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Answering your tweets: Rambo, Orakpo, and the hurry-up offense

Answering your tweets: Rambo, Orakpo, and the hurry-up offense

Lots of great questions this week, let's get started:
@Rich_TandlerCSN Rich, did we miss on Rambo or is he just getting a "sit, watch, this is what we expect of you" teaching lesson?

— Greg Barackman (@Flybear2Greg) October 3, 2013
(similar question from @kylewis09) It's a bit of a stretch for to call a sixth-round pick a "miss"; evidently Alfred Morris' success raised the bar for late-rounders considerably. I think they gave Rambo a shot at starting but he proved not to be ready. I don't think we've seen the last of him this year and certainly not for the rest of his career. Like most sixth-rounders he needs time to develop and if he can develop into being a competent starter it will be a huge hit for the Redskins. If he ends up playing special teams and playing in rotation and spot starting the rest of his career, that's about what the level of expectation for a sixth-rounder should be.
@Rich_TandlerCSN how does Aldrick Robinson go from training camp success to last on depth chart? Thanks — Steve Bailey (@scbailey1) October 3, 2013
He was last on the depth chart even in training camp. Robinson was never going to be ahead of the top four on the depth chart. But he did have a chance to earn more snaps than he's been getting. But he simply has to make that play in the end zone against the Lions. That's why he's here. A player like Robinson isn't going to get a ton of opportunities once the games start to count. The only way he can earn more snaps is to make plays when he has the opportunity. But his mistake possibly cost his team the game and he's going to have to do a lot to make up for it.
@Rich_TandlerCSN Will return of RJax & Jenkins bring new defensive looks or blitz packages?

— J.H. (@Kona302) October 3, 2013
(similar questions from @MrBoonsta, @Joe_V_, @MC_Brooks) Anyone who is looking for the return of Jarvis Jenkins and Rob Jackson to transform the defense is probably going to be disappointed. Jenkins will start if not immediately then in a week or two. But he's a marginal starter at a position that doesn't have a huge impact on a 3-4 defense to begin with. Jackson is a reserve and the two players in front of him, Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo, are two of the very few bright spots on defense. Jim Haslett will work to get Jackson on the field in some packages with the other two OLB's and maybe even rookie Brandon Jenkins to generate pass rush. But don't look for Jackson to get any regular snaps on the inside; at 6-feet-4 his height would work against him when it came to fighting off blocks.
@Rich_TandlerCSN Why not make the no huddle more prevalent to start games and avoid early deficits?

— Marshall (@MWharam7) October 3, 2013
(similar questions from @Not_Dannyy, @cpredford, @cmcochran0)

The Redskins did get a spark from the hurry-up offense, no question about it. But would they get that spark if they ran it more? Maybe, but it's no sure thing. I asked Kyle Shanahan about it after the Eagles game and he said that you don't just slap the no-huddle on top of your offense; your offense has to be tailored to it for it to work consistently. If going no-huddle was a magic potion for moving the ball than the huddle would become a thing of the past for all 32 NFL teams. It's best used as a surprise tactic on occasion. Should they pull it out more than they have? I think so. Robert Griffin III seems to be perfectly suited to running it and in the small sample size we have, it was effective.
@Rich_TandlerCSN What kind of contract will the Redskins be looking to give Brian Orakpo after this season?

— John The Faptist (@MC_Brooks) October 3, 2013
(similar questions from @DaveWillHTTR, @RTubman) It's too early to tell. If Orakpo keeps up his current pace and ends up with 12 sacks and leads the team in hits and hurries like he is now, he's probably looking at something with an $8-$10 million per year range, let's say 5 years, $48 million with $18 million guaranteed. If he falls off, he's looking at $8 million/year and down. If he blows up and posts 16 sacks and picks off a pass or two and scores a touchdown, then we're talking something in the neighborhood of Clay Matthews' $13 million/year extension. The could franchise him if they want to keep him and can't come to a deal; that would cost the Redskins something around $10 million for 2014.
@Rich_TandlerCSN wouldn't you think ahmad black is an upgrade over a gumbs or pugh? is he that much of a liability in coverage?

— Bill Lancaster (@bigbillnocmd) October 3, 2013
(similar questions on acquiring players from @danielleclaud, @Volsman 22, @Rockylee85)

I'll admit that I'm not that familiar with the play of former Bucs safety Black. I do think that the fact that the 0-4 Bucs cut him says something. So does the fact that he has over 100 snaps from this year on tape and no team in a league where safety play is generally pretty bad decided to claim him. Perhaps he would be an upgrade but I have very rarely seen the waiver wire as a solution to in-season problems. The Redskins did bring in 18 street free agents to try out but they were merely collecting data in case someone gets injured and a need arises. As they did last year, they will attempt to pull out of their issues with the players who for the most part have been with them through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp. Rarely are solutions found on the street.

That's all I have room for here. If I didn't hit your question here I'll try to answer on Twitter.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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