Skip to content

Need to Know: Redskins week that was—Don’t sleep on Niles Paul

Jul 31, 2016, 4:53 AM EDT

Niles Paul RVA camp 15

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 31, 11 days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.


Today’s schedule: Off day, no practice scheduled

—The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago. It will be 43 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets  @FedEx Field 19; Final roster cut 34; Cowboys @ Redskins 49

The Redskins week that was

Long-term effects from Jarrett lossThe loss of Junior Galette to injury was bad news for the defense, no doubt about it. But as he was on a one-year contract his long-term future with the team was unsettled. Before Kyshoen Jarrett had that fateful collision in Dallas he was going to be a key piece to the defense through at least the 2018 season. His injury may well be career ending and it could be a challenge for him to live a normal life dealing with his right arm.

Don’t forget about Niles Paul—This was written before training camp started and he has done nothing to make a liar out of JP, who wrote the post, since. Paul plays with an edge and he fights for everything. He’ll get his share of snaps on offense and make some important catches. And don’t underestimate what he adds to special teams.

NTK—First down rushing woes must be fixed—The Redskins were the worst first-down rushing team in the league last year, on both sides of the ball. No team averaged fewer yards per first-down carry on offense or gave up more per carry on defense. I brought this up a few times during the course of the offseason not to be repetitious but because it was so surprising and so important to fix.

POD: Cousins improving under pass pressure—This is a series I’ll be running during training camp, taking a play or two from the previous practice and looking at how it demonstrates what they are working on or a problem area that they are addressing. Check out the post and let me know what you think of it.

NTK: 5 Redskins with a lot to prove—Kirk Cousins and DeSean Jackson are on this list, also done before the start of camp. So far they have hooked up on some spectacular long passes and there have been some head-scratching misses, too. The chemistry between the two is still a work in progress.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it 


  1. sidepull - Jul 31, 2016 at 6:34 AM

    I remember reading that quote. Gotta love JKC.

  2. redskins12thman - Jul 31, 2016 at 7:11 AM

    I love the fact that you are doing a deep dive on Cousins performing under pressure. It’s very important to how he and the team will do this season. Cousins needs to take what the defense is giving him and not force it. When will you be able to assess how Cousins does at calling audibles?

    Agree 100% on our need to fix rushing on both sides of the ball; it’s the main reason why fans expected more in upgrades in relevant positions, but the team has answered that they feel that the roster, as presently constituted, coupled with training, will get the desired results (with the possible exception of adding one OLB).

    Is Toler playing well? It does seem that way; in which case they’ll be at least 6 strong at CB, with at least one more practice squad bound, and I can’t see them taking more than 5. Could the Redskins trade one to shore up d-line, OLB or safety positions?

    Niles Paul is impressive. As a whole, the high character guys on the roster, like Paul, have tipped the balance and it’s now a little bit contagious, which is indicative of the culture change occurring within the team.

    There’s been little news on Terence Garvin, Willie Jefferson, Lynden Trail, Deshazor Everett and Will Blackmon. How have they looked?

    I have to imagine the Redskins want to keep Carrier on the PUP as long as humanly possible. The Redskins are stacked at TE & he’s better as an insurance policy for the season. Do you agree?

  3. colorofmyskinz - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:10 AM

    Our TE group is very different than last year! Off the charts. Niles Paul, beat out Reed for the starting job last year. Now we have Reed, Paul, Davis, and Paulson. 3 additions from last year. Don’t forget, Marshall is added as a pass catcher also. Add Doctson. Now we have added 5 Pass catchers to Reed, Djax, garcon, crowder, grant, and Ross. Add Thompson and Jones as pass catchers, and I count 13 pass catchers. WOW!!! Unreal amount of threats. This does not even count the all of the UDFA added to WR. We have extreme pass catching threats. Going to be fun.

    • Jimmy kubas - Aug 1, 2016 at 7:02 PM

      Agree.we have the weapons. I can’t wait to see how coach uses them all!!! Can I get a HAIL YEAH!!!!

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:40 AM

    Usher can’t save Su’a Cravens from being booed off stage by Redskins teammates

    Let’s see how the kid handles it.

  5. kenlinkins - Jul 31, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    Rich, When the Redskins drafted Craven’s and listed him as a ILB my mind when to a defense called “3-2 Mobster” or “3-2 monster”. I saw the Redskins try this defense a few times in 2015 but with poor results. They lacked a hybrid LB/SS that could play the position. The defense allows you to trap a QB by making misreads about the weak side and or allows you to be set up for a team which uses a no huddle. I know I am trying to read the tea leaves a bit early here, but IMO if Cravens can play ILB on a standard 3-4 defense and hold his own as a SS type in the box, he would be able to play the “mobster” in the 3-2 defense. I have seen the Steelers, Denver, Bolts and Seahawks use this defense often in the last few years. You do not give away the defense early due to Cravens running out on the field as he could be playing ILB, SS, Nickle, Dime or Mobster. I am adding this to the long list of things to watch for in the preseason games (yes, I know the Redskins will keep things pretty basic but if you see the Redskins using the ILB’s to pass rush or the D-line slant to the weak side or maybe trying to us a “robber”, they may be working on parts of the 3-2 Mobster, which I think would be a great fit, if Craven’s pans out! )

  6. redskins12thman - Jul 31, 2016 at 10:09 AM

    What’s the difference between 3-2 Mobster and 3-2 monster?

    • thankslittlebrandonbanks - Jul 31, 2016 at 11:12 AM

      A well tailored suit

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 31, 2016 at 12:10 PM

      The mobster had a code. The monster is just a psychopath who likes hurting people.

    • kenlinkins - Jul 31, 2016 at 2:16 PM

      The 3-2 Monster came from the old Oka 5-2 Monster which was build out to stop option running plays seen in College football but was not well suited to the NFL. The 3-2 Monster allowed teams to add another pass rushing OLB type to line up in the middle. The 3-2 Mobster used a SS/ILB type as a “Robber DB” (i.e. mobster) to force the QB to make extra reads (i.e. are they playing the run, pass blitz, covering TE, playing zone, nickel, dime etc). It gives the defense a more general look and didn’t tip the hand too early. It also allows the defense to sub a DE, OLB or a DB without giving away the defense while the OC is still dialing up a play. It is very good at allowing the DC to make adjustments without subbing a specialist. It makes it harder for the offense to gain and keep match ups they like.

      • redskins12thman - Jul 31, 2016 at 2:18 PM


      • Trey Gregory - Aug 1, 2016 at 2:02 AM

        I’ve mostly heard people talk about the “3-2 mobster” when I talk to high school football coaches. Not so much with the NFL. Although I’m sure some use it as a wrinkle.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s really not a defensive formation. Kind of like the “wide 9” is the same as a 4-3 but one DE lines up wide outside the TE. So people say “they run a wide 9.” But it’s really just a 4-3 with one player alligned slightly different. For the 3-2 mobster it can basically be any nickel or dime package where one guy could be playing either a safety or linebacker role, right? Basically, one of the 6 “DBs” (the robber) is a guy who could take on more of a linebacker role. It’s just another wrinkle to throw out there. Or am I missing something?

  7. Skulb - Jul 31, 2016 at 2:01 PM

    Despite the mediocre rushing and the occasionally woeful run defense I thought the D held up well last year. Surprisingly well even. They were very opportunistic, covered reasonably well in the secondary and got plenty of solid penetration from the line. And it would have looked even better if the offense had bothered to score on some of the D’s takeaways. And now they have added Cravens and Norman, so you have to imagine that the D will have plenty of scope to take a massive step in 16 as this new secondary gels.
    Not saying shoring up the run D isn’t a concern here. Just that it might not be a huge issue, considering all the things they successfully managed to address last season. Even the awful special teams (needs) from years past got an emergency overhaul mid season, after costing them the opener against Miami. After that it was good for the rest of the year, or at least able to avoid enormous disasters, particularly on kick and punt returns.

    My one big worries, short of the inevitable injuries, is the run game. Not so much Matt Jones as the run blocking and schemes. Ever since Gruden got here I have been worried about how predictable the team has been with their running. Obviously Matt needs to hold onto the ball. but he also needs good blocking and well designed plays to run. Whether he solves his fumbling issue or not the coaches need to improve a lot here so the offense doesn’t become one dimensional again. Last year I sometimes got a feeling they were calling runs simply because that’s what you’re supposed to do on a football field or to avoid being labeled as pass happy. But there was no visible conviction anywhere that anything would result from all those first down stuffs. “Oh here goes Jones for 12 inches again…”. And it was never addressed at all in 15, as perhaps the only serious weakness the team had. All they have done is talk about it.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:15 PM

      Gruden really loves his two TE sets, and because of injuries (even an injury to the guy we traded for), it just wasn’t there in 2015.

      Compton at TE was nothing more than a gimmick that didn’t work out well.

      So perhaps this is the upgrade this year: two competent TEs for him to use, since he never had much use for Darrel Young at FB.

    • bangkokben - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:37 PM

      I’m about as worried about the run game as you are concerned with the run defense. So that’s my point of reference in my response.

      “Last year I sometimes got a feeling they were calling runs simply because that’s what you’re supposed to do on a football field or to avoid being labeled as pass happy…And it was never addressed at all in 15…”

      It certainly may have appeared like that but I don’t think that was anywhere close to the coaches’ motivation. Jay Gruden strikes me as someone who has zero concern of what people think of him. As for addressing it, they finally abandoned the 75% run rate (not an actual stat) on first down rate after the first Dallas game. (Actual statistical evidence back’s up this point in piece from John Keim more than a month ago.)

      But you have to go back to the beginning to understand the story. Robert Griffin was the QB. The plan was to use his strengths (least deficient areas if you prefer) which is/was play action. The idea was to run the snot out of the ball and hit big plays of play action. Once the QB change was made, there was no real need to change that philosophy since Cousins was inexperienced and turnover prone. All the runs did set up the play action and the Redskins were in the top three in play action offense. The reason that philosophy could change was the effectiveness of Cousins in the rest of the offense.

      The inability to get the ground game concerned me last year as that would’ve never happened with a Joe Gibbs team. His teams found a way to get it done. Maybe that was a talent issue, a predictability issue, a teaching issue, a play calling issue, an ability to learn issue, or a general coaching issue. It matters not to be if the passing offense is clicking, scoring points and winning games. If not, then it’s a YUGE concern.

      • Skulb - Jul 31, 2016 at 9:29 PM

        Fair enough. The game has changed a bit since Gibbs’ time though. He was revolutionary in the early 80s but not so much when he returned. The entire league seems more pass oriented to me these days than it did in the past.
        Obviously no two seasons are alike and we don’t know what will happen. But I still think that the main deficiency on the team in the crucial moments was the defense. For one thing they let the Packers score about 35 points unanswered in the WC game, but that wasn’t the only one. And the worst part of the defense was the run stopping/tackling, which was highly erratic, to put it politely. One play it was fine and then the next we gave up 40 yards on a missed tackle of some sort.
        My point is that IF the offense stays the same and the defense improves a bit we might be good enough just with that to repeat. If the run also improves we could be a contender.
        On the other hand if the defense stays the same and the run game improves a bit we’ll be about the same as last year, and that will probably not be good enough to repeat on a tougher schedule. So improving the run D and the tackling is the big one for me because of this.

        Sorry to be long winded. I can’t help myself.

        • bangkokben - Aug 1, 2016 at 11:34 AM

          As you break down your points, I mostly agree. I figure this passing offense is enough to carry the team on most weeks against an average team. They may need plays from special teams to help on occasion. Then there are the six to eight weeks that that won’t be enough and the only way to get it done is from the defense. For me the way the defense helps is get the ball back often and don’t give up quick scores. I couldn’t care less about yards on the ground or field goals. Any improvements in the run game would bolster chances for success but a lack of improvement wouldn’t predestine defeat. The Redskins HAVE to get yards from the backs — not necessarily on the ground.

          When I mentioned Gibbs, I was referring to the “2.0” years which we all know didn’t live up to expectations. However, in 2005, the Redskins were struggling with the run game — and on offense in general — but the team’s identity was run the ball and Gibbs solved the run issues when the team won the last five games with Portis rushing over 100 a game over the stretch making it back to the playoffs.

          The team had a solid identity: run the ball and play stifling defense. Not flashy but workable.

          In 2014, the Redskins had no identity and tried to figure it out on the fly amidst constant QB turnover. Then in training camp last year, they settled on their identity as a “power running” control the clock team. They managed to control the clock for the most part of the season but the power running failed after two weeks of success despite all the effort to fix it.

          Now, as long as don’t try to adopt that identity again, I’m fine with the run game as is. That approach with bad run game and a suspect defense is a recipe for disaster.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 1, 2016 at 1:36 PM

        Bang you bring up a good point that I never considered: coaches come up with the season’s playbook in camp. They start it a little earlier but finalize it and implement it in camp. There’s less practice time than ever so they barely have enough time to to get the offensive plays in and make sure everyone knows their assignments before the season starts. There’s zero time to implement a different playbook if there’s a QB change. The weekly game plans can change but the pool of plays they can draw from, and that they’ve practiced, is set. I’m sure that influenced some play calling last year. What they practiced for RG3 would be different than what they would want to try for Cousins.

  8. smotion55 - Aug 1, 2016 at 1:27 PM

    Both O-Line coach and D coach are now in their second year with this team and a full compliment of TE’s will help running offense, and very much so less predictable, having Tom Compton in their was the only thing left to do. They were just out of bodies no excuses just fact. Everybody knew what they were doing. The D-line is younger everywhere except Golston and he will play 20 snaps a game, if Ioannidis doesn’t beat him out..I LB is deeper with a healthy Spaight and Daniels’s and Craven’s, Norman and Fuller are upgrades.
    The one thing that will hurt is if Kirk does not learn how to take over a game and develop the killer instinct, .Jones will be better in his 2nd year and is a really good pass catcher out of the backfield.
    Injuries as always can change a season so if they get a little lucky with key guys staying healthy maybe 10 wins.

  9. lezziemcdykerson - Aug 1, 2016 at 4:17 PM

    I WILL continue to sleep on Niles even though, if you look closely, he DID manage to beat out Davis. Either way I will enjoy my nap until he catches balls in games. I hope he can turn the corner, it’s never good to be a professional pass catcher and have people writing articles breaking down why you can’t catch. I’m making this promise to myself to not argue over a guy whose 4 year career numbers read more like our slot guys rookie year numbers. Don’t give me that “Crowder saw more balls cause D Jax…” Niles played in damn near every game in his career aside from last season. I’m sure when Davis was suspended Niles saw some passes.. hit the ground. Yeah I know RGIII was throing balls into the stands and missing guys bad but sheesh.. lay out. Make an attempt. Then the QB starts looking elsewhere. No one should be writing articles about you not being able to catch and you only have 80 career targets… that’s a problem.

    All that said. I want what’s best for my team so I hope Niles can turn his practice catches into game catches. He beat out Davis which I guess is like the training camp equivalent of a “Perfect Attendance Award,” we know he’s not beating out Reed but hopefully there isn’t such a drop in production at the TE position if Reed goes down for a few games. Kirk likes the underneath stuff so if he’s healthy we should get a good look at his progress. Archives

Follow Us On Twitter