In an interview with the Washington Post, Bruce Allen revealed a nugget of information that could have major implications for the Redskins’ 2014 defensive secondary.
Allen talked about the safety position and the team’s 2013 fourth-round pick.
“Phillip Thomas, we had high hopes for him last year,” said Allen. “He was going to start for us and he ended up missing the year.”
Thomas suffered a Lisfranc injury in the first preseason game last year and that is what cost him the season. But even before that he never was viewed as a starter. It was fellow rookie safety Bacarri Rambo, who was taken in the sixth round, who was lining up with the first team defense early in training camp. Rambo started the season at safety but he was benched after two games due to issues in, well, just about every aspect of the job.
The fact that Thomas wasn’t lining up with the first team in late July and early August doesn’t mean that there weren’t plans to bring him along and have him ready to play with the first team by the time the season started or, more likely, at some point during the season.
But that’s all in the past. What Allen said has implications for this coming season. If they were going to have Thomas groomed to be a starter last year it stands to reason that they will do the same thing this year.
This would explain the lack of urgency to lock up safeties in free agency. If they believe that have a starter in house in Thomas they could afford to be patient to fill in the second hole. They brought back Brandon Meriweather on a one-year contract earlier this week.
Let’s be clear here; at no point during OTAs, minicamp, or early training camp did any observers say that Thomas looked like a player who should have been working with the first unit. He didn’t look particularly bad; he looked like a rookie who was learning his way. Different players catch on at different rates so we have no way of knowing if could have started at some point.
And we don’t know if another offseason program (assuming that Thomas is healthy enough to participate) and a full training camp this year will get Thomas ready to start. But it seems that he will have the opportunity to do so and the team may be banking on him being able to do it.
Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.
Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.
Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards.
The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.
Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.
It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade.
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The Redskins have made official some coaching staff changes that have been reported over the last few days.
The team announced that they have filled both coordinator jobs with internal hires. Outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky is the new defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is now the offensive coordinator.
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The team also announced the hiring of two assistant coaches, one on each side of the ball. Kevin O’Connell will replace Cavanaugh as the QB coach and Jim Tomsula will coach the defensive line.
Tomsula was the 49ers head coach in 2015. He was fired after that one season after posting a 5-11 record. But it was his eight seasons as defensive line coach in San Francisco that the Redskins care about. Tomsula did a solid job there, working under Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, and Jim Harbaugh. He also was the defensive line coach under Manusky when he was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco.
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He is known as a fiery motivator, something that will work well with Manusky’s similar style. The line was one of the weakest areas of the defense last year. They are likely to add some talent to the line this offseason and Tomsula is a good choice to coach them up.
The Redskins still need a defensive backs coach. They have a strong in-house candidate in Aubrey Pleasant and now attention will turn to getting a deal for him. It remains to be seen if they will fill Manusky’s former job or if current inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti will add the outside backers to his responsibilities.
Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.