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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster bubble ready to pop for many

Aug 28, 2016, 5:51 AM EDT

Bates-Riley-Marshall

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, August 28, six days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 231 days ago. It will be 15 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 21; Browns @ Redskins 35; Redskins @ Ravens 42

The Redskins week that was

NTK: A look at five Redskins on the roster bubble—This was written prior to the game on Friday and before the Redskins made their first 10 cuts on Saturday. And all five remain squarely on the bubble. Perhaps one, OLB Houston Bates, can breathe easier now because one player thought to be among his main competition at his position, Willie Jefferson, got cut. But the rest are still sweating it out and probably will keep doing so until the final 53 is settled next weekend.

Should Redskins look, what’s available in trade market for RB?—This was before Keith Marshall suffered a sprained elbow against the Bills. We’re still not sure how serious that injury is or if Marshall was going to make the team even if he didn’t get hurt in light of how well Robert Kelley played. In any case there has been zero trade talk when it comes to running backs. If the Redskins are going to acquire an additional back it looks like they might wait until teams start making cuts and bolster their running back corps.

Gruden makes late decision to sit Cousins, other starters—This is from after the Jets game but it’s still relevant because of how Cousins and the offense looked out of sync in the early going against the Bills. Did the decision to sit Cousins and other key starters on both sides of the ball leave them rusty? And, perhaps more importantly, is 54 snaps of action in the preseason enough for Cousins, commencing his second year as a full-time starter, to get ready for the season?

Projecting the Redskins roster: First cuts approaching—I’m happy to say that none of the final 53 I picked for this article got the ax on Saturday. It’s never easy to do this but there probably are more bubble players this year than there have been in recent years. The most difficult issues this year were fitting CB Greg Toler onto the roster and figuring out just where to count Su’a Cravens. Still, I’m pretty confident that I’ll hit on 50 of the 53.

NTK: 5 things we’ve learned about the Redskins so far—I’m most confident about what I said about DeSean Jackson and Josh Norman here. I think they both will have big seasons.

Tandler on Twitter

The news that the Redskins are likely to face Dak Prescott when the Cowboys come to town in Week 2 brought up this discussion of the Redskins’ record against rookie QBs. Here’s the link if you want to see details of the Redskins vs. rookie QBs since 2010.

In case you missed it 

 

 

  1. redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:17 AM

    I think Bates is viewed by coaches as key special teams contributor and holds the tiebreaker unless clearly outplayed at OLB and I don’t think that has occurred. A healthy Galette and Bates is on the outside looking in.

    The bubble has burst for Riley, Cofield, Marshall and Harris; the three later are looking at practice squad invitations at best and Riley will try to land with another club this week.

    To me the 53rd or 54th player is Paulsen (i.e., sitting on the bubble). It will depend on the feel for needs at other positions (e.g., RB, OL, DL) and / or whether Doctson starts the season on the PUP.

    I think the Redskins may take 8 OLmen but will most likely take 9. Who is the 9th player? Is it Kouandjio or has someone outplayed him? (I think Lichtensteiger is on the roster this season despite the addition of Stork).

    The other area is DLmen; everyone seems to lean toward 7 — Will it be Ioannidis, the draft pick, or Lanier, who has had more of an impact? Except for injuries, these players are either inactive or on the practice squad.

    If some players become available, especially a RB, expect Scot McCloughan, to add to the roster.

  2. sidepull - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:19 AM

    Should be interesting. Seeing what type of game plan Barry comes up with to stop Prescott and Elliott from running.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:39 AM

      True, but don’t look past the no huddle, high flying Steelers attack; even without Bell, it will be formidable.

      • sidepull - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:54 AM

        Yea Steelers and Big Ben. I know. I hope with Djax and crew the Redskins can match the intensity and have some high flying heroics themselves. Drops like the other night are out of thee system lets hope.

  3. sidepull - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:21 AM

    Stork is gonna play here. Good deal and man do the Redskins need an infusion of help at that position.

    • winningfootballblog - Aug 28, 2016 at 10:54 PM

      kory gets pushed back into the QB constantly. He has been doing it for years. He is not strong. Good run blocker by not very good at preventing the bull rush. We will have a new center by week 3.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 1:08 AM

        No, Kory does not constantly get pushed back into the QB. I can’t stand this BS. Please tell me the time and quarter of every play where Kory got pushed back into the QB this preseason. I’m sure there’s one or two. Just like there are for every player on the line because everyone gets best from time to time. But you said constantly. So I expect that to be more than one or two. Should be easy to find and tell me if it’s constantly happening.

  4. sidepull - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    Romo needs to quit while hes ahead. LT stopped Joey T with one hit. Romo was a slickster avoiding the pass rush for years. Its not working so great anymore.

  5. redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 6:38 AM

    It’s kinda funny. Most Redskins fans entered offseason feeling RDE, NT, C, LG, Safety and RB were top six needs. Reyes, Hood, Bruton were acquired in free agency, supplemented by only late round draft picks Ioannidis and Marshall. RDE and Safety might have been addressed short-term; play at NT, C, LG and RB continued to be question marks.

    To be sure, Norman was excellent acquisition, making overall defense better, and BPAs will contribute, but here we are 7 months later, with the same needs / holes (albeit continued health concerns around Jones and Thompson may have pushed RB slightly higher on the priority even though UCFA Kelley might be another unheralded find).

    Stork has somehow fallen into the team’s lap, but will need to show that he can remain healthy (and we are all praying this is the case); still don’t know if or when he becomes first string center though. Is it Lauvao, Long or Lichtensteiger at LG?

    Been told not to worry about NT because it’s only a need for 10-15 snaps per game…

    It will be interesting to see what the Redskins do at RB…

    Just hope Moses play at RT does not add another key need to the list that neither Moses himself nor Nsekhe can’t fill.

    • winningfootballblog - Aug 28, 2016 at 10:59 PM

      Nose tackle is only necessary for 10-15 snaps per game but if the Skins give up 5 or 6 yards during that period, they might be giving up 60 or 70 extra yards rushing. Hey..that kind of philosphy might be one reason the Skins are so bad on defense…..another reason is that Joe Barry likes to rush 4 and drop 7.

      Hint: Never tell offensive coordinators you scheme and what you plan to do. Joe Barry did….Redskins couldn’t stop the pass….and their defense stunk. I wonder if anybody has informed him they need to blitz occasionally and mix up their fronts.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 12:55 AM

        Um. I don’t know how to break this to you but there are these things called video cameras. They record games. There’s about 50 of them pointed at the field of every NFL game. Opposing offensive coordinators have access to those recordings and can watch defensive tendencies of every team.

        Also, rushing 4 and dropping 7 is a pretty common thing for NFL defenses. Even the best.

        Of course it would be great to have a true NT. But we can’t get everything on the “would be nice to have” list at one time. There are positions with higher value than others. On offense and defense they’re mostly on the edges. So corners, receivers, offensive tackles, outside linebackers, and defensive ends. Those are all more valuable than Defensive Tackles, guards, inside linebackers, safties, and running backs. Those positions have value and are important, just not as much as the others. So if your team needs a nose tackle and a corner, you find a corner. If they need a 0 technique and a 3 technique, you find the 3. This is how rebuilds go. From the outside in.

        Truly rebuilding a team takes 4-5 years because it’s not as easy as recognizing a need and filling it. You have a limited number of draft picks and cap room to make it work. I wish McCloughan would have used that 4th round pick on one of the available DTs. But chances are they wouldn’t have really helped this season anyway. He took a true nose in free agency last offseason and it didn’t work out. It’s just the process.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 1:05 AM

      I will not be shocked if someone on the Dline breaks out like Baker did last year. My money is on Francois. I love that guy’s hands and effort. I also expect Murphy to play better than people think. Kerrigan and Smith are two very good OLBs. Baker was a top 3-4 DE last season. If anyone else along the line plays well, we’re sitting better than a lot of teams on the D-line. It’s thin, but the starting lineup is good. Cravens has all pro potential. Compton looks like a true red chip player. We have excellent corners and I personally feel Hall is going to be good this year. I get wishing we had a nose, I love big defensive tackles, but there are a lot of things to be excited about on this defense. And no team is complete. Every single fan base has their team’s “top needs.” That’s the parity of the NFL. I would rather that need be a guy who only plays 10 snaps than a guy who plays 80-90% of the snaps.

      And please trust me that most fans are wrong about our center situation as long as Kory stays healthy. Some people just have unrealistic expectations or, frankly, don’t know what they’re talking about. With Stork in the mix, it only got better.

  6. garg8050 - Aug 28, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    I don’t see Marshall making the final 53. He’s looking at the practice squad. At this point, the real question is whether Mack Brown makes it as the 4th RB. And that may just be temporary; I can’t imagine that they haven’t already had discussions with Pierre Thomas about coming in after Week 1 even with a healthy Jones.

    Long didn’t look good against the Bills. I see Lauvao taking over at LG before the season starts and Stork taking over at center as soon as he’s comfortable. It helps that Cousins has learned a lot of the line calls and should be able to help with protections while Stork gets up to speed. #78 will end up being a back-up at both center and guard. Lauvao, Stork, and Scherff should give the ‘Skins 3 big nasties in the middle and hopefully help the running game.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 7:39 AM

      I agree that if Brown makes roster, it’s because Jones can’t go against Steelers, Thompson is questionable and we’ve not picked up another RB after clearing waivers. With Marshall injured, I think Brown is most likely on practice squad, maybe on 53, 2% chance cut.

    • colorofmyskinz - Aug 28, 2016 at 1:46 PM

      Totally agree with this assessment here!! I want stork in the center position as soon as he learns the playbook. Kory looked horrible in the last game. It was very apparent he is at best a backup. Bring in the nasties!!

  7. redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 7:46 AM

    With injuries to Watson, Gragg, Eifert and Ebron short-term, among others, the NFL ranks of TEs are thinning. If Paulsen is cut, I think he will get picked up by another team. Also, I think Jensen will not make it to practice squad. While it will pay dividends this season, one year Vernon Davis rental could be costly mid-term.

    • sidepull - Aug 28, 2016 at 8:31 AM

      Always pulled for Jensen. And I think he would get snatched up.

  8. colorofmyskinz - Aug 28, 2016 at 8:32 AM

    I look at this week as CODE RED at a few key positions now. Look at our RB situation. If it was not Code Red when Jones was hurt (which it was) m, now we are major Code Red with their expected backup to him Marshall now hurt. So let me sum it up, Jone is hurt with a shoulder he need to hit with, his backup has an elbow he can’t carry a ball with, our first string 3rd down back is hurt and we have Kelly and Mack now. OMG THIS IS CODE RED for sure. We are in the worst shape at RB than any other team in the league. This is a dire situation.

    Now we are CODE RED at OLB as well. Gallette and Kerrigan our 2 top OLBs now hurt one out for the season and now Kerrigan, “just a little groin he will be ready” is code for we have no other option but to play him hurt. We now have a Kerrigan that when he plays will be lucky to be 70%. Ummm, last I checked groins are key for pass rushers. This is being played down and is a MAJOR CODE RED.

    We are in very bad shape at both of these positions and there is nothing in sight to fix it.

    This is not good prior to week 1. No way to put lipstick on this pig. This is a slimy mess.

    • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 9:51 AM

      Typically, this is hypebole. Thompson was held out for precautionary reasons. Nobody but you had Marshall being a lock for this team. The real 2nd string running back is doing just fine and the 3rd if they keep him is an upgrade over the 7th rounder. Jones injury is concerning but nothing more. This team is built on the pass as evidenced by the three passing TDs in the 2nd quarter.

      Pass rusher is thin and Kerrigan and Smith have to be healthy for this team be successful but there is no one out there to save the position group. It’s life in the NFL. Stacked with three starters at two positions to being down to a starter and a half.

      • colorofmyskinz - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:09 PM

        Thompson is sore and hurt after only 2 quarters of preseason. He won’t make it beyond 6 games for us. Marshall was dueling with Kelley. If you listened to the coach, he clearly said he has seen him do plenty in practice that warranted him to be in the competition. He said he has not brought it to the preseason games due to the “looks” he had, code for the line has sucked. Regardless, Thompson will not last and is already hurt, Marshall as the “option” for competition is done, Kelley has earned it. But, if you are right, and if you believe Marshall sucks that bad, then Kelley beat Marshall. So what does that leave us? The only comment on Mack is he can protect, meaning no good runs. So again I sum it up, our guy Jones that the entire season was bet on is hurt with an injury on a key area of the body for a RB. Our second string is Kelley who could barely beat Marshall that many feel sucks. Mack could barely get off the practice squad and we have a paper frail 3rd down back that is already hurt after 2 preseason quarters. So all we have that is a guarantee is Kelley. Then we have all of these people saying the run game does not matter in today’s football. That is a completely idiotic thing to say. A hint of a run game turns any passing offense into a major passing threat. The run is critical to make our already outstanding pass team world class. Marginalizing our run situation is flat out burying your head in the sand and saying “fine”. We have a real situation here. It is what it is. The point of my message is that we have no way of relying solely on our roster at this point. No chance. We need to pick someone up.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 3:06 PM

          The run game does matter. It is more important than some people make it out to be. You’re correct. It’s not as important as the pass but it’s still important.

          I would also like to see an outside RB brought in. But not just anyone. I can’t think of too many guys who could get, unless there was a trade, who I would be confident can be better than what we have. (Weren’t you supposed to give us 5 free agent veterans who could step in and be better right now?)

          However, I think you’re completely off about Marshall and Kelley. Quoting a coach about a draft pick is pointless. He’s not going to say, “oh, this guy is terrible and we shouldn’t have ever drafted him.” But you can listen to reporters who watched camp. They usually don’t outright say a guy sucks but they give hints. The only positive thing anyone said about Marshall all camp was “he’s big and he’s fast.” As in, something a 6-year-old could surmise with a simple google search. As in, he wasn’t doing anything note worthy in practice. The one and only reason why he was “competing” with Kelley is because he was a draft pick. That’s it. If he was a UFA like Kelley it wouldn’t have even been a conversation.

          Keith Marshall is not a good RB. He’s downright bad. And I question your ability to understand what you’re watching if you can’t see that. You haven’t given a single on-the-field reason for why he’s good. Just “he’s fast and Gruden didn’t talk bad about him!” Tell us what you see. Maybe we’re all missing something that you’re seeing.

          But I see a guy who has no vision or patience. He immediately bounces everything to the outside instead of letting a play develop, misses the point of attack, doesn’t hit the hole hard when he finds the point, and doesn’t churn out extra yards. I honestly haven’t even noticed his pad level yet. But based off how easily he’s brought down, I’ll bet it’s too high. Kelley first and foremost has done great in protection. He has vision. He makes a cut and goes. Hit’s the hole and makes positive plays. He’s not perfect but he shows potential.

          You’re being hyperbolic because you’re saying guys will miss time as if it’s a fact. You’re saying Marshall and Kelley were neck and neck as if it’s a fact and there were no other mitigating factors. You said you can’t think of better outside options at RB without naming a single one. That’s hyperbole, since you asked.

        • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 5:05 PM

          “A hint of a run game turns any passing offense into a major passing threat.” Yep and Friday night was the first time there was a hint of one with the first team. You’re reaction seems to do more with your preference for who plays running back for this team mingled with your Redskins hypochondria. Not every injury is worse than imagined.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 1:20 AM

          I’m pretty sure they all have cancer and Gruden is just covering it up like he always does!

    • John - Aug 28, 2016 at 11:18 AM

      Marshall was not Jones’s #1 backup. If so, it was in your mind only. The kid has size and speed and zero skills. Kelley is not the biggest guy but runs with authority and has a clue. Seems Mack Brown can pass protect. Both do things Marshall can’t.

      Having Kerrigan out moves your beast, Trent Murphy into a starting role. Now we’ll have a fearsome pass rusher at that spot. Oh wait a minute, he’s anything but that. LOL

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 12:19 PM

        Kerrigan will be fine. And there’s nothing in history to suggest otherwise.

        • colorofmyskinz - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:30 PM

          Yes there is something in history just last year. Do you remember Kerrigan and the team marginalizing the knee procedure???? It was “just a little clean up” and he would be 100% for week 1. He HIMSELF, said after the year that he was “not right” until the middle of the season. So yea, I really believe him and the team that the groin is nothing and he will be 100% for game one. Right…. The reality is with a tough guy like Kerrigan grimacing as badly as he was immediately after the injury, he will not be 100% for a long time. Thinking he will be 100% is pure denial.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:41 PM

          Well I think that’s 100% speculation. You’re saying he’s going to miss significant time based on absolutely nothing.

          When I said there nothing in his history I meant he’s never missed a game. There’s no history to suggest he will miss time. He always finds a way to play. And recovering after a knee surgery is a little different than tweaking a groin. Kerrigan had a bad few games for the first time in his career after a surgery last season. And he didn’t have a camp to prepare. Let’s relax and just see what happens.

      • colorofmyskinz - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:16 PM

        My point was that Kerrigan is hurt and that his groin will have a major impact in his production. I said Murphy would be a beast at DE where he is not responsible for dropping into coverage. I have said in years past he would be a beast for us in general at OLB and I was proven wrong. I admit it. Relying on him and Preston is a horrible plan for the year. Kerrigan is going to be dealing for a long time and not be 100% for a while. Bates is not even worth talking about. Would not make a signal 53 man squad in the NFL, and now he will be in our rotations. My point is we are CODE RED at OLB and RB. So how is this hyperbole? I don’t get it. It is fact.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:30 PM

          Where are you getting that Kerrigan will be dealing with this injury for a while? Everything I’ve seen says the injury is minor and he should be fine in no time.

          That being said, we were dangerously thin at OLB before Kerrigan’s injury. We’re downright screwed if Kerrigan can’t play. No question. Murphy is an adequate backup. He has truly gotten way too much grief, but he’s not Ryan Kerrigan. And Murphy’s best position probably is DE and I believe he can be a very good DE for us. So the depth at OLB is taking a DE away from us too. Murphy will still play end in Nickel though. We will probably only have one true OLB on the field for the majority of defensive snaps. We will be fine as long and Kerrigan and Smith can stay healthy.

        • redskins12thman - Aug 29, 2016 at 3:36 AM

          Can Murphy be a DE at 270 pounds (as I believe that’s his preferred weight) or to be effective does he need to be at least 290 pounds?

    • mtskins - Aug 28, 2016 at 1:12 PM

      I was happy to see Kelley show some ability in pass protection and blitz pickup on Friday. With the amount we are going to be throwing this year think its really important skill for any back we put out there. Guess that is one of the reasons I was on board with Pierre Thomas over a wavier wire add or a younger guy. But if Kelley demonstrates he can understand the protections think he would be a great add to the 53. Especially over Marshall.

      • redskins12thman - Aug 29, 2016 at 3:41 AM

        Agree, Blitz pickup has been a definite feather in Kelley’s cap.

        if memory serves me, Kelley is doing better in blitz pickup than Morris did in his rookie campaign…

        I also remember Morris sometimes struggling to catch the ball, but I don’t believe he’s missed a throw as a Cowboy…. so frustrating to watch…

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 4:18 AM

          It’s funny because I never remembered Morris being bad at catching the ball. Just that he didn’t get them thrown his way often. But then (like last offseason I think) Rich shared some stats that showed Morris did struggle a little there. He wasn’t BAD. But he wasn’t good either. Morris is a pro though. I’m sure he’s worked on improving every aspect of his game every year. I would be more shocked if he didn’t improve.

          But you’re right about Kelley and pass protection. It’s very impressive for a rookie as RBs are rarely asked to do it in college. It’s like, Eziekel Elliot really impressed me in his pass protection and then Kelley was right below that. Kelley looks like a NFL RB. That’s one of the best compliments I know to give him. I’ll feel a lot better about our run game once they announce he’s on the roster.

  9. colorofmyskinz - Aug 28, 2016 at 8:56 AM

    You can guarantee there are better RBs and OLBs being cut from teams than we have to back up these injury laden positions. My guess is we pick up an edge rusher that gets cut and a RB. Mack will still be practice squad. If we play him on the 53 we are really hurting. Envying behind Murphy on the outside is plain old pathetic. Bates your are kidding me. He could not make the 53 for 32 other teams out there but is now thrust into our primary rotations. We are in dire straights at both of these positions.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 10:40 AM

      Redskins can definitely find a RB; impactful OLB not so sure. To your point, no one is outplaying Bates…

      • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 12:47 PM

        But is Bates outplaying anyone? I don’t think so but I’ve only seen a limited point of view — the television broadcast of preseason games. I’d say Wakefield is outplaying him.

        • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 3:59 PM

          So does Wakefield make the Redskins roster instead of Bates?

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 4:26 PM

          I sincerely doubt it. And we have to take level of competition into account too. I’m not a Bates fan by any stretch but he’s probably making the team. We mostly need him to play well in coverage and vs. the run. We’ll let the big boys rush.

        • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 4:31 PM

          I have no idea. If it was me making the decision? Yes. HOWEVER, my perspective is the TV broadcast when they’re in the screen.

  10. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Aug 28, 2016 at 9:26 AM

    I thought Jefferson had a chance. But

    Maybe with our OLB situation, they’re looking for someone who could step in this year rather than a project.
    ~

    • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 9:48 AM

      I’m wondering if he did something stupid. Being in “the running” for making the team to first cut in less than a week. Maybe he simply read the speculation and half-assed it this week.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 10:49 AM

      I think for Jefferson it was an issue of lack of consistency; just too uneven. Jefferson had strong showings at times but also moments of poorer play … such instances as his poor tackling technique on Jonathan Williams’ 37 yard TD scamper in the 3rd preseason game are like the kiss of death.

    • abanig - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:56 PM

      To me, Bates has the inside track to be the Skins’ 4th OLB. He’s the most experienced OLB competing for that 4th OLB spot. He played on special teams last year and spot duty on defense and didn’t throw up all over himself. It’s hard to see where he isn’t the 4th OLB if the skins don’t sign a veteran that’s still out there like Mike Neal or O’Brien Schofield.

      The only guy I see pushing Bates of the current OLB group is Wakefield. Wakefield has a sack in each of the last two Redskins preseason games.

      Still though, I’d lean towards Bates because of his experience in our defense and on special teams if, if we don’t sign a vet like Mike Neal or Schofield.

      Personally, I want them to sign Mike Neal, and I don’t understand why we haven’t done that, given our weakness at edge pass rushing behind Kerrigan and Smith after Galette’s Achilles injury.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 3:08 PM

        This sounds like such a knee jerk couch GM thing to say, but they should have signed Dwight Freeny. The old man still has it. That was a missed opportunity.

        • abanig - Aug 28, 2016 at 3:15 PM

          I 100% agree, I wanted him also but I’d also take Mike Neal or Schofield over Bates, Trail of Wakefield. Any of the other 3 – preferably Wakefield – can go on the practice squad.

  11. Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    To answer Rich’s question: no, the first team has not received enough reps.

    Everyone who thinks “veterans don’t need reps,” or “camp and preseason games aren’t important for vets,” should pay attention to the penalties, players out of position, poor tackling (that’s a big one), dropped passes, and how out of sync this offense looks. That is what happens when coaches are soft in practice and allow vets to sit out. What’s the point in having them healthy if they’re not playing well? You just have to go out there, practice like normal, give them their reps, and hope for the best.

    • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 1:03 PM

      Disagree. They don’t need to be sharp for the 3rd preseason game. They need to be sharp for the first game but more importantly than looking sharp is winning the first game and then there is a part on the players. What was the reason for all of the dropped passes against New England last season? Soft practices? Where’s all the rhetoric about how missing OTAs was going to hinder Jackson? It’s a clear case of you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Of course they need reps but how many? 7 series on offense which finished with three TDs including a 48 second drive within the final two-minutes. Maybe they knocked the rust off.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:04 PM

        Ok. Let’s take a step back and clarify some things. Of course winning is more important than looking sharp. Of course looking sharp in the first game is more important than the 3rd preseason game. I never said otherwise. And I was personally one who said, and maintain, that Jackson should be in OTAs. But that’s more about leadership, conditioning, and making sure you’re caught up so he’s not behind when camp starts. OTAs is more about integrating new players and plays into the team than sharpening one.

        But I’m not trying to tell you a bunch of stuff you already know. Just that I don’t agree with the cautious aplroach. NFL radio came to Redskins camp on their camp tour and Pat Kirwin (who’s opinion and analysis I fully trust) kept making comments about how easy going and relaxed our camp was compared to others. He asked Norman about it vs. Ron Rovera’s camp and Norman had a hard time trying to stand up for Jay and the merits of this camp. It was obvious Norman felt the more physical camp had more value. It’s a mindset thing if nothing else. These guys looked lax and unprepared. That’s mindset. And there’s no guarantee they get it together by week 1, or week 6, or week 15 if that’s the tone set in the offseason. Neither of us know what they’ll look like week 1. We have to wait and see.

        I just don’t like the cautious approach. Injuries are going to happen. But if Ross catches that punt then Dunbar is probably not injured. Maybe Their bodies aren’t used to taking hits by week 1 and we see a rash of injuries. Being unprepared and lax causes injuries too. I’ve just seen it too many times in my own life where people went half speed in training (pre deployment work ups) and they never caught up once stuff went full speed. Carolina was one of the most physical teams in the league last year, after looking pathetic the year before, that was mindset and tone set in camp. Kirwin still said he thinks Washington has the best shot of winning the NFC East and raved about the passing game. He didn’t outright say the kinder-softer camp would hurt the team but it was obvious he was concerned. I’m not outright saying they won’t get it together by week 1 but I’m concerned. That’s all. Mindset matters. I would rather err on the side of physical than soft.

        • bangkokben - Aug 28, 2016 at 4:29 PM

          On the other hand…

          The Redskins (and other teams) have had physical camps in the past and then by the end of the season had guys completely worn down by the end of the year where there was a significant decline in player performance and attrition throughout the starting line-up.

          The NFL is like the Tour de France where it is a grind and each stage is important and builds. You can go out strong and then not finish the race. There is something about pacing a season. Whether Gruden and the Redskins have the right pace for the team being fresh in crunch time or too soft for that to even matter is certainly debatable but it isn’t always black and white.

          I know folks want instant results and instant answers and A+B+C but it usually isn’t that simple. That’s why I threw in there the DeSean Jackson backlash that was trumpeted by his critics.

          Personally, I’d like the see who we expect to be in the starting line-up BE the starting line-up come week four and the back-ups get plenty of reps in the preseason so that when their time comes they’re ready — which they were for the most part last year.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 7:29 PM

          Everyone is saying Gruden went softer this year. No doubt last year’s injuries influenced that decesion.

          There are certainly more than one or two ways to succeed in the NFL. But Norman said the Panthers had a very physical camp and they stayed relatively healthy, went 15-1, and played in the Super Bowl. So I’m not sure I buy the Tour de France comparison. Every single game matters in the NFL. Could be the difference between making the post season or not. So there’s no time to pace yourself.

          I’m really speaking less physically here and make mental. Relaxed practices lead to a lax attitude about stuff. And playing like you practice is not just a saying. It’s true. I’ve seen it too many times. I watch Hardknocks, see how relaxed Fisher is about stuff, and I KNOW why the Rams are always underachieving. Then watch “All or Nothing” and see the tone Bruce Arrians sets. He’s still buddies with the guys but he sets the damn tone around there and they were a great team last year. I have no idea how this team will look week 1. Maybe they look amazing. But I philosophically disagree with the kinder/gentler approach to violent industries. That’s how guys lose their head when it gets real. But we will see.

        • redskins12thman - Aug 29, 2016 at 4:14 AM

          I can’t comment on Redskins overall training schedule, but as far as some sessions, I see players going at it full speed. Have not seen Jackson, Norman, Breeland, etc. taking plays off.

          I know that tackling has been legislated out of most trainings, but I think there are two primary factors for injuries in games. The main factor is the athleticism — more players are stronger and faster — it’s harder for humans to withstand hits received. I used to love watching Sean Taylor play, but I was always concerned about the impact of his hits on Sean himself and potentially the player being tackled.

          The other factor is the combination of technique, equipment and rule changes. Helmets are cool, but players sometimes use them to impact or absorb hits; don’t always see players wrapping arms around waists or thighs. At the same time, the de-emphasis of hitting high to hitting low are causing knees / ligaments to be exposed. It’s tackle football, there will be injuries, I get that piece, but wish somehow there were more takedowns with shoulders around numbers and arms wrapped around the carrier’s waist.

    • Skulb - Aug 28, 2016 at 1:53 PM

      Everything is relative. Compared to the Giants first stringers, our starting offense is not out of sync.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:07 PM

        True. They looked terrible. And our guys started to look crisper. Albeit afters Buffalo pulled the starters. But it was good just to see the timing look better.

        • Skulb - Aug 28, 2016 at 4:47 PM

          I’m not sure we learned too much from this. Starters looked rusty against the Bills second string, before gradually seeming to find some rhythm, helped along by some very soft calls from the refs.
          I am particularly worried about the penalties on the line. 14-10-10 so far, on tempo for a season total of 160+ penalties, up from 112 last year. The lack of discipline/footwork is appalling right now and it must improve.
          Those are the things I learned. Whether these things mean that we’ll be blown out by the Steelers in wee one or will blow them out I have no idea.
          It would have been nice if the Bills had played their starters though.

  12. kenlinkins - Aug 28, 2016 at 12:55 PM

    Building a NFL roster seems to be much like building a good investment portfolio. You are looking to have balance of assets that either have growth, or will produce dividends, or act as insurance against down turns, and some that act as hard currency with a small amount of long shots you are taking a bigger risk on. You want to gain these before they reach their tops and never over pay or chase a asset after you have missed out of the most return. Over the long term you should be able to stay with your plan and be way ahead of the game. If I look at the guys still on the Redskins roster as assets I still see way too many “insurance” types (older vets) and too many “R” types who have not yet shown they will be good investments long term. This tells me that the Redskins roster at the end of 2014 was much worst then most of us Redskins fans understood. The Redskins are still betting on too many long shots to really make any noise in the play offs, but I do like the over all positioning that the new GM is working. He is IMO investing and not playing poker like the last few Redskins GM. Over time, the Redskins will get back to winning a few play off games in the same year, but this is not that year. HTTR, Let’s see how many long shots pan out before the GM heads back to the Draft / Free Agent market in 2017.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 5:44 PM

      While it will pay high return this season, one year Vernon Davis rental might be costly mid-term for the TE investment portfolio if Paul, Paulsen and / or Jensen stay healthy and are productive (a lot of ifs there I know). That said, McCloughan’s move to acquire Davis made sense because Paul and / or Paulsen’s injury recovery could have lasted longer.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 7:20 PM

        I’m not too worried about losing Jenses. Reality is that he wouldn’t be getting bumped around from practice squads if he was really that good. Anything can happen, he could be the next big thing, but we can’t keep everyone.

        You know I hate the idea of losing Paulsen. But the reality is that he’s simply the best blocking TE we currently have. That doesn’t make him irreplaceable. He’s not the future in the sense that he’s not 21 years old. He should a serviceable guy for the next couple years but it shouldn’t be too hard to draft s better TE.

        Where your absolutely correct is that I don’t think we can afford to draft TEs right now. I know some are very optimistic about where this team is, but I think there a couple more drafts from being legit playoff contenders every year. We need at least 1 more starting offensive tackle. That’s a high draft pick. We need a starting DE and DT (maybe two DTs and two DEs depending on if Baker is resigned) that’s at least two high draft picks. Probably a better RB. That’s a 4th-5th. We probably need to draft Hall’s replacement. I’ll call that a 2nd-3rd. We desperately need another high quality edge rusher. 1st or 2nd. Maybe a new starting Center and LG. I’ll call that a 2nd-4th. Depending on Stork of course. If both Garcon and DJax leave then we will probably need a new #2 receiver. 2nd-3rd rounder. Where are we going to draft a TE with needs like this? We can’t sign all premium players in free agency and resign our own (especially Cousins). We will have to hit on some later round guys of course but I’m not going to count on it.

        For the immediate future we need a RT, a DE/DT hybrid player, and a OLB. And good TEs are getting hard to find coming out of college. You’ll use a high pick on one ready to start. I hope they think about that before they let Paulsen walk to keep 7 or 8 DLinemen.

        • redskins12thman - Aug 29, 2016 at 4:23 AM

          I don’t feel as if Kouandjio or Ioannidis can contribute to Redskins now (maybe later), whereas Paulsen could definitely do so; as a result I think we should take Paulsen’s service for the next couple years since he’s been able to come back from the season ending injury.

          Last year, we were told that one of the main reasons the running game was ineffective was because we didn’t have TEs that could run block…. so now, we voluntarily let go our best run blocking TE? I’d rather take the chance of trying to put Kouandijo on practice squad since he’s been unable to challenge for starting LG spot when that need has been there for the taking for almost a year.

    • winningfootballblog - Aug 28, 2016 at 10:52 PM

      you might try small paragraphs instead of one long letter….

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 1:18 AM

        I’ll take that into consideration.

  13. abanig - Aug 28, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    I think it’s become painfully obvious over the last year that we can’t have Spencer Long as our starting LG at this point in his development. He makes both mental mistakes and physical mistakes throughout the course of each game. He was responsible for Kirk getting hit 3 times on Friday night. Many times fans see Kirk get pressure of get hit and they just assume, oh that’s Kory Lichtensteiger again because he’s not over 300 pounds but many timed it’s either Long of Scherff who gave missed a block, or made a mistake in their assignment.

    This is by no means to say that Kory shouldn’t be replaced when Stork learns the offense and is ready to go but I lied to get the facts straight before jumping to conclusions about our interior OL play. It’s the guards that Jeff Bostic told Cooley he thought were soft. Cooley didn’t mention anything about Bostic saying that in relation to Kory.

    I have 2 examples of Long being the problem and some fans thought it was Kory’s mistake. On Kory’s first holding call early on in the first quarter, Long for some reason didn’t block the RDT/DE right infront of him and went to go double team/protect the indside of Trent Williams going against the Bills RDE/ROLB. The DT wasn’t touched until Kory realized he was running right past him and had to hold him to protect Cousins from getting rocked by the DT. To me, this was on Long, and Trevor Matich pointed that out after the game on Redskins post game on CSN.

    Then, there were other times when off lineman were getting pushed back in the run game or in pass protection. Kory usually gets the balme by fans in these occasions because they assume it’s Kory but when you watch the replay or rewind the play and focus on the interior OL, it’s usually either Long, Scherff or Lauvao who the DT is pushing back or blowing by. Another example was once when Scherff who got bowled over by Lorenzo Alexander on a Bills DL stunt and Zo got a hit on Cousins. This was with 5:59 left in the first half on the Cousins incompletion to Garcon and yes, Garçon Should have caught the ball.

    Again, not saying Kory isn’t an issue either, but LG is by far the Redskins biggest issue on the OL. To me, it’s a no brainier to start Lauvao over Long at LG. I believe most of what Lauvao is working off is rust – especially in pass protection – where what Long is making mistakes on are both mental mistakes and physical mistakes or limitations at this point in Long’s career.

    Lastly, we can go to the facts of how our running game last year went from averaging 4.85 ypc in weeks 1 and 2 with Lauvao at starting LG and C and averaging 4.2 ypc in 2014 with those two starting at LG and C to averaging 3.7 ypc for the season in 2015 in the end. When Long took over at LG last year, our running game immediately got worse, then Leribeus took over for Kory and it got even worse again. I can’t figure out the averages – I’m no mathematician – but I believe the redskins lost about a yard per carry when Lauvao went out for the year last year and then another yard per carry when Kory went out for the year for the final 11 games of the season. Then, when Kory returned for the playoff game vs the Packers, our running game got better. Vs the packers Mortis’ ypc was 4.5 which was about a yard more per carry than what he had averaged in the regular season since week 3 when Lauvao and then Kory went down in the regular season.

    • redskins12thman - Aug 28, 2016 at 9:34 PM

      Of the pre-season performances, I am most concerned about the offensive line, the running backs and the return game.

      In terms of evaluating OL, I only catch the obvious components (e.g., penalties committed, strong and weak blocking, player mobility, etc.), and not the finer aspects of these positions including who is better overall at mechanics. I was surprised when Charley Casserly recently said that Long was a better center than Lichtensteiger. I’ve heard more frequently that Lauvao is a better guard than Long and, recently, that Long made some mistakes that led to Lichtensteiger’s holding penalties in the Bills game. I don’t know what, if any of this, I should believe in, not that any of these statements are mutually exclusive.

      I just yearn for 1. Stork to be healthy and to quickly end the debate about the team’s best center, 2. have one left guard step forward as the clear number one (given how long Long has held onto the most first team reps it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the coaching staff doesn’t believe it’s him although I’ve always believed in your stats above to think Lauvao is better if healthy / in shape) and 3. have Moses return to last year’s form if not better.

      The amount of offensive line penalties in the Bills game was unacceptable and really troubling — the third bad performance in a row and this time with all starters on the field.

      • Trey Gregory - Aug 28, 2016 at 9:50 PM

        I’ll say this. Preseason games are frequently sloppy compared to regular games. They’re getting out all the sloppy and getting back on track. Just about every team goes through that. If it makes you feel any better.

        As far as the rest of what you said. Some of this stuff is opinion. What Charlie likes in a center may be different than McCloughan or someone else. But I saw at least two plays where Long blew his assignment, Kory tried to bail him out, couldn’t, and looked bad for it. Then there were other plays where Kory should have done better. There’s probably a little bit of truth to everything you’ve heard.

      • abanig - Aug 30, 2016 at 5:00 AM

        I value some other analysts a lot more than Charley Casserly. I know many Redskins fans think Casserly is like a god for how he helped build our last super bowl winner but what has the guy done since?

        He managed to totally screw up almost every Redskins draft pick in the 90s until he drafted Bailey and Jansen in 99.

        Other than that he’ll forever be remembered by me as the guy who drafted Desmond Howard, Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook, Andre Johnson (yeah who? He was cut as a 1st round pick) and Tom Carter. Then, he traded away Stan Humphries, traded the 6th overall pick for Sean Gilbert, signed Dana Stubifield and traded a 1st and a 3rd for Dana Wilkinson.

        To me, that’s a lot of screw ups in a decade. I realize he was a better GM than Cerrato but when you analyze what he did from the 92 draft until the 99 draft, with the exception of a handful of moves, he totally botched the entire decade.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 30, 2016 at 5:45 AM

          All good points. I like Charlie for what he does now. Being an TV analysts/personality works for him. And, in that capacity, he’s better than a lot. He brings actual front office experience and insight. But he also says a lot of stuff for entertainment purposes only. He will clearly hype up a player or team because that’s what the segment calls for. I take everything he says with a grain of salt. He dos, however, have a lot of splaining to do over his last few years on the job. Maybe some interference from Snyder, but not all.

          That being said, the reality is that not all GMs, coaches, scouts, etc. etc., share the same opinion of players or look for the same things in players. I have to seriously question if Charlie actually believes Long is a better center than Kory. But maybe he values size THAT much. I don’t know.

          My captain obvious point is this isn’t an exact science. There’s isn’t a formula. If there was then computers could do the job or a bunch of guys like us would get paid $10 an hour to do it. It’s nuanced and relative to what vision a particular team has for the system it’s running at the moment.

          I think Kory is a fine center. He’s basically non descript. Not good but not bad. Just adequate. But he is smart and very athletic. We do still run some zone and brains are probably the most important quality in a center, not size. I agree that center is a need but only because of Kory’s age and his injury last year. This may be his last season. His play has started to decline, but, as long as he’s healthy we’re fine at center. Not great, but not bad. Just fine.

      • abanig - Aug 30, 2016 at 5:26 AM

        In the trade for Sean Gilbert, the skins lost the chance to draft several pro bowlers with the 6th pick in the 1996 draft like Willie Anderson, Terry Glenn, Eric Molds, Jeff Hartings and Eddie George and Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Marvin Harrison.

        I’ll also add that Casserly panicked after losing Trent Green because the sale of the skins in 99 messed up Redskins free agency so he traded a first, a future second, and a third-round draft pick for Brad Johnson in 99.

        Yes, Johnson was awesome in 99 but all in all the skins did not get a good return back for those 3 draft picks mainly because of Dan Snyder not wanting Johnson as the long term QB but still, 3 draft picks lost there for the skins in that trade.

  14. winningfootballblog - Aug 28, 2016 at 10:49 PM

    the Steelers are favored because they have more discipline than the Skins. Its one reason they win so often. The Redskins have some coaching deficiencies including special teams, but those 34 penalties in 3 preseason games is a better example.

    There is no way to be Pittsburgh when you average over 10 penalties per game, especially holding calls. And by the way, the only reason Morgan Moses and Lickensteiger are holding is because they are getting beat. Moses has slow feet and cannot handle speed rushers and Kory is lighter and smaller than most centers and cannot handle strong D. tackles…which is a strength in Pittsburgh. The Redskins are in trouble on MNF because of their offensive line.

    • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 1:14 AM

      I don’t know that the Steelers are the favorite only because they’re more disciplined. It could be because they have a HOF QB, the best WR in the game, a very good run game (even without bell), and probably would have at least been in the AFC championship last year if not for injuries. As in, they’re just a better team at the moment.

      At least you’re right about Moses though.

      • redskins12thman - Aug 29, 2016 at 4:33 AM

        Trey, you summed up, on another post, all the potential factors as to why Moses may have regressed; I just hope this gets resolved quickly.

        You would think Callahan would have been able to diagnose the root cause(s) and helped Moses address it/(them) more by this point in off-season training. It’s frustrating and particularly worrisome with the season opener in a fortnight.

        If Nsekhe is playing better than Moses, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the switch. We need to start off the season strong. It this keeps up, RT will become a top upgrade priority.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 29, 2016 at 12:36 PM

          I’m sure Callahan is very well aware of what’s going on. But maybe Moses is incapable of fixing it. Or maybe he was hung over for…3…. preseason games and has looked better in practice. I don’t know. But we’ll find out soon.

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