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Jerome Mathis

Jerome Mathis

The Washington Redskins' signing of kick returner and wide receiver Jerome Mathis made a bit of a ripple over the weekend. The former Houston Texan has a Pro Bowl, multiple appearances on injured reserve and a rap sheet on his resume.

The invitation to Hawaii came after the 2005 season when he averaged 28.6 yards per kickoff return and scored two touchdowns. He spent most of the 2006 and 2007 seasons on injured reserve with various foot and leg injuries.

The Texans had the right to retain Mathis but they chose not to offer him a restricted free agent tender. This was due to a pair of arrests in addition to the IR stints. Last December he was charged with neglect when he allowed some pit bulls to escape his property in Houston. That may have been overlooked but in February he was jailed for assault after being accused of attacking his pregnant girlfriend.

She later dropped the charges but, as we know, that doesn't mean that nothing happened.

One area reporter told ProFootballTalk.com that someone like Mathis never would have been allowed in the building, much less signed, if Joe Gibbs was still around.

That's all well and good, but taking the occasional chance on a guy who had a rocky couple of months in his 25-year life isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm all for high character guys, but Gibbs was 30-34 in his second stint back so maybe a hard and fast policy against giving guys a second chance—like he did occasionally in his first, more successful run—isn't such a good idea.

Mathis got a minimum contract with no guaranteed money, so there is little risk involved. Rock Cartwright is a good kickoff returner, but he's not exactly a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball. Mathis is, or at least he is when he can stay on the field.

At 5-11, he certainly isn't the big wide receiver that the team is looking for. In fact, he hasn't played much receiver at all, with only six career catches.

At this point, Mathis appears to be a moderately long shot to make the roster. His best shot will come if Jim Zorn decides to designate a roster spot for a kick returner. That could cost someone who plays a lot of special teams but not much at a regular position a job, someone like Khary Campbell.

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like Football Outsiders' DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

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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#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

#RedskinsTalk Podcast Episode 40 - Seriously, when will the Redskins pick a coordinator?

As the Redskins settle into the offseason without both an offensive and defensive coordinator, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler debate who will get the jobs, and when they will be announced. 

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