Quick Links

All’s quiet in Ashburn

All’s quiet in Ashburn

We're about 18 hours into the NFL free agent signing period and the sounds of silence are emanating from Redskins Park.

Well, near silence anyway. The Redskins did ink quarterback Todd Collins to a three year deal that will be worth at least $9 million ($3 million guaranteed), perhaps more with incentives. He signed the contract knowing that he would be the backup to Jason Campbell. Collins provided a feel-good story last year, coming in for an injured Campbell and leading the Redskins to four straight wins and a playoff spot. The uplifting, underdog tale—Collins hadn't see any extended playing time in a decade—provided us with something to smile about in the wake of the murder of Sean Taylor.

Not to minimize the retention of a backup QB who has proven he can win, but that hardly qualifies as the big splash to which we have become accustomed around this time of year.

Unlike in past years when the start of free agency meant that the fax machines were cranking all night long as the number crunchers worked various "what if" cap scenarios into and through the wee hours of the morning, all reports are that there is little activity in Ashburn. Redskins One is in the hangar, getting a much-needed extended rest after logging many hours in the air during the coaching search. No free agent visits are scheduled.

That bears repeating. No free agent visits are scheduled. It used to be tough to get a room at a hotel near Ashburn this time of year as they were all booked with free agents and their entourages waiting to take their shots at getting a fat paycheck signed by one Daniel Snyder.

All across Redskins Nation there are definite signs of withdrawal. After years of being accustomed to the thrill of being in the mix for the biggest names in the free agency pool, there is the hollow feeling of, well, hollowness. Nothing.

Many aren't handling this well. They are sitting at the keyboard, banging out messages about every released player and every pending free agent wondering how he might look in burgundy and gold. Others are staring at their phones, local sports talker number on the speed dial, waiting to call in and rip Snyder for overpaying yet another bum.

But the activity all is elsewhere. The Eagles inked Assante Samuel for five years and $47 million. In Miami the Tuna is reeling in players left and right. Tens of millions of dollars are being guaranteed almost every hour.

Sure, it's just like Vinny Cerrato said it would be a week or so ago. The Redskins are following the market instead of setting it. They'll let everyone else pick up the big tabs and settle for some leftovers in a week or so.

But, of course, that's no fun. Acting responsibly usually isn't. It's like sitting at home doing your homework on a Thursday while all your friends are at a party. In the long run, it's what you need to do. But at the moment it sure is boring.

Quick Links

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

Quick Links

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.