The Washington Examiner’s John Keim (JK) takes questions from fans about his future with the Washington Post (starting July 1), the defensive backfield, rookie potential and more in this installment of “Redskins Mailbag.” It’ll be his final mailbag before joining the Post in July. It was rather long so we broke this one up into two parts. Thank you for the questions
Q: Will your always-appreciated mailbag continue when you journey on to the Washington Post? Will you and Mike Jones compete to see who can out-mailbag the other?
JK: If you’ve seen Mike lately you would know I won’t outfight him for anything. He’s been working out all offseason. He’s a lineman; I’m a skill player. Haha. Mike will continue to do the mailbag; he does a good job and solicits help if there’s a topic he knows might be best suited for myself or Mark Maske. I will have plenty to keep me busy writing articles I hope you’ll enjoy.
Q: Sad to see that the newsletter will not be published going forward, it is great stuff. Will you be launching another one?
JK: I can’t say definitively there will be one, but it looks promising. Regardless, the information that I included in the newsletter for the Examiner will be part of my coverage –newsletter or no newsletter. It’s the sort of information I like to dig out and it will be part of our overall coverage, no matter how it’s billed.
Q: I’m curious how the responsibilities are going to be split up at the Post after you start work. Maybe that hasn’t been determined, yet.
JK: I will focus heavily on analysis and help Mike Jones and Mark Maske in various ways, with news, etc. Not much will change for Mike and Mark, aside from handing over any analysis duties (observations, etc.) to me. The great part about this is it will free us all up to spend more time on our strengths (as in, more time for interviews for a particular story, etc.), which will enhance the product.
Q: What do you see as EJ Biggers role this year? liked him with Tampa, but seems like the CB spot is filled with average players
JK: He was OK in Tampa last year (had a decent game vs. Washington), but was viewed as nothing more than a third or fourth corner. He’s the same guy here. But if he’s your fourth corner you’re doing well. He’s not going to beat out DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson is entrenched, too. If anyone unseats those two eventually it’ll be David Amerson, but it’s tough to see that happening this year if all stay healthy. So it’ll come down to Amerson and Biggers for the No. 3 job. I need to see Amerson in live game action to see what lessons he learned from his last year in college before determining who has an edge in that race. But the depth is better than in 2012.
Q: Is there still a chance at getting Eric Winston for the RT spot?
JK: Doesn’t seem likely, though I haven’t spoken to anyone about him in a while. I find it curious that Winston remains unsigned. The Redskins’ cap situation remains tight, they signed two veterans (whether or not they can still help is unknown right now) and they have Tom Compton to groom. If Compton makes strides they’ll be OK here eventually. The line – heck, the entire offense — is helped tremendously by the scheme. The zone read fakes buy time in the pocket; the stretch zone means you don’t have to drive guys, you just have to obstruct and hold your ground a little. There’s talent involved, especially in opening backside alleys, but I don’t think their season hinges on the starting right tackle.
Q: Redskins were one of the most penalized teams last year. What are they doing to correct this? Anything?
JK: There’s not a whole lot you can do right now other than keep preaching the importance of discipline. Sounds as if that’s what they’ve done. The Redskins committed 132 penalties last season, but in Mike Shanahan’s first two years they had 99 and 101, respectively. I know when Shanahan was asked about it last season he was confident it would turn around because his teams usually do well in this area. But it never did turn around.
Q: Impact of each rookie in’13? Each seems to already have the potential to make this squad better
JK: Every rookie in May seems to have the potential to help. Two years ago I had people telling me the 2011 draft would yield maybe eight starters, an absurdly high amount. The Redskins have more depth, which means they won’t need the same instant contributions from the rookies that they might have needed two years ago or even last year. I do think a few can help, like David Amerson and one or two of the safeties, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. I like Jordan Reed, but I think there will be some adjustment. I like Chris Thompson, but durability and size are big concerns. If healthy Thompson will provide something they lack: an explosive back. I liked Brandon Jenkins’ 2010 tape more than in 2011; looked leaner and faster and he’s dropped weight to get back to his ’10 weight. But is there really a spot for him? Only on special teams right now. And if the other backs are healthy Jawan Jamison will have a tough challenge. Could be a practice squad guy. So I think there’s potential, but I like to see how things unfold. Don’t like rash judgments with rookies.
Q: Do you think it will be a good idea for RG3 to play at least one preseason game to make sure his knee holds up after game action
JK: Yes, I do. But for reasons other than just that. It’s more to get a little game action vs. someone else before the season starts. I think they’ll know how his knee is holding up after a string of practices. If he just goes and plays a couple series and doesn’t run their true offense, they might not truly know how his knee will hold up. Remember the differences in what we saw last summer and what we saw once the season began? There will be tests – fleeing the pocket vs. Chicago, for example. But he’ll get some of those in practice too.
Q: Anything that makes you think tom compton can make a push at RT this year?
JK: Not yet. All I know is they like him and he’s worked on increasing his strength, a major drawback last year. Could he have fixed all his issues in one offseason? That’s a lot to ask of someone who spent 13 weeks on the practice squad. Still think he factors in their future – he also has worked a lot at left tackle this spring — but let’s see how he fares this summer. It’s why I love the one-on-one drills with linemen. They’re geared for D-linemen to succeed, but it can be eye-opening if an O-linemen consistently wins or loses.
Q: I haven’t read much about Hankerson, how’s he looking so far. Have you noticed improvements in his routes & concentration?
MJ TWISI @MJ_TWISI
JK: Right now receivers tend to look good. There’s no contact. I also expect a guy in his third year with talent to look good in May. Let’s see when the games begin in August. But Hankerson has looked solid. His focus improved last year, though he still dropped passes (like in the playoff game to Seattle) and short-armed a couple others. Hankerson could develop into a solid No. 3 receiver (some of the coaches think he can be a No. 2). I don’t like his feet in the open field, when trying to shake a defender after the catch. But he was good in and out of breaks; saw him create some separation in those cases. The bulk of his catches came vs. zone coverage, but his routes were fine.
Q: 1) Has Kai’s distance improved on kickoffs 2) Are Rak and Kerrigan working on new pass rush moves?
JK: 1) Don’t know. That’s a better question for training camp. 2) I haven’t asked them specifically, but I know Ryan wanted to improve his pass-rush repertoire and also improve the path of his basic rushes. He felt he was too cautious as a rusher, trying to contain the QB rather than get him at times. Rak talked about the need to increase his pass rush moves last summer, then would also say he doesn’t use moves. But he did add a spin move last season. I think the coaches would like him to have a better plan sometimes when rushing and setting up guys. Rak tends to go a lot by feel. He is effective, but if he wants to take that next so-called step he will need to improve in this area.