August 28, 2015

Washington Redskins: Preseason Week 3 vs. Ravens What to Watch For

The soap opera drama with the Washington Redskins has returned unfortunately, things are getting bleak early and tomorrow’s showing against the Baltimore Ravens could be the beginning of the end.

After more participating in the blame game by Robert Griffin III towards the coaching staff starting with Jay Gruden regarding whether the starting quarterback suffered a concussion when sustaining several blows last Thursday against the Lions.

With the third preseason game often being the dress rehearsal for week one of the regular season, there are infinite things to watch for. Here we highlight five big idea areas to watch out for:

  • In limited playing time so far, Griffin has underwhelmed though it has not all been his fault. He had a long touchdown dropped by Pierre Garcon and had next to know blind side protection from Willie Smith. None the less it is time for Griffin to put his money where his mouth is because another underwhelming performance could cause the quarterback controversy to really heat up and lead to Gruden possibly questioning his QB1 status. Though it will take a completely dreaded performance for Griffin to be benched prior to the start of the regular season, his starting role is not set in stone as well as it was as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
  • The offensive line HAS to improve. A quarterback cannot be successful when getting hit on 75% of dropbacks as Griffin was last week. The return of the Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams will be a huge plus over the journeyman tackle Willie Smith who could find himself unemployed by final cuts on September 5th. If the young core on the right side of the line of Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses can rebound after a poorer showing last week, Griffin should have enough time. The only way to start truly evaluating Griffin is when all the pieces around him are in place as they would be in the regular season and that starts with the men that protect him.
  • When Junior Galette went down with a torn Achilles injury before even taking a game snap with the Redskins, it was a huge loss that DeAngelo Hall put it as losing the missing piece to the defense. It is hard to argue with the corner when he loose an elite pass rusher that has 22 sacks over the past two seasons. Now it will be up to the likes of developing edge rushers Trent Murphy and rookie Preston Smith to fill the void left by the ex-Saint. It is not the worst possible injury based on the idea that the team has solid depth at the position, but the young outside linebackers are going to be forced to grow up even quicker as they face three first round left tackles prior to All Pro blind side protector in the Eagles’ Jason Peters. Ryan Kerrigan with is locked into the WOLB position might not play for precautionary reasons after having his knee scoped during the offseason.
  • Can the offense continue to improve with Griffin reacquiring dynamic weapons like Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder? Many of claimed that missing DeSean Jackson, who has a “slim” chance of suiting up tomorrow, has caused some of Griffin’s ineffectiveness so ideally Reed and Crowder will help soften the shoulder injury to the elite deep threat. If healthy, Reed and Crowder have shown that they can create mismatches in one on one coverage which can only help Griffin in his options in the pocket to get rid of the ball more quickly. Crowder reportedly suffered a slight twinge in his hamstring and could be held out further for precautionary reasons.
  • Their are still many position battles going on the fill out the Redskins 53 man roster. Cuts to a 15 man roster will take place nest Tuesday, September 1st so their are individuals who will use the second half of the game to sustain their livelihoods. Backup offensive tackle, wide receivers, and linebackers are positions with spots up for grabs. Look for many decisions to be made based on an individual’s contribution or lack thereof on special teams after losing two aces in Niles Paul and Adam Hayward within the span of a week.

Tomorrow’s dress rehearsal will be the first time all year that predictions based on performance on a larger sample size will not be speculative. None the less do not throw any particular starter under the bus after just over a half of work building up to the start of the regular season.

Check back for a full analysis of the Redskins battling the the Baltimore Ravens after a Saturday night matchup with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.

Washington Redskins: Injury Updates Prior to Dress Rehearsal against Ravens

The Washington Redskins continued to get some good news on the injury front which began on Sunday. For the second straight practice since sustaining a concussion, Robert Griffin III participated fully in practice as he is able to partake in non-contact activities. Griffin will see a neurologist on Thursday who will determine if he is able to play on Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. If cleared, the former rookie of the year will remain the starter although there is now a renewed quarterback controversy by fans who are somewhat quick to pull the trigger after two quarters of tape.

Besides Griffin, Jordan Reed (hamstring), DeAngelo Hall (toe), and Trent Murphy (hip) all returned to full practice. Trent Williams (foot) says that he is good to go for Saturday’s game, which is music to Griffin’s ears after the beating he took as a direct result of backup tackle Willie Smith.

DeSean Jackson (shoulder) was for the second straight practice not in pads during practice and head coach Jay Gruden said that although the team was hoping the deep threat could go this week, there is only a slim chance he suits up against the Ravens. Despite missing Jackson, the team is hopeful that fourth round selection Jamison Crowder (hamstring) can make his Redskins debut on Saturday.

Speaking of Redskins debuts, OLB Junior Galette (pectoral) seems fired up to get some playing time even if it is just the preseason. The ex-Saint would be on a snap count if he is allowed to play, but it will be exciting for everyone to see the bookends of Galette and Ryan Kerrigan develop into what many expected with Brian Orakpo. After sitting out the first two preseason games for precautionary reasons after having his knee scoped, Kerrigan is expected to suit up.

Safety Akeem Davis (grade two hamstring) and DE Frank Kearse (shoulder) have already been ruled out for the third preseason game by Gruden.

Important Dates:

  • Face the Baltimore Ravens for the third preseason game (“dress rehearsal”) in 4 days on 8/29 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 11 days by 9/5.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 19 days.

Washington Redskins Get Good Injury News on Fan Appreciation Day #2 at Redskins Park

The Washington Redskins were limping into their second preseason game against the Detroit Lions last Thursday. Things did not get better when Robert Griffin III left the game early with a concussion and later when special team’s captain Adam Hayward suffered a non-contact ACL injury. Less than three days removed from the horror, the Redskins started to get healthier on all fronts starting with QB1 RG3.

Robert Griffin III was in full pads today in practice and although it is believed he could only go through individual drills due to the concussion protocol, head coach Jay Gruden later explained that the quarterback was cleared for “non-contact” activity today.

“He’ll be checked by a neurosurgeon later this week to determine whether he’ll be cleared for the game [at Ravens on Saturday]. But, so far, so good. He didn’t have any headaches or anything of that nature. He did a good job of executing the offense today.”

Griffin looks to be on a somewhat accelerated timetable to return to game action as he took part in throwing drills today which is thought of as the 4th step of the five step concussion protocol. Gruden discussed the how the concussion protocol was taking shape:

“He just went through the necessary steps with the doctors and the concussion tests that is all implemented by our training staff. And so far, he has taken the necessary steps. You know, it’s been two full days and today is Sunday afternoon so he has had some time to recover and go through the necessary steps. He hasn’t been totally cleared yet. Like I said, he’s got to still go to a neurosurgeon. But, we’ll wait and see.”

Griffin will likely speak to the media later this week and will start against the Ravens on Saturday if he is completely cleared by the aforementioned neurologist. Gruden thinks that Griffin will have a good chance to get in the necessary reps on Saturday as he has already started to take the “necessary steps” in clearing the protocol. Although Gruden said the first team offense is “moving forward” there is still a lot of work to be done, which is why these opportunities to get better before things start to count is essential.

Practice Notes and Evaluations:

  • TE Derek Carrier, acquired from San Francisco for a 2016 5th round pick, is wearing #41 not the previously reported #47 previously donned by Chris Cooley (still do not expect anything). Gruden described the Beloit College product as being “very good” and likes that he “competes in the running game” after putting on weight from his wide receiver days.
  • In limited work today, DeSean Jackson fielded some punts today and could probably be used in rare occasions when the team is in a big need of a spark. Jackson is easily the most explosive player on the team.
  • Kirk Cousins went 5/5 for 80 yards during 7-on-7 drills including a 50 yard run and catch to Rashad Ross.
  • Although it surprised many that Griffin was already taking part in non-contact team drills, the former rookie of the year looked fine in individual drills in his footwork to roll out and throwing on the move. Griffin later exploded through a crease during live play for a 30 yard rushing touchdown where he used his track speed to break away from trailing defenders.

Injury Updates:

  • Jamison Crowder (hamstring), Will Compton (groin), Trent Williams (foot), and Baushad Breeland (MCL) with a knee brace all returned to practice in full pads. Breeland took part in team drills as the first unit nickelback. All are making very good progress from their injuries.
  • DeSean Jackson (shoulder), DeAngelo Hall (toe), and Jordan Reed did NOT participate in a full padded practice with the rest of the team. Jackson and Hall were in practice jerseys without pads and took part in individual drills, Jackson hopes to practice fully at some point this week. Gruden believes Jackson and Reed are both close to returning to 100%.
  • In a couple of new injuries, Kai Forbath (sore quad) and Trent Murphy (aggravated hip) were held out of practice though they are just day-to-day and Gruden did not seem too concerned about either injuries.

Important Dates:

  • Face the Baltimore Ravens for the third preseason game (“dress rehearsal”) in 6 days on 8/29 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 13 days by 9/5.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 21 days.

Washington Redskins: Analysis of Preseason Home Opener Win over Lions

GRIFFIN CONCUSSED AFTER HIT REPEATEDLY BEHIND WEAK LINE

Another costly preseason victory for the Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III left the game on his fourth series with a concussion and right shoulder stinger, though head coach Jay Gruden said RG3’s shoulder is “okay”. Griffin had no time all night as he was hit on six of eight drop backs, the result of using inconsistent  Willie Smith at left tackle and Brandon Scherff still just being a rookie in this league. You can see all the vicious blows Griffin took last night as well as the play he got hurt on below.

Besides Robert Griffin III, who could be out for upwards of a week and possibly not ready for Week 1 of the regular season, the Redskins also lost another special teams stud. Adam Hayward went down on kickoff coverage with a knee injury that many are reporting is a torn ACL, which would place him on the IR for the second straight year (tibia fracture). Having already lost Niles Paul last week to a dislocated and fractured ankle, the Redskins will put a premium on special teams play to round out their 53 man roster.

The quarterback play was similar to last week against the Browns. There is simply too small of a sample size to evaluate Griffin, who now may be out for the foreseeable future. The small part did he did play looks awful much in part to the fact he was hit on six out of eight drop backs with only one, in which he got hurt, being his fault. For those who will bash Griffin, they will get their chance to see Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy battle it out on the practice field while RG3 is out. Both backup quarterbacks played well last night; however it all must be taken with a grain of salt as they were playing against a backup secondary who were giving up open soft spots left and right.

The running backs were one of the lone bright spot for the Washington Redskins. After only providing 24 yards of support on seven carries for Griffin, also possibly the result of a weaker offensive line, we saw explosive runs behind the backup line. Rookie Matt Jones got things started with a 24 yard rumble up the middle with a good cut to make a defender miss mid way through. Chris Thompson also had a nice run around the right side and similarly to Jones made a defender go for a slip and slide ride with a smooth cut. Finally, the speedster Trey Williams put his track like ability on display with a 38 yard run down the right sideline. Although the Redskins combined for a whopping 179 yards on the ground on 40 carries, 81 of them came from these big plays.

Again the starting defense was shaky coming out of the gates. Yes they were missing the likes of DeAngelo HallBaushad BreelandRyan Kerrigan, and Junior Galette, but fundamentally they were not getting the job done. Throughout the game the Redskins could not sustain tackles and bring the ball carrier to the ground individually. From the starters, Keenan RobinsonDavid Amerson, and Chris Culliver were all guilty of that. The nice part however was the rest of the defense’s swarming to the football to make the additional yardage gain minimal through gang tackling.

The up and down nature of the starting defense continued with the coverage in the passing game. At times Matthew Stafford, without arguably the best receiver in the game Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, was simply dissecting the gaps in the defense (similarly to how Cousins and McCoy would return the favor). The Lions quarterback had four passes, out of his eight, for double digit yard gains. In the end the Redskins defense did a decent job preventing the Lions from entering the red zone. Both drives stalled for the Lions and they settled for a 49 yard Matt Prater field goal over the course of their two drives. Jason Hatcher was a key pass rusher in stalling both drives as he twice hurried Stafford into not converting on third down.

Now lets take a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling as the Redskins continue their evaluation process to cut their roster to 53 players by Friday, September 4th.

  • UP: Tackle Tom Compton. With all the problems on the offensive line yesterday, Compton who was used multiple times as a blocking tight end (trying to fill the void of Logan Paulsen), did an effective job. The backup lineman has the mobility to sustain blocks down field which allowed Alfred Morris to gain a 10 yard clip on the opening possession. With Brandon Scherff moving to guard, opening an extra roster spot at tackle, Compton is all but a lock for the final roster.
  • DOWN: Tackle Willie Smith. For Gruden to say Smith played “pretty good” is laughable. The tackle was playing in place of Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams who could have gone it it were a regular season game. Smith was beat repeatedly. Three times Lions defenders got clean shots on Griffin around the outside. Smith was bailed out the fourth time from the fact that Scherff got blown up quicker than he did. If Ty Nsekhe shows he is the least bit competent in being a backup tackle, the journey man Willie Smith will continue his journey right out the door.
  • UP: Punter Tress Way. Arguably the Redskins most worthy player of a Pro Bowl of All-Pro selection might just be their dynamite punter. In a special teams that has been horrendous over the years, the Redskins might have found their changer in field position for the next five years. Way led the league in gross punting average at 47.5 yards. Last night Way averaged 51 yards on four punts and helped his coverage team with directional punts that helped limit punt return yardage to a total of 13 yards.
  • DOWN: Guard Brandon Scherff. Yes he is a rookie and yes he was not the only problem on the offensive line, but the 5th overall pick was absolutely bull rushed straight back into Griffin on a drop back. If Scherff is going to worth the value of his draft pick, he MUST at least develop into a above average guard where he supposedly more suited to start his development. Scherff also had a somewhat tough time on running plays as the Redskins got no substantial runs running to the right where he anchors the line with Morgan Moses. Scherff would say postgame that the play of the offensive line is “unacceptable” and says he needs to work on “everything”.

Everything moving forward will depend on the recovery timetable set for Griffin who has to pass the league’s strict concussion protocol before being able to do any work in practice. Head coach Jay Gruden has already come out and said he imagines Griffin to still be the starter. This might be frustrating for some who want to see Cousins or maybe even McCoy to get another shot at the starting job, but to me you cannot give up on Robert yet even though this is his third straight year with an injury.

Important Dates:

  • Face the Baltimore Ravens for the third preseason game (“dress rehearsal”) in 8 days on 8/29 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 15 days by 9/5.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 23 days.

 

Washington Redskins: Preseason Week 2 vs. Lions What to Watch For

If you think you can make generalizations about the Washington Redskins outlook for the regular season from last weeks play, you are probably wrong. The sample size is simply too small. The starters played roughly a quarter and were not 100% healthy. Robert Griffin III only threw the ball a grand total of eight times, and saying that Kirk Cousins‘s stellar play against backups and soon to be unemployed players is worthy of a starting job is preposterous.

Unfortunately we are not going to see too much more from the starters this week when they host the Lions either. Head coach Jay Gruden said the first units will likely go at least a quarter and possibly a little beyond that based on how many snaps each side gets. In short, it will be tough to evaluate the play of the starters again. Starting with the third preseason game against the Ravens, where the starters could play upwards of three quarters, we might be able to make small generalizations.

But just because there is a limited sample size to evaluate from the starters from does not mean that the second preseason game is not worth watching. Like last week, it will be a great opportunity for those further down the depth chart to showcase why they think they should be on the 53 man roster.

  • Colt McCoy orchestrating the backup offense. With all the talk that Cousins should be the starter over RG3 last week, many forgot that there is currently an open competition for the backup quarterback spot. This week it will be McCoy’s chance to light it up against backups after taking a game managing role last week to close out the win over the Browns. Cousins seems to have put himself ahead in the race and a bad showing by the Texas product could seal his fate as the third string QB.
  • The running attack as the power run scheme of Bill Callahan continues to develop. Last week we saw Alfred Morris and Matt Jones combine for three explosive runs. We saw the physicality level increase and we shall watch for more of the same. It will not show in preseason, but during the regular season that will result in the wearing down of the defensive line. We should also look for Chris Thompson to continue providing a change of pace option for the Redskins in his search to secure his third string running back spot after Silas Redd tore his ACL/MCL last week. NOTE: Redd did clear waivers and was placed on the Redskins injured reserve list joining the likes of Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen.
  • The right side of the offensive line with the combination of Brandon Scherff at guard and Morgan Moses at tackle. Last week the young duo was never put in too many tough positions and held their own against a talented Browns front seven. The more time they get together the more comfortable they should become. This week and the rest of preseason will be used to continue their development in hopes of producing an upgrade from last year.
  • Although there a handful of injuries to notable defenders for the Redskins, the starters are more or less penciled in. It will be nice to see a couple of three and outs with a turnover from the improved unit, but they will have their hands full with Calvin Johnson. It will be interesting to watch who takes on the assignment of the 6′ 5” Megatron as Chris Culliver is more of a slot corner, while DeAngelo Hall might not be able to go with a toe injury. From the front seven, the degree of pressure and effectiveness in stopping the run will be worth observing.
  • The dreaded special teams, can we see improvement? Kicker Kai Forbath has been inconsistent in practice thus far but if he continues his strong play in game time situations all will be set. The former Lou Groza award winner however HAS to try and get his kickoffs deeper in the end zone because the return coverage is still exposed constantly. For the Redskins own return options, watch of Andre Roberts, Chris Thompson, and possibly Rashad Ross get a crack at the duties while rookie Jamison Crowder is likely to sit with a hamstring injury.

Although there are key pieces of the game to watch for as detailed above, there will be little support for wild speculation even if the team executes perfectly or not at all.

Check back on Friday morning for a full analysis of the Redskins hosting of the Detroit Lions after doing battle Thursday Night with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.

Washington Redskins Return to Ashburn in Preparation for Preseason Battle with Lions

After wrapping up training camp yesterday with a quick walkthrough, the Redskins got back at it at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA for the last time before hosting the Detroit Lions in the second preseason game of the year. Within minutes of the team trotting out to the practice field, the heavens opened up as pouring rain forced everyone into the recently built practice bubble. Lets stick with just the practice in this post, if you are interested in reading about the media show on Robert Griffin III‘s “best in the league” comments you can see this opinion post.

Similarly to in the first preseason game, head coach Jay Gruden did not previously announce how long the starters were going to play. All we know is that they are likely to play the first quarter and possibly a little bit before that but such is all dependent on the speed of the game and how many snaps there are on both sides of the ball. In the short time that the starters are in the game, Gruden hopes to see the team building on what they have already accomplished. It would be tough to play the same penalty free ball that the Redskins accomplished last week, but as long as Gruden sees his team getting better together he will be pleased.

Gruden further delved into the running back position and current outlook of the unit. Matt Jones‘s role in the Redskins offense is still being processed but Gruden termed the Florida product as currently a “relief back” in order to keep Alfred Morris fresh during the game. Behind all of the hype of Jones, Gruden complimented the work horse Morris by saying “it is hard to take him out of the game on first and second down” because he has been in such good shape. Gruden did however explain that if Jones earns playing time and shows he can be trusted when it counts with ball security, “he will get his fair share of carries”. The head coach continued his high praise for Chris Thompson describing his job execution as “excellance”. Surprisingly, Gruden likes what he is seeing on “normal downs” where he is needed primarily as a pass catching option out of the backfield. Best case scenario, all three backs thrive in Bill Callahan‘s power run game, keep each other fresh, and take the pressure off of Griffin throughout the season.

Practice Notes and Evaluations:

  • With all of the nonsense regarding Griffin’s out-of-context comments, Kirk Cousins nearly threw two interceptions in today’s practice. Both were dropped by the defenders, which resulted in push ups as punishment for the miscue, but would have likely been turnovers against starting secondaries.
  • David Amerson and rookie Martell Spaight started in the place of DeAngelo Hall and Keenan Robinson and performed well.
  • Although Chris Thompson has a tight hold on the third string running back position, the change of pace back was stripped during one play and was talked to by the coaching staff. Turnovers are the quickest way to loose playing time and in extreme cases even a roster spot.
  • TE Je’Ron Hamm got the bulk of the playing time with the starters today and made a couple of nice grabs. Tom Compton was indeed used as an extra blocker multiple times and even was sent out on a route one time although he was not targeted, do not expect any J.J. Watt touchdowns from the tight end position from the natural tackle.
  • You could spend all day just watching Junior Galette and Trent Williams go up against each other. Today Galette seemed to win most of the battles by showcasing his hand movement, which he was working on off to the side prior to joining in on full team practices.
  • Kai Forbath had a better day on field goal attempts after having a poor showing the practice after having a good showing against the Browns. The incumbent Redskins place kicker converted on attempts from 38, 40, 45, and 50 yards out while missing a 48 yarder. The competition is not too aggressive this year for Forbath, as rookie Ty Long continues his inconsistencies by going 2/4 with makes from 43 and 50 but misses from 40 and 48 yards.

Injury Updates:

  • Gruden noted that many of the banged up players will be evaluated tomorrow morning and decisions on who his in or out will be made soon thereafter.
  • DeSean Jackson (shoulder), DeAngelo Hall (toe), Jordan Reed (hamstring) and Frank Kearse (shoulder) were out once again with injuries. Hall wants to play badly because he wants to get in much needed reps. More realistic return dates for Jackson and Reed will come in Week 3 of the preseason against the Ravens. Gruden said Reed is NOT being held out for precautionary reasons as his hamstring is still sore and would be unable to go even if this were the regular season.
  • Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Will Compton (groin) returned to practice in limited action. Crowder will “probably not” play Thursday as Gruden wants to get the Duke product “a couple good days of practice before we put him out in the game”.
  • Keenan Robinson was held out for the first time today because of a sore Achilles injury that Gruden classified as day-to-day.

Important Dates:

  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 2 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 18 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 27 days.

OPINION: Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III “best quarterback in the league” Comment Blown out of Proportion

After fireworks exploded over Robert Griffin III calling himself the “best quarterback in the league“, waves continued on into today with the report that the Washington Redskins PR staff would not allow the starting quarterback to speak to the media when not required to. After appealing the PR staff’s “ban”, Griffin made a short statement today regarding the matter. You can find the full statements of both the original comments and the follow up below.

“I don’t feel like I have to come out here and show anybody anything or why I’m better than this guy or better than that guy. It’s more about going out and affirming that for me, I go out and I play, I know I’m the best quarterback on this team. I feel like I’m the best quarterback in the league and I have to go out and show that. Any athlete at any level, if they concede to someone else, they’re not a top competitor, they’re not trying to be the best that they can be. There’s guys in this league that have done way more than me. But, I still view myself as the best because that’s what I work toward every single day.”

“I’m addressing what happened yesterday with the firestorm that took off with what I said. I know what I meant. I think everyone in this circle knows what I meant. It’s unfortunate that my name is used for headlines and not the full stories. I know what I want to be and what I strive to be, and I’m not going to apologize for that.”

The bottom line is that like so many things in life, part of a quote was parsed out of context and went viral. Sure it might have been poor word choice and phrasing, but too often in today’s age do fans blow things out of proportion without knowing the full context. Even members of the media see the chances to make a headline at might give a false impression of what really happened. The same thing happened with Washington Wizards’ John Wall, on a lower level, about his comments that Reggie Jackson makes the same amount of money as he does.

For Griffin, he is a 25 year old who has probably had to grow up to quickly while facing more adversity in the past three years than most do in there entire lives. Frustration spills over at times, he clearly is tired of having to be questioned as the starting quarterback.

Griffin clearly clarified that he works hard every day to bring his statement to fruition. The former rookie of the year is also not paranoid, he made it clear to himself that he knows that there are “guys in this league that have done way more than me”.

The nice thing about all of this is the support RG3 is garnering from his #1 protector in Trent “Silverback” Williams (courtesy of CSN’s Tarik El-Bashir). After stating he was not surprised by all the media attention the statement was getting, the Pro Bowl left tackles stated:

“Just needed something to talk about. Got to nitpick. Not to ya’ll [reporters gathered around]. But you know how people are. Social media gets a hold of things, and blows everything out of proportion.”

Williams would go on to make it clear that “you don’t want to play for a guy that doesn’t have confidence in himself”. It is ok to be confident and even over-confident in your own abilities even if things do not seem to be going great, if you lose that it might just be that individual’s time to hang it up.

Similarly to Williams, head coach Jay Gruden did not see what all the big deal was. See his full statement regarding Griffin’s words being taken out of context below:

“I didn’t really make a lot out of it. You guys [media] did. I think all players want to strive to be the best and that doesn’t change. DeSean Jackson said he was uncoverable. Whether he is or not, that’s the way he feels. Robert has high goals for himself. I don’t fault anybody for having high goals for themselves. We don’t want anybody to strive to be average. The key thing that he said is that he has got to go out and prove it, and we all have got to go out and prove it.”

When asked about the subject again with the twist of his reaction, Gruden reiterated the idea that it is a whole lot of nothing.

“What was my impression? I really didn’t think a whole lot of it; I just thought it was a guy that had high hopes for himself and his performance and his career as a starting quarterback in the NFL. I think when he was drafted No. 2 out of Baylor and he came here and he had a Rookie of the Year performance, I think everybody thought he could be a top-notch quarterback in the NFL. I don’t think he’s wavered in that confidence factor. He just has to go out and prove it and stay healthy, number one, and go out and continue to play. The whole thing about great quarterbacks and the top-notch quarterbacks, they’re durable and they do it year-in and year-out and game-in and game-out. We have got to make sure we do our best to keep him healthy and he has got to do his best to perform.”

The moral of the story is that headlines are made to incite emotions in everyone. In this case many jumped straight to the conclusion that Griffin is foolish and even more incompetent of a role he has earned by having more quality tape than Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy combined. I blame the media for this because most fans do not even take the time to read articles anymore as CSN’s J. Michael correctly points out. For that reason alone, I have clearly stated my stance on the issue right there in the article’s title.

If all goes well, and yes it may be a rather large if, Griffin will silence all the critics with a strong performance to start the regular season and put the franchise back on his back like he did in 2012. Let us all take a deep breath and wait until after Week 1’s game against the Dolphins in just 27 days before making rash critical statements.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 19 Observations

On the official last day of training camp (closed to the public), the Washington Redskins went through a light walkthrough before returning to a newly renovated Redskins Park in Ashburn. The day started with President Bruce Allen speaking to the media about camp in Richmond, new stadium talks, and what went into the signing of Junior Galette.

In a quick evaluation of what was accomplished in training camp, head coach Jay Gruden thinks a lot was accomplished and liked that the players came together as a team. Much of that coming together could have a lot to do with teammates sticking up for each other in their scrums with the Houston Texans. Despite tensions broiling over in Day 3 of the joint practices, Gruden reiterated that he will not hesitate to schedule them in the future as the pros greatly outweigh the cons that transpired this year.

The Redskins have struggled in the special teams phase of the game for years now. A lot of that has to do with the lack of an explosive return presence. Last year Andre Roberts was “consistent” as Gruden put it but far from electrifying or providing a spark for the offense. Today Gruden noted that before Jamison Crowder got hurt, he was about to outright win the return man job from Roberts, which is indeed an open competition. The Redskins will continue to experiment with the position while Crowder is sidelined with Chris Thompson, Trey Williams, and Rashad Ross in addition to the incumbent Roberts.

Additional Need to Knows:

  • Gruden said his lone regret of training camp was the injuries throughout the secondary, which prevented the defensive backs like Baushad Breeland and David Amerson from developing chemistry with the new safeties DaShon Goldson and Jeron Johnson.
  • TE D.J. Williams has played in similar offenses to the Redskins’ in the past so Jay Gruden believes the transition will be a little bit smoother, relatively to Ernst Brun who was also signed yesterday to fill the gaping depth issues.
  • When asked about if Robert Griffin III will begin to ascend as a quarterback the way his draft classmates of Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson have, Gruden responded with “that is the goal”. The head coach also made it clear that the team has to keep him healthy and playing to begin with, which can be correlated to his recent struggles.

Injury Updates:

  • Jamison Crowder (hamstring) “will probably be out” for Thursday’s preseason game vs. the Lions.
  • DeSean Jackson (shoulder) is out as expected this week though Gruden provided the positive news that the deep threat has regained full range of motion.
  • After hurting exiting yesterday’s practice early with a toe injury, DeAngelo Hall sat out of today’s walkthroughs though an x-ray on the area was negative. Gruden is listing him as day to day giving him a chance to go against the Lions. Hall commented the injury occurred when he jammed his toe but is hopeful that the swelling and pain go down so that he can play Thursday because he “needs the reps”.

Important Dates:

  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 3 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 19 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 28 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 17 Observations

After a costly 20-17 win in the preseason opener in Cleveland, the Washington Redskins regrouped to take part in a Saturday afternoon practice on Fan Appreciation Day. Today marks the penultimate practice of training camp as the Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins approaches in less than a month.

With the loss of two tight ends from the projected 53 man roster in the span of days, head coach Jay Gruden said the team will work out additional options “shortly”. In the meantime, Chase Dixon, Je’Ron Hamm, and Devin Mahina will have to pick up the slack. In limited playing time as a blocking tight end last year, tackle Tom Compton will also be considered as an option in running and max protect situations according to the second year head coach. Compton did lineup at the tight end position during a few plays during practice today. With Gruden not confirming the Redskins will bring in another running back behind Trey Williams and Mack Brown it is possible they can use that opening to bring in another tight end option.

Gruden thought that both Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses did a nice job on the right side of the offensive line. On Moses, Gruden thinks that he is “just becoming more comfortable on the right side” after playing left tackle in college. Gruden also said that even though Scherff is a lot better at right guard, he could play at right tackle but it is simply that Moses has progressed enough to earn a starting role. It comes down to the Redskins rather having Moses in the starting lineup than Spencer Long.

Other news on the offensive line comes from the backup center position where Josh LeRibeus was somewhat underwhelming at in the preseason opener against the Browns. Gruden discussed the idea that both Ty Larson (UDFA) and Spencer Long are both getting acclimated with the position. If the Redskins chose to hold only 9 offensive lineman on the 53 man roster, it is likely that Long will be the primary backup center and LeRibeus will be let go. Seventh round pick Austin Reiter could be the backup center of the future for the Redskins, which could earn him a spot on the Redskins practice squad. According to CSN’s Rich Tandler, Reiter was seen today already calling out audibles at the line of scrimmage, an important part of any center’s game.

On a quick evaluation of Robert Griffin III‘s performance against the Browns, Gruden noted that he had a dropped 61-yard touchdown that Pierre Garcon catches “99%” of the time. Moreover, Gruden liked the third down conversion that Griffin ran for but noted the flaws on the fade route thrown out of bounds, possibly to due “adrenaline”, and the missed third down conversion where Evan Spencer might have ran to short of a route.

Gruden also mentioned that he liked that physical runs and cuts that Matt Jones put on display last Thursday night. The head coach did however critique Jones on his developing pass protection skills, which he complimented third string running back Chris Thompson on. Thompson’s spot may be all but secured, barring injury, as Trey Williams looks to be more practice squad material.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Willie Smith and UDFA Takoby Cofield took snaps with the first team at left tackle as Trent Williams was held out (for precautionary reasons with a nagging knee injury). It has been assumed that Compton would easily have a roster spot on the team, but the reps that he is getting overlooked for may be concerning. To me I see it as the coaching staff trying to determine if Smith or Cofield deserve a roster or practice squad spot, while the production of Compton is a known.
  • Halfway through practice, the players were allowed to take off their full padded equipment. When asked about the surprise, Gruden said that it was a combination of things like the heat, injuries, and the team already having completed the sets they wanted to complete with pads on. It is also possible that Gruden wanted to give some of the fans who came out for fan appreciation day an opportunity to see some more exciting and better executed sets.
  • The Redskins did a pretty good job of putting on a show for their fans and it started with Griffin. The quarterback showed of his cannon of an arm with bombs to receivers Rashad Ross, Tony Jones, and Pierre Garcon during 7-on-7 drills. Obviously Griffin was not facing any pressure but execution in all sets is a positive.
  • We have seen Kirk Cousins score in key situations, against Baltimore on a crucial two point conversion in 2012 and most recently last Thursday on a read option take for a score. Quite frankly, no one expects for Cousins to run with the ball very much. Griffin on the other hand he is a true running threat. The former Heisman award winner has not done as much running lately but today in practice he scored on a red zone set on a designed quarterback draw.
  • Colt McCoy seems to be solidifying his on destiny as the third string quarterback after a luck luster preseason showing and then throwing two interceptions during practice today.
  • After seemingly getting back on track with a strong showing in practice leading up to another solid output against the Browns, Kai Forbath took as tep back from the consistency. The projected starting place kicker was a miserable 1/4 on kicks today, making a 33 yarder but missing from 35, 40, and 43 yards out. None the less, Forbath is still much better than NT Chris Baker who had a miserable attempt today (see below).

Injury Updates:

  • Gruden confirmed that RB Silas Redd (torn ACL/MCL) and TE Logan Paulsen (turf toe), adding to TE Niles Paul, will be out for the year. Paulsen will have surgery Monday.
  • TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring), MLB Will Compton (head), MLB Perry Riley (wrist), CB Baushad Breeland (MCL), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), LT Trent Williams (right knee), and DE Frank Kearse (shoulder) all sat out of practice today. Riley, Williams, and Kearse are new to the injury report but are to be considered day-to-day.
  • Gruden said both Crowder and Jackson are close to returning and the hope is that they will be ready to go fully by the Ravens preseason game.
  • Reed told CSN’s Tarik El-Bashir, that he did some running today on his sore hamstring and hopes to return to practice on Monday.
  • OLB Junior Galette (pec) took part in his first full practice with the team today and though he may have a shot at going against the Lions, the third preseason game against the Ravens is more realistic. Galette later confirmed Gruden’s projection of playing against the Ravens.
  • CB David Amerson (shoulder), SS Jeron Johnson (hamstring), and SS Duke Ihenacho (right arm contusion) were back at practice today.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Host the Detroit Lions for the second preseason game in 5 days on 8/20 at 7:30 PM.
  • The final cuts to a 53 man roster will take place over the next 21 days by 9/4.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 30 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Outlook for Offense

We have now gone through and released our outlook on what to expect from the different units of the Washington Redskins offense. The quarterback position will be mostly determined by Robert Griffin III‘s execution of head coach Jay Gruden‘s offense in his second year. The running backs and receivers for the Redskins is talented but have to be given the opportunity to make plays for the team through Griffin. Finally, the offensive line, which was dreadful last year, will likely be improved but will be dependent on how quickly they grasp Bill Callahan‘s new blocking schemes.

Now we go through and project each unit’s grade during the season and predict the Week 1 depth chart that consists of the 53 man roster, of which we will assume 25 will be on offense. [Read more…]

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