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Media Madness

Media Madness

Media Madness

It must be March; the national media is at it again, foaming at the mouth over the Redskins’ foray into free agency.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
The national media’s template for coverage—to use the term loosely—of the Redskins’ ability to get far enough under the salary cap to make some high-profile free-agent acquisitions was, for the most part, typical Dan Snyder bashing. There was one talking point, however, that crossed the line from stupid to flat out outrageous.

First, the garden variety, pedestrian stupidity. Ahh, where to begin. Len Pasquarelli is always a good place to start. From ESPN.com:
So, either Washington contracts manager Eric Schaffer is a genius or Snyder has found a way to circumvent the cap. Seems it must be the former, since none of the legion of the team officials who keep wondering privately how the Redskins are able to add players -- and who complain to the media about Washington's laxity in turning in contracts to the league -- apparently has the gumption to raise the issue with the NFL Management Council.

After paying a backhanded compliment to Schaffer, Pasquarelli implies that the only reason that the NFL hasn’t smacked the Redskins for salary cap violation penalties is because nobody has complained loudly enough. Excuse me, Len, but does anyone have to complain for the league to enforce the rules? Does another team official have to do that little “throw the flag” motion that NFL receivers do to try to elicit a pass interference call to get Paul Tagliabue to enforce the terms of the CBA? I don’t know the inner working of the NFL, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the league doesn’t have to wait for someone to a call toll-free hotline (1-800-CAP-HELL) for it to take action against cap cheaters. If the Redskins weren’t clean, they would have been hit by the league.

Len babbles on:
In each of the last two springs, Snyder has vowed publicly that the roster he has assembled will represent the Redskins' team for three years. Then the inevitable occurs. Washington doesn't win a Super Bowl, the roster is blown up and Snyder goes back to the vault for another free-agent spending spree.
Horse hockey. First of all, Snyder does not assemble the roster, Joe Gibbs does. Snyder has publicly vowed nothing about the roster in any way, shape or form in the past two springs. The only comment that Snyder has made about the roster since January of 2004 is something along the lines of, “Whatever Joe Gibbs wants is what he gets.”

And did I sleep through a roster explosion last spring or something? The Redskins drafted a corner (Rogers) to replace one who departed via free agency, got a free agent center (Rabach) to replace one who was woefully inadequate, traded away a disgruntled receiver for a better one (Moss), and signed a free agent WR (Patten). That hardly qualifies as a mushroom cloud over Ashburn.

The other prime Snyder basher, Peter King, did an interview on WFAN radio in New York. The host asked him how the Redskins were able to get under the cap. King’s response:
Here’s how they did it this year. They got rid of, basically, depending on how you count them, four or five starters. They purged those guys.
Purged them? How Stalin-esque! What, does he know about a gulag hidden under Redskins Park or something?

Style aside, let’s examine the substance here. Depending on how you count them. Hmmm. Let’s see, LaVar Arrington, starter. Walt Harris, starter when someone was injured. Matt Bowen, not a starter. Cory Raymer, not a starter. Brandon Noble, entire season on injured reserve. Ditto Tom Tupa.

The only way King is counting five starters is by just flat out making them up.

That’s just a small sampling of the ridiculous stuff out there. However, perhaps frustrated because they don’t seem to have fazed Snyder yet, both King and Pasquarelli stoop to new lows when they attack the integrity of Snyder and, indeed, of the entire organization. They’re playing their outrageous tune from the same sheet of music. First, Lenny (an ESPN Insider article):

Several NFL teams had claimed that the Redskins could not mathematically get under the salary cap if it was set in the $94 million range, which it initially was (at $94.5 million), and that Washington needed a cap level in the $98 million range to be in compliance with the spending limit. And, presto, suddenly the team gained $4.4 million in cap relief (you do the math on the difference between $98 million and $94 million) when Arrington forfeited the deferred bonus money.

While no one was publicly willing to charge the Redskins with attempting to circumvent the cap, there were plenty of whispers that owner Dan Snyder had conspired to get the money to Arrington by surreptitious means.
“‘Plenty of whispers’ that I, Len Pasquarelli, decided to turn into shouts by broadcasting them all over the Internet,” Lenny thinks but fails to write. There’s absolutely zero evidence that anything like Dan Snyder taking a briefcase full of cash and passing it to LaVar in the dead of the night in an underground parking garage in Silver Spring ever happened. The lack of evidence, however, doesn’t prevent King from calling for an investigation:
I think just for the sake of insuring trust in the salary cap from some skeptical front offices, the league needs to make sure LaVar Arrington is really going to forego the $4 million in guaranteed money to get his freedom now. Not saying it didn't happen, but I am saying with all the money the Redskins have to spare and how convenient it was that the team could find this money after months of hand-wringing over the Arrington deal, the league needs to double check that the accounting of this is clean.
A dog may have been kicked in Peter King’s neighborhood. We don’t know this for sure but, because so many of us think that Peter King is the kind of guy who goes around kicking dogs, there needs to be an investigation to see if he committed cruelty to animals. Not saying that it happened, you know, just double check to make sure he’s clean.

The Washington Redskins certainly are fair game for criticism. One playoff appearance in six years does not vindicate their way of doing things. However, it is reasonable to expect responsible criticism from publications such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Their writers should not be making things up out of thin air and making reckless, irresponsible accusations. Peter King and Len Pasquarelli are acting like a couple of message board trolls, and in the process they are dragging down the credibility of the organizations that they work for.

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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 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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