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Need to Know: The Redskins’ five biggest 2014 roster blunders

Jan 14, 2015, 5:13 AM EDT

Orakpo's-back

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 14, 106 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock for the first round of the NFL draft.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question comes from Twitter:

This is something that is more the subject of a series of articles rather than a single post but since it’s going to be a week or more before we can get to them, there are some quick takes about the roster going into the 2014 season and what went wrong:

Orakpo’s franchise tag—It wasn’t a terrible gamble and preferable to one alternative, which was to give into his camp’s demands for a long-term contract. But it sure did blow up on them, with Orakpo having just a half a sack in seven games before his season-ending injury. He was handling the other aspects of playing linebacker well, in coverage and against the run, but an $11.45 million dollar salary comes with expectations to be a playmaker and he did not deliver there.

Scrimping at right tackle—They could have had Donald Penn, who did a good job for the Raiders at left tackle this year, at right tackle but they wouldn’t up their offer and pay him a little closer to what a left tackle makes. Had the matched the Raider’s two-year, $10 million offer, or come close, he would have been with the Redskins. Instead, they paid Tyler Polumbus $2.5 million to play his way onto the bench halfway through the season. A Penn-Trent Williams bookend set would have helped the offense considerably and Penn could have slid over to the left side when Williams was injured.

Safety on the cheap—The Redskins and safety Mike Mitchell were about half a million bucks apart in their negotiations on the first night of free agency. They couldn’t close the gap and Mitchell signed with the Steelers. I don’t have to go into a lot of detail about what weaknesses at the safety position cost this team.

Lack of upgrade on special teams—The signed Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton, and Adam Hayward to help with special teams. Sharpton didn’t play at all and Jordan played just two games due to injuries. Hayward’s season ended early with a broken leg. Sharpton had an injury history so the Redskins perhaps should have known better than to rely on him.

Signing Jason Hatcher—Were the Redskins better of with him and his 5.5 sacks? Sure. But like Orakpo, the Redskins did not get enough bang to the buck. He will end up getting paid about $13 million for two seasons and will leave a dead cap hit of some $4.5 million if he is let go after the 2015 season.

Any more to add? Chime in below in the comments.

Timeline

—It’s been 17 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 242 days until they play another one

Days until: NFL free agency starts 55; 2015 NFL Draft 106

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. James Bridges - Jan 14, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    That’s is so true, in recent years the skins have been, bad in the free agency battles, except for Garcon, and DJax and there’s probably more names that I forgot to mention, but hopefully we can turn that around this year.

  2. brucealmty - Jan 14, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    Free Agency, because of the $$$ involved, is in many respects more important than the draft. I Scot can manage the talent vs value formula correctly we’ll be in great shape.
    HTTR

  3. brucealmty - Jan 14, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    * if

  4. mr.moneylover - Jan 14, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    Thats all bruce allen fault …he giving washed up players free money…I know tracy porter sitting back laughin right now…he went a full season without really playing…bruce Allen messed up this team so bad its gonna take years to fix it…bad decisions after bad decisions

    • abanig - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:08 PM

      The RT blunder not getting Penn or a guy like Eric Winston and not getting Mike Mitchell, Keenan Lewis, Louis Delmas or Thomas DeCoud were the biggest blunders.

      It’s total hindsight saying that when players got injured that it was a bad signing a year later. They couldn’t predict that in March. If they had all been healthy, the D and special teams would have been better.

    • joeyjust4u2 - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:20 PM

      Bruce Allen is no George Allen with the over the hill bunch,Bruce is a waste at GM we need to put real men who know about football.Mr.Brian Mitchell would be that man.He knows more about football than Snyder on down.Mr.Brian Mitchell would bring in his own coaches and the team would run a lot better.Snyder just happen to be the owner and he knows nothing about a class football team.I am not pleased with Scot either,Snyder could have taken the chance and hired Mr.Brian Mitchell,things would be a lot better going into the upcoming season.Some would say Mr.Brian Mitchell has no coaching experience,nobody else has any either.Mr.Mitchell would bring in his own coaches,it would not be about him only,it’s who you surround yourself with and that makes it all works.Snyder to own a football team and don’t know a damn thing about running a football team and he has surrounded himself with a bunch of donkeys,like himself.So that is why nothing is working.Let me end with this and i will be telling my age,I use to watch Sonny,Taylor and the boys practice when they played at RFK.I bet you do not know where they use to practice.

      • wonderfulfaison - Jan 14, 2015 at 5:16 PM

        clearly, you are a troll. Brian Mitchell said we should sign Suh. Now if that’s not a Classic Snyder and Allen move then I don’t know what is.

        • joeyjust4u2 - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:08 PM

          i guess you are really wonderfullof s*$T

        • joeyjust4u2 - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:12 PM

          remember this,”what you do speak so loud that what you say i can hardly hear”I am unable to put the words i want to put,they will not post it,but i will say it to your face b–ch

        • joeyjust4u2 - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:13 PM

          Or did you think you were talking to your mother

        • rhinochaserdesign - Jan 14, 2015 at 11:08 PM

          OMG I LOVE THIS GUY. Sounds like Mr. Brian Mitchell has a stalker

  5. obxskins - Jan 14, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    The one thing and a huge thing in each one of the points mention is injuries..thats not an excuse but reality!

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 14, 2015 at 10:00 AM

      Yes, but could have been anticipated with Rak, Shaprton, and Hatcher.

      • abanig - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:13 PM

        How? Hatcher, Rak & Sharpton weren’t injury prone when we signed them. Porter was though

        • wonderfulfaison - Jan 14, 2015 at 5:18 PM

          What are you talking about? Sharpton and Rak both have injury histories.

        • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:06 PM

          Rak had 1 injury of consequence prior to this year and that was nearly 2 years ago.

        • Rich Tandler - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:55 PM

          Rak wasn’t injury prone? Remember 2012? Remember 2011?

          Sharpton missed big chunks of ’11 and ’12 (and ’14) with injuries.

          Hatcher had been fairly healthy but at age 32 you can’t be surprised by injuries to a lineman.

          > > >

      • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:06 PM

        Orakpo had one injury prior to last season and came back very strong. How was it predictable that he would have that recur?

        • ajbus1 - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:58 PM

          Wrong. Some quick googling will show that Orakpo has had more than a few injuries and definitely more than one.

        • ipitydafu - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:41 PM

          2011 – Injured shoulder and pectoral tear
          2012 – pectoral tear again
          2013 – healthy
          2014 – yet another pectoral tear.

          See a pattern? 3 of the last 4 years has had a pectoral tear. Or since you are referring to franchise tag last year, 2 out of 3 years pectoral tear. Still a pattern.

    • joeyjust4u2 - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:15 PM

      “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH”

  6. shermanp79 - Jan 14, 2015 at 9:26 AM

    I thought that Hatcher deal had more funny money in it. The fact they have to eat 4.5 million NEXT year makes the deal even worse. He was never going to match those stats of 2013. He basically went back to who he has been. I don’t see him staying healthy, so that leaves us getting spotty play out of him next year. I imagine Bowen and Cofield are replaced. Maybe Cofield plays more end and they find a true 3-4 NT finally. We haven’t got the QB pressure with the smaller guys. They need to add youth to the line. I doubt Jenkins returns and Baker is Ok but we need a guy who can disrupt the backfield. There are some young FA out there, I was thinking Suh but that is a ton of money and at 28, he will be declining by the time this team is built. I thought he was a couple years younger. There is his teammate Fairley but he is injured too much. They made mistakes in FA last year, with Scot running things that should change. They could sign 3 or 4 guys which could significantly help this team. Lets say they sign a G or RT, then a S and DL guy. They could sign a TE, Gresham or Kendricks both can block and catch some. Even Clay from Miami. Those would be impact signings. They could do it without big money. The other bad signing last year was Roberts, he is not great as a returner and is no higher than a 3rd WR. Thankfully we signed Jackson. So many bad moves last year. I thought they should of signed Britt last year. They could look at him or Nicks both guys are 26 and could help in the RZ. They then Draft best available players, maybe Collins at #5. If not there are a few young S in FA who are upgrades. They can’t sign everyone but there are good moves out there with better decisions than last year.

  7. Jaimie Graham - Jan 14, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    As much fun as it was to watch him torch defenses, I think signing Jackson was a mistake. Should’ve used that money on linemen or secondary, and WR was already a position of relative strength with Garçon and Roberts. Jackson was a luxury signing, one that a team with a thousand jokes could not afford.

  8. Jaimie Graham - Jan 14, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    *A thousand holes

  9. red - Jan 14, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    For NTK

    In the DAL game i know I saw it because rg3 threw a pick on 3rd & 1 or 4th & 1. But how many times on 3rd & 4 or less did we pass? If u can’t run the ball and get a yard like against DAL you aren’t supposed to win. With all of the qbs struggling and a hb that had 1600 yards a couple seasons back and is healthy why not run? Our 3rd down convo rate was horrible i have to believe someone is going to pull Grudens to the side and say run the ball right?

  10. Stephfan - Jan 14, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    Rich thank you again for my question being answered but I have another! What is your take on berry as the new dc

  11. polofourme - Jan 14, 2015 at 11:25 AM

    The five biggest roster blunders…that’s very easy, Griffin, Griffin, Griffin, Griffin and Griffin…a close sixth blunder would be between bringing Hatcher in, or giving Orakpo $11M or signing Lavono at G or not improving the OL and completely ignoring the secondary….but the big winner is, Griffin.

    • Stephfan - Jan 14, 2015 at 11:49 AM

      Get him an Oline and I bet you he would’ve done better. A coach is supposed to help a qb not force him into a system. Second griffin is better than cousins or colt. Cold had one good win and cousins true is a better picket qb but throws way to many ints. So back to griffin who didn’t look all that great, he still gives us the best chance to win. All we need is a better Oline, and a defense that can actually stop someone. Then maybe if griffin is playing average, then the d can bring it home! The d hasn’t helped in the past 2 years? Don’t here anyone saying get rid of the entire d? But everyone yelled for the dc to be let go??! Come on now be a realist… Griffin is not the entire reason for the train wreak of a season. He wasn’t giving enough time

      • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:08 PM

        Nope. The OL is much better when Bob isn’t behind center. Bob got sacked at a 14% clip while Kirk was under 4%. It’s the oaf who doesn’t know how to read a defense or consistently drop back that is the problem.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:34 PM

          Griffin was sacked on 13% of his dropbacks%. If you’re going to round to the nearest percent, please do so correctly.

          Cousins didn’t get sacked as often because he has a faster release. He has a faster release because he isn’t as athletic, and has to rely on getting the ball out of his hands quickly instead of extending plays. That’s a positive as long as the QBs doesn’t also throw INTs, which Cousins has the propensity to do. But with regards to the offensive line, you cannot possibly be arguing that the Redskins have a good one in place. Even when McCoy was starting instead of Griffin, McCoy was being sacked 12% of the time. Do you also think McCoy is an “oaf” who can’t read a defense or drop back consistently? Gruden didn’t think so; after all, he wanted to start McCoy.

    • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:45 PM

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you the same poster who thinks that signing a QB in free-agency — an expensive, past-his-prime QB in free agency (to a crappy team) — is a good idea?

      • polofourme - Jan 15, 2015 at 8:48 AM

        I am but of course you are grossly distorting what I actually said, we absolutely have to bring in an NFL caliber Q who can run, Grudens ENTIRE playbook but I never said it has to be a past his primem costly FA QB….what I am saying is that both Colt and Cousins demonstrated they can be successful in operating Grudens O scheme you only really need an average NFL QB…not even a good one. Just one who can read a D, make his drops and make quick decisions and deliver the ball to the correct receiver. I would say, Jason Campbell or Kyle Orton would be a very good example of how I am thinking….however, it is clear to me that neither Cousins or McCoy are the answer. Cousins needs a fresh start with another club, the team owes him that much. As for McCoy, love his fifteen minutes of fame but he is not the bridge we need to get to a real franchise QB. I am only talking in the short run. A transition QB who can act as a place holder while the roster is rebuilt. I think we can find that, “place holder” at a reasonable cost without having to give up a draft pick. I hope you can understand this post….and stop distorting my views.

      • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 15, 2015 at 2:08 PM

        Are where do you think we can find such a QB? Free-agent QBs aren’t all that cheap, and they are usually journeymen or past-their-prime players without upside (like Campbell or Orton). That’s why I said what I said. Your view wasn’t distorted; you simply didn’t figure out what your view implies.

        It’s silly to sign these kind of players. If your team stinks and you’re looking to rebuild; why not rebuild with young, homegrown talent instead of wasting FA money on stopgap solutions that don’t move the needle? Do you not remember the McNabb and Grossman eras?

    • bangkokben - Jan 14, 2015 at 4:38 PM

      Yeah. Winning the division in 2012 was such a sh!tty thing to do.

      • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:08 PM

        Sweet, he did one thing right 3 years ago in a gimmick offense that he’s no longer healthy enough to run. Let’s use that as the only insight about the joke of a QB.

        • ajbus1 - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:05 PM

          I’m tired of it being referred to as a gimmick offense. It worked and many teams still use the zone read, especially the shehawks.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 14, 2015 at 8:13 PM

          It isn’t a gimmick. I explained this to him using the real-world data and facts in another blogpost.

          The Redskins also didn’t use the read-option run as much as Joe pretends that it was used, even in 2012. It made up around 12% of their entire offense. It’s an important part of playbooks everywhere like the shotgun, singleback, etc.; but the Redskins weren’t using the read-option run as if it was their only (or majority of) their offense. Not even close.

        • Joe Greene - Jan 15, 2015 at 4:17 PM

          When it’s the only thing you do, it’s a gimmick.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 15, 2015 at 5:05 PM

          It was “only” thing they did, even though they used it 3 out of every 25 plays.

          Stop trolling, Joe.

  12. Scottlo91 - Jan 14, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    Scot has to saying to himself after looking at these deals, “what a bunch of idiots”

  13. kenlinkins - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    Rich: I am hearing rumors of Joe Berry as DC and Aaron Kromer as O-Line coach. Is the new GM at Redskins Park yet and will he have any input in the coaching moves? (can he really think that the TB coach’s recycle program in DC is a good idea). I said it before and will say it again, “Unless you are the Beatles, getting the band back together again is never a good idea”! (maybe old TB coach’s will take calls from GM Allen).

    • rhinochaserdesign - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:33 PM

      Here’s all you need to know about Barry:

      Last time he was DC was in Detroit from 2007-2008. Both years the Lions ranked DEAD LAST in total defense. If you remember, they went 0-16 and gave up over 400 yds/ game.

      He’s a clown.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:40 PM

      McCloughan is at the East-West Shrine game practices (in Tampa, I think). He will give his two cents worth on the DC and may actually have to sign off on it (that authority unclear). Joe Barry seems likely to be the defensive coordinator but keep hearing no decision made. Have heard nothing about Kromer.

      We’ll see about Barry. Possible that Gruden is staking his survival on him producing.

      > > >

      • kenlinkins - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:51 PM

        Rich, Thanks again for the insight, could a fan read into a Berry / Kromer hiring that Allen still holds most of the power / authority? Seems like way to much “inbreeding” (assumes Berry and or Kromer hired adding to the other TB connections) to be successful to me. Your thoughts are most welcome and looked forward to.

        • Rich Tandler - Jan 14, 2015 at 3:52 PM

          I have to say, I don’t think it’s necessarily accurate to label Barry an Allen move. Gruden and Barry were together in Tampa Bay for a few years and Gruden is well familiar with is work. No reason to think that Bruce somehow forced Barry onto Jay.

          > > >

  14. flaskinsfan - Jan 14, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    Hindsight is 20/20, but a lot of these moves, or lackthereof, didn’t pan out. You forgot about Lauvao, too. It should be noted that Penn was coming off a subpar season with the Bucs, is on the wrong side of 30 and wanted a lot of money. Also,Mike Mitchell played very poorly for the Steelers. You’ll notice that all of these free agent signs or signings that didn’t happen were a result of needs because of poor drafts. Draft better, and we won’t find ouselves in these predicaments all the time. How many teams can we say that needed to address two starters on the offensive line, both starting safeties, a most of the special teams, etc, etc, etc through free agency?

  15. rtcwon - Jan 14, 2015 at 3:46 PM

    1) Saying tagging was a better option than a long term deal but still a blunder means letting him walk is what they should have done. Without hindsight (knowing he would get hurt AND that Murphy can play) no way you let your best player walk with any compensation. With hindsight, tagging Rak has to be declared a shrewd move, not a blunder.

    2) And how in the world is not giving a RT (who is barely a marginal upgrade) LT money a blunder?

    3) None of the safeties that were worth a crap wanted to come here. Despite their massive need, not overpaying a scrub can’t be a blunder. (One could argue Clark was overpaid despite his dirt cheap salary and even cheaper cap number but that’s off topic.)

    4) Those three ILBs were signed for teams and to battle for the Mike. No one could know that Robinson would turn out to be one of the leagues best Mikes. And if Compton didn’t turn out to be the baller he was, they would have kept Sharpton. Hayward is the returning teams captain. To me, those three were about insurance they ended up not needing. I get that “blunder” was not getting more teams players but most would probably feel this roster is not ready to have teams only guys.

    5) Yes they did not get enough bang for the buck with Hatcher last year. About 5 games he was dominate, 5 games average and 6 hurt. Not good enough and if he repeats it next year, yes signing him was a blunder. But if he is average enough to part ways, they’ll save $4.25M even with the $4.5M dead but that won’t happen. If he plays well, they’ll take his $8.75M number for 2016 as their best DL. If he’s hurt or average, they’ll ask him to take a pay cut of his $6.5M base to lower his cap without any impact on 2017 cap. If he refuses they’ll June 1 cut and save $6.5M and only carry $2.25M dead to 2017. Point is the player was the problem not the contract. (Rich – why mention a dead cap number that will never happen when it will only rile up fans who don’t understand the cap? Nor does how much of Synder’s money a player gets matter, only their cap numbers matter.)

    To recap, given the alternatives (and Hatcher’s unknown play this upcoming year) these moves at worse can viewed as unlucky.

    As many mentioned, the Lauvao move was the major blunder. He greatly improved in pass protection by the second half of the season and I’ll give him a pass in zone run because it takes time to build that chemistry. But this was the first step towards shifting to a power run game and Lauvao was flat out awful as a pulling guard.

  16. bangkokben - Jan 14, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    So Bills hire a head coach that the Jets didn’t want, an offensive coordinator that the 49ers didn’t want and interview an o-line coach the Redskins don’t want. Seems like they got a plan: Let’s get a bunch of guys that other teams don’t want.

    That’s a plan we haven’t tried.

  17. Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    Horrible list. Just completely clueless. Here are the 5 biggest roster blunders last year:

    1. Shawn Lauvao.
    2. Tracy Porter.
    3. Giving any money at all to MeAngelo Hall.
    4. Ryan Clark.
    5. Giving Bob the starting QB job without having to compete for it.

    • ajbus1 - Jan 14, 2015 at 7:10 PM

      That’s your opinion. Maybe you should start a blog and Rich can comment on how clueless you are. I agree with you sometimes Joe, but what’s the point to trashing people for their opinions? You CAN make a point without the trolling.

  18. joeyjust4u2 - Jan 14, 2015 at 8:00 PM

    Mr.Brian Mitchell i like you and i am sure that you know i do..I give people who i respect, respect.So that is why i call you Mr.Brian Mitchell.Since you are on Comcast SportsNet and i am sure there are things you would really like to say,but you can not,so i will say all that i want.Freedom of speech one of my rights so i can say what i want as long as i do not threaten anyone.I make promises not threats.So one should be aware with bothering me and one should be careful coming my way.Now back to you Mr.Brian Mitchell,you should be the Head Coach and perhaps Mr.Doug Williams could be the quarterback coach since we need one and not that donkey who was suppose to help Mr.Robert Griffin III and not treat him like a……….. well i won’t go there.That donkey owner hired as head coach to help Mr.Robert Griffin III and he has done not a damn thing for Mr.Robert Griffin III.Mr.Mitchell i am sure Mr.Dexter Manley and some of the other defensive players that played when we had a great team.I am sure some of them would like to be on your coaching staff.I know that the town and the stadium will be what it use to be at RFK.So Mr.Brian Mitchell you can feel free to email me at joeyjust4u2@yahoo.com and i have twitter,facebook and some other things @joeyjust4u2 #joeyjust4u2.Should some donkeys decide to enter on any of my sites,i am more than happy to say whatever i want to say and as nasty as i want to be,So you donkeys better ask your mother and father before you bother me.I can be very rude and extremely nasty.Mr.Brian Mitchell i look forward to hearing from you and we can exchange phone numbers too. I will end with this “DO YOU FEEL ME”

    • gasngo14 - Jan 14, 2015 at 8:33 PM

      Why don’t you email Mr. Mitchell your love letter directly, so us fans don’t have to see your affair!

    • ajbus1 - Jan 14, 2015 at 10:25 PM

      Lol, what the hell…

    • goback2rfk - Jan 15, 2015 at 12:09 AM

      what is this gibberish? sounds like a drug user to me.

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