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Minicamp quick hits

Minicamp quick hits

A few observations from today's Redskins minicamp:

  • As most of you know, I'm not much of a Colt Brennan guy but I have to say that I was impressed during seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. He fired a few intermediate passes over the middle with great accuracy and authority and showed good touch on deep passes. I'm not ready to anoint him as a future star or anything but after today I'll be a lot less surprised if it does happen.
  • Brian Orakpo worked with the linebackers earlier in the session and with the defensive line later on. In the 11-on-11 he displayed a quick first move and good speed around the edge from a three-point stance. I'm a bit concerned about throwing too much at him with the two positions.
  • D. J. Hackett, the former Seahawk and Panther that the Redskins tried to sign as a free agent last year, was in for a non-roster tryout. He looked sharp, although he did have the advantage of having a good base of knowledge of Zorn's offense.
  • The best-looking receiver out there was Devin Thomas. He certainly seems to be in excellent shape and he's running sharp routes. It appears that, unlike last year, he "gets it".
  • I had a good chat with Zorn with just a couple of other reporters after the main media session had broken up. He walked us through the process of sorting out the tryout players. "First we identify the ones who are going to hurt themselves or hurt someone else. They're gone today," he said, smiling. "We didn't have any of those," he added.

    In his hand was a laminated version of the tryout roster that had been given to us. "It's kind of hard to sort them out when they just got here," Zorn said.

    He said that everyone probably would stick around until after the second session on Saturday and then they will probably thin some out before Sunday's single practice.
  • And, don't worry, the swine flu is under control at Redskins Park. The fist bump has replaced the handshake as the official greeting and hand sanitizers are all over the place.
  • If Phillip Daniels' knee holds out, he could contribute this year. He is in terrific shape. When I first glanced at him up close I thought he was wearing shells but, no, his upper arms are just that big.

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Need to Know: Redskins stay in house for both coordinator jobs

Need to Know: Redskins stay in house for both coordinator jobs

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 23, 37 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.

Timeline

Days until:

NFL free agency starts 45
—NFL Draft 94
First Sunday of 2017 season 230

Staying in house

­There are reasons to dislike the hire of Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator but the notion that he got the job because he is buddies with Jay Gruden really doesn’t hold water. They had no connection prior to last year and with them working on opposite sides of the ball they didn’t work side by side. I’ve heard the two have a friendly relationship but it’s not like he’s out of the Tampa Bay Yacht Club or anything.

I know that everyone is obsessed with yardage rankings, which is a pretty weak indicator of the quality of a defense. Since you want to know, in Manusky’s nine seasons as a defensive coordinator his defenses have finished ranked 18th in yards allowed on average. In reality, Football Outsiders’  DVOA is a more accurate measure of the effectiveness of a defense since it takes the strength of the opponents into account. There isn’t much difference there, Manusky’s average DVOA ranking was about 17. In other words, he’s run middle of the pack defenses. Sure, you'd like them to do better but having a defense that's around average would represent an improvement over most of the last seven seasons.

How has his talent been? Three different players have been first-team All-Pro selections. LB Patrick Willis made it three times, S Eric Weddle and DE Robert Mathias once each. Players under him made the Pro Bowl 13 times with Willis (3), Mathis (2), and DE Justin Smith (2) making it more than once. His defenses had three Pro Bowlers on one occasion when LB D’Qwell Jackson, CB Vonta Davia, and S Mike Adams all made it. That year the Colts defense was ranked 11th in yards and 13th in DVOA.

It remains to be seen how much the Redskins will change schematically. Manusky has run both 4-3 fronts and 3-4’s so the Redskins could make a switch. Even if they go with a 3-4 base the unit is likely to be more aggressive than it was under Joe Barry. Some fans seem to be worried that promoting an assistant coach means that thinks will be done the same. Let me ask you this: If your boss was fired for not getting the job done and you were promoted into his position, would you do things the same way he did? I didn’t think so.

­There will be continuity on the offensive side of the ball as Matt Cavanaugh is going to get moved into the offensive coordinator job. It’s Gruden’s offense anyway so there would not have been much change even if they had brought someone in from the outside. It seems likely that Gruden will call the plays, although we won’t know for sure for a while. The only immediate question on that side of the ball is if Wes Phillips will stay on as the tight ends coach or if he will follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. That should be resolved over the next several days.

Tandler on Twitter

This was in response to a tweet saying that Kyle Shanahan is likely to get roster and personnel control when he becomes the head coac of the 49ers.

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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Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Kirk Cousins had his eye on Kyle Shanahan's offense, but is there more to it?

Of course, Kirk Cousins is disappointed the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, but among the various things he’s done in the offseason, one of them is a little curious.

Sunday, Cousins wasn’t just watching the Falcons dominate the Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship Game. He sent out a picture on Instagram from the stands of the Georgia Dome.

“Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!” Cousins wrote.

But — especially with rumors that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be offered the head coaching position with the 49ers — is there more to this post than the Redskins’ quarterback simply watching the game?

Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2010-2013 and was reportedly “integral” in the team selecting Cousins in the 2012 NFL Draft.

So if Shanahan makes the move out to San Francisco and if the Redskins don’t put a franchise tag on Cousins, could the pair be reunited?

It’s possible, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who said, “don’t be surprised if the 49ers make a run at Kirk Cousins if the Redskins do not make him their exclusive franchise player.”

There’s a lot of if’s involved for that to happen, but it’s possible. It’s also possible Cousins was just enjoying the NFC Championship Game and decided to Instagram about it. 

MORE REDSKINS: Why Matt Cavanaugh makes sense for Washington