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Skins Seahawks Stuck on Stupid

Skins Seahawks Stuck on Stupid

Skins, Seahawks Stuck on Stupid

You can reach me by email at rtandler@comcast.net
 
When one thinks of similar NFL teams, one rarely thinks of the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. One is East Coast smash-mouth, the other is West Coast, well, West Coast. For most of the past 30 years Seattle was AFC indoors on turf in the slick, new Kingdome, Washington was NFC, outside on grass and mud in ancient and rickety RFK Stadium.
 
In the past five years, however, the teams have grown more and more similar. Seattle moved to the NFC. They both now play on grass in new stadiums that are named for companies (Qwest and FedEx) that did not exist when the Seahawks were formed in 1976. They both have deep-pockets owners who seem to be willing to do anything to win. And they both, by vastly different methods, are stuck on stupid.
 
Since 2000 the Seahawks have had one coach, Mike Holmgren. The following year, Homgren inserted quarterback Mike Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander and wide receiver Darrell Jackson into the regular lineup and since then that trio as started the lion’s share of games at their respective positions. They have built their roster largely thorough the draft. The result of such stability at key positions has been staggering mediocrity. Since 2000 they are 43-40 with an 0-2 playoff record.
 
At least they have a winning record. The Redskins have been worse by about a game and a half a year, going 36-46 with nary a whiff of the playoffs. Since 2000 they have been through four head coaches (no, Robiskie doesn’t count), seven different starting quarterbacks (with numerous shuffles among them), three primary running backs and four primary wide receivers. They have gone after free agents and they have made some major trades
 
To be sure, the Seahawks have taken a flyer in free agency from time to time with players such as defensive end Grant Wistrom. Hasselbeck came in a trade, albeit one that wasn’t noticed much at the time. And Washington has had some draftees such as Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels around since the turn of the century.
 
Two different paths, one result where most NFL teams measure success—not a single playoff win. What we have is one extreme, excessive stability and another, excessive instability. Neither has worked out very well.
 
Looking at the coaches, perhaps Seattle should have taken a closer look at Holmgrem’s Super Bowl ring and seen Bret Favre smiling back at them in one of the stones and let the coach go. A change of direction at the top might have gotten this talented team deep into the playoffs. Had the Redskins stuck with Marty Schottenheimer, they may have a few playoff appearances under their belts. Maybe Spurrier would have figured the pro game out by now. Maybe Norv would have. . .uh, nope, forget it, and the one about the Ballcoach as well. But Marty may have gotten it done.
 
At the running back spot, Washington had a choice to make a few years ago—either take a huge cap hit to keep Stephen Davis, one of the best running backs in the game, or let him go. They chose to let him go figuring, perhaps, what’s one more change in a sea of them.  This year, Seattle chose to take a big cap hit to keep Alexander, one of the best backs in the game, rather than let him go. Their knee jerk reaction towards stability dictated that they keep him. Through three games it seems like that was a good move. We’ll see in another 13 games and next offseason, when Alexander will be an unrestricted free agent, how such a commitment to stability works out in the long term.
 
The turmoil has continued for the Redskins even after the hiring of Joe Gibbs, who will coach this team for as long as he wants to, with the team firing both of its 2004 starting wide receivers and making a quarterback change 18 minutes into the season.
 
On Sunday, this clash of the wannabe titans will take place. Continuity vs. chaos, order vs. turmoil.
 
Dumb vs. dumber. We’ll see which is which

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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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