Remember a few years ago when the NFL announced that the referees would start reviewing plays on a high definition monitor?At the time the reaction of the typical fan, who had been watching NFL games in HD at home for years was, What, they dont already do that?Now we have another instance of the worlds most successful sports league adapting a technology that most of us took to years ago. The system that coaches use to talk to the quarterback and a designated defensive player is going digital.Yes, its been a fuzzy analog signal prone to static and interference from various sources all this time even though a set of digital walkie-talkies with a crystal-clear, securely encrypted signal can be purchased at Target for less than 50. Add in a few hundred bucks to get the electronics into a football helmet and you have an expenditure that the multi-billion dollar NFL was unwilling to make.Up until now, that is. Hopefully this will prevent such glitches as a taxi dispatch calls blending into a crucial play call from Kyle Shanahan to RG3 or communications from a passing airliner coming into London Fletchers headset instead of a defensive call.
Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin today, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Running backs to-do list
Tandler: The Redskins’ depth chart seems to be missing a running back. The “lead dog” will be Matt Jones but there really isn’t a Plan B there. Maybe seventh-round pick Keith Marshall can contribute but if Jones is injured or ineffective for any significant amount of time—and he experienced stretches of both during his rookie 2015 season—it’s difficult to see Marshall carrying the load.
Perhaps the coaches will give Mack Brown a shot. He bounced on and off of the practice squad last year. The 24-year-old former Florida Gator might get a chance during OTAs to earn some significant snaps during training camp. He’s a long shot but part of OTAs is figuring out which players on the fringe of the roster might be able to make a legitimate push to make the team in July and August.
Still, it really feels like they are waiting for another running back to arrive. There has been plenty of talk about bringing back Pierre Thomas, who contributed during the last four games of last season. However, the 31-year-old veteran remains unsigned. Many have speculated that Arian Foster, released by the Texans, would be a good fit. But he is recovering from a torn Achilles and he can’t yet pass a physical so the speculation remains just that.
The process of identifying Jones’ backup is going to start in OTAs but I get a feeling it will continue into training camp.
El-Bashir: As the roster stands now, the Redskins’ plan for an improved rushing attack appears to revolve around Matt Jones staying healthy and making a huge leap production-wise in his second season.
To me, that seems like a big ask. Jones does boast impressive size for a runner and he possesses loads of talent. But he had a rough rookie season, one marked by injuries (he missed four games), fumbles (five on 169 touches) and inefficiency (league-worst 3.4 yards per carry among qualified rushers).
The good news is Jones should be fully recovered from the toe and hip ailments that sidelined him in '15. And, based on the second half of last season, he appears to be recovering from an acute case of fumble-itis.
But what’s the backup plan if Jones' anticipated improvement stalls? Oft-injured Chris Thompson, who is recovering from shoulder surgery? Speedy seventh round draft pick Keith Marshall? As Tandler said, it seems like there should be a 'TBD' listed on the running back depth chart entering OTAs.
Over the next month, though, Jones will get the chance to quell any concerns about his ability to shoulder the load. But it can also go the other way. If there's any doubt, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Redskins turn to the free agent market for some veteran insurance.
Bashaud Breeland is truly good at a lot of stuff: Covering NFL receivers, looking fresh at the Preakness and making you think with his tweets are just three examples of things the corner is skilled in.
But on Monday, a video emerged on Twitter that revealed at least one area No. 26 struggles in: golf. Or, to be more specific, making even the smallest piece of contact with a teed up ball in no less than four swings.
Here's the lowlight, captured by Breeland's fellow defender Junior Galette. For any swing instructors out there, this footage could be considered NSFW due to the extreme absence of fundamentals:
At first, the third-year pro's stance isn't all that discouraging. But a few seconds in, someone (probably Galette) says quietly, "This is, I think, the fourth attempt," and it's at that moment that viewers understand what's about to unfold is going to go horribly wrong for Breeland.
And it, of course, does, as he whiffs on the drive and then nearly turns an ankle on the tee box marker afterward. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry's heart will skip a beat when he sees that part of the blooper.
Here's Breeland's response to Galette tweeting the video:
It was a practice swing man lol https://t.co/Q4Uo2vIcrJ— Bashaud Breeland (@Salute_me17) May 23, 2016
Unfortunately for the 24-year-old, it looks like he's going to need more practice than 2002 Allen Iverson to fully fix what's wrong with his game.
Some people can say they took a cheerleader to prom, but how many of you can say you took a Redskins cheerleader to prom? Stephen Bieber can.
Bieber reached out to Redskins cheerleader Christa Aiken and asked how many retweets it would take for her to go to prom with him. She responded with "At least 10K!!" and the challenge was on.
HELP A BROTHER OUT AND RETWEET!! Help me get a Redskins cheerleader to go to prom with me!🙏🏻🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/hr65IIDKCf— Stephen Bieber⁶ (@StephenBieber_) March 23, 2016
Bieber did pass the 10,000 mark and to her credit, Aiken kept her word.
Prom 2K16 was lit, you could say pic.twitter.com/WQQ28G8Clp— Stephen Bieber⁶ (@StephenBieber_) May 22, 2016
Now let's get this out of the way: it appears that Stephen Bieber is not related to Justin Bieber, so it's OK to feel happy for him. That's good, because Bieber did prom right. Not only did he get to take a Redskins cheerleader as his date, he also pulled up in style in a Rolls-Royce.
10K slay 🎉 pic.twitter.com/XADF4jqK43— Christa (@dcfitchick) May 22, 2016
There was also dabbing:
They call me Cam Newton pic.twitter.com/jnfHRRKQUl— Stephen Bieber⁶ (@StephenBieber_) May 22, 2016
Not surprisingly, it seems as if Bieber had some competition once he got to prom:
Last night pic.twitter.com/CDMEAJTZNX— Christa (@dcfitchick) May 23, 2016
All in all, it looked like a pretty special night for Bieber. Thank goodness my prom days are well behind me because the bar has now been set pretty darn high.