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Need to Know: Who makes the call on RG3?

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Need to Know: Who makes the call on RG3?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, August 25, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens.

Question of the day

Today's question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

First off, I don't know for certain what the decision making process regarding Griffin is and I doubt that anybody outside of the Redskins' chain of command does. But there are tea leaves that can be read and this is how I read them. Again, to be clear, this is not reporting hard facts, this is my informed speculation.

The decision to forego a quarterback competition and make Robert Griffin III the starter was an organizational decision. As is often the case, not everyone in the organization necessarily agreed with the decision. It seems likely that Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder favored giving Griffin another year since they were involved in the decision to pay a record price to move up in the 2012 draft to take him. Jay Gruden probably either wanted a competition or to declare either Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy the starter.

Where did Scot McCloughan stand? He may not have liked what he saw from Griffin on tape. He may not have liked what he saw from any of the three quarterbacks. But he also looked at a roster full of holes and realized that the getting a better option at quarterback into the building would not be possible without sacrificing the draft choices or cap dollars necessary to rebuild the team. Logic says that he was OK with keeping the same group of quarterbacks and giving Griffin one last shot. He proceeded to build the defense and bolster the running game in hopes that the team could be competitive in games without relying so much on the quarterback playing well.

Why not a QB competition? Those aren’t always the best thing for the team. For one, a competition can create divisions in the locker room. But perhaps the worst aspect of a competition is that the two or three players split the first-team reps through OTAs, minicamp, and training camp. That means that the winner of the competition will have had only a third to a half of the first-team reps. That has your starter starting off the season behind the eight-ball.

The other thing is that competitions are all too frequently not really competitions. You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that Ryan Mallett, whose two-year contract with the Texans pays him $7 million with $1.75 million guaranteed was ever going to start in Houston over Brian Hoyer, who got two years, $10.5 million with $4.75 million guaranteed. They had “competition” that Hoyer “won”. Now he gets to play catch up thanks to all of the reps with the starters he has missed.

But back to the Redskins. While the decision-making process that ended with Griffin being named the starter is interesting, it's academic. It's done, history. What matters now is who will be involved in the decision to pull the plug, should that call need to be made. If a decision to keep a struggling Griffin on the field is made by Allen and Snyder over the objections of the football people, McCloughan and Gruden, things could get ugly. The good news is that that the contracts of McCloughan and Gruden give them the authority to set the lineups and say who is on the roster. Of course it may not be wise to go against the wishes of the team owner and president but they can do it if they have the guts.

It doesn’t have to be ugly. The best-case scenario is things working out for Griffin and him showing that he can be the quarterback of the future. But if he shows that he can’t get it done, the optimal scenario is that all of the key decision makers agree on best time is to pull the plug.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:10 a.m.; player availability and Jay Gruden news conference after practice (approx. 12:30)

—It’s been 242 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 17 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason Redskins @ Ravens 2; final cuts 9; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 28

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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.

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like Football Outsiders' DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 

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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.