Brian Orakpo was officially tendered the franchise tag by the Washington Redskins. It was anything but an easy call, but it was the right call.
"They did what they had to do," Orakpo told ESPN 980 via phone on Monday afternoon, shortly after the news was announced by the Redskins.
"I am glad about moving forward with the franchise tag," Orakpo said while stressing that he is optimistic about the direction that the two sides can now take in securing a long term deal.
Being glad about the franchise tag might be a little bit of an overstatement. Nobody really wants to be tagged or to use the tag.
The cost is plenty on both sides. The player only gets a one year deal at a fraction (Half?) of the guaranteed money he would normally receive, while the organization has to absorb a huge salary cap number of at least 11.45 million that counts entirely against the 2014 cap space.
Normally a long term contract is designed to cost lower against the cap in the first and second years, before beginning the bloated financial figures that are part of these deals.
While the two sides have until July 15th to work out a long-term deal, the Redskins will have to carry that cap charge of at least 11.45 million forward until such a time. That is assuming that Orakpo's agents do not win a designation that he is a defensive end.
They shouldn't. He's an outside linebacker and everyone (including the Redskins and the NFL) knows it. Sure, Washington runs a four-man defensive line front about 62% of the time, but that is not four down linemen.
Orakpo is almost always standing up and rushing from a two point stance with two down linemen in a "nickel' design.
While there will be some sort of debate about that issue, that's not the debate that seems to have some a little hot under the collar. It is the perception that Dan Snyder made this decision, despite others in the organization feeling differently.
It's the questions that Jay Gruden or even Bruce Allen may not have been on par with the decision. Or Morocco Brown.
There was a very intense, healthy debate and "internal struggle" as one source called it on what exactly to do.
The long term extension is the best salary cap option, and the best option for Orakpo. It's also the best option for the Redskins if the money is right. That doesn't mean just right now, it means in Year three and four, where if you have to dump a guy at 29 or 30 years old that is a key core of your defense because of bloated salary cap figures created by keeping the year one and two charges down, that's not a great situation to be staring down the road at.
Especially considering the Redskins are going to have to take care of Trent Williams (entering Year five of a rookie six-year deal), Robert Griffin III (entering year three of essentially a five year deal) and Alfred Morris (entering year three of a very low rookie deal).
Some fans and members of the media took the internal struggle on what to do with Orakpo as a sign of chaos or dysfunction. I don't quite see it that way.
I see it in this way. You want different voices and perspectives, that ultimately come to a consensus.
Maybe the consensus is spend more now, while you are rebuilding the defense and make the long term decision in three months after the draft and free agency to see if you have a viable long term plan.
Maybe the consensus was "we couldn't lose our best player" on a sub-par unit, and face the challenge of not only replacing him but still adding to the mix.
That would be my guess, which is what I've been saying all along. The Redskins put an engagement ring on Brian Orakpo's finger after dating him for the last five years, and now they have to determine if they want to marry him.
Sounds silly, right? However, I would say that's the true debate. I would allow that I heard a lot of rumblings about letting Orakpo hit the market or to use the transition tag on him, which would lower the cap number while also allowing the Redskins to match any offer.
That thought process made a certain amount of sense. Especially the transition tag option. As one source said "you keep yourself in the game longer" with that mechanism. However, you also don't give yourself any compensation if you decide not to match.
If you think a very complicated decision should have been a slam-dunk, you are nuts. NFL teams want certain players all the time, but then the cost short and long-term has to be weighed and measured. This is the debate.
Anybody that thinks this kind of debate does not go on all around the NFL, just isn't paying attention. This is not dysfunction, this is collaborative decision making. As one Redskins source put it, "Media in this area, they think everything is a conspiracy."
The Redskins ultimately decided they were not willing to play poker with the rest of the NFL, and chose to show part of their hand to Orakpo's side while maintaining the trump card.
They can do that. It's the business of the NFL. Orakpo has options, they have options.
As one player source said to me, "nobody should be mad about making 11 million dollars." Orakpo to his credit is certainly saying all of the right things. "I am relieved and happy," he told ESPN 980 on Monday.
That's it. The decision is done. The franchise tag guarantees nothing but the Redskins right to do what they feel is appropriate. Orakpo can still shop his services. The Redskins could ultimately choose to trade him.
The NFL's annual scouting combine is underway in Indianapolis and will stretch from now until Tuesday afternoon.
What does it mean? That's hard to define. I'm not sure if there is one right answer to that question, but clearly it is an important information collection period.
The process began many months ago, but one thing I am keeping an eye on based on conversations with a lot of different sources and analysts in terms of the Redskins is:
I. Will the Redskins find a top flight defensive back in Indy?
- They still need two in my eyes, despite signing DeAngelo Hall to a new deal well before he hit the open market and unrestricted free agency. Anybody that has a problem with the deal, should reevaluate how they watch football. Hall was very good last year, and the thought that the Redskins should not re-sign players from a (3-13) team is preposterous.
Free agency will bring at least one dose of fresh blood, probably two. A hybrid safety to keep an eye on for the Redskins might just be Carolina's Mike Mitchell.
The draft is loaded with defensive backs that fit the trend the Seahawks created with taller, more physical bump-and-run guys who can also play off-man and actually tackle.
In talking to a couple of my draft analyst friends on ESPN980 this week,Josh Liskiewitz of GMJr.com and RussLande.com touted the praises of Clemson's Bashaud Breeland, who Liskiewitz said no matter what he measures in at - plays and looks like he's 6'2".
"He looks every bit like Richard Sherman aesthetically. He looks 6'2", 215 and he plays like it. He's so physical at the line of scrimmage. He can simply knock wide receivers right over, with his jam. He's fluid in coverage. He can track. He can run probably a little bit better than Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State. "Bashaud Breeland is the guy to pay attention to this week." Not only is he big, but I think he has the complete game," Liskiewitz said. "He's that strong, he's that physical. He certainly has length."
Ryan Lownes of DraftBreakdown.comsays "I wasn't blown away" by any of the taller, physical corners that were gathered at the Senior Bowl. He did mention Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller, a six foot plus corner. Another guy to keep an eye on is Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner, a hybrid safety/cornerback.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Networkdid a fantastic conference call before the combine started and highlighted another defensive back that the Redskins could absolutely be in the hunt for.
"My favorite nickel (slot CB) in the draft is Jason Verrett from TCU, and the only reason I wouldn't say he's a top 20 pick is because of his size. He's 5 9, he's probably 185, but he's ideal for the slot because he's quick footed, he's tough, and remember, the slot guys, what gets overlooked is you have to tackle and this kid is a tough kid even though he's undersized. I really like Verrett. And I think the other guy that's kind of interesting and I've got him listed as a safety is Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State. He played corner. I think he's a little bit like Tyrann Mathieu in that he was a corner in college, but I think he's going to have to kick inside and either be a safety or a nickel or both and he's an explosive kid like Tyrann Mathieu. Those are the two guys right off the top that I like at nickel."
Defensive backs do not work out until Tuesday but arrive in Indianapolis this weekend for interviews, medicals and measurements.
What should the Redskins do with Brian Orakpo? First, they must retain him and I feel by any means necessary.
Franchise tag him or sign him to a long term deal at a fair number are the only two choices in my eyes. Yes, that means that if you are amongst the group that thinks Orakpo can just be replaced, you are not thinking realistically and more important, you are wrong.
This defense needs to add talent, not subtract and then try to replace it. Orakpo is not Aldon Smith or Von Miller. He's also not an idiot like those guys are. Both of them. Two knuckleheads that I would never want on my team.
Orakpo is a core Redskin. The Redskins need players have worked hard to get better. Many believe he's not an elite pass rusher. I know he feels like he is,and Jim Haslett feels he is, but the raw numbers would suggest a debate can be made on both sides.
Orakpo is now a three time Pro Bowler after his addition to the 2014 game. He posted double digit sacks in 2013 for the first time since 2009.
Orakpo started off somewhat slow and tentative as he was trying to make his way back from missing nearly the entire 2012 season. He posted a sack in a dreadful loss at Lambeau Field when the Redskins were attacking Aaron Rodgers before the Packer great got comfortable himself. That sack put Orakpo over 30 in his career and was his first since what happened in St. Louis in week 2 of 2012.
In Orakpo's best individual game of the season, he abused an awful, backup left tackle in Oakland for two sacks and also had a monster run stop on 3rd-and-1 that forced a long field goal miss by Sebastian Janikowski and which turned into points for the Redskins and their first win of the season.
Who knew they would only have two more?
In the Redskins 2nd win of the season, Orakpo would have his first interception in the NFL and his first career touchdown as Reed Doughty combined with Orakpo to pop a ball up in to the air, and Orakpo had what he called his first interception at any level. Hard to fathom, but he insisted on it.
Orakpo did not dominate another backup left tackle in Chris Clark of the Broncos like the Redskins really needed but he did have a 2nd career fumble recovery in a valiant effort for the defense in Denver.
He really cranked up the pass rush numbers and very much improved run defense down the stretch with a sack in Philadelphia and against San Francisco. Six days later, in the midst of a lost season - Orakpo had two sacks against the Giants for his eighth multi-sack game.
During this stretch, Orakpo had a sack in four straight games for the first time in his five year career, a period that ended with 5.5 sacks in that four game span.
Orakpo got into double digits in Atlanta with 1.5 sacks against a backup left tackle yet again but it still should be noted that not everybody gets to double digits. Very few do. Orakpo also had a 2nd career fumble recovery in the Atlanta loss.
So what do you do with him? How do you retain Orakpo while protecting yourself at the same time.
"If I could get him to agree to take a home-team discount which I don't think he will, in the Paul Kruger range (8 MM per year),I would sign that," said Joel Corry on ESPN 980 Wednesday night. Corry, a former sports agent and NFL salary cap analyst for CBSSports.com and the National Football Post realizes the chances are slim and none on that front. "Knowing that's not going to happen realistically, the franchise tag becomes a real option."
For a change the Redskins have money to spend under the cap. While figures vary and are dependent on what they do with certain situations (Adam Carriker, Chris Chester?) "the Redskins are going to have roughly 25-26 million worth of cap room," says Corry. That allows them to tag Orakpo (at just under 11 million) and "then you make the decision next year."
Tagging Orakpo with the designation might frustrate Orakpo and his agents at CAA, but it is the most realistic option. It does not prevent a long term deal as Corry explained that both sides could still arrive at one by the cut-off date of July 15th.
Corry explained that Orakpo would still have some leverage in this particular scenario by not reporting to training camp in Richmond (unlikely) and not signing the franchise tender offer. In such a scenario, Orakpo could negotiate a clause that would prevent a franchise or transition tag designation for 2015 or Corry said Orakpo could actually ask for more money than the franchise tag would dictate.
Corry said the reason for this would be that a "2nd franchise tag (2015) is 120 % of the previous year's salary." In other words, Orakpo would get more money this year (2014) while making it extremely difficult for the Redskins to use the franchise tag again.
The problem for Washington is that a franchise tag this year would count for more than one-third of their approximate salary cap room.
If the Redskins were to seriously entertain a long term contract with Orakpo, the average annual value of the contract could be north of 11 million, but "it's really what he's going to make in the first three years," according to Corry.
Corry points out something to keep in mind that "Greg Hardy (Carolina DE) who will be the best pass rusher on the market," will probably not get out of Carolina. However, Michael Johnson of Cincinnati could certainly be set free by the Bengals (Minnesota anyone?) and whether he is or he isn't, take a guess who the next best pass rusher is?? "It's Brian Orakpo," says Corry and thenumbers from ProFootballFocus.com would certainly back that up.
Ultimately, Orakpo is going to want money too rich for the Redskins blood and as I've said all along, that's why the NFL created the current system.
"Franchising him may become the actual thing that happens if the Redskins think his demands are excessive," says Corry. They will be, in any reasonable opinion.
The Redskins also have to balance whatever they do with Orakpo with the assumed need that they will try very hard to bring back DeAngelo Hall, Perry Riley and Chris Baker.
The problem is, combined with a franchise tag for Orakpo (my expectation) and three new contracts for those players, it might leave the Redskins with five million dollars or less of salary cap room to actually add talent.
Hall played for virtual peanuts last year, and will be looking for a deal that will bring better value. Corry explained "the big problem is he's at 30 so that's the wrong age. He made 2 million if you include his incentives. Maybe a 2-3 year deal, you give him some salary escalators and incentives. Maybe 9-10 million over three years if he maxes out everything, but you don't break the bank for him."
That's not even getting to Riley who may want something similar to what Dannell Ellerbereceived from the Dolphins. Baker should be a hot commodity, after drawing interest from the Seahawks as a restricted free agent last year. His strong play down the stretch as a versatile defensive lineman who can play nose and end, along with the ability to play a defensive tackle position in a 4-3 should lead to a nice payday.
Tough decisions ahead for Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and the Redskins
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Super Bowl XLVIII is finally here and New York City has done a magnificent job hosting the event by all accounts. While I am not there in person, I am in spirit. You can take the guy out of New York, but you can NEVER take the New York out of the guy.
Quite honestly, this is killing me, a native of the "Big Apple." I try and tell the truth whenever I can, and this has been a painful experience to not feel the energy of midtown Manhattan combined with the Super Bowl.
It's a perfect combination. No matter what anybody else thinks. I fully support the National Football League on this venture, and there's not many things I have their back on.
The media at large are a bunch of crying babies. They've whined about the weather during the week and what it might be on Sunday night. They want to be on South Beach, San Diego or anywhere not near a subway. Who cares. Just pipe down. You are getting a paid "working" vacation in the most electrifying city in the United States.
As for the game, football is meant to be played outdoors, and in the elements. You deal with it. It's part of the theater to have the cold and chance of precipitation as a part of the game.
Football in domes is sterile. It sucks. I hate it. They play the AFC and NFC title games in any kind of conditions that they are dealt with, so all of a sudden everything has to be perfect two weeks later? Nonsense.
I am glad the weather will be a very minimal factor though, just so that the media has nothing to bitch and moan about. Remember last year? They got everything they wanted. New Orleans. Great city, weather, atmosphere. Everything. Except the game was indoors and the Superdome suffered a catastrophic electricity failure.
A few years ago it was the "Disaster in Dallas" as a moderate snow and ice storm hit the DFW Metroplex the week of the game, and driving conditions were awful. Not to mention, the problems with portable seating inside of what is now AT&T Stadium.
Imagine if the game was in Atlanta this week? It will be soon enough, as the Falcons are building a brand new stadium. You have dumb drivers, a decent chance for bad weather and a potential debacle. Think it can't happen there with the Super Bowl in town? Think again, the Rams and Titans remember a different story.
I was in Detroit of Super Bowl XL. The weather was awful that particular weekend, and no doubt it was nice to be indoors. However, if it was outside, I would not have minded. Play the damn game in whatever conditions are presented. Anybody remember the Colts and Peyton Manning's only Super Bowl win? In a soaking rain in Miami. Nobody complained. Nobody.
When the Redskins build a new stadium, they WILL get a Super Bowl. That is 99.5% guaranteed and I would go higher, but I always like to leave a bit of wiggle room.
If Sunday night's weather was a disaster and the NFL got roasted over the coals for what would have been called a terrible decision (even though it wasn't) there would be almost no chance that the Redskins would have been able to land a Super Bowl unless the new stadium had a retractable roof.
Sounds easy to just snap your fingers and say that won't be a problem. I believe it would be. The cost of a retractable roof addition to a brand new football stadium has to add at least 50-100 million and probably more to the construction cost of a new building. The taxpayers of whatever county or state that the stadium is housed in are going to feel that the most.
Either the citizens or the Redskins will have to pay it. Either way, you lose. If the Redskins have to pay it, you would essentially foot the bill in a variety of ways. I think you know how, so I will spare you.
Bruce Allen who will almost certainly be directly involved with the project strongly opposes field turf. So does Dan Snyder. You can't have a retractable roof stadium with real, authentic grass in this climate.
The point is - the Super Bowl Manhattan experience going off with very minimal problems strongly benefits the Redskins, the entire DMV area and perhaps some other cold weather cities without retractable roofs.
You have to have a new or recently built stadium or be a great vacation destination for the NFL to even consider giving the game to your city. You have to have approximately 30,000 hotel rooms according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "We know there’s interest in other communities hosting the Super Bowl, Goodell said on Friday morning in New York." "I think the ownership will sit back and review that when we’re done, but we have a very aggressive process in how we select cities. The ability to host the Super Bowl is more and more complicated, more and more complex because of the size and number of events. The infrastructure is very important. There are over 30,000 hotel rooms needed even to host the Super Bowl so there are some communities that may not be able to do it from an infrastructure standpoint, but we know the passion’s there.”
Think about it this way. You complain about it now. Many of you loathe it now. It's not going to get much better over the next 13 years. The Redskins know that and the NFL knows that. The only question is when and where. Clearly, a stadium project is very complicated and the Redskins know that. They also know that the process takes 5-7 years in a modest estimate to get the deal you want and more importantly to deal with all of the complications that will absolutely come up.
Based on some informal conversations, I believe the Redskins are quietly doing their background work on a new site and long-term home. There's no way that Roger Goodell who grew up as a Redskins fan, and has in my eyes strongly supported the Redskins in the "name game" controversy, allows the Redskins to build a new stadium without the promise of a Super Bowl.
There's also no way that Dan Snyder sits on idle as he watches what the Cowboys, Giants and to a lesser degree what the Eagles have. That's just in the NFC East. Nevermind when Snyder and the Redskins play at San Francisco's new Levi's Stadium next year, while also visiting Reliant Stadium in Houston and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Oh by the way, those three locations are where the next three Super Bowls are. Glendale, then Santa Clara and followed up by Houston. If you don't think Snyder and his management team will be stewing and itching at the grandiose sites of the 49'ers new digs while admiring what the Texans and Cardinals have, you don't know them at all.
I can guarantee you they will. It's part of what the management team does for every road game. They look at what other teams have and they try to figure out a way to enhance FedExField, while also building data for the future.
A future that just might host the Super Bowl at some point between 2020 and 2025. My money is on the earlier dates, but then again - that's why I don't bet.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Washington Redskins need talent in all areas, so they should not be of the mindset that only a certain player or type of player would fit in our scheme. I understand that is a commonplace mentality, but I believe you wind up missing out on more talent than it is worth.
Organizations should take talent, and then build or develop the talent. The notion that a player in today's day and age can only fit in one scheme of system is nonsense. There are "ideal" fits, but the NFL is not an ideal world. Take talent, and find a way to use them.
Today, we present five (or more) players on offense that stood out during Reese's Senior Bowl week from the coverage on NFL Network, when you combine practices, the game and the eyes of various talent evaluators along with my own eyes.
1. Jalen Saunders - WR/PR - Oklahoma - Saunders is a small strike of lightning with a little thunder mixed in as well. He's only 5'8" but he's freakishly fast and seems to run terrific routes out of the slot. He got off to a tough start early in the week, dropping a couple of passes and struggling with punts on Monday but as the week developed, Saunders hit his stride.
I saw Saunders use his speed but his route running ability on a couple of vicious double moves against the lengthy Walt Aikens and Lavelle Westbrooks.
If you go back to Oklahoma's impressive Sugar Bowl win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, Saunders had five catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. On his first score, Saunders ran a very impressive quick out with tight coverage draped on his back inside the red zone and along the sidelines. He made the catch, reached the ball out and over for the score.
Go ahead and watch Saunders 43-yard touchdown in that game, and see how deep the off-man coverage from Oklahoma was (about 12 yards off the line of scrimmage) and how badly beaten the CB was by Saunders for the catch-and-run.
Just one game, but anybody that does THAT against Alabama is worthy of consideration in my eyes. He has something the Redskins don't have anywhere close to enough of. SPEED. He also returns punts, another sore subject last year.
Santana Moss is a free agent and it is very questionable if he will return. Josh Morgan is almost certainly not coming back. The Redskins can have a weapon that they desperately need in Saunders.
2. Jordan Matthews - WR - Vanderbilt - Matthews is 6'2" plus and tipped the scales at 210 pounds in Mobile, but looks bigger and appears to play bigger. He's polished, and physical. He has a little bit of a nasty streak to him, John Harris from The Sideline View website noted that Matthews "ran good routes, consistently caught the ball" against the best Senior Bowl competition.
I saw him drop a pass after doing a brilliant job of getting open on press coverage. However, he did a great job of flashing open quickly and it struck me that Matthews would be a great red zone threat and something that the Redskins are desperately missing. Later in the practice week, I saw Matthews just abuse Lavelle Westbrooks (as he should) off of an inside jam.
If you watched the Senior Bowl game, you saw Matthews run an electric route down the right sideline past another one of those big, physical cornerbacks (Pierre Desir) for a 33-yards over-the-shoulder gain. To be fair, it was a terrific throw by David Fales, but the route and execution was perfect.
3. Charles Sims - RB - West Virginia - I love this kid, and so do many others apparently. A transfer from Houston to West Virginia, Sims has over 200 career receptions. In a league where you can't have enough players doing multiple things well at the same time. He can return kickoffs (as he did in the Senior Bowl) and he also totes the rock pretty effectively.
Sims has 592 career rushing attempts for 3,465 rushing yards (5.85/attempt) and 40 career touchdowns on the ground. That's just rushing. Add in the 203 receptions for 2,108 yards (10.38/reception) and 11 more touchdowns and you just have a hell of a football player.
According to good guy John Harris of The Sideline View, a scout told him that you could use Sims out of the slot and clearly he would be an upgrade a screen offense.
NFL Network's Bucky Brooks said "Sims' smooth running style and natural receiving skills remind me of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte. When I pitched that comparison to an AFC executive, he agreed with my assessment and told me that he thinks Sims could be a difference maker in a wide-open offense.
An NFC college scouting director pegged Sims as a DeMarco Murray clone, with the kind of explosiveness to ignite an offense that places a premium on getting the ball to the running back in a variety of ways."
4. Tyler Larson - OL - Utah State / Weston Richburg - OL - Colorado State - Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network (@MoveTheSticks) loves Richburg and it is easy to see why. I saw Richburg use his hands pretty well against Ra'Shede Hagemen and 340 pound defensive tackle, Justin Ellis. He seems like more of a tactician and execution guy, than he is anything else.
Bucky Brooks of NFL Network wrote this "Watching Richburg excel in team drills this week, I've been impressed with his understanding of the position and his technical savvy. He has a knack for getting the job done, which will undoubtedly make him a favorite of coaches and scouts in pre-draft meetings."
I liked Larson more than it seems others did, noting that at times he was able to go inch for inch with stud defensive lineman Aaron Donald from Pitt. Later in the week, he did get beat by Donald, but that's not exactly surprising. I saw Larson also winning against Hageman in some practice drills. I thought he executed a nice combo block with fellow OL Kadeem Edwards in one drill. A couple of times Larson showed me how tough he was.
That being said, there were a couple of times where Larson gave up space and the rush, and not just to Donald. Lance Zeirlein of the Sideline report, noted that UCONN DL Shamar Stephen got the best of Larson early in the week.
5. Gabe Jackson OG - Mississippi State - If somehow Notre Dame's Zack Thomas were to slip out of the first round, the Redskins would have virtually no choice to grab him. He's versatile, athletic, experienced and has a terrific, swift punch. However, I am expecting Thomas to go in the top 20 picks and possibly in the top dozen.
That being said, Gabe Jackson would not be a bad consolation prize. The mammoth 6'3" inch plus, 340 pound interior space plugger would be a massive shift in philosophy and body type for the Redskins, especially since Mike Shanahan took over. Jackson is as Mike Mayock repeatedly said is a "gap-scheme" player instead of a zone-scheme fit that the Redskins have utilized over the last four years.
It would be ideal if Jackson shed some weight so that the Redskins could utilize him even better, but I think Jackson could be an interior guard with starter ability for a while. He had a solid week, and I saw him own California DL DeAndre Coleman early in the week, along with being chosen as NFL Network's standout player on Wednesday.
I certainly want to see some more, but an interior offensive lineman that started 52 games in a row in the SEC can't be all that terrible. I wouldn't take Jackson early in the 2nd round, but if they were to trade back or if he were to slip into the 3rd round, you might have yourself a good value pick.
As everybody knows, Chris Chester struggled at times in 2013 and in the 2nd half of road games, the Redskins offensive line often wilted under heavy pressure (at Dallas, at Denver, at Minnesota). Obviously, Robert Griffin III was a big part of the issue, but the bottom line is this - you can't expect 295 - 310 pound athletic offensive lineman to hold up against 325 pound defensive linemen as much as the Redskins needed them too. Especially pass rushers that can get off on the snap of the football with lightning quick movements.
Will Montgomery also struggled at times, and it is possible that Jay Gruden could try and move Kory Lichtensteiger back to offensive center. Lichtensteiger was planning to bulk up his body the last time I spoke with him.
Honorable Mention: TE Arthur Lynch - Georgia, TE - Crockett Gilmore - Colorado State, QB- Jimmy Garappolo - Eastern Illinois, WR - Shaq Evans - UCLA, WR - Robert Herron - Wyoming (@UKRedskin1 reminded me how good he was).
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Another insanely busy week here at Redskins Park where Jay Gruden has been on the job for eight plus days, and the fun has just begun.
Let's take a look at what the Redskins have done this week moving forward from the Mike Shanahan era into what is clearly a collaborative effort as the Jay Gruden/Bruce Allen regime has officially taken hold.
The Redskins promoted tight ends coach Sean McVay to offensive coordinator. The 27-year old McVay is one of the brightest young coaches in the game. The first day I met him, in July 2010, I thought he was incredibly mature and confident for a young man. He has blossomed right before everyone's eyes. McVay has universal respect from the tight-ends and that should largely translate to the entire offensive room
McVay told Doc Walker, Brian Mitchell and Scott Jackson that Jay Gruden will build his offense around the talents and skill set of the offensive pieces that he has in place, instead of forcing a system down the throat of the talent.
Another item of interest, besides McVay's breakdown of the teams in the AFC and NFC Championships which was just phenomenal stuff - was his thoughts on the Redskins defense.
"I love the scheme. I hate going against our defense in training camp, I think it's a very sound system, so yeah I do love the 34."
Which brings us to Jim Haslett. "Haz" was retained officially by the Redskins on Friday. As we have mentioned over the last two weeks, Haslett will continue to lead the defense much to the mind numbing dismay of Redskins fans.
I suppose that I should take the fanatical hatred for Haslett into account, the way Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden did. Which is to say, they didn't. I have explained this a million times over, and will just say that I trust Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden and former head coach Mike Shanahan's opinion on how qualified Haslett is over a disgruntled fan base looking for a sacrificial lamb.
Not to mention, the Redskins denied a request from the New York Jets and at least one other team to talk to Haslett, multiple league sources told ESPN 980. I wonder why Rex Ryan, who is widely considered a brilliant defensive mind would want to talk to Haslett if he was so bad at his job, as a hard core group of fans allege? Maybe it's because qualified football minds know the truth.
Another thing, Tom Coughlin tried to hire Haslett before Mike Shanahan did, when Haslett was in the UFL for a year. The Giants finished up their 2009 season with a couple of blowouts and fired coordinator Bill Sheridan after just one season. They eventually hired Perry Fewell, as Haslett chose the opportunity with Shanahan. If memory serves me correct, that's TWO two-time Super Bowl Champion head coaches that thought very highly of Haslett's coaching abilities.
Gruden confirmed that to Keim, saying that issue will be broached on Monday. The Redskins also officially retained defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and defensive line coach Jacob Burney, while adding inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti who is more than familiar with the DC landscape. Jim Haslett also was able to hire Brian Baker to be his new outside linebackers/pass rush coach, as first reported by ESPN980 on Tuesday.
In other news in Redskins land, Gruden told the Washington Post that former Redskins wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard is expected to return after a one year hiatus in Buffalo. A very strange situation indeed, but perhaps Hilliard wanted to do more than he was allowed to do under Kyle and Mike Shanahan and it just didn't work out with the Bills.
The Redskins did not make the news official, but the connection is obvious and Hilliard is more than familiar with many of the players he will be coaching again.
Washington did confirm the hiring of new tight ends coach, Wes Phillips who is the son of a Wade (Phillips), who is the Son of a Bum (as in the late Bum Phillips). Wes served as a Cowboys offensive assistant in various roles, until becoming their tight ends coach in 2013. He took a lateral position, but his contractual status with the Cowboys was unclear. Phillips was instrumental in the continued great play of Jason Witten and the development of 2nd round pick, Gavin Escobar.
The 34-year old Phillips also played quarterback at UTEP.
In non-coaching news, Alfred Morris is headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl next weekend, and was chosen as the team's representative for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Finally, it appears as if the Redskins are going to dodge a bullet by not losing Morocco Brown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as many national reporters have indicated that the Bucs are focusing on other candidates. For whatever it is worth, Morocco told me he had an excellent interview last weekend with the Bucs, and eventually will get a higher profile gig that the Redskins may be forced to deal with.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
So now you know who the new head coach of the Washington Redskins is, but what do you know about him? Jay Gruden, the 46-year-old husband of Sherry and father of Joey, Jack and J.J. That's a lot of J's.
Jay is also the son of the "toughest Gruden of them all," Kathy Gruden along with his Dad Jim, who Jay described as "a football coach, a football man, a football person."
That's a lot of football. I closed my eyes last week and thought for one second that Jon Gruden was now the head coach of the Redskins only to find out that his younger brother actually is. Jay was influenced heavily by Jon, a man who Jay referred to as his reason for "sitting here today."
Now that you know that, as the late and great radio icon Paul Harvey said many times, "Now....the rest of the story."
***Jay Gruden was a hit with the media in his first press conference, cracking all sorts of one-liners. He is all Gruden. If the Redskins could not convince Jon, they clearly believe in family roots. They sound alike, they have the same mannerisms, and you can tell that they are mostly real.
That alone won't get Jay very far, but it will make for a better Redskins organization. Here's why. One of the criticisms of Mike Shanahan from players and sources that I've talked with over the last few months is that Mike Shanahan was too robotic. He needed to loosen up a bit. He spent too much time in his office, trying to perfect X's and O's instead of relating to the Jimmy and Joes as the saying goes.
In talking to a coach in the league that is familiar with Gruden's style, one of the first things this coach mentioned was that Gruden was an "excellent communicator." Another coach that has been around Gruden in Cincinnati said "wait until you see this guy...he's (expletive) really good."
Communication might be overrated in some circles but I strongly believe that in this case, Robert Griffin III wants to be treated like a man and as long as he acts like one, I believe Jay Gruden will do so.
Why? The Washington Post and Dave Sheinin asked somebody who should know - Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, who worked above and with Jay Gruden for the last three years in Cincinnati. “He sees offensive football through the eyes of the quarterback. He’s basically playing the game with them, through them.”
It will be imperative on Griffin's end to do everything he can to be a "Redskins Park rat" meaning he should be there as much as humanly possible. That doesn't mean come in, work-out and leave. He needs to spend countless hours over the next year not only learning terminology and the system, but he needs to work extra hard on creating a bond between himself and Gruden. That's not just on the new head coach. That's on Robert.
Do everything you can. Massage the rules. Bend the rules. Screw the rules. Who cares about the NFLPA when it comes down to it? He needs to be extra diligent because while Gruden will make Griffin III his focus, he does have an entire roster to manage.
Now let's go "Inside the Numbers" on Jay Gruden and a little more on what to expect as the Redskins move forward.
A huge reason why the Redskins failed so miserably on offense this year was their failure in the red zone. Time and time again, Washington would turn golden field position into a big, steaming pile of BLAH. Some of that is on Robert Griffin III, some was on Kyle and Mike Shanahan. Some was on not having a big time red zone threat, especially after Jordan Reed and Leonard Hankerson were lost for the year in November.
The Redskins only converted 52.0% of the time in the red zone (touchdowns) and perhaps more alarming were at 73.08% in goal-to-go situations. That had them tied for 20th in the NFL in red zone, and tied for 13th to the goal-to-go situations. Just for comparison sake, Jacksonville was the worst team in the NFL in both of these situations at 43.90% and 50.0% respectively.
In the magical run of 2012, the Redskins were 60.38% in the red zone and 83.87% in goal-to-go situations. They were fourth (red zone) and second (goal-to-go) in the division clinching year.
Honestly, 2013 felt a lot worse than the numbers suggest. I still go back to where the Redskins season basically ended in Minnesota. While everybody was celebrating a terrific first half for the offense, the very first drive was where essentially the season was lost for good. 1st-and-goal from the one-yard line, a run and two incompletions later, and the Redskins had to settle for three. Of course, if they punch it in for seven, then they only need a field goal to tie up the game on the final drive, which also ended on the Vikings one-yard line.
Game over. Season over. Shanahan over. In five years covering this team, and they are (28-52) since I have been here, I have never seen a more dejected, angry, lost locker room. They knew it then, and never won again.
As for Gruden and the Bengals in 2011 - which was Gruden's first year and Andy Dalton was a rookie, the Bengals were a miserable 45.1% (red zone) and 53.85% (goal-to-go) efficiency. They were 26th and tied for 24th respectively in the NFL.
In 2012, the Bengals rose to 54.39% and 67.86% in the two categories, while ranking 16th and 21st in the NFL. This past year, Gruden and the Bengals were 73.91% in the red zone and 84.0% in goal-to-go situations. That ranked 2nd in the NFL and first overall this year. Considerable progress might be an understatement.
Another key area that any coach or offensive system needs to be successful at is the 'money down.' Bottom-line, if you stay on the field you give yourself a chance.
It was not a major problem for the Redskins in 2012 (35.8%) or 2013 (40.4%, 11th in the NFL) but clearly down the stretch, Washington really struggled without Jordan Reed, Leonard Hankerson and Darrel Young at times. They were 37.0 % in 2011, before Robert Griffin III arrived.
As the injuries piled up and the season wasted away, the Redskins were (24-72, 33.3%) in the final five games on third down. Before those final five games, Washington was (66-143, 46.1%).
The Bengals were 36.5% in 2011 in Andy Dalton's rookie year, 34.1% in 2012, and 40.9% in 2013 in Jay Gruden's final year in the queen city. They went from 18th to 27th to 10th in league rankings according to NFL GSIS.
Adjusting on the Fly
One of the keys to the Bengals success as injuries hit them during Gruden's tenure, was his ability to adjust to his personnel. For instance, down the stretch with young tight end Tyler Eifert not available because of an injury, Gruden used more of a jumbo offensive set (6 OL). What stood out was his ability to sell a run look and pass out of it. Occasionally, Andy Dalton would fake a cross-face hand off and waggle to one side or the other (usually left) and pass the ball.
Sell run on two fronts, pass out of it while adjusting how you used your personnel. The Redskins used Tom Compton in this role with brilliant effectiveness against San Diego and then to a lesser degree against Minnesota, and then somehow the Redskins went away from it. Not exactly sure why, but it would be something to look for and is a selling point about Gruden.
How the Bengals offense translates
In 2013, Cincinnati averaged 19.7 more yards per game (368.2) on offense than the NFL average (348.5). The Bengals rushing yards per game average was at 109.7 per game or 3.2 yards per game average below the league average (112.9). They were 13th in yards per play, but an alarming 28th overall in rushing yards per play (3.65/play).
The Bengals were eighth in passing yards per game and tenth in passing yards per play in the NFL, but 24th in interception rate which suggests that as Gruden opened up the offense for Dalton, the results improved in large part, but also regressed. The Bengals had a very good offensive line and were third in the NFL in sack percentage (sacks/pass attempt) at 4.94% behind Denver and Detroit.
Cincinnati was tied for 9th in first downs per game, at 20.6 and held the ball on average in 2013 for a clip of 31:58. They were fourth in time of possession and their 26.9 points per game ranked tied for sixth. A loaded Bengals defense certainly helps out that number.
Want some more numbers? Our story from the day Gruden was hired illustrates some more year-over-year statistics that take you further "Inside the Numbers."
What does all of this mean? Well - the Redskins are banking on a fresh approach to communication and a more relaxed environment along with 30 plus million dollars worth of salary cap space to get them right back into contention in the mediocre NFC East.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Washington Redskins have hired 46-year old Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as their next head coach. ESPN 980 first reported on Wednesday night that Gruden was still in Washington and was hoping to wrap up a deal, before Thursday was complete.
Bruce Allen confirmed that Gruden's deal was for five years, while not revealing financial terms of the contract.
Here's what we know so far:
**The dynamic of this search completely changed over the weekend when the Tennessee Titans fired Mike Munchak and the Cincinnati Bengals lost their wild-card round playoff opener as a home favorite to the San Diego Chargers.
Executive Vice President and General Manager Bruce Allen mentioned this to start Gruden's introductory press conference. "Fortunately for us, the San Diego Chargers beat the Cincinnati Bengals, and we were able to bring Jay in and he got to interview with the people here."
Bruce also mentioned this afterwards and it struck me on a couple of different accounts. Would the Redskins have been willing to wait to hire Gruden if the Bengals were not eliminated last Sunday, in the wild-card round for the third consecutive year? He told me last week that he would be willing to wait, but quite honestly that is a stretch.
Clearly, Allen kept a good deal of Mike Shanahan's coaching staff in place so that the possibility existed, but they would have been tempted to pull the trigger before February 3rd or 4th.
Bruce admitted that he would have been talking to San Diego's coordinators this week (Ken Whisenhunt and John Pagano) this week if Gruden and the Bengals were still alive. Again, that's what he should have been doing but it leads to the question that has to be asked. Did the Redskins rush to hire Gruden?
Many sources behind the scene felt very comfortable with the timeline. Allen says they knew three quarters of the way through the interview process that Gruden was the right guy. My main question would be - did the fear of the Titans job opening (firing Mike Munchak) rush the Redskins into a hurried decision?
I believe it did. It does not mean it was wrong, but the Redskins absolutely had to go into a hurry-up mode with Gruden when the Titans played their card. Gruden, who visited Nashville first, had a connection to Titans GM Ruston Webster from their time in Tampa Bay and it is widely thought that the Titans job was just as good, if not a better job than the Redskins gig.
We'll never truly know - but I have to wonder who the Redskins head coach would be if not for those circumstances aligning perfectly for Bruce Allen.
**This decision to hire Gruden has been met with a lot of joy in Cincinnati and a lot of mixed emotion in Washington. There are reasons for both.
It is unfair to judge Gruden purely by scheme or by what the Bengals did or did not do in three playoff losses with Gruden in charge of an Andy Dalton led offense. Schemes vary based on personnel and injuries, and there is no doubt that Robert Griffin III is a talent upgrade over Dalton.
One area to keep an eye on moving forwardwill be Gruden's commitment to the rushing attack. In Cincinnati, Gruden was criticized for this and rightfully so. In a nutshell, the San Diego playoff loss showed that Gruden will skew more towards Kyle Shanahan's philosophy than an old school approach. On a bad day to try and throw the ball, the Bengals only ran the football 25 times. The game was close throughout, so score and deficit did not dictate that.
In the Bengals first game against the Chargers, they ran 38 times for 164 yards in beautiful San Diego weather. In the 2nd half of the Bengals season, they ran over 30 times in seven out of eight games. Why the change?
Dalton's touchdown passes have gone from 20 to 27 to 33 in his three-year career under Gruden. Dalton's attempts have gone from 516 to 528 to 586 in his first three years, but his interception rate has risen at a more alarming rate was 13 to 16 to 20.
Dalton's interception rate under Gruden went from one interception every 39.69 attempts (2011) to a rate of an interception every 33.0 attempts (2012) to a more alarming number of one interception every 29.3 attempts in 2013.
As I said, Gruden has drawn a lot of mixed reaction."I think he maximized Dalton," Matt Williamson, who studies NFL personnel for ESPN.com said. "That's a feather in his cap. Dalton was especially good in the red zone, and that's a reflection of the playcaller. You could make an argument that Dalton is a guy that entered the league with very, very average tools. I think they have coached him up to his max."
**Jim Haslett, Raheem Morris and Sean McVay all appear to have a role on this staff moving forward. Sean McVay will absolutely be the offensive coordinator, and at 27, is held in extremely high regard. He will be a head coach some day soon.
For whatever it is worth, Gruden was asked about our report and other media outlets anointing McVay as the new offensive coordinator to which he gave a humorous response, "Nice, good for Sean!" On a more serious note, Gruden added "I do like Sean. He’s a heck of a guy, a heck of a coach. But we’ll go through the process and hopefully – there’s a lot of great coaches, like I said, out there, and he’s a great person and a great coach.”
Haslett and Morris both have head coaching experience, and that will be crucial to a first time head coach. The positions are not clear, but my expectation is Raheem Morris will be the defensive coordinator, with Haslett serving in a assistant head coach/defense type of position. All three coaches have strong ties to Gruden. One interesting note is that Raheem Morris chose to let Gruden go when he replaced Jay's brother Jon, as head coach of the Buccaneers.
**The Redskins have announced a 4 PM press conference for today at Redskins Park to introduce Gruden as the new head coach and presumably will make position titles clear at that time
- Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Redskins lost 27-26 in Atlanta on Sunday, but is it possible to lose a sixth straight game and win at the same time?? Hypothetically, yes. In reality, no but in the overall short and long term view - it is pretty clear they did.
Let's take a look. We will start with the cold harsh reality first.
**The Redskins dropped their sixth straight game and dropped to (3-11). Clearly, that's the bottom line.
**Washington turned the ball over SEVEN (7) times in the contest. According to ESPN stats and Information, they had not turned the ball over that many times since Week 2 of the 2004 season against the Giants.
**The Redskins seven turnovers on Sunday, were the most by any team in any one game this season. They had five lost fumbles, a stat that is best illustrated by the fact that no team in any game had lost more than three fumbles in a game all year.
According to ourpal, John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN980- "They've turned the ball over 29 times, leading to 88 points -- the offense has scored just 74 points off turnovers. Last year, the Redskins turned it over 14 times and allowed just 51 points -- while scoring 113 points off opponent turnovers. That margin was third best in the NFL. In the past two seasons there have been 30 teams that have scored more points off turnovers than they've allowed; 22 have had winning records."
***Another game, another special teams debacle. I thought Santana Moss was interfered with after he called for the fair catch, the gunner for the Falcons contacted Moss in a leg-whip type motion but clearly the Redskins lost that argument.
**The Redskins special teams coverage was very good (for them) allowing four kickoff returns for 78 yards (4-78, 19.5) and three punt returns for 25 yards (3-25,8.3). The averages are a little deceiving, but again - you will take it. The number that continues to stand out to me is this. Washington had no kick returns because of six touchbacks. Kai Forbath, while connecting on (2-2) field goals in the 2nd quarter, had only one touchback in five opportunities. That's only second touchback on a kickoff since the Redskins were in Denver on October 27th. YIKES.
***The Redskins defense had a poor start. They yielded a touchdown on the Falcons opening drive, because they could not get off the field on third down. Atlanta had a 14 play, 83 yard drive capped off by a Steven Jackson 3-yard touchdown. He completely trucked Josh Wilson at the goal-line for the score. Jim Haslett's defense allowed conversions of 3rd/6, 3rd/10 and 3rd/3. Twice on the drive, the Redskins had a chance to sack Matt Ryan and missed.
***Washington's first offensive drive was just as shaky as their defensive counterpart, as Cousins was blasted on two stretch play-action fakes and then sacked by Osi Umenyiora who beat Trent Williams on a 3rd/10 for a sack and forced fumble.
***The Redskins third-quarter wasn't much to see, as they had 13 net yards of offense on ten offensive plays. Alfred Morris was (2-6) and Kirk Cousins was (3-8, 7, INT) and the offense was (0-3) on third down.
***As good as Cousins was overall, he had two bad interceptions. He took the blame, both were in-cut dig routes and he led both of his targets too far. Kirk sees something and rips it. Coaches will live with those mistakes. One coach told me Sunday that they have no problems with those mistakes and this is what they love about Cousins. "He'll see it and rip it" which is what they prefer over a more conservative approach.
Now the good side.
***Nobody suffered any major injuries, which is of extreme importance especially when playing out the schedule. Trent Williams and Darrel Young battled injuries with Williams leaving and returning. Young had a setback, and sat out the entire 2nd half plus the end of the 2nd quarter.
***The Redskins defense could not get off the field early, but was terrific afterwards from Brian Orakpo to Chris Baker to Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan. The loudly booed DeAngelo Hall continued his very good year and I thought David Amerson was pretty active.
***While the Redskins loss solidified their # 2 pick status which is heading to St. Louis - it is important to recognize that they are also in position to have the # 34 overall pick in the second round and subsequently high picks in every round, which makes it a lot easier to jump into the bottom part of the preceding round.
***What I am trying to get at is this: If a player the Redskins really like is still on the board at say for example # 30 ...It's very possible the Redskins could get a first round pick after-all and move up a couple of spots while surrendering their high 2nd round pick and another late round pick.
**The Redskins moved the football very well against a young secondary and a bad defense. Sure, this is all true. However, to say that is the main factor in success is preposterous. They had their third highest net yards total all year, and their highest passing output of the season. Imagine if they actually had any success in the third quarter??
Without being overly critical here, the Redskins offense as a whole struggled mightily against Philadelphia in both games for long stretches, and was largely invisible against a putrid Dallas defense in the 2nd half. Not to mention, a Denver defense that was in the bottom three in the league against the pass. In Minnesota, they had some really good drives and first half success, but left 10-14 points dangling at the one-yard line. The Giants offense looked like the '85 Bears in the last 2 + quarters and Kansas City which had been torched in three consecutive weeks by Peyton Manning (twice) and Phillip Rivers looked like the Ravens in the early part of this century. Sorry this is the reality of the situation, and not some kind of hateful agenda as I have been accused many times of.
***Let's get one thing straight. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan certainly have an agenda. There is no doubt about that. However, and this pains me to say - the decision was warranted in my opinion (based on performance) and justified largely by Kirk Cousins success. Sure, he was far from perfect - but one has to wonder how Robert Griffin III would have fared Sunday. Robert probably would have put up big numbers as well, but I just can't say that for sure because of the stunning lack of success throughout the year against bad defensive groups.
***The Redskins offensive line which was allegedly so putrid all year long, did have a very poor start but rebounded strongly after the first series. They only allowed one sack and three quarterback hits according to the NFL generated game statistics.
By my count, that occurred all on the first drive. When you pass the ball 45 times and run 67 plays, you take that production any day of the week.
***Despite the turnovers (two purely on Cousins), "Captain" Kirk made the decision at least defensible, if not completely justified. Again, Robert Griffin III was benched for protection according to the public record, but privately it was all about the lack of performance and Cousins did what the Redskins staff asked him to do. As one team source said to me late last week "You'll see what we see every day" and certainly Cousins ability to move the offense and get rid of the football quickly was on display. Redskins coaches felt very confident the hits and sacks that Mike Shanahan gave as a public reasoning would not happen to Cousins, and they were proven right. We'll see what happens Sunday against Dallas.
**The final reason why the Redskins won on Sunday is what Mike Shanahan strongly alluded to many times on Monday. He wanted to send a message to Robert Griffin III and Dan Snyder that Kirk Cousins is for real and Griffin has to work his butt off to get better. He has no excuses, none at all. A super motivated Griffin III will be determined to prove everyone wrong.
"The thing that you want on your football team is you want competition – legitimate competition. The better players you have, the more people compete. When you look behind your shoulder and you know that guy is pretty good, that makes you work a little bit harder in the offseason," Shanahan said.
You can read that any way you want, but the way any reasonable mind has to clearly interpret that is Griffin III did a great job rehabbing himself last year BUT now he has to rehab his inconsistent play. Benching Griffin was and is a multi-layered and very involved message. It's not JUST about protection. It's about motivation.
I have no doubt that Robert will get much better. I do worry about having to learn a new system, if that is indeed what happens.
Regardless of who the coach is, Shanahan is saying Griffin III has to stay away from everything but football.
Before you hate, I would also point out that Shanahan has to stop the implosions on his end. Enough already, for the love of humanity.Just zip it. If both sides would have been more reasonable, the Redskins would not be in divorce court.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Atlanta Falcons are (3-10) and yet barely a peep. Does anybody even know they exist to be honest? The Washington Redskins are (3-10) and they make so much noise you'd swear they have a military jet strapped to their decaying carcass.
By now you know that it has been a extremely grueling season for many reasons, and has been a complete nightmare from head to toe for the coaching staff, players and even most of us in the media. Some revel in dysfunction, I abhor it. Just can't deal with it properly. Five years of this nonsense has taken a toll and then some on my personal life for sure.
It got even crazier on Wednesday as Robert Griffin III was benched for the rest of the year with Kirk Cousins set to start on Sunday against those very quiet and calm Falcons. Naturally, reaction poured in along with analysis and opinions. It always does. Nothing like a good old quarterback controversy.
The most interesting comments came from ESPN's Steve Young who played for Mike Shanahan and often credits Shanahan for a large part of his success
Very interesting comments indeed, and certainly indicates that either Young has been watching a lot of Redskins tape or Young's opinion and thoughts were garnered via conversations he's had, presumably with Shanahan. My take? Young is saying Griffin III did not play well enough to keep playing.
Young on ESPN's NFL Live described some of the challenges of young quarterbacks and NFL offenses, with a partial focus on Shanahan. "They have five receivers go out, but they're only throwing to two, or one even, and that's a lot easier for young players," Young said. "Mike asks a lot and if he doesn't get it, he's the kind of guy who says, ‘Well, let's bring the next guy. I want to take a look,' even with what that means on the team, the city, the organization, everything. It doesn't matter. 'I want quarterbacks who are performing and performing well.' "
Young added "I know him (Shanahan) well," Young said. "He gives very little tolerance for quarterbacks -- including me, John Elway, whoever else is playing -- if you're not playing well and you're not preparing to throw to five receivers every play. He puts quarterbacks in position to have to read sideline to sideline. That's a huge task for young players, and he wants guys that are willing to go work that out and play well. If you're not going to play well he's going to find someone else."
OK then. Sounds like Mr. Young is still very much in support of Mr. Shanahan in this matter.
Then there's John Madden who said, "I mean, you know it's baloney" , on SIRIUSXMRadio Wednesday. “I like Mike Shanahan, and I’m not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that’s not right — you’re not going to sacrifice regular season games. There’s only 16 of them a year. You’re not going to sacrifice regular season games for an offseason program. I know that part of it was he wasn’t healthy last offseason and that really hurt him, so it would be good if he were healthy this offseason. I believe that. There’s some truth to that."
ESPN's Adam Schefter weighed in on ESPN 980 on his thoughts "He wants to go see Kirk Cousins play. In my dealing with him this week, I did not get the sense at all that this was some sort of message over, veiled, however you want to categorize it at Dan Snyder. I think it's pretty clear how the two feel about each other. I don't think they need to do anything more. I think everybody agrees the Redskins are not keeping Mike Shanahan. Correct? So why does he have to do that? I think we're past that. To me this is something that I think he feels this is something in the best interests of the team moving forward. That's my sense of having spoken to him this week," Schefter said on Wednesday.
Kevin Sheehan then asked if it was possible that Shanahan is directing the message at Robert Griffin III? Schefter hesitated and paused noticeably, before answering "Again, I'm not telling you it can't be. In this case, there is so much going on. there are so many different dynamics, I don't think it's directed at the quarterback so much as this is just what he wants to do right now. For everybody's sake. Period."
You can listen to the entire interview here, but listen closely as Schefter delves into the 'real reasons' for Mike Shahanan's decision. Again, this is a decision about poor performance as much if not significantly more than protection.
McNabb continued, “Mike and Kyle Shanahan trying to show why they feel like Kirk Cousins gives them the best chance of winning. So many things have leaked out, and I’ve always kept my ear on things that are happening with the Washington Redskins, teams that I’ve played with. And when you hear reporters that I know are linked to Mike Shanahan talk about [RGIII’s] preparation, you talk about he’s missing some reads, you know, he’s not reading some things. And I knew that he was big on having Kirk Cousins to get out there and run the offense.”
So you see, it's business as usual here at Redskins Park. Feel free to move on with your daily lives. Only Kyle Shanahan speaks on Thursday for the first time - so things should be much more ummm calm?
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980