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Need to Know: Three Redskins up, three down from a year ago

Jun 29, 2016, 5:58 AM EDT

Quinton-Dunbar-vs-Cowboys-USAT

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 29, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 171 days ago. It will be 75 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 16; Preseason opener @ Falcons 43; Final roster cut 66

Three up, three down from a year ago

The Redskins have 44 players who were on their roster entering training camp in 2015 but not all of them are in the same situation they were in a year ago. Here are three players whose situations have improved in the past 12 months and three who are worse off.

Three Up

QB Kirk Cousins—At the end of minicamp last year, Cousins was coming off of a season where he was buried at the bottom of the depth chart. In February, Jay Gruden declared that Robert Griffin III would be the starting quarterback. He was assured of a job but his future was very uncertain. Now the only uncertainty is if he will sign a long-term contract or “settle” foar playing for a fully guaranteed $20 million.

CB Quinton Dunbar—Last summer he was an undrafted receiver on a team that seemed to be set at receiver. But some cornerbacks went down during training camp, he stepped up when the team was looking for volunteers to fill in. Fast forward to November and he is lined up opposite Odell Beckham in a game the Redskins need to stay in the playoff race. He will have to compete for position on the depth chart in training camp but he is assured of being a part of the secondary.

OT Morgan Moses—The Redskins had Trent Williams as a fixture at left tackle and they had spent the fifth overall draft pick to get Brandon Scherff to play right tackle. It looked like he was destined to be a backup tackle or perhaps convert to guard. But about a week into camp the team moved Scherff to guard and made Moses the starting right tackle. After a solid season his future looks bright.

Three Down

DL Trent Murphy—A year ago the team had already shown a degree of dissatisfaction with his play at outside linebacker by drafting Preston Smith. Then after camp started they signed Junior Galette. Murphy would have ended up third on the depth chart had Galette not been injured during practice. As it is he is undergoing a position change and it remains to be seen just how he will fit into the line rotation.

LB Perry Riley—Riley was a solid starter at Jack linebacker all the way through the offseason program and training camp. But he struggled, got injured, and lost his starting job to Mason Foster, who was picked up after the start of the season. Foster was the starter during OTAs as Riley watched from the sideline with his foot in a boot. He may be in danger of being cut if he can’t win back the starting job.

WR Ryan Grant—Last year when DeSean Jackson was injured early in the season opener Grant had a big chance to shine. He averaged 45 snaps over seven games but he caught just 17 passes for 194 yards and he made a key mistake, slipping on a pattern in Atlanta allowing the game-winning pick six. Now he takes a step back on the depth chart after they drafted Josh Doctson in the first round. The coaches still love his work ethic but at some point he has to get it done on Sundays.

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  1. colorofmyskinz - Jun 29, 2016 at 6:21 AM

    Agree with most of these except Murphy. Scots quote “you can never have enough pass rushers”. Just because they drafted Preston does not mean they were looking to dump Muphy. They want Murphy on the field or they would have never considered the position change. What happened to best player available on the board? Is it possible that Preston was BPA? Gallette signing. Who would not try to attempt to get a league breaking rusher at league minimum? That was a total risk reward play on their DD. I think Murphy will surprise most at this position change.

    But agreed, we have very little feedback about how the change is going until pads on. So based on that, he can easily look like downward trend. I believe the guy will give us upside surprise. Just me though. IMHO

    • wvredskins - Jun 29, 2016 at 9:12 AM

      I agree I think everybody has giving up on murphy. Like you said they wouldn’t be wasting their time to switch him to be a dlineman if they didn’t want him on the field and who know he might turn out to be better at that position. He is a solid run defender and plays 100 every play. At the same time though, we do need to see more from him. Httr

      • bangkokben - Jun 29, 2016 at 9:33 AM

        Hey, I hope the guy succeeds. He always seemed a better fit as a 4-3 end at the time of the draft. Nobody’in the organization is giving up on him but is that because of his potential or because they are simply trying to salvage something out of the investment? For what it’s worth, he is heads and shoulders better than Houston Bates, the current 4th OLB who has done nothing except record sacks in the 4th quarter of preseason games against non-NFL players.

      • kenlinkins - Jun 29, 2016 at 12:33 PM

        Most draft profiles on Trent Murphy said things like “will take a few years to learn the speed of the NFL game” or he was slow gain the edge while pass rushing, not good in coverage, a very hard worker and smart. IMO he is a longer term investment and could fit well at DE in the 4 man D-line the Redskins like to play. Add him to the long list of things to watch in preseason games. While he has not been a stand out he has held his own but it is time for him to take the next step. Also he has not yet shown “power” so I wonder if adding weight will help in that area. The guy also has BIG hands so maybe getting him in front of QB will result in some blocked passes or one handed tackles on running plays.

    • John - Jun 29, 2016 at 10:49 PM

      Never going to happen. Same goes for Marshall.

  2. redskins12thman - Jun 29, 2016 at 6:53 AM

    Great list.

    Other ups from this time last year – Will Compton (I didn’t know much about him and he turned out to be a solid starter), Jamison Crowder (I was expecting some contributions but no where close to what he did as a rookie), Jordan Reed (I thought he was going to be second string in and out of the line-up with injuries)

    Another down — Stephen Paea (Still waiting for a sign that he will be an impact player / no question “starter” on the defensive line) Of course, there are other downs from last year who have moved on from the team already (off-topic / not the point the article is making).

    • ET - Jun 29, 2016 at 3:29 PM

      Before the end of last season, I figgered Will Compton was just a guy, a sometime placeholder for the more physically gifted Robinson and Riley.

      Man was I wrong. He really kicked it into gear last year, and he’s been getting kudos from players and coaches alike. He’s not a Scot pickup, but he’s an almost archetypal version of Scot’s sleeper players. I’m really excited to see what Compton can do this season.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jun 29, 2016 at 10:13 PM

        Compton is from Nebraska and supposedly learned to read and study tape from some college tape analysis guru. So Compton all college career was neurotic about reading tape. And he has brought that study to the NFL. He know more about the opponents defense than the defensive coordinators. He studies it that neurotically. Was Cousins old roomate as rookies I think. He is a stud and from his study he knows the plays by the defensive lineup. He jumps plays all the time and uses his smarts to position himself perfectly. A run tackling machine. Love him!

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 3:40 AM

          I sincerely doubt Will Compton knows more about Wade Phillips’ defense than Wade Phillips (or insert D coordinator’s name here). A lot of guys in the NFL study film. He seems like a great guy who is starting to come into his own and be a good player. Is that so hard to say? Do you really have to spiral into hyperbole about things you couldn’t possibly know?

  3. troylok - Jun 29, 2016 at 7:34 AM

    Riley could surprise everyone. I thought he was really starting to come into his own those last few games before he was injured. Riley’s interception in that Saints game was a thing of beauty. I know he was struggling prior to that, but in that Saints game it just seemed to click – kind of like it did with Cousins in that Tampa Bay game. Riley had another interception in the Giants game two games later and it looked like he was on his way, but then got hurt. Those two interceptions were more than Compton and Foster got last year combined, so let’s not dismiss the guy just yet.

    • redskins12thman - Jun 29, 2016 at 7:38 AM

      It would be great in Riley rebounds. I am definitely rooting for him!

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 3:45 AM

      Interceptions are great but they’re often opportunistic and not the only assignment for an ILB. They need to do all the other things (or most of them) well too. Riley has historically not been a very good player from what I’ve seen. Two decent games doesn’t erase years of bad games. I thought Keenan Robinson came into his own in 2014 and was going to be a stud for us last year. Not so much. I’m a complete believer in giving guys time to develop but at some point you have to accept that these guys who they are.

  4. bangkokben - Jun 29, 2016 at 11:34 AM

    Off topic, I’ve been perusing Football Outsider’s defensive statistics and found two areas where the Redskins defense led the league.

    1. The Redskins were first in fumbles per defensive drive — 8.9% of qualified drives. (Take-a-knee drives at the end of half were discarded.) So the Redskins defense recovered a fumble approximately one out of every eleven drives or about one per game. Say what you will about the randomness of recovering fumbles, but when Joe Barry stresses stripping and taking the ball away at least it wasn’t lip service. Compare that with Dallas who was last in the league (1.2%). That would be one every 83 drives or about eight games.

    2. The Redskins were first in Power Success. This is defined as the percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer. The Redskins opponents had a 49% success rate on such runs. The league average was 65%. It remains to be seen how much missing “Pot Roast” will affect this stat but Kedric Golston was in on all of such runs last year. Conversely, the Redskins ranked 26th in the league in normal runs up the middle. Knighton wasn’t in on all such runs but it is safe to assume he was in approximately 35% of the time — his defensive snap count percentage.

    As bad the defense was last year, it is surprising that they led the league in any category but at least is was an improvement from 2013-14.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 29, 2016 at 12:14 PM

      Rich wrote about the fumbles.

      I think he said that there tends to be a return to the mean by teams that have such a high rate of takeaways one year.
      ~

      • bangkokben - Jun 29, 2016 at 12:34 PM

        Yeah. I slightly disagree. There is certainly a randomness to recovering fumbles but not necessarily forcing fumbles. The Redskins were 5th in the league in FF with 23 behind Denver (25), Arizona (25), New England (24), and Carolina (24). Of the five teams only Carolina was consistent with (24). The other four teams all made huge improvements but Arizona (+14), Denver (+10), and Washington (+9) all had new DCs. NE improved by eight. Seattle on the other hand has forced 20 fumbles four season in row 2012-2015.

        • ET - Jun 29, 2016 at 3:19 PM

          “There is certainly a randomness to recovering fumbles but not necessarily forcing fumbles.”

          An important distinction, and one that hopefully signals any reversion to the mean in fumble recoveries will be blunted. We’ll see. But this defense is trending hard toward opportunism. I like our chances.

        • bangkokben - Jun 29, 2016 at 5:21 PM

          I’m hopeful as well. Even the randomness of recovering fumbles isn’t THAT random. Over the last four seasons (from 2015 to 2012) the defense across the league has recovered 61%, 61%, 63.8%, and 62.5% of those forced fumbles (502, 500, 483, and 525). So both the amount of fumbles forced and the recovery rate were fairly consistent. Last season the Redskins recovered 15 of 23 FF for a 65.2% recovery rate. That was slightly higher than average for the year but + or – 5% of average seems reasonable. Then again the league wide average was 67.4% in 2009 and 71.3% in 2006. So without looking at every season the trend appears to be downward. So who knows?

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 3:54 AM

          I don’t know man I guess we’ll find out but I think fumbles and fumble recoveries are more opportunistic and random than that. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes Adrian Peterson is holding the ball like a loaf of bread in a playoff game with a rubber elbow pad in freezing weather, sometimes he has it tucked away tight. I don’t even know how many times I’ve seen a ball carrier be sloppy and have he ball slip out only to bounce right back at him so he recovers and think “omg he just got so lucky there.”

          One of the things about Rich’s article was that he showed teams who led the league one year and were bottom of the league the next. Without having the article in front of me, it was pretty convincing. Even if a team put together back to back seasons of high fumble recoveries that doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t lucky two years in a row. I’m pretty sure Bill Bellichick stresses to his defense the importance of fumble recoveries and has them practice like maniacs too. If New England was top 10 in recoveries for the past decade then maybe I’ll be sold. And maybe they are, I haven’t looked at the numbers.

        • bangkokben - Jun 30, 2016 at 9:43 AM

          It’s not recoveries; it’s forced fumbles. The more you force the more opportunities you have to recover and percentages have ALWAYS favored the defense and CONSISTENTLY.

          Just about every fumble is reviewed and we are given numerous angles to determine if it was indeed a fumble and nearly on every single one we see a defender get his paw in there and poke, pull, swat, or rip the ball free. Then there are fumbles that are not forced and I’m not talking about those. Those are almost always recovered by the offense I would assume but they are also far fewer. (When the QB fumbles the center exchange — not a forced fumble.)

          As for New England, they have been the model of inconsistency.

          During the last four years, ONLY Seattle was in the top ten in FF in each of those seasons. However, there were six other teams that were in the top ten three out of four years and there are a lot of moving parts from players, to coordinators, to head coaches. The turnover in the NFL is amazing. My point is that there are reasons for inconsistency that go beyond randomness.

  5. admin - Jun 29, 2016 at 4:37 PM

    I completely agree on Ryan Grant. Everyone wants this kid to succeed. He seems to work hard and excel in practice and preseason, neither of which I’ve ever seen so I can only go off of the reviews written about him. But based on what I’ve actually seen in regular season action, there just hasn’t been enough there to warrant a roster spot. Would it be worthwhile to do an all-22 style film review to see the differences in his route running or separation in pre-season vs regular season?

  6. lezziemcdykerson - Jun 29, 2016 at 5:30 PM

    23.1M year for Luck. I think Cousins is playing on the tag this year. Isn’t this roughly his tag number for next year, should he play on it? The deal will get done next offseason.

    • redskins12thman - Jun 29, 2016 at 10:37 PM

      If Redskins don’t sign him by July 15, 2016, they may end up paying him more than even Luck is getting.

      • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 29, 2016 at 11:40 PM

        Not if the tag him again at that number and make him do it again. It’d be the same as paying him in an “elite” bracket anyway. Luck has the body of work to garner a payday like this. I can understand a situation where the skins tag him again if his numbers get crazy. Wouldn’t want to let him walk with desperate teams willing to pay his price tag and more. I wouldn’t give cousins more money than Luck unless it was sustained. 2 years might be enough for the madtv guy though. Who knows.

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 4:00 AM

          Luck has really only had 3 years of good play. And by some people’s standards (those who say only championships matter) he really hasn’t accomplished anything. Now, I think he’s a very good QB and deserved his payday: but just one year less for Cousins with an increasing franchise tag and lengthy negotiations wouldn’t be enough for you to just buy in and pay the guy for some stability?

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 30, 2016 at 3:36 PM

          Well not many QBs have led “rebuild” tesms to the chip in their first three seasons. I mean he had “Reggie Wayne” for a year? maybe 2 cant remember but, say if he were in the league 12 years and hadn’t accomplished anything then, yeah, I’d be more critical.

          Now Kirk has started one year.Handful of appearances before that. In the handful of appearances he’s looked like the future and he’s also gotten himself benched. 60/40 bad. In his one year of starting he looked terrible the first half of the season then picked it up and started to play better. Let’s call that 50/50 even, yes even though we finished 9-8 (above .500) call it a margin of error. With that much fluctuation within that small of a sample size, no, it’s not enough for me to just buy in. Maybe not even after next year if he pulls the same 50/50. You say stability, well how about we see some in his play before we marry the guy? Not up down lateral down up up down down up.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 2:46 AM

          When I say stability I mean the same QB, same system, same coaches, same leaders, etc., etc.

          Because what’s the other realistic option man? All trash talk and chest thumping aside, be serious. What’s the other option? There isn’t going to RB anyone better in the free agent market and drafting a QB is just as big a risk of paying Cousins now. If it was easy to find a good QB in the draft then why has Washington gone so long without one? Why does half of the league need one? Even if Cousins isn’t the guy: I think he’s proven he’s good enough to be the stop gap until we find the guy.

          I don’t mean this in a trash talking way but you seem to have a hard time seeing guys for who they are instead of who they were. You did this in our conversation about Niles Paul, Tony Romo, and now Cousins. You said Niles Paul couldn’t catch then showed me an article from 4 years ago saying he couldn’t catch even though he broke out 2 years ago. One of your main arguments against Romo was how he lost game 16 in 2012 even though he was one play away from the NFC Championship game in 2014: and it’s not his fault Dez didn’t secure the ball.

          Cousins has always moved the ball well and always looked good EXCEPT turnovers. Is it really that unreasonable to say he wasn’t quite ready but he developed and now he’s better? It’s not like he had been starting for 10 years before 2014. I understand the “he just did it for one year” argument. I don’t agree with it but I understand. But two years, taking into account growth, that I don’t understand. And he played well all year. He played decent at first and exceptional later. The record isn’t a personal stat, it’s a team stat. Lots of guys contributed to those losses and wins.

          As far as Luck. To be brief, that team was a playoff threat every year with Peyton. And they didn’t transform that drastically from Peyton’s last year to Luck’s first couple. I think Luck is a very, very good young QB. I would take him over Cousins without a second thought. But all the excuses you give him can be made for Cousins too.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 1, 2016 at 5:54 PM

          I showed you an article from 2 years ago which was the last time the boy Niles played. The numbers support Paul not being able to catch. Along with being surpassed by other TE’s in the depth chart. He was here when Fred Davis got in all that trouble. We had Logan behind him. How did the rookie beat him out? Why are we signing Vernon Davis iwho is like 10 years his senior and splitting Paul’s time at TE and FB? Riiight… You’ve yet to show ME any stats that prove he is or will be a starting TE. MIND YOU in the context of our original conversation it was who is trade bait? I simply said that Paul was a, categorically, late round draft pick and has done nothing to improve his value. We could trade him (back when this question was posed) but what would we get for him? Moving on..

          Romo. A qb that has cost his team about as many games as he’s won for them? Besides passing yds, which is not really a great measuring stick because yds don’t win games, TDs do. Now my original statement was “Tony is a threat to throw 5 INTs a game” You responded with “Well Peyton has thrown 6” Not really the same caliber of QB. You see while Peyton, especially as his arm wore down, may have had a couple turnover riddles games you knew he wasn’t going to have many. Tony, on the other hand, is a legitimate threat to throw multiple INT’s a game. It’s like if he gets one in the 1st you know it’s gonna be THAT kind of day. Which is why the Tony Romo led Cowboys have never asserted ANY dominance in our division, despite our impotence. Hell It’s not even like I hate Tony. I love the guy he got us to the playoffs in 2012. Career clutch int thrower. You have not provided me with any situational stats to back up your claims. Manning has been a staple in the playoffs , in the powerhouse years of the afc mind you PITT NE BAL KC DEN all had really good teams when he was in INDY. Tony went .500 against us in our 3 win season. He literally accounted for a third of our wins. Why would I hate this guy? Dal becomes a bye week if we can rattle him early.

          Now Cousins, I want you to realize that stability is a reward. Quality qbs are rewarded with stability. Their coaches and coordinators don’t get fired. Their systems don’t change. They aren’t shuttled around the league. They are given the best situations to thrive. Is Cousins a quality QB? We don’t know yet. He’s certainly an improvement from what we had but he hasn’t had enough of a sample size for us to make that determination. I’ve seen kirk hit Santana in stride and get us a must win game right off the bench with half a quarter left on the clock. Come back the next week and manage a game against Philly and kept us rolling. I’ve also seen Kirk come in just under half a season left and get himself bench. Follow that up by winning the job from Robert and have aday like he did vs the Jets. I have no problem with paying him but I’ve seen this team marry the wrong guy before. I’ve seen them let good QB’s leave as well. That’s why I don’t have a problem with this middle road they are taking. Tag him this year. See if he can do it. He comes out looking like Brady no ons going to argue with writing the check. He comes out looking like Jay Cutler then we’ll have this divide again. Half of the base will sound like you “Well, he’s better than what we’ve had so just pay him. Serviceable QB’s are hard to find etc etc” the other half will say “Tag him OR let him walk let’ what Colt can do. Colt thrived in this offense too he only got replaced because he was hurt” I’m down the middle, don’t want to let him go hastily a la Brad Johnson or Ferotte but I don’t want to marry the guy without knowing who he is first. It’s only the second date Trey, has it been that long for you?

          As far as Luck, the team didn’t change? They lost, Jeff Saturday(who would’ve been a rookie QB’s best friend), Dallas Clark, Joesph Addai (still haven’t found their answer at RB.. doesn’t that mean more pressure on the QB? IDK this sports stuff), Pierre Garcon (not like he had anything in the tank right? I’d choose an aging Reggie Wayne for my rookie QB any day) and two veteran back ups to help show him the ropes. Not to mention I believe Pagano was a rookie head coach. So yeah they didn’t change that drastically… we’ll go with that.

  7. blazerguy234 - Jun 30, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    There is really no place for Grant on the team. His production was not good last year, and Crowder has the slot, plus how the use Dockson…Grant does not have enough speed nor does he get separation…what is there to really like. They all work hard..give Ross more chances..love his speed. I think in certain situations line DeSean up on one side, and Ross on the other. Seems like that would clear out the middle…for Reed and Crowder..or Docson. They won`t need a big running game.

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 2:39 PM

      I won’t argue with you about Grant. He has flashes but eventually he has to do something or we’re probably better off developing a new young player. I do think he’s good depth go. The thing is that teams can’t have an entire roster of studs. Good depth comes from having experienced guys who probably aren’t good enough to start but can be solid in a pinch. Because they don’t cost a lot to resign. I would be more comfortable having Grant as a backup on a low contract than an unproven rookie. Because Grant isn’t good but he’s also not bad. It’s nice to have someone around you can trust. I think that’s why the coaches like him. They trust his work ethic and ability to be a solid backup. So until someone better comes along and as long as he’s cheap, I’m fine with keeping him. Look how my be e paid for Andre Roberts to be the backup slot receiver.

      But I don’t think Rashad Ross is the guy. I honestly can’t stand that he’s on the team. He played great in a preseason game against 4th string guys who didn’t even make the team and we got carried away and gave up a roster spot for him. Drove me nuts then and it drives me nuts now. He’s fast, yes, but so what? He can’t play. He proved he can’t play last year when Desean went down and he had to play against real competition. There’s more to this game than measurables. Some people get fascinated with Guy’s speed like arias and Keith Marshal and forget there’s more to it. If speed and athleticism were all players needed to succeed in the NFL then there’s a ton of track stars who should be winning Super Bowls. And RG3 should be on his way to the hall of fame.

      Ross was putrid in actual games last year. Fans couldn’t say bye to Andre Roberts fast enough but him and Ross essentially had the same production last year. You can line Ross up wide but defenses aren’t going to bite because they know he’s not a threat. There’s a reason he was kicked around from team to team before he came to us. Coaches are intreagued with his speed but eventually realize he’s not good. If anyone needs to be cut for a developing player it’s him.

      And just in a side note. Reed doesn’t need Desean and Ross to open the middle of the field for him. That’s what makes him so valuable and that’s why he got the big contract. A guy like Reed is never supposed to actually be covered. His value lies in him being bigger and stronger than defensive backs and more athletic than linebackers. So he can’t always win. That’s the difference between speed and size. Speed guys need separation and to get open. Big/string receivers can be double covered and go up and win a jump ball. Doctson was a great step toward finding more of those receivers but I think we could use a couple more if possible.

      • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 30, 2016 at 7:36 PM

        You can NEVER call my replies longwinded again. EVER.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 1, 2016 at 2:48 AM

          Well I can. Doesn’t mean I should.

          I said that to you ONE time about a series of UNUSUALLY long posts that were very repetitive. I’m sorry it hurt your feeling so bad.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jul 1, 2016 at 5:56 PM

          No I see your posts and normally I laugh because you look like you’re auditioning for The Post or something. Is The Times still a thing they may be hiring?

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