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Need to Know: What are are the Redskins’ strongest units?

Jul 16, 2015, 5:13 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 16, 14 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

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’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

Today’s question comes from the Real Redskins Facebook page.


Although the Redskins are far from a finished product, they do have some areas of strength that opponents should find to be tough to handle.

On the offensive side of the ball it’s easy to identify that unit. The wide receivers are by far the strength of the offense and probably the strongest unit on the team. One analyst recently called DeSean Jackson the top deep threat in the game. His sheer speed forces teams to play a safety over the top and that can open up opportunities in the rushing game and help other receivers get open.

Don’t think for a second that Pierre Garçon is past his prime. A lot of starting wide receivers would have loved to have 68 receptions and have everyone consider it a bad year. He should improve his years per catch from around 11, where it was last year, up to closer to 14, where it was in 2012.

The quality and reliability do drop off after the top two but they should be able to find someone who can provide quality play out of the slot between Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, and Jamison Crowder.

On the defensive side of the ball, I think that the linebackers could cause other teams problems. Ryan Kerrigan’s play speaks for itself. Keenan Robinson is a budding start on the inside. Trent Murphy and Preston Smith could be quite a duo to deal with on the right side assuming Joe Barry can figure out how best to utilize both of them effectively. Perry Riley has his share of struggles in coverage but that’s not unusual at this position. Perhaps his is a spot that could be upgraded at some point but there certainly are plenty of less capable starters at this position in the league.

I should point out that I my confidence in the linebackers is not anywhere near as solid as my confidence in the receivers. The only proven performer there is Kerrigan and even he needs to have another year with double-digit sacks and other big plays to even enter the “elite” conversation. Murphy and Smith project well but they haven’t shown it yet. One good year does not make Robinson a star, it just shows what he’s capable of doing.


—It’s been 200 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 59 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 14; Preseason opener @ Browns 28; final cuts 51

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In case you missed it

  1. abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:04 AM

    It’s hard to not say linebackers on defense, even with Murphy & Smith being somewhat unknowns in terms of what they can do this year as pass rushers and in converse when asked to cover.

    This is such a hard answer to give on the defense because although they look good on paper, there’s a lot of new parts and no one knows how well they will work together.

    On paper, the defensive line is the strongest part of our defense with 5 quality players who could start on most teams.

    • colorofmyskinz - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:38 AM

      I think our linebackers will look completely different with the frontline changes that we’ve had. Honestly we can evaluate the effectiveness of any of the other seven defense of players on our team outside of the front line. We basically had the worst defense of front line in the NFL and our frontline could barely even compete against the best college teams last year. There is no way to determine how well our linebackers are safeties are our cornerbacks can be when we had the worst frontline in the NFL.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    Rich is Ty Long a true consideration? We basically have the worst kickoff kicker in the league and Kai is non existent beyond 45. Can we really consider Ty a real competition? Bill our team consider this?

    • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:43 AM

      We have the most accurate kicker in Redskins history.

      Behind 40 yards Kai is a 24/49 as a Redskins kicker or 83%.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:04 AM

        How about behind 45? How many more years of kickoffs bunted to the 5-7 yard line? The best special teams in the world will struggle keeping returners from getting past the 25 yardline when the returner begins his return at the 7. That places our defense under extreme pressure. Where basically 2 first downs and the defense is sitting on the 50. This is a major concern that the best special teams coverage and best defense can’t hold for 4 quarters.

        This issue is completely underestimated in my opinion. I love Kai from 45 on in only. We basically have no possibility of winning a game beyond 45. That kills the 2 minute come back drill. And his kickoffs pin our defense on the ropes almost every kickoff.

        Major issue and underestimated.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:18 AM

          There’s no stat that does 45 to plus 50.

          Kai is 2 of 4 in his career of over 50 yards and I remember him hitting several kicks that were near 50 yards over the past 3 season like in the 47-49 range.

          It’s true that Kai needs to improve on kickoffs but it’s also true that our kick off coverage has been one of the worst in the nfl since Danny Smith left – which ironically most Redskins fans wanted to happen.

          If the cover gee improves, kicking a kick off with good hang time to the 5 to 1 yard line won’t matter.

          It actually could be beneficial if the coverage is good because the coverage team could go and tackle the returner before he gets to the 20 yard line.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:21 AM

          You do know that the only kick off that was returned for a TD on the Redksins last year was not a kick off from Kai right?

          It was a Tress Way kick off and it happened because of poor coverage and Tress line drived the kick, he didn’t have enough air under the ball to allow the coverage team to get down and get in position to tackle Chris Polk.

          That kick off return for a TD is the main reason we lost the first Phila game. And for the record, Kai Forbath had no part in that play.

        • bangkokben - Jul 16, 2015 at 11:48 AM

          Whoa! Kai had no part of the play? He was injured for the 2nd or 3rd game of the season! Forcing Way to kickoff. Availability. He also missed a 47 yarder against Tampa that originally was a redzone possession. Accuracy doesn’t take in account makeable kicks not tried – within 53 yards.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 12:00 PM

          You certainly come up with odd opinions sometimes. If Kai didn’t kick off he wasn’t the reason the kick was returned vs philly. The reason was because it was a line drive kick off by tress way and the horrible coverage unit left their lanes. Basically, they blew their assignments like our secondary with Raheem as its coach regularly did.

          All kicks are accounted for on stats.
          I’m not even sure I understand what you’re trying to say with your last point.

        • bangkokben - Jul 16, 2015 at 6:42 PM

          Those are my three beefs about Kai.

          1) We can’t rely on him being healthy for a whole season. The last two years, he has missed significant time due to injury. Non-contact position. C’mon man.

          2) “The most disheartening sequence of the game came when the Redskins turned a first-and-goal from the 6 into a missed 47-yard field goal.” From Stienburg’s piece on the Cooley film breakdown of the Tampa game. I’ve posted the link recently. It was early in the 2nd quarter of the game where Tampa led 10-0. After Kai missed that FG, Gruden did not call for a 50-yard FG the rest of the season despite opportunity.

          3) Therefore with go ahead and add the handful of attempts that we could’ve taken less than 53 yards as misses – because we conceded to either punt or go for it – and recalculate Kai’s accuracy %.

          So it is my hypothesis that with extra distance on xtra points and more scoring by our improved offense (yes I believe that) that Kai will once again require a substitute kicker for another two weeks during the season. Let’s look for an adequate replacement and if we can’t find one, tough. Cross our fingers he stays healthy and can make a few from distance.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:30 PM

          If there is a kicker we can get that is better than him then I’m all for it but Kai has been this team’s best kicker since Lohemiller

        • bangkokben - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:40 PM

          Yes he has been and agreed that if there is better kicker; get him, but no need to replace Kai simply because we don’t want to run down the field and cover kicks. Do I want the kickoffs deeper? Hell yes!

        • bangkokben - Jul 16, 2015 at 12:34 PM

          Point is he is unreliable to stay healthy. He “overused” his leg in a kicking competition and was ‘t available when the team needed him. A non-contact position with no backups puts the team in a bind when he gets injured. Two seasons out of three. Not good! For a team that struggles to score and longer PATs it would behoove the team to find a replacement especially if they intend on scoring more points.

        • Skulb - Jul 16, 2015 at 2:46 PM

          Another fan myth right there. Forbath has kicked several 45+ FGs and he`s one of the most solid kickers in the NFL as far as stats go. If you think Kai Forbath is a major issue for 4-12 Washington then I can only report that I`m relieved that you`re not the one in charge.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:24 AM

        I don’t thnk we had more than one possession where we held the returner inside the 20. Most of them we let out to the 30-35. I don’t think there was a single return pinned behind the 10.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:25 AM

          Dude that because our coverage unit blew chunks

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:40 AM

          Yeah, coverage unit sucked

      • Destructo - Jul 18, 2015 at 7:46 PM

        Uh thats nowhere near 83% try like 49.5%,sheesh.

  3. babyteal1 - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    The defensive line will be the strongest unit on the team.

    • berniebernard666 - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:27 PM

      agree that the Defensive Line is the strongest Unit on the team. Its ridiculous to say that the receivers are the strongest, especially since everything they do requires that somebody call their name on a play, and that the QB is able to get them the ball. Plus who are all these receivers? Andre Roberts is below average after leading the league in drops. Garcon had a down year and Jackson is the best deep threat but the Redskins rarely throw deep……….I don;t have any idea why they don’t let him run a fly pattern 5-6 times per game, but they just don’t. Maybe you can ask them????

  4. troylok - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:09 AM

    Agree on receivers being the strength on offense but there have been so many changes on defense – including how the new coach will use his players – that it is hard to say what unit will shine. If Haslett were still here, I would have to say linebackers, but with how Barry deploys the shoot-the-gap kind of defensive line, they very well could enter into the discussion. It’s probably safe to say the front seven will be solid and maybe even spectacular, but getting more specific than that is a reach.

  5. hk2000 - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:16 AM

    Rich, you really need to invest in a proof reader. Sometimes the typos are so severe, it’s hard to follow your train of thought. At least fix the title please.
    I agree with you on the strengths of the team, but that’s only on paper. If the coaches cannot scheme a good game plan, all elite receivers and linebackers in the world won’t save us.

  6. kenlinkins - Jul 16, 2015 at 10:15 AM

    OFF SUBJECT: In 2014 and then again in early 2015, I told those that wanted to change the name of the Washington Redskins to sit down and write a check for about $ 1.7 billion dollars to Dan Snyder and you could rename the team anything you wanted. Well, you missed your chance and the price has jumped $700 million dollar to $2.4 billion dollars. That would have been a very nice return on your investment along with gaining your goal of not having the name Redskins hard your feelings all the time. The longer you wait, the more it is going to cost you. What is the problem with putting your money where your mouth is and pony up the dollar required? Oh wait, maybe the value would not have increased 40% if you changed the name, which begs the questions “How can a team name be so bad and yet the value of the team increases by 40% in one year?” Doesn’t that increase in value alone prove that there is nothing wrong with the name? People in general have voted by increasing the value (i.e. money where their mouth is, something the name changers failed to do and now it will cost them $700 million more to get their way). Better luck next time “name changers”!

    • berniebernard666 - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:29 PM

      OFF SUBJECT: you’re a FINANCIAL genius. Are you available to consult some of us on our lives?

      • kenlinkins - Jul 17, 2015 at 6:15 AM

        Sure, Max out your 401K and your IRA every year. Save 20% of what you make after that, Pay off your credit cards each month, do not use your home as a ATM and pay it off early, always have 4 months of your monthly bills in savings, keep 5% of your net worth in Gold & Silver, keep your credit score above 800 at all times, never loan money to family or friends (let the banks do that), never gamble anything that you can not afford to lose, pay cash for any autos you purchase (used or new), keep an eye on your money by reviewing everything once a quarter and NEVER EVER take FINANCIAL advice for someone on a NFL web site (hire a real pro that you trust and keep a close eye on them).

        • abanig - Jul 17, 2015 at 9:40 AM

          Sure put all your $ in 401 k’s and hope the banks don’t bankrupt the country again…

  7. rtcwon - Jul 16, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    Other than improved QB play, pass rusher is the biggest need on this team. Not sure how this group of OLBs could be rated above the DL or CBs by anyone. I know I’m in the minority but I even like the safties more the OLBs. They’re all likeable, high motor guys but nobody is up at night figuring out how to block them. I really hope I’m wrong but I don’t expect much from any of them. The plays will be made by DL this year; maybe they chose Barry & scheme change to better fit talent?

    • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 1:38 PM

      I actually agree. Let’s think about it?

      We’re solid at 2 of the 4 Lb positions on our defense.

      There are major question marks about Riley, particularly in zone coverage or against play action pass.

      There are major question marks about the ROLB position. I hope Murphy can display more pass rushing ability and get more pressure on the qb this year and I hope Preston Smith can be a good outside pass rusher as well but the truth is both IMO are miscast as 3-4 OLBs.

      I don’t think they have the quick first step to be double digit sack guys in the nfl. They’re big powerful OLBs who will play the run great and they’ll generate pressure off of the bull rush and some inside moves but can these two turn the corner and get sacks? Not IMO.

      IMO both Murphy & Smith are better off putting another 10-20 pounds on their frames over the next few years and being used as DE’s. I ultimately think in two years the Redskins will be drafting or signing another 3-4 ROlb who weighs in the high 240s to 260 pounds and is extremely athletic with a great first step and counter moves and that player will be a double digit sack guy like Kerrigan.

      I think Smith & Murphy will be our DEs.

      • troylok - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:10 PM

        abanig, WTF? 3-4 linebackers are generally big guys who aren’t 4.3 speedsters but who can stick with a tight end in pass coverage for 20 yards or so. Trent and Preston fit the bill completely.

        • bangkokben - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:36 PM

          There were 15 or 16 teams that ran a 3-4 base defense last year. Only nine 34 OLB recorded ‘double digit’ sacks. Only Baltimore had two OLBs with double digits.. That leaves Murphy and Smith in good company with the other 21 OLBs and the Redskins in good company with the other 3-4 teams.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 7:47 PM

          Sure they’ll pass the bill but we could still do better. I like the steelers also (not nearly as much as the skins but my dad and sister love them) and the Steelers have run the 3-4 for 25 years. They never had one OLB in 25 years that was the size of Murphy or Smith. They were all Kerrigan or Rak’s size or smaller.

          I like Murphy and I’m sure I’ll like Smith but I just envision a different role for them once they totally fill out by their mid 20s. Looking at pictures of Smith, he looked really skinny next to Kerrigan. It’s pretty clear that he like Murphy could still out weight on if they do that, they’re approaching the size of DEs.

        • bangkokben - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:52 PM

          They are big. As far as the defense goes, I think it is another case of wait and see.

  8. mr.moneylover - Jul 16, 2015 at 12:52 PM

    Ima say D-line for sure because the only two who show they can get to the QB last year was DE frank kearse and jason hatcher everybody eas BS now we got 5 guys who can give the QB hell…and I think CB postion is gonna be surprise depth there because I believe scot m. and jay gruden gonna keep the most talented players somebody gonna step up and I hope its the kid trey wolfe he sure got the skills to do so if given the chance …

  9. skip36 - Jul 16, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    I understand when Hassless was here he had the LBers play side to side instead of attacking up field, is what he called prevent defense, well what I’ve heard now is with Joe Barry were are going to go after the QB, instead waiting around for him to pass without any pressure what so ever, thank God for new coaches & game plan, way to go McLovingHTTR

    • berniebernard666 - Jul 16, 2015 at 8:32 PM

      I think this is about the 3rd time in the last few years we have heard about this “ATTACKING” defense that was going to destroy teams. So before I get up out of my chair and do my dance of excitement, I believe I am going to wait and see if they can stop Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 16, 2015 at 9:38 PM

        We did attack the heck out of Tony Romo in the week 8 game.

        But that turned out to be mostly an exception.

        • hk2000 - Jul 16, 2015 at 9:59 PM

          Exactly! And that goes to show, it’s the scheme and the coaching that is of most value. If the coach is a moron all the physicality in the world will not help you.

        • abanig - Jul 16, 2015 at 11:11 PM

          We didn’t have the personnel to be able to run the 1 gap d system last year so we had to revert back to the 2 gap.

          Mainly, our secondary was so bad that we couldn’t be overly aggressive up front and blitz a lot. You can’t leave Amerson, Clark or Meriweather on an island in the secondary. Archives

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