Quick Links

Need to Know: Preston Smith could be the key to Redskins' defense

Need to Know: Preston Smith could be the key to Redskins' defense

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 3, nine days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day, no availability

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 237 days ago. It will be nine days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 15; Browns @ Redskins 29; Redskins @ Ravens 36

Stock up/stock down vs. the Bucs

—The key to the Redskins’ defense could be Preston Smith. He has been playing well ever since the start of OTAs. The second-year player gets it in terms of what it takes to prepare to be successful. If that translates onto the field he will be a player opposing offenses will have to account for on every snap. That will make the whole unit better. I’m not sure how good he will be, but I’ll predict that he gets at least one interception, a rarity for a Redskins OLB. That’s because he takes pride in working on coverage and studies it, unlike others who have viewed it as a chore.

—Last year the offensive line was pretty good in pass blocking (4.6 percent sack rate, 5th in NFL) and not very good in run blocking (3.7 yards/carry, 30th in NFL). Given a choice in 2016 I’d rather have a line that can pass block well but, of course, you want a group that can be competent in both. Rushing in the preseason is a hodgepodge of different backs and linemen with no game planning so at this point it’s hard to tell how much progress the Redskins O-line has made in the run blocking department. They should be better but time will tell.

—I’m more bullish on Matt Jones’ chances of becoming a solid running back than most. I get the knocks on him, with his NFL-low average of 3.4 yards per carry. But that stat requires some context. Alfred Morris, who ran behind the same line last year, had an average of 3.7 yards per carry. That is by far the worst of his career. His worst before that was 4.1 per carry in 2014. It’s probably not a coincidence that both backs struggled behind that offensive line (and the tight ends might as well be thrown under the same bus here). If the line gets its act together in run blocking Jones can produce. If they don’t Adrian Peterson couldn’t produce behind them.

—As the O-line struggled last year, Bill Callahan, that unit’s position coach, didn’t come under much criticism. He also is the run game coordinator and the Redskins didn’t run the ball well. There were some good reasons for giving him a pass, primarily that it was his first year on the job and it wasn’t reasonable to expect an instant turnaround. And Callahan does have a good track record. But he did inherit a Pro Bowl performer at the most important position on the line and the No. 5 overall pick in the draft went to his unit. If things don’t start to turn around at some point this season Callahan should get more scrutiny than he has.

—Things haven’t been this quiet around the quarterback position in years. Kirk Cousins came in, played his 54 snaps, and went about his business. No controversy, no noise, no injuries, just some pretty good quarterback play. That doesn’t mean that he’s Pro Bowl bound or anything but it will be an interesting experiment to see if tranquility at the position contributes to competence and winning.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it 

 

Quick Links

Need to Know: Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step and a positive step for Doctson

Need to Know: Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step and a positive step for Doctson

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 26, 11 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 3
—NFL Combine (3/2) 4
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 50
—NFL Draft (4/27) 60
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 196

Sunday six pack

1. JP and I looked at the question of whether Kirk Cousins would “take the next step”. We interpreted the question differently.

Here’s some of what JP had to say:

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

And part of my answer:

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

2. Apprently, Josh Doctson is running and cutting. That’s great but it’s a long way from being productive on the field in the fall. We’ll see how this turns out.

3. The combine is five days away and as of now no Redskins officials are scheduled to speak to the media in Indianapolis. They are one of three teams, along with the Patriots and Saints, no having a coach or GM-type take the podium. Those fans who have wanted the Redskins to be more like the Patriots are getting their wish. Well, except for all those Super Bowl trophies, anyway.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

4. I’m not sure what the chances of Cousins getting traded to the 49ers are but they are monitoring the possibility in San Francisco.

Looking at the list of trades in my friend Matt Maiocco’s post, I think if Cousins is dealt most Redskins fans would like to see something like the Palmer or Cutler trades. Reality is probably closer to the Alex Smith trade.

5. San Francisco signed career mediocrity DT Earl Mitchell, who had been released by the Dolphins.

The deal will pay him $5.5 million in the first year. Mitchell played in nine games last year, starting five. He hasn’t had a sack since 2014 and he has only 5.5 in his seven-year career. This is of interest here because it isn’t good news for a team that will be looking for defensive linemen in free agency. If players without sacks over the last two seasons can get that kind of money, imagine what productive D-linemen will get paid.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

6. Speaking of linemen who are going to get paid by somebody, Chris Baker retweeted this video of his Week 3 sack of Eli Manning.

The tweeter here was correct; Eli was off the rest of the game as I noted a few days later. Baker’s sack was a huge factor in the Redskins’ win.

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 Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Quick Links

OLB Junior Galette signs one-year deal with Redskins

OLB Junior Galette signs one-year deal with Redskins

The Redskins and outside linebacker Junior Galette have come to a contract agreement. But they can’t really count on him to be on the field.

According to Adam Caplan of ESPN Galette has signed a one-year with Washington with a base salary of $775,000 and a workout bonus of $25,000. 

Galette has been under contract to the Redskins for the last two seasons but he has yet to see the field due to suffering a torn Achilles tendon prior to the start of each season. 

Galette was not a pending free agent despite having signed a one-year deal last spring because he spent the season on the non-football (NFI) list. He suffered his second torn Achilles a few days before training camp while working out on his own. As unfair as it may seem, an injury suffered while working out off of team property is considered a non-football injury. A player on NFI does not get paid and if he misses the whole year as Galette did his contract rolls over to the next season.

Related: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Cousins talk continues

Galette originally signed with the team early in training camp in 2015. Even though he racked up a combined 22 sacks in 2013-2014 the Saints released him due to some off-field issues, including a domestic abuse case.

Galette needed to rehab an injury and get into football shape so he didn’t play early in the preseason. Days before he was to make his preseason debut he suffered a torn left Achilles in practice. He spent the year on injured reserve.

He rehabbed the injury, signed another one-year deal with the Redskins, and then just a few days before it was time to report to training camp he tore his right Achilles, the other one, while working out, putting him out for the season again.

Galette’s addition is a real-life instance the adage that you can’t have too much pass rush. If he gets on the field and can stay there, great, that’s one more pass rusher. Figuring out where to play him, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Trent Murphy will be a problem that new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will be happy to handle. And if the injury bug bites again they still have some potent rushers and it would behoove them to add even more.

There are reasons to believe that Galette can be effective when he returns. The following is from former NFL team physician Dr. David Chao:

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.