The Washington Redskins addressed a huge need with the number 51 overall pick in the 2nd round and their first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, selecting 6 foot plus CB David Amerson out of North Carolina State. With their third round selection, the Redskins selected tight end Jordan Reed from Florida, a former Quarterback with tremendous athleticism.
As reported live on ESPN 980 Friday night before the pick was made, the Redskins zeroed in on Amerson tonight as teams before the Redskins picked off other players of interest such as Johnthan Banks and Jonathan Cyprien.
ESPN 980 first reported several weeks ago that Amerson would make a personal visit to Redskins Park, a visit that he took to spend time with Defensive Backs coach Raheem Morris and Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett.
Amerson had 13 interceptions in his sophomore year of 2011, the most in college football since Washington's Vince Worley in 1968. He had 18 interceptions in his career at NC State, with 5 picks coming in his final year.
He also has the ability to play free safety, although he told ESPN 980 moments after his selection that for the time being the Redskins coaching staff has only talked to him about playing cornerback, but he also said "I'm open for anything."
Currently, the Redskins have DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, EJ Biggers, Jerome Murphy and now Amerson in the fold at cornerback.
Free Safety is a much thinner group with Jordan Pugh who played mostly on passing downs last year, Reed Doughty and the currently suspended Tanard Jackson.
Amerson, was sharply criticized for his performance in 2012 for the Wolfpack, but some of that may be unfair. He says and the tape cut-ups prove it, that he was guilty of being a little over aggressive and not reading with his eyes carefully enough. He feels that the early season adversity made him a better player.
In looking back at my notes when I was able to watch isolation coverage via DraftBreakdown.com of Amerson against Boston College, I saw a defensive back who plays on both sides of the field, who can flip his hips and run around a 4.4 40-yard dash. He had an interception while playing on the right side, and in zone coverage that he returned for a touchdown along with a few nice pass break ups.
However, he also had times where he was beat like on a deep post and one time, playing off-man coverage, Amerson was beat on a 3rd/10 hook route. He also did a bad job tackling in space on a cutback run on one play.
We will learn more about Amerson in the coming weeks, but he is a member of the Washington Redskins tonight and he adds to a big need area, in a league that is clearly going taller, bigger and faster at wide receiver.
As for Reed, he joins a group that consists of Fred Davis who is on a one year deal and coming off a major surgery, along with returning tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul.
Reed becomes the eighth player from the University of Florida selected by a Shanahan led team, the most of any school. Shanahan has roots to Gainesville as he was an offensive coordinator there from 1980 - 1983.
Reed has been compared to Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots, by more than just scouts and draft analysts. Mike Shanahan mentioned the connection as well saying Reed is a "lot like Hernandez. I'm not sure if Hernandez is that fast."
Reed figures to give the Redskins the ability to be a matchup nightmare to opposing defenses as he can line up at tight end in-line, a split end, a wide receiver and in H-Back capacity.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Did they get better? That's the 'big' question (pardon the terrible pun). The Redskins made their first addition to a secondary that has never-ending questions by signing E.J. Biggers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Biggers, a 7th round pick from Western Michigan, is entering his fifth professional season. Biggers turns 26 in June and had an interception, two forced fumbles and 41 solo tackles last season. He started 12 of the 13 games in which he played. He missed the Bucs first three games because of a foot injury under new head coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano replaced current Redskins defensive-backs coach, Raheem Morris. Morris, as a first-year head coach, drafted Biggers and then helped him develop over the next three years. The 'fit' is beyond obvious.
On the surface, you have to wonder why the Bucs would give up on Biggers when they have plenty of salary cap room and a need for cornerbacks as evidenced by their reportedly strong interest in New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis.
Furthermore, while an exception to every rule exists, Biggers was a 7th round pick for a reason. That doesn't mean he can't play - but enough teams agreed with a consensus that he was a long term developmental project.
Morris left a voicemail on my cell phone telling ESPN 980 on Wednesday night that Biggers is a "great kid" and that he actually discovered Biggers watching Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas at Western Michigan. Morris says that Biggers was "everything I thought, he really came on and took a business-like approach."
Morris said Biggers has "elite speed - he can run, cover," but one of his areas of improvement would be "ball skills." However, Morris feels "he's gotten so much better, as a ball skill guy and learning how to track the football."
If you are looking for more good news - Biggers graded out very well in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus.com https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/01/01/free-agent-cornerbacks/ at a plus 3.8, while playing 816 snaps.
Based on PFF's rankings, only 4 free agent cornerbacks (Antoine Winfield, Chris Houston, Terence Newman, Sheldon Brown) had higher rating than Biggers did amongst corners who played more than 800 snaps.
That would seem to back up more of what Raheem Morris told ESPN 980 on Wednesday night, about Biggers. "He has elite qualities. He's a fast guy, who could really stick you in coverage."
Biggers made his 2012 debut against the Redskins in Week 4, and was solid in pass coverage according to ProFootballFocus.com, at a plus 2.0 overall and a plus 1.7 in pass coverage. I don't remember anything impactful that Biggers did in that game, but I am more focused on what the Redskins are doing - as opposed to the opponent.
Overall, his run defense seems to need an improvement, as he graded out a minus 4.6, but his pass coverage was a plus 6.2 overall. He sacked Matt Ryan in Week 12, but also was credited with 13 missed tackles by ProFootballFocus.com.
Biggers is listed as playing both sides of the field, and another source that saw him play on a regular basis suggested to ESPN 980 that Biggers "stays with guys very well, but doesn't find the ball." The person views Biggers as more of a third cornerback, with spot start ability.
The Redskins now have Josh Wilson, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy, Devin Holland, Korey Lindsey and Biggers under contract at the cornerback position. Biggers is listed at 6-0, 185.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Redskins are dealing with a somewhat minor shake-up to the coaching staff of Mike Shanahan, as the coaches prepare to go on vacation for a few weeks.
The Buffalo Bills made it official, what Washington Times and ESPN 980 Redskins Insider Rich Campbell wrote about earlier todaywtim.es/V80Ojl, that Redskins wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard is leaving after just one year and joining Doug Marrone's staff in the same position.
Hilliard worked under Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, in Tampa when Hilliard was still playing and Hackett was cutting his teeth in the coaching profession. It's not known what type of deal Hilliard left for, but it would seem odd that the Redskins would let him go for a similar position.
The Redskins benefited from a great group of blocking receivers that helped the NFL's # 1 run offense, and also featured four receivers -- Pierre Garcon (633), Leonard Hankerson (543), Josh Morgan (510) , Santana Moss (573) that each had over 500 yards receiving, and plenty of variety as Moss led in touchdowns (8), Morgan in catches (48) and Garcon in yards.
It's not known who will replace Hilliard on the Redskins coaching staff, but a couple of possibilities are current three-year offensive assistant, Richmond Flowers. Flowers has worked with the receivers group before, while also helping out the offense as a whole.
Current tight-ends coach Sean McVay could be switched over to the position group, as he worked as an assistant unit coach under Keenan McCardell in 2010, before replacing former tight-ends coach, Jon Embree. Speaking of which, Embree is currently out of a job, as he was fired after two seasons as the head coach at Colorado.
Efforts to contact the parties involved and potentially involved were not immediately successful, while all of the wide receivers that played under Hilliard for the 2012 season had not responded via text as of 4:15 PM.
The Redskins could also lose current defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, to the Cleveland Browns. He is interviewing for the Browns defensive coordinator position, under new head coach, Rob Chudzinski. The move was first reported by Rick Stroud in Tampa, who covered Morris for three years when he served as head coach of the Bucs.
The potential loss of Morris - would be a big one in my eyes. While the media was not afforded a lot of opportunity to get to know him really well, I can tell you from every dealing I had with Morris -- he is as genuine as they come. Just a fun, energetic guy to be around. I can tell many stories, but most encounters were behind the scenes and obviously not for publication. Trust me, he made a quality impression.
His absence would also be a big blow for the secondary, as he took over a year ago - and while the defensive backs struggled for the first ten games or so - it was clear they made a pretty dramatic improvement. Most notably, Jim Haslett saluted Morris for his management of the constant shuffle at the safety position for most of the season.
If the Redskins choose to stay in-house, they could promote assistant special teams and defensive backs coach, Richard Hightower to replace him. Hightower has been on staff since Mike Shanahan was hired, and is a part of the defensive and special teams game planning. Off the top of my head, I believe Hightower does the red zone part of the game plan for the upcoming opponent.
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."
The Redskins made one move to dramatically upgrade their coaching staff and hopefully their disappointing (at times) secondary by hiring former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach, Raheem Morris on Wednesday night.
Morris has a strong familiarity and a connection with Redskins General Manager/Executive Vice President, Bruce Allen who was in a similar role in Tampa Bay, when Morris was an assistant. He also was on the same staff for one season as Kyle Shanahan before the current Redskins offensive coordinator left for Houston.
With the addition of Morris who will serve as secondary coach (he reportedly has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for another defensive coordinator position after 2012), the Redskins also released two coaches according to Washington Times/ESPN 980 Redskins Insider Rich Campbell and other sources.
Safeties coach Steve Jackson and Wide Receivers coach Keenan McCardell were both reportedly let go. The Redskins as is their normal operating procedure, would not confirm the moves.
ESPN 980 has learned that another coaching staff move is likely to be made on Thursday, but it is not expected to be a major name. Most of the speculation and the logical thinking is that Bob Slowik, the current secondary coach, will be released. However, that is far from absolute and only logical theory.
Slowik and Mike Shanahan have a long time working relationship and are said to be very close still. Would Shanahan fire his friend? Or could the Redskins be making another somewhat unexpected move like McCardell's firing was.
The Redskins ranked 13th against the pass, surrendering 221.0 yards a game through the air, a significant change from the 261.7 yards allowed (31st/NFL in 2010). Defensive backs had only 10 interceptions.
The decision to let go of McCardell after two seasons, is a bit surprising -- despite Santana Moss regressing somewhat significantly, especially after his injury. Anthony Armstrong also struggled in his 2nd year, after coming out great in the season opener, Armstrong suffered a hamstring injury in the Redskins third game (@ Dallas) and was never the same after returning.
Who can forget Mike Shanahan's 'bump coverage' comment about why Armstrong was not getting any opportunities. Who knows, maybe Armstrong could become the Redskins new receivers coach. (Just kidding, AAA).
Despite the struggles of Moss and Armstrong, and with Moss missing essentially five whole games, the Redskins only passed for 140 less yards in 2011 then they did in 2010.
In 2011 - the Redskins attempted 591 passes, had 346 completions (58.5%), 3,773 yards, 235.8 YPG, 19TD's, 24 INT's. In 2010 - the Redskins attempted 605 passes, had 349 completions (57.7%), 3,913 yards, 244.6 YPG, 21 TD's, 19 INT's.
Armstrong, told ESPN 980 late on Wednesday night about McCardell "It's surprising, but it's the business we are in. He will definitely help the next team he is with."
Some possible names to keep in mind for the wide receivers position would be flipping current tight ends coach Sean McVay to the spot he is more of a natural with. He was a college wideout, who worked specifically with the ball catchers last year, before taking over at the tight end spot.
Also, when tapping into Mike Shanahan's past - it would be wise to keep an eye on former UCLA Head Coach, Karl Dorrell and former Denver assistant, Jeremy Bates.
As for the addition of Morris -- his Bucs were a team on the rise at 10-6 last year, and coupled with a fairly strong start this year - a ten game losing streak and his ouster was unimaginable. It happened.
Morris, saw his defense in 2011 (as head coach) allow 6,311 yards (30th/NFL) and 238.4 passing yards per game, which ranked 21st in the league. In 2010, Tampa allowed 5,323 yards (17th/NFL) and 201 passing yards per game, which ranked 7th.
In Morris' first year as the top dog in Tampa, his defense was 27th in the NFL overall (total yards) but was 10th overall in passing yards allowed.
Morris, 35, was the defensive backs coach under Jon Gruden up until he took over for Gruden -- following the 2008 season. In that final year as a position coach, Tampa was FOURTH (187.3) in the NFL in passing yards allowed. In 2007, the Bucs were # 1 in passing yards allowed at 170.5.
Hopefully, I will get a chance to speak with Morris sometime soon and bring those comments to you -- for now -- it is off to chase more changes and moves that will shake up the Redskins.