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An improved atmosphere in Ashburn?

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An improved atmosphere in Ashburn?


Rarely has one paragraph contained so much fodder for a blog post. First, here's the whole thing from the Pro Football Weekly website and then I'll parse it line by line:

Our sources tell us that there has been far less friction in Redskins Park so far this offseason since Jim Zorn has taken over. The root of the earlier stress, we are told, was Gregg Williams, who at times seemed to undermine the authority of Joe Gibbs, creating an awkward work environment at times. Zorn, we are told, has earned the respect of the veterans and is being treated as a nice guy who is not a pushover and is both competitive and intense.

First and foremost here, be wary of the "sources". They didn't say anything about "sources at Redskins Park" or "team sources" or anything like that. This probably means that this information is secondhand at best.

That doesn't mean that what's said in the blurb isn't true; in fact, it's going to be granted some credibility here for the purpose of discussion. If I can accomplish anything with this blog, however, I want Redskins fans to be educated consumers when it comes to the media. While we're going to keep the vague nature of the source in mind, we're going to proceed on the basis that he staff at PFW didn't make it up out of thin air or use the guy who mops the floors at Redskins Park as their source.

So, with that in mind, here's how I see it:

Far less friction at Redskins Park

I wasn't under the impression that there was all that much friction among the coaches and the team. In fact, I thought that Joe Gibbs worked to build a consensus rather than taking on a more confrontational style. Certainly there were some moments of public discord, such as the 10-man defense tribute to Sean Taylor that Gregg Williams approved without Gibbs' consent. In the big picture, however, when they weren't on the same page it was due more to excessive delegation and problems with clarity in roles than to in-house conflicts.

Still, it would be a major upset if things weren't calmer at Redskins Park now. The team has yet to face a four-game losing streak under Jim Zorn. The new coach hasn't yet dealt with the inevitable quarterback controversy. A potential vs. experience roster decision won't have to be made for another six weeks or so. Check back in mid October to see if things really are different.

Gregg Williams the root of the stress

Did Gregg Williams overstep his bounds on a regular basis? I don't know, but my common sense tells me that the 10-man defense was the most public example of Williams overreaching his authority, but not the first and only time he did so. One usually doesn't start out pushing his boundaries with something major like that; you work your way up to it.

Is it possible that Williams acting as though he already was the head coach cost him his shot at the real job when it came up? Again, it's just speculation here, but I have to think that he had enough such moments to badly damage his chances.

Zorn a nice guy, but not a pushover

The line between being the good guy without being the softie is very fine and is very difficult to navigate. It's easier when the toughest challenges you face are a rookie tight end oversleeping and missing a minicamp practice and a veteran receiver missing a voluntary workout due to having partied like a rock star the previous weekend. It's quite another when players get in trouble with the law or when team rules are broken during the regular season. That's when Zorn's approach truly will be tested.

Fortunately for Zorn, he inherited a roster populated mostly with high-character guys who won't test him. However, it takes only one or two events either to establish his authority or to undermine it altogether.

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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

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Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Redskins vs Eagles Preview: 5 things to know as Washington gets desperate

Losers of two straight games and for the first time in a month outside of the playoff picture, a desperate Redskins squad travels to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. All the action kicks off on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at noon, but to get ready for the action, here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Getting back to good, or at least decent - Two weeks ago the Redskins seemed like a dangerous playoff squad with a strong offense and an improving defense. After two straight losses where Joe Barry's defense has given up 62 total points, the questions are mounting for Washington. Can the defense get stops on 3rd down? Generate a turnover? The good news for the Redskins is that the Eagles are struggggggling. Their offense has not score more than 15 points in three straight weeks. 
  2. Feed the fat one - After giving Rob Kelley just 28 carries in the last two games, Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay owned up to the Redskins lack of run game, "I definitely feel like I could’ve been more patient on some of those early down and distances where you get a little bit pass-heavy. And that’s something that as a decision-maker and as a coordinator, I have to do a better job." In a Week 6 win Kelley and Matt Jones piled up more than 200 rush yards against the Eagles. The 'Skins offense likely won't feature Jones, but expect McVay to feed Fat Rob plenty on Sunday.
  3. Playing in pain - The Redskins offense features a number of dynamic playmaking threats, but arguably the best is tight end Jordan Reed. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Reed separated his left shoulder, and though he finished that game he was forced out of action in Arizona. Expect Reed to be back Sunday, and expect Kirk Cousins to look for him early and often. On the season, Reed has more than 600 receiving yards and five TDs.
  4. If it ain't broke - Kirk Cousins has had more success against the Eagles than any other team in the NFC East. In four career games against Philly, COusins averages 336 yards per game passing to go with a 101.3 QB rating. He's thrown 10 touchdowns against the Eagles to just two interceptions. The biggest win of his career came last year when Cousins and the 'Skins clinched the NFC East title at Lincoln Financial Field. Cousins suceeds against the Eagles, and there's no reason it should stop Sunday. 
  5. Don't fly away - Rumors are starting to circulate that the Eagles would like to bring back DeSean Jackson next season. It's well known that Jackson will probably hit free agency after this season, and if Philly did pursuit their former playmaker, it would make sense. But between now and then, Jackson has another opportunity to torch his former team and help the Skins pursue a Wild Card bid at the same time. In his past two games, Jackson and COusins have connected on deep patterns, and there's little reason to tbink the same won't happen Sunday.

Numbers & Notes

  • If tight end Vernon Davis catches three passes he will become the 12th tight end in NFL history to record 500 career receptions.
  • With two more catches, wide receiver Jamison Crowder will set a single-season career high in receptions. He caught 59 passes in 2015.
  • If the Redskins win would mark five straight victories against the Eagles for the Redskins for the first time since a six-game winning streak in the series across the 1981-84 seasons.

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