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.
A nice win with a quarterback not completely healthy and against an Eagle team that came to play. The good, bad, and more. Also, their updated playoff situation is listed below.
1. The Defense. Jim Haslett schemed up more pressure on the quarterback than in any game this year. The players also won more matchups than they have in any game this year. Five total sacks with several more hurries. Pressure was a factor all day but most importantly on three key plays. First--the Ryan Kerrigan sack/forced fumble on the final play of the 1st quarter. They were down 7-zip and on the verge of going down more. Second-the 4th and 2 sack at midfield up 20-13 in the 3rd quarter. Again, it was a Kerrigan play pushing the tackle back into Foles for the sack. Third-the final play of the game. Pressure forced the intentional grounding and the 10-second run-off...game over. The two turnovers forced in the first half were huge. I say forced because Kerrigan forced one with the sack and Cofield tipped the ball that Fletcher picked off. By the way, Cofield was very good all day as was Fletcher and Riley.
2. Offensive Playmakers. The Redskins have guys making plays after catches, during catches, and after getting hit. It's as important as anything we've seen during the 6-game win streak. Pierre Garcon makes plays. Joshua Morgan makes plays and was especially effective today. He had an incredible run on a reverse that should've been a loss. His touchdown catch and run was typical of the kinds of plays their receivers are making. Moss's touchdown catch was spectacular. Morris makes plays especially after contact. Royster had a good move on 3rd and short. Niles Paul had a nice catch and run. Attribute it to the scheme, the return of Garcon, or anything you want but the Skins have guys making plays with the ball.
3. Kai Forbath. He's money. 17 for 17 and the new record for most kicks made without a miss to start a career. His two early field goals today were important and gave the Skins some momentum.
4. Kyle Shanahan. He had a quarterback that was clearly less than 100% yet he was able to come up with a gameplan that kept the threat of RG3 as a runner in place without actually running him much. All season long I've felt the talk of him as a runner has been so overrated compared to the biggest benefit which has been the "threat of RG3 running" even when he didn't. There was plenty of pistol and even several read-option plays but he only ran on one read-option. The others were Morris runs or the read-option was used to set up passes. Kyle threw in several wrinkles....two plays stood out. On a completion to Garcon in the first half off the read-option look, Joshua Morgan was in motion than moved into the backfield prior to the snap. They've used that alot on plays where the WR ends up being a decoy on a run play or is used as the pitch back on the option but never on a quick throw off the read-option. The more interesting play was the touchdown run by Morris. That play appeared to be a fake read-option to one side with an old-school counter trey with Trent Williams pulling to the other side. The play broke wide-open for the touchdown.
1. RG3's mobility. It was obvious he wasn't 100% and we saw it early. He seemed uncomfortable on an early read-option run and later on a 4th and 2 bootleg miss.
2. A near-disaster in pass coverage at the end. Madieu Williams did a nice job on a safety blitz but was seemingly out of position (which isn't a first) and very lucky on a pass into the end zone for a wide open Maclin on the final drive.
1. Skins got lucky at the end when #86 dropped a wide-open slant for a touchdown.
2. I think Andy Reid may have gone for 2 and the win if they had scored at the end. He was in a risk-taking mode all day with nothing to lose.
3. The challenge by Shanahan on the RG3 lateral to Moss that lost 17 yards was a bit of a waste.
4. Eagle fans have complained about Reid's clock managment for years and it's easy to see why. He called quick timeouts with still over a minute left in the first half potentially leaving plenty of time for the Skins to score before the end of the half. It didn't hurt him this time but the strategy was wrong.
Skins' Playoff situation:
To Win the NFC East- Beat Dallas. They could also win the NFC East with a tie against Dallas if the Giants lose once. The Skins CAN'T win the NFC East with a loss to Dallas. A 9-7 final record would lose out to either a 10-6 Giants or a 9-7 Cowboys (common opponents).
Wildcard- If they lose to Dallas, they could still qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard but would need 3 of the following 4 things to happen. 1-the Giants to lose once (vs Balt or Philly); 2-the Vikings to lose to the Packers; 3-the Bears to lose once (vs Cards or Lions); 4-Seattle to lose twice (vs SF and STL).
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.
Their biggest win in several years. The good, bad, and more.
1. The offense. The debate about the type of offense their running is over. It's smart, it works, it's a step ahead of the defense most of the time, and it leverages the strengths and minimizes the weaknesses of the players that are running it. The Redskins didn't have the ball much but still managed a very impressive 370 yards on 51 plays. I loved Kyle's aggresive play-calling in the final 3:51. He knew giving the ball back to Eli with any meaningful amount of time left would likely mean loss. The throw to Garcon on 2nd and 8 for 17 yards was the perfect aggressive call.
2. RG3. No explanation necessary.
3. Alfred Morris. What a bounce-back after the 3rd quarter fumble. 10 carries for 54 yards including the final 12 to ice the game post-fumble.
4. Pierre Garcon. He's the 3rd difference-maker on offense.They would be better than 6-6 if he hadn't missed time.
5. 2nd half 3rd-down defense. After allowing the Giants 8-10 on 3rd-down, they held NY to 1 for 7 in the 2nd half. Giant penalties helped but the most important penalty of the game, Will Beatty's hold on Rob Jackson, was forced by Jackson's great jump on the snap.
6. Sav Rocca. He punted effectively but more importantly, he did a nice job on a bad snap on the game-winning PAT.
7. Darrell Young. He's so underrated. He blocks, catches, and runs for first downs.
8. Few penalties for 2nd straight week. Just 4 for 56 yards and the Paulson offensive P.I. was awful. With that said, I thought they got away with a few defensive holds.
1. Pass rush and coverage. It's obviously not good enough but fortuneately tonight, Giant self-destructive penalties and a few Eli misses on deep balls in the first half made the final result look better than it really was. Fletcher on a tight end in coverage just doesn't work.
2. Banks' return yardage. He's just not producing on returns. Is it all him or is it a combo of him and blocking? Not sure but Niles Paul had a decent kickoff return in the first half.
1. I thought Coughlan might consider going for 4th and 11 from his own 43 after Kehl's running into the punter penalty. He must have given some thought about not giving the ball up to an offense that had proven they could move the sticks. The odds were probably no better than 50-50 that the Giants would get the ball back.
2. The Paulson offensive pass interference penalty was awful and could've cost them the game.
3. Shanahan time out on offense with 1:01 left in the first half cost his team 3 pts. The goal should be to score while simultaneously leaving the Giants with the least amount of time possible. He didn't achieve the latter and could have easily.
4. Gruden was smitten with the Shanahans all night long and did a great job of illustrating why their offense is smart and working.
5. How important did Mike Shanahan think getting the first score of the game was?? He challenged a seemingly 50-50 at best ball-spot on Paulson's 3rd and long on the first 3rd down of the game.
A good win, especially considering the poor start. The good, bad, and more.
1. The offense of the first 4 weeks was back. It appeared that Kyle decided to take last week and the first two drives of today's game to rest RG3's legs. Bad idea. The threat of RG3 as a runner, especially out of the spread and pistol with option as a possibility makes everything easier. It's like a point guard who can also score in basketball. When the guy with the ball can score, the focus of the defense is on him which makes life easier for everyone else. Same idea with RG3. Everyone benefits when the defense honestly believes he might run. First two drives today, no spread, no pistol, no option potential, they got nothing. Then Kyle went to the spread and pistol with option looks and they became near-unstoppable. They scored on their next four drives and were only stopped by their own penalties. Those that think using him that way makes him more vulnerable to injury, you might be right. Those that think it doesn't work, you're wrong.
2. RG3. Brilliant. Against a good team, they can't win without him. He made plays with his arm, legs, and brain all day long. His 76-yard run for a touchdown on a key 3rd-down late will be talked about all week long but don't forget the other 10+ spectacular plays he made before that run. He was perfect on a 4th and 3 to Moss. His 3rd and 5 throw to a covered Moss kept their first TD drive alive. How 'bout the sales job on the late hit call that wasn't. His 15-yd run on 3rd and 11 early in the 3rd qtr followed by his 1st and goal check to a QB draw for a touchdown was off the charts. His decision-making was much less-risky today. After a holding penalty on Davis late in the 3rd qtr, he scrambled to the sideline and instead of taking a risk by staying in bounds and taking a big hit, he got out of bounds and avoided a hit. It was a play he couldn't make a first down on anyway. Two more things. His accuracy today throwing the ball was near-perfect. Of his five incompletions, a few of them were throw-aways and the one interception should've been reviewed. Also, his ball-handling on fakes out of the option formations, regular playaction, and bootleg are an underrated part of his game.
3. Lorenzo Alexander. Why hasn't he played more on defense over the years? He makes plays. His pass rush was tenacious and made an impact.
4. Kai Forbath. That 50-yard FG was huge. A miss and the Skins are down 9-nothing and Minnesota has great field position.
5. Madieu Williams. It's hard to give the defense much credit today but Williams made plays early that led to Minnesota field goals and his return on the interception was great.
6. Punt team/coverage. After the two blocked punts in weeks 1 & 2, this has become a strength on the team. Great hit by Niles Paul on one punt return and a nice Rocca punt downed inside the Viking 5 on another.
1. The defense. Yes they held the Vikes to field goals on Minnesota's first three drives but it's just not a good defense right now. They got more pressure than they have recently and their rush defense is solid but they just can't get off the field enough. Eli Manning is licking his chops.
2. Ability to protect/hold a lead. The Redskins led the Rams 21-6 and lost...led the Bucs 21-3 and nearly lost...and led the Vikes 31-12 today and needed a 3rd and 6 TD run from RG3 to ice the game. I thought Kyle got a little conservative on the Skins' first drive up 31-20. That 3rd and 1 pitch to Morris with RG3 under center was a play that hadn't worked all day. They were much more effective running the ball out of the spread/pistol option looks. They were on the ropes up 31-26 on 3rd and 6 before RG3 made the 76-yd TD run.
3. Officiating. I thought the unnecessary roughness call on Minnesota's Erin Henderson in the 2nd quarter was nothing more than a nice acting job by RG3. The P.I. on Josh Wilson late in the game in the end zone was just awful. The non-P.I. call on Perry Riley on the ensuing 2-pt conversion was a big miss. I also thought that the inteception of RG3 by Antoine Winfield should've been looked at longer. He didn't seem to have full possession of the ball with both feet in.
1. Skins' blocking by non-offensive linemen (see Josh Morgan, Logan Paulson, Niles Paul, Darrell Young, and Alfred Morris in pass pro) has been very good.
2. A new wrinkle for the Skins this week was the QB draw with RG3 under center that they scored on early in the 3rd qtr.
3. They won the turnover battle again but 2 of their 3 takeaways were Minnesota unforced errors. The Williams pick-6 was a horrible throw. The Hall INT at the end was Ponder desperation because of score/time. The Alexander fumble recovery was the one that may have been forced by Riley pushing Peterson into Ponder's arm. Still, no complaints about their turnover margin which is now +9 on the season.
4. Stopping Eli and the Giant offense next week starts and ends with RG3 and the Skins' offense dominating time of possession and scoring a ton of points. I have no confidence that the Skins' defense can slow Eli and company down.
Robert Griffin III has four rushing touchdowns in his first four regular season games, which already ties a club record.
He'll easily eclipse the record, perhaps as early as this Sunday -- but that's not what has been floating in my head, since Sunday's win in Tampa.
Griffin III, could have had a fifth, if he wasn't popped at the one-yard line causing a fumble and touchdown recovery by Pierre Garcon in the first half last Sunday.
I started thinking about how the young phenom was doing his magic. I thought, several of the touchdown runs (I am including the fumble/recovery as a touchdown play) were similar and had some of the same characteristics.
Upon further review, they were all different in their own unique way and really a credit to Robert, Kyle Shanahan and the offense for the idea, the execution and making something similar - not be as predictable as you would expect.
Let's take a look - based on my descriptions, while keeping football lingo to a minimum.
In St. Louis, Griffin had his first two career scores. The first touchdown, came out of a 2 wide receiver 1 x 1 (L,R) set with Leonard Hankerson to Griffin's left. Robert ran out of the pistol formation, with Alfred Morris lined up directly behind him in a QB-RB 'I' set. The Redskins had two tight ends, Niles Paul to the left and Fred Davis to the right, aligned tight to the line. Upon the modified shotgun snap, Griffin III ran a zone read, play action and scampered to his left. Hankerson, on a diagonal line, took out the play side safety. Niles Paul blocked the defensive end, and Griffin split the two Rams defenders for the score.
The second of Griffin III's touchdowns came from a much different look. The Redskins lined up in a 2 x 1 (2 L, R) wide receiver set, with Fred Davis acting as a fourth receiver lined up at the right "Y" to give a 2 x 2 look. Alfred Morris is aligned offset right of Robert Griffin, out of the shotgun. Morris takes off on a jet block up the middle, with no read option and Griffin explodes right behind him, on a QB draw for the score.
Griffin's touchdown against the Bengals, came in a hurry-up scenario with the Redskins down two scores and less than four minutes left. After Roy Helu's shoe came off on a hard charging middle-screen to the 2 yard line, Griffin, hurried his unit into the proper formation, went directly under center in a 2 WR x 1 (L-R) set, with Fred Davis bunched in on the unbalanced right side. Alfred Morris sprinted on the field, as Griffin took the snap from under Will Montgomery and pushed forward off the right side.
In Tampa, the touchdown that nearly was (that actually was/wasn't) because of the fumble by Griffin, and recovery by Pierre Garcon in the end zone looked like this. Griffin and the Redskins lined up with a triple bunch of receivers to the left on 3rd/5. Niles Paul was lined up offset to the right of Griffin III, in a pre-snap formation. Griffin motioned Paul to the far right to line up as another receiver, to make the formation look like a 3 x 1 WR look with another tight end bunched to the formation. Griffin was in a true shotgun at this point, and took off upon the snap on what I would call a QB jet.
The touchdown that actually counted for Griffin III in Tampa, was interesting as well. Griffin had drawn the Bucs off-sides twice on the drive, including on the play before the score. In this formation, the Redskins featured a 2 x 1 (2 L, 1 R) wide receiver look with Fred Davis in the right 'Y'slot to again give the look of a 4 WR formation. With this, the Redskins as they have done on a few other touchdowns, are wisely spreading out the field in a compressed area to open up more lanes for Griffin and/or Alfred Morris.
Morris, was involved in this play as well. He initially lined up in a wingback type role behind LT Trent Williams upon going to the line of scrimmage. Griffin III, somewhat frantically motioned Morris to join him off-set to his right to sell the possibility of a the cross zone read/play action. Instead, Morris rocketed out of his spot, flew in to the hole, had virtually nobody to block as the Redskins caught the Bucs in a wide spread formation with their defensive lineman, and Griffin went into the end zone virtually untouched until the very end.
So you have five scoring plays, four actual touchdowns for Robert Griffin III and while there are some striking similarities, Kyle Shanahan and the offensive staff have shown many different schematic concepts, to achieve essentially the same goal.
Taking a closer look. In both of the Tampa touchdowns, there was pre-snap motion with Niles Paul (Garcon TD) to create a 4 WR (3 x 1) spread design and by Alfred Morris (Griffin TD), taking him from a wing-back spot to an off-set right look, but more importantly - selling what the Redskins have done so many times already, the cross-face (of the QB) zone option read. This was also a play that featured a 2 x 2 alignment of receiving targets.
Essentially, spreading the Bucs out, with many different wrinkles, but still the same exact concept.
In the Cincinnati game, as mentioned above - Griffin III was under center for his rushing touchdown in a much more frantic and compressed area. Here the Redskins showed only the 3 WR look, but did have TE Fred Davis tightly aligned to the play side, also the unbalanced side (right). Again, different look and concept. Not exactly the same play, but giving defenses something else to look at.
The first St. Louis touchdown was more of a traditional run heavy power formation, because of the double TE bunch set, and the lack of WR's to truly spread the field. They sold heavy run up the middle, Morris executed the play action on the zone read so well that the linebacker wrapped him up upon contact in the middle of the pile, and then it was up to Robert to split two defenders, with some help from Paul and Hankerson for the score.
The second St. Louis touchdown, was back to what the Redskins would show in Tampa two weeks later, more of a spread set and formation using four WR's. This time, Morris would not be motioned to be off-set, he was from the beginning and the Redskins scored the touchdown easily.
The bottom line is this -- as we stressed all during camp -- on ESPN 980, Griffin III's legs and threat of running would benefit him the most inside the ten-yard line. So far, so good. Five scoring plays that for the most part would have been un-obtainable by Rex Grossman, John Beck, Donovan McNabb and probably even Jason Campbell.
That's 35 points instead 15 points. If you don't think that's made a huge difference, we're not watching the new-look Redskins on the same page.
Jabar Gaffney, led the Washington Redskins in catches (68) and receiving yards (947) along with touchdowns (5) in 2011.
Quite impressive numbers considering a very unstable Quarterback situation and the loss of Santana Moss for a good portion of the year, and top tight end Fred Davis for four games.
Imagine what he could do in 2012, with the Redskins poised to select Robert Griffin III next Thursday night with a draft selection that will change the face of the franchise for the next generation, and could possibly seal Mike Shanahan's fate as a Hall of Fame head coach.
The problem for Gaffney is, his next chance will almost definitely not come as a member of the Redskins.
ESPN 980 has learned exclusively and directly through a series of phone conversations and text messages with Gaffney and other sources over the last few days, that the Redskins are attempting to trade the veteran receiver.
If they can not work out a deal before the NFL draft, the possibility does exist that they will release the former Florida standout.
Gaffney on Wednesday morning, told ESPN 980 "I want to be playing (in 2012 and with the Redskins) Unfortunately, it's not going to be with the Redskins. They are trying to trade me."
A league source concurred with Gaffney's words, and went one step further saying that it is likely, but not absolutely certain that the Redskins could even release Gaffney by the end of draft weekend, if they can not get a deal by next Saturday when the final rounds are held.
Gaffney, told ESPN 980 that in conversations with Mike and Kyle Shanahan, he was told that he did not have to be at Redskins Park for the first two weeks of the team's off-season conditioning program.
That timeframe would coincide with the end of the draft, when Gaffney fully expects to be property of another club.
Gaffney, is only under contract for 2012 at a reported figure (Rotoworld.com) of 2.65 million, so there could be some financial flexibility gained by the move, especially if Gaffney is traded for a mid-to-late round draft pick.
The Redskins acquired Gaffney for very little, in terms of a pure exchange. They traded Jeremy Jarmon to Denver, on July 27, 2011. Jarmon did not even make the 53-man roster for John Fox, as he was released on September 3rd as the Broncos trimmed their roster to 53.
Jarmon did not play in the NFL in 2011, but of course he was another black eye on the previous regime of Vinny Cerrato, because he was a third round supplemental draft selection in 2009 - the Redskins did not have that pick in 2010 under the new regime.
Of course with this development, it is logical to think that part of the reason why Gaffney is not going to be around, is because of what allegedly happen with his personal verified and now defunct twitter account.
In case you forgot, Dan Steinberg and Sarah Kogod of the Washington Post D.C. Sports Bog, have an excellent recap, http://wapo.st/IG5d9g.
Gaffney vehemently denied that he was responsible for making any of the derogatory tweets, unlike his comments about Cowboys fans last year, which he did take responsibility for.
"It wasn't me. I'm off of it, because of what happened. All I can do is live my life. I'm not a thug, I'm not."
Gaffney continued via phone to ESPN 980, "If that was me going off, if I had a problem with him (Lito Sheppard), I wouldn't do it on twitter. I'm a man. Me and Lito talked the other day. We were laughing. If I had a problem with my wife, I wouldn't put it out there like that."
Gaffney pointed out that he had a very modest amount of tweets before this incident, he said it doesn't make sense that all of a sudden, the activity picked up with a lot of deeply personal tweets.
"I don't talk to the media like that. Twitter, man, that's the world. I'm a quiet dude. Its the truth, everything I messed up -- I take responsibility for."
Gaffney, clearly feels that the twitter controversy was one more reason to speed up the end of his Redskins career.
It's not the only reason, however. Gaffney explained to ESPN 980 that in the Carolina loss last year, (Week 7) that the initial plan for his role was diminished. He told me that Anthony Armstrong and Donte' Stallworth were slated to be the top "X" receivers and that Santana Moss was put ahead of Gaffney at the "Z" spot.
Gaffney, said "my head wasn't in the game" because of the apparent demotion, when he fumbled near the end of the first half on a reception that clearly changed the tone of the game.
Gaffney was thrust back into a more emphasized role because Santana Moss had suffered the hand injury in the first quarter that kept him out several weeks.
One other reason, besides money and the twitter controversy, why the Redskins are attempting to trade Gaffney, is the emphasis on yards after the catch (YAC).
Newly signed and highly paid Redskins WR Pierre Garcon averaged a 5.14 YAC in 2012, (360 YAC/70 receptions). Josh Morgan in his last fully healthy year (2010) with San Francisco, had 44 catches for 698 yards, with 301 YAC. According to www.coldhardfootballfacts.com, that translates to 43.12 % of his total yards.
Who was # 1 on the 2010 list, http://bit.ly/owHlqH - well, that would be a guy named Santana Moss, who the Redskins apparently are going to keep, when many (including myself) thought there would be a good possibility that he would be gone. Moss, had 505 YAC, on his 93 receptions good for 45.29% of his total receiving yards.
According to a tweet on our @ESPNRadio980 page, "Of the 51 players that had 750 yards or more receiving in the NFL last year. Gaffney's 184 YAC ranked him 50th."
In terms of all receivers, Gaffney's 184 yards after the catch in 2011, ranked him in the low 100's, and was good for a 2.70 average for his 68 receptions.
Still, Gaffney was very productive considering the instability at the QB position, and was looking forward to getting an opportunity to work with Robert Griffin III.
"I was really excited, we're going to get a good quarterback. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll be with another quarterback somewhere else."
On a personal note, I really like Jabar Gaffney. I think he is a quiet, solid, veteran who is modest, and was well liked in the locker room.
Throughout last season, we had numerous conversations, including when he joined me for "Monday Night Live" at Velocity 5 after the Miami loss. He was real. He was honest, articulate and thoughtful.
It wasn't just a one-hour show, it was dinner and a long conversation afterwards in a more relaxed setting. It is hard to truly get to know a guy in the locker room, but the "Monday Night Live 1-on-1 for an hour, lets you dig deeper and the conversations before, during and after is where you really get a good feel for a person.
I could be completely wrong (happens a lot) but my strong sense on this one, is that Gaffney is a good guy, who while not perfect, deserves to be on a team that values what he brings to the table.
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) Former Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb wonders whether Washington coach Mike Shanahan will be able to get the most out of Robert Griffin III if, as expected, the team drafts the Heisman Trophy winner.
During an appearance Thursday on ESPN2's "First Take," McNabb was asked whether Shanahan is a good fit for the Baylor quarterback known as RG3.
"No," McNabb replied. "I say that because a lot of times ego gets too involved when it comes to being in Washington."
He played for Shanahan in Washington in 2010, when the Redskins went 6-10, the QB was benched twice, and there were testy exchanges involving McNabb's agent and the team.
"I was misused. Absolutely," McNabb said.
He said that Eagles coach Andy Reid adapted his offense to McNabb when he was drafted, but thinks Shanahan - and his son, Kyle, Washington's offensive coordinator - might not do that for Griffin.
"Are you going to cater the offense around his talent and what he's able to do? Or are you going to bring the Houston offense?" McNabb asked, a reference to the younger Shanahan's work with the Texans.
He also suggested Mike Shanahan could get fired if things don't go well next season. The head coach is 11-21 so far with the Redskins. The team pulled off a blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up to the No. 2 overall pick in next month's draft and is expected to get Griffin.
"If this doesn't work this year - we don't see the splash, like a Cam Newton splash - this could be it," McNabb said.
McNabb said other quarterbacks haven't been successful under Shanahan, including Rex Grossman and John Beck with the Redskins, and Brian Griese with the Broncos.
After the Redskins traded McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings, he went 1-5 as a starter last season before being waived. He played 11 seasons with the Eagles, taking them to one Super Bowl.
Who will be the Washington Redskins starting Quarterback in 2012? It probably won't be just ONE guy, it is never that easy for a franchise that has been on an access road with no paved entry to the highway for the better part of 20 years.
Will it be Rex Grossman (50/50)? How about John Beck?? (I still think he has a chance, I am the only one besides Beck and his family, and maybe if things go haywire - Mike & Kyle Shanahan might take one last shot). What about the popular choice, Heisman winner Robert Griffin III (RG III)? Or the top free agent QB on the market, Matt Flynn of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers? Just for good measure, why don't we throw in Jolly Ol' St. Nick just to give us one for the thumb.
If I was ranking the possibilities based on the fans choice awards. RG III, would be choice 1-10, and on a different planet than everybody else. Santa Claus would be the 2nd choice. Flynn would be a distant 3rd to Santa and his reindeer. Rex would be in the clean-up spot (not where you want to be in this kind of ranking) and Beck would be swimming with the fishes.
After all, fans are always qualified to have a definitive opinion based on three games played while missing 5 starters for almost the entire time. I joke, because otherwise I get angry.
Hell, I don't know for sure if John Beck can play at this level. I believe he can. I think Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers think he can (they work out in San Diego together). I know he still believes he can. I believe Mike and Kyle Shanahan still hold out hope (he is the only QB under contract currently). I know this for sure -- Beck is not a dummy, and he was caught between being tentative (not wanting turnovers) and trying to stretch defenses. The only way you determine if he can overcome that is by giving him a legitimate chance, something I still do not feel he had.
Sorry guys, anybody that thinks three games is a fair chance, has no earthly clue what the meaning of fair is.
That being said - professional football is not a fair world. So -- I have to assume something different. How different, is the ultimate question. I strongly believe the Redskins will make a good attempt at Flynn. However, at this time of the year - you get a lot of smoke. Positive, negative. It is hard to know EXACTLY what the truth is. For what it is worth, I believe the people I have spoken too.
I want you to make up your own mind -- but please keep reading and you will see some reasons why you and the Redskins might want to get "In with Flynn."
Why do I believe it? Where do I begin?
For one, free agency is well ahead of the draft this year, unlike last year -- because of the lockout. If you bypass Flynn, you basically have to hope that you can land the Quarterback du jour in the entry draft. Will RG III even be around at # 6? Do you have to trade the future, for what you HOPE will be the NOW? I know there are other options, such as Texas A & M's Ryan Tannehill (broken foot, out of Senior Bowl), and Arizona's Nick Foles or a highly unlikely trade up to # 1 and Andrew Luck - but all of those scenarios are subject to a major roll of the dice. If you sign Flynn - you could still draft RG III if he is available at # 6 and have 2 really strong potential options or you could be patient, draft another need at 6, and draft an arm to develop in the 2nd to 4th round area.
That's what I would do if I was Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen. You try and get two for the price of 1 - while keeping Beck and letting Rex Grossman find another team that he can contend for the starting job with. Maybe Rex goes Miami or Jacksonville, so he can at least have a chance to be a starter.
Here's the bottom line. I don't think it is fair for anybody's mental sanity - to think that Rex Grossman should be the starter here in Washington. He is not going to suddenly correct his turnover problem. He has never been a consistent Quarterback in terms of accuracy (interceptions are not the only problem) and as my friend Brian Baldinger from the NFL Network said to me on Monday night "If they can't keep anyone healthy, it won't matter who the Quarterback is."
Assuming it matters who the 'guy' is, and I'm kind of guessing that it does -- I don't think any Redskins fan or observer could have a problem with a potential rake of Flynn, Tannehill and bringing back Beck. Especially if you couple that with a wide receiver like Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon or if the Redskins drop back from # 6 overall, pick up an extra pick - take South Carolina's outstanding WR Alshon Jefferey and then use that extra pick or other extra picks that they have acquired to get the guy they feel will develop into the next Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.
We still have two months until free-agency begins, and about 3-and-a-half months until the entry draft - so a lot will happen and speculation will be rampant. The only thing I have control over - is trying to provide as accurate of an assessment of each guy as I see it.
I have not carefully studied RG III, or Tannehill yet -- or for that matter any other college signal caller. The Redskins are just in the beginning phase of that project as well, and will get a birds-eye, hands-on view at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama at the end of the month. Oh by the way, Mike and Kyle Shanahan will get to work directly with some of the top QB's (Foles, Weeden, Lindley) for the South squad.
I highly suggest the NFL Network's coverage of the practices and the game, as you will begin to see why the Redskins took half of their draft class from last years Senior Bowl and why I was so high on Leonard Hankerson and Ryan Kerrigan that week, and leading the way through the draft.
The one guy I have taken as good of a look as you are going to get at -- (without flying a helicopter over the Packers practice facility) is Flynn -- who only has two career NFL starts but lit up the Detroit Lions defense to the tune of six touchdowns in the regular season's last week.
Flynn set Packer records for single game performance, for a franchise that has had three of the best ever in Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Yes, Detroit's secondary stinks - but their pass rush and defensive line is outstanding. The Lions, as you may recall -- were a playoff team with a great defensive mind (Jim Schwartz) as their head coach along with their defensive coordinator, Gunther Cunningham.
As I went back and watched the television tape, several things jumped out at me. Flynn, by my count (I might have missed one) did NOT run any bootlegs or for that matter, a lot of sprint rolls - which is something the Redskins ideally would like to do. Not a big deal, but notable.
The negatives from the tv tape -- were easy to see.
Flynn struggled a bit with pressure recognition. On the first Green Bay series of the game, Flynn came out flinging the football on the first four plays from scrimmage. He had a nice completion on first down, then followed that up with two straight incompletions, but both were understandable based on coverages, routes and pressure.
The problem came on third down -- as Flynn was sacked and coughed the football up via fumble (sound familiar?) by the Lions on an inside twist/stunt rush. Flynn by my count had the ball from a shotgun snap for about 3 seconds. The Lions only rushed four, because it was 3rd/10 and the Packers showed a 3 receiver look.
Early game jitters against a talented front? Perhaps, but certainly something you don't want to see. Can it be corrected in a variety of ways? Of course. The one thing you always have to wonder is how much of that is rust versus recognition. Nobody knows.
The Lions all-world defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had a monster sack of Flynn, just beating his man in protection, and lighting up Flynn, who held on to the ball. That's going to happen of course, against premier talent. Flynn did not do anything wrong to the semi-trained eye.
I will get to some excellent blitz/pressure recognition items that I picked up in just a bit, but lost in the record setting performance that Flynn had, was a terrible interception he threw to Lions defensive back, Alphonso Smith. Flynn was in his customary shotgun drop, locked in on Jordy Nelson -- his 'X' receiver on the play -- never took his eyes off of his target and Smith jumped the inside slant from his off-coverage position. The Packers had run this play a couple of times, and had picked on Smith -- so maybe they just ran out of good fortune.
Either way, it was a bad read and choice by Flynn. The thing I liked is he kept his composure, and came out throwing the ball on the next series and led the Packers on a big scoring drive.
Those were the observations I made, that I didn't like - but of course in a six-touchdown performance -- there was a lot of good things to enjoy if you like offense, and good play out of your most important guy on the field.
I loved that the Packers came out throwing the football, four straight times until the turnover on the first series. That shows me -- Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin (who is going through an awful personal tragedy with the loss of his 21-year old son) are and were not afraid to trust Flynn with the offense. That's what they do for Rodgers, and that is how they were going to call it for Flynn.
On the Packers 2nd series, Flynn faced a 3rd/8+ and fired a strike to Jermichael Finley -- after Finley had dropped the previous pass. Flynn shows trust in his target (as he should), and got a huge first down to move the chains.
On the same series, on a 3rd/6 - Flynn had perhaps my favorite non touchdown throw of the game -- as he lined up in shotgun (a very frequent occurrence). As the pocket broke down, Flynn was flushed to his left and as every good QB does, kept his eyes up and scanned the field. He shuffled, and slid again even more after his initial movement, and fired a first down completion to the same left side. a back shoulder spot completion to Jordy Nelson. Flynn didn't have his feet set, he was still shuffling to the left and had a hand in his face, but made an accurate throw. I LOVED THIS PLAY - because it showed EVERYTHING that I look for in a professional, potentially very good to elite quarterback.
On his next drive, Flynn saved a field goal attempt after a drive bogged down inside the red zone -- after connecting on another big third down. Flynn mixed in James Jones and Ryan Grant to the Nelson/ Finley mix, leading to a touchdown to Nelson as Flynn went under center (rare), took one step back and fired a smoke pass to Nelson for a 7-yard TD breaking the tackle of the aforementioned Alphonso Smith.
Flynn was starting to find his stride after the touchdown to Nelson - and on the next drive he showed a touch of not-so good, but a huge statement to answer that. On a first down, Flynn missed a wide open Donald Driver on play action, from under center - one of the rare times that he had his hands under a butt. This is a little concerning (not being under center for all but 3 plays by my count).
The very next play - Flynn wiped out a bad throw with a great play, along with a LOT of help from Ryan Grant. Flynn read a free blitzer coming right at him, threw to his "hot" receiver, in this case - Grant - and one simple, good decision along with accurate ball placement later - turned a potential broken play or disaster into an 80-yard touchdown. It is the basic things that matter, not who can throw it down the field 50 yards at a time.
Booming arm strength is completely over rated. Did nothing for Jeff George, Akili Smith, JaMarcus Russell and others. You have to have accuracy and intelligence, combined with work ethic to make your arm strength worth anything.
Flynn was clearly settling into a flow as the first half went along, and started to really show what he can do. Flynn hit Jermichael Finley on a crossing route from his left to right, realizing that Finley had inside leverage on his route and was perfectly led in stride. The next play, Flynn threw a corner route to Donald Driver who draw a defensive pass interference call.
Flynn or the Packers were not done, stretching the Lions defense. The very next play after the penalty - Flynn hooked up with Jordy Nelson who ran a go-route for a 36-yard TD. The ball was under thrown slightly (by design?) to the back shoulder of Nelson, so that only he could make a play on the ball. The corner was in pursuit, and never turned his head around. Oh yeah, one other thing -- Flynn drew the Lions off-sides for the free play -- by using a hard count.
In the fourth quarter, the Packers were down 41-38 with about 2:40 left, when Flynn went to work from the shotgun, hurry-up formation. He threw a 15-yard dart to begin the drive, on a dig route. Flynn took a short dump down to Brandon Saine at the two-minute warning. On a 3rd/3 - Flynn drew the Lions off-sides again (Ndamukong Suh) for a critical first down. After Flynn's receiver fell down, leading to a near interception and a short completion to Jordy Nelson, Flynn and the Packers faced a defining 3rd/4 situation.
Flynn got the snap, had plenty of time to scan the field - and dialed up James Jones over Chris Houston for a 40-yard gain. The ball was perfectly placed, and in stride, over Jones' shoulder -- leading Super Bowl winning coach and FOX Analyst, Brian Billick to say the pass was as "perfectly thrown a football as you've seen all year"
Flynn finished off the drive and the win with a quick slant touchdown to TE Jermichael Finley. This time, Flynn took the snap from under center, and fired it to Finley's waist level and in a location where either the ball would be caught or incomplete. That's what good quarterbacks have to do.
Flynn is nowhere close to that designation, based on playing time -- but he certainly has the ability to get to that point. Flynn has only one other NFL start.
In the 2010 season, Flynn started a Sunday Night Football game against the New England Patriots in Foxboro. I remember watching some of the game on the Redskins team bus back from a road trip and everybody was 'ooohing and ahhhing' over some of the plays Flynn was making.
One of the plays, (after double checking NFL.com's game highlights) was a 66-yard TD pass to James Jones perfectly in stride, on a go route, up the right sideline. The Patriots appeared to be playing a Cover-2 look with the safety late getting over the top. Flynn was in shotgun.
Another play that I liked, was a 3rd/10 -- on a long Packers scoring drive of 14 plays. This was play number 13 and the difference between a field goal, or a chance at a touchdown. Flynn scanned the field, made his third read and found stud FB John Kuhn underneath for a screen to bring the Packers inside the New England-5 while picking up the first down.
The very next play, Flynn capped off the drive with a tight slant throw for a touchdown to Greg Jennings who worked from Flynn's left on a pick with the slot receiver, who ran a corner route. Kyle Arrington had tight coverage on Jennings who caught a frozen rope for the score.
Later in the game, Flynn also led another 13-play drive, that culminated in a swing pass touchdown to Kuhn. Again, a long drive that finished with 7 points and not three (sound familiar?).
As with every game, Flynn made a few mistakes, throwing a interception to Arrington on a route that Donald Driver either broke off or just was not on the same page. Flynn threw it - expecting a slant. Driver looked like he was thinking a back shoulder throw or a comeback concept. For what it is worth, both Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin on the NFL Network, said of the throw that the "receiver stopped the route."
Another mistake that Flynn made was a bad read of coverage by safety Brandon Meriweather. The Packers were down 31-27 with 3:35 left, and a 2nd/5 when the interception occurred. The route and concept were similar to the Jones touchdown earlier in the game. The execution wasn't the same.
However, thanks to a hands-to-the-face penalty on Tully Banta-Cain -- the Packers and Flynn got a second chance. Flynn followed that penalty and the new life, with a 3rd/4 conversion on a drag route to Donald Driver to extend the drive for 6 yards.
The Packers faced a 3rd/11 for the 11th play of drive with only :25 left, again down 31-27, when Flynn hit Driver on a slant to get the Pack to the Patriots-16. The problem was the Packers had no time outs, and wasted about 15 seconds getting up to the line for what would turn out to be the final play.
Flynn got sacked after taking a deep 7 step shotgun snap, and flushing to his right side -- looking for an open target in the end zone that would have won the game.
Who sacked him, and forced a fumble for the icing on the Patriots cake? That man again, Tully Banta-Cain.
Two starts is all we have of Matt Flynn to go on. The week before the New England start -- Flynn took over for a concussed Rodgers against the same Detroit defense that he shredded at Lambeau, but did not fair as well. Flynn was (15-26) 57.7%, 177 yards, with and interception.
I am not going to break down preseason contests, but clearly the Redskins hiearchy can review that tape, to study mechanics, arm slot and detailed footwork.
Who knows what they will see and what they have already seen for sure. I can tell you this, in the 2010 preseason -- Flynn was a combined (50-85) 58.8% for 583 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, while running 7 times for nearly 5 yards a clip. He fumbled twice, losing one.
In the 2011 preseason -- Flynn was (22-40) 55% for 311 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception, while running 3 times for 13 yards.
I know this for sure -- on the night home from Philadelphia a little over two weeks ago - Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his father, Mike, had a detailed conversation over Flynn's performance against the Lions.
They were very impressed and pleased to see the results, despite not being able to witness the work. I am told that they have had other conversations about Flynn, and it would appear based on a few sources inside the organization that the Redskins are 'very interested' as one source described to me.
Of course, we shall see when 'rubber meets the road' and it comes down to contract time. I think the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and a few other teams could be in the mix.
Our ESPN 980 Front Office NFL Insider, J.I. Halsell expects a very modest contract for a potential NFL starter, because simply -- teams do not know how good Flynn will be as a starter, with limited experience.
Halsell, who has had first hand experiences with contracts from both a management perspective (Redskins) and now a player agency perspective (Priority Sports) -- suggests that the price for Flynn, a former 7th round pick, will be around a 2 or 3 year deal, roughly at 3 million dollars in value per year. Halsell says Flynn's guaranteed money would be in the range of 3-4 million overall.
Halsell says his draft round status has no factor or hindrance in Flynn getting a bigger contract, it is simply about a lack of playing experience - but Flynn would get paid as a "top-tier # 2 QB type deal."
Why wouldn't Flynn cost as must as a Quarterback like Matt Schaub did when Houston acquired him from Atlanta?
Simple. As Halsell points out - Schaub had more of a "body of work," with six games in three seasons of 10 + attempts. Perhaps the most notable thing to keep in mind, is that the Texans TRADED for Schaub after his 3rd season in the NFL - clearly valuing him more than a guy like Flynn - who any team could sign with no compensation return.
The only possible exception to that would be if the Packers were to slap the franchise tag on Flynn, and retain his leverage. That tag however, would be extremely costly and the Packers would have to carry that number on their salary cap until Flynn was traded. Highly, extremely unlikely.
Schaub, in case you were wondering, only had two starts as well - BUT - in 2004, his rookie season, Schaub was (33-70) for 330 yards, with a touchdown and four picks. In 2005, Schaub was (33-64) for 495 yards, with four touchdowns and no picks. In 2006, his final year in Atlanta - Schaub was (18-27) for 208 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
This showed the Texans that Schaub had a bigger body of work, as Halsell pointed out (three years, six games of 10 + attempts). Schaub had a combined 161 passing attempts during that three year span, and 24 rushing attempts. Schaub had 6 touchdowns to 6 picks. Schaub was 26 years old entering his first season with the Texans, who just happened to have Kyle Shanahan on the staff. Shanahan was about to begin his first year as Quarterbacks coach.
Needless to point out - Kyle still has not found what he had in Houston with Schaub (listed at 6-5, 235).
In four years with the Packers, including the two starts -- Flynn (27 on June 20th) has 132 passing attempts and 31 rush attempts. He has a 62.1% completion rate, 1,015 yards along with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He's lost two fumbles, and has 31 rushing attempts.
An NFL evaluator said this to ESPN 980, when I asked if Flynn has the ability to be the next Matt Schaub or if he is a fringe starter? The evaluator didn't exactly answer it directly, saying via text -- "Why not? He plays exactly like (Aaron) Rodgers, he just doesn't have [the] same arm." When I asked if his arm strength was good or adequate, the evaluator said "It's good enough."
Per John, in speaking to a scout who attended a Green Bay two-a-day session each of the past two years -- the scout walked away with this thought on Flynn. “I was blown away by the guy because I had such low expectations. I was amazed at how good he looked, how in command [Flynn was] and he’s a mobile guy. He has a good arm, not a great arm. Arm strength is one of the most overrated aspects of a quarterback."
John also spoke with Russ Lande, a former NFL scout who heads the draft coverage for the Sporting News (www.sportingnews.com) and runs GM Jr., who told Keim about the Redskins -- “I would go get Flynn,” Lande said. “I thought he was a better player than Kevin Kolb. He has an average NFL arm, which is more than enough to win with. But Mike [Shanahan] is a smart guy. He can win this this guy and win real well. To me it’s a slam dunk so you don’t have to use your first-round pick."
Flynn is far from a finished product, but how many "finished products" are there - that are available and affordable? Peyton Manning might be 'finished and available' but no-thanks for me, no matter what other reports and rumblings have indicated.
I also look back at a players college career for an indication of certain qualities, but again realize everything in the NFL is different. I remember Flynn laying an absolute whipping on the University of Miami in the 2005 Chick Fil-A Bowl. Flynn finally got his chance to start full time in his senior season, and only won a National Championship over Ohio State. Flynn was and seems to still be a winner, with determination. He is not a standout statistically by any means as you can see here.
Per NFL.com - Flynn has appeared in a total of 50 games at Louisiana State, including 33 as a quarterback, starting 12 games at that position. He completed 245-of-437 passes (56.1%) for 3,096 yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He carried 128 times for 340 yards (2.7-yard average) and five scores. On 565 plays, he amassed 3,436 yards in total offense. He fumbled three times and was sacked 35 times for losses totaling 258 yards.
Flynn, was downgraded accordingly in the NFL Draft, and was a 7th round pick. The scouting report via NFL.com on Flynn was in part this -- Good decision-maker who is a valid threat to gain yardage with his feet...Cool under pressure and has the mobility and vision to tuck the ball and locate the cutback lanes on the draw...More of a straight-line runner (stiff hips make it tough for him to fluidly redirect), but he can throw on the move...Knows when he needs to pull the ball down and run with it, but is not the type that will get "happy feet," as he goes through his progressions to locate a secondary target before bolting.
As with every prospect - they are far from perfect and Flynn was in that camp. Here are the negatives that were compiled by NFL.com: Has good accuracy in the short area, but does not have the arm strength to consistently air the ball out...Sometimes telegraphs throws, as he tends to pat it before throwing...Shows good mobility on the move, but is more of a straight-line runner who does not have the change-of-direction agility to quickly hit the cutback lane...Can make some of his deep throws, but those attempts lack velocity and zip to keep it away from the defenders...
Two things also factor into the possible Redskins-Flynn equation. Unlike last year, the Redskins will have to make their decisions first on free agency and then the draft. I can't stress how uncomfortable it makes me to bank on the draft to find "THE GUY," and I am NOT a trade up kind of guy. There is no guarantee that RG III is around with the sixth pick, as a matter of fact it is highly unlikely. You may have to move all the way up to the 2nd pick -- which is an extremely high cost.
The last, and this might be most important -- the Green Bay Packers run a very similar style of the West Coast offense, in the passing game, as the Redskins do. Every scheme has variances, but these two teams, according to one high end Redskins source - are "almost the same." Flynn would not face a huge scheme transition like Kevin Kolb did. The source was quick to point this out, saying that Kolb going from Andy Reid and the Eagles to Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals (essentially the Steelers offense) was like learning Chinese fluently in a month, when your base language is English.
I can't say it enough, it doesn't cost the Redskins enormous money to roll the dice on Flynn - while it reduces the pressure on a quarterback that they can draft and develop.
You can not go in to this season with John Beck or Rex Grossman as your top and best option. It's simple, sign Flynn draft a future guy in the 2nd or 3rd round area and keep Beck and Jonathan Crompton to have 4 slingers to battle for 2-3 spots.
Remember what Mike Shanahan feels about depth and competition. Mark my words. The Redskins will be making a huge mistake if they bypass Flynn and roll the dice solely on the NFL Draft. Why not have the best of both worlds?
The Redskins have some of the presents under the tree that are needed to finally get the magic back at FedEx Field and beyond.
Clearly not enough of them, so perhaps Santa will be kind and drop a top 7 pick down the chimney and a Quarterback like maybe Matt Barkley or the Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III.
Perhaps the Redskins draft a stud wide receiver like Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and then they move back up in the latter part of the first round (Landry Jones?) or stay in the 2nd round - perhaps even drop back like last year -- and grab Texas A & M's Robert Tannehill.
It's very early, but everybody can have some optimism that things will work out and the loyal fans of the franchise will get to watch their team win a lot of games, and those of us that cover the Redskins will actually be able to concentrate on football instead of drug suspensions; overpaid, self absorbed wind bags and ridiculous, worthless city paper expose's and even worse, absurd lawsuits that come out of them and then magically go away on the opening day of the season.
Besides a large upgrade to the offense from free agency and the draft (similar to the improvements the defense received), the Redskins will also return Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney, Niles Paul, Chris Chester, Will Montgomery, Roy Helu, and several others - but those are as close to locks as you will find.
Trent Williams and Fred Davis are a major question mark. One has to stay completely clean and stop hanging out with what they grow on the Redskins Park practice fields, and the other (Davis) has to make sure the only pot he deals with is one to boil water in. Oh yeah, he also has to be signed to a new deal as an unrestricted free agent.
Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, David Anderson, Chris Cooley, Tim Hightower, Kory Lichtensteiger, Jammal Brown, Rex Grossman, John Beck, and a few others are question marks, depending on circumstances that vary from player to player.
Washington also has two other guests at the 2012 table that barring a completely unforeseen circumstance - will be key contributors to Mike Shanahan. One is a starter already (Darrel Young) and one probably will be a starter (Willie Smith) at either left or right tackle, or at the very minimum - the top reserve offensive tackle.
Smith did not start on Sunday against the Patriots, but was in on the 2nd series -- quickly yielding a sack, forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Vince Wilfork of New England. Former Redskins DE/OLB Andre Carter blew around and under Smith on his third snap, belted Rex Grossman who took too long in his own end zone and forced a huge play in his return to FedEx Field.
Smith told me on "Monday Night Live" at Velocity 5 in Sterling on ESPN 980 "I looked at it like 'that's the worst thing that could happen,' alright, so that's out of the way -- so lets play ball."
Mike Shanahan in his lengthy Monday press conference (aired every Monday on ESPN 980) said "I thought it was a little on the quarterback and a little on Willie and I still feel that way after taking a look at the film."
Smith had some up and down moments over the course of the rest of the game, as he expressed to me on Monday afternoon. The coaching staff is well aware it was far from a great performance, but considering the circumstances - it could have been worse.
As mentioned, Smith did not start -- a decision made by Mike Shanahan to ease the burden on the young, undrafted rookie out of East Carolina. Smith, put a positive spin on that via phone on ESPN 980.
"You get to see how the guys are playing. It's definitly a help when u can come in like that." He replaced Sean Locklear in the first half and played the rest of the way.
Smith was probably out-played by fellow tackle, Tyler Polumbus, who replaced Jammal Brown at right tackle when Brown re-injured his groin before the game. Of course, Polumbus should have played better, as he has more NFL experience and had already played one game for Washington, at left guard. Polumbus worked at both positions during the week leading up, and was activated for his versatility and because Brown was dealing with a hip injury as well.
Polumbus, because of his ability to play multiple positions and his fit in the scheme, could also be a key part of the offensive line rotation next year.
Young is a vastly under appreciated fixture in the backfield, despite this being only his first year as a starter and his 2nd year playing the position.
Young was with us for the entire hour on ESPN 980's "Monday Night Live" at Velocity 5. He only caught one pass for 8 yards, but had several key blocks including on Roy Helu's 15 yard gain after the Wilfork touchdown. He did not have any carries, but had a key 3rd down conversion in the Arizona win earlier this year.
"I feel like I can be a Le'Ron McClain (former Baltimore/current Kansas City FB) in this offense. Be able to run the ball. They ran a screen to me. I just gotta get more yards."
Young assisted the Redskins running backs in piling up 170 yards on the ground, against a Patriots defense that has been allowing only a little over 100 yards per game.
Young can break off some big chunks of yardage when the offense is clicking on all cylinders, which it rarely is -- but he attributed the success on Sunday and recently, to the number one target of the frustrated Redskins fan base.
"It just goes to show that Kyle Shanahan is a good coordinator. I love Kyle. I think he's a great coordinator."
That (Kyle Shanahan) might be the best present waiting under the tree for the Redskins as 2011 turns to 2012.