Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 7, 31 days before the NFL draft.
Five quick thoughts about the Redskins as they start up their offseason workout program:
1. Will the Redskins maximize Jackson’s talents this year? I’m looking at what Mike Wallace did in Miami last year. I see a decent number of catches (73) but a pedestrian 12.7-yard per catch average, a career low. Jackson averaged 16.2 per grab last year. Can the Redskins make that happen this year?
2. Ryan Clark is an upgrade at safety and Jason Hatcher will be a handful for opposing lines to deal with. Barring an impact draft pick that will be the extent of the personnel improvement on defense. Can Jim Haslett’s scheme take that and substantially improve the performance of the defense? On paper it can but we will have to see.
3. In addition to the scheme, another key to the defense improving will be Perry Riley. He will be the man in the middle calling the signals. Of course, that has been London Fletcher’s job since he came to the team in 2007. Fletcher took Riley under his wing early on but it takes years to develop the instincts that he built over the years. We will see if Riley can pick up where Fletcher left off.
4. A lot of people were rolling their eyes over the weekend when Robert Griffin III pumped up his new Instagram account on Saturday and used it to introduce his new logo on Sunday. Oh well. Still much better than a year ago when his tweets were veiled messages and we kept hearing that he was “ahead of schedule” on his knee rehab. I’ll take an overhyped logo unveiling any day.
5. Even before the acquisition of Jackson, many were wringing their hands worried about Alfred Morris not getting enough work to be effective. But Jay Gruden had some pretty effective receivers in Cincinnati and in his three years there the Bengals were 10th, 17th, and 8th in the league in rushing attempts. You won’t see Morris suffering from a lack of work.
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—It’s been 99 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 153 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Draft 31; Training camp starts 107
In case you missed it
Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.
Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.
Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards.
The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.
Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.
It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade.
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The Redskins have made official some coaching staff changes that have been reported over the last few days.
The team announced that they have filled both coordinator jobs with internal hires. Outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky is the new defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is now the offensive coordinator.
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The team also announced the hiring of two assistant coaches, one on each side of the ball. Kevin O’Connell will replace Cavanaugh as the QB coach and Jim Tomsula will coach the defensive line.
Tomsula was the 49ers head coach in 2015. He was fired after that one season after posting a 5-11 record. But it was his eight seasons as defensive line coach in San Francisco that the Redskins care about. Tomsula did a solid job there, working under Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, and Jim Harbaugh. He also was the defensive line coach under Manusky when he was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco.
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He is known as a fiery motivator, something that will work well with Manusky’s similar style. The line was one of the weakest areas of the defense last year. They are likely to add some talent to the line this offseason and Tomsula is a good choice to coach them up.
The Redskins still need a defensive backs coach. They have a strong in-house candidate in Aubrey Pleasant and now attention will turn to getting a deal for him. It remains to be seen if they will fill Manusky’s former job or if current inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti will add the outside backers to his responsibilities.
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.