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Fan questions: Why not more hurry-up offense?

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Fan questions: Why not more hurry-up offense?

A lot to talk about after the Redskins loss on Sunday night so let's jump into one from the Real Redskins Facebook page (drop on by and hit the Like button!)

Jenkins did play six snaps on defense on Sunday in his first game back form his four-game suspension. He might have played a few more snaps but the defense was only on the field for 54 plays. Jim Haslett said last week that he still considers him to be the starter so I'd look for him to work his way in for more and more plays and he should be starting and playing 40+ snaps per game by midseason if not sooner.
@Rich_TandlerCSN .. Any chance they hire Art Briles or Philip Montgomery as OC or HC in 2014?

— Mike V (@mikev1975) October 14, 2013
Although it's too early to talk about the future of the current coaching staff it is something that is out there and, with Mike Shanahan going into the last year of his contract in 2014, it is legitimate to ask. First thing, if Mike is here he will have Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator unless Kyle gets a head coaching job (unlikely in the short term, IMO). If Kyle should leave I think that Shanahan would turn to someone he has worked with in the past, someone like Gary Kubiak if he's available, rather than to a college coach. If Mike Shanahan is gone, it's hard for me to see Dan Snyder hiring a head coach who doesn't have NFL coaching experience at least as a coordinator.
@Rich_TandlerCSN why do #Redskins refuse to use no huddle as regular part of gameplay?

— marioc (@marioc) October 14, 2013
I asked Kyle Shanahan about that after the Eagles game and you can find the full article here. But, short version, he said that it just wasn't their offense, that a no-huddle approach didn't fit what they do. Mike Shanahan added some detail yesterday, saying that they like to vary formations during a series and the no-huddle doesn't allow them to do that. My view is that while the no-huddle is a nice wrinkle it's not a cure-all for the offense. The Redskins had no problem moving up and down the field on Sunday as they racked up over 400 yards of offense. What they needed was some better blocking by the line, some more accurate passes by the quarterback, and some better play calling and execution in the red zone. The no-huddle is fine as an occasional change of pace but it's not a substitute for solid fundamental offensive football.

These are related and popular questions so we'll look at them together. As far as Davis goes, they say he isn't earning snaps in practice. My view is that it's a long season and I'd wait before writing off Davis; he could still contribute down the road.  I wondered why they don't use two pass-catching tight ends in my Six Pack yesterday. Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan were asked about it last week and Kyle's answer did shed some light on it.  "But, I mean, it’s tough to get two real pass-dominant tight ends who are not liabilities in the run game," he said. "It’d be nice to go out there and just get great wide-receiver-type tight ends, and that will help your pass game, but then you’re going to get a lot more pass coverages. The D-line is going to rush the quarterback a lot more because they know you’re not going to be in positions to where you really have an advantage in the run game." So, in short, if Reed and Davis could block better they could be on the field together. As of now they can't so they're not.
@Rich_TandlerCSN how soon can we get a replacement #specialteams coach

— Peach E Pie (@Peachahontas) October 14, 2013
It doesn't seem as though Shanahan is inclined to throw Keith Burns overboard after just five games.  "Keith Burns is a very excellent football coach,” he said yesterday. “Very capable . . . I feel very confident that he'll get the job done even though he started out a little bit rough." So I wouldn't look for a change there any time soon.

I picked this one to represent all of the O-line questions I got. First of all, for the immediate future, nobody is about to be benched. The line has been playing pretty well this year before having a bad night in Dallas. That would be a knee-jerk reaction and that's not something we see much of from Shanahan. As far as drafting a right tackle, the short answer is that there hasn't been one they liked on the board when they drafted. The simple truth is that in the zone blocking scheme only needs to have a premium offensive lineman at left tackle. The other four positions are composed of players that are not highly coveted by other teams. That means that lower-round picks and relatively inexpensive free agents are slotted for the "other" four OL positions. This leaves more money and higher draft picks to expend on other positions. The shorter answer is if they want to move on from Tyler Polumbus this offseason they  will either go to sixth-round pick Tom Compton or go shopping in the bargain free agent market.
@Rich_TandlerCSN should #CaptKirk have started this season until #rgiii was ready ?

— Peach E Pie (@Peachahontas) October 14, 2013
I've addressed this on Twitter and on Facebook so I suppose I should talk about it here. Robert Griffin III was not going to get ready to play by watching from the bench. The only way the franchise quarterback could get ready to play was to play. Could the team have won another game or two with Kirk Cousins at QB? I'm not so sure that he could have unless he could have brought down LeSean McCoy, covered Randall Cobb or Calvin Johnson, or tackled Dwayne Harris. But even if he could have it would have been very shortsighted to keep Griffin on the bench. Let's say they kept him out until after the bye. Then you're seeing the RG3 we saw against the Eagles or Packers--pretty much immobile, making questionable decisions, displaying very sloppy mechanics--against the Cowboys. Griffin was far from perfect against Dallas but he played well enough to give them a shot if the special teams don't gift wrap two TD's for the Cowboys. He needed to play to improve. No question, he needs to improve more if this team is going to start winning but this has been handled they way it should have been. To keep Griffin on the sideline when he was healthy enough to play would have represented the kind of short-term thinking that has been the hallmark of this franchise for most of the last 20 years.

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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 a league-worse 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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