John: Thanks for all your hard work; I read every word, and regularly forward your content to other Redskins fans. At this point in the season, which single loss of a player would most devastate the Redskins (excluding RG III and Alfred Morris, if you consider him #2 most critical player)? I feel as if we have not seen much of the second string offensive linemen; is there a particular starter in that unit, whose loss would seriously disrupt the rhythm/balance/versatility the offense is currently displaying?
Andrew: Thank you… Boy, one player? Tough. Trent Williams always is tough to replace because of his unique ability at that position. The Redskins tap into his athleticism and it’s a crucial part of the stretch zone. But they’ve even pulled him to the right on occasion. And his blocking in space is major. If anything happened to Will Montgomery, they don’t have another player who has started at center in the NFL and his absence would necessitate a second move if one of the guards shifted to center. And snapping in the pistol, then having to run block, is not an easy adjustment. So while Williams would disrupt the play-calling, losing Montgomery might trigger more issues. Losing Pierre Garcon would be huge: They’re 5-1 with him; 1-5 without him. Losing Stephen Bowen or Barry Cofield would be big. There’s not another all-around outside linebacker if something happened to Ryan Kerrigan.
Hello John: As always you do an excellent job covering the Redskins. Hopefully you will cover games for us until February. Is it me or does it seem like the great London Fletcher is late to get his head around on pass plays? It always looks like he is in great position, and then I watch the ball sail past his ear with no reaction until the pass is caught. Also, what do you make of Kerrigan’s struggles? Should the redskins find a “sack specialist” like Bruce Smith or Charles Mann to help teach a few new moves?
Jevon: Thank you… They play games after December/early January? Since when? … They rushed from a down position; Kerrigan is upright so if he talks to someone it has to be a player who is doing the same thing and someone who has a similar game. Kerrigan has been more effective when he’s rushing inside or from various angles. His best rushes Monday came when he went inside. He’s a good, but not great, pass rusher; he’s an effort player with a ceiling so that means he’ll have lulls in his game when it comes to pressure. Losing Orakpo hurts him because teams will pay a little more attention to him. Also, Kerrigan is terrific at getting off his man for a sack after others have forced the QB into a bad spot. Heck, Stephen Bowen only has one sack. But he’s applied consistent pressure. Everyone feels the loss of Rak. As for Fletcher, yeah there have been a couple times when he hasn’t gotten his head around in time. But I think a big issue this season for him is his height. One reason they don’t like small corners in the slot is because it’s easy to throw over the top down the middle. The same would then hold true for a 5-foot-9 linebacker covering a 6-foot-6 tight end.
Hey John: Thanks for the insight as always. Who’s a young player you would tag that has improved alot from either the beginning of the season or from last year. I had hoped to see some improvement from Gomes, and maybe he would make your list. Also – do you expect any new starters on the OL next year? I know we’ve been better, and Griff helps with his speed, but I know LG and RT have been weak. I’d love to see Compton and Gettis/LeRibeus. Speaking of – do you get to see much of them in practice? We haven’t had to see them yet cause we’ve stayed healthy (knock on wood) but in hindsight obviously talented DBs in those slots would have helped immediately.
Zack: Logan Paulsen has made strides. Much more consistent as a blocker than a year ago when you’d see a good quarter followed by a rough one. Paulsen doesn’t really scare defenses as a receiver, but he’s shown he can hurt them and the Redskins’ offense makes it easy for a defense to lose him. Gomes has some talent, but I haven’t seen great strides. Remember, he’s still learning that position and the angles, etc. In the other young players, I haven’t seen anyone jump out other than an occasional flash. I thought Leonard Hankerson had improved as a blocker, but I’ve seen more inconsistency there of late. I’ve seen improvement in Perry Riley, but he still struggles in zone coverage. I have not seen the three young linemen since the summer, but I will be writing about them soon (perhaps in next week’s email report). Way too early for the hindsight game. They took two defensive backs in the draft and one got hurt while another one will be playing more. Not sure how many DBs you want in one draft.
When you draft linemen in lower rounds, you don’t expect instant success. We’ll know more about them in a year or two. As for new starters on the line, I have a hunch we’ll see one. They drafted LeRibeus in the third round for a reason and right now he projects to guard. If Kory Lichtensteiger doesn’t re-sign (or if they don’t want him back, trying to save a few bucks), then there’s one change. There’s always talk about another right tackle, too (Tyler Polumbus has improved, but enough for them to not look at others?). But they might not be able to do a whole lot in free agency.
Hey John: First, going forward, who do you have REMAINING on the team in the secondary? 1) I’m not sure what happened to Wilson, but I don’t remember him being this inconsistent last year. 2) I’m ready for us to dump the dead weight from around our necks that is DeAngelo Hall. 3)Tanard Jackson is gone. 4) Can’t rely on Merriweather based on those knees. 5) Gomes doesn’t seem to be progressing and 6) As for Doughty, see #2.
This is going to be a big retooling process! I, for one, hope Jarius Byrd can be part of the solution in the offseason.
Speaking of which, with Griffin out, any take on what we should expect from Crawford for the remainder of the season?
Okay, one last thing. Is there any concern that Rob Jackson has had more of an “impact” recently than Kerrigan? This, to me, illustrates just how desperate we are at pass rush (and that’s WITH Orakpo). Offseason needs has to be pass rusher as well.
Aaron: Man, getting your money’s worth on the questions. I’d expect Wilson back; he’s a No. 2 corner being asked to often cover the other team’s best receiver. That equals inconsistency. Getting rid of Hall would save them money, which they need. They need an upgrade at corner, but if they don’t find one then you can’t get rid of Hall. Agree on Tanard. I bring Meriweather back (until this year, he had no problems with his knees). The coaches like Doughty: good backup because he knows what he’s doing and can help on special teams. Gomes also is good on special teams. Don’t forget, they also have Jordan Bernstine on IR. I like what I saw of him late in training camp and the preseason. I like Byrd; a ballhawking safety is something they absolutely need. But the Bills have reportedly started talking about a new contract with him.
As for any concern, I don’t know about that. Jackson had a couple good rushes the other night (though he was unblocked on the sack), but Kerrigan had a couple as well (the sack doesn’t happen without him collapsing the pocket). Jackson has been inconsistent in this role. I’ll be curious if he gets more chances to rush down the stretch. That said, Kerrigan has not had a big impact. But keep in mind that he’s a player who feasts when others push the pocket or chase the QB up. Haven’t seen enough of that lately. But I have been surprised that he hasn’t been more effective off the edge; his pressures typically come rushing inside anymore. He’s drawn more double teams of late, but he’s not winning enough one-on-ones against tackles. It’ll be tough to address what they need on defense in free agency. In a 3-4, your rush needs to come from the outside linebackers so they’ll need Orakpo and Kerrigan to have good years. I think one guy who must step up as a rusher is Jarvis Jenkins.
John: I mostly like the way Mike Shanahan has coached but one aspect where in my opinion he has struggled and that is clock management - the timeout he took last game towards the end of the 2nd half gave the Giants a chance to score again. Generally in the waning moments in tight games, teams save their timeouts for when their defense is on the field but Shanny at times burns his time outs on offense in those situations. He’s willing to go for risky challenges that often results in lost time outs. He often doesn’t go in hurry up mode when they are down scores late. I watch for example a lot of Giants games and Coughlin for example religiously conserves his timeouts and he isn’t critiqued for clock management issues, etc. When it comes to clock management, I would say it’s not one of Shanahan’s strengths, do you agree?
Mike: Well, the Giants sure could have used the time out they took early in the third quarter Monday. They did a good job conserving them in the first half (but the Redskins did not use a time out until their last drive of the half, either). I see a lot of teams needing to take time outs at different points of a half. It’s sometimes tough to conserve them all. Heck, it was worse under Joe Gibbs. On the time out Monday, I didn’t have an issue with it at all – you have a rookie QB, albeit a smart one having a great year; you need to make sure you don’t make a mistake with the ball, etc. because they absolutely needed points and clearly wanted to throw to the end zone; remind the kid what to do if nothing is open.
But in just watching it again I wonder why they didn’t let a little more time run off first (it occurred three seconds after the previous play ended). That’s something I wish I had asked Shanahan about this week, but it wasn’t a focal point at all and I really didn’t think about it until answering this question. However, the mistake on that series was Garcon going out of bounds on the ensuing play. They could have run another 30 seconds of clock had he stayed in bounds and that would have prevented a last-minute drive by the Giants. So that was the major blunder. To really answer the clock management question, however, I’d have to do some serious research.
Hi John: With RGlll, Alfred Morris and Kai Forbath we have a strong foundation. Without Forbath’s only field goal we probably loose to the Giants. How many kickers in the past have we watched miss a short field goal like that? I love how RGlll is exorcising so many Redskin’s demons. Redskins win for the first time on Thanksgiving in Dallas, Redskins finally win a Monday night game and Redskins finally have a home winning streak. RGlll may finally create some mystique in FedEx field. The one thing I remember about Shanahan’s Broncos with Elway at quarterback was that weird things would happen, especially at home, to help them win (RGlll’s fumble to Josh Morgan??) Finally, should Alfred Morris be a serious contender for rookie of the year?? I say this because I think RGlll has made a strong case to be the NFL mvp!
JKC: Griffin provides them hope, something they haven’t had in a long time at that position. Actually, it’s more than hope as a belief emanates from his presence. It’s impressive and unusual. Yes, weird things happened at Mile High. But weird things happen to opponents when you’re a good team. Morris should be considered, but he trails the quarterbacks in this race. The NFL MVP right now is likely Peyton Manning. Will be tough to unseat, though if the Redskins somehow reach the postseason then Griffin must be considered. What Manning has done is remarkable, but there was a lot of talent around him when he arrived. If everyone knew Manning would stay healthy, then you could predict what the Broncos have done. If the Redskins reach the postseason, few would have predicted that outcome, save for optimistic fans.
From: jeremy @jrfriedm
@john_keim what are the chances that the secondary can hold teams enough to win last 4 games till Griffin comes back?
Jeremy: They went 1-2 without him earlier this season, but I can’t say his absence was the main reason for the losses. It will be difficult as the next four teams do like to throw the ball so a third corner will be needed (and missed). Really, it’s not about the secondary holding on it’s about the pressure increasing. That’s the only way the DBs will have a shot. This weekend will be interesting; the Redskins could have used Griffin’s physical style, especially against a receiver such as Anquan Boldin.
@john_keim John, after Pierre, who do you think can really become the solid #2 receiver? Is Hank’s window closing? Thanks for your work.
Matt: Hankerson’s window is far from closing. He missed most of his rookie season because of injury and is still developing. I will say, I’m not confident that he’ll become that solid No. 2 receiver they need. I don’t see him getting the consistent separation you need to become that player. But he does have big-play potential as we’ve seen, so a 40-catch season is doable. For the time being, Joshua Morgan will be their No. 2 receiver. If they re-sign Fred Davis, pair him with Garcon then find a third-down back – maybe if Roy Helu is healthy – and pair them with a QB who will improve, then you have the makings of a strong passing game.
@john_keim what do you think of the o-line that were drafted in this past draft like Tom Compton. Any hope of them turning into starters?
John: It’s hard to say because we only saw them in their first month or so of NFL action. And in each case – Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Compton – they had a lot to learn. But that’s to be expected. Until we see them play again, to see how they’ve improved, it’s tough to project. We don’t see practices, aside from drills (and occasional one-on-one’s with the OL and DL).
You’d have to be disappointed if at least one of them does not develop into a starter. Considering LeRibeus was a third-round pick, he should ascend to that level. He looked lost this summer at times, but I’ve heard he’s improved a great deal in his knowledge of the offense. Compton needed to add strength and he has, so I’ll be curious to see him next summer. Gettis needs to learn how to anchor better. Long way to go with each one. I’d say the good thing for Washington is that each of them hasn’t yet been needed.
@john_keim What do you think of Richard Crawford, future etc…? He looked really good in the preseason then struggled as nickel corner.
Dustin: I like Crawford, but not as a future starter. I wish he were bigger (he’s listed at 5-foot-11, but that seems generous) because I like his other skills. He’s quick and patient at the line. He struggled in the nickel for a good reason: He played on the outside in college and moving inside in the NFL is difficult. There’s a lot to know inside and it was too much to ask of him. But Crawford is a smart player capable of contributing.
@john_keim does Rob Jackson deserve starting ROLB spot?
Reginald: For this season? Yes. He’s their best outside linebacker aside from Ryan Kerrigan at this point. But in the future with this team? No way. Brian Orakpo is a better player – can do more things and is a more varied rusher. Orakpo can line up in more spots and works well with Stephen Bowen on stunts, for example. That’s a missing part of this D.