May 24, 2015

Washington Redskins Select Brandon Scherff at No. 5 Overall in NFL Draft

“Coach [Jay] Gruden, he said, ‘We want you to be a Redskin. How do you feel about that? ‘I said absolutely and just talked about that. I talked to Coach [Bill] Callahan and then went on stage.” — newest Redskins lineman Brandon Scherff

With much speculation over the past three months of whom the Washington Redskins would select with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft — from Marcus Mariota to Dante Fowler to nobody at all in a trade down scenario — we now know that individual is Brandon Scherff. This is a statement pick that tells the rest of the league that Scot McCloughan is in charge and wants to create a dominant force on the line on both sides of the ball that can impose their will.

Scherff is a 6’ 5’’ 315 pound offensive lineman out of the University of Iowa and was rated as the No. 1 offensive linemen available in the draft ahead of names like Ereck Flowers and Andrus Peat. Scherff is a big, tough, nasty, and strong individual on the line to protect Robert Griffin III and block for Alfred Morris. Scherff spent all four years in college and played behind and at times replaced, when injured, Riley Reiff, who was a first round pick of the Lions in 2012.

“Then when it came to our pick, we thought that he was the best person for what we wanted, the best player available,” said head coach Jay Gruden. “If you’re talking about offensive linemen, you’re talking about a big, physical guy, and we want to bring that mentality back to this football team and it starts up front. We addressed the defensive front a little bit in free agency, and I think we had to address the offensive linemen, the offensive line room, and we did that tonight.”

Moreover, the acquisition of Bill Callahan as the Redskins offensive line coach most definitely had an impact in the decision as McCloughan somewhat hinted at in his press conference on Monday. It is now believed that Scherff will transition into Washington’s starting right tackle which was a much maligned position for the club last season. As a result, the Redskins offensive line could read Trent Williams, Shaun Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Morgan Moses (possibly replacing Chris Chester, and Brandon Scherff.

Gruden went out of his way to praise Scherff’s toughness. “When you have a guy that’s this tough on film and it just echoes every time you watch him play, every play that he plays, you see the toughness and you’re like, ‘Man, we could use a little bit more toughness.’ Not to say we weren’t tough last year. We had some guys that competed and played very, very hard, no doubt about it, but when you add another guy of his caliber, his size, his strength, his tenacity, that only makes your football team better. It’s going to help our defensive line, it’s going to help our offensive line, it’s going to help our running game, obviously, and it’s going to help our passing game.”

In what might be a shocker to some with defensive lineman Leonard Williams still on the board — Mel Kiper’s No. 1 rated prospect — McCloughan pulled the first major shocker of the draft by drafting an offensive tackle. What makes this move even more shocking is that there were highly reported rumors that if Williams was available, the Redskins said to him that they would draft him.

When talking on ESPN980 Radio, Scherff said he did not talk to the Washington Redskins much except at the NFL Combine. Scherff says that his best trait is his foot work, while he needs to work on his pass protection the most. The Iowa big man also shared his confidence in playing all five positions on the offensive line because of his versatility which Jay Gruden talked about in his first round press conference. However, Gruden has stated he will be plugged in day one at right tackle.

“Either way wherever they want me to play, I’ll do my best and I’ll jump right in and try to get that spot,” Scherff said in his post-draft media call.

Gruden shed light that they might have looked more for a non-defensive lineman because of their free agency acquisitions, which would explain why they passed on Leonard Williams. The head coach also said that they had the phone ringing a little but said when your guy is there you have to take him. It is possible that Scherff was the second player on the Redskins board behind Dante Fowler.

As a chain reaction of moves, the New York Giants, who desperately needed a left tackle, had their hand forced and drafted Ereck Flowers out of the University of Miami. This is definitely a stretch pick because of questions of what position Flowers will finally settle into, as well as if he has enough time to be polished into a NFL offensive line from his current state of raw talent.

McCloughan started to build up the San Francisco 49ers at the offensive line position leading to the building of an eventual playoff contender. He is starting to follow the same blue print with the Washington Redskins. It will be interesting to see who will fall to the Redskins at the 38th overall pick tomorrow. Redskins fans who may be hesitant on this move should still have faith in McCloughan going into the later rounds because of his excellent track record of finding that diamond in the rough.

Washington Redskins’ General Manager Scot McCloughan Pre-Draft Press Conference Need to Know

Scot McCloughan met with the media today to talk about the Redskins strategy heading into the 2015 NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday with the highly anticipated first round where Washington holds the No. 5 overall pick. This is the first first round pick the Redskins will have to play with since drafting Robert Griffin III in 2012. Speaking of the current starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, McCloughan announced that they are going to exercise the 2016 option on RGIII as was reported earlier today by NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

According to the Redskins’ GM, the decision was arrived at awhile back because he has “good tape,” including extraordinary playmaking ability back in the 2012 season. The hope is that with a full offseason and going into his second year in Jay Gruden’s system, Griffin shows flashes of his rookie year brilliance that the franchise can continue to build around. Clearly this is a $16.2 million financial risk that the Redskins are going to take as they plan to officially announce their intentions to the league on Monday, May 4. The Redskins clearly did not want to gamble of not having control of his contract for 2016. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen’s Wednesday Media Availability

Here is the entirety of Washington Redskins head coach Bruce Allen’s media availability on Wednesday after the Redskins completed their 4-12 2014 season. [Transcript courtesy Redskins media relations.]

Opening statement:

“We just finished a frustrating season that had a few ups and too many downs. As Coach [Jay] Gruden talked about with you all on Monday, we’re going to take this time to start a full evaluation of everything and look into the way we acquire players, look into the way we coach players, looking at the way the players prepare in the offseason and in-season, and make sure we correct the problems that occurred and make sure they don’t happen again and bring in the right people. You know, I’d like to tell you there’s a secret ingredient in football, but there really isn’t. It’s getting good players with good coaching and good chemistry, a little luck with injuries, and that’s a successful formula. That’s what we’re going to start addressing.” [Read more…]

Current State of the Washington Redskins at Quarterback Going into the 2015 Offseason

Robert Griffin III's future with the Washington Redskins is up in the air. (photo by Brian Murphy)

Robert Griffin III’s future with the Washington Redskins is up in the air. (photo by Brian Murphy)

The Washington Redskins just completed another dreadful season, which continues a streak of terrible play on the field and dysfunction off. The biggest question going into the offseason is obvious — who will be the signal caller going into training camp, preseason, and eventually week one of the regular season?

That individual might be Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, or a dark horse that is not even on the team yet. It is unlikely that the Redskins will use their No. 5 overall pick in the upcoming draft on Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota should they be available, but the team could pick a quarterback with one of their mid- or late-round selections.

Going into 2014, Robert Griffin III was the starter without a question, with Kirk Cousins playing the role of a serviceable backup, and Colt McCoy sporting a headset and being inactive. That is hardly how the season turned out as Griffin started seven of the nine games he appeared in, Cousins five of six, and McCoy four of five.

Controversy began before the season started as many believed Kirk Cousins was a better option under center than Griffin. Not only that, but many believed new head coach Jay Gruden thought it as well.

After a shaky performance at Houston week one, fuel was added to the fire. However, Griffin got the start against Jacksonville the next week, where he began a solid drive before suffering the dislocated ankle injury. As a result, Cousins was given the chance he was hoping for but did not take advantage of it. Cousins finished with eleven turnovers against ten touchdowns, with an 86.4 QB rating, before being benched against Tennessee in week seven.

With Griffin still on the shelf with his ankle injury, McCoy was given the reigns and he successfully completed the comeback against Tennessee. Those heroics gave McCoy the opportunity to return to his home state and start against the rival Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

In the Redskins most complete and best game of the season, McCoy restored hope to a lacking franchise and led the team to victory. Unfortunately for McCoy, and quite possibly the rest of the Redskins season, Griffin returned from injury was given back his job as the starting quarterback.

Griffin came back to start against Minnesota, Tampa Bay, and San Francisco and, quite frankly, stunk it up and looked like a complete joke. Griffin had a total QB rating of less than 80 and was sacked a whopping 16 times, a direct correlation to his lack of reading defenses and quickly going through his progressions.

This led to Colt McCoy being given an opportunity to continue his strong play from earlier in the season. McCoy continued his impressive performance against Indianapolis but was rewarded with one of the worst defensive showings of the year and a loss.

McCoy had a poor performance against St. Louis the following week and suffered a neck injury, and Griffin stepped back in midway through the game against New York after McCoy could not continue physically. Griffin was given the majority of the final three weeks to state his case and although he showed some improvement, he has not guaranteed himself the job heading into the offseason.

Gruden, who is likely — but not certain at this point — to be retained as head coach next season, has stated that “all three quarterbacks have shown the ability that they can play quarterback in the NFL, but all three quarterbacks have shown that they need some work”.

Moreover, as it is difficult to have three in competition because of the limited amount of quality reps available, Gruden would like to narrow it down to two and then one “to work and grind on him and develop him.”

The one thing we know for sure at this time is Colt McCoy will become a free agent on March 10 if he is not re-signed before then. With limited cap space available and the possibility of McCoy wanting more than the veteran minimum, money could play a role in determining those who will be competing for the lead signal caller job in DC.

We can speculate that Griffin has the current edge in the competition because of the speculative backing from Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder. This most likely stems from the stubbornness of upper management to admit a mistake for giving up so much for a possible bust at the position. However, this next season may be the last straw for Griffin regardless.

Adding to the intrigue is Cousins’ status, as reports surfaced Monday that he would prefer to be traded if not given a fair shot to win the starting job. Cousin spoke on a conference call to clear the air that he did not “demand” a trade. But preferring to play somewhere else is different than “demanding” a trade.

Still, it’s hard to see the Redskins trading Cousins, or receiving what they think might be fair market value for him.

The best guess going into training camp is that all three quarterbacks — Griffin, Cousins, and McCoy — will be in competition for the starting job, with the obvious undertones from the front office leaning toward Griffin.

After training camp evaluations, as well as evaluations of the film from all three from the past season, Gruden will quickly narrow the search down to two with a front runner. Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay will most likely put all their efforts into shaping that one front runner into their starter as long as everything goes well.

However, as this fan base has sadly grown accustomed to, this may be far from the case.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins season finale loss against the Dallas Cowboys

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 44-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, ending the season at 4-12:

1. Robert Griffin’s performance gets worse as the game goes on.

Griffin’s stats are inflated by big gains after the catch on screen plays, but Griffin did nothing to fuel the offense or put the defense in bad situations. Griffin took another sack that helped stall a drive, although Chris Chester being pushed into your face cannot help in reading progressions down the field. Griffin was also not helped by his receivers when Roy Helu and Niles Paul dropped catchable balls and Jordan Reed didn’t run the necessary depth on a route on fourth down. [Read more…]

Five takeaways from Washington Redskins Game 15 win over Philadelphia Eagles

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 27-24 win to the Philadelphia Eagles, improving their record to 4-11:

1. Robert Griffin III does enough to get the victory.

With Colt McCoy being placed on season ending IR this past week, Robert Griffin was given another opportunity to show why he should be back as the starting quarterback going into training camp next season. Although Griffin didn’t fill up the stat line, throwing for a somewhat mediocre 220 yards on 25 drop backs, he had his best game of the season in terms of executing a game plan. Griffin took three shots to DeSean Jackson deep resulting in two 50+ yard completions and one interception.

Both of the completions ended in Redskins touchdowns. Moreover, the threat of Griffin tucking the ball and taking off not only led Alfred Morris to average four yards per rush, but late in the game it forced the Eagles’ linebackers to creep forward. Griffin took advantage of an open middle of the field by hitting Pierre Garcon on a classic 2012 play that eventually led to the game winning field goal. [Read more…]

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 14 loss to the New York Giants

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 24-13 loss to the New York Giants, dropping the Skins to 3-11:

1. Colt McCoy gets injured after not looking 100% to start.

In the beginning of the week it looked as if Colt McCoy would be unable to be ready for this game, but he recovered enough and was named the starter. After nicely marching the team down the field on the opening offensive possession, McCoy aggravated his neck injury when getting pushed forward by the offensive line after being wrapped up by Jason Pierre-Paul.

After settling for a field goal on the drive, McCoy headed to the locker room with the same neck injury. Although he returned to the sidelines before the next offensive possession, he did not return to the game. [Read more…]

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 13 loss to St. Louis Rams

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 24-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

1. Will Colt McCoy continue to start for the Washington Redskins?

McCoy opened the game bad just like he did against Indianapolis with a overthrown ball over the middle that resulted in a pick which ended a decent drive. However unlike last week, things did not get any better. McCoy could not even get his team back into plus territory until garbage time started as he was under constant harassment from pressure.

Gruden addressed that he did not want to throw Robert Griffin to “the wolves” when the game was already lost. Griffin did come in after McCoy suffered a “neck sprain”, which Gruden said could play a role in his availability next week. Griffin threw for a first down, took a sack, and failed to convert on the game-ending fourth down. With the recent rumors coming out the ownership will side with RG3 over Gruden it will be an interesting story to watch as the week wears on.

2. Defense continues to play poorly against a weaker opponent.

The Rams clearly watched the Coby Fleener tape against the Redskins last week and used it to their advantage. The Rams were able to get a long touchdown to a wide open Jared Cook on another coverage bust for the Redskins secondary. Later in the game, the defense turned Cook completely loose on the goal line for an easy pitch-and-catch for another touchdown.

Again there were flashes of spark from the defense as Ryan Kerrigan continues to play well as the pressure has been beginning to be a factor. The downside is that the defense has players like Chris Baker dancing after celebrating a sack when the ball was loose on the ground up for grabs. There are few pieces outside of maybe Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, and possibly Baushad Breeland that can be part of the future for this defense and the offseason cannot get here soon enough.

3. Special teams take on a 2013 approach.

The special teams for this team have been poor again this year but a definite improvement from last year’s constant debacle, but that did not show today as they got beat on every single special teams play. First, I applaud the Redskins guts to try a fake punt, but think it was poor execution to make a guy rush ten additional yards just to get back to the line of scrimmage before being able to fight for the marker while the other team is given a chance to react. This led to the Rams getting the opportunity to earn back a point from their missed PAT as their punter/holder on their next PAT threw for a two point conversion with ease.

After another three-and-out and Tress Way punt, Tavon Austin danced around east and west before turning up field for a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. To add insult to injury, Andre Roberts foolishly decided to field a punt inside his own five yard line and got nothing on the return. This was just another bad phase in an entirely poor game.

4. Running game continues to be a non-factor without Griffin under center.

It is no longer a coincidence that Alfred Morris’s best games this season were with Robert Griffin at quarterback. Without that threat, Morris was completely taken out of the equation today rushing for less than one yard per carry (on just eight carries) after having a 12-yard gash to open the game. This in turn made the offense completely one dimensional, which in turn has led to the offense being unable to succeed in anything they do. Alfred Morris clearly has potential in this league but not only is he not a prototypical Jay Gruden back, but also needs a steady threat in the passing game to avoid being keyed on by defenses.

5. Next week a return to division matchups and shakeups could be looming.

The Redskins will get a look at possibly the next big thing in the NFL with Odell Beckham Jr. next week as they head north to face off with the Giants coming off a dismantling of the Tennessee Titans. Luckily there were no major additional injuries, but there will still be drama surrounding the Redskins this week on whether Robert Griffin will return to his role as the starting quarterback.

Either way you look at it, this team is destined for a busy off-season, where they need to evaluating every facet of the roster. The big question remains: Who will be evaluating the talent; Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen or the owner?

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 12 loss to Indianapolis Colts

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 49-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:

1. Jay Gruden’s decision to start Colt McCoy looks questionable to start, but then shows potential.

More than midway through the second quarter, the Redskins had negative three net passing and only one first down via an Alfred Morris rush. Gruden’s decision to bench Robert Griffin III who put up relatively better numbers against a much better defense was coming into some serious heat. Then similarly to Griffin last week, McCoy generated a scoring drive right before the half. In my opinion this saved McCoy from being benched at halftime similarly to Griffin’s predicament last week as he did not take advantage of great field position.

Coming out of the half, McCoy drove his team down the field once again and capped off the drive with amazing elusiveness to avoid three potential sack attempts before dumping the ball off to Logan Paulsen for a score. On the next offensive possession, McCoy could not find a receiver on fourth and a yard and was subsequently stripped of the football which was then returned for a score. McCoy came back and led a drive that finished in a DeSean Jackson deep touchdown pass after Jackson readjusted to the usual underthrown ball. McCoy finished the game moving the ball but unable to finish off drives with touchdowns. All in all, McCoy played a good latter two and a half quarters, which has assured him of a start next week.

2. Undermanned Redskins defense get obliterated after being opportunistic.

As well as McCoy was able to move the ball after the beginning of the game, he had no chance to lead his team to a comeback as the defense was getting beat every which way for big plays on busted coverages. After producing back to back turnovers to start the game, Andrew Luck settled down and started dissecting the Redskins secondary which was without E.J. Biggers and Brandon Merriweather.

First, Luck hit a wide open Coby Fleener on a seam route along the sidelines where David Amerson was supposed to pick him up after a Trent Murphy jam. To the start the second half, the defense let Daniel Herron gash the defense for a 49-yard touchdown after multiple poor angles were taken on potential tackles. Following a three and out by the offense, Luck methodically marched his team down the field for another touchdown score.

In the second half it was more of the same. The Redskins defense gave up three more long touchdowns. The two to Donte Moncrief were again huge busted coverages by the secondary that caused the final separation. In between those two was a missed tackling clinic on Coby Fleener who avoided at least three potential tacklers. This defense could not get a stop for their lives and as the season wears on the limited depth in the defense will continue to haunt this team.

3. Fundamentals still the biggest problem of this team.

The offensive line still is not protecting McCoy enough as he was harassed constantly and took six sacks on the game, which is not much better than the indecisive Griffin in the last few weeks. Moreover, the offense could not cash in on the amazing field position given to them by the turnovers caused by the defense but similarly to last week they only mustered up three points off of those three turnovers.

Defensively, coverage assignments and tackling are still a struggle for this team and it leads to big plays for the other team week in and week out. Without these fundamentals that are taught in Pee-Wee football, this team will not be able to have success anytime in the near future.

4. More injury concerns.

Ryan Kerrigan, Will Compton, and Keenan Robinson all got banged up in the game and missed a limited amount of plays. The more major concern is for Brandon Merriweather (toe), Chase Minnifield (concussion), and DeSean Jackson (fibula contusion and other leg injury) had to leave the game after getting injured.

Although the x-rays came back negative on Jackson, the injury did not look good as he was again trying to readjust to an underthrown McCoy deep ball. It would be a big blow to this offense if there lone deep threat were to be out for the rest of the year; however, the long term options of Jackson must be taken into account first.

5. Next week against a St. Louis Rams team coming off a perfect game.

The undermanned Washington Redskins will travel to St. Louis who beat the Oakland Raiders 52-0 after a superb all-around performance by their team. Colt McCoy has been informally named the starting quarterback for next week after getting the offense moving through the latter stages of the game. However, he may have to lean on Jordan Reed once again if DeSean Jackson is forced to miss any time. Additionally, Alfred Morris had a significant reduction in production relative to the game with Griffin under center which could play a role in making the offense one-dimensional with McCoy under center.

OPINION: Washington Redskins and Jay Gruden drop the ball on Robert Griffin III

“I think as a man and as a competitor, I think Robert does have a future in the NFL, but I’m not going to predict it.” –Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

Five games. Five partial games. Five partial, increasingly worsening games. That’s all it took for Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to decide that Robert Griffin III is incapable of running his offense. It’s hard to debate, as Griffin has looked more and more lost on the field in recent weeks. Presumably healthy, he has stopped running completely, seems oblivious to open receivers, and has alienated teammates with his play on the field and soap opera drama off.

There’s plenty of damning evidence to say Griffin just isn’t getting it and he needs to be replaced. That’s all well and good — if the team was playing for anything other than pride the rest of the way. Funny word, pride. It’s a buzzword around this organization, but very little of it seems to rub off on the actual players.

Gruden isn’t as invested in rehabilitating Griffin as maybe the organization as a whole, and he indicated as much in his press conference on Wednesday.

“No, not really,” Gruden offered. “I came here with a clean slate and I want to play the best players, period, whoever they are. First-round picks, sixth-round picks, free agents, I don’t really care who they are, where they came from. Obviously the history of Robert and the talent that he has at quarterback, very excited to coach him when I first got the job and I still am. I’m not giving up on Robert. It’s just we haven’t been successful. But the past is the past. We’re moving forward and we’re trying to do what’s best for the Redskins this year and for years to come. Right now, today as I stand up here, I feel like this is the best move for us moving forward to Indianapolis.”

Moving forward to Indianapolis. Not 2015. Not “the future.” The next game.

I suppose Gruden can be excused for being focused on wins and losses this season. Anyone that follows this team knows the owner’s box could grow tired or fickle after one season and give the head coach the boot. The idea that Gruden has to make the switch in order to keep the locker room is further damning the infrastructure this organization has implemented over the past 15 years.

But Colt McCoy is no one’s idea of a long-term solution at the position.

Starting McCoy, the 28-year-old journeyman, over RGIII at this point is applying a band-aid to hemorrhage — lipstick on a pig. With everything invested in Griffin, the organization owes it to itself to fix him, not hide him on the bench in the hopes of winning a game or two down the stretch in another lost season.

It’s hard to believe — nee, unbelievable — that Griffin’s talent has completely sapped. Sure, the injuries have taken their toll on his running game. He’ll never be the same in that regard. But this is the same player that has completed 63.5 percent of his passes in his career and threw for 20 touchdowns and just five picks his rookie season, just two years ago.

Has that player just simply disappeared?

The most alarming aspect of Griffin’s deteriorating confidence is the sheer number of sacks he’s taking. That’s not just on the offensive line, though without Trent Williams it’s about as good as an Arena League squad. But Griffin is holding the ball, stepping into sacks, failing to identify open receivers, almost completely unable to run the offense in any manner whatsoever. Last week, he looked utterly and completely lost.

It’s a crisis of confidence. An dramatic and unfortunate collapse of what seemed like such a promising career not that long ago.

The biggest takeaway from the entire episode is the way that ONCE AGAIN the national media had the news BEFORE the players were informed. This organization does everything backwards and wonders why (recent) former players disassociate from the franchise quickly as possible?

They’ll probably trade up to draft another quarterback instead of investing in the lines first, wasting even more time and resources drafting a talent position without the necessary infrastructure.

It’s how this franchise has been run for the last 15 years; the only thing that’s been consistent is the man that signs the checks.

But just as it’s been in those 15 years, it’s time for the Washington Redskins to completely start over again. And a young man’s future hangs in the balance. It’s a shame that the combination of physical injury, poor management and lack of awareness has derailed such a promising career for what was such a charismatic player.

And on this Thanksgiving, Redskins fans have very little to give thanks about with regard to the franchise that continues to be mired in drama and controversy, ripping their hearts out with every news leak.

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