass rush got some. Jim Haslett deserves a lot of credit for figuring out how to take a defense decimated by injuries and suspension early (see Carriker, Orakpo, Merriweather, Jackson) and turning into a competitive group by the final month of the season.
9. Penalties' Good and Bad. The Redskins were penalized an average of 7 times a game (5th most in the league) but just 2.7 times per game in their last 3 games (best in the league).
10. Danny Smith's Comeback. From two blocked punts in the first two games to a very good rest of the year. Fans wanted him fired early but his punt coverage team finished 8th while his kickoff coverage team finished 12th. Brandon Banks was ineffective but the move to Richard Crawford on punt returns worked.
11. Kai Forbath. Nobody can explain the move to Cundiff at the end of the preseason but the final outcome was a good one after Cundiff predictably failed. Forbath set an NFL record by making 17 straight field goals to start his career....he finished 17-18, missing his final attempt of the season into the wind and on the sand at Fed Ex.
12. Fed Ex Turf. A total disaster late in the season and a total embarrassment in the playoff loss to Seattle.
13. Biggest Offseason Needs. Safeties, corners, and another playmaker on offense are my top 3 priorities. Big decisions regarding Fred Davis and Brian Orakpo.
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) At the midpoint of the season, the Washington Redskins were on pace to become the worst pass defense in NFL history, the first to give up 5,000 yards through the air.
Needless to say, Jim Haslett's stock was a bit low at the time. When head coach Mike Shanahan was asked if there would be any midseason changes to his coaching staff, the defensive coordinator was at the top of the list.
Now Haslett is on another list, a possible candidate for one or more of the vacant head coaching jobs in the league. The transformation he's led in the second half of the season has been so remarkable that he's been dubbed "the mad scientist" by defensive tackle Barry Cofield.
There are lots of reasons why the Redskins have won seven straight and will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in the NFC playoffs. Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Shanahan and others deserve their share of credit, but so does Haslett and his defense.
"I definitely think these game plans that Haz has come up with have been, if not the reason, a major reason why we've been so successful on defense in getting these wins and sealing these games," cornerback Josh Wilsons said. "Sometimes, you don't understand what a mad scientist is doing. But in the end, you look back on it and say, `Oh, that was an amazing call. I don't know how he knew to do that.'"
Dealing with a depleted group - starters Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker and Brandon Meriweather out for the season with injuries and Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely - Haslett has come up with creative blitzes and coverages that opponents weren't expecting. He found ways to make the most out of the personnel he had. He challenged individual players such as cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had an inconsistent season but was at his absolute best hounding Dez Bryant in the division-clinching win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Quarterbacks had a 95 passer rating against the Redskins in the first half of the season. It's been 78.2 in the second half. Points allowed dropped from 28.4 to 20.1. Washington is still ranked 30th in passing yards allowed, prompting Haslet on Thursday to say "Our passing stats stink," but the trend is in the right direction.
"Everybody loses players," Haslett said. "We just happened to lose a whole bunch at one time. And then we were kind of lost for a little while, trying to find our way. And then guys have stepped up and done a nice job playing. We worked a number of different combinations to get where we're at. It took us a little more time than we would have liked, but obviously it worked out for the best."
The Redskins' recent play is a culmination of three years of adjustments after Shanahan hired Haslett and ordered a change in scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4. That meant taking some lumps - because the roster at the time consisted of older players and others who weren't suited to the new defense.
"It was as tough as it got," linebacker London Fletcher said. "We were the 31st ranked defense that first year we transitioned to the 3-4. I don't think anybody was happy about that."
This is a case where patience pays off. Haslett said he came to the Redskins to win a Super Bowl, and he sees the goal as finally within reach. He's already been a head coach for two other NFL teams, and the thought of leaving Washington to try it again didn't seem to thrill him when the subject was broached Thursday.
"As a player and an ex-player and a coach, I've kind of done everything I wanted to do from an individual standpoint," Haslett said. "I made rookie of the year, I was coach of the year, all that stuff, so that stuff doesn't make a difference to me. I need to get a ring. That's one thing I don't have. Obviously, I like the future of this club, so that kind of answers the question."
NOTES: LG Kory Lichtensteiger (sprained left ankle) and CB D.J. Johnson (sprained left knee) did not practice Thursday, while backup QB Kirk Cousins was back after missing one day with the flu. ... There were posters in the lockers of the Redskins special teams players Thursday that read: "Everyone has to catch the rabbit" and "Everyone get a hit on 33," referring to Seattle Pro Bowl KR Leon Washington. ... Fletcher was selected as the NFL's defensive player of the month. He had three interceptions and two sacks in December, even though he was barely able to practice because of a sprained left ankle. ... The Redskins signed S Devin Holland to a reserve/futures contract. Holland played four games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011.
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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Another impressive win for the Skins....5 straight, good for first place in the NFC East with 2 left. The good, bad, and more.
1. Organizational win. There used to be organizational losses after losses but now there are organziational wins. Today may have been Mike Shanahan's best moment in Washington. His personnel decisions of the past few years were all over this one. As many as 11 of his draft choices from the last 3 years contributed....most in a major way. Trent Williams and Perry Riley from 2011. Kerrigan, Jenkins, Hankerson, Paul, and Royster from 2011. And none more than the one that drew the most scrutiny, Kirk Cousins, the 4th-rounder from this past draft who most thought was unnecessary. His two biggest offseason free agent acquistions (Garcon and Morgan) were major contributors and have been. His coordinators (Kyle and Haslett) were superior to the competition today. They're on a roll with a chance to do something big this year and they're young....really young.
2. Kyle's playcalling. After going 0 for their first 4 drives, Kyle realized that they had to throw it and throw it on first and 2nd down. The bootleg must have been run 15 times in this game with the quick-strike play-action throw called another 10-12 times. An amazing adjustment when he figured out that the run-game would not produce per usual and incredible that it was so effective without the running game working. After the dismal start, he got aggressive and stayed that way to the tune of 38 points. It was also interesting that they ran last year's offense much more than this year's offense. The "Pistol" formation was absent except on one play and they ran only one, maybe two read-options. Why? Not sure, but two things were clear. One, they didn't run the ball very well without it and two, they clearly thought Cousins was more comfortable running their base offense primarily.
3. Kirk Cousins. Those that didn't like the Redskins spending a 4th-round pick on another quarterback....sit down. After a shaky start 1 for 6 start, Cousins when 25 of 31 the rest of the way. His play-action throws, especially the bootlegs, loosened up a Cleveland defense that stopped the run and got good pass rush early. Cousins, like RG3, is talented. He can make all the throws, can run it a little too. But like RG3, he definitely benefits from a coaching staff that knows quarterbacks and knows offense.
4. The Defense. Cleveland is the weakest offensive opponent they've played in a while but still, the defense did a solid job all day long. There were a few plays that they'd like back (the Benjamin TD pass in particular) but it's a defense that's getting better. They stopped the run, got good pass-rush pressure, deflected multiple passes, and picked off two passes. The Jackson pick set the tone in what would become a dominant 2nd half. The Skins played everyone on defense and their freshness paid off.
5. D'Angelo Hall. I'm going to single him out because he takes so much heat from so many but he played well. He was all over the field as a tackler, as a cover-corner, as a cover-safety, and as a special-teamer on kick coverage.
6. Special teams. Rocca and Forbath solid. Kick and punt coverage very good with the exception of one kickoff return. Big hits by Alexander on Sp. teams is a given each week.
1. Another long touchdown pass allowed. DJ Johnson burned in man coverage on 3rd and 7 by Benjamin. Bad play for the Skins because they went from being in total control up 17 with 10 to go to a game that was once again in play.
2. Garcon 15-yard penalty. It wasn't the spin but the taunting with the spin that drew the flag. It'd be nice if they could make the catch, toss the ball to the ref, and get back to the huddle to get ready for the next play.
1. Casserly said that the Skins can perhaps pull in two 2nd-round choices if they choose to trade Cousins in the offseason. I don't think there's a chance they'll trade him so soon especially without another back-up they're comfortable with.
2. Martz said the decision on RG3 was made Wednesday.
2. Redskins fumbled twice and didn't lose any of them continuing a trend of now recovering 18 of their 24 fumbles.
3. I thought the challenge on the Garcon play was worthwhile. It looked like a catch.
Could DeAngelo Hall's days in Washington DC be numbered? It appears so. But not for the reasons that you might be thinking, after another meltdown on Sunday.
The Redskins will NOT in my opinion suspend Hall or release him for his double unsportsmanlike conduct foul and ejection in the waning moments of Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh. However, that doesn't mean he will be with the Redskins next year, and I would never rule anything out for this week.
A league review is still pending as of Tuesday night, with the issue further complicated because of the league office closure over the last two days.
While Hall is a hot head, it was pretty clear that a double foul should have been called at the minimum, and perhaps that would have prevented Hall taking off his helmet and jawing with the official. He said in a local radio interview on Tuesday, that he was not flagged for taking the helmet off because the Redskins had taken their third and final timeout.
It was obvious that Hall was upset and verbally going after the official and that's when two officials threw penalty flags. What is unclear is why Hall was penalized twice for unsportsmanlike conduct and ejected all for the same incident, if the helmet removal was not part of penalty call.
League spokesman Greg Aiello, via e-mail did respond to ESPN 980's inquiry on Wednesday about the situation, saying "He was not flagged for his helmet being off. The helmet came off during a time out."
Either way, Hall has to have better control of his emotions, despite all of the frustration and whatever he was trying to point out to the officials.
That's just one issue, and again - I do not believe that Hall should be disciplined by the Redskins, because the game was essentially over and as Mike Shanahan pointed out on Monday via tele-conference -- he felt a flag should have been called on Emmanuel Sanders to begin with. Whatever.
For what it is worth, the Redskins have a recent history of blowing their cool in pressure moments (Josh Morgan, Kyle Shanahan) and they were absolved by the team for their conduct.
The more interesting question becomes -- do the Redskins move forward with Hall in 2013? That's the loaded or 8 million dollar question.
Per league sources, Hall has no guaranteed money in 2013. You can thank the Redskins brain trust for that, despite the hot water they landed in with the NFL.
Hall currently is on the books for 6.5 million in this current year (2012) and 8 million in (2013) in base salary (including a 500 K workout bonus). His 2014 base salary is 9.5 million, which is a figure that is almost unthinkable.
If Hall is released prior to June 1, 2013 - the sources confirmed to ESPN 980 that Hall's entire 8 million dollar cap number will come off the Redskins books, assuming that the off-season workout program has not begun (April). If the program does begin, and Hall is released subsequently, the Redskins will have to absorb the 500 K workout bonus.
In other words, if Hall is released in March - the Redskins can save 8 million dollars in cap money in 2013 and of course, the 9.5 million. Period. Done.
That's especially important considering that the Redskins will serve another 18 million dollar cap hit in 2013 for their alleged cap violations in 2010 that centered around Albert Haynesworth and of course, Hall. Essentially, they can reduce that hit to 10 million dollars or so, if they release Hall.
Here's again how it went down, in the Hall situation, according to the sources. When the Redskins re-structured his long term contract signed in 2009 with the team, he was given a 1.5 M signing bonus (proration over five years 2009-2013 - 300 K per year). Our sources clarified our original story, and have told ESPN 980 that even the 300,000 cap charge in 2012 & 2013, was rolled into the 2010 accounting. Hall's 2009 salary of 5 million, was guaranteed base salary. His 15 million dollar option bonus was calculated into the 2010 un-capped year, which meant that there was no proration. Hall also had 1 million of his base salary in 2010 guaranteed. Essentially, he was guaranteed the same 22.5 million he originally agreed on, but the Redskins were creatively able to absorb it in the early years and of course, the un-capped year.
While the cap penalty sucks, the Redskins essentially would have had about 3-4 million dollars worth of 'dead money' to account for next year, if they released Hall.
Essentially, it means they can kick Hall to the curb in 2013 with really no ramifications, other than having to replace him. At this point, that's not exactly a hard thing to do.
According to the staff at ProFootballFocus.com (@PFF on Twitter), Hall has played the 5th highest amount of snaps in 2012 for cornerbacks. His total evaluation score, based on that groups analysis is a staggering Minus 8.9. Just to put it in perspective, the top four in that group grades like this.
Green Bay's Tramon Williams is # 1 in terms of snaps played, and grades at + 8.2, while Tennessee's Jason McCourty is # 2 in snaps played and graded out at +9.9. Alterraun Verner of the Titans is # 3 and grades out at a + 12.0, while Minnesota's Antoine Winfield is # 4 in terms of snaps played, but ranks first in terms of composite grade, according to ProFootballFocus.com at + 18.6.
Hall ranks as PFF's 98th best cornerback in terms of overall composite score, which does put him above Corey Webster of the Giants and recent high draft picks, Jimmy Smith of Baltimore and Janoris Jenkins of St. Louis.
Hall ranks 5th in targeted cornerbacks (59 times thrown at) and has yielded the most completions (42) of any corner in the league. The completion percentage equates out to 71.2%, which is actually better than that of Tennessee's Verner, who we mentioned above. It's also well below Hall's teammate in Cedric Griffin, who has yielded a completion rate of 81.3% on much fewer opportunities.
Hall is also # 1 in yards allowed (YA) and # 4 in yards-after-catch (YAC), according to ProFootballFocus.com at 594, making his overall numbers look like this (42-59, 71.2%, 594 YA, 199 YAC). In case you're wondering, Josh Wilson ranks # 3 in YAC, ahead of Hall.
Hall, according to Redskins coaches had 57 combined tackles, 1 sack, and two interceptions, along with 4 QB hits and 5 passes defended before the Pittsburgh loss.
The bottom line, barring a dramatic turn-around in the 2nd half of 2012, and despite the fact that he often lines up against the opposing teams # 1 receiver, it's not very likely that DeAngelo Hall will be with the Redskins in 2013 and beyond. His coverage skills this year (as in years past), would suggest it just doesn't make sense.
Wednesday here at Redskins Park was anything but "just another day" but sadly, there have been way too many over the years that I have been at the facility on a daily basis.
To begin with, Wednesday's in the regular season are always a circus because the regular media group has to deal with the added elements that are in play on the only day that Robert Griffin III speaks, besides after a game..
Trust me, it's not much fun to be pushed, shoved, elbowed and boom microphoned by a crew of three ruthless henchmen, that CBS NFL Today dispatched. The Japanese media also added an extra element, but also led to one of the funnier exchanges of the day, with Griffin being asked if he was proud to represent Japan.
“Yes, I definitely am. I think I’m one of the only, or the only, one in the NFL who was born in Japan, Griffin said. "It’s a great honor. I’d like to thank my mom and my dad for having me over there." The last line obviously generated a good laugh.
The day started with a major curve. A blog by the fan site HogsHaven.com said that they were told by a source that Jim Haslett had been stripped of his play calling duties in the fourth quarter, and replaced by Raheem Morris.
After speaking with multiple high end sources, throughout the day - the only determination that I can make is that the report was simply not true.
I have no idea who said it (source uncited) and what their motives are, but I have to trust the people that I spoke with, because I have a good sense of when they are or could be lying.
I didn't get that sense at all. As a matter of fact, I had one source who is very familiar with the situation tell me that in the fourth quarter, "Haslett was still calling stuff."
I had a key veteran who told me that he personally witnessed Jim Haslett still calling plays all the way through the game. The veteran is a person of integrity and one that wouldn't lie in my eyes. Another veteran told me the notion is "preposterous."
To wrap up the day, the Washington Post put some icing on the day's cake by reporting that the Redskins gave contract extensions to Jim Haslett and Special Teams Coordinator, Danny Smith over the off-season.
ESPN 980 was able to confirm Haslett's extension thru 2013 and a "hefty raise." This coming on a day in which Redskins fans have officially jumped off of the 'hatred of Kyle Shanahan" bandwagon and ran full sprint ahead to the "I hate Haz and Danny" brigade.
It's utter insanity for the fans who want Haslett fired because he lost two of his best players, less than 8 plays into the game, and had the audacity to be in zone defense primarily. Just shut up, please.
It's not happening, nor should it and the same for Danny Smith. I had a trusted veteran player tell me that he believed Smith was the smartest coach in the building. Interesting indeed.
In other words, it was a lot of dog-and-pony show for only some valid reasons. It was definitely NOT "just another day."
Brian Orakpo may be a bit of a disappointment to some fans and media that watch the Burgundy and Gold on a regular basis. However, his importance should not be understated.
The outside linebacker who is in his fourth year has started 47 games, all that he has played, and has 28.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and is a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
No matter what the numbers say, and the perception is -- here's the bottom line, the Redskins have to have a healthy Orakpo if their defense is going to take a big step forward.
Orakpo and the Skins received very good news on Sunday, which confirmed their original thoughts on Saturday night (as ESPN 980 first reported) that the veteran's pectoral injury was not believed to be serious.
“There’s no tear. That was good news. They felt like [there was] a little scar tissue but nothing that serious. So he should be okay. I think everybody is relieved,” Mike Shanahan said on Monday.
Orakpo was relieved as you would expect. He told reporters the injury -- suffered on Saturday night in Chicago was a nerve wracking feeling.
"It popped on me on the field, so I was scared. I thought I re-tore it. It had the same reaction as when I tore it in Philly. That's what scared me the most."
Orakpo is moving forward in his recovery, while being ruled out by Mike Shanahan to play again in the preseason. "I'm very optimistic about it. The injury wasn't as significant as we originally thought. I'm very thankful for that."
Now the concern has to be - will this be a continuous issue for Orakpo and the Redskins? In two of the last three games the team has played, Orakpo has done some sort of damage (partial tear in Philadelphia).
The injury on Saturday was easy to see. Orakpo was slightly out of position on a quick pass to the ultra speedy Devin Hester in the left flat and Hester made one move, forcing Orakpo to counter with his left arm which bent and twisted awkwardly.
The original injury in Philadelphia came on a sack, his 2nd of the day. He also had a forced fumble on the play, and three tackles. It was not as easy to see, and in a essentially meaningless game - but what impact will it have moving forward?
That's the big question, will it prevent him from staying healthy and being 100%, and what impact will that have on the next phase of his career?
The Redskins hope that Orakpo can really break out and have monster production. Despite good numbers, the total truth is Orakpo has not made enough impact plays.
Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett, is expecting a lot more. He told the media that he felt Orakpo could have that kind of season, if he works to take the next step.
"To me, he is the kind of guy that when he wants to, when he puts his mind to it, he is going to be one of those that is going to get you 15, 16, 17 sacks. He has the ability to do that," Haslett said.
It's unknown exactly when Orakpo will be able to practice fully. The hope is he will be good to go, to begin preparations for the September 9th regular season opener in New Orleans, two weeks from today (Monday).
In order for the Redskins to win eight or nine games this year, it's very simple. They are going to have to be much better on defense. If you don't believe that, you don't understand football.
A big key in that, will Brian Orakpo be able to go from 9 sacks to 13 or 14, and instead of 3 forced fumbles -- will he have 5? There's no reason for him not too, with Ryan Kerrigan in year-two and presumably improving on his stellar rookie season (70 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and a interception return for a touchdown).
There's more reason to believe this scenario. Perry Riley is much more explosive than his predecessor, Rocky McIntosh, and London Fletcher returns to anchor the defense.
Adam Carriker was re-signed. Jarvis Jenkins is like getting a big free agent acquisition. Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, should be even better and more comfortable. I can go on and on.
Orakpo has to put more consistent heat on the opposing quarterbacks, like defenses will to the Redskins offensive line and their talented but in-experienced rookie QB.
Even though Orakpo wound up with more sacks than Kerrigan -- Kerrigan had 7 more (42-35) quarterback pressures, along with the extra forced fumble and the go-ahead interception and touchdown in Week 1.
Robert Griffin III is going to struggle and show moments of brilliance, but the Redskins defense has to carry the load, at a more efficient clip. The notion that the Redskins defense has been asked to do too much is preposterous in my eyes.
For instance, with several new parts but overall very limited injuries, the defensive unit in 2011 was only on the field for a possession average of 29:51. That's with a very inconsistent offense.
That was actually down over two full minutes on average per game in 2010. You would think that would increase performance, and while it certainly did in several key areas - one hugely critical area that did not translate well was third down percentage.
In 2010, the Redskins allowed opponents to convert 35.0% of the time. In 2011, the number jumped to 37.4%. That doesn't seem like a huge jump in pure numbers, but I can think of three games (at least) the Redskins lost because of conversions on third-and-long situation. Both Dallas games, and the Miami game are three disastrous examples.
This is with the sack totals rising from 29 (2010) to 41 (2011) with the infusion of Kerrigan, Bowen and Cofield.
The total yards allowed went down significantly, a drop of over 700 total net yards. The Redskins generated only 13 interceptions in 2011, compared to the 14 in 2010 -- and they also saw a drop in fumble recoveries, year-over-year, from 13 in 2010, to only 8 in 2011.
In other words, their total forced turnovers dropped by six, despite an increased talent base, pressure and a second year (for most) of familiarity with the 3-4 scheme.
That HAS TO CHANGE this year, and it starts with Orakpo. It starts with him being healthy and ramping up his efforts with more pass rush moves (well documented) and getting home on third down.
Will it happen? Only time and Orakpo's health will tell.
The Washington Redskins went into this past scouting combine with many needs, and they still have plenty of them.
One of those needs should NOT be defensive-end.
One of the benefits of two miserable years of re-shaping the roster is that the defensive side of the ball is stocked with some talent, and has fewer holes than the offense.
The offensive side of the ball figures to get the most attention this off-season, but the defensive side is where you can still win championships, as the Giants can attest.
While upgrading the offense, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have a responsibility to NOT ignore the defense, which clearly is the better of the two units, but it is far from perfect.
Cornerback, safety, inside linebacker (regardless of London Fletcher) are all areas that need upgrading. I think the Redskins are fine at nose-tackle, with Barry Cofield and Chris Neild. I don't think they have an elite run-stuffer on the line, either at the nose or at the end spot - but one guy (Adam Carriker) is the best of a talented, interesting, mostly 27-and-under bunch, and maybe, with another infusion of youth it will get even better in 2012.
Specifically, the re-addition of Jarvis Jenkins to the fold, should spark an even better run defense performance. Jenkins, tore his ACL in the middle of August last year, and has repeatedly told ESPN 980 and other members of the media, that he is well ahead of schedule.
If there was a silver lining in the injury rainbow, it happened early enough to give Jenkins extra time to get back and be close too or at 100%.
Even with Jenkins returning, you just never know what he is going to be and how he is going to bring it - so you have to be prepared. The Redskins re-upped Darrion Scott on Monday to a veteran contract, and along with Doug Worthington -- Scott provides depth and some versatility if/when Adam Carriker and Kedric Golston's situations are determined.
However, I think you have to bring a minimum of four defensive ends with you on 53-man roster, and at least five, if not six defensive ends to training camp for competition and depth. Jenkins, Scott, Worthington and Stephen Bowen appear to be locks to move forward, and I believe, if the Redskins are going to take the next step, both Kedric Golston and Adam Carriker should be Redskins next year and moving forward.
Great organizations layer their talent. Bad organizations always think they have enough, when they really don't. Again, the Giants defensive line and pass rush depth has continuously proved that you can cover up for a lot of mistakes and talent issues, with a great pass rush or great depth in a critical area.
Golston is a solid veteran, who was having a quiet but effective year before a season ending knee injury, which cost the Redskins depth and hurt them dearly on field goal block situations.
Carriker, continues to emerge as one of the hidden gem decisions of the Redskins current brain trust. The Redskins acquired the former first round pick right before the 2010 draft from the Rams as the teams agreed to swap picks in the fifth and seventh rounds as compensation.
In other words, they got Carriker for virtually nothing. Another trade that has worked out brilliantly. Shanahan and Allen, along with the pro scouting staff have not received anywhere near enough credit for the Carriker deal, along with acquiring Jabar Gaffney for Jeremy Jarmon (Denver released him), John Beck for Doug Dutch (Baltimore released him) and Tim Hightower for Vonnie Holliday.
Not every trade or maneuver is going to work out, but nobody has given this regime any credit for the moves that have worked and cost virtually nothing. Don't forget the stunning brilliance of the draft last year, and how they basically took the # 10 pick and turned it into Ryan Kerrigan, Leonard Hankerson, and Roy Helu.
Going back to Carriker, if you got him for virtually nothing, and he has done nothing but produce - why would you give up on him and not reward him for staying healthy and being productive with limited opportunities to rush the passer?
Multiple league sources have indicated that the Redskins have tried to bring back both Golston and Carriker, so they should be given some credit for the attempt. What is unclear, is how favorable for the player, are those efforts? The clock is ticking, towards unrestricted free agency and Carriker should and will receive good interest, early on.
Carriker, left the door open recently on ESPN 980 about his chances that he will come back to the Redskins, and his impending free agency.
"I have no idea, and that's an honest answer. I don't know the offer is going to be from the Skins. I don't know what it's going to be from other teams. I can't talk to anybody until free agency starts. I would like to be back, but at the same time, it's gotta be a fair deal and I feel like I've gotta fit into the plans and scheme well -- not just here and there."
Carriker was drafted by the Rams 13th overall in 2007, but St. Louis gave up on the Nebraska product pretty quickly and for whatever you want to say about the Redskins dysfunction, how do you think the Rams feel right now?
They simply had no reason to give up on Carriker as early as they did, and he has proven that the 'bust' label is something he could never accept. Now he's poised to capitalize on his hard work and cash in somewhere.
"I'm excited. I'm not nervous at all. When you're getting drafted, you gotta convince everyone to pick you. Coming out of high school, you get recruited. Just from talking to Barry (Cofield) and Bo (Stephen Bowen), it's gonna be more like coming out of high school. Teams are coming to you. You're gonna be taking tours of facilities, fly all-around. They're going to try to convince you to come there, with the offer, with what they want to do with you."
Carriker added further that his options are open and plentiful; "I'm pretty sure there's going to be somebody out-there that wants me. As far as testing the waters, I'm very excited. I'd love to come back to DC. We'll just see what happens with free agency."
Carriker, is coming off a season at left defensive end where he started 15 out of the 16 games, he and the Redskins played. The only exception? Washington started off in a nickel front, in Week 2 against Arizona's high powered passing attack. He had 5.5 sacks, including 1.5 against the nearly invincible Cam Newton, and 34 tackles (official via NFL.com).
The Redskins as every other team does, issue statistics compiled by the coaching staff, who grade the coaching film and meticulously track everything. Per the Redskins staff, Carriker had 49 tackles, including 6 for a loss, the 5.5 sacks which resulted in 28.5 lost yards, and 9 quarterback pressures, which placed him fifth on the Redskins.
The 'lack' of pass rush opportunities for Carriker, makes his sack total stand out a little more. It's certainly important as he looks forward to the next phase in his career, despite the notion that defensive ends in a 3-4, do not usually rack up big sack statistics. His role in whatever scheme he lands in, is a front burner issue.
"That's part of what I want to find out, what teams are going to say. I want to see what their offer is, and how many years, what's the dollars, but I want to see how they want to use me. I proved last year, I saw somewhere, somebody wrote - I had 174 less pass rushes than some other guys, and I had just as many sacks as some guys. We have a lot of good players on our team. I proved I can do it, either way."
Carriker, has made the most of his opportunities since coming to Washington, who converted to a '34' front when Mike Shanahan and Jim Haslett took over, with Carriker playing in all 32 games, starting all but the one. In 2010, as he got comfortable in the scheme, and aftermissing the entire 2009 season - Carriker racked up 37 tackles and 1.5 sacks - but make no mistake about it - he is not a one trick scheme pony.
"I won't be politically correct here, I'll just be honest. In my mind, I think I can play a4-3. I think a lot of things happened in St. Louis, really, I was played out of position. If I'm going to be truly honest, I know that most people don't agree with what I'm saying, and they've labeled me as a 3-4 end, and that's totally cool with me too, because there's no doubt I can play as a good 3-4 defensive end."
But Carriker won't shut the door on what he was for his entire career, before coming to Washington. "I realize if a 4-3 team approaches me, I'm wide open. I also realize the book on me is 'he's a really good 3-4 end.' There's worst things. I think that's a pretty good label to have."
In talking to a NFL scout, he noted that the knock against Carriker being only a 3-4 end is somewhat ridiculous. "He's played every position in a 4-3 and a 3-4, what else do you want a guy to do?"
Brian Baldinger, a former NFL offensive lineman and longtime NFL analyst for NFL Network, and formerly of FOX -- broadcast several Redskins games this year on Compass Radio Networks. Baldinger, said of Carriker via text - "He's a good five-technique (3-4 DE). He's a good fit for the Redskins defense."
In talking to Jim Haslett throughout the season, there is no doubt that the Redskins are maximizing Carriker's ability - based on his strength and body type BUT they also control and perhaps limit how many opportunities he gets as a pass rusher in nickel situations, because of the prescence of Bowen and Cofield.
Still, Carriker is on the ascent because he has erased any and all questions about his health, by playing in all 32 games he could with the Redskins. He's erased doubts about his versatility, by playing in the current scheme/front, while also having a good deal of experience in the 4-3, (St. Louis, Nebraska).
Carriker is 27 years old, and has the ideal build (6'6",300) and strength for a 3-4 end, he has proved that his body is changeable, and figures to just be hitting his peak now.
ESPN 980 front office insider, J.I. Halsell, who has negotiated contracts before as a member of the Redskins front office, and as well currently on the player agent side, with Priority Sports, suggests that Carriker is likely looking at a three to four year deal, with about 5-6 million guaranteed, along with possible other roster bonuses and incentives.
Possible interested teams could be Indianapolis under new head coach, Chuck Pagano. The Pittsburgh Steelers would be ideal if they had any salary cap room. The New England Patriots are a hybrid 3-4/4-3 team and DE's Andre Carter and Mark Anderson are both free agents. How about the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets? San Diego and Kansas City are also possible spots in the AFC.
In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys lost both Stephen Bowen and Igor Olshansky at the DE spotslast year, and DeMarcus Ware was banged up at OLB at the end of the year, plus Anthony Spencer is a unrestricted free agent. The Cowboys desperately need to upgrade their pass rush to assist their beleaguered secondary.
Green Bay is a possibility as they could use a pass rush boost, along with some defensive line infusion since losing Cullen Jenkins. Perhaps, the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals or another team could be in the mix.
Whoever lands Carriker, and wherever he chooses to go, one thing is for certain, that team is getting a player who has his best years ahead, is never going to be a problem in the locker room, and who could be an important piece of the puzzle towards winning a championship.