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


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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Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Need to Know: Redskins' Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky, McCloughan

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 24, 36 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.


Days until:

NFL free agency starts 44
—NFL Draft 93
First Sunday of 2017 season 229

Gruden's fate rests on Manusky, McCloughan

In his press conference the day after the Redskins lost to the Giants to end their season, Jay Gruden talked about the decision-making process that would unfold if there were changes in the coaching staff.

“Ultimately I would think it is my call – our call,” he said. “Bruce [Allen] will have some input, Dan [Snyder] will have some input, Scot [McCloughan] will have some input, but from a staff standpoint, I like to think I have a lot of pull on that one.”

That doesn’t make it sound like he was completely free to replace the fired Joe Barry and new Rams head coach Sean McVay with whomever he chose. Others could make suggestions and have input and possibly veto power.

The decision to make Greg Manusky the defensive coordinator likely was influenced by and/or had the approval of, McCloughan. Manusky ran the defense in San Francisco when McCloughan was the GM there. McCloughan was instrumental in getting Manusky to come to the Redskins to coach the outside linebackers a year ago, after he was fired as the Colts’ defensive coordinator.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Greg Manusky

Having McCloughan’s approval for the hire provides Gruden with some degree of security. If it doesn’t work out, if the Redskins upgrade the talent on defense and still don’t get better results, the heat will be on McCloughan as well as Gruden.

Still, Gruden will be the one in the spotlight this season. When the annual media lists of coaches on the hot season in 2017 come out, Gruden is sure to be atop many of them. It’s simple math, really. In Gruden’s three seasons the team has gone 4-12, 9-7, and 8-7-1. A return to double-digit loss territory would be a regression and there would be legitimate concern over whether Gruden is the guy who can make progress and then maintain it and build on it.

Did Gruden get his first pick for the job? Probably not. It seems that Gus Bradley was the favorite, having built the aggressive Seattle defense and having ties with McCloughan from there and with Gruden and Allen from Tampa Bay. But he decided to head west and take over the Chargers’ defense, perhaps wondering about Gruden’s job security. If Bradley didn’t top the list, then Gruden’s top choice probably was Cincinnati defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. But he is under contract and the Bengals denied permission for him to talk about making a lateral move.

More Redskins: Redskins stay in house

Wade Phillips decided to go to the Rams, who have decidedly better defensive personnel than the Redskins, before he had a chance to meet with Washington. We’re not sure how seriously Gruden pursued Phillips but it’s possible that he would have taken him over Manusky if he had the chance. That means that Manusky was at best Plan C or Plan D.

But that’s water under the bridge. Gruden’s fate now lies in the hands of Manusky and in the hands of McCloughan, who must set out to get the new defensive coordinator a significant talent upgrade. If Gruden gets a better defense and can maintain a top offensive attack (given Kirk Cousins’ contract status, he needs McCloughan’s help there, too) and the Redskins can take the next step he should be expecting to start serious extension talks in 2018.

If the Redskins spin their wheels and end up around .500 again or if they regress and post double-digit losses like they did for five out of six years from 2009-2014 they could be cleaning house and starting over again. That wouldn’t be a good scenario for anyone. The organization is counting on Manusky, who was Plan C, and McCloughan to help Gruden get things on track.

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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.

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The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

The Redskins newest coach has a rap video in his honor

On Monday morning, the Redskins made several new coaching hires official, including Jim Tomsula as the new defensive line coach.

Tomsula was out of football in 2016 after serving as the 49ers head coach for the 2015 season in which the team finished 5-11.

Despite struggling as a head coach, Tomsula gained an odd, if not heavy cult following. It made little sense considering he has the look and demeanor of someone who was put on this earth to coach football and coach football only. But through the glories of the internet came this:

The Jimmy Tomsula rap song.


It's just a demo, and I suppose the full version could be out there somewhere since this song is over a year old. But there's something hypnotizing about 60 consecutive seconds of "Open up my shirt like im Jimmy Tom-Sula."

How long before we begin hearing this song at FedEx Field on Sundays?