John: Thanks for your insight into the game and the team. To what extent do players follow the media / newspaper coverage of the team? When you interview a player, do you assume he is current with your coverage of him and the team?
Andrew: Most players say they don’t read articles; in my experience, most players do read the articles. I think some genuinely do not, but the majority I assume likely do. I assume most have an idea of what I’ve written about them, but you never know. But if it was a negative one, I obviously wonder if they’ve seen it. However, I can say that most players remain professional as long as you’re fair. I think most, if they read me, know that I will point out good and bad and don’t take personal shots.
John: 1) How much can the Pro coaches trust the College coaches to give them an accurate critique of their players? Probably depends on the relationship between the 2 coaches. I would think the College coach would not want to be too critical.
Chris: What I’ve always been told by personnel guys is that it’s best to ask college coaches during the season because they tend to be more honest. In the offseason, they’re trying to help their players out more by perhaps fudging the truth a little bit. And, yes, it always depends on relationships — as much with the scouts and college coaches as anything. That’s a key. I also think if you’re around long enough you start to learn who tells the truth and who doesn’t.
John: I know this is in the future, but am I wrong in thinking the read-option will be a deadly hurry-up 2 minute offense once RG3 has fully developed his pocket passing skills? Also can’t wait to see Roy Helu in the pistol in the Banks’ role with RG3 and Morris.
Chris: Yes, you are right in your thinking. The offense eventually will evolve into a hurry-up pistol attack. I think it’s more about young players being able to process information fast enough to run it this way. Yeah, someone with Helu’s ability would do well in certain roles with this offense, particularly on third downs. Defenses lose sight of so many players in this offense that if you lose a guy with his speed it’ll result in trouble.
John: Safety seems to be the team’s weak spot and most vulnerable unit in the upcoming game. M. Williams I recall reading is supposed to be a smart player but to my eyes that doesn’t always play out on game day. It seems at times easy for quarterbacks to misdirect him with their eyes or via play fakes where in turn he takes the wrong first step and gets out of position and he doesn’t have the catch up speed to make up that lost ground. Reed Doughty plays decently close to the box, plays smarter than the other safeties on the roster and is less likely to be fooled, but he doesn’t have the athletic ability to play well in coverage. Pugh has OK coverage skills, has the reputation of being smart but is better playing close to the box. Gomes is better playing close to the box though doesn’t make his presence known much or bring any fear factor and struggles in coverage. And considering neither Riley or Fletcher is good in coverage — this all makes TEs an absolute nightmare matchup for this team and for that matter the task of stopping elite WRs where you need double coverage help . Do you agree or have a different take on this?
Mike: For the most part I agree with your assessment. They definitely need a safety with speed who can help in coverage. I would like to have seen how Jordan Bernstine progressed this season, but with his knee injury I don’t know when he’ll be ready to help.
John: I am not sure if I have my stats wrong or not. If the Redskins lose on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys (they won’t), wouldn’t the two teams be tied? They would have the same overall W-L (9-7) and the same Divisional record of (4-2). Why would the Cowboys be named NFC East Champions? What else goes into play to break this tie breaker? I have been looking all over to find an answer to this question but I have not found anything.
Jacob: The first tiebreak for division teams is head-to-head followed by division record. But they would still be tied after that so the third tiebreaker is record vs. common opponents. Dallas is 9-3 in those games; the Redskins are 7-5.
John: Thanks for the great coverage. Haslett has gotten a lot more praise lately for running a good scheme to cover deficiencies in talent. Have there been any young guys in the secondary that have exceeded expectations and could become solid starters? I like Richard Crawford a lot, but is he gonna cut it as a starter, or is he more of a return weapon?
Keep up the great work!
Don Nelson, Roseville CA
Don: Thank you. Haslett has his critics, but it’s hard to say he hasn’t made it work during the win streak. He’s had to be more creative and aggressive to produce any pressure and to cover up flaws. As for your question, I haven’t seen any young DBs who I think will become starters. In fairness, we did not see Bernstine enough. While I like Crawford as far as being a smart player – he could be a future coach – he does have limitations so I think he’ll have to develop into a special teams/reserve corner role. It’s telling to me that they promoted D.J. Johnson from the practice squad and then played him before Crawford. But he’s shown he can help as a punt returner. He needs to help more in coverage, too.
John: Is the 18 million dollar cap penalty for next season still being contested? Or did the skins throw in the towel? They are getting screwed and sure could use that cap room to shore up the defensive backfield or o line.
Joseph: It’s been reported that they are still trying to appeal the penalty. I have not talked to anyone lately to see what chance they have of winning. Nor do people know when the appeal process would even be complete in time to help them this offseason.
John: As always, thanks for the great work. RGIII’s mobility at Philadelphia was clearly affected by his knee injury. In a worst case scenario, in which he does not heal at all, and is as (im)mobile vs Dallas as he was at Philadelphia, can the Redskins score enough points to win? My fear is that the number that was enough against Foles & Co will not be enough against Romo & Co.
Have the Redskins ever played a bigger / more important regular season game?
How surprised are you that LaRon Landry made the Pro Bowl? It seems he could not stay on the field the previous two seasons. Any sense of what may have happened to improve his health? Anything the Redskins could have done or foreseen?
Bonus question: How much importance do you place on the Pro Bowl? I’m inclined to question seriously anything that involves a fan vote that will naturally favor players playing in larger markets.
Andrew from Vienna, Virginia
Andrew: Thanks. It wasn’t as if Griffin was a statue vs. the Eagles; they just only called one designed run. But he was able to move in the pocket, which is what he’ll need to do vs. the Cowboys. The Redskins know this. I think they’ll need to score a little more than they did last week. My guess is he will be able to do more.
Ever played a bigger regular season game? They had some big regular season games in the 1970s and ‘80s, but this is certainly the biggest one they’ve played since moving to FedEx Field in 1997.
Nobody ever doubted Landry’s talent, just his ability to stay healthy. It wasn’t just one or two people, either. I know Landry remains upset about how the Redskins medical staff handled his situation.
The fan vote favors popular players, period. But they only have one-third of the vote. I’ve seen players vote and they don’t always know who else is playing well around the league. They know who they’ve played, but sometimes that’s about it. So I don’t put a ton of stock into it because we’ve all seen players get there who probably shouldn’t. It’s the same with every league’s all-star game. However, I like when players such as Lorenzo Alexander get in because you know it’s well-deserved.
John: Where has Aldrick Robinson been the last three weeks?
@all_up_in_ya71: He plays between 5-10 snaps a game, but as Pierre Garcon’s reps increase, Robinson’s decrease since they both play the X position. It’s as simple as that. Also, Leonard Hankerson is a better all-around receiver at this point.
John: what do you think of the #redskins drafting the honey badger putting him in between Fletcher and RG3 in locker room to mentor.
@big123mc: Depends what round they take him in. His addictions and demons are too big for teammates to conquer. If you’ve read his story and family history, he needs serious help by trained professionals to overcome his issues. I just don’t think you’ll be able to rely on a guy like Badger. Yeah, he has talent but you need more than that to succeed in the NFL.
John: Regardless of this week’s outcome, are the Redskins clear favorites to win the NFC East next season?
@kirbygee: I think many will pick them to win, yes, and clearly it would be a legitimate pick regardless of what happens Sunday. But what if the Redskins lose Sunday and Dallas goes on to win the Super Bowl? (Sorry, didn’t mean for everyone to scream right now). And then the Cowboys add to their talent base? Then they would certainly be heavy in that discussion. But let’s see what happens in free agency and the draft first. Last year at this time the Redskins were a consensus last-place pick.
John: Do you offer Fred Davis a three year deal or let him walk?
@icemanva: I would sign him. I don’t see any reason to let him walk. Yes, Logan Paulsen has done a fine job but it’s not like he’s a budding Pro Bowler or game changer. He’s a good blocker who can catch a pass – he has 10 catches in the last six games. Davis scares defenses. Pair him with a healthy Pierre Garcon and this offense would be more dynamic.
John: who you got and why? We haven’t got to QB all year, weak 2ndary.
@Dr_Get_Right: I like the Redskins in this one, 30-28. The Redskins’ defense concerns me in this game, but Dallas’ defense has plenty of holes because of injuries. The Redskins’ offense forces you to play disciplined and I thought Dallas struggled with this in the first game. Now they’re missing some players who faced Washington the first time. I have a hard time believing their backups will handle this O better. If Griffin is healthier, then that will make a big difference.
John: My only concern is RG3′s mobility. The entire offense depends on it. Do you really think he is healthy enough to win on Sunday?
@thefarobd: Yes, I do. He was mobile enough to move around in the pocket vs. the Eagles and that’ll be big Sunday. He did not have the same explosiveness, but all he has to do is be a threat to run. If he shows early on that he is, then the rest of the offense opens up. He only carried seven times for 29 yards in the opener yet the offense exploded (for one quarter at least). They just have to make the edge rushers believe he’s a threat so they don’t just crash hard on Alfred Morris. Those zone read pass fakes would then work even more (as they did enough last week). It helps that DeMarcus Ware is banged up too, which should impact the Cowboys’ rush.