NFC East: RG III

Malcolm Jenkins only echoed what others have said about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. And the new Philadelphia Eagles safety didn't question Griffin's game, but, rather his ability to stay healthy. At this point, it's a fair topic. Of course, maybe it's not one a player new to the division might want to address. But then again, it was tame compared to his thoughts on the Dallas defense.

Jenkins
When Jenkins appeared on the NFL Network, he discussed the other three teams in the NFC East. He took a shot at Dallas' defense, as well as the New York Giants' ability to protect Eli Manning. Here's what he had to say about Griffin:
"I think the biggest thing we're going to see is [Robert Griffin III] take that next step as far as the cerebral approach to the game. But the biggest concern I have with RG3 is, will he protect himself? And that's a thing he hasn't done early in his career.

"He scrambles, he gets those extra yards, he makes those throws out of the pocket, but takes a lot of unnecessary hits. We've seen the toll that has had on him.

“Last year he really wasn't himself, still trying to recover from that injury. Those kind of hits, when you talk about a QB, it's all about accountability and availability. He's very very accountable, but availability is going to be an issue if he continues to play the style of football that he's used to."

Jenkins isn't the first opponent to wonder about Griffin's durability or his health. In the past year, several players did just that, including Dallas corner Brandon Carr, San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks and New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle among them.

But Jenkins is new to the division and his yapping does two things: endear him to Eagles beat reporters and mark him as a target for other teams. With Griffin, there's only one way to prove Jenkins and many others wrong. He needs to stay healthy; it's not about one game or one throw, it's about a season and then a string of them. And Jenkins didn't knock his game, just questioned his durability.

Dallas' defense might feel a little differently about Jenkins. But when a defense ends the season ranked 32nd in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed, and then loses its best pass-rushers (Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware), well, it leaves little room for anything but criticism. So here's what Jenkins said:
“A couple years ago, their scapegoat was Rob Ryan, and they got rid of him, and he was the cause of all their problems. He went to New Orleans and took the worst defense in NFL history and turned them into a top 5 defense. So he couldn't have been the problem.

“And then you look at this year, I had the best seat in the house when I watched the Saints get 40 first downs in one game. Forty. In one game. So it must be the players.”

And then Eli Manning was the topic. Again, good, honest stuff.
"I think the problem is he was sacked 39 times, a career high last year. If that continues, Eli's best days are behind him. If they can protect him, then maybe, but it doesn't look like it."

When Jenkins played for Ohio State (my alma mater, as you might know), I preferred that he keep quiet. Typically his game spoke volumes. In the NFL, he's been up and down, but there's no doubt he now has a role as a future analyst. As a reporter, I'll never knock a guy for giving an honest opinion. Sort of helps the job, you know?
Depending on who you talked to, receiver DeSean Jackson missing the first week of voluntary workouts was either no big deal or the greatest sin committed in some time.

But all is fine now. Jackson showed up for the start of Week 2 of the workouts, with the Redskins tweeting a picture of him in the weight room.


I didn't have a big problem with him missing the first week, mainly because he told the Redskins before he signed about a previously scheduled trip. Yes, there are some who say it would have been a good move for him in terms of public perception had he cancelled his trip and showed up last week. Maybe they're right. One agent said Jackson could have recouped the money he lost from a cancelled trip by working it into this contract.

But I don't think most players will care a whole lot whether or not Jackson missed last week. Most will understand: the trip was scheduled when he played for a team that didn't have to report until April 21. In fact, the agent I spoke with said his Redskins client did not care at all about Jackson's absence.

For the first two weeks of the voluntary sessions, players aren't permitted to do more than just weight training and conditioning. But quarterbacks and receivers can throw (with no defenders). It's a good time for Jackson to start building a rapport with quarterback Robert Griffin III, which is obviously important. So, sure, it would have been nice.

The key for Jackson, though, will be how he handles the workouts going forward. If he takes them seriously and works hard? The players will embrace him. His situation is different because of the circumstances surrounding his release from Philadelphia and more eyes will be focused on him. Maybe he doesn't care. But the eyes he should care about are those of his teammates. And if it matters to him, he'll have a strong spring. If that's the case, they'll be looking forward to the start of training camp -- and not looking back on the first week of voluntary workouts.
One person after another has let it be known how happy Robert Griffin III has appeared this offseason. It’s why I wrote a column on it a couple weeks ago.

But Griffin hasn’t spoken much this offseason, other than the occasional text messages to include in stories. His tweets Monday night, however, were telling. There is not much need to rehash what happened in 2013, but one word was used more than any other over the past year: trust. Griffin did not trust coach Mike Shanahan. Doesn’t matter how the coaches perceived it, it was reality for Griffin.

There is little doubt Griffin has been energized by the offseason, because of the coaching changes and, more recently, the acquisition of receiver DeSean Jackson. Griffin is working out the way he likes; he’s taking charge of working with others and he had a highly active role in recruiting free agents -- probably more so than most outsiders realize.

Then came this: Griffin retweeted a Pro Football Talk tweet about a Jay Gruden comment regarding his quarterback and the new logo. (Thanks to the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg, who always has his eyes out for such things). And in retweeting the link, Griffin added this: “Coach supports his players, new year.”

.

Then, after retweeting another PFT link to comments Trent Williams made to the local media regarding Jackson, Griffin added: “Players have each other's back, New Year”. Now, it did not seem like that last part was a big issue last season, especially given the 3-13 record.

.

But it’s difficult not to interpret Griffin’s first tweet regarding the coaches as a decisive nod to what he endured over the past year. This offseason is going so much different for Griffin than in 2013. For the Redskins, it’s a welcomed start.
DeSean Jackson wore the number for six years in Philadelphia. Quarterback Robert Griffin III has worn it since he entered college six years ago.

The question now is, who wears No. 10 in Washington?

The newly-signed Jackson didn't sound as if he were ready to abandon that number just yet, though he did wear No. 1 at Cal.

“Well, I definitely am familiar with the No. 10 and Robert Griffin,” Jackson said. “We talked about it a little bit. That hasn't been a decision that's been made yet. Maybe by the time the season starts we'll know. Maybe RG3 will wear No. 3 and I'll get No. 10. We'll see how it goes. You never know.”

Unless Griffin is willing to change, he should retain the number. He's the face of the franchise. He's the quarterback and he's not the one coming to a new team. It's hard to imagine him giving up the number and if he wants it, then by all means Griffin should keep No. 10. He's the one who made that a popular number in Washington -- and, the Redskins hope, will continue to do so in the future.
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The red flags around DeSean Jackson can't be ignored, because by all accounts they're real. And I'm not talking about any affiliations, either. Rather, it's his approach that's more troubling, because that could have a negative impact on the Washington Redskins.

But ... if Jackson is fine ... the Redskins' offense will be explosive. They can pair him with veteran receivers Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and second-year tight end Jordan Reed. They have a sturdy young running back in Alfred Morris, who has rushed for 2,888 yards in his first two seasons. They also have quarterback Robert Griffin III, who already was excited about next season. Now he must be ecstatic.

The common denominator among their receivers: speed. It's probably the fastest group the Redskins have had in a long time. And Griffin's ability to throw the deep ball sits well with Jackson's penchant for catching them in the past. It's what Jackson does best, and it's why he scares a defense so much.

Griffin might not have a laser arm like Michael Vick -- few do -- but it's a very good arm and it's certainly one that should connect with Jackson down the field. There's also Griffin's ability to extend plays with a group as fast as this one. That too should lead to headaches for opposing defensive coordinators in the week leading up to facing this offense.

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesDeSean Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013.
Having Garcon on the other side means teams can't just always focus on one or the other. No doubt defenses will try to force Jackson into underneath routes and try to be physical with him. If they want to play a Cover 2, the Redskins will take seven-man fronts all day with Morris.

As for the wisdom of signing Jackson, my initial take after his release by the Philadelphia Eagles was simple: No, don't do it. They have a first-year head coach in Jay Gruden trying to establish a new culture and are coming off a disastrous ending to 2013 filled with negative stories. The organization has not fared well after such signings in the past. Would it have the infrastructure to maximize a talent such as Jackson, who comes with questions?

Those I've spoken with who have more reservations about Jackson have been front-office types; those who strongly endorse him are coaches. One coach from another team said certain players are worth taking a risk on, and Jackson is one of them.

I do know his talent is such that teams will look the other way because he can do things few others can on the field. His acceleration on deep passes is unmatched. Google "Redskins, LaRon Landry, 88-yard touchdown, 2010" as proof. Jackson causes defenses to worry about him on every play, something that will lead to better opportunities for Garcon & Co.

It's not like Jackson is the perfect player. Durability always will be a concern for a guy who is 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. Of course, he's now entering his seventh season and coming off his most prolific year. But those red flags, again, must be considered. Some of the Redskins' leaders who have met or talked with Jackson say he's not as bad as advertised, that he's driven by his late father and plays with emotion. They'll need to make sure that's harnessed for the good. Safety Ryan Clark's arrival definitely helps the leadership aspect.

The Redskins have taken a risk on players in the past who have not worked out, notably defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Running back Clinton Portis had question marks when he arrived -- he wanted his contract re-done -- but was coming off consecutive 1,500-plus yards seasons. He worked out well. Haynesworth did not.

If you don't have a lot of players with Jackson's issues in the locker room -- and I'm talking about guys whose work ethic has been questioned, nothing about purported affiliations -- then you can withstand it, if the leadership is strong. Will Jackson be too high-maintenance? There's no way to know.

For at least the short term, the guess is that Jackson will be fine. Yes, he'll want to prove the Eagles were wrong -- very wrong. If he is indeed maturing, then Jackson will want to show that he's nothing like recent reports. All of that will benefit the Redskins next season. All of that will benefit Jackson, too. The Redskins need this to work after a horrific season; Jackson needs this to work after bad publicity this offseason. This is not a marriage I saw occurring. But it definitely is one of more than just convenience.

Nearly a third of the league inquired about receiver DeSean Jackson, but not all the teams are known. Two of those teams reportedly have fallen out of the race for Jackson -- and both have coaches who previously worked with him (Andy Reid in Kansas City and Marty Mornhinweg with the New York Jets). The assumption is that this sends up red flags about Jackson; that’s not necessarily the case.

And it’s hard to get a good feel on who is really interested. Oakland and Washington definitely are, though to what extent remains to be seen. Jackson arrives in Washington Monday and will visit Tuesday. Thus far, it’s his only reported visit.

San Francisco’s name came up when Jackson was on the trade block and the 49ers had expressed interest in free-agent wide receiver Golden Tate, among others, before he signed with Detroit. So it would make sense that they’d at least inquire about Jackson. Tampa Bay has said they'd take a look, though it was a rather tepid endorsement.

Here’s a little handicap of some teams that have expressed interest or reportedly want to get in the race:

Washington Redskins
Cap space: Approximately $7 million
Why he’d consider: It’s a premier market in a premier conference. Oh, and they get to play the Eagles twice a year. The Redskins would have a lot of speed offensively with Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and Jordan Reed and would be a major threat down the field. Add to it an athletic quarterback who can extend plays and the off-schedule explosions would increase. Robert Griffin III’s deep-ball ability will be important -- and his ability to extend plays. Jackson’s agent, Joel Segal, has definitely taken quarterback play into consideration in the past with his receivers. If Jackson is forced to take a one-year, prove-it deal, this especially would be a factor.
Why he wouldn’t: Because other teams can offer more. Washington can’t compete if Jackson’s strong desire is to return to the West Coast and play for the team he grew up rooting for (Oakland). If they want a more proven coach, San Francisco and Tampa Bay have to be a consideration (if the Bucs are strongly interested, which is debatable). And if San Francisco truly is interested, then the 49ers clearly would offer him a better chance for team success. The Redskins still have other needs to address so they can only spend so much, and it's hard to gauge how aggressive they'll be. But the fact that they have the first visit says something.

Buffalo Bills
Cap space: Approximately $13 million
Why he’d consider: They have more cap room than most teams, so they could offer the sort of contract that could get it done now -- if they wanted to go that high. They need what Jackson provides (though many teams do).
Why he wouldn’t: The Bills aren’t a marquee team and their quarterback situation is questionable. EJ Manuel started 10 games as a rookie and showed flashes, but remains unproven. That has to be a strong consideration. None of their receivers had more than 597 yards last season, so how secure could you be? They have a good young talent in Robert Woods, a solid receiver in Stevie Johnson (nagging injuries, however) and a fast young guy in Marquise Goodwin. But that’s not exactly a Hall of Fame trio. The draft has to be an attractive option, so that could limit what the Bills would be willing to offer.

Oakland Raiders
Cap space: Approximately $15 million
Why he’d consider: Because the Raiders were his favorite team growing up and he played college ball at nearby Cal. Jackson is a West Coast kid, and if his desire to return there is strong, then it will be hard to top. The Raiders need help at receiver so Jackson would fill a big hole. Also, the Raiders have more money than the other teams reportedly interested thus far.
Why he wouldn’t: The Raiders have a wait-and-see approach going on and, while they’d like him, they won’t overspend. So if another team is more aggressive, then Jackson could end up elsewhere. Also, other than going back to California, the Raiders aren’t exactly an attractive franchise. Their coach, Dennis Allen, will enter the season on the hot seat and their quarterback, Matt Schaub, is not known for throwing deep all that often. At this point, it’s uncertain if he remains a quality starting quarterback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap space: Approximately $12 million
Why he’d consider: They have a potentially strong structure with new coach Lovie Smith. He’s a proven coach in the first year of his regime so he’ll be around several years at least. The Bucs have another explosive receiver to pair with Jackson in Vincent Jackson. Both are dangerous down the field. Oh, yeah, and they have the cap room to absorb a bigger contract.
Why he wouldn’t: Smith’s history suggests building around the run game and the defense. Also, they have a journeyman starting quarterback in Josh McCown and a second-year guy in Mike Glennon, whom the new coach did not draft (and replaced right away). So there are questions at this spot. Their interest is said to be lukewarm, so it’s hard to imagine them overspending for Jackson.

San Francisco 49ers
Cap space: Approximately $4 million
Why he’d consider: It’s the best team, it’s near where he played college ball and it puts him back on the West Coast. They need a receiver who can stretch the field to pair with Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Jackson would provide that and then some. They also have a big-armed quarterback in Colin Kaepernick who can let Jackson run under the ball and remind everyone of his explosiveness. Unlike Washington, the 49ers also have a defense that plays at a championship level, so if Jackson wants to produce and win, this could be the stop.
Why he wouldn’t: The 49ers were reportedly interested in pursuing a trade, according to Pro Football Talk. But their cap number isn’t high and they already have talent at receiver. They could opt for the draft, which is deep at this position and has a few players with Jackson-like qualities (though no one can match his acceleration on deep balls). Hard to know what the reported friction with the 49ers between general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh means for the future of either person and, subsequently, a guy like Jackson.

Jay Gruden: No calls on Cousins

March, 26, 2014
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kirk Cousins let it be known early in the offseason he’d welcome a trade. The Redskins let it be known they didn’t want to deal him. And perhaps that’s why Redskins coach Jay Gruden said no team has called them about the third-year quarterback.

That’s fine with Gruden. Robert Griffin III is the clear starter, which is why Cousins said he wanted to go somewhere he had a chance to compete for the position. But the Redskins have a different mindset.

“You need two great quarterbacks on your team,” Gruden said. “You never know. The way Robert plays and the style he plays with you never know what can happen. Injuries are a part of the game. You need two excellent quarterbacks and we’re fortunate to have two of the better quarterbacks.”

Of course, another team could always call over the next month, now that the first wave of free agency is over. And teams did not have to call the Redskins about Cousins this week considering they were all in the same hotel. Still, there's no desire to trade him.

Cousins has two more years remaining on his rookie contract before he could leave via free agency. The Redskins could always opt to trade him next offseason, depending on how Griffin performs and if he stays healthy.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Some highlights from Jay Gruden’s hour-long press gathering at the owners meetings:

1. He’s OK if linebacker Brian Orakpo plays out the season on the franchise tag. Sounds like he and the organization wants to see if his production increases, thanks to the promise of being turned loose more and also having an outside linebackers coach.

2. They will move Shawn Lauvao to left guard and keep Chris Chester at right guard. Gruden did not address Josh LeRibeus, but it’s clear from this move that there’s not a whole lot of confidence in him.

3. He certainly understands the importance of maximizing Robert Griffin III. He’s glad that Griffin needs to be reined in when it comes to his desire to push himself.

4. Gruden said if Griffin isn’t comfortable with the read option, they won’t run it as much. He also said he won’t try to stop him from running out of the pocket. Clearly, though, there’s a balance that needs to be struck. But Gruden wants Griffin to feel comfortable on the field. That’s a big issue.

5. He loves Jordan Reed.

6. Yes, they looked for some bigger linemen, but they want big guys who can move. As has been stated many times, they plan to use the same run-game schemes.

7. He’d like Alfred Morris to be a guy who could catch 20 to 25 passes a season. But he said Morris isn’t a natural pass-catcher; has work to do.

8. Gruden is a breath of fresh air. Though there are some things he can’t say, he was as honest as possible without crossing a line.

9. He’s not concerned about Griffin’s knee; wasn’t too deep on him playing without the brace and what it might mean. Why? Because he said the braces are so light these days.

10. He liked watching Chris Thompson at Florida State and seems anxious to work with him. But his durability is a major issue.

11. He said no teams have called about quarterback Kirk Cousins, but added that he wants “two great quarterbacks” because of Griffin’s style of play.

12. Gruden acknowledged he likes to have a lot of plays; apparently he was able to streamline that desire better during his time in Cincinnati. Does not want to overload Griffin, but says the third-year QB can handle a lot.

13. He mentioned the young safeties, but, again, I don’t get a sense that either Bacarri Rambo or Phillip Thomas will be the answer this season. Rambo’s play did not suggest he should be; Thomas’ foot and recovery from the Lisfranc injury makes him a question mark for now.

14. Gruden mentioned Andre Roberts’ versatility as a receiver. I don’t get the sense that the return position is solved by his arrival, however.

15. They're anxious to see Kory Lichtensteiger at center. As for Tyler Polumbus at right tackle, Gruden was a bit complimentary but I don't get the sense they're done looking for another possibility. Or, as they say, "more depth."

Polumbus tops Redskins bonus list

March, 24, 2014
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The Redskins did not come close to the season they wanted. Their players still benefitted when it came to performance-based pay.
Sixty Redskins received bonuses, with 10 topping $100,000 in extra pay, according to figures released by the NFL management council. The bonuses are given to players whose performance time tops their salary level. Tackle Tyler Polumbus topped the list with a $190,601 bonus. The bonuses will be paid on April 1, 2016. Quarterback Robert Griffin III received a $27,047 bonus.

Here are the top 10 Redskins who earned bonuses:


Tackle Tyler Polumbus $190,601

Cornerback David Amerson $173,375

Running back Alfred Morris $167,854

Safety Bacarri Rambo $162,807

Tight end Logan Paulsen $142,295

Receiver Aldrick Robinson $134,758

Linebacker Perry Riley $129,997

Running back Roy Helu $125,260

Tight end Jordan Reed $108,461

Tight end Niles Paul $103,475

Here's the full list of players and their bonuses.

Redskins mailbag: Part 1

March, 7, 2014
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Free agency begins next week. Naturally, this week's questions are heavy on free agency -- but there are some questions about the draft as well as Alfred Morris. Look for Round 2 on Saturday.
 

Redskins must consider future contracts

February, 28, 2014
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When the Washington Redskins look at free agency this offseason, they also have to be mindful of the next several years. They have key contracts that will expire over that time, with players they would probably like to keep around. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Friday that the salary cap, projected about $133 million this year, could top $140 million next year and $150 million by 2016. It had been flat for a couple years. So any increase would be good for Washington.

Here are some contracts that could be impacted:
  • Orakpo
    Linebacker Brian Orakpo. If it’s going to get as high as $150 million in two years, then the Redskins could afford to take on the sort of contract it would take to keep him around. He could be a smaller cap hit this year, perhaps around $7 million or so (in comparison, Clay Matthews' new deal signed last spring cost Green Bay a $6.7 million cap hit this past season). A long-term deal would start to pay him silly money in Year 3 (again by comparison, Matthews will count $12.7 million in the third year of his deal). But with a higher cap figure the Redskins might decide they’re OK with such a contract.
  • Quarterback Robert Griffin III's contract will be up after the 2015 season. Thanks to the CBA, the Redskins will have the option of extending his contract for a fifth season. It would be worth the average salary of the 10 highest paid quarterbacks -- this year, that would be about $13.5 million. That would lock him up through 2016. But his next contract is one they will soon have to start taking into account, especially if he returns to the level they hope. By the way, backup Kirk Cousins' contract is up after 2015. Teams can only use that one-year extension on first-round picks; Cousins was a fourth-rounder.
  • Kerrigan
    Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan's contract is up after this season. However, as with Griffin, the Redskins can extend his deal. They have a May 3 deadline to decide if they want to pay him the average of the fourth through 25th players at his position, which would pay him between $3 million and $4 million for 2015. Otherwise he’ll become a free agent. Regardless, he’ll be a free agent by March 2016 at the latest.
  • Running back Alfred Morris will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season. Because he was a sixth-round pick, the Redskins can’t choose to simply extend him. Morris was a perfect fit for Mike Shanahan’s stretch zone system. Offensive coordinator Sean McVay said they will use the same run game under new coach Jay Gruden. If that is the case, Morris should continue to pile up yards. But if Gruden wants to change it, you wonder how that could impact Morris. Shanahan showed that his system could make a lot of backs productive, but Morris has gone above the norm.
  • Britt
    Williams
    Left tackle Trent Williams will be a free agent after the 2015 season (he’ll count $13.7 million against the cap that year). He’s the anchor of the line and a guy who could play a long time.
  • Receiver Pierre Garcon won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season, but a couple more years like this one -- mixed with massive contracts by other receivers -- could lead to a desire to get something done before he becomes free again.
  • Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins is a free agent after this season. His play has not warranted a big deal, but a strong season could change everything. Unlike some of the others on this list, Jenkins would not be a big-money guy. But, then again, the Redskins gave Stephen Bowen a deal that averaged $5.5 million, and he was not an accomplished player with Dallas before signing.
  • I’m including cornerback David Amerson and tight end Jordan Reed together, because both contracts will be up after the 2016 season. Reed could be in line for a major pay raise, but he has to prove he’s durable. Amerson will have plenty of time to show what he can do. I'm not yet concerned with these deals because three years is a lot of time in the NFL. We'll get a better feel after next season, perhaps, at what direction their careers will go.

RG III: We're getting a fresh start

February, 25, 2014
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Robert Griffin III started working out weeks ago, wanting to avoid a repeat of this past season. And making up for lost time because of his knee surgery last offseason.

Griffin
He's met with coach Jay Gruden -- no football talk allowed just yet -- and he's working with his receivers on occasion. Plus he plans to train with them next month, as well as work with quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, whom he worked with before the 2012 draft.

But, for now, he's looking forward to a new beginning with Gruden's arrival and, he hopes, the end of the stories he endured during the 2013 season.

“We're all excited, everybody in the [Redskins] organization,” Griffin told Fox Sports 1 broadcasters Ron Thulin and Brenda VanLengen during the Baylor-Oklahoma women's basketball game Monday night (courtesy of the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg). “Talking to my teammates, it's not that we're starting over; we're just getting a fresh start. So we've got a new leader at the helm and we're going to be a united front. And I think all those guys are really excited about what's coming.”

Expert's take: Robert Griffin III

February, 19, 2014
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The Washington Redskins don't need to get a quarterback this offseason. They do have questions at the position after Robert Griffin III's second season. After one terrific season followed by a tough one -- yes, brought on in part by other factors -- Griffin has shown promise but also rough edges that need smoothing when it comes to his development as a passer. He'll also now get his first full offseason to work on his game. So Wednesday's question for our experts is about Griffin.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Nick WassRedskins QB Robert Griffin III has a hefty challenge ahead of him for the 2014 season.
What are your expectations for RG III -- and what do you think for him going forward?

Louis Riddick: It's lukewarm. Obviously a player's success and failure has a lot to do with other factors that you can't necessarily scout and that means the relationships between players and coaches and players and players, off-field distractions, how he lives his life and how dialed in he is. Those are things you can't evaluate from afar. Number one, his relationship with Jay Gruden, his health, his relationship with teammates, what his level of commitment to being an all-around great quarterback. Those are all things that determine it. From what I've seen and know and what I've heard, I think it could really go either way with him. He could turn out to be the guy everyone thought he would be coming out of Baylor and what he showed glimpses of his rookie year. I also would not be surprised to see him become a guy who never fully realizes or meets the expectations of being the second overall pick in the draft and is looked back on in disgust. Was it his relationship with Mike Shanahan or the knee injury or the fact that he was never going to be the prototype pocket passer. Was he always going to be reliant on the zone read and be a one, two progression thrower and he just missed. It could go either way. That has yet to be determined for me.

Matt Williamson: Just watching him on tape I'll bet he was never healthy all year. He has to get healthy first and foremost. He rushed back way too soon, but that wasn't the only problem. His lower body mechanics were bad and I don't know if it was because of the injury or not. I think you need to build him from the ground up with the new staff. I imagine they will. I think the league caught up to the read option, too. It was the first offseason that every defensive coordinator was putting time into stopping the read option. That's such a key component. That's a big blow. Everything was read option or play-action. They ran so much play-action [in 2012] they weren't able to do that nearly effectively [last season]. Game scripts were part of the reason, too; the defense was so bad. A Shanahan offense is based off that zone run game but when you're down 21-0 in the second quarter no one cares about your run game.
I'm still confident he's going to be a star. But that was a rough year. He didn't put any good tape for most of the season. I think he's so unbelievably gifted, we saw him make a lot of great plays -- not just as a runner. He's a good deep passer. He has a big arm. Jay Gruden has to be salivating. I'm not an Andy Dalton fan at all and he got a lot out of Dalton. People looked at it the wrong way by asking why hire a guy whose quarterback falls apart in the postseason. I'm saying, ‘We hired a guy who had a quarterback with below-average skills and he got them to the postseason.' There wasn't a lot of clay to mold in Cincinnati.

Franchise/transition tags: Redskins

February, 17, 2014
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Brian Orakpo will get paid this offseason. If Paul Kruger averaged $8 million a year in a deal with Cleveland last offseason, then Orakpo, who is considered the top outside linebacker available, should eclipse that mark.

The question is, will it be the Redskins who give that money to him? Their coaches talk as though Orakpo will be back, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has called him a top priority. They want to re-sign him, knowing that it will be costly. But life in a 3-4 defensive scheme demands having two linebackers who can rush the passer, and that means spending money at this position.

Orakpo
If the Redskins don’t think they can agree on a long-term deal, then, yes, the franchise tag, which can be used starting Monday, is a strong option. Here are the different types of franchise tags they could use.

The Redskins have used the tag only three previous times since it came to fruition in 1993. Only once has a player they used the tag on actually played for them the following season.

They tagged defensive lineman Sean Gilbert in 1997, causing him to sit out the entire season. They tagged him again in 1998 and that offseason swiped two first-round picks from Carolina in exchange for him. They also used it on corner Champ Bailey in 2004 before trading him to Denver. And they used it on tight end Fred Davis in 2012.

If the Redskins decide to tag Orakpo, it would cost them approximately $10.5 million in cap space this year. The benefit is that they could get another year of his services, possibly to see whether his strong finish leads into a bigger season. Of course, if that happens, his price tag would increase in 2015. Still, keep in mind that other players will need to be addressed in the next few years: left tackle Trent Williams, quarterback Robert Griffin III, running back Alfred Morris, receiver Pierre Garcon and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

The coaches like Orakpo and consider him a good all-around linebacker, and he has been their best pass-rusher -- and in the second half of 2013, he was their best defensive player. Haslett said that the Redskins did not let the outside linebackers -- Orakpo and Kerrigan -- rush with abandon on enough occasions and that they want to turn them loose more this season.

The problem for Orakpo is that he has just one career interception and six forced fumbles in 64 career games. That’s not a lot of game-changing plays. To pay someone more than $10 million per year, you’d like more of those plays. By comparison, in 69 career games, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews has 50 sacks, four interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. His contract will average around $13 million over the next five years if he plays to the end of his deal.

So paying Orakpo somewhere between Kruger and Matthews would be acceptable. Considering the Redskins could have approximately $30 million in cap space, they likely won’t let Orakpo get away unless they have a good alternative. Losing him would weaken an important spot in a 3-4 defense. They might not have to use the franchise tag, but it’s a legitimate tool to keep him around.

Former GM not high on RG III

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
4:10
PM ET
Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo echoed what others have said about Robert Griffin III this past season: he wasn’t good enough and he needs to make changes to his game.

Griffin
Which is why Angelo gave him a low grade and placed him 21st among NFL quarterbacks. Angelo also rated him as a 6.9 on his nine-point scale.

For Angelo (writing on the scouting website Sidelineview.com), falling between a 6.5-6.9 means a quarterback “has strong traits, but hasn’t done it. Lack of experience, injuries, missing intangible may be the reason for his erratic play. Still a work in progress. He can move up or down.”

That about sums up Griffin after his second NFL season. Here’s what Angelo wrote on Griffin:
“Talented, but yet to define himself as an NFL quarterback. He won’t have a successful career by working outside the pocket. No one at his position did or will. Too many games and too many hits keep QB’s from having a career based on their feet, rather than their pocket accuracy.”


Right below Griffin: St. Louis’ Sam Bradford, a former top pick in the NFL draft (and a guy former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan loved). New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was only rated a 7.0; Dallas' Tony Romo (7.9) and Philadelphia's Nick Foles (8.0) were the tops in the NFC East.

Cousins
Angelo was not high on backup Kirk Cousins, giving him a 5.4 grade. On Angelo’s scale, that means a quarterback is a “band-aid, can get you through a game. Not a starter. He lacks the arm strength or needed accuracy. May also be missing something intangible, i.e. toughness, instincts etc. Cannot win with him, regardless of supporting cast or coaching.”

And here’s what he wrote about Cousins:
“Smart, hard working and well liked and respected. Lacks the arm talent to start and become a guy you can win with.”


Safe to say if Angelo were still employed in the NFL, he would not be among the teams willing to give up a high draft pick for Cousins.

Angelo listed seven quarterbacks as elite this past season (in order): Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck. Here’s the rest of the article.

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