April 17, 2015

Redskins Continue to Improve Defense, Trade for S Goldson

The Washington Redskins are in full overhaul mode on the defensive side of the ball. GM Scot McCloughan has already reunited with former draft pick Ricky Jean-Francois, Jeron Johnson, and Chris Culliver and has now done the same with his former fourth round pick S Dashon Goldson. Goldson, along with a 7th round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was sent to Washington for a 6th round pick also in the 2016 NFL Draft going to Tampa Bay. Based on Goldson’s recent tweet about admiring Sean Taylor and how he plans to bring winning football to Washington, it is without a doubt that he will fit right in with the fans and team.

Although the deal looks great on paper as the Redskins are getting a plug-in starter for nearly nothing, it is the money behind the deal, worth more than the draft picks that the Redskins are giving up. Goldson signed a 5-year, $41.25-million contract with the Bucs as a FA in 2013. Four million of his $7.5-million ’15 salary is guaranteed. Goldson will be 31 in Week 2 this season and was scheduled to make $8 million. The Redskins methodically negotiated a deal such that the Buccaneers will pay the $4 million fully guaranteed under Dashon Goldson’s contract for 2015 despite trade to Washington. As a result, the Redskins will take a $4 million cap charge for because of Goldson’s $3.5 million salary and $500K workout.

Although this seems to be an upgrade over the injury prone Brandon Merriweather, the Redskins look to again have just a one year place holder at safety with Goldson. Goldson is scheduled to make $8 and $7.25 million dollars during the 2016 and 2017 season and with the belief that his best years are behind him, the Redskins could easily cut ties with the two time Pro Bowler before next season.

Goldson has had 50+ tackle seasons in each of the past six seasons between the 49ers and Buccaneers, but he has only had a single interception in the past two seasons in Tampa Bay compared to the 14 he had in his last four seasons in San Francisco. Goldson’s skill set lies in his ability to make big plays as an enforcer which provided a spark to the 49ers defense, but caused him to often be out of position in Tampa Bay. Goldson, like Merriweather, has the tendency to be over aggressive and connect on helmet-to-helmet hits. His big hits were curtailed in 2014 as he started to whiff on more tackles.

Goldson, a true free safety, fills one of the remaining gaping holes in a Redskins team that struggled greatly last season. Having already signed Chris Culliver and Jeron Johnson to play in the secondary to go along with the emerging Baushad Breeland, the Redskins may have a set secondary for this season. Goldson is potentially the sixth different starter the Redskins have added on defense this offseason including Jean-Francois, Stephen Paea, Terrance Knighton, Culliver, and Johnson. Throw in retained solid players like Ryan Kerrigan and Breeland, and the Redskins are bound to perform better defensively.

Redskins Continue to Beef Up on the Defensive Line

After Scot McCloughan reunited with former draft pick Ricky Jean-Francois and signed former Chicago Stephen Paea, the Redskins have added a third defensive linemen, Terrence Knighton. Knighton, also known as Pot Roast, signed a bargain of a deal at one-year, $4 million. Knighton, like Jean-Francois, has finished his sixth season in the NFL. After being drafted by the Jaguars, Knighton played the past two years for Denver.

Knighton has had a consistent NFL campaign with a career 12.5 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. Although, one might think there is too much repetition between the three free agency signings to start the 2015 NFL season, there cannot be enough quality linemen that have made a living shedding multiple blockers.

Knighton has mainly played nose tackle under Jack Del Rio’s 3-4 defensive scheme and could be in a solid role to split time at that position with his recruiter and friend Chris Baker. Along with the “prized” free agency addition last year of Jason Hatcher, the revamped defensive line looks poised to cause more havoc without blitzing next year. Moreover, the signing of Knighton might mean the Redskins will not resign Jarvis Jenkins, who is currently an unrestricted free agent after being drafted in the second round four years ago.

Although the Washington Redskins have many needs, they needed to start from the inside out with their lines of both sides of the ball. On the defensive side they have made vast improvements by getting rid of Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen while adding the younger and better bodies of Jean-Francois, Paea, and Knighton. Knighton might not be considered a three-down player, but smart moves likes these with McCloughan at the helm will help the Redskins regain respect in the league.

First Noticeable Addition of Washington Redskins 2015 Offseason comes on the Defensive Line

Ricky Jean-Francois (“Zhon fran-SWAH”) finished his sixth season in the National Football League as an Indianapolis Colt, but was released prior to free agency on Feb. 23. Three short days later it was reported that Jean-Francois had signed a deal with the Washington Redskins. Friday, it became official that Scot McCloughan had signed his former seventh-round draft pick from his days in San Francisco to a three-year deal worth up to $11.5 million (including incentives) and $4 million guaranteed.

Jean-Francois is coming off of his best statistical season with three sacks, six passes defended, 18 tackles, and 16 assists on tackles in a full 16 games played. In a defense that needed serious revamping by Jay Gruden, Joe Barry, and Scot McCloughan, this was the first of many moves to be made leading up to the start of the upcoming season which is six months away.

The signing of Jean-Francois led the Redskins to pull the trigger on a couple of holdovers, parting ways with both Barry Coefield and Stephen Bowen. Both were already 30 years old and today’s league is turning into a battle where those in their 20s are being able to outwork the elder veterans. The contract terminations cleared approximately $8.7 million in cap space.

Jean-Francois has a lot of playing time at defensive tackle and nose tackle. At 6-foot-3 and nearly 300 pounds, it will be interesting to see if he is utilized at defensive end or nose tackle in Barry’s 3-4 scheme. Others on the team that will likely see time on the defensive line include Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, and Chris Baker.

District Sports Daily Feb. 4: Caps shut out Kings, Mystics re-sign two

CAPITALS: The Caps shut out defending Stanley Cup champ Los Angeles Kings, though the Kings looked a shell of their once-dominant selves. (DSP Gamer, 3 Stars)

Jay Beagle didn’t skate with the top line Tuesday night, but he has frequently this season. Good or bad (rhetorical question alert)? (DSP take)

MYSTICS: The Mystics make some offseason noise, exercising options on Tayler Hill and Emma Meeseman. (DSP)

NATIONALS: The Nats announced their Spring Training broadcast and radio schedule. Personally, I think the radio guys should work all spring long — sorry Dave & Charlie. (DSP)

WIZARDS: Bradley Beal echos what everyone else is saying about the Wizards right now: they’re soft on defense. (WaPo)

REDSKINS: Now that Super Bowl is past, key offseason dates for the Redskins and the rest of the league. (WaPo)

UNITED: DCU tied Swedish second division club Jonkopings 0-0 in Bradenton, Florida in a training camp match. (DCUnited.com)

District Sports Daily Feb. 3: Wiz dropped by Hornets; Akey in DC; Ovi 1st Star

WIZARDS: The Wizards are slumping hard, and Monday night they lost to a struggling and injured Charlotte Hornets team. All-Star break, hurry! (DSP Gamer)

CAPITALS: Alex Ovechkin was named First Star for the month of January by the league. He had 12 goals, tops in the league for the time period. (NHL.com)

NATIONALS: West Palm Beach okays concept for shared spring training stadium for Nats and Houston Astros. I’ll believe it when I see it. (PalmBeachPost)

REDSKINS: Rob Akey, former head coach at the University of Idaho, was hired as Defensive Line coach, the same position he filled for the Minnesota Vikings last season. (WaPo)

District Sports Daily, Feb. 2: Caps lose again, Nats Insider anniversary

CAPITALS: The Caps can’t win the second of back-to-back games, ever. Alex Ovechkin scores twice, Karl Alzner got one (and some stitches), but Justin Peters can’t bail ‘em out and the Caps lost to St. Louis Blues 4-3. (DSP Gamer, 3 Stars).

WIZARDS: The Wizards are only sending one player to the All-Star festivities, but that’s probably a good thing right now. (Bullets Forever)

NATIONALS: Nats Insider, Mark Zuckerman’s blog, turned five years old. If you remember the circumstances behind how that happened, or why it’s a big deal, or contributed money to the cause, then give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate five great years with the guy that’s been there since the beginning. (Nats Insider)

REDSKINS: From Friday, but still worth a click if you missed, the always entertaining John Riggins joined Chick Hernandez on CSNWashington’s Sports Talk Live on the 32nd anniversary of, as Chick said, “using Don McNeil as a hood ornament.” (CSNWashington)

District Sports Daily Jan. 30: Werth gets jail, Redskins hire Grimm (not that one)

NATIONALS: Jayson Werth drops appeal of circuit court conviction for reckless driving, pleas out to five days in jail. (WaPo)

Nats have No. 9 system and six players land on ESPN.com’s Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects, led by Lucas Giolito at No. 8 overall, and first pitcher on the list. (Federal Baseball)

CAPITALS: Caps have a lot of decisions coming about regarding free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. Who should stay and who should go? (DSP Take, RMNB)

REDSKINS: Redskins hire Russ Grimm’s son Chad as Defensive Quality Control coach. Yeah. (WaPo)

WIZARDS: Otto Porter had a nice night in the Wiz los to Phoenix Wednesday. Should he be getting more playing time? (Truth About It)

District Sports Daily: Caps blank Pens, Wiz lose in Phoenix

CAPITALS: Behind two goals from Alex Ovechkin and 27 saves from Braden Holtby, the Caps blanked the Penguins 4-0 at Verizon Center. (DSP Gamer, DSP Three Stars)

WIZARDS: Garrett Temple spurred fourth quarter comeback falls short as Wizards lose in Phoenix 106-98 as Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat scored 14 points apiece. (DSP Gamer)

NATIONALS: Nats sign veteran reliever Casey Janssen to help cover Tyler Clippard’s late-game innings. (DSP Take, Fangraphs)

Nats potential new spring training home faces hurdles about water pollution concerns. (WaPo)

REDSKINS: Redskins try a novel idea, hire Matt Cavanaugh as quarterback coach. Skins were just one of two NFL teams without one last year. (WaPo)

Washington Redskins GM Scot McCloughin media availability Jan. 9

The Washington Redskins introduced Scot McCloughin as their new general manager at Redskins Park today. The following is a complete transcript of the proceedings [courtesy Redskins media relations].

President Bruce Allen

Opening remarks: “Well, good morning, good afternoon. Welcome to Redskins Park. Today’s an exciting day for the franchise because we really feel today the Redskins are going to get better. Before we go forward, I want to just give you a little bit of the history with this young man to my left. I was fortunate to have worked with his brother and his father for a number of years with the Raiders. About 10 years ago, I was one of the people who called the 49ers to recommend him for his general manager job with the 49ers. [Read more…]

OPINION: McCloughan hire a watershed moment for a beleagured franchise

Yesterday afternoon, I went through a roller coaster of emotions over the course of about five minutes when it was first reported that Scot McCloughan would be the next General Manager of the Washington Redskins.

First, I was very happy to hear that someone with a good track record was coming to Washington, and that owner Dan Snyder had finally made a wise decision.

Then, I remembered how excited I was for Steve Spurrier to come to the District. How intriguing the idea of Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line was. How confident I was that Mike Shanahan could use his leadership skills and championship experience to bring the Redskins back to glory. How all of those moves and more turned out terribly.

Finally, I admitted to myself that this is different from any decision that Snyder and his organization has made in the past decade and a half.

Adam Schefter has confirmed that McCloughan has finalized his deal with the Redskins to become the next GM of the Redskins. He will have four years to turn this franchise into a contender again, after being so terrible for so long. I have been fooled before, but I do believe that this one man will change the fortunes of the preeminent sports team in our nation’s capital more than anyone has in Snyder’s tenure.

Why?

Two reasons. One is that he turned two teams into juggernaut franchises in the past decade in San Francisco and Seattle, as I detailed in yesterday’s piece. His draft philosophy, according to veteran journalist Andrew Brandt, is that you “don’t jump for need, you don’t get desperate, you don’t get emotional.”

This was on display in Seattle, where he drafted Super Bowl MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in 2011. He drafted two-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman in the fifth round that year. Quarterback Russell Wilson? A third-rounder in 2012. While an executive in San Francisco, he spotted five-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore in the third round. His legacy is one of success and Lombardi Trophies, with ticker-tape parades following him seemingly wherever he goes.

“Okay,” says Joe Q. Redskin Fan. “But how do I know he can be good in Washington? Executives here don’t get to make the decisions. Snyder has the ultimate say in who plays for or coaches the team.”

If this report is to be believed, McCloughan will have the final decision when it comes to who who will wear the burgundy and gold. It would appear that Snyder may have at last learned his lesson. Maybe there is a culture change underway in Ashburn. The results will not be apparent immediately, as the past five years of decision-making have been devastating to the Redskins’ ability to win on the field.

But today is about hope. Hope that Snyder and Allen finally have displayed humility. Hope that there will not be a new embarrassing leak coming out of Redskins Park every other day. Hope that Redskins fans can hear more about the team’s on-field performance than about the name. Hope that fans can be proud of the team again. Hope that they can win.

I do not know what kind of results that McCloughan will bring to DC. I don’t know how long it will take for those results to transpire, whether in the form of a playoff berth here and there or in the form of a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue that will, no matter which team in our area brings it, be the most exciting outdoor event in Washington’s history.

I do know this. Snyder being embarrassed by the past couple of years is a good sign. That Allen is willing to take a step back and be more of a figurehead is a good sign. That the Redskins finally hired a good football mind to oversee personnel operations is a very good sign.

Don’t expect double-digit wins next year, or maybe even the year after. Don’t expect a Super Bowl in two or three or even four years. Do expect, however, a positive culture — one that focuses on winning on the field, that expects a reasonable competition in every game, and one that views ineptitude and failure with disdain.

Smile, Redskins fans. It’s a new day.

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