Quick Links

Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

Bold Predictions--Just Win, Baby

You can reach me by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

You’ve seen them on TV countless times, the Oakland Raider fans dressed up in spikes and chains. They’re screaming, yelling, rattling their chains and supposedly turning McAfee Stadium into the infamous “Black Hole”. ESPN.com recently ran an article that centers on one such fan who goes under the moniker of “Spike”. The ESPN writer caught up with Spike, whose real name is Mark Shadinger of Sacremento, the morning of a home game against Denver:
"Today we raise hell. Today we turn the Black Hole into an absolute jungle. No mercy today. It's the Broncos."

Seven hours later, the Oakland Raiders are about to take the field against the Denver Broncos. Every beer-chugging, street-strutting, look-at-me-the-wrong-way-and-I-might-pop-you-in-the-mouth Raiders fan is charging toward McAfee Coliseum, eager to not miss a play.
Spike’s brother goes as the character “Howie”, presumably a tribute to ex-Raider Howie Long. He talks tough:
"We're evil. We're the devils, the degenerates.The Raiders, man. We're the bad guys. The misfits. I watch T.O. run his mouth off and I think to myself, 'Keep it up buddy and the sooner you'll be out here with us.' We're the guys that nobody wants their daughters to marry."
However, as the article title says, these vicious-looking characters are just that, characters. They’re all bark and no bite.
Three of the most visible Raider fans out there -- the go-to guys for photographers looking for that fan reaction shot -- are more Saturday morning cartoon characters than Friday night devil worshipers. They tell you they want Mike Shanahan on a stick. That they want someone to clothesline John Lynch. But then you find a neon green children's book in the back of the Durango, complete with a pop-up rubber football that squeaks when you squeeze it.

"Oh, that's for the kids," Spike says.

The Black Hole? It's more like a pink locker room.
Teams do not always take after their fans or vice versa. However, in this case, no matter which is the chicken and which is the egg, the team is just like its most noted fans. It lives off of the tough, bad-boy, misfit image but that’s just an image.

Randy Moss has left the field a couple of seconds early and delivered an ersatz moon shot in Lambeau Field, but he’s no Bill Romanowski. Warren Sapp has run through other teams’ warmup drills and mouths off on occasion but John Matuzak he ain’t. Kerry Collins used to drink too much and said some things that he shouldn’t have, but all that was years ago. He’s been nothing but a model citizen since leaving the Panthers following the 1997 season.

There is nobody else on the team who has what could be even remotely described as a checkered past unless some of them have some outstanding library fines.

It’s not like a bunch of good guys can’t go out and play some good, tough football. The Raiders, though, are a bit, well, soft. Their defense doesn’t scare anybody. They’re 19th in the NFL in rushing defense and 24th overall.

There’s not much there to put fear into opposing defenders either. Their rushing attack is 26th in the NFL. Collins’ play at quarterback has been respectable but far from spectacular.

The may have that famed “Commitment to Excellence”, but right now they are a thoroughly mediocre football team.

All in all, this team is a reflection of its head coach, Norv Turner. If you need an explanation of that, you missed the seasons from 1994-2001.

The Redskins should handle this pedestrian group. There is a temptation to say that they will handle them easily, but nothing has come easily for the Redskins this year. To take another phrase from the Raiders’ glorious past, the Redskins will “Just Win, Baby.”

Redskins 24, Raiders 17.

Quick Links

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts on Thursday. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve put the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends under the microscope. Today the focus turns to the offensive line.

2016 final game starters: (left to right) Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses

Due to some injuries and a four-game Williams suspension, this group started only seven games together.

Departures: C John Sullivan (UFA), C Kory Lichtensteiger (retired)

Sullivan signed after some early season injuries and he started one game. He was a good security blanket for Jay Gruden, who liked having an experienced backup for the middle of the line.

Lichtensteiger missed a combined 24 games in 2015-2016. He may not have been back even he had not decided to retire.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Projected 2017 starters: (left to right) Williams, Lauvao, Long, Scherff, Moses

The one spot in any doubt is left guard. Lauvao is in the final year of his contract with a $4 million salary. Jay Gruden has expressed confidence in him but a guard drafted in the first few rounds this week could change all of that.

Moses and Long are in the final seasons of their contracts so they may need a succession plan in place at their positions.

2017 reserves: G: Arie Kouandjio, Ronald Patrick; T Ty Nsekhe, Isaiah Williams, Vinston Painter, John Kling, Kevin Bowen

The glaring hole here is at center. With Sullivan and Lichtensteiger gone they don’t have anyone for the middle of the line if Spencer Long is out. They could try to find one in the draft but it’s possible that they will be on the lookout for a veteran on the waiver wire between now and Week 1.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often  

Nsekhe is one of the best backup tackles in the league and the Redskins will be happy to have him even if he doesn’t play a single snap. Painter was on the roster for 13 games and he played just 10 snaps on offense.

Kouandjio is the only solid backup at guard and he could push for Lauvao’s starting job. If he wins the job and the team doesn’t want to pay Lauvao $4 million to be a backup, the Redskins will need a couple of guards for depth. Look for one or two to come their way in Rounds 3-5 this week.

Where can the offensive line find improvement?

The left guard spot was the weak link on the chain last year. Lauvao was charged with 32 QB hurries, by far the most on the team. Whether it’s Lauvao becoming fully healthy (a 2015 ankle injury limited him for the offseason program last year) or Kouandjio or another starter from the draft, the position has to be better in 2017.

Another factor that will help is Trent Williams being available for 16 games. Yes, Nsekhe is a very good backup. But in four starts Nsekhe allowed a sack plus 13 pressures. Williams started 12 games and allowed two sacks and 14 pressures. They are paying Williams $11.25 million this year for a reason.

Locks and bubble players

Trent Williams, Long, Scherff, Moses and Nsekhe are locks. Lauvao and Kouandjio are close but the draft could have an impact on them.

Out of the bubble players it would seem that Painter has the best shot of sticking simply because he was in the program last year. Bowe and Kling are huge and they are long shots who will draw interest if they can use their size.

The chances of any of the bubble players will be affected by the draft. There could be some fun competitions down the depth chart in training camp.

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.

Quick Links

NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell will speak to the media on Monday, and there are plenty of questions as Washington prepares for the draft on Thursday.

Some of the most important topics will not be about what college players the 'Skins will target, but rather the state of the front office since the ouster of former general manager Scot McCloughan. That said, Campbell plays a huge role in draft decisions, and it will be quite interesting to inquire on strategy. 

Below are five questions for Campbell:

  1. What now - With McCloughan gone, what, if any, changes have happened in the front office? Does Campbell have more control or input on player selection? 
  2. Final say - Again, with McCloughan gone, who makes the final call on players? Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden made very clear during NFL League Meetings a few weeks back that a composite of Redskins officials work to establish a grade for each draft prospect. The team then drafts based on those grades. But eventually, the team will be forced to deviate from the draft board or make a decision on two players with similar grades. Who makes the final call?
  3. Need or talent - Redskins fans tend to grow frustrated at the suggestion of taking the best player available in the NFL Draft, but that is also the methodology the franchise has employed. That system delivered first-round picks of a guard in 2015 and a receiver in 2016; neither position had great need. Washington most needs help on its defensive line, and the defensive side of the ball overall.
  4. Sweet 17 - The entire draft is an opportunity for the 'Skins to add talent, but no pick carries as much potential as the 17th overall. The speculation is wild about what player might land with the Burgundy and Gold, and the rumors will only build this week. Is a running back in play? Haason Reddick? Could off-field concerns drop Reuben Foster to 17? 
  5. Another arm - Washington has Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld under contract in 2017. After that, however, Cousins could be gone. Will the 'Skins look to add another passer, perhaps on Friday or Saturday in the later rounds? If they do, it's unlikely the team will carry four QBs this fall, so a decision could accompany that pick.
  6. Trading places - Might a trade be in the works? Last year the Skins made a number of trades over the course of the three-day draft, and it's likely more deals get worked out this week in Philadelphia. Does that mean a mega-trade that includes Cousins? Probably not. But it would not be a surprise if the franchise traded down in the first round, like they did in 2016. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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!