May 29, 2015

Washington Redskins Second Day of OTAs Observations

With the media not allowed to attend the second or third days of organized team activities, there was not as much information available to pass along with the current status of the Washington Redskins. However the few bits of information that were reported through knowledgeable sources showed the moving parts that will likely continue going into the upcoming season.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Caplan, the Washington Redskins will release veteran Chris Chester, last year’s starting right guard. Chester was signed in 2011 to a five-year, $20 million contract and would have been a cap hit of $4.8 million this year in his last year under contract before becoming a unrestricted free agent. Chester also had a $100k workout bonus and $400k roster bonus in his contract, which may have played into the timing of release. There will be an $800k dead cap hit, but overall the Redskins have carved out an additional $4 million to work with to possibly bring in another free agent. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins First Day of 2015 OTAs Observations

After the first day of organized team activities, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and current starting quarterback Robert Griffin III addressed the media to provide insight on the upcoming NFL season.

Gruden expressed that coaching is a learning process and one of the biggest things he is getting used to is what buttons to push with the players at his disposal to get the most out of them.

After naming Griffin the preliminary starter early in the offseason, Gruden had Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy split the second team reps today. Both threw interceptions in their limited playing time, while Griffin had no turnovers. Gruden expects both to “push Robert and themselves”.

That being said, Gruden wants Griffin has to put together multiple strong practices to show the consistency that is desired because the work ethic is there ready to pay off. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Select DE/OLB Preston Smith and Trade Down before taking RB Matt Jones on Second Day of NFL Draft

After the Washington Redskins found their potential bookend on the offensive line to complement Trent Williams Thursday in the first round of the NFL Draft in Iowa’s Brandon Scherff, Scot McCloughan looked to continue rebuilding his team in a manner similarly to what he did while with San Francisco and Seattle. With the sixth pick in the second round, the Redskins selected DE/OLB Preston Smith.

Preston Smith is out of Mississippi St. standing at 6’ 5’’ and 271 pounds. Smith had 15 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, and even chipped in with two interceptions last year in the defensive powerhouse of the SEC. Continuing the trend of big nasty guys for McCloughan, Smith has long arms and refuses to get pushed around. Smith is also versatile enough where he can line up anywhere from nose tackle, edge rusher opposite Ryan Kerrigan, or at times in coverage. In a 3-4 system, he should be able to produce enough havoc to make an impact as he plays the run well after shedding blockers. In Jay Gruden’s post game press conference, he confirmed that his versatility was something that sold the team on him.

After being seen as slow on film by some, Smith was a top performer at his position during the combine as he ran the 40 yard dash in in 4.74 seconds, had a broad jump of 121 inches, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.07 seconds. Smith might be too slow to be an edge rusher, which the Redskins might want to plug him into, but he did speak of the possibility of losing weight to increase his quickness. According to Gruden, Trent Murphy’s status with the team is unaffected as everyone is going to have to compete for their right at playing time.

McCloughan continues to build his team from the inside on both sides of the ball and could continue to do so in the rest of this draft. McCloughan and company must have felt that they wanted Smith badly enough to not attempt to trade down to get to the 10 picks that the Redskins newly hired general manager desired. The New York Giants moved up to the #33 overall pick and the Carolina Panthers moved up to the #41 pick.

S Landon Collins (Alabama) to Giants from Titans, OT Donovan Smith (Penn State) to Buccaneers, DL Mario Edwards (Florida State) to Raiders, RB T.J. Yeldon (Alabama) to Jaguars, and WR Devin Smith (Ohio State) to Jets were all taken before the Redskins pick in the second round.

Washington traded their 69th overall selection to the Seattle Seahawks, McCloughan’s old stomping grounds. The Redskins will receive the 95th, 112th, 167th, and the 181st  overall pick in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round of the NFL Draft respectively. The trade is relatively even as per the Jimmy Johnson chart, the Redskins give up 245 points and get back 238 (http://walterfootball.com/draftchart.php). McCloughan wanted 10 draft picks in the 2015 draft and now has it by trading down 29 spots to pick up three additional picks.

After the Redskins moved back 26 spots to gain three draft picks from Seattle, Washington ended up drafting RB Matt Jones out of the University of Florida. Jones had a modest 817 yards on about five yards a carry and six touchdowns last season for the Gators in 2014 in a mere five games of work. Jones season was cut short early because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, which took two surgeries to repair in October. As a result, Jones was only projected to be a fifth or sixth round pick in the draft. For a big running back he is relatively athletic and can move the pile, but must develop into a more patient runners as his vision is not great. McCloughan saw his potential as a third down back because he is arguably the best back in pass protection in the draft because he squares up linebackers, whom he has comparable size to.

Jones met with the Redskins in Ashburn and he says that Washington showed him love leading to his good feeling of coming to the nation’s capital. Matt Jones believes he is a complete back and says he patterns his game after Marshawn Lynch (5′ 11”, 215). In the 25 picks that were made between where the Redskins could have picked in the third round and where the eventually did, names like Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Duke Johnson (Miami), and David Johnson (Northern Iowa) came off the board. While some running backs came off the board, the Redskins passed on names like Jay Ajayi out of Boise State and Jeremy Langford from Michigan State. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how Jones’s rehab continues and how soon he can get back on the field to fight for a position on the Redskins roster with names like Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, and Michael Hill. Gruden elaborated that Alfred Morris would not be affected as the #1 ball carrier for the team.

Moving forward, the Redskins have seven draft picks moving forward in the last four rounds of the NFL Draft starting with the 6th pick tomorrow (105th overall). Gruden stated that there are still a lot of players left in the draft that can still help the Redskins.

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…]

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 Week Four loss to the New York Giants

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 45-14 loss to the New York Giants:

  1. The turnovers came early and often.

It all started when Tyler Polumbus got beat around the edge by a speed rush from Mathias Kiwanuka. Kirk Cousins’s clock did not go off in his head, he never saw the rusher, did not step up in the pocket, but got blasted, lost the football, and gave the Giants a short field. Then while still in the game and poised to score, Logan Paulson gets stood up and stripped after a small dump off pass. As if this was not bad enough to have given up ten points off of turnovers and missing a scoring opportunity, the second half was a disaster. On a play that Pierre Garcon came out for and Ryan Grant was matched up against Prince Amukamara, Cousins throws it right between the two and the zero. Only problem is Grant’s number is 14 and Amukamara’s is 20, whether this was Grant’s fault or not is up in the air but it was the first domino to fall in the demise of the Redskins. After getting the ball back, Cousins gives it right back to the Giants by lofting up a deep ball that the center fielder Quintin Demps easily picks off. To pile on more, Cousins throws a ball right to Trumaine McBride who he must not have seen undercut Andre Robert’s route. The misery came to an end when Cousins was picked off on an underthrown deep ball by Antre Rolle where he had no room to step up in the pocket.

  1. Kirk Cousins reaffirms that “this is Roberts’s team”.

After playing nearly out of his mind just four short days ago in Philadelphia, Cousins played worse than a rookie. He threw four interceptions in the span of eight pass attempts and for most of the second half had more completions to the Giants defenders than his own receivers. Not seeing the defender is simply not excuse at this level. That’s now 15 interceptions, 3 lost fumbles and 14 touchdown passes in 11 career games for Cousins. Unlike last week, Cousins was not able to get his best two playmakers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson involved in the game giving the Giants secondary a night off. On balls intended to wide receivers, Cousins was a lousy 4-for-17 with four interceptions, proving that dumping the ball off to running backs and tight ends will not cut it in the NFL. Cousins will probably have another four weeks to showcase himself, but seeing as how the next two weeks are against the great defenses of Seattle and Arizona I do not see him continuing to start once Robert Griffin is healthy.

  1. Defense gets torched, but not completely their fault.

To say the defense got burned by the Giants’ mediocre core of tight ends is an understatement. They gave up three touchdowns to unheard of Larry Donnell in a span of 20 minutes and had everyone rushing to their fantasy teams. They also gave up another touchdown to the Giants backup tight end Daniel Fells, which ended the game momentum wise. The defense did do a bad job again, but when being so thin at all position, without DeAngelo Hall and having Brian Orakpo and Jason Hatcher not playing 100%, it is tough to defend an NFL offense on a short week. To make matters worse that offense could not sustain drives and turned the ball over often making them stay on the field for over 37 minutes of the game while getting little rest in between.

  1. More bad injury news.

After one of the best throws by Kirk Cousins in the game where he dropped it right into the bucket of Niles Paul, Paul was nearly decapitated with two vicious hits from the Giant’s defensive backs. Paul was motionless for some time in which he had his arms extended forward and for sure either unconscious or dazed. He was diagnosed with a concussion and will have to go through the NFL’s protocol before returning to action. More bad news came when Trent Williams came up hobbling after one of Cousin’s interceptions. He has officially been ruled as having a strained right knee and will get an MRI tomorrow to figure out the scope of the injury. The preliminary word is no ligament damage, possibly a dislocated knee cap that he thinks might have popped back in, but currently in a lot of pain. Defensively, Jarvis Jenkins has bruised, but no broken, ribs that were aggravated on the second goal line stand.

  1. The future looks bleaker than the present, seriously.

In 11 days the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will be coming to town with their eyes on having a feast on a down team. The Giants are not a good football team, but the Seahawks are and it could be déjà vu all over again next game if serious changes are not made. Fans can hold onto hope by a thread if they believe that the time to get healthy will make a difference, but if it doesn’t things could be ugly again on national television.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Week Three loss to the Philadelphia Eagles

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 37-34 division opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles: [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Monday Morning Roundup Week 1

Here is what people are talking about after the Washington Redskins lost their season opener to the Houston Texans 17-6:

ESPN.com, John Keim: [Trent] Williams on Watt: ‘Very little you can do’

“I mean, I know who J.J. Watt was. We knew he’d be something to deal with. He’s really the one that hurt us. We knew that was going to happen. There’s very little you can do to shut him out.”

ESPN.com, John Keim: Rapid Reaction: Washington Redskins

“they [Redskins] looked too much like the group that played last season than the team they want to be going forward.”

CSN Washington.com, Takir El-Bashir: RG3, Redskins beat up in opening loss to J.J. Watt, Texans

“With two star wide receivers, a Pro Bowl left tackle and a top tier running back, the Redskins’ offense has the potential to rank among the league’s most explosive units.

It was anything but in Sunday’s season opener.”

CSN Washington.com, Rich Tandler: No big plays for Jackson in Redskins debut

“[Desean] Jackson led the NFL last year in scrimmage plays of 20 yards or more with 25 but he got none today. One obvious reason was that J. J. Watt and the rest of the Houston defense was applying relentless pressure on Robert Griffin III, rarely leaving him time to find Jackson on anything resembling a deep pass.”

CSN Washington.com, Video: RG3 on forcing plays and taking them

“RG3 says the team has to take the routs that are given to them, instead of forcing plays down field.”

CSN Washington.com, Video: Gruden and RG3 in agreement on blame

“Redskins coach Jay Gruden puts the responsibility on play calling and the quarterback to get the ball in the end zone, and RG3 agrees.”

ESPN980.com, Kevin Sheehan: Skins-Texans Wrap

“Two turnovers instead of scores on the two best offensive drives of the game to start the 3rd quarter were killers.”

Redskins.com, Andrew Walker: Redskins Drop Season Opener To Texans, 17-6

“The Redskins will take the next few hours to go over what went right and what went wrong in today’s Redskins-Texans season opener, but their primary focus has already moved on to next Sunday’s home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

WashingtonPost.com, Mike Jones: Redskins’ self-inflicted damage in 17-6 loss to Houston ruins Jay Gruden’s debut

“Jay Gruden knew his team — particularly his young quarterback and the offense — might struggle out of the gates as it took on a Houston Texans team led by a fierce defensive front and Pro Bowl pass rusher J.J. Watt.”

WashingtonPost.com, Dan Steinberg: Best and worst from Redskins-Texans

“Worst way to get beat late in the fourth quarter: A Ryan Fitzpatrick third-down run up the middle. On perhaps the game’s most crucial snap — a third and six near midfield late in the game — Houston’s totally average quarterback scrambled for nine yards and a first down. “

WashingtonPost.com, Chelsea Janes: Jay Gruden: I’m not pleased with any part of our game because we lost

“On concerns about his offensive line’s ability to protect Robert Griffin III?
‘I [Gruden] think the thing is when you’re trailing, every pass rush in the NFL becomes a problem.'”

WashingtonTimes.com, Thom Loverro: Something is missing for RG3 in rough Redskins opener

“No one builds statues for quarterbacks who dink, dunk and dribble their way to the most unimpressive 29 for 37 day passing for 267 yards (maybe 100 more, if we measured the horizontal distance) you may ever see. No one names streets for quarterbacks who led their offense to just six points.”

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