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Fan questions, Part 2: Murphy, who ran the Redskins' draft and, of course, Tanard

Fan questions, Part 2: Murphy, who ran the Redskins' draft and, of course, Tanard

I got a lot of great questions this week so I did two parts. Part one ran yesterday, let's get right in to today's batch of questions.
@Rich_TandlerCSN #RedskinsTalk what are the chances of Cousins taking RGIII's position it he has a bad weeks 1-4?

— My name is My name (@UncleJ77) May 14, 2014
I would put them at pretty close to zero. Unless Griffin is really, really bad--say 2 TD's, 10 INT's, and the Redskins are an ugly 0-4 bad--Gruden is going to stick with the quarterback the franchise gave up so much to acquire. I don't anticipate that happening at all but Griffin gets at least two seasons to establish himself before the team even thinks about other alternatives.
@Rich_TandlerCSN #RedskinsTalk Can Seastrunk return kicks and/or Punts? Does he have experience with either?

— mlk2106 (@UncleJesseHair) May 14, 2014
I checked his Baylor stats and he has one kickoff return for 13 yards so it sounds like a squib kick accidentally landed in his hands. Still, it would not surprise me to see him lining up to field some kickoffs and some punts during rookie camp this weekend. They will at least give him a shot at it and see how it works out.
@Rich_TandlerCSN ..what kind of impact will tenard jackson make if he is NFL ready by pre season and there after..? Can he upgrade secondary

— christopher (@massageking69) May 14, 2014
I am not at all bullish on Jackson's chances of having an impact. In my recent early projection for the 53-man roster I don't have him making the team. This, after all, is a player who has played in all of 12 games since Jim Zorn's last year as coach of the Redskins. But I'm very prepared to be wrong on him, maybe he can successfully come back and contribute.
@Rich_TandlerCSN sounded like JG and RG3 had a fair amount of say in the draft. But supposed to be BA's show. Your take? #RedskinsTalk

— Adam (@HailToOldDC) May 14, 2014
I'm not so sure it's accurate to say that Griffin had "say" in the draft. Gruden did mention some texts from him in connection with Seastrunk but he doesn't say if they came in before or after the pick. In any case, a few texts lobbying for your friend is hardly "say". And, yes, Gruden had influence. But Allen had the final say. We haven't heard of there being any disagreements in the draft room so perhaps who had the last word was a moot point. If you've done you draft preparation properly all decisions should have been made in advance.
@Rich_TandlerCSN Do you think Trent Murphy will play any ILB? #RedskinsTalk

— AJ (@AJ_bus) May 14, 2014
He might line up inside in some nickel pass rush packages but he won't line up alongside Perry Riley if that's what you're asking. It's a very tough position to learn and I don't think they'll heap that onto his plate along with needing to learn the pass rush responsibilities. As far as the future, I'll put it into the never say never category. I don't think it's in the plans right now but maybe if they're sitting here a year from now without a permanent solution at the position they might consider moving Murphy inside.
@Rich_TandlerCSN @CSNRedskins What role if any will Brandon Jenkins have this year? Especially now with Murphy?? #RedskinsTalk

— RMA_VA (@ICEMANVA) May 14, 2014
That is something that will have to be sorted out over the next weeks and months. If he is going to have a role, he first has to become an active participant on special teams. He was not very enthusiastic about special teams last year and that led to him being healthy but inactive for 11 of 16 games last year. If he becomes good on kicking teams he'll be active and he'll get a chance to earn a role on defense. But the first step is special teams.
@Rich_TandlerCSN is it crazy for me to think that the skins new UDFA WR Hoffman might be on the roster come week 1?

— Warpath (@WarpathDC) May 14, 2014
Crazy? No. Irrationally optimistic? Perhaps. Yes, the guy is 6-4 and he does hold all of the BYU career receiving records and that's a school with a history of filling the mountain air with footballs. But there are serious questions about his durability; he missed time with a torn labrum, torn rib cartilage, and hamstring while with the Cougars. And he's not very physical, he'll have to learn to get off the line in the NFL. Right now I'd put him on the practice squad but we'll see what he looks like over the next few months.
@Rich_TandlerCSN Do you think that the nickel setup we saw in preseason last yr might be a precursor to how they use Murphy? #RedskinTalk

— drscoundrels (@drscoundrels) May 14, 2014
I think that's what they have in mind, lining up Kerrigan with his hand in the dirt and having Orakpo and Murphy rush from a two-point stance. A lot will depend on how fast Murphy can get up to speed and execute what's required of him. I don't think we'll see much of it during the preseason. That had the feel of Shanahan throwing Haslett a bone. If they're serious about using it, we won't see it much until Sept. 7.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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.

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