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Fan mailbag: Moss' status, Haslett's schemes, and getting younger in the draft

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Fan mailbag: Moss' status, Haslett's schemes, and getting younger in the draft

Before we get started here, I didn't answer any questions about whether the Redskins are interested in a particular player in the draft. They haven't let anything leak about any players and if they did it probably would be a smokescreen anyway. It's lying season, folks.

OK, on to your questions.
@Rich_TandlerCSN #RedskinsTalk do you think it's necessary to keep Moss for veteran leadership,or is that phrase overrated?

— rich depaul (@peyton03) April 15, 2014
Leadership is not overrated. It's perhaps romanticized when it's talked and written about but a locker room needs leaders and veterans usually fill those roles. But a team can't keep players solely due to their leadership abilities. Moss will have to earn a roster spot based on his ability to contribute on the field. If he can do that, his leadership will be a plus. It will be interesting to see what happens if Moss and a younger receiver are in a tie for the last roster spot. Will they stick with the experience and leadership or go with the younger guy who might be around in a couple of years?

Tarik and I posted about this earlier this week. Mike Shanahan like to talk about being the head coach of the whole team, offense and defense, and Haslett did not have a free hand when it came to running the defense. What Haslett has been talking about is a more aggressive approach on defense. For example, Brian Orakpo dropped back into coverage over 100 times last year; Haslett would have him rushing the passer on many of those plays. For this and other more aggressive tactics to work, the pass rushers will have to get to the QB or a shaky defensive backfield will be left on an island with alarming frequency. They will probably give up a few big plays but the hope is that the sacks and turnovers will make up for them. We will see.
@Rich_TandlerCSN So far we've heard about top DL/pass rush draft prospects visiting Redskins but no DBs. Surprising to you? #RedskinsTalk

— Not Your Average Joe (@JoeCoolMiller) April 15, 2014
Not at all. Draft visits are very close to meaningless. The Redskins drafted Jordan Reed last year and they didn't have him in for a visit; for that matter they barely talked to him during the pre-draft process. Last year about 6.7 percent of the players who were drafted had visits with the teams that drafted them. I see that you're trying to connect dots but history shows that if you try to do that based on visits you will end up with a picture that is incomplete at best and misleading at worst.

What will keep Roberts, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and Jordan Reed happy is winning. If Jackson goes a couple of games with two catches for 15 yards and the Redskins go 0-2 he might be a bit disgruntled. If that happens and they are 2-0 he will be happy to wait his turn. If Garçon's receptions for the season drop to 75 because other players are getting chances and the Redskins have a winning season he likely will be fine. If they are 3-13 again he might wonder about his role. Sure, they want to get the ball and nobody, including Jackson, will be happy if he ends up with, say, 40 receptions for 500 yards. But having an efficient offense and winning will take care of everything.
#Redskins have a young core of talented offensive players, will they look to get younger in the draft on defensive side? #Redskinstalk

— Justin Byram (@Justin_Byram) April 15, 2014
They will look for players who can help them in the draft. As I noted this morning, conducting a draft is not like going to Wegman's with your grocery list. In the draft you don't know what players are going to be there when your turn comes up. If you go into the draft thinking "we have six picks, we want to get younger on defense, so we have to use four or five picks on that side of the ball" the chances are very good that you will have a bust of a draft. A team doesn't get younger, on one side of the ball or as a whole, in one draft. It's process over several drafts of restocking your talent base by picking the best players available when you are on the clock.

It's kind of early to have a good feel for this but I'll take a crack at it. Special teams will be better if only because they can't be any worse but it's going to take a couple of years before they can improve to being even mediocre/competent. I think offensively they will be able to cut down on turnovers and Robert Griffin III (by the way, not one question submitted about him on either Twitter or Facebook) will be more accurate. But I'll buy in to the theory that Haslett's more aggressive approach to defense noted in the first question here will make his unit the most improved. The addition of Jason Hatcher will help put that approach into practice and Ryan Clark will help out the back end.

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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!