Archives for posts with tag: RG3

There’s always that magical week or weekend when the days get shorter…it gets chillier by the pool and football preview magazines begin to take precedence over the crossword/summer reading. While September 21st is almost two months away, late July marks the end of one season– and the beginning of the onramp to the marathon/sprint that is college and pro football. Is it really time- can’t I get just one more week?

The Redskins are in Richmond with a new regime; Jay Gruden sorts through a pretty decent cupboard left by Mike Shanahan. Say what you will about last year’s 3-13 descent from awesome expectations to awful execution…not all 3-13’s are created alike. And this team is one year removed from winning the NFC East. The major question is, which year was the outlier–2012 or 2013?

Prepare for the Positive– it’s almost fitting that training camp takes place when the skies are sunniest and the temperatures are highest. EVERYBODY is optimistic. Even teams that are in their 3rd “five year plan” since 2010. That’s the beauty of the NFL– worst to first is not an anomaly: you can almost guarantee that we’ll have 4-6 different playoff teams this winter. Last fall saw Kansas City go from 2-14 to the playoffs…so even a Houston that lost 14 straight can have hope. Or a Redskins team that crash-landed with 8 straight losses…

What to Watch For–OFFENSE:
Life begins with RG3–HOW healthy and ready will the face of the franchise be? How will the new Jay Gruden system maximize his strengths and limit his weaknesses? Will we see rookies Spencer Long or Morgan Moses push the starters on the offensive line or be routed into the “rookie year learning laboratory” that’s high on enrichment but low on game-snaps? And what’s the deal with Jerry Rice Junior? Is the undrafted rookie good enough to leapfrog Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant–or is he more Pete Rose Jr than Eduardo Perez? (if he were Griffey Jr he would have been taken first overall by Houston, set the world on fire, before eventually returning to San Francisco where he would’ve never been healthy)

What to Watch For–DEFENSE:
It’s Jim Haslett’s turn to shine. Year five of the 3-4 means execution and not excuses: of the projected week one starters only Kedric Golston and Bryan Orakpo pre-date his arrival– and if they didn’t fit his vision they’d be gone by now. Will Jason Hatcher recover from surgery in time to be a factor in September? Even healthy, Hatcher has to change from being a tackle in a 4-3 to a three-man front. How much will the linebackers miss the leadership of London Fletcher? Even at the end of his career, the John Carroll University product was averaging 7 tackles a game while holding together a unit under siege. The biggest questions aren’t necessarily about the 3-4…it’s the 4 behind them. Can Deangelo Hall, Ryan Clark and Brandon Merriweather still contribute as starters in this league? After losing his rookie season to injury, will Phillip Thomas be more rusty or ready? Can Bacarri Rambo live up to having the coolest name on the team? (sadly,
having an awesome name is almost a curse: Notre Dame’s Hiawatha Francisco, Baylor’s J.J. Joe and Nebraska’s I.M. Hipp never lived up to their names in the pros)

What to Watch For–SPECIAL TEAMS:
The kicking game can’t be the absolute disaster it was last year…right? From coughing up game-changing returns to allowing kicks blocked…2013 was a major nightmare for the Burgundy and Gold. Can they identify the right guys to be put in place on these units? Meanwhile, Saved by the Bell meets Karate Kid. Is there actually a kicking competition between Kai Forbath and seventh round pick Zach Hocker? Despite making 35 of 40 career attempts (numbers that would make Ali with an I swoon), the Johnny Lawrence of accuracy is Daniel LaRusso-like when it comes to kickoffs. Will Zach be accurate enough to make his kickoff length a factor in late August? (never count out a Zach–from fronting a band to a foiling diamond thieves to hitting on homeless girls at the mall)

The NFL Draft has been many things over the years.  For a while it was a Tuesday cable curiosity–and those lucky enough to be on spring break that week were blessed.  The selection show on ESPN moved to Saturday-Sunday in the late 80’s before residing in the current Thursday-Friday-Saturday format.  Now there’s talk of stretching it out to four days…PLEASE DON’T.  Although I like bothering my baseball/basketball friends by suggesting the league might just go to a “round a month” format to stretch out the suspense from February to August.  Heaven knows they can also release each week of the regular season schedule …week-by-week from March until the end of June.

The Redskins traded down in the second round to add another selection… and wound up making eight picks.  Will they make an impact?  Conventional wisdom says more than a few will get long looks because whenever there’s a coaching change–there’s more roster turnover.  Team President Bruce Allen last week said he imagined 25 new players this fall…and with free agency the draft isn’t the lynchpin it was in the 1970’s and 80’s when trades was your only alternative.

Under Bruce Allen/Mike Shanahan the Burgundy and Gold had four drafts:

2010– surprisingly not a lot sticking despite the regime change from Vinnyzorn to Bruce & Mike’s Excellent Rebuilding Adventure…but two hits:  OT Tre Williams (4th) and LB Perry Riley (103rd).  Williams has two Pro Bowls to his credit and Riley’s a two-year starter.  Terrance Austin was out of the league after the following season and T Selvish Capers played 3 games with the NY Giants in 2012…while RB Dennis Morris and C Eric Cook didn’t play a regular season down in the league.

2011– highly underrated:  LB Ryan Kerrigan’s played in every game while notching one trip to the Pro Bowl.  DL Jarvis Jenkins and Leonard Hankerson have started one season while Dejon Gomes, Niles Paul, Roy Helu and Aldrick Robinson have all played in more than 60% of the Skins games over the last three years.  Even 7th rounder DL Chris Neild has played in 24 games in his career.

2012– two hits with a couple of possibilities:  QB Robert Griffin III (28 games, 1 Pro Bowl) has paid off in the form of a Division Title and is the face of the franchise.  Alfred Morris (32 games, a Pro Bowl and 2888 yards rushing) has exceeded the expectations of a 6th rounder.  Fourth round pick LB Keenan Robinson, 5h rounder OL Adam Gettis and 6th round choice OL Tom Compton have all played between 34 and 47% of the Skins games…while 3rd round OL Josh LeRibeus has been limited over the last two years.

2013– tough to gage after one year:  DB David Amerson (2nd round) started as a rookie and played in all 16 games…3rd rounder TE Jordan Reed averaged 5 catches a game until a concussion ended his season…Bacarri Rambo played in 11 games after being faked out of his shorts by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson in the Preseason.  RB Chris Thompson and DE Brandon Jenkins combined to play in 10 games…while DB Philip Thomas spent the year on IR.

So all in all not a bad runnow to this year’s picks:

2nd Round (47th pick)– Stanford DE/LB Trent Murphy.  Upside:  you can never have to many pass-rushing linebackers in the 3-4…and didn’t Orakpo miss most of 2012?  Downside:  some experts say he was a reach…and with Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan manning the OLB spots, did they need to make their first pick here?

3rd Round (66th pick)– Virginia OT Morgan Moses.  Upside:  a steal– on many boards he was a low 1st/high 2nd round…I tweeted that he was a possible pick by the Skins at pick #34.  Downside:  some players drop for a reason…the question is can he back up his 6-6, 314lb potential with solid pro play?

3rd Round (78th pick)– Nebraska G Spencer Long.  Upside:  a good football team is like a steak dinner…and the OL/DL is the entrée that can overshadow sub par potatoes lyonnaise, or make awesome creamed spinach worthless.  Another 6-5 lineman who can create depth and competition is huge.  Downside:  he missed a big chunk of his final season with the Cornhuskers thanks to a knee injury…we all know how the Malcolm Kelly worked out.  But Long has had to work his way into a lineup before (from walk-on to starter at Nebraska).

4th Round (102nd pick)– Clemson DB Bashaud Breeland.  Upside:  they gave up the 2nd most points in the league last year…and the last line of defense is the first thing you look at.  Notched 4 interceptions and 10 passes defended last season.  The coaching staff thinks he can also slide over to safety if need be.  Downside:  less than ideal acceleration and high-tackling were two red flags by some of the scouts.  Will he be able to shine in a secondary that’s crowded with young players trying to make their mark?

5th round (142nd pick)– Tulane WR Ryan Grant.  Upside:  he produced (over 1000 yards receiving last fall) and he’s used to adversity (the Green Wave is not a powerhouse). Downside:  he’s not the RB from Notre Dame that’s currently with the Green Bay Packers.  And it’ll be tough for him to make the roster at a position that has plenty of depth.

6th round (186th pick)– Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk.  Upside:  wicked cool name.  Every team that’s any good has to have at least one player whose name leaps off the sheet at you.  He’s fast as well (4.46 speed).  Downside:  Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster aren’t going anywhere soon.

7th round (217th pick)– Indiana TE Ted Bolser.  Upside:  a position in transition (Fred Davis departing, Jordan Reed ascending) can use a 6-5 receiver who can make plays in the red zone…and he set school receiving records at his position.  Downside:  his school is Indiana University and this isn’t basketball.  Can he cover kicks?

7th round (228th pick)– Arkansas K Zach Hocker.  Upside:  future Redskins Rehash segments will feature “Mr. Morris” and “Zach Attack” entries.  Perhaps Mr. Hocker and Alfred can be friends forever.  At least until one of them suffers a sprain.  Downside:  if he makes the roster, that means no more “Cobra Kai” Forbath segments.  And although the Billy Zabka tangents have been mined to all extremes, much like Johnny Lawrence wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Ali Mills at the end of the summer (“She broke up–he didn’t”)…I’m not ready to say goodbye to Cobra Kai.  Even if it means going “Double Bell” this fall.