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Change in the air?

Change in the air?

There was a lot of talk of change in the air at Redskins Park over the last few days. At his season-wrap up presser, Jim Zorn indicated that there would be changes.

But he also said that there wasn't much of anything that he wanted to change.

He likes his quarterback, his offense, his job duties, his coaching staff, and his older players. The current player personnel structure, headed up by Vinny Cerrato, will stay intact.

Presumably there would be a major debate if someone wanted to change the carpet on the stairs at Redskins Park.

The team should stay the course in some areas. Staying with the same offense and the same quarterback for another offseason is a good idea. It would be good to see Zorn become more imaginative in his play calling but that will come as the team settles in. We've gone back and forth about Jason Campbell here but he's the man with no competition and we'll have to see what happens. I'd like to see a more solid Plan B in place than Todd Collins, who is too old, and Colt Brennan, who is too inexperienced. Perhaps letting Collins go and bringing in an experienced West Coast QB like Chris Simms would be the way to go here.

The offensive backs are likely to remain the same. Portis got $20 million in guarantees a year ago so he's not going anywhere. There will be some noise about trading Ladell Betts but that probably won't happen. Rock Cartwright is the special teams' Mr. Everything and Mike Sellers is a deserving Pro Bowl pick at fullback (just don't give him the ball at the goal line).

There may be some minor shuffling at WR—will a 34-year-old James Thrash be able to contribute enough on special teams to justify using a receiver slot? Other than that, any changes will come from increased (meaning any) production from Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

The offensive line may or may not get the upgrade that it needs. There is talk of Pete Kendall, an unrestricted free agent, returning. He'll be 36 by the time next season starts. I like the guy and I'll always respect him for standing in front of his locker after the Rams game and taking every question from every reporter. But it's time to move on.

Is it time for Jon Jansen to move on? He shouldn't start, that's for sure. There would be a net cap hit of about $6 million ($1 million higher than I previously estimated). In 2009 his salary is "only" $1.3 million, a number you can justify for a backup. The foolishly-paid guaranteed money is water under the bridge and it may be better to wait until 2010 to release him. That may be an uncapped year and even if it's not the hit will not sting quite as much.

At some point there has to be a youth movement on the O-line. They took Chad Reinhart in the third round last year and they need to see what they have there. Can Stephon Heyer develop the consistency and the run-blocking ability necessary to become a solid starter? If those two can start, that's a 40% injection of youth into the aging unit. If a starting center can be found in the third round of the draft, that's 60%.

On the other side of the ball, there isn't much wrong that can't be solved with a big, mean defensive tackle creating havoc in the middle of the line. That would help the ends get better pass pressure, which would, in turn, help the defensive backs play more aggressively and maybe get more than the occasional interception here and there.

Albert Haynesworth of the Titans fills the bill but he's going to demand a ton of money. It's a bit too early to say what might be available at pick #13 along those lines since the juniors haven't yet declared but I have to think that there would be a quality DT there.

Talk of trading Carlos Rogers is foolish. Shawn Springs has to go, along with his $8 million cap number (the net cap savings would be around $6 million). Give DeAngelo Hall a reasonable contract and let Rogers play in the last year of his deal. If there is no new CBA in 2010, he'll be a restricted free agent. There has been a debate on the message boards about whether to pay Hall or Rogers. As neither is going to warrant a monster contract, I'm not sure why it has to be an either/or situation.

 

 

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Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

The Redskins interviewed current outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky for their defensive coordinator opening, the team announced yesterday.  

Manusky has a long history with the Redskins organization. He served as outside linebackers coach this past season, and was also linebackers coach back in the 2001 season. In his playing days, Manusky was a Redskins linebacker from 1988 to 1990. 

He has held three separate defensive coordinator positions in his coaching career, including with the San Francisco 49ers (2007-2010), San Diego Chargers (2011) and Indianapolis Colts (2012-2015).

For more on his defensive philosophy and background, check out Rich Tandler's profile of Manusky

The Redskins have confirmed four interviews for the defensive coordinator position: Manusky, Rob Ryan, Gus Bradley and Mike Pettine

MORE REDSKINS: Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

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Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual contenders to go deep into the playoffs. The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart. Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Earlier this week we looked at the offense; today the defense is up. Although there could be a change to a 4-3 base defense in the making depending on who the coordinator is, we’ll line them up in a 3-4 until there is word to the contrary.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

Defensive line

Starters: Chris Baker*, draft pick/free agent X 2
Backups: Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier

It seems that Baker wants to stay and give that the Redskins would be starting their D-line virtually from scratch without him the chances of coming up with a deal seem strong. I will spend the entire 99 days between now and the draft saying that it’s not a given that they will take a defensive lineman, or any defensive player, with their top draft pick. But someone like Malik McDowell of Michigan State sure would fit in well here along with a free agent like Bennie Logan of the Eagles. The organization will be looking for leaps forward from Ioannidis and Lanier.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Outside linebacker

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Lynden Trail

Although nothing is certain until pen is put to paper, the chances of Galette giving it another go after two torn Achilles in two years are strong. Trail and Houston Bates will battle for a fifth spot, if there is one. Given Smith’s inconsistency and the uncertainty of Galette’s health it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft an edge rusher.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Will Compton, free agent
Backups: Martrell Spaight, Mason Foster, draft pick

I’m putting Compton there in dry erase marker, not in Sharpie. They love his leadership and work ethic but he must make more plays. I have a free agent starting beside him because it’s a tough position for a rookie to learn. But if they spend a high draft pick that player could jump into a starting job quickly.  Foster moves into the nickel role that he performed well after Su’a Cravens went out with an injury. Steven Daniels, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent the year on injured reserve, could push Spaight for a job.

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar
Backups: Kendall Fuller (nickel), Tharold Simon, free agent/draft pick

This could go in a lot of different directions. The only spot set in stone is Norman’s. I have Bashaud Breeland moving to safety, which is something of a speculative hot take. If they make that move, they could spend a high draft pick or substantial free agent money on a corner or they could stay in-house with Dunbar or Fuller. Simon could make the team and contribute or he could be cut.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Safety

Starters: Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, draft pick

Safeties are hard to find. In college, potentially good safeties gravitate towards cornerback, where the NFL money is better. If a good one hits the free agent market, the laws of supply and demand push the price up beyond the value of the position. For those reasons, the Redskins might try Breeland at safety. Some in the organization have believed for a couple of years that safety is his best position. Cravens announced that he would be moving to safety so that change is firm. Duke Ihenacho, who is a free agent, could be back but I think he moves along. Blackmon is a good veteran reserve who can play nickel also. Even though he made a key interception when forced into duty against the Eagles, it still seems that they don’t trust Everett at safety and perhaps a mid-round pick will replace him.

Specialists: LS Nick Sundberg*, P Tress Way, PK Dustin Hopkins

I predict that Sundberg will be the first of the team’s pending free agents to agree to a contract. Hopkins may get some camp competition but it is unlikely to be of more than the token variety.

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.