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Redskins fan questions: Rak, O-line, the draft and more

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Redskins fan questions: Rak, O-line, the draft and more

Haven't done this in a while, answering your questions from Twitter and Facebook. Let's jump right into it.
@Rich_TandlerCSN Will the Redskins address the secondary or WR corps with their first pick? #RedskinsTalk

— Eli Nachmany (@PFF_EliNachmany) February 12, 2014
It's too early to even make an intelligent guess. Those certainly are positions of need. But it's better the fill immediate needs in free agency. If you wait until the draft you could end up on the clock without someone who represents good value at your positions of need. Bottom line, I could see them going any position with that 34th overall pick except QB, RB, TE, and, if they do have Brian Orakpo back in the fold, outside linebacker.

I think all scenarios are in play. I wrote yesterday that they might want to jump up into the end of the first round to get an extra year of team control for the their top pick. I could also see them moving back and getting additional picks. When you have 20 unrestricted free agents you are going to have roster spots to fill and it's better to fill the bottom of the roster with draft picks than with journeyman veterans. So they could grab some extra picks as well.
@Rich_TandlerCSN #RedskinsTalk Rak healthy in '13 and the defense was horrible. He wasn't part of '12 run. Why so critical we sign him?

— Brandon Moore (@habimaki88) February 12, 2014
I'm trying to recall what was so great about that 2012 defense. Was it the No. 28 ranking in yards (18th this year)? The 32 sacks (36 last year)? Not to say that the '13 unit was clearly superior but it is a stretch to say that the '12 run had much to do with the defense. It was all about a healthy rookie QB named RG3 and a rookie running back named Alfred Morris. And even that team wasn't that good. They were the 4th seed and one and done in the playoffs. If that's the ceiling of what you want then I suppose you could stick with Rob Jackson at outside LB. I would think that most Redskins fans want better than that, something like 12 or 13 wins and a first-round bye. Players like Orakpo help you get there so that is why they need to bring him back.

I also wonder about the retention of Chris Foerster. There may have been better options out there. But he didn't pick what he had to work with. It's remarkable that the Redskins were able to lead the NFL in rushing and in yards per play last year given the talent (and I use that word loosely) he had to work with. It wasn't Foerster's call to leave Tom Compton, Adam Gettis, and Josh LeRibeus on the bench after the season was lost. That was Mike Shanahan's call all the way. One good thing about retaining Foerster is that he's been on the practice field and in meeting rooms with the three 2012 draft picks and he should have a good handle on if they have to potential to contribute this year.
#RedskinsTalk will Chase Minnifield get an opportunity for a significant role on the team next year?

— James Eye (@Jaeye18) February 12, 2014
Let's throw Bacarri Rambo into here since they are in similar situations. Remember last year when Niles Paul was talking about the team not having enough players who were enthusiastic about playing on special teams? Minnifield and Rambo didn't show much enthusiasm for special teams. They both could have been active every week if they had balled out on special teams. When you're a sixth-round pick or an undrafted free agent that's how you earn snaps on defense. To answer the question, the amount of opportunity that Minnifield gets will be in direct proportion to the ability, effort, and enthusiasm he gives to special teams.

I get that concern but it's not really an apples to apples comparison. It's not as though Bruce Allen and/or Doug Williams had final say on personnel. By the time Allen got there that power mostly belonged to Jon Gruden. Taking that into consideration, the Bucs were far from a disaster when Allen/Williams were there. They had three winning records and two playoff appearances in five years (and, yes, double-digit losses in the other two years). Allen/Gruden were fired after back-to-back 9-7 seasons. Around here that would be grounds for a contract extension, not a pink slip. And firing the coach and GM wasn't necessarily the smartest move for the Bucs. That 10-6 season they had in 2010, two years after Allen was fired, has the look of a fluke. It's their only winning record since Allen/Gruden left and it's buried in three double-digit loss seasons.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up a league-worse 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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.

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