NFC East: Vinny Cerrato

Some Redskins items from recent days that you might have missed:

More work: Quarterback Robert Griffin III will work with quarterbacks coach Terry Shea next week. Griffin worked with Shea earlier this offseason for a week, but wanted another tune-up before training camp begins July 24. Shea focused hard on Griffin’s fundamentals, including narrowing his base, getting his feet to turn with his body in the pocket and raising where Griffin held the ball -- at times last year he held it too low, leading to a wind-up throw. Griffin clearly has worked hard this offseason. I'm curious to see how that pays off this summer and during the season. He’s also said to have his explosion back, as has been discussed for a while – as multiple people have talked about seeing a difference in that area. But the real key for him is developing in the pocket. Griffin needs to succeed without that extraordinary explosion, though it certainly does help when defenses fear your legs.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesWashington hopes the offseason work Robert Griffin III has put in will pay off in the fall.
Skepticism over RG III ranking: Last week Mike Sando wrote a terrific piece, ranking quarterbacks based on a poll of executives and coaches and evaluators . Griffin did not fare well, being placed as a tier 3 quarterback tied with Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton. The rankings prompted Kevin Seifert to question why Griffin had fallen so far after just one bad season; he also asked if they had forgotten a record-setting 2012 season. People fall in and out of love quickly in the NFL and I think Griffin is the latest example. Watch how fast opinions change if he gets off to a good start.

Vinny on Snyder's fight: Former Redskins executive Vinny Cerrato knows Dan Snyder well, which is why he doesn’t think he’ll abandon his fight to keep the nickname. Snyder is not going to suddenly think the other side has a point, not when he views the matter much, much differently. Besides, what has been evident over the years is that he’s ultra-competitive and does not want to lose this one. Cerrato’s point is one that others have mentioned, too: The only way Snyder might relinquish the battle is if (and he stressed if) he somehow gets a new stadium out of it in a decade or so.

Family torn on name: The Wetzel family is a pivotal one in the Redskins’ battle over the nickname as Walter Wetzel is the one who designed the current logo used on the helmet since 1972. Wetzel’s son, Donald, tells The Washington Post – and has told other outlets in the past – that he’s proud of the name and the logo. But his nephew told the Post that he definitely is on the other side with his thoughts. Guessing this is a microcosm of the debate played out among Native Americans.

Redemption: A lot of Redskins have talked about getting the “bad taste out of their mouths” from last season. Niles Paul joined that chorus in an interview with Paul said, “This is clearly a redemption year for us, and we want to let that be known.” I did a two-week look at players with something to prove, but there’s no doubt the organization as a whole has a lot to prove. But the Redskins have said the right things in the past only to do ... nothing. They can back up these words if Griffin rebounds, the pass rush is terrific, the tackling in the secondary is a lot better and the inside linebackers produce.

Links: Vick just wants to help Eagles win

July, 24, 2013
Dallas Cowboys

Why did the Cowboys draft a receiver so early in this year's draft? Dwayne Harris has his reasons.

From's Tim MacMahon: "Receiver Dez Bryant, fresh off a breakout season and drama-free offseason, sees himself as a blossoming leader for the Dallas Cowboys."

New York Giants

Wide receiver Rueben Randle turned a lot of heads with the work he put in during the offseason.

Missing the playoffs last season still weighs on the Giants as they prepare to start training camp.

Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick was diplomatic in his response to questions Tuesday about the Eagles' quarterback competition and how he'd respond if he doesn't win the starting job. "I'd continue to support this team," Vick said. "I'm here for one reason -- to help this team win football games ... by any means necessary, whatever it takes. If I have to watch film with all the quarterbacks, or if I have to coach the quarterbacks one day, that's what I'll do. I can do it."

Though rookie tight end Zach Ertz is relishing the opportunity he has in Philadelphia, there is one aspect of his college life that he's missing right now.

Washington Redskins

Would Alfred Morris have had as much success running the ball last season without the threat of Robert Griffin III and zone-read plays? The numbers might surprise you.

Former Redskins GM Vinny Cerrato offered his thoughts on Griffin's comeback and the Redskins' plan to get him back on the field.

Inside the mind of Dan Snyder

January, 29, 2013
Gary Myers' new book, Coaching Confidential, apparently contains a chapter that should be of great interest to Washington Redskins fans, as it sprung from an apparently lengthy interview with Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Gary got Snyder to talk to him about the reasons for the hirings and firings of past Redskins coaches, including Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn, and to explain that the reason he fired GM Vinny Cerrato was because Cerrato did a poor job of protecting Snyder from himself. Per Dan Steinberg:
On Jim Zorn: "The general manager needs to prevent the owner from hiring someone who's not qualified. And that's why Vinny is no longer here, to be truthful with you. He's not here because his job was to prevent the owner from hiring a not-qualified coach. Having said that, we went in and had the worst two-year experience I ever dreamed. I apologized, according to my wife, ten thousand times. I apologize openly. I made a big mistake. It's a terrible experience when you know you got the wrong guy to lead the franchise."

The reason I found this interesting was because several people, when I spent time around the Redskins this past season, told me they thought that current GM Bruce Allen acts as a critical buffer in the Redskins' current power arrangement. The thought is that Snyder is, essentially, as off-the-wall as ever behind the scenes but that Allen absorbs it and deflects it away from coach Mike Shanahan and keeps Snyder from going public with or acting on his impulses. Snyder contractually promised Shanahan that he'd stay out of the spotlight and let Shanahan build and run the team his way, and he appears to have kept that promise. It's possible that the reason he's been able to do so is that he has the kind of GM he didn't think Cerrato turned out to be.

NFC East links: Learning Ryan's scheme

March, 14, 2011
Dallas Cowboys

Getting acquainted with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme was a priority heading into the lockout.

Mickey Spagnola looks ahead to next month's draft.

New York Giants

Giants center Shaun O'Hara says he believes the players union was left with no choice but to decertify.

Osi Umenyiora reportedly "jumped at the chance" to be included in the lawsuit against the NFL owners.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner in a letter to Eagles fans: "We want you to know our focus is on preparation for the 2011 season and we are going to continue to do everything we can to strengthen our football team."

Washington Redskins

Vinny Cerrato continues to break down film of potential draft picks, although he isn't currently working for an NFL team.

Redskins defensive end Vonnie Holliday expects players to get together during the lockout to work out.

NFC East links: Brandon Jacobs the boxer

March, 9, 2011
Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett was not among the head coaches on hand Tuesday at Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's pro day.'s Pat Kirwan is a fan of Rob Ryan coming over from Cleveland to run the Dallas defense.

New York Giants

The New York Daily News' Gary Myers on Tuesday's announcement that Tiki Barber is coming out of retirement: "There was a better chance of Tom Coughlin calling up Frank Gifford -- who happens to be 80 -- to coax him out of retirement than the Giants coach letting Tiki Barber walk back into the Big Blue locker room and poison it again."

Brandon Jacobs said he considered the idea of getting in a few boxing matches if there happens to be a work stoppage.

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg says quarterback Michael Vick "could end up being one of the greatest of all time."

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald says he never made a push for the Cardinals to acquire Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Washington Redskins

Former Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato says ex-coach Jim Zorn was done in by his ego.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan weighs in on the state of the Redskins' offense and where things stand heading into the draft.

Exclusive cutdown nuggets

September, 4, 2010
In case you haven't been following the Beast on Twitter, now's a good time to start. We've been tweeting and blogging throughout cutdown day. We should have some official news start to roll in at 6 p.m. ET, but we've already seen some interesting developments. Here are some nuggets and observations:
  • As we reported today, the Eagles sent a seventh-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for defensive end Antwan Barnes. The Ravens have had a ton of success hitting on players in the fourth round, and Barnes was a nice player for them as an outside linebacker. He'll be a 251-pound defensive end for the Eagles. He'll immediately step into the rotation with Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. The rookie Graham will remain a starter and Barnes will likely be used as a pass-rushing specialist. A league source told me today that Moise Fokou and Daryl Tapp are safe. We'll see if that holds up.
  • Our friends at are predicting that rookie center Phil Costa, fullback Chris Gronkowski and safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray will all make the 53-man roster. The Cowboys have released guard Travis Bright, according to Calvin Watkins. They should have no trouble getting Bright onto the practice squad.
  • In other Cowboys news, former SMU cornerback Bryan McCann has been informed that he'll be released. The Cowboys hope to sneak him through to the practice squad, but it will be tough. One team from the NFC and another from the AFC have already told me today that they have interest in McCann.
  • Update: The Giants just made it official that second-year running back Andre Brown has been released. We'll see if they can get him through to the practice squad. I loved what he was doing during training camp, but he's been banged up in the preseason. Also the workaholic tight end Bear Pascoe has been released.

Wednesday Beastlines

September, 1, 2010
Let's take a quick spin around the division this morning:


Beastlines: Kolb vouches for Vick

July, 15, 2010
Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys signed a pair of draft picks yesterday: Seventh-round pick Sean Lissemore and sixth-round pick Sam Young.

Continuing his "Proving Ground" series,'s Tim MacMahon looks at safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.

In an Insider piece for, Football Outsiders' Bill Barnwell names two Cowboys players among the top 10 NFL draft prospects: Running back Tashard Choice (No. 4) and cornerback Orlando Scandrick (No. 6).

The Dallas Morning News' Gerry Fraley takes note of the Cowboys' "trouble-free offseason."

In a chat on the DMN website, writer Rick Gosselin declares that Roy Williams will have his "best season as a Cowboy."

Is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones the next George Steinbrenner?

Cowboys running back Felix Jones feels his likeness was misused to promote a youth football camp.

Quarterback Tony Romo has won an award... for his golfing.

New York Giants

Giants safety Antrel Rolle told Sporting News he "loves playing under the bright lights."

Giants third-year receiver Mario Manningham is looking for more out of 2010.

A former New York Giants scout joins the National Football Post and writes about the supplemental draft.

Clark Judge of looks at training camp battles in the NFC East including the Giants competition at left guard.

Philadelphia Eagles

Embattled Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has a friend in starter Kevin Kolb. Kolb told the Philadelphia Inquirer: "I just told him that it was unfortunate what he had to go through. I just said, 'If there's anything I can do, whatever it is, I don't care, just holler.' And, of course, he said, 'I appreciate it.'"

Salt Lake City Tribune blogger Jay Drew thinks the Eagles will win the Harvey Unga sweepstakes.

Former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook says, "This season is going to be different."

In its continuing series of "Camp Classics," reflects on "When George Hegamin went AWOL."

Washington Redskins

The Redskins are unlikely to make a pick in today's supplemental draft.

Safety LaRon Landry had toe surgery last month, but should be able to join the team for training camp.

Football Outsiders' Bill Barnwell ranks the Redskins dead last in young talent in the NFL. "Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have inherited a wasteland from Vinny Cerrato, who used his draft picks to acquire 'has-beens' and 'never-weres.' As a result, the Redskins only have four 'young' starters, and two of them (wideout Devin Thomas and safety LaRon Landry) have been professional flops," he writes in the Insider piece. However, Barnwell ranks Redskins cornerback Justin Tyron the fifth best NFL prospect.

The Redskins have launched a new ad campaign with the slogan, "No more looking back."

Yahoo! Sports ranks the Redskins 26th ... for fantasy purposes.

Shanahan has to win this standoff

June, 24, 2010
Mike Shanahan and Albert HaynesworthUS Presswire/Getty ImagesMike Shanahan and Albert Haynesworth appear to be unable to co-exist in Washington.
With all due respect to the good folks at, I think they missed the boat in their annual "Most Disliked People in Sports" poll. The Eagles' Michael Vick recently defended his crown, but given recent developments, I think Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is starting to separate himself from the pack.

For years, Terrell Owens proudly served as the league's most polarizing (hated) player. But now T.O. and his personal trainer/roommate Buddy Primm can't find an NFL home. Donovan McNabb reportedly offered T.O. a lifeline earlier this offseason, but perhaps Mike Shanahan, normally a fan of fading NFL stars, thought teaming the controversial wide receiver with the Nashville-based Haynesworth would be too much to bear.

But the truth of the matter is that Shanahan made his decision to cut ties with Haynesworth back in March. That's about the time Haynesworth explained to the Redskins coach that he preferred to work out with his own trainer in Nashville, a community that has more Hardee's locations than Ashburn, Va. As I joined Shanahan for breakfast at the spring owners meeting in Orlando (we were rudely interrupted by other reporters), you could tell that he'd already had enough of Haynesworth. He said he "strongly disagreed" with the player's decision to bypass the club's offseason conditioning program.

Let's do away with all the pretense, though. Clearly there's no love lost between Shanahan and Haynesworth, and there's no scenario in which the two men will be able to coexist for a season. Haynesworth released a statement Wednesday saying that he planned to attend the Redskins' training camp, which opens July 29 in Ashburn. What Haynesworth actually meant to say was, "I'm not going to take any chance of the Skins going after all those checks I've cashed."

You have to hand it to the guy. He's become so vilified for his unhappiness over a scheme change that he's made most folks forget that he was once known for purposefully spiking an opposing player in the face with his cleat. Haynesworth has been able to change the dialogue on his career a couple of times since that incident. Now, he's become the poster child for spoiled athletes.

In this economic climate, it's becoming tougher to sympathize with Americans who turn their nose up at $41 million in guaranteed money because they were promised a 4-3 scheme. I've racked my brain for how to defend Haynesworth, but fortunately another contributor was up to the task.

I love all the handwringing over in Washington over this fiasco. Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato spent more than a decade chasing after free-agent glory, so why are we surprised that this particular move blew up in their faces? You'll be happy to know that Cerrato joined the chorus of jeers at Haynesworth recently.
"When he signed, he said he wanted to prove everybody wrong," Cerrato said at a Redskins alumni function last week. "He said he wanted to show everybody that it's not about the money. He said he wanted to be the best that ever played. He said he wanted to be like Reggie White. He said Reggie White was his hero, so live up to what you said. Don't have it change just because a coach changed."

How in the world could a player widely regarded as selfish not change his ways after becoming the highest-paid defensive player in the history of the league? I mean, how ungrateful can one man be?

Actually, I'm thinking Cerrato's words ring pretty hollow to Redskins fans. Haynesworth is a painful reminder of how the Snyder regime did business for many years. It was wrong to think that the arrival of respected men such as Bruce Allen and Shanahan would automatically fix the problems at Redskins Park. They certainly appear to be on the right track, but Haynesworth is the enormous cloud that hangs over the organization.

So far, Snyder has made good on his promise to remain in the background and let Shanahan and Allen run the show. But Haynesworth happened on his watch and he needs to do whatever it takes to make him go away. Other teams are wisely waiting to see how far Haynesworth's stock will fall before making a deal. Could the Redskins simply have to release Haynesworth and eat all that bonus money? It could definitely come to that.

There's no room for compromise between Shanahan and Haynesworth. He has alienated himself to a fan base, his teammates and the new coaching staff. He would already be gone if the Eagles had shown any interest in him. There's only a handful of coaches around the league who believe they can handle such a divisive (and immensely talented) player. Jim Schwartz in Detroit is one of those guys, but it's not like he wants to set the market for Haynesworth.

The bottom line is that Haynesworth and Shanahan won't be able to function together in Washington. The coach can't afford for any of his new players to have the perception that Haynesworth won this standoff. And that's why Haynesworth's announcement that he intended to show up for training camp meant nothing.

If the Redskins haven't traded or released Haynesworth by that time, I think they'll ask him to stay home. The time for healing or compromise has passed. In reality, Haynesworth hasn't been on this team since March.

Soon, it will become official.

Dan Snyder's worst free-agent signing

June, 23, 2010
Now that the signing of Albert Haynesworth has blown up in Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's face, there's been some discussion about whether it was the owner's worst move in free agency. From my perspective, that's sort of a cheap second guess, although I support most cheap second guesses.

Were Snyder and the exiled Vinny Cerrato supposed to anticipate that Haynesworth would shut things down if they made a coaching change after the 2009 season? The thing folks have forgotten is that Haynesworth finished the season complaining about former defensive coordinator Greg Blache's 4-3 scheme. All this talk about him being upset about the scheme change under Jim Haslett seems rather hollow.

Haynesworth has come across as a brooding child who is now trying to force his way out of a situation he's never given a chance. Our friends at SportsNation asked readers to vote for the worst free-agent signings during the Snyder administration. Here are the results so far:

With 12,175 votes accounted for, 46 percent voted for Haynesworth. But I think those are "anger" votes. Jeff George is second with 27 percent of the vote and Adam Archuleta (15 percent) is attempting to hold off Deion Sanders (12 percent). So who would you guys select as the worst free-agent signing for Snyder?

If Haynesworth never steps on the field again for the Skins, he'll obviously move to the top. But based on the knowledge Snyder had at the time, that Archuleta signing was pretty ridiculous. Anxious to hear your thoughts.

The Marko Mitchell era ends

May, 4, 2010
The legend of Marko Mitchell pretty much began and ended during the '09 preseason. The former seventh-round draft choice out of Nevada emerged as a red-zone threat in the preseason and finished with 11 catches for 113 yards for the Redskins. But on Monday, Mitchell and four other players were released by coach Mike Shanahan.

With the Redskins bringing in several veterans, including former Cowboys wide receiver Joey Galloway, apparently Mitchell was expendable. Expect to see him coming to a roster near you. Pro scouts around the league take a close look at preseason film and Mitchell was quite impressive.

Running backs Anthony Alridge and P.J. Hill, receiver James Robinson and defensive lineman Anthony Montgomery were also released. Former personnel chief Vinny Cerrato once attributed an interesting quote to Shanahan regarding Alridge's speed.

Hill, a former star at Wisconsin, spent time on the Saints' and Eagles' practice squads before joining the Redskins. Robinson, 27, played for the Florida Frenzy of the National Indoor Football League and then spent time in the Arena Football League with the Las Vegas Gladiators ('07), South Georgia Wildcats (AFL2), Toronto Argonauts (CFL), Kansas City Brigade (AFL), Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns (NFL).

Montgomery was a fifth-round draft pick out of Minnesota who had some promise as a defensive tackle, but apparently did not fit into Jim Haslett's 3-4 scheme. OK, I think we covered everyone.

Remember these names in the Beast

April, 22, 2010
OK, we're about 45 minutes away from the first pick of the NFL Draft. I'll make a few observations and predictions involving the Beast:

  • I think all the talk about the Washington Redskins being on the phone with the St. Louis Rams about the No. 1 pick was a smokescreen. But there may be something to this Eric Berry talk. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett covets Berry's playmaking ability and his biggest emphasis is to increase the Skins' takeaways in 2010. But as of right now, I still think Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams is the pick. If you talk to any scouts they'll tell you the draft begins with the No. 4 pick. We'll be writing about it in an hour or so.
  • Some folks think the New York Giants will trade up to No. 11 to select Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. That doesn't sound like Giants general manager Jerry Reese to me at all. If Rich Seubert.
  • I'm about to listen to Vinny Cerrato analyze the Redskins' first pick on ESPN Radio. This should be priceless. He's on with John Clayton and Freddie Coleman as we speak. Clayton just said that Cleveland made one last run at the Rams' No. 1 pick this afternoon. Interesting.
  • OK, I'm hearing a ton of things on the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of folks have them doing whatever it takes to trade up for Dez Bryant. Well, they're not willing to do whatever it takes from what I'm hearing. If Bryant falls all the way to No. 27, Jerry Jones will be there to take him. Anything short of that, I don't think the Cowboys make a move. If Bryant makes it to No. 25, the Ravens will take him. I feel pretty strongly about that. If the Cowboys stay at No. 27, look for them to take Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick. He can play nose tackle and defensive end in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. But it's more likely the Cowboys bail out on the pick and try to take South Florida safety Nate Allen early in the second. Also keep your eye on defensive end Tyson Alualu. The Cowboys love him, but they won't take him at No. 27. I think Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty is also a good name at No. 27.
  • Our guy John Clayton just said on ESPN Radio that the Redskins could trade Albert Haynesworth "in the next 10 minutes." I think he just meant that it could happen in a hurry. Cerrato thinks the first trade could occur when Jacksonville tries to trade out of the No. 10 spot.
  • ESPN's Sal Paolantonio has told us that Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has been wanting to move into the top 15. And while I'm sure Roseman's made a lot of calls, I don't see Andy Reid wanting to move that far to take someone like Earl Thomas out of Texas. I've seen Thomas play a lot in person. Great player, but he's not special enough to move up 10 or 11 spots. If Florida guard/center Maurkice Pouncey slips to No. 24, the Eagles would have to think about taking him. I also think Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson's a name to keep in mind. If Haden goes early, though, Wilson will be long gone before the Eagles pick.

Berry to Skins talk heats up

April, 22, 2010
As we mentioned earlier, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have done a superb job of keeping everyone in the dark about the No. 4 pick. For weeks, everyone assumed Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung would be the Skins' choice. But in recent days, Oklahoma left tackle Trent Williams has become the favorite of mock draft specialists.

Now, former Tennessee safety Eric Berry, believed to be headed to the Chiefs at No. 5, is starting to get some burn in Washington. Jason Reid of The Washington Post said he thinks there's a "60 percent" chance the Skins will take Berry. But he sort of hedges his bet by saying the Redskins have too many other holes to fill. I think Shanahan and Allen have thoroughly confused everyone, which was probably their intention.

And I love the irony of Vinny Cerrato suggesting the Redskins should select an offensive lineman with the No. 4 pick. I can hear Skins fans yelling a collective, "Then why didn't you do it, Vinny?"

Check out our man Cerrato's podcast about what goes into preparing for a draft.

Podcast: Cerrato on draft-day preparation

April, 22, 2010
Former Redskins VP of football operations Vinny Cerrato discusses how an NFL executive prepares for the draft.

How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

April, 15, 2010
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


Marcus Spears, Cowboys DE: After the '09 season, owner Jerry Jones indicated that Spears had a long-term future with the club. But he has a funny way of showing his devotion to the restricted free agent who recently signed his first-round tender. Spears, who would've been an appealing player on the open market, is scheduled to make less money than backup defensive ends Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher. All three players could be unrestricted free agents after next season.

I think a team such as the Redskins would be wise to make a move for Spears during the draft. The Cowboys would probably move him for a mid-round pick. For whatever reason, the team has soured on Spears, who's actually one of the better leaders on the team. It's not like the defensive end in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme is going to have a lot of sacks. I'm not quite sure why Spears' stock has fallen so much, but it's at an all-time low at this point.


Oklahoma State LT Russell Okung going to the Redskins at No. 4 overall: Mock drafters across the country will at least get this one right. When the Skins traded for Donovan McNabb, it all but guranteed that they'd select Okung in the first round. I've watched the guy in person several times over the last few years and he's a refined athlete who doesn't have many holes in his game. Barring injury, he'll start at left tackle for the next 10 years. In the past, Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder neglected the offensive line in the draft. But Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen won't make that mistake.

I had a long conversation with Okung at the combine. He's a no-nonsense guy who seems to have a bit of a mean streak. That will go over well in Washington. If not for those two great defensive tackles, Okung would have gone even higher in this draft. He's a more refined player than last year's No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith, although he's not quite that athletic.