As the Redskins kicked off their 80th anniversary celebrations with the unveiling of the practice bubble, Mike Shanahan said he has 'never been more excited for a season to get started.' As he explained why he felt this way, one would even describe the head coach as jovial. Yes, Mike Shanahan.Those in a attendance saw a few different sides of Mike Shanahan.First, there was 'The Architect.' Since his arrival in Washington, Shanahan has methodically constructed his team, noting that only 15 of the 90 players from 2 years ago remain in Washington. "When you work for for a couple of years and what you are trying to do is get a foundation built and you see the foundation coming togetheryou feel pretty good. It's like building a house, if you build a home and you don't have a foundationyou know it may last for a week, it may last for 6 months, a year, 5 years but eventually that house is going to fall apart. I really believe we have a foundation with our football team, right now, that gives us a chance to have success for a long time."This a far cry from the role his previous role of 'Doctor,' which had Shanahan placing a band-aid over the Redskins holes, especially in regards to the quarterback position. It's no surprise that the foundation the Shanahan spoke of, is Robert Griffin III."With the addition of our quarterback, a franchise quarterback that will be here for the next 15 yearsyou will see in time, its not going to happen over night,we'll have some growing pains but I promise you, he will do things you have never seen quarterbacks do"Then Shanhan, 'The Pupil,' spoke as the coach noted that he arrived at this conclusion, because he had studied RG3, watching him day in and day out. While Griffin has the speed, arm and athletic ability, Shanahan was most impressed in his ability to be a natural leader, the quality Shanahan believes a franchise can be built around. While these statements are nothing new to come out of Redskins Park, it was the fervor, in which the coach said them amongst Redskins greats, which made the words so poignant.Up next was Shanahan, 'The Warrior,' who spoke of the character and work ethic of his current regime,"I promise you-the 90 guys we have now, you want to go to war withwe've hit a few skilled positions that give us a chance to be very very competitive within the NFC East."A squadron created through competition at various positions."As we've gone into this off-season for four full weeks we've had 98 participation. We got a lot of competition at a lot of different positions and as everyone knows when you have competition and people that care, you gotta chance to do something special."Between the 'I promises' and 'I guarantees,' did we also hear from Shanahan 'The Salesman'? Or was it just Shanahan 'The Future Hall of Fame Coach,' speaking? If the coach can deliver on his promises, then he will become Shanahan, 'The Prophet,' to burgundy and gold faithful."You're going to enjoy this season. We're going to be young, but you'll see a different attitude on the field this year then you've seen in a long time."Mike Shanahan could have easily been talking about himself.
The point here is not to suggest Robert Kelley is a better running back than Ezekiel Elliott. Both players were rookies last season, Elliott drafted in the top five out of Ohio State and Kelley undrafted out of Tulane.
Elliott led the NFL in rushing, gaining more than 1,600 yards and averaging more than 5 yards-per-carry. Kelley did not take over the Redskins No. 1 RB job until mid-season, and while he didn't even rush for 1,000 yards, he gained 700 yards in nine starts and averaged more than 4 YPC.
There was one stat, however, where Kelley stood out. Pro Football Focus provides the baseline.
No rookie running back forced more missed tackles on running plays than Jordan Howard in 2016. pic.twitter.com/FqD9mUgEoh— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 26, 2017
The statistic stands out for Jordan Howard, a star rookie runner for the Bears. Howard ran for more than 1,300 yards last season on 252 carries to get to his 40 misses.
Elliott's run totals were much, much higher. The Cowboys star ran the ball 322 times, resulting in 36 missed tackles. Kelley ran the ball just 168 times, and made 35 defenders miss.
Using basic math, Elliott made a defender miss about every 8.9 carries. Kelley made a defender miss about every 4.8 carries.
Redskins coaches talked repeatedly about Kelley's vision and ability to make defenders miss as a big part of his ascension to the top running back spot. Ends up, they were right.
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Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, June 28, 29 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.
The Redskins last played a game 178 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 74 days.
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 19
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 43
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 66
The five best wide receivers the Redskins will face in 2017
Odell Beckham, Giants, 1,367 yards in 2016—Josh Norman didn’t exactly shut him down in their two meetings as Beckham has 12 receptions for 165 yards. But Beckham didn’t score any touchdowns or have any other game-changing plays against the Redskins. Their first matchup this year comes under the lights at FedEx Field on Thanksgiving. Save room for popcorn after your Thanksgiving feast.
Amari Cooper, Raiders, 1,153 yards—There was plenty of chatter that the Redskins wanted to draft Cooper when they have the fifth selection in 2015. But the Raiders snapped him up right before the Redskins picked. Cooper has been a steady and consistent target for Derek Carr. In fact, Carr should get Cooper a really, really nice Christmas present with some of the $125 million contract he just signed, a deal that Cooper helped him get.
Michael Thomas, Saints, 1,136 yards—Others sucked up all the rookie of the year conversation in 2016 but Thomas, a second-round pick out of Ohio State was very worthy of some accolades. To be sure, the Saints’ offense, led by perennial 5,000-yard passer Drew Brees, is very friendly to racking up a lot of receiving yards. With Brandin Cooks traded to the Patriots, look for Thomas to get even more opportunities in 2017.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks, 1,128 yards—He is coming off career highs in receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,128). Baldwin has only played against the Redskins twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs and he hasn’t done much damage.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos, 1,083 yards—You have to think that Thomas misses Peyton Manning already. In 2016, he had his worst production in five years. Still, he made his fifth straight Pro Bowl.
Pierre Garçon, 49ers, 1,041 yards—Adding a sixth here because, hey, we know this guy. He was the Redskins’ leading receiver three of the five seasons he was in Washington. I don’t think there is any reason he should want revenge. He was treated well and played well while in Washington. But certainly, he has a ton of professional pride and he will want to do well against his former team.
Best of the rest: Larry Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions last year with 107 although he averaged only 9.6 yards per catch. Demaryius Thomas’ teammate Emmanuel Sanders also had over 1,000 yards receiving. So did Michael Crabtree, Cooper’s teammate in Oakland. I’m not a big fan of Alshon Jeffery but he instantly becomes the Eagles’ best receiver. Brandon Marshall also came into the division with the Giants. And don’t forget about Dez Bryant even though he appears to have taken a step back; he still is very dangerous.
In all, the Redskins will face nine receivers who gained over 1,000 yards last year.
Tandler on Twitter
1/2 The Joe Flacco contract should serve as cautionary tale. Ravens gutted team to pay him after SB 47. Have missed playoffs 3/4 years since— trey wingo (@wingoz) June 27, 2017
Did they “gut the team”? Or did they miss on some draft picks, forcing them to bring in costly free agents? https://t.co/4B7Io9pm37— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) June 27, 2017
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