We have our first Redskin appearing in NFL Networks Top 100 players of 2012 list. Its London Fletcher at No. 87.If the list really meant much of anything, we might launch into a full-blown post about how there arent 86 better players in the NFL than Fletcher, how he is constantly underrated and overlooked, and so on. But the fact is that the list, which is drawn up using the vague criteria of current players ranking their peers (How many voted? Could the vote on players on their own team? Do they have to have played against that player?) is devoid of any significance makes it a wise decision to save outrage for things that matter.The video is pretty good, although you would think that they could have found a player currently on the teams roster to sing Fletchers praises instead of LaRon Landry.If any more Redskins make the list well be sure to greet the news with the appropriate yawn.
Certainly summer marks the time for optimism around the NFL, though speaking with Redskins defenders it becomes clear that the new coaching staff has changed much of the conversation on the practice field and in the film room.
Numerous players, from Josh Norman to Will Compton, have talked about learning more from their coaches this offseason, with a focus on teaching conceptually. That things sound different makes sense, as most of the defensive coaching staff has been overhauled.
Joe Barry and Perry Fewell are gone. In their place come Greg Manusky, promoted from OLBs coach, and Torrian Gray.
Jay Gruden described some of the previous defensive coaching staff as "big-picture type coaches" and explained now that the focus is on hands-on teaching. For a defense that invested heavily in the 2017 draft, that seems like a good move.
The truth is the Redskins defense underperformed in 2016. While some of that was likely not enough talent, especially up front, on the back end confusion seemed to reign. Gray could help, if he can teach like Gruden expects him to.
Washington ranked 25th in the NFL in pass yards allowed last season, hard to imagine with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland. The front office invested at safety, which should help, but if Norman and Breeland can more properly understand the defensive philosophy will help too.
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Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 26, 31 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.
The Redskins last played a game 176 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 76 days.
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 21
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 45
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 68
Redskins quick hitters
—Don’t look for Jamison Crowder to play much at running back. A couple of weeks ago Jay Gruden did say that he is capable of lining up in the backfield but that was more of a throwaway line, more of a compliment to Crowder’s versatility than a hint of a major shift. Crowder is way too valuable as a receiver and the Redskins are happy with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine at running back. Crowder might line up in the backfield as an occasional wrinkle but not much beyond that, barring some sort of catastrophe.
—Speaking of running backs, don’t look for the Redskins to make any move with Matt Jones before training camp unless they get a trade offer. There is no reason to simply cut him when he can supply depth at a position where injuries are always a risk. Jones really doesn’t have any options. He could not report to training camp but that would cost him $40,000 per day (yes, per day—they really don’t like players under contract holding out of camp). His best bet is to report, work hard, and see if an opportunity arises on his current team or elsewhere. In hindsight, his agent did not serve him well by advising him to sit out OTAs. Even if the chances of him being in Washington in September are slim, Jones needs all the football reps he can get.
—The Redskins have about $6.4 million in cap space remaining. They could spend a little bit more, perhaps on an extension for Spencer Long. And they want to go into the season with some cushion for injured reserve and to pay the practice squad. But looking at that number, it’s hard to see how they can’t bridge the gap in the Kirk Cousins negotiations. Taking some purely hypothetical numbers here, let’s say that the Redskins want to pay $21 million per year and Cousins’ camp wants $24 million. It would be hard to convince me that they couldn’t find a happy medium at $23 million and just carry $2 million less into the following year to pay for the difference. The talent level on the team would be virtually unchanged. Two or three million dollars a year isn’t a rounding error but on a $167 million cap it’s not huge money.
—The Redskins seem to have a lot banking on Chase Roullier to be their backup center. That’s big pressure a sixth-round pick who is playing for a head coach who says his greatest fear is being without a capable center. Gruden said that all the O-linemen are cross trained and that’s great. But I can’t see any of the primary guards—Shawn Lauvao, Brandon Scherff, or Arie Koundjio—do anything more than finish out a game at center if Spencer Long got hurt. There are some interesting names on this list of the top 50 available free agents but only one is a center. And I don’t think that Nick Mangold is going to sign up for a backup role. Can Roullier get up to speed?
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