Category Archives: Redskins

The 15 Best-Worst Parts From Football Outsiders’ 2015 Redskins Preview

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This has been a rough week for the Redskins, what with RGIII blaming the media for quoting him accurately and Jay Gruden leaving his franchise QB out there to die. But the thing is, it was pretty rough already. Case in point, read the highlights from Mike Tanier’s (@MikeTanier) excellent Redskins essay in this year’s Football Outsiders Almanac.

I’ve pulled out 15 parts from it (see below), and totally encourage you to buy the book, which I’ve done every summer for nearly a decade. It’s a great resource for A) knowing about the NFL in general on a deeper level, B) getting a handle on expected performance for skill position/fantasy players and C) realizing just how incredibly shitty your favorite team is relative to all of the others. Enjoy.

1. “Checking back in on the Redskins after a few months away is like returning home for your high school reunion and discovering that no one has changed.”

2. “The three-headed quarterback controversy, the closest thing science will ever create to a perpetual motion machine, is back … Jay Gruden, who ended every press conference in his rookie season as head coach by stepping on a rake and thwapping himself in the head, is also back. Dan Snyder is back, because owners cannot be fired.”

3. “The Redskins used to make the same mistake every year. Now they spend three years prolonging the same mistake. It’s a subtle difference.”

4. “A December article on [new GM Scot] McCloughan by ESPN The Magazine’s Seth Wickersham became the defining source text for McCloughan. Unemployed at the time of Wickersham’s profile, McCloughan suddenly became a buzzy name in media and fan circles. Snyder may well have had McCloughan on
his radar before the article was published, but if there is any owner in the NFL likely to hire a new general manager based on something he read in a magazine, it’s Snyder.”

5. “With Griffin in a state of arrested development, the Redskins have virtually nothing to show for three consecutive drafts except Alfred Morris and some oft-injured peripherals like [Jordan] Reed.”

6. “While division rivals acquired instant difference makers like Odell Beckham and Zack Martin in last year’s draft, the Redskins sat out the first round, then grabbed a pair of prospects so unimpressive (Trent Murphy and Morgan Moses) that they doubled down at the same positions this year.”

7. “With minimal star power and an almost complete dearth of mid-tier talent, the 2014 Redskins finished 27th or lower in DVOA on offense, defense, special teams, passing offense, passing defense, adjusted sack rank on offense, and a wide variety of split categories.”

8. “The veteran [free agency signings] will help the Redskins become more competitive, but many of the acquisitions were the kind an expansion team makes just to prevent weekly embarrassment.”

9. “There’s not a playoff-caliber unit on the depth chart, and there’s a lingering sense of dysfunctionality between the underwater-mortgage quarterback and the coach who was supposed to breathe fresh air into the organization but spent 2014 recycling the previous year’s lingering odor.”

10. “Every day in the offseason, Gruden woke, brushed his teeth, perhaps savored a soft-boiled egg, then announced to the Washington media that Robert Griffin is still the Redskins quarterback, as of right now. It was like entering the codes on Lost: if Gruden did not reaffirm Griffin’s status daily, complete with a passive-aggressive undermining clause at the end of the sentence (if the season started today, if he continues to make progress, If Robert and I were the last two humans on earth), the global infrastructure would crumble.”

11. “Gruden managed his three quarterbacks last year as if he was taking requests from message board trolls.”

12. “Gruden coached the end of the [Week 15 Giants] game like he was the Madden AI, not an intelligent adult whose decisions are supposed to achieve some kind of comprehensible goal.”

13. “Griffin now has the footwork of a newborn baby deer, with legs sprawling in all directions when he attempts basic maneuvers in or out of the pocket. His stat sheet for 2014 was like a straw-man argument against completion percentage as a measure of quality. Griffin completed 68.7 percent of his passes, which would rank in the all-time top 20 if he had played a little more. But Griffin led the NFL in failed completion rate: exactly one-third (47 of 149) of his completions were essentially useless.”

14. “[New offensive line coach Bill] Callahan has the resume of an interim head coach if Snyder and McCloughan decide enough is enough after Thanksgiving.”

15. “All teams rely on multiple coaches, players and execs for success, of course. Only Washington is relying on so many people with an obvious capacity for failure.”

Don’t Worry, RGIII Is Willing To ‘Be Basic’

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From this week’s MMQB column, which leads with a terrific story about Panthers coach Bruce Dehaven, comes this RGIII quote:

“[The Redskins] are asking me to be basic and take the plays that are there. If that’s what Jay wants me to do, that’s what I am going to do. It doesn’t mean you take everything out of your game. When those opportunities come up to make plays out of the pocket I will do it and not think twice about it. But if they are asking me to do the ordinary, that’s what I am going to have to do.”

I’m not sure which is worse, the reluctance or the delusion. It feels like a long season already.

Offseason Champs No More?

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I hesitate to say the Redskins have reverse-engineered their approach to team building, learning from nightmares past, but that does seem to the case under new GM Scot McCloughlan. A recap of their moves through the opening days of free agency:

*Depth D-lineman Ricky Jean-Francois for three years, $9 million ($4M guaranteed)
*Pass-rushing D-lineman Stephen Paea for four years, $21 million ($12.85M guaranteed)
*Run-stuffing 3-4 nose Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton for one year, $4 million guaranteed
*Quality, 26-year-old cornerback Chris Culliver for four years, $32 million ($16M guaranteed)

Update: The Skins also signed 26-year-old strong safety Jeron Johnson for two years, $3.5 million. He was Kam Chancellor’s backup in Seattle, but he’ll probably start in D.C.

What they didn’t do: sign Brian Orakpo for four years, $32 million ($13.5M guaranteed). They let Tennessee do that, and there’s no takebacks if Rak tears a pec while signing on the line that is dotted.

So, a new leaf for the Skins? These are sensible deals addressing areas of major concern. Without doing the research, I’d say Washington had one of the worst defensive lines in football last season, as well as one of the worst secondaries. That was fun!

Now they’re improved on both fronts, and they’ve got a full boat of draft picks to use next month. This must be how quality organizations operate.

Added bonus: Both the Giants and Eagles land on Bill Barnwell’s top 10 *worst* free agent signings so far. #facts

ESPN’s ‘Great Analytics Ranking’ Shits All Over The Redskins

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The Worldwide Leader unveiled a rather cool feature yesterday, The Great Analytics Rankings, sorting all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams by “the strength of each franchise’s analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics.” I don’t know what biometric data is, but this is interesting nonetheless, at least as it pertains to our favorite teams.

We’ll start with the good. The Nats and O’s are both labeled as “believers,” meaning they rank somewhere in the top half among MLB teams. For the O’s, it’s thanks to “GM Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, all of whom are respected for their analytical thinking,” though “they need a more coherent, holistic approach and a stronger investment to compete with division rivals Tampa Bay, Boston and New York.”

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Mr. Irrelevant’s Annual D.C. Pro Sports Team Power Rankings

I’m not sure if this is actually an *annual* ranking of the five major D.C. pro sports teams, but it is a nice time of year to do such a thing.

5. Washington Redskins

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As Tom Boswell so kindly points out, the past two Redskins seasons were the franchise’s worst since 1961. Incredible.

But! Short of Dan Snyder selling the team, the best possible thing that could happen just happened: They finally hired a real GM. And a highly regarded one to boot!

Of course, he has a drinking problem, and this is the Redskins. Our enthusiasm is curbed by hopelessness. Continue reading

How Many Decent Players Do The Redskins Actually Have?

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This is an inexact tally, but if you care to see what new Redskins GM/recovering alcoholic/personnel guru/light beer drinker Scot McCloughlan has to work with, carry on.

What we’re trying to determine is how many players on the Redskins roster are legitimate NFL starters. In this case, that means they’re at least in the top half of starters at their position in the league. Meaning, if Robert Griffin III is one of the 16 best QBs, then he’s considered to be decent. If he is not, then he’s not. (Spoiler: He’s not.)

To help us figure this out we asked three national NFL writers for their take on the matter. They are Michael David Smith from Pro Football Talk, Bill Barnwell from Grantland and Will Brinson from CBS Sports. We thank them for their time. Here’s what they said …

1. Trent Williams (LT)

“Above average. I’m not as high on him as some people are — I wouldn’t put him in the Top 5 — but he’s certainly in the Top 16 left tackles in the NFL.” — MDS

Top five in the league at his position. — Barnwell

“Easiest guy on the list to say above average for between his talent and the lack of great offensive linemen.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

2. DeSean Jackson (WR)

“Way, way above average. Elite talent. Not sure I’ve ever seen a WR just keep making big plays no matter who his QB is the way Jackson does. Eagles would’ve been in the playoffs this year if they’d kept him.” — MDS

Above average, at least. — Barnwell

“Surprisingly good year for DeSean considering their terrible season; there aren’t many wideouts like him in the league.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

3. Ryan Kerrigan (OLB)

“Above average. Sack numbers are a little inflated by one big game against a terrible Jaguars offense, but he’s a good player.” — MDS

Above average. Not quite top five at his position. — Barnwell

“Definitely above average. Winning on the field.” — Brinson

Verdict: Way above average.

4. Tress Way (P)

“There are better people than me to analyze punters but from my observations I’d say average. Kicks it far but too returnable — looks like he sacrifices hang time for length, which makes it harder on his coverage units. I feel like he has the talent to be above average but a better special teams coach needs to get him more in tune with how to kick a less returnable ball.” — MDS

Average to above average. — Barnwell

“Statistically above average!” — Brinson

Verdict: Above average.

5. Alfred Morris (RB)

“Average. Just looked up his Football Outsiders stats. Almost exactly league average DVOA two years in a row. About right with what my eyes tell me.” — MDS

Average to above average, at least. — Barnwell

“Isn’t versatile or dynamic but he’s underrated and consistent. Had 1,000 yards. The 16th leading rusher in the NFL, Russell Wilson, had 849 yards.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

6. Pierre Garcon (WR)

“Average. Was overrated in 2013, caught a lot of passes but didn’t make the most of his opportunities.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Someone had to suffer after two dudes with 1,300 yards last year joined forces. Feel like he’s an above average WR2.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

7. Jordan Reed (TE)

“Average overall. a little above average as a receiver, a little below average as a blocker.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Has the talent to be above average, I think it would be close if you broke down the top 16 tight ends.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

8. Kory Lichtensteiger (C)

“Above average. Good run blocker. OK pass blocker.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

“Almost definitely maybe above average.” — Brinson

Verdict: Average.

9. Darrel Young (FB)

“Above average. Fullback is a dying position but with the limited stuff an NFL fullback is asked to do these days, he’s better at it than most.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Average.

10. Keenan Robinson (MLB)

“Average in 2014 but trending in the right direction. If he’s healthy I bet he’ll be an above-average player in 2015.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Slightly below average.

11. Chris Baker (DT)

“Average. One of those big guys you need in the middle but doesn’t make many splash plays.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Slightly below average.

12. Bashaud Breeland (CB)

“Below average. I didn’t see anyone playing even average in the Washington secondary this season.” — MDS

Below average. — Barnwell

Verdict: Below average.

That’s it. Only 12 Redskins players even made it into the conversation. Of those 12, only nine came out average or better. Of those nine, excluding punters, only three were clearly above average at their position and only one plays defense.

Who knows what these numbers look like for a good team, or even an average team. All of which is to say, please join us in welcoming Scot McCloughlan.

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Note: We didn’t include Brian Orakpo here, because his contract is up, and we don’t expect him to return. And didn’t include DeAngelo Hall because, well, we forgot about D-Hall. Sorry, dude.

Skins Postmortem: ‘We Are The Team Everybody Loves To Hate’

Here with his guest post for predicting the Redskins’ loss at Arizona is frequent guest contributor Michael McElroy (@Mikeyvanili on Twitter).

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Hello fans of the Washington Football Team.

According to Dictionary.com, the word postmortem has two primary definitions:

1. of, relating to, or occurring in the time following death.
2. occurring after the end of something; after the event.

Following the Washington [Redacted]s 2014 NFL season, I prefer to think of this post as the former, not the latter. I don’t have much to say about this season overall other than I never realized that hate and despair could be so interwoven with apathy.

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Redskins-Cowboys Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a 44-17 season-ending loss to Dallas.

Winners

DeSean Jackson — He made yet another big play, this time a 69-yard touchdown, to cap off a season full of them. They call him King Turd up here on Shit Mountain, but if you want it you can have the crown.

Losers

Jay Gruden — Lost by 27 to a rival with nothing to gain, finishing 4-12 with no hope, though he does still have a job.

Robert Griffin III — Two picks in the red zone, one fumble for six the other way and boatloads of doubt heading into 2015.

Jim Haslett — One more steaming pile from the Haz. PSGO.

Special teams coach whose name I never remember — Fell for the onside kick.

David Amerson — Burnt by Dez Bryant, burnt by Terrance Williams.

E.J. Biggers — That facemask tackle was textbook horseshit.

Pierre Garcon blindsides Cowboys defender

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Pierre Garcon — The late block that set off a melee after RGIII’s TD was fine by me.

Roy Helu — The little move he pulled on the fake reverse was nice.

Draft position — We have the fifth overall pick to look forward to.

(GIF taken with love from The Big Lead.)