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Despite Improvements, Ramsey Still Under Fire

Despite Improvements, Ramsey Still Under Fire

Although you wouldn’t know it from the reaction he received from the crowd, from the fans discussing the game, or from the press, Patrick Ramsey’s performance took a quantum leap in the positive direction from last week to last night. You wouldn’t know it as he was booed at FedEx Field, has been getting hammered on the message boards and in water-cooler discussions, and several questions at Joe Gibbs’ press conference last night were aimed at getting to coach to show the least bit of wobble in his support for Ramsey.

Although Gibbs opened up the presser with an angry outburst (for him, anyway) at the turnovers that he believes cost his team the game, he didn’t point the finger at Ramsey, who tossed two interceptions, and didn’t waiver in the least in his assertion that Ramsey is the guy at QB and will remain so. As well he should, for a couple of reasons.

First, you can’t yank the guy or even put the job up for grabs after two preseason games. Gibbs announced at the end of last season that the starting quarterback job was Ramsey’s, period. The team has been through minicamp, OTA’s, and two weeks of training camp. You don’t commit to a plan for that long and then, when things to a little bit wrong during two weeks of camp and a couple of exhibition games, throw it all out the widow. That’s not how you get an organization back on track.

Second, the view here is that things aren’t all that wrong. Ramsey did almost nothing right last week against Carolina. His errors, ranging from the interception on the opening drive to depriving his receivers of yards-after-catch opportunities by making them lunge for throws, were well chronicled here. Against the Bengals, Ramsey did a lot right. He averaged over ten yards per attempt and over 20 per completion. In the pocket, he was cool and calm. He developed some timing and rapport on deep passes with David Patten. He didn’t quite develop the same with Santana Moss, although on the first series Moss lost a potential TD pass from Ramsey in the lights. On several occasions, he threw a ball to a spot, the exact spot to which a receiver arrived at the moment the ball did.

It was a very good, perhaps great, performance except for the interceptions.

Yes, that is like the old “other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?” And Ramsey’s first pick was eerily reminiscent of the one that he threw late in the game last year at FedEx against the Eagles when the Redskins had a chance for a stunning upset. It was the same area of the field, the same kind of pass where he seemed not to see a defender who was stationed right between the quarterback and the receiver. It’s one thing for a quarterback to make a mistake; it’s another for him to make the same mistake over and over again.

But, hey, this just in, quarterbacks throw interceptions. Three of them in two first halves of play is not an outrageous, unheard of event. As long as the quarterback is making some positive things happen, as was the case against Cincinnati, such miscues, while unwelcome, are not stunning nor should they be fatally damaging to a team’s chances.

Also keep in mind that this was just one half of work, 19 attempts. Ramsey seems to be a quarterback who takes a while to get warmed up. He has a track record for doing better as the game went on. Last year, in his 21st through his 30th pass attempts in games, his quarterback rating was a cool 100.8 with three touchdowns, just one interception, 59% of his throws going for first downs, a 68% completion percentage and an average of 7.73 yards per attempt on 64 throws. Like a pitcher who needs a few innings of work to get into the groove, Ramsey needs some time to find the strike zone.

Of course, you can’t always afford to muddle through those first 20 attempts, where in 2004 Ramsey averaged less than six yards per attempt, threw seven interceptions to six touchdowns and a rating in the low 70’s. He has to figure out a way to come out of the chute throwing accurately and with confidence.

The point here is not that Patrick Ramsey is ready right now to go and lead this team back to the promised land of double-digit win seasons and playoff runs. However, he did show enough improvement from the first preseason game to the second to warrant a bit more optimism that he’ll be able to do so.

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Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

If you took 100 random NFL fans and asked them to name the best player in the league, there's a very strong chance none of the 100 would say Trent Williams, the Redskins left tackle who clears paths like a snowplow. But according to an in-depth ranking system published a few weeks ago from Bleacher Report, Williams is in fact the correct answer.

The system, called NFL1000, is supposed to "bring exposure" to players who aren't as appreciated as they should be, and in the eyes of the analysts who built the rankings, no one should be appreciated more than Williams, who beat out Tyron Smith and Aaron Rodgers for the top spot. But that's still not the peak of his performance, the lineman says.

No. 71 apparently just got a hold of the NFL1000 list, and in a Wednesday Instagram post that featured it, he said his "best is yet to be seen." Sorry, opposing pass rushers.

In addition to that accolade from Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus chose Williams as their highest-rated offensive lineman, and the Professional Football Writers of America assigned him to their All-NFC team. It wasn't a perfect year for the Pro Bowler, however, as he was suspended for four games during a critical stretch in the season's second half (the Redskins were 2-2 without him).

Nevertheless, because an offensive lineman is often doing his job best when you aren't hearing his name called, it can be easy to take someone like Williams for granted. These types of awards, though, show the 28-year-old's value — value that he says will continue to climb in 2017. 

MORE REDSKINS: SETTING THE ODDS ON WHAT THE 'SKINS WILL DO WITH COUSINS

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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

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