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Need to Know: Shanahan says it's too soon to judge NFC East

Need to Know: Shanahan says it's too soon to judge NFC East

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 1, 12 days before the Redskins visit the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Nickel coverage

Five key quotes from Mike Shanahan’s Monday news conference:

1. The Redskins went to a no-huddle attack a couple of times during the game and it was pretty effective. One no-huddle drive led to a field goal and their first touchdown drive started with the quick tempo.

It’s always good when you use something that nobody has ever seen before, so you do catch people off-balance a little bit and I think that’s what we did. We caught them a little off-balance. The pace was a little bit different, and I think it’s a good changeup.”

2. Some Redskins didn’t particularly like having the bye so early in the schedule. Shanahan pointed out that the Redskins have played eight games counting the preseason so a break is welcome at any time.

I don’t even think about that because when you’ve got your bye, it’s your bye. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the season, toward the end of the season or in the beginning. You can use excuses that it’s the perfect time for any bye week. At the end of the day, we have got a chance to heal up a little bit. We have got a couple of guys banged up which is a positive for us to get these guys healthy.

3. Shanahan thinks it’s too early to make any grand pronouncements about the state of the NFC East where the teams are a combined 4-12.

Remember, this is a long season. Don’t get carried away with things that happen very early or very late. Just stay the course. Understand your objective and your goals and try to get better each day. A lot of those games can go either way and people get healthy or they get injured and there is a lot that goes into it.”

4. Brandon Meriweather played a decent game, mostly lining up at free safety while Reed Doughty was at strong.

The one thing about Brandon, if he’s deep or he’s in the box, he can tackle, he’s going to make some plays. I think he’s getting in better football shape. You can see each game he’s playing better and he’s getting healthier. You need reps to be good no matter what, and those reps are helping him.”

5. As I noted yesterday, Robert Griffin III has been flagged for intentional grounding six times in his 19 NFL starts including one in a key situation yesterday. Shanahan was asked what can be done about this tendency.

“We go over the things with Robert. If you do get put in a situation like that, and someone might miss an assignment, they may have an all-out blitz, which side do you throw it to? Do you throw it to the side with no wide receivers or the side with three wide receivers? All of a sudden, as time goes on, the process slows down a little bit, and with repetition, you get better.”


Stat of the day

—The Redskins were called for just three penalties for 29 yards against the Raiders. In their first three games they had averaged 7.7 penalties and 66 penalty yards.

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Timeline

—Days until: Redskins @ Cowboys 12; Bears @ Redskins 19; Redskins @ Broncos 26

—Today’s schedule: Availability with assistant coaches and players 10:30; Mike Shanahan news conference follows, approx. 11:30.

“The sky is not falling”

In case you missed it

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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.