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Need to Know: Callahan appreciates Redskins' O-Line history

callahan-minicamp.png

Need to Know: Callahan appreciates Redskins' O-Line history

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 7, 23 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

Read and React

A couple of weeks ago I posted and discussed some quotes that Bill Callahan gave to the media during minicamp. I found a few more good ones in the interview so here is Part 2 of that Read and React:

Why did he decide to go Washington after leaving Dallas?
“There were plenty of options out there that I was fortunate to have and an opportunity to come here and be reunited with a lot of the guys I’ve worked with. I thought it was just a great situation to come to and be in.”
I’m sure the money in Washington was very good but he was a hot commodity and he would have been paid well no matter where he went. But coaches have a tendency to gravitate towards other coaches they know. Callahan had worked with Matt Cavanaugh in New York and had coached RB coach Randy Jordan with the Raiders. In addition, Bruce Allen was the Raiders GM when Callahan was the coach there. We all snicker about the crony network but the bottom line is that if a coach is going to spend very long hours with others in a high-pressure situation he often will choose to do it with coaches he already knows.

How is the revamped right side of the line shaping up?
“Preliminarily we’re looking at a lot of combinations. Spencer and Brandon are on that right side. Certainly Compton has experience on that side. We’re lacking Moses not being in the lineup right now so we’ve got some options and some other players that we’re looking at as well. As time goes on I think it will all be settled in training camp when the get the pads on. Once we get out of these pajamas we’re going to start getting into contact and we’ll figure it out better.”
I found this interesting because of the mention of Morgan Moses. Since he was out for all of the offseason work with that Lisfranc injury we don’t know where they intend to put him. Most assumed that Callahan was referring to Moses as a backup right tackle, which could push Compton off of the 53-man roster. But was he talking about a potential backup right guard? There has been talk of converting Moses to guard, although it has mostly been fan and media chatter to this point. Also, the pajamas line drew a laugh. I get the feeling that most coaches hate the no-pads aspect of minicamp. It probably creates more questions that it answers.

Why did he put up a picture of the Hogs in his office at Redskins Park?
"I had the opportunity to be around Raleigh McKenzie about 20 years ago when I was in Philadelphia. Just learning about the history of the Hogs and, of course, having been exposed to the Redskins as a college coach way back in the early 80’s when the Redskins were rolling pretty good. I had a chance to go to Carlisle and watch them practice in training camp several times. I’ve always admired what Joe Bugel has done. He had a great reputation then as he does now. He’s been kind of a mentor in a lot of ways, watching his film and watching what he’s done with the players over the years. We’re trying to emulate that and live up to the tradition and the standards that they’ve established."
McKenzie was not an original Hog--he's not in the famed picture of the group in top hat and tails--but he was a very good one. He was drafted in 1985 and started for two Super Bowl champs. Philadelphia was one of several stops for him in his post-Redskins career and Callahan was the offensive line coach. You don’t find many coaches who are interested in those who were there before them, it’s refreshing to see Callahan show such respect for Bugel and the history of an organization he just joined.

On what they look at when drafting top talent:
"The type of player we bring in is important to the cohesiveness and chemistry of the group. It’s great to have a top-round draft choice but that’s not discluding the fact that you are going to have younger players from lower rounds just as good if not better than. So we’ve seen that dynamic as well."
He’s happy that the team spent the No. 5 overall pick on a player who is in his position group, no doubt. Just like he was happy in Dallas when the had three No. 1 picks on the offensive line. But he wanted to make it clear that he values all of the players that he’s in charge of and that the character of the players selected is very important. On a side note, I’ve been told that this is an improper use of the word “discluding”, which may or may not be a real word. But his meaning was clear, the opposite of “including”. If you want to take it up with him, feel free.

Timeline

—Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson was born on this date in 1989.

—It’s been 191 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 68 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 23; Preseason opener @ Browns 37; final cuts 60

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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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