Thus far, when it comes to the 2013 draft, the Redskins have found one player capable of being outstanding (Jordan Reed) and another who has contributed all season (David Amerson). After that, there are a lot of question marks (as there should be after less than a full season) and potential role players. If you can get two quality starters and a couple key contributors from a seven-player draft, then you’ve done rather well. This class has a ways to go.
Strong safety Phillip Thomas (fourth round): On injured reserve. Impossible to say what he might have done; we didn’t see enough, nor did he get a chance to really work on his game once the preseason started because of his injury. I know the coaches liked his progress this summer. It’s a start.
Running back Chris Thompson (fifth round): Also on injured reserve. Made no impact when healthy. In the preseason he looked fast, but that wasn’t the case in the regular season as he misjudged the speed of those trying to tackle him on returns. Because of his size and past injuries, durability always will be an issue. That will limit his role even if he does come through. He has the speed (and quick acceleration) you want, but needs plenty of work. Speed alone won’t cut it.
Linebacker Brandon Jenkins (fifth round): I don’t buy the idea that he would have been a first-round pick had he stayed healthy. He looked like a raw pass-rusher this summer, albeit one who was worth developing. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities, which is understandable given who’s ahead of him at linebacker. For now he looks like a role player who, because of his size and ability to run, needs to develop on special teams as well. But I’m intrigued to see how he develops. He showed flashes last summer, but a lot of guys do. Year 2 will tell a lot.
Safety Bacarri Rambo (sixth round): Opened as the starter, but more so because of who the Redskins didn’t have than for his own performance. He tackled poorly, wasn’t a good special teamer and deserved to be pulled. He had the reputation as a ballhawk in college, yet he doesn’t make plays (didn’t see it in practice or games). I love how he’s responded -- he’s tackled much better since his return. The next four games will help him. Regardless, safety will remain an offseason priority. They need a quality starter at this position. If Rambo can develop into a quality backup and special-teamer, then he’s a good sixth-round pick.
Running back Jawan Jamison (seventh round): Still on the practice squad. Wasn’t wowed by him this summer, though there were things to like (ability to make defenders miss with a little second-level wiggle).
So here goes: Should Kirk Cousins play in the next four games?
The short answer: No. I’ve written that before so you might know my opinion already. In a nutshell, Griffin needs to play to keep learning. Yes, he was hit a few times Sunday, but only five times in the first half and of the 16 overall many weren’t bad; there were a couple that stood out making it seem worse than it was.
Anyway, to think he’d somehow learn by sitting is a silly notion. If the Redskins ever sit him in the next four weeks and use that line, know what I’ll think? Offseason quarterback debate. Don’t forget, Cousins spent the entire offseason and most of training camp getting reps he would not have had if Griffin had been healthy. That was his chance to develop. That’s more than most backups receive, too. It gave the coaches many opportunities to evaluate him, more than usual.
Regardless, Cousins agrees with not sitting Griffin.
“Robert’s a young player, too, and he’s getting better,” Cousins said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. To take him off the field so I can develop, then he’s not developing. It’s a much bigger deal for him to get the reps than for me because he’s the starting quarterback. It sounds nice when you say that but you have to see it from both angles.”
Cousins must sit and wait his turn and it will happen someday. He’s shown enough to warrant a look at some point.
“I believe if I’m good enough I’ll get that chance so I don’t need to force it to happen today or tomorrow,” Cousins said. “It may happen four or five years from now but if it happens it happens. I’ll be patient and wait and if I’m not good enough I’ll have to live with that.”
When it does happen he’ll be ready. I can’t imagine many prepare better than Cousins. But this is Griffin’s job and, when you’ve invested as much as they have in him, you need to give him every opportunity to improve. That means staying on the field for the next four games. If he becomes physically beat up, then remove him. But even last week he did a better job of avoiding hits -- sometimes those hits were just shoves out of bounds or a guy failing to get a good lick on because he slid. Or he dumped the ball off before taking a hit. I saw improvement. Why not see if that continues?
Meanwhile, Griffin said he takes no offense to such talk. Not sure I buy that one; he’s an intense competitor. I know it would irk me.
Still, here’s what he said: “That’s just outsiders looking in that just don’t understand the game of football. When it comes to a time like this, it’s easy for guys to check out. I think it would be real cowardly of me to check out and say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to play these next four games.’ It’s not who I am. It’s not who any competitive football player is. You want to play, so we’re going to finish out the year and you take what’s happened this year, being 3-9, and you face it. That’s why I come up here every single week. I face you guys because this is what you have to do. You have to do the same thing no matter whether you’re winning or losing and we’ve got four games and I’m going to give it my all these four games and I know those guys will, too.”
That decision hasn’t been made, of course. It’s uncertain if owner Dan Snyder would want to pay Shanahan $7 million in addition to paying the rest of his staff, and then hiring a new staff.
For now, Shanahan sees the value in stability at coach and quarterback. But he also knows it’s not his call.
“In a perfect world you’d always like to be running an offense you feel comfortable with, there’s no question about that,” Shanahan said. “You’d always like to be with the same system so you don’t have to learn terminology. But that’s not always a perfect world, so a lot of quarterbacks adjust different ways, there’s a lot of different philosophies on what offense is the best – is it a good running game, is it a good passing game, what’s first?
“It’s really the direction of ownership, what direction they want to go, what type of offense they want to run, what type of defense they want to run, those type of things.”
- Shanahan said he spoke with receiver Pierre Garcon about his penalty Sunday. Garcon kicked the ball after an incomplete pass in the end zone, drawing a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty. "I can guarantee you that will never happen again with Pierre,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think you need to go much further than that. … You can’t, regardless of how competitive you are, you can’t put your team at a disadvantage and do something like that. Thankfully it was a 5-yard penalty with the field goal and it didn’t matter, but so many times they are the difference between winning and losing.”
- Offensive lineman Maurice Hurt was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. He had been on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee in the spring. Hurt had practiced the past three weeks as the coaches evaluated whether or not they wanted to activate him. They had until Wednesday to make a decision. “He’s looking better, but you’ve got to make a decision what direction you’re going to go and missing all that time we decided to go in that direction,” Shanahan said.
Tight end Jordan Reed (concussion), safety Brandon Meriweather (sternum contusion), safety Reed Doughty (concussion) and left tackle Trent Williams (foot contusion) did not practice. Doughty, however, was cleared to practice but the coaches kept him out.
Fullback Darrel Young (hamstring), linebacker London Fletcher (ankle) and corner DeAngelo Hall (hip and back) were limited. Tight end Niles Paul, who missed last week with an illness, was a full participant in practice.
Williams was walking in a protective boot Monday, but said, “I feel fine. Got a bone bruise. It’s fine, though.”
Reed missed Sunday's game with a concussion suffered against Philadelphia and missed the past two games. He said he was going to play Sunday even though he felt more symptoms.
"I wasn't going to say nothing, but they noticed it in me and got it out of me," Reed said.
He had two concussions at Florida.
"It's worse now," Reed said. "In college I didn't miss games."
For Kansas City, tackle Branden Albert (knee), tight end Anthony Fasano (concussion/knee), linebacker Justin Houston (elbow), receiver Dexter McCluster (not injury related) did not practice. Defensive end Mike DeVito (knee) and safety Kendrick Lewis (knee) were limited.
“It’s been the worst by far since I’ve been in the league,” Moss said. “I just know it’s been some crappy calls.”
Moss drew a 15-yard penalty after being called for holding in Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the New York Giants. He directed his ire at the official. It sounded like Moss was not only upset with that call, but others that have – or haven’t – been made.
“We’ve been going through this all year where they haven’t given us the call when we deserve it or they call us for holding when it’s crap,” Moss said. “We’ve been going through it. I have to learn how to handle myself in that situation better, but when you’re in the heat of the moment stuff like that happens.”
Moss said he’s seen inconsistency with how officials call catches, whether in games involving the Redskins or others around the league.
“It’s probably been worse this year as a whole,” Moss said. “You got guys catching balls and they take two steps and they get tackled and the ball comes out and after they hit the ground and it’s no good and the other guy does it the next week and he gets the catch. Come on. Someone has to change that rule. ... I understand some things being changed but some of that stuff is crap. Hopefully somebody who’s in a higher position can really watch this season alone and see some of the stuff that’s being called.”
ASHBURN, Va. -- It's the most scrutinized relationship in Washington -- and perhaps the most important. And it's one both sides portray as a working one. But as the Redskins' season unwinds, the relationship between coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin III will garner more attention.
Amid more reports about the nature of the relationship, Griffin initially danced around a question about his reaction to fans demanding organizational changes.
But when he was asked a follow-up question as to his opinion on the coaches and their future, Griffin said, "These guys have a great future. I love having them here and that's all I can say. We're focused on Kansas City, they're focused on Kansas City and that's all we can control."
Meanwhile, Shanahan classified their relationship as "good."
"I know some of the things I read, it's not always that good, but I've always felt that it's been good," Shanahan said.
It's been a constant topic since the offseason when it became apparent that Griffin was displeased with how he was handled upon his return from a torn lateral collateral ligament at the end of last season.
Now that the Redskins are 3-9 and there are questions about Shanahan's job security, there will be more questions. But the questions also focus on the relationship between Griffin and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, which has been described as rocky. All of this could factor into owner Dan Snyder's decision as to whether or not he should retain Mike Shanahan and his staff.
Recovery time for Bowen, who turns 30 in March, is expected to be six months. Bowen's rehab could determine if the Redskins need to add to their defensive line in the offseason.
"Hopefully this microfracture will help him, and when he does come back he'll come back full speed," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "You just keep your fingers crossed. It's always tough going through rehab.
"Our guys do it all the time. Stephen is a worker and it's always unfortunate to have a surgery like that. But he's young, he's a worker, so I'm sure he'll bounce back very quickly."
Bowen originally tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a win against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 20. He reinjured the knee three weeks ago at Philadelphia and was placed on injured reserve Nov. 26.
Bowen failed to make an impact this season. Despite being solid against the run, Bowen failed to record a sack. The Redskins likely will continue to start Kedric Golston at right end with Chris Baker also playing the position.
3. Still, there were issues in the run game so it’s easy to see why the coaches weren’t confident in certain calls (though Morris’ two runs in the second half gained 15 yards and a third, called back for holding, managed six).
4. One play in particular showed how much they missed Darrel Young. It’s tough to knock Evan Royster, who was out of position as a fullback. But he whiffed on a block on an outside zone to Alfred Morris. Had Royster blocked or even obstructed the safety, then the outside was set up for a strong gain, thanks to blocks by tight end Logan Paulsen, left tackle Trent Williams and receiver Pierre Garcon. Instead, it turned into a two-yard loss.
5. I saw one time that Morris really had an issue with the turf, slipping on a cut. But he still gained four yards on the third-quarter play.
6. The Redskins did not do a good job of getting to the second level in this game, sometimes because of how the front played them and other times because they just failed to get there in time. There was one time when left tackle Trent Williams failed to block linebacker Jon Beason because the end shoved him as he stepped off the line. A potential solid run by Griffin was then lost because Beason slid over to force him outside into a one-yard gain. Paulsen and Garcon had their men blocked. Another time guard Kory Lichtensteiger was held by the lineman that he and Williams were doubling. But overall the Giants’ linebackers were too clean.
7. The problem in the stretch-zone scheme is that you need everyone to block well. When they do, big plays result. But if guys on the outside aren’t holding blocks or if linemen can’t get off their double teams then it won’t go well. The Redskins had too much of the negative scenario – and it was far from just the line’s fault.
8. There were missed blocks all over the place. You have to keep in mind that the Giants defense isn’t bad so they’re going to get off blocks. Tight end Fred Davis missed a couple blocks, including on the second play of the game when, had he sealed Beason, a two-yard run would have probably gone for 10. Davis missed a handful of blocks; I know, he hasn’t played a lot and perhaps there was some rust. That’s fine. He still missed the blocks. If you want to prove a point, then go out and play that way. Logan Paulsen has missed some too in recent weeks. But he still helped on multiple plays in this area.
9. I heard former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley talk about center Will Montgomery’s line calls. One thing that’s been easy to notice is how often the line seems to be confused by a blitz or stunt this season. That didn’t happen as often last year, but the Redskins did not see as many “exotic” calls as they have this season. Somehow Justin Tuck ended up free Sunday to get one of his four sacks. On a zone-read play-action fake in the fourth quarter, the corner blitzed from the left side and was picked up by right tackle Tyler Polumbus. Right guard Chris Chester had pulled to the left and Montgomery and Lichtensteiger were doubling another lineman. And Tuck, amazingly, had a free run to Robert Griffin III. Tuck dominated the right side, shooting inside Chester for a sack. Another time he knocked Polumbus to the ground with a hard jab off the snap. He played the zone-read well. Just a fantastic game.
10. Royster was not able to create much push for himself at the line in short yardage situations; again, he’s out of place at fullback. On his first third-and-short, Giants tackle Mike Patterson knocked Lichtensteiger into Royster, which didn’t help.
11. Pierre Garcon had a shot at an excellent gain on the bubble screen during the last drive Sunday night. But Moss lost his block and Garcon was tackled after five yards. Had Moss maintained his block, there was a little alley for Garcon.
This isn’t baseball where you have September call-ups that you can give at-bats. If you play a guy, say, along the offensive line who isn’t ready, then your quarterback could be in jeopardy. It makes no sense. Not every young guy projects to being part of the roster in the future, either.
Some young guys are just on the roster because of injuries to others. And just because fans or media want to see a guy doesn’t matter; the coaches analyze every practice tape and have a good sense of what players can do or what they know. Others can see athleticism or talent, but it’s often what you know and are capable of learning that makes the difference.
Some young players -- I’m looking at guys who are rookies, first- or second-year players -- already are getting time: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Jordan Reed, Chris Baker, Aldrick Robinson (technically his second year because he spent almost all of his rookie year on the practice squad), Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson.
Here’s a look at the young guys who aren’t getting a lot of time right now and whether or not they should:
Wide receiver Lance Lewis: He shouldn’t play more than he is; he’s still relatively raw and needs more time to develop in practice and in the offseason.
Wide receiver Josh Bellamy: Recently signed off the practice squad. Not ready.
Wide receiver Nick Williams: I could see him being a factor in the future, depending on who’s coaching. With Santana Moss likely in his final four games in Washington, I’d continue to work Williams into the lineup as the Redskins have been doing.
Left guard Josh LeRibeus: He’s a young lineman and former third-round draft pick. That should add up to playing time in a lost season. But after a disastrous offseason and poor showing in the preseason, there’s nothing to suggest he should be playing. Which is not a good sign. He needs a strong offseason.
Right guard Adam Gettis: I’d love to see him get some snaps. At 292 pounds, the undersized Gettis has excellent lower body strength, which somehow allows him to anchor despite getting moved back in protection. He was an improved run-blocker this summer. Chris Chester has not played as well as last season. Still, I'd be careful here. If there’s a coaching change, I’m not sure either player would return: Chester because he’ll turn 31 in January and Gettis because he’s smaller and would not fit every system.
Offensive tackle Tom Compton: Another guy I’d like to see get some snaps. Tyler Polumbus has been better than last year but has had issues recently and certainly shouldn’t have a stronghold on the position. Compton looked better this summer than as a rookie and, ideally, in Year 3 he’d be ready to become a contributor. Regardless, the Redskins need to upgrade the line.
Linebacker Brandon Jenkins: For now he’s just a pass-rusher and there are others clearly better than him. He has work to do in the offseason.
Safety Jose Gumbs: Future special-teamer. I don’t see any reason he should be playing right now.
Corner Chase Minnifield: He shouldn’t be playing ahead of the other corners and really needs to be better on special teams. Even if they clean house at this position, I wouldn’t see him as anything more than a guy fighting for a roster spot in 2014. I love his attitude and physical style, but he needs to show he can play a variety of coverages. He’s a smaller press corner. Another offseason of work with no knee issues should help him.
Safety Trenton Robinson: Special-teamer. He’s gotten some snaps, but there’s nothing to suggest he should be muscling his way into more time.
1. I’m sure over the next four weeks there will be a few more calls for the Washington Redskins to play Kirk Cousins now that they’re out of the playoffs. The only way I would consider that is if you’re not sold on Griffin for the future or if you think he’s just too beaten up. There are major ramifications if you sit Griffin now. It’s not the same as when they sat Donovan McNabb for the final three games in 2010 to give Rex Grossman a shot. McNabb was not in their plans. Griffin had a strong game Sunday; why sit him now? What if he finishes with four more such outings? Isn’t that what you want?
3. The pockets were clean too. On a third-and-7 on the first drive, Griffin had 3.5 seconds to throw when he hit slot receiver Nick Williams for 6 yards. Thing is, Griffin stared at him almost the whole time. Meanwhile, Aldrick Robinson had broken open over the middle (starting from the right side). It’s irrelevant because the Redskins eventually converted the first down and drove for a score, but it could have been a missed opportunity.
4. Another missed opportunity: On the bootleg pass to Fred Davis for 1 yard in the second quarter, Griffin had Logan Paulsen running free to the end zone on the same side. Two plays later, Griffin made amends. He held the safety on the left side by looking at Pierre Garcon (running the same route Davis caught a pass on during the first scoring drive), and that allowed Paulsen to break to the middle from the other side and catch an open touchdown pass. Griffin has improved at using his eyes to hold defenders.
5. Griffin did a better job avoiding hits in the first half, when he wasn’t out in front on end arounds, that is. On a third-and-8 in the first quarter, he looked left, middle and then right and dumped it off to running back Roy Helu. The ball was out in 2.7 seconds, and Griffin wasn't hit. Of course, it didn't gain a first down, but no one was open and he got rid of the ball.
6. On the next drive, Griffin started up the middle and, rather than continue to scramble, tossed it to running back Alfred Morris for 5 yards. Again, another hit Griffin didn’t take.
7. Griffin managed 39 yards on seven zone-read runs, but it was evident the Giants were fine with him keeping the ball. They played it well with their safeties; even if he got wide, someone was coming up hard in pursuit. The linebackers seemed content to read and then react to him running wide. Griffin is still a fast quarterback; he just lacks explosiveness, and teams play him accordingly. Last season, he averaged 8 yards on zone-read runs; this year it’s 5.46. I don’t know why any team wouldn’t focus on Morris at this point.
8. Griffin’s mechanics still need to be more consistent. On the short pass that Santana Moss had to reach low for, Griffin appeared too stiff-legged. Sometimes he still doesn't get his feet around on certain throws, but a few examples of that Sunday night stemmed from the pocket collapsing. In a clean pocket, I did see Griffin get his feet around when he started left but had to throw to the right.
9. Not all of the sacks were the fault of the protection. There were at least two coverage sacks. On one, Griffin had 5.5 seconds but no one was open. Not good. Another time Griffin, on third down, had the ball for 5.6 seconds. No one was open downfield, but Griffin had a chance to turn and throw to Helu in the right flat. The pocket was clean as Griffin stepped up. That was the only throw he had available.
10. I liked the comeback route Griffin threw to Garcon against a five-man rush in the second half. Griffin and Garcon were on the same page here, as Griffin released the ball just before the receiver made his break.
11. For the most part, I liked Griffin’s decision-making. He seemed to do a better job on some reads in terms of how quickly he went through his progressions. I’m most disappointed by the final drive, because I wanted to see if he could finally produce a touchdown in that situation this season.
12. But his teammates didn’t help him. Paulsen dropped one right in his hands. Griffin threw in 2.6 seconds and wasn't hit, but perhaps a smidgen more patience and it's a 15-yard gain elsewhere, as Moss had broken open over the middle. Still, a good ball that Paulsen should have caught, and it would have resulted in 7 or 8 yards. One thing I liked last season with Griffin was his penchant for starting such drives with sure completions just to move the chains. So I won’t quibble here. A similar situation occurred on second down when he dumped to Helu for 7 yards though comeback routes on both sides appeared open. Still, a positive gain.
13. The second-and-6 pass to Garcon should have been a big gain. The Redskins ran a terrific play, sending four vertical routes and leaving Garcon one-on-one with a linebacker underneath. But Griffin was under duress, and his throw did not lead Garcon. Had he been able to do so, it could have been a nice gain.
14. Loved the bullet to Davis on third-and-1 (or first-and-10, some might argue). Another drop, but a good, strong delivery. Griffin was on target to Garcon on fourth down too.
"I think that guy takes too many brutal hits. As far as whether he gets hit going out of bounds, whether he's causing himself to hit the ground extremely hard or whether he's just getting hit by opponents, he does take a lot of hits," Rolle said on SportsNet New York.
The main reason I don't have a problem with that statement? One question I heard from NFL people before the 2012 draft centered on Griffin’s durability. They knew his legs would be an important weapon; they also knew he was not a big guy like Andrew Luck or Cam Newton, and that it would be tough to withstand so many hits, regardless if he stood in the pocket or ran.
The Redskins can continue to run the zone read option as part of their offense (as the passing game develops, it should be a smaller part of the offense). And it should be noted that of the hard hits he took Sunday night, none came from the zone read runs (six hits on these runs, though three were shoves out of bounds). It should also be noted that a constant storyline the past two seasons in Indianapolis has been the hits taken by Luck. But he's not coming off a second torn ACL, so Griffin's health clearly is more under the microscope. But as others have said, some of the hits just look worse than they do for other quarterbacks. Still, it must comfort him to know how many players -- and media -- care about his health or whether he should be playing.
Thing is, Sunday night, Griffin did a better job early of avoiding hits by checking down passes or flipping to a receiver or running back instead of running himself (11 of the 16 hits, of various degrees, occurred in the first half). He started upfield on one run only to flip to running back Alfred Morris for a five-yard gain. Had Griffin continued, he might have gained the same yards, but he also would have been hit.
Later in the game, he ran a triple option and instead of cutting upfield he pitched to receiver Santana Moss, who weaved his way for 10 yards. There were other times Griffin had enough vision on his runs to bounce them outside rather than cut inside where extra yards were available, but, so too was danger in the form of a hard-charging defender.
Griffin remains a work in progress in the pocket, like most young quarterbacks. He knows he can make plays with his legs so there are times he'll hold the ball a little longer. But between that, protection breakdowns, receivers who don’t always win routes and Griffin sometimes hesitating when players are open, the hits add up. For him to have a long career in the NFL, he and the Redskins must continue finding a way to limit those hits.
But the New York Giants safety did point out something else: Griffin gets hit an awful lot. Quite hard at times, in fact.
The Giants beat the Redskins 24-17 on Sunday night as Griffin was hit 16 times, though that includes several shoves out of bounds. Eleven of those hits occurred in the second half. Griffin was hit six times after carrying on zone-read options, though three were shoves out of bounds.
Still, there were hard hits Sunday. On a third-and-1 sneak, Giants linebacker Jon Beason drilled Griffin running off right tackle and knocked him backward and to the ground. Also, Rolle popped Griffin as he was trying to block on a reverse.
"I think that guy takes too many brutal hits. As far as whether he gets hit going out of bounds, whether he's causing himself to hit the ground extremely hard or whether he's just getting hit by opponents, he does take a lot of hits," Rolle said on SportsNet New York. "That's something RG III has to look forward to in his career, and he has to probably make some different decisions. But I can't worry about RG III as far as him getting hit. As an opponent, it's my job to go out there and hit him and disrupt him as much as you can.
"He's a great quarterback. We all know he brings his game. But as far as him taking brutal hits, you can't close your eyes to that fact."