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Need to Know: McCloughan continuing Redskins’ emphasis on player development

Feb 8, 2015, 7:24 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 8, 10 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

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.

(Note: I’m only going to address the first question here.)

I have read in some places that the draft really is, for the most part, a crap shoot. Teams like the Packers, Seahawks, and Patriots don’t necessarily draft better than other teams, they develop the players they draft better than other teams. There was evidence presented back and forth and the conclusion was that drafting good players isn’t all luck but you can make your own good fortune by developing the players you draft.

In terms of what they said and, to an extent, what they did, the Redskins started to focus on players they could develop when Bruce Allen took over the draft last year.

“What we’re looking for is people who love football and want to play football and want to win with the Washington Redskins,” Allen said at the Redskins’ pre-draft news conference. “Whether it was in free agency or this draft, we’ve done a very good job, we feel, of digging into the heart and soul of the prospects. In free agency we feel good about it, and we’re hoping to add to this team through the draft with some other very hungry football players.”

Scott Campbell went into more detail.

“In terms of trying to find players that are good developmental-type prospects, it’s something Bruce had mentioned before, what he was looking for in a football player – trying to find people that football is very important to them,” said the team’s director of player personnel. “You get that information through research, when you go through the campuses talking to the coaches, the trainers, the strength coaches. You find out what a guy’s work ethic is and how important football is to him. I think if you’ve got those two qualities, you’ve got an excellent chance to be developed. As opposed to a guy that doesn’t love the weight room, is late, doesn’t work, is overweight, never in shape when the season starts – those are flags to you on how important football is to that player.”

They mostly practiced what they preached in the draft. Trent Murphy was regularly one of the first players out on the practice field from training camp on. Bashaud Breeland spent so much time in the film room they sent him an Oscars ballot. Ryan Grant was still working hard late in the season despite the Redskins being long eliminated from the playoffs and the fact that he was getting very limited playing time.

Scot McCloughan, the man who will be running the draft room this time around, alluded to development a few times during his introductory presser last month.

“You know, same thing I’ve already mentioned a couple times, just the passion for the game, the passion to get better, to do the extra,” he said when asked about how some players succeed and some don’t. “There’s a lot of tremendous athletes out there in college football, some of them that are so tremendous that they don’t make it. Well, how come? And I’m lucky enough to be in this business long enough to realize, ‘Well, this is this and this,’ and others ones that weren’t as talented who are still playing after 10-plus years. It’s intelligence, it’s toughness, it’s competitiveness and it’s just the fact to understand this is what I do for a living, I want to be the best.”

So the first step here is getting players who are willing to do what it takes to be developed. It’s a stretch to say that any coach can develop a player who has the desire. But the Redskins players who work hard get the most out of their abilities have been able to do so despite dealing with what some perceive as inferior coaching. Others, perhaps more talented, have not.

It’s good that the Redskins do have an eye towards development. The players they draft won’t necessarily be the best players as rookies. But the hope is that in two years, five years, 10 years, they are still playing while others drafted ahead of them are gone.

The development problem has been recognized and they are consciously trying to do something about it. How it works out remains to be seen.


—It’s been 42 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 219 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 30; Redskins offseason workouts start 71; 2015 NFL Draft 82

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. kenlinkins - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    Rich: Does the data support the story? With 3 of the 2014 picks not making the roster or even the Practice Squad (the last 3 picks) vs. 2013 and 2012 where everyone drafted made the team (2012: 6 of the 9 still on the roster, and 2013″ 4 of 7 still on the roster). Only three players were cut from the 2012 and 2013 class’s (Crawford, Jenkins & Jamison) before the season to make room for the 4 players who made it from the 2014 draft class. (and Crawford was resigned many times). Rambo was not a Allen drafted player, but going from starter to jobless is not what I would call development! (I do understand that there might be other things to cause a player to be let go that I know nothing about). Now maybe the roster was so bad in 2012 / 2013 and that caused the above results, and maybe it is not correct to hold up GM Allen’s picks and results before the new GM even makes his first pick, but as you have said “Watch what they do, not what they say”! Maybe the word I have a problem with in the title is “Continuing”, as I have not yet seen much in the way of development in a very long time.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      The notion that the team needed to do a better job drafting players was clearly there a year ago, according to what Allen and Campbell said. I noted that they did pick at least three, and I could add Spencer Long as a fourth, players who have a greater than average desire to get better. They strayed from there with Seastrunk, who thought his speed was enough. Hocker didn’t fail to beat out Forbath because he didn’t work hard enough. I have no idea what happened with Bolser.

      As I said at the end of the post, it’s too early to tell if the emphasis on development is going to work out. Until it shows fruit, which won’t be for at least a couple more years, heavy skepticism is warranted.

      > > >

      • pennstate63 - Feb 8, 2015 at 2:31 PM

        In order for a team to develope young players, the coach has to be being willing to play young players. Gruden has been reluctant to play younger players unless he is forced to because of injuries. Gruden is on record as saying that young players have to prove that they deserve to play. Gruden will need to change his philosophy in order for McClouglan’s plan to work.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 8, 2015 at 6:16 PM

          Im sorry but I think you are totally wrong if a young player wins the job in Practice and Preseason or a Vet. Loses the job than he should play but just to play him because he is young you will never win games like that development is being done in practice, film roomx preseason, OTAs not live games as much live reps are important but they have to be ready and earn them.

    • kenlinkins - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:14 AM

      “After review” : Maybe you could say that Murphy, Long, Moses and Breeland are developing now, and getting 4 starters without a first round pick is a pretty good draft. And being willing to admit mistakes from round 5,6, and 7 is smart start, but the best I could say is the jury is still out the 4 above still have a long way to go.

      • Orlando - Feb 8, 2015 at 6:04 PM

        None of those guys are sure fire starters, Breeland and is very promising though and the best corner on the roster last year. Long and Murphy right now look like reserve players who can add depth and Moses is a 50/50 to make the roster on merit. Could they all develop maybe but outside of Breeland I would not bet on that being the case. I am not saying we don’t try just don’t go into the season planning on moses, long and Murphy being your opening day starters.

        • captblood3000 - Feb 9, 2015 at 10:10 AM

          Neither Long nor Moses were considered to be 2014 starters at the time they were drafted. Long was recovering from an ACL injury. Moses needed to work on his technique: he was talented but raw. Thus you would see Moses mocked in the 2014 draft to playoff teams that didn’t need him to start immediately. This site has many people who don’t expect either of these guys to ever start anywhere. I disagree. I think their selections are just two more examples of the philosophy Rich describes above. Time will tell, but you all should hope I am right.

          I also think that the hiring of McCloughan was the application of this philosophy to the front office.

  2. kenlinkins - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    Rich: over the past year, “working hard” or the lack of extra effort by some Redskins seems to keep coming up. While I have never asked for players names who might be on that list, is it fair to say that most are Shanahan drafted guys and is this the new norm in the NFL (are other teams fighting the same thing)? I moved to Columbus Ohio many years ago, what is the traffic like around Redskins Park about 4:30?

  3. Phillip Robinson - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    It doesn t matter who the new gm draft, Jay Gruden refuses to play the young players to see if they can play!

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 8, 2015 at 6:17 PM

      They have to earn a spot to play

      • babyteal1 - Feb 9, 2015 at 8:56 AM

        You have to agree with Phillip a little Tim…come on Chester was horrible. Put Long in and see what he can do.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 9, 2015 at 11:36 PM

          I believe I said earlier if a Vet looses the job due to bad play then play the younger guy I should have reelaborated if thats a word.

        • Joe Greene - Feb 10, 2015 at 2:55 AM

          What do you do if a vet tightens the job?

  4. skinsgame - Feb 8, 2015 at 9:07 AM

    Developing players is half on the positional coaches. How they do their own jobs is critical in the “perfect storm” scenarios. It’s absolutely evident when really good,teams continually turn out undrafted free agents or late round picks and they become solid players or even stars. It’s desire and coaching. The antithesis to that is, I believe, Trent Williams. Amazing talent coupled with apathy.

  5. troylok - Feb 8, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Rich, don’t you think player development – assuming the player is ambitious enough – boils down to a coach’s effectiveness in practice? Due to the collective bargaining agreement, all coaches have roughly the same amount of time to impart their wisdom to the players they have, so it seems to me that it is all about being efficient in what you do. The Cowboys seemed to load up on top notch coaching talent and I think this led to much more effective practices. It showed on the field.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 8, 2015 at 9:58 AM

      The time on the practice field is equal, unless a player wants to say out later catching balls from the JUGS machine. That’s not a coach doing that, it’s the player. But the “same amount of time” you going out is exactly the problem. Yes, required time on the practice field is limited. Time a player spends in the building watching film, talking to teammates about various situations, going to the coach’s office to ask some questions, is not limited. But it can’t be required. You have to want to do that. As evidenced the the nearly-empty players parking lot I saw nearly every day when I would leave Redskins Park at around 6, not enough of them do.

      One more thing, and not to pick on you since others have brought this up, but since when are the Cowboys the model for team building? They have one decent season and all of a sudden the Redskins should start doing things they way they do them? The Redskins hired a guy who knows the inside operations of the Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers. I’ve seen them in a heck of a lot more Super Bowls lately than I’ve seen the Cowboys. I’ll take his way of doing things over Jerruh’s.

      • deepball1 - Feb 8, 2015 at 10:26 AM

        gotta agree with Rich on that one. Don’t use the Cowboys as a coaching model based on one season with a QB who was drafted by Bill Parcells. Without Romo the Cowboys are a 6-10 team at best and in fact his back can go out anytime now…so they may be headed for the bottom of the NFC East if that happens.

        Plus the Cowboys are about to enter Cap purgatory as well as lose a lot of good free agents due to Romo’s 28 million dollar CAP number.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 8, 2015 at 6:26 PM

          Romo isnt the reason they played so good last year they’ve bin 8-8 with him st the helm for years the team around him is the reason they did so well especially the Oline.

      • troylok - Feb 8, 2015 at 12:01 PM

        Rich, it seems like someone liked what the Cowboys did with the offensive line because they signed Callahan away from the Cowboys. I am not saying the Cowboys are the gold standard, but they seemed better than past years – especially on defense and on the offensive line.

        I get what you are saying about the empty parking lot. That’s really disappointing to hear. Is that because the Redskins have a group of lazy, demotivated players or because they’ve been in this losing rut where the players have just given up? Isn’t it part of the coach’s job to motivate, so doesn’t this fall on Gruden’s shoulders?

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 8, 2015 at 6:23 PM

        The way they built there Oline through the draft Drafting Oline in the first round was pretty smart since the new Rookie payscale makes it so your Oline doesnt cost allot doing it that way

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 8, 2015 at 6:31 PM

          Question: Is having a cheaper O-line somehow inherently better than having a cheap defensive backfield? Or cheap pass rushers? Receivers?

          Actually, cheap pass rushers or receivers might be better since they cost more than all of the OL positions except LT.

          > >

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:23 PM

          No Rich being able to pay for first rounders on the Oline Which we need saves money for other positions Im talking about getting 1st Round Olineman to protect your Franchine QB The game starts in the Trenches I dont know what your talking about you must’ve read my comment wrong. I would much rather Draft Good Olineman than pay through the nose in free agency

        • bangkokben - Feb 9, 2015 at 7:44 PM

          Dallas Cowboy 1st round o-line cap hits for 2015:
          Tyron Smith $13,039,000
          Zack Martin $2,038,136
          Travis Frederick $1,873,644
          Total cap hit $16,950,780

          Dallas Cowboy 1st round o-line cap hits for 2016:
          Tyron Smith $12,000,000
          Zack Martin $2,445,763
          Travis Frederick $2,185,918
          Total cap hit $16,631,681

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 9, 2015 at 11:31 PM

          Tyron Smith was Drafted before the Rookie pay scale. Notice it only cost them around 4 million for the other 2 First Round Picks together.

        • Joe Greene - Feb 10, 2015 at 2:58 AM

          The first year of the rookie pay scale was 2011, the exact year that Smith was drafted. As usual you’re either completely clueless or just lying.

  6. deepball1 - Feb 8, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    I like specifics and not generics. So lets talk Ted Bolser. He was an Allen/Gruden draft pick. Ted looked great in college. TD passes, great special teams player, emotional on the field, and ready to be molded as a Redskins player.

    He was excited when he got to camp. “Dream come true” is what he said. Typical nervous rookie made a few training camp mistakes, etc but he when he got into a preseason game he caught a TD pass and was jumping up and down excited because this was a dream come true. I remember that game because I watched his college tape and that TD looked just like the routes he ran in college when he scored TD’s.

    I imagine he was as shocked as I was when the Redskins sent him to the bus station in favor of keeping 3 tight ends who all dropped passes and who all missed blocks that ended costing the Redskins games. Now Ted Bolser is still home and the Redskins have one injury prone tight end on the roster, Niles Paul is a free agent, and Logan Paulson is a nice guy/good teammate but is below average football player who is the final year of his contract.

    Somebody please explain how cutting Bolser and drafting yet another tight end and starting all over in this draft is somehow a good plan…..a Redskin Plan???

    • troylok - Feb 8, 2015 at 12:57 PM

      I am not sure Bolser was the guy, but the tight ends they kept really didn’t do much. The Redskins tight ends caught two touchdown passes for the season. That is weak. My personal preference is to have tight ends that run 6′ 5″ or above and push the scales past 250. Maybe they aren’t the fastest guys on the field but they can plow a path for the running back and they have the size and strength to muscle down a football in the end zone. I realize the Redskins tight ends are supposed to be this new hybrid kind of back, but it doesn’t seem like that is what Gruden needs for his offense to work.

    • Joe Greene - Feb 10, 2015 at 6:00 PM

      Are you actually complaining about cutting a late round pick that NOBODY ELSE signed to their roster? Come on now, that’s even dumber than you stumping to sign Terrance Cody.

  7. deepball1 - Feb 8, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    and here is another good question…another SPECIFIC. Are the Redskins going to win games on field goals? So far they finished last in the last 6 out of 7 years with the attitude of scoring field goals in place of keeping the other team from scoring TD’s.

    The Skins drafted a kicker who can put the ball into the endzone and force teams to start from the 20. Instead they cut Hocker who was a wasted draft pick, in place of having a kicker who is deadly accurate from inside the 30 yard line but who cannot find the endzone on kickoffs much of the time.

    So in essence, by giving up field position on kickoffs, giving the other team more yardage, forcing our defense to operate from a short field, and Even when the other team only gets one first down and then punts from the 40 yard line our offense has to be begin at the 10 yard line….how is this worth keeping a 35 yard field goal kicker?

    And wouldn’t it be worth it to have the STRONGEST kicker on the team….the punter….kick off into the endzone? He actually had to kickoff this year when Forbath was injured and Tressway was more effective than Forbath. Why in the Hell would they then go back to Forbath???? AND it still doesn’t explain drafting and then cutting Zach Hocker……what a messed up franchise and coaching staff!

    • kenlinkins - Feb 8, 2015 at 11:24 AM

      Deepball raises some very good points (i.e. questions) Did coach Gruden and GM Allen make rookie mistakes thinking that keeping vets over 3 lower 2014 drafts picks – would allow them to make a run at the NFC East title? Was development on their minds when they cut these 3 (plus Rambo / Jenkins)? If they were wrong to cut these draft picks and who made that call? They could have had 7 young draft picks make the team to develop, why did they go hire a GM who is known for drafting players, ( if GM Allen had a very good draft?) With 10 guys over 30 making the roster, how can the Redskins claim “continued development plan” as a key by placing 5 young players on the street? Maybe this all changed after game 8 in 2014 when they went from 3-5 and looking at 5-5 but ended up at 3-7! Maybe that is when the rookie HC and GM found they had made a mistake and started wishing for a “do over”. IMO Head Coach Gruden changed after game 10, something happened just before game 11 that had Coach Gruden up set and at a lost for words. He seemed mad and let down by this group. If I am right, maybe we will see a higher turn over rate in 2015 as the players who disappointed coach Gruden find themselves looking for work in Aug!

    • troylok - Feb 8, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      As I recall, Way’s kicks didn’t have great hang time – not like his punts. He booted some line drives that could have been disastrous, so I think that is why he wasn’t doing kickoffs. I agree that it would be money well spent to have someone that could be a guaranteed touchback every kickoff. I hate seeing Gano kicking for the Panthers. I thought the team pulled the plug on him way too early…

    • bangkokben - Feb 9, 2015 at 7:50 PM

      This is what I call the curse of Graham Gano. Bruce Allen got Gano before Shanahan. The red-faced bastard never liked Gano and always blamed him for getting his kicks blocked.

      • Joe Greene - Feb 10, 2015 at 3:03 AM

        Agreed. I was flabbergasted when Gano was cut. He wasn’t great yet, but he was the best kicker we’d had in a while and was on the upswing.

  8. mr.moneylover - Feb 8, 2015 at 11:45 AM

    I always said trent Murphy was a good player but jay gruden said he want him to put on more muscle and thats what I think lead to his hand bein fractured because he struggle to push those over 300 pounds offensive linemen…this year he might be even better with a full off-season…breeland showed he can be a starter and hes a fighter and want to become the best…those the only two players showed they can start…ohhh I forgot the undrafted blessing DE frank krease who might start next year he showed alot of potential when he played…

    • mr.moneylover - Feb 8, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      Ohh and david amerson is not our starting CB nomore he will have to work for it now in training camp since he fail in jay gruden first year as head coach…I think we will mostly see rookies on the field this year and that good from a rebuilding standpoint

  9. timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 8, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    I would say the Biggest Problem is the Scouting department. Too many times I have read about Teams having representatives at College Pro days and The Redskins have Zero Representatives there. That to me is a problem. If they arent putting in the time to go to the Pro Days how much Time are they putting into their Scouting. I would Question exactly how much the Scouts love football. They have the Greatest job in the world yet no representatives at the Pro Days.They should be going to all avalible College evaluations. .Maybe they take their jobfor granted I for one would love to pour through tape go to games, Practices Prodays All Star Games, Combine, and any extra curricular activity that would give me an insite to a players talet and attitude. Thats the kind of attitude our Scouts need.

    • nomaan78 - Feb 12, 2015 at 9:57 PM

      Well the Redskins never built through the draft, they were always making splash FA signings that took Snyders money then laughed all the way to the bank. The scouting department has been a scam. Its time Mcloughan cleaned house and got some people in here that have a clue.

  10. sidepull - Feb 9, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    I think it is scouting that needs a shot in the arm. It is old and stale and I am glad they are going in the direction of Scot. It is a new era and I think he will help get it under control. That being said the coach, to me, has been questionable. When it comes to player development, if we take last year for instance, how the heck do you develop a quality qb if you are the head coach, qb coach and the primary play caller all rolled into one. By the end of the season we knew no more then we did at the start. Who is the QB? It looks like they are getting a grip on that mess now with Callahan, Cavanaugh and hopefully allowing McVay to call the plays. One man can only do so much and he made a mess of it by trying to do it himself. Player development, especially QB player development suffered IMHO. I still say if they cut Cousins loose he will flourish like Stan Humphries and Trent Greene. The Redskins are very close to a swing and miss at which QB will pan out until they can get this organization moving in the right direction by building and developing players through the draft. Good article.

  11. rrswinson - Feb 10, 2015 at 12:45 AM

    I question the notion of player development. Does anybody believe that we really have a coaching staff that’s capable of developing players? I don’t ! I saw an offensive line get worse as the year went on;there was no devastating injury, they just got worst. A secondary that did not develop, though there were injuries and a defensive line that had injuries, still showed no improvement. And we really don’t want to start with the QBs. Sure they were bad, they had very little time, and the coach publicly bald one out,but really. Where was the teaching; the patience you are suppose to show young QBs. Aron Rogers sat on the self for 4 years. What happened to putting the QB in a position to win. I question this coaching staff!

    • skinsgame - Feb 10, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      Have you paid any attention to the offseason? The defensive backs coach is gone, the defensive coordinator is gone and there is a new offensive line coach as well. Let’s see what happens now.

      • Joe Greene - Feb 10, 2015 at 6:02 PM

        Exactly. Callahan is in the discussion for best OL coach in the NFL. Fewell is a proven commodity as a DB coach. Barry also is human. Archives

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