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Need to Know: What is the main reason for Redskins fans to be optimistic about 2015?

May 21, 2015, 5:12 AM EDT

Bill-Callahan-2

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 21, five days before the Redskins start OTAs.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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.

I think Redskins fans can find plenty of glasses that are half full and a lot that are half empty as the look around the team going into the 2015 season. But there are some that are nearly full, even overflowing, while others a bone dry to the point of being dusty. Let’s look at one of each of these.

The full glass, the one that should give Redskins fans the most hope for the coming season, are some of the assistant coaches the team has added. In particular, Bill Callahan is capable of turning the offensive line into one of the better units in the league like he did in Dallas and like he did before that with the New York Jets. To be sure, like any coach, he has to have talent to work with but they gave him a big upgrade in Brandon Scherff. I don’t think that the line will start reminding people of the Hogs just yet but his history of turning lines into productive units is very good.

Fans also should like the additions of Perry Fewell as the secondary coach, Matt Cavanaugh as quarterbacks coach and, yes, I’ll say it, Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator. Some will argue forever that there were better options than Barry out there but we’ll never know for sure who else might have been a good fit with the team. I think Barry will do a good job, aided greatly by the increased emphasis Scot McCloughan (another reason for optimism) has put on beefing up the front seven, literally and figuratively.

The biggest worry for Redskins fans is the quarterback situation. Robert Griffin III has his supporters as does Kirk Cousins (maybe Colt McCoy does, too, I just haven’t found any). But there is great uncertainty over whether or not any QB the Redskins currently have on the roster can be the long-term solution there.

Maybe things will click for Griffin or Cousins this year and fans will be able to set aside those worries. Then they can turn their focus to safety where an aging and (for the last two years, anyway) ineffective Dashon Goldson and the inexperienced Jeron Johnson will line up. There aren’t any proven options behind either one of them.

But issues at safety can be mitigated if the front of the defense can generate a strong pass rush. And if the position is still an issue after the season it is relatively easy to fix free agency or in the draft if the team decides it is a priority. But the Redskins are among about a dozen or so NFL teams who have been trying to find a long-term fix at the most important position on the field for decades. Until it’s fixed it will be an area of concern.

Timeline

—It’s been 143 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 116 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 27; Redskins training camp starts 71; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 127

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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  1. brian - May 21, 2015 at 5:47 AM

    Here..now you have found a Colt McCoy supporter!

  2. colorofmyskinz - May 21, 2015 at 6:38 AM

    Nice write up Rich! I would like to add to cup half full. It appears that SNYDER has taken another step away from his benevolent micromanagement dictatorship style with Allen and now Scot. The glass half full is that RGIII in Gruden’s public statements went from a benched RGIII, to a QB competition in 2015, to a stating QB, to a QB with an extended contract, to a first round pick on Oline to give him more time. All of this happened without RGIII throwing one pass in practice to make these changes. Could this be that benevolent dictator forcing the hands of his new leaders??? SNYDER has ravaged this team in his 15 years with the most head coach changes in the history of the NFL. So is it SNYDER cup half full or Snyder cup half empty?

    • Skulb - May 21, 2015 at 6:34 PM

      It`s actually weird that his status gets upgraded in this way without him even touching a football.

  3. sidepull - May 21, 2015 at 6:51 AM

    Ha good article. Half full: Getting a NT for once even though it could be a one year rental.

    Half empty: Leonard Williams tears it up, Brandon doesn’t work out and another draft pick is spent trying to prop up RG3. I really doubt this happens but who thought RG3 would have sunk to the level of insignificance that he has?

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 21, 2015 at 7:57 AM

    Optimism: RGIII plays like he did his rookie year.

    Pessimism: He doesn’t.
    ~

  5. babyteal1 - May 21, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    If Griffin can play solid football, make his reads, get rid of the ball on time and reduce turning the ball over either by fumbles or interceptions this team has a great shot at being successful.

  6. troylok - May 21, 2015 at 9:05 AM

    I am really optimistic about the offensive line play this year and that will make the overall offense much, much better.

    I wish I felt as good about defense. Barry has a spotty resume. I don’t think the void at safety has been adequately addressed. My fearless prediction is Goldson won’t make the team, let alone not start. On paper, McGloughan did a good job of shoring up the defensive line but the thing about free agents is that another team felt they could live without those guys.

  7. gonavybeatarmy - May 21, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    Rich:

    As always, nice work.

    If I weren’t so old and set in my ways and viewed Twitter as proof that society is in decline, I’d set-up a Twitter account and ask this question. But, what were the conditions that enabled the Redskins to secure Callahan’s services, a lateral move for him? He seemed to be well liked, respected and given adequate appreciation for the job he did, albeit with a unit that has significant talent. We’re all too familiar with the personal reasons (but good for us) that afforded the Skins an opportunity to hire the best personnel man they’ve employed since Beathard.

    Were there philosophical, schematic or personal disagreements between Callahan and the head coach, OC or ownership? Did he view the Dallas OL job as dead end with a respected OC on staff? If so, what does that say about the league-wide perception and long-term status of the Skins very young and inexperienced OC and, for that matter, Gruden? Is there a previous relationship between Callahan and McCloughan, and could the latter be the current head coach’s eventual replacement? In that now famous December ESPN article about McCloughan, he indicated that, even while not working for a team, he always keeps a list of potential head coaches and scouting staff. Would Callahan have been on that list? From this fan’s perspective Callahan has had a fairly mediocre care, although so did Pete Carroll. Who else would have been on that list, for that matter? Jerry Jones, like Snyder, doesn’t have a reputation for paying his coaches poorly and so it’s hard to imagine Jones being outbid by Snyder for a lateral hire.

    Thanks.

  8. berniebernard666 - May 21, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    Hey Rich how small is the CUP that is half full. You left that part out. Ya see its all relative to how BIG or SMALL the cup is because half full of a small cup isn’t much. I know you’ll do better next time Rich.

  9. timwillhidetimwillhide - May 21, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    Im not as sold on Callahan as most people are. I mean come on this guy is getting Credit for Offensive lines that had atleast 3 1st round picks on them with good running backs. Not hard to look good with that set up. If he improves our mid round linemen then I will be a little more Impressed.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - May 21, 2015 at 10:02 AM

      That being said Im still pretty Optimistic about the GM trying to improve our Oline and still think there might be another addition to the Oline before the season starts…. What position group am I still a little concerned about? Oline. Even though I like the direction we are going I still think there is a big Question mark at Center and would like to see us improve that position and hope 2 of the Mid round guys from the last 2 drafts step up and be solid starters.

    • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 10:48 AM

      Fair point. It is easy to look like a genius with top talent. But it’s not like every 1st round o-linemen has made coaches look good. See Rich’s recent post and the link therein. Also, the cowboys kept Doug Free and let Jeremy Parnell walk; both were free agents this year and neither a 1st round pick. Parnell has the highest cap value of any right tackle in the league this year ($8M) with Jacksonville.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - May 21, 2015 at 12:28 PM

        Most do though and to your point about Doug Free and Parnell . Doug has bin there as a starter for a while so didCallahan develop Parnell or did the team just hit on 1 guy. If he developed a couple guys at multiple positions I would give him credit. Lets see what he does with our mid round guys before we anoint him this great Oline coach

        • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 1:42 PM

          Most do???!!! Did you even read the post? 50% at best! And all of the recent good ones are on the Cowboys. Here’s an exercise for you. Pick the “most” out of these guys:

          2014 – OL
          RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL TEAM
          1 2 Greg Robinson T Auburn St. Louis Rams
          1 6 Jake Matthews T Texas A&M Atlanta Falcons
          1 11 Taylor Lewan T Michigan Tennessee Titans
          1 16 Zack Martin T Notre Dame Dallas Cowboys
          1 19 Ja’Wuan James T Tennessee Miami Dolphins
          2013 – OL
          RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL TEAM
          1 1 Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan Kansas City Chiefs
          1 2 Luke Joeckel OT Texas A&M Jacksonville Jaguars
          1 4 Lane Johnson OT Oklahoma Philadelphia Eagles
          1 7 Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina Arizona Cardinals
          1 10 Chance Warmack OG Alabama Tennessee Titans
          1 11 D.J. Fluker OT Alabama San Diego Chargers
          1 19 Justin Pugh OT Syracuse New York Giants
          1 20 Kyle Long OG Oregon Chicago Bears
          1 31 Travis Frederick C Wisconsin Dallas Cowboys
          2012 – OL
          RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL TEAM
          1 4 Matt Kalil T USC Minnesota Vikings
          1 23 Riley Reiff T Iowa Detroit Lions
          1 24 David DeCastro G Stanford Pittsburgh Steelers
          1 27 Kevin Zeitler G Wisconsin Cincinnati Bengals

        • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 2:30 PM

          Only three of 18 made the Pro-Bowl last year (Martin, Frederick, and Kyle Long). Long has been a two-time pro-bowler for the Bears who are known for having a horrible line. Kalil was a pro-bowler his rookie year (2012). That’s it! Five pro-bowls from 31 seasons. Martin also made 1st team All-Pro and Frederick made 2nd team. So of the 18 first-rounders in the past three seasons and 31 combined seasons – there have been just two All-Pro seasons and both were produced under Callahan.

          So, I’d prefer Callahan continues that trend and get our 1st round drafted linemen (Williams and Scherff) on the All-Pro rosters than make some low round draft picks starters.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - May 21, 2015 at 2:54 PM

          Most of those players are starters for their team not all Olinemen are gonna make the probowl which is a popularity contest more than anything anymore. Most first round Olinemen are starters where am I wrong? Also Most of those players are Tackles your not gonna get Young Tackles beating out established veterans for the probowl they only take so many. You have 12 listed trying to beat out the likes of Williams (Skins) and Williams (Cowboys) not gonna happen.

          Most are Quality Starters.

        • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 3:07 PM

          Of course they are starters. They were selected in the 1st round! They aren’t even sniffing the pro-bowl. Not even as alternates. How many are on NFL’s top 100 players list? Sure these things are popularity contests but these guys other then the one’s I mentioned aren’t on anybody’s list – unless it’s a not preforming up to expectations list.

          http://www.footballperspective.com/thoughts-on-drafting-offensive-tackles-high-in-the-first-round/

          As for guards. Jonathan Cooper has started TWO games in two seasons as the 7th overall pick!

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - May 22, 2015 at 2:44 AM

          Look dude I never said every 1st round pick is a probowler NEVER. I said most of the time you get a Quality Starter on the Oline in the first round. I would take any of those guys over Everyone EXCEPT Williams and Shereff. Try reading what I actually wrote instead of what you think I ment. Because I literally mean what I write. How many of them are Not Starters?

        • bangkokben - May 22, 2015 at 9:31 AM

          Look if you want to be a revisionist, fine. “Most do” implies that most 1st round O-linemen DO make their coaches look good – if you follow the context of the dialogue. But even if you meant “most of the time you get a quality starter,” the evidence is clearly not there. You get a starter – most of the time. That’s it. But that can be said of any 1st round selection regardless of position. The guys on the list may one day be quality starters but of the handful that are right now quality starters, half of them have been coached by Callahan. The other O-line coaches, no one has heard of them. You want Callahan to turn Kouandjio, Long, Moses, and/or LeRibeus into quality starters. Fine. Like I mentioned he did it with Parnell and Free but I think him turning Williams and Scherff into All-Pros would be better for the team and reasonable expectations considering where they were drafted. (BTW, there are a handful of guys on that list that aren’t starting but you can do your own research.)

  10. kenlinkins - May 21, 2015 at 10:25 AM

    My reason to be optimistic is the chance of “drama” being replaced with “passion for the game”. I wonder just what older “Redskins for life” ex-players feel about so much dirt getting past the locker room door and into the news. There was a time when I would never question a Redskins player desire to be the best he could be each day, now, well not so much. Rich: Is this a sign of the times in the NFL or is it something that just the Redskins are finding hard to deal with?

  11. ET - May 21, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    I’m optimistic about the run on both sides of the ball.

    With Callahan, Scherff, and Jones onboard, the run game should take a significant step forward. The rushing attack could be well above average if a few other pieces fall into place (Long, Moses, better blocking from the TEs).

    On the defensive side, the front seven is looking formidable. Pot Roast will be clogging lanes, our OLBs are good against the run, and, as much as I like to bitch about the interior linebackers (Riley, at least), run defense is their strong suit.

    • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      Don’t want to rain on anyone’s optimism – here it come though – but how much of the Redskins defense’s success against the run came from Haslet’s scheme? It seemed like the only consistent positive of his defenses was it’s ability to limit the run and when that was off – with the exception of the game at Dallas last year – eewww. I hope Pot Roast brings the same kind of run stopping success for us as he has done everywhere and our defense could get better in this area but I’d give a little on run defense if it meant stopping the pass and getting off on 3rd down.

      • ET - May 21, 2015 at 2:06 PM

        It’s a fair point. I think the defensive personnel will be stronger versus both the run and pass this season. I’m optimistic about Barry’s pass defense schemes, but I’m not sure the personnel—especially at safety—warrant much more than guarded optimism. I’m hoping for incremental improvement against the pass and in 3rd down situations, with more obvious improvement on the run downs. I could be wrong, but to me the personnel seem well-suited to aggressive run defense.

        • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 2:14 PM

          You’re right. There is reason for optimism. Safety is a huge concern but at least it’s different.

  12. hk2000 - May 21, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    Until they prove otherwise, the glass is half empty. Sorry. And with the head coach, it’s bone dry.

    • ET - May 21, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      C’mon, it’s only May. You’re allowed to be a little optimistic.

      • bangkokben - May 21, 2015 at 3:20 PM

        ET, hk2000 is convinced that Gruden is the worst coach in football and nothing this off-season give him hope until Gruden is gone.

  13. Skulb - May 21, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    I was optimistic last year and I`m not going down that road again without a good reason. 2-14, Griffin gets injured again and Colt McCoy for President! I mean quarterback!

    Nothing can disappoint me now! MWAHAHAHAH!

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 22, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      Not even 1-15 and Rex Grossman returns as starting QB?

      • Skulb - May 22, 2015 at 8:59 AM

        OK I`m gonna keep that as my backup prediction for later:)

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