Quick Links

Holdman: Dawn of the Dead

Holdman: Dawn of the Dead

At the end of the 2005 season, it appeared certain that Warrick Holdman did not have a future with the Washington Redskins. After the Redskins took him back after exploring some alternatives, it appears that Holdman is back from the dead and ready to fight for a starting job at the open weak side linebacker spot.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

About a year ago, Warrick Holdman’s NFL career seemed to be doing quite well. He had just come on board with the Redskins at the age of 29 with 61 career starts under his belt. There were two starting jobs in play as weak side starter LaVar Arrington was still recovering from a knee injury and middle linebacker Antonio Pierce had bolted to the New York Giants via free agency. Holdman was reunited with linebackers coach Dale Lindsey, under whom he had enjoyed his best seasons in Chicago.

When the season started, he found himself at the periphery of the Arrington controversy as he continued to start in place of a healthy LaVar. Eventually Holdman found himself square in the middle of the storm as he struggled on the field. He often appeared to be lost in the defense. Here is what was said about him here after the Redskins’ Week 8 36-0 blowout loss to the Giants:

And this is not an isolated poor performance. Holdman has started all seven games this year, has played the lion’s share of the defensive snaps and yet they need to put out an Amber alert for him. He has 15 tackles. Yes, a small fraction over two a game for a starting NFL linebacker. You can fall on piles or tag runners who have fallen down and get that many.

After his performance in the Meadowlands blowout Holdman found himself parked firmly at the end of the bench. When the season ended he became an unrestricted free agent. Joe Gibbs frequently mentioned a list of the team’s free agents that the team wanted to bring back; Holdman’s name never was mentioned. The other 31 NFL teams, all of which had Holdman’s 2005 performance documented on film, took a pass on him as well. After free agency began he was unemployed and, apparently, unwanted.

Then after about a month, Holdman’s fortunes began to turn. The Redskins had released Arrington and wanted a veteran on the weak side to compete for the job with the inexperienced Chris Clemons and whatever linebacker the Redskins might draft (that turned out to be Rocky McIntosh). They brought in a few mid-level free agents and made some offers, but nobody bit. So in mid April the Redskins turned to Holdman who was, to use the words of Steve Spurrier when explaining the preponderance of former Florida Gators on the Redskins roster, cheap and available.

Brought back from the dead and given another chance, Holdman is making the most of it. Last year he wasn’t signed until the middle of May and he admitted that he was out of shape. “I had been in free agency, going on trips, eating steak and wining and dining,” he said.

When you’re with Gibbs’ Washington Redskins, May is not the time you need to start getting yourself in to shape. You’re already hopelessly behind at that point. He reported to minicamp last year at 240 pounds. Holdman came in this year at 233.

He knows that his performance last year was not up to snuff. "I owe the Redskins from last season," he said.

Gregg Williams has rewarded Holdman’s efforts by putting him at the top of the depth chart going in to training camp. “Warrick right now is having a great camp,” said Williams during minicamp. “His suddenness without the pads on is excellent. Right now, Warrick has done the best job coming out of this camp with Roger and Chris breathing right down his neck.”

A lot can happen in camp, and Holdman’s status as the starter is far from secure. However, the fact that he occupies the top spot on the depth roster is quite surprising if not miraculous.

A year ago it appeared that Mark Brunell’s career as a Redskin was all but over. After a horrid 2004 that ended with him firmly on the bench, there was no reason to believe that he would contribute anything in 2005. Redskins fans cringed at the thought of Brunell ever have to take a meaningful snap for Washington. At minicamp, however, Brunell showed improved arm strength. Twenty minutes in to the season, he was the starter who would eventually lead the Redskins into the playoffs.

A month or so ago the thought of Holdman lining up at weakside LB was a cringe moment for Redskins fans as well. Is Holdman’s solid 2006 minicamp a precursor to a similar story of redemption for a veteran?

Quick Links

Josh Norman backs Kirk Cousins, points to Redskins' defense in argument with Jason Whitlock

Josh Norman backs Kirk Cousins, points to Redskins' defense in argument with Jason Whitlock

As the discussion rages around what the Redskins should do with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, $75 million cornerback Josh Norman made clear he wants the passer back. Norman explained that the 'Skins struggles should not be pinned to Cousins, but rather, a Washington defense that finished the year near the bottom of the NFL.

"We got to help him out of defense, and stop somebody on the field," Norman said on FS1 (click here for full video). "We did not help him out at all. I'll be honest with you. We got to do our job."

Norman's comments came during a spirited argument with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Cris Carter in what amounted to a festival of hot takery. Whitlock's argument was that Cousins is not a franchise quarterback, and shoult not be paid as such, largely for losing the final two home games of the year against Carolina and the New York Giants.

Cousins passed for nearly 5,000 yards this year, a statitstic Norman pointed to in his defense of the QB. He also explained that Cousins still has room to grow.

"He only had two seasons," Norman said. "Cam Newton had five seasons."

Drafted in 2012, Cousins was just named the 'Skins starter in 2015. He's started every game the last two seasons and gone 17-16 while passing for more than 9,000 yards. Norman played with Newton in Carolina before signing with Washington last year, and got to watch the quarterback develop into the league MVP in 2015.

Norman described Cousins as a 'great guy' and leader in the locker room, but he allowed that, "I know a great guy don’t translate into wins. I'm not saying that."

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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!

Quick Links

The Final Countdown: Redskins 9th worst play of the year goes back to Week 1

The Final Countdown: Redskins 9th worst play of the year goes back to Week 1

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 9 worst play of 2016

Steelers at Redskins Week 1

10:18 left in Q2, Steelers ball 4th and 1 at the Redskins 29, Redskins leading 6-0

Ben Roethlisberger pass deep left to Antonio Brown for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Tandler: Things were looking up for the Redskins prior to this, even though they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone in two forays deep into Steelers territory and had to settle for field goals (a taste of things to come all year). The Steelers drove down the field and went for it on fourth and one. Because Joe Barry opted not to have Josh Norman travel from side to side with Brown, it was Bashaud Breeland with one-on-one coverage on the right side. Brown beat Breeland and DeAngelo Hall was late giving safety help and Big Ben put the ball on the money. The score put the Steelers ahead to stay.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Finlay: It's easy to forget now that the Redskins had an early lead in the opener against Pittsburgh. In fact, their defense started well, until this point. In something that would be repeated throughout the year, the Steelers did not hesitate to go for it on 4th down against the Washington defense. Breeland was in pretty good position on the ball, though Roethlisberger's throw was right on the money. It would be only one more week until Josh Norman would then start traveling to cover other team's best receivers. Beyond the immediate impact of this play, it also seemed to stay with Breeland as he struggled somewhat in the first half of the season.

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!