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Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up

Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, November 11, six days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nickel coverage

Yesterday, we looked at five Redskins who have exceeded expectations in the 2013 season. Today, it’s five who need to step up if the Redskins are going to make something of themselves in the second half of the season.

1. Shortly after the 2013 season ended, Josh Morgan visited the doctor and had a bunch of hardware removed from the foot he broke while he was with the 49ers in 2011. He feels better than he did last year but his production doesn’t show it. His snaps have declined and he has just 11 receptions for 124 yards on the year.

2. All offseason long we heard how Brandon Meriweather would become a force in the defense once he was healthy. But he’s played every snap since Week 3 with the exception of the Broncos game and his impact has been minimal. On top of that there is no real indication that he has learned to refrain from the headhunting that cost on that one-game suspension. You get the feeling that the next hit could make him a spectator for multiple games.

3. Defensive ends in a 3-4 are supposed to do a lot of the dirty work and don’t necessarily have to make a lot of plays to be effective. But still it would be good to see more out of Stephen Bowen that shows up in the stats. He hasn’t had a full sack since December 18, 2011 against the Giants (he had two half sacks last year, none this year). There are 11 tackles to his credit. Bowen has one of the 10 highest cap numbers on the team and the Redskins should be getting a little more for their money.

4. Speaking of top-10 cap numbers, Chris Chester is a member of that club and the Redskins are not getting their money’s worth out of him. According to Pro Football Focus Chester is the lowest-rated player on the Redskins’ offense. He has allowed 27 QB hurries, more than any two other members of the offensive line combined. He also leads the team with four offensive holding penalties.

5. Robert Griffin III has been up and down this year and, looking from the beginning of the season, he’s been more down than up. The knee injury undoubtedly has been a factor but if he’s taking the snaps, he needs to get that job done.

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Stat of the day

—The Redskins have been hit with 17 offensive holding penalties in their nine games. Last year they had just 21 in 16 games.

Timeline

Days until: Redskins @ Eagles 6; Monday night 49ers @ Redskins 14; Giants @ Redskins 20

Today’s schedule: Player availability 11:15; Practice 1:00 (open to the media for first 30 minutes); After practice (approx. 3:00) Mike Shanahan news conference, telecast on Comcast SportsNet

In case you missed it

Chances of a 2012 repeat seem slim

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Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

Redskins interviewed Greg Manusky for defensive coordinator

The Redskins interviewed current outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky for their defensive coordinator opening, the team announced yesterday.  

Manusky has a long history with the Redskins organization. He served as outside linebackers coach this past season, and was also linebackers coach back in the 2001 season. In his playing days, Manusky was a Redskins linebacker from 1988 to 1990. 

He has held three separate defensive coordinator positions in his coaching career, including with the San Francisco 49ers (2007-2010), San Diego Chargers (2011) and Indianapolis Colts (2012-2015).

For more on his defensive philosophy and background, check out Rich Tandler's profile of Manusky

The Redskins have confirmed four interviews for the defensive coordinator position: Manusky, Rob Ryan, Gus Bradley and Mike Pettine

MORE REDSKINS: Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

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Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual contenders to go deep into the playoffs. The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart. Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Earlier this week we looked at the offense; today the defense is up. Although there could be a change to a 4-3 base defense in the making depending on who the coordinator is, we’ll line them up in a 3-4 until there is word to the contrary.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

Defensive line

Starters: Chris Baker*, draft pick/free agent X 2
Backups: Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier

It seems that Baker wants to stay and give that the Redskins would be starting their D-line virtually from scratch without him the chances of coming up with a deal seem strong. I will spend the entire 99 days between now and the draft saying that it’s not a given that they will take a defensive lineman, or any defensive player, with their top draft pick. But someone like Malik McDowell of Michigan State sure would fit in well here along with a free agent like Bennie Logan of the Eagles. The organization will be looking for leaps forward from Ioannidis and Lanier.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Outside linebacker

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Lynden Trail

Although nothing is certain until pen is put to paper, the chances of Galette giving it another go after two torn Achilles in two years are strong. Trail and Houston Bates will battle for a fifth spot, if there is one. Given Smith’s inconsistency and the uncertainty of Galette’s health it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft an edge rusher.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Will Compton, free agent
Backups: Martrell Spaight, Mason Foster, draft pick

I’m putting Compton there in dry erase marker, not in Sharpie. They love his leadership and work ethic but he must make more plays. I have a free agent starting beside him because it’s a tough position for a rookie to learn. But if they spend a high draft pick that player could jump into a starting job quickly.  Foster moves into the nickel role that he performed well after Su’a Cravens went out with an injury. Steven Daniels, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent the year on injured reserve, could push Spaight for a job.

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar
Backups: Kendall Fuller (nickel), Tharold Simon, free agent/draft pick

This could go in a lot of different directions. The only spot set in stone is Norman’s. I have Bashaud Breeland moving to safety, which is something of a speculative hot take. If they make that move, they could spend a high draft pick or substantial free agent money on a corner or they could stay in-house with Dunbar or Fuller. Simon could make the team and contribute or he could be cut.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Safety

Starters: Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, draft pick

Safeties are hard to find. In college, potentially good safeties gravitate towards cornerback, where the NFL money is better. If a good one hits the free agent market, the laws of supply and demand push the price up beyond the value of the position. For those reasons, the Redskins might try Breeland at safety. Some in the organization have believed for a couple of years that safety is his best position. Cravens announced that he would be moving to safety so that change is firm. Duke Ihenacho, who is a free agent, could be back but I think he moves along. Blackmon is a good veteran reserve who can play nickel also. Even though he made a key interception when forced into duty against the Eagles, it still seems that they don’t trust Everett at safety and perhaps a mid-round pick will replace him.

Specialists: LS Nick Sundberg*, P Tress Way, PK Dustin Hopkins

I predict that Sundberg will be the first of the team’s pending free agents to agree to a contract. Hopkins may get some camp competition but it is unlikely to be of more than the token variety.

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.