NFC East: zach miller

Pete Carroll and Mike Shanahan started new jobs in the same offseason. Four years later Carroll is in the Super Bowl; Shanahan is unemployed. Why did the Seahawks improve while the Redskins did not? Seattle won nine games combined in the two years before Carroll and a combined 38 in the next four years, while the Redskins won a combined 12 games in the two years before Shanahan and a combined 24 in the ensuing four years.
  • The Seahawks had two first-round picks in 2010 while the Redskins had two picks in the first four rounds. Seattle landed two excellent starters in tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas. Washington took tackle Trent Williams and linebacker Perry Riley. Williams is a Pro Bowler and Riley is a starter, good in some areas but who struggles in others.
  • The Seahawks hit on lower-round picks in 2010, selecting cornerback Walter Thurmond in the fourth round and safety Kam Chancellor in the fifth. Chancellor’s physical style sets a tone in the box, and Thurmond is an excellent slot corner and might as well be considered a starter. Seattle also took starting receiver Golden Tate in the second round. The Redskins whiffed on the rest of their 2010 class, none of whom were on the roster this past season.
  • Wilson
    Among the players Seattle unloaded in the 2010 offseason: corner Josh Wilson, who signed with the Redskins a year later; and defensive lineman Darryl Tapp, who played here this past season. The Seahawks wanted big, physical cornerbacks. Wilson was too small for them. Seattle clearly had a blueprint.
  • In 2011, the Seahawks had nine picks (the Redskins had 12). Seattle found three more starters in guard James Carpenter (drafted as a tackle in the first round); corner Richard Sherman (fifth round); corner Byron Maxwell (sixth round; a replacement for the suspended Brandon Browner) and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (seventh round). Eight of the nine remain on the roster.
  • Meanwhile, the Redskins drafted 12 players, finding one good starter in linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and another starter in end Jarvis Jenkins. It wasn’t a bad draft, but it wasn’t a game-changer either. Nine of the 12 remained on the roster in 2013.
  • Wilson
    Both teams found quarterbacks in 2012, with Seattle getting Russell Wilson in the third round and the Redskins trading two future first-rounders and a second-rounder to swap positions with St. Louis to get Robert Griffin III. I agreed with the move, so I’m not going to second-guess it; besides, it’s not as if Ryan Tannehill, a player they liked, has torn it up in Miami (though, yes, they would have had more picks). There is no way Seattle could have anticipated what Wilson has become, and the Seahawks had also traded for Matt Flynn. But they quickly saw what they had in Wilson.
  • Both quarterbacks obviously made tremendous impacts as rookies. Griffin’s knee injury and other issues led to stumbles in 2013. But when he struggled, so, too, did the Redskins. When Wilson struggled, he could rely on the run game and defense to win. Big difference when you don’t have to carry a team -- and that’s because of how both were built.
  • Seattle drafted 10 players in 2012 -- eight played defense; three are starters (end Bruce Irvin, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and J.R. Sweezy, an end in college but now a starting offensive guard). The Redskins also hit on running back Alfred Morris in that same draft, and quarterback Kirk Cousins looks like a good backup who might yield a draft pick in return some day. But aside from them and Griffin? So far, nothing.
  • This past season, of the Redskins' top five defensive backs (including No. 3 corner David Amerson), four were picked in the first two rounds of their respective drafts. Of Seattle’s eight defensive backs, only one was drafted before the fourth round.
  • In the 2013 draft, Seattle added no starters, but that’s not a surprise given the Seahawks’ talent level. The Redskins added Amerson, who was their No. 3 corner. But nobody else provided any help. Even on special teams.
  • All totaled, of the starters listed on Seattle’s current depth chart, 16 were drafted by them or signed as an undrafted free agent. That includes nine defensive starters, and the lone two who weren’t drafted by them were acquired in trades, including end Chris Clemons. Of the four offensive players not drafted by Seattle, one was signed off a practice squad; another was acquired in a trade (running back Marshawn Lynch) and only one was considered a bigger free agent signing (tight end Zach Miller).
  • Seattle built a team that could withstand the loss of receiver Percy Harvin, who has caught one pass this season after being acquired in a trade. He might play in the Super Bowl. They signed pass-rush specialist Cliff Avril, who recorded eight sacks, but was not a starter.
  • Seattle is just more proof that you can succeed without having to spend big money. And the Redskins are proof as to what happens when you don’t successfully draft and develop.
Back home in New Jersey after a long day on the road home from Redskins camp, combing through the day's p.m. news items and ready now to ask our favorite question: How was your day...

Dallas Cowboys?

"Painful." Say what you want about Terence Newman, but if his groin injury turned out to be serious, the Cowboys would have a problem. Remember, they weren't out hunting for cornerbacks. They were in the Nnamdi Asomugha market because of how good Asomugha is -- not because of what they think of Newman and Mike Jenkins. They'd have cut Newman to make room for Asomugha, but their plan after Asomugha signed with the Eagles was to keep Newman and spend on safety. Now, Newman's hurt, and if it's the kind of thing that could linger into the season, the Cowboys and their already-stretched budget could need to find an answer at corner when they still haven't answered safety all the way. Abram Elam remains the strongest possibility for the other starting safety spot opposite Gerald Sensabaugh, especially with Brodney Pool returning to the Jets, but he isn't signed yet.

New York Giants?

"Unsettled." Kevin Boss is reportedly in Oakland, meeting with the Raiders, who lost tight end Zach Miller to the Seahawks on Tuesday and are surely legitimately interested in Boss. This is good news for Boss, as it will help him get more money, either from the Giants or the Raiders. But it's bad news for the Giants, who are also up against the cap and would have limited options to replace him if he were to go. If they have to spend more to keep him, it's hard to believe they'll also be able to sign Steve Smith, and losing Smith would seriously hurt them at wide receiver. And if they lose Boss, they could sign Smith more easily, but they may not want to up their offer to Smith because of concerns over his knee. So the Giants have reason to be nervous about the state of Eli Manning's passing targets at this point. The Osi Umenyiora situation also remains unsettled, after an odd day on which Umenyiora's options for getting satisfaction about his contract appear to be dwindling or dried up.

Philadelphia Eagles?

"Scary." The day began with defensive lineman Mike Patterson collapsing at practice and leaving the field in an ambulance. We learned later in the day that Patterson was dehydrated and was doing fine at the hospital, where he was being kept for further tests to make 100 percent sure before they let him go back out and practice football in the heat. First-round pick Danny Watkins, who's a firefighter and presumably has EMT training, was apparently instrumental in taking charge and making sure Patterson got the aid he needed. An unforeseen benefit of drafting Watkins, to be sure. As for signings, the Eagles added a couple of guys, including defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, most recently of the Saints, to beef up the interior of Jim Washburn's defensive line. Jeremy Maclin was in camp but didn't practice or talk to reporters as he continues to recover from the illness that kept him from attending the camp's first five days. And DeSean Jackson continues to hold out, with no end in sight there.

Washington Redskins?

"Productive." Rain in the morning in Ashburn cooled things off, and the Redskins extended practice by about a half-hour to let John Beck run 11-on-11 drills with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan calling plays for him through the speaker in his helmet. I don't know what to tell you on Beck. You watch from the sidelines and you see the ball wobble and the receivers reach behind them to catch it and you just don't come away very impressed. Then you talk to Kyle and Mike Shanahan about him and they rave about how great he looked. I'm completely ready to admit those guys know 800 times as much about evaluating quarterbacks as I do, but man. I didn't think the ball was supposed to wobble that much. I guess we'll see. Sounds like they're really serious about giving Beck at least a real good shot at winning the starting job.

My day? Well, thanks for asking. Very nice day. Good, enjoyable, informative interviews with both Shanahans, Beck, London Fletcher, O.J. Atogwe and others as I wrapped up my last day at Redskins camp. I will be sharing it with you in the coming days, even as I'm visiting other camps. And the Redskins edition of our "Camp Confidential" series is scheduled to run Saturday, so look for that. Now, though, I am tired and looking forward to taking tomorrow off. I will be chatting with you all again Friday from Lehigh.

But before I go, I really must ask: How was your day?

NFC East Tuesday: How was your day?

August, 2, 2011
Time once again for our nightly check-in, where we look back over the 24 hours that have just transpired and ask the open-ended question: How was your day ...

Dallas Cowboys?

"You know, fine." Got to be getting old watching the Eagles sign half the world, but the Cowboys did finally lock in one of the two starting safeties they need, bringing back Gerald Sensabaugh on what appears to be his third one-year contract. Wonder what that says about a guy. They keep wanting him back, but ... not that much. I'd be surprised if Abram Elam weren't the Cowboys' next move, and after that, maybe a No. 3 receiver. But everybody who's been harping on the Cowboys to sign free agents seems to forget how many good players they already have. Rob Ryan's coaching could be enough to fix what went wrong on defense last season, even with similar personnel. And the offense is loaded with talent. The Cowboys don't need star-caliber pieces. They just need to fill holes. They'll do it. By the way, they also signed another kicker -- Kai Forbath, who was really good at UCLA but is hurt now and might or might not be a factor in the David Buehler/Dan Bailey kicking competition that has the Metroplex riveted.

New York Giants?

"Restful." The Giants' players had the day off, to their coach's chagrin, but the front office made itself busy with minor moves, such as signing defensive tackle Gabe Watson, who'll be a solid backup or rotational guy in the middle of the line, and bringing back Michael Clayton to help the receiver depth. Nothing new on Osi Umenyiora, who still wants a new deal or out and isn't any more likely today than he was yesterday to get either. Nothing new on Steve Smith or Kevin Boss, although the signing of Zach Miller by the Seahawks could get the Raiders interested pretty quickly. The Giants signed Ben Patrick on Monday to give them insurance in case Boss left, but they're not similar players. Patrick doesn't block the way Boss does, and they surely want Boss back.

Philadelphia Eagles?

"Oh, you know. Typical, three-signing day." The Eagles were off, too, but they were at it again, agreeing to new deals with Ronnie Brown as a backup running back, Ryan Harris as a right tackle and Jarrad Page to add to their safety mix along with all the young guys they have back there. All three came on one-year deals because apparently the whole league wants to play for the Eagles now and will take anything to do it. Jeremy Maclin also arrived in camp after missing the first five practices due to an illness the team won't discuss, so hopefully he's OK. And nothing new on DeSean Jackson, who has to be wondering how much money is left for him.

Washington Redskins?

"Humbling." Yes, they're paying attention in Ashburn to what's happening at Lehigh with the Eagles. The whole league is. And if you're the Redskins, it can't escape your attention that your current starters at quarterback and running back are John Beck and Ryan Torain while the Eagles' backups at those spots are Vince Young and Ronnie Brown. But hey. Rex Grossman showed up Tuesday, which means it might not have to be Beck. Phillip Buchanon showed up, too, although we also learned he's suspended for the first four games of the season. Once he's back, I think the Redskins' defense has a chance to be good. The offense, with question marks at quarterback, running back, receiver and offensive line ... that's another story.

My day was good. Spent some more time at Redskins camp. Had some nice conversations with Barry Cofield, Trent Williams, DeAngelo Hall, Lorenzo Alexander and others, and in the coming days I will be filling you in on the insight I gleaned from those conversations. I like getting out and talking to the players and coaches. I learn more from those conversations than I do from watching practice, although I know you guys want to know what I saw in practice. But yeah, my day was real nice. Looking forward to one more morning in Ashburn before I head home and then out to see the Eagles.

How was your day?
Getting close to the end of our position-by-position look at four-year unrestricted free agency and the way it could play out in the NFC East. We're going to take a look at the tight end position, where the Cowboys and Redskins are set and really so are the Eagles, though I'm going to include them for a number of reasons, some of which are outlined below. Two of the top options, Owen Daniels and Marcedes Lewis, are off the board, as Daniels signed a new deal with Houston and Lewis was designated a franchise player by the Jaguars.

NFC East teams in need

Giants: The Giants have a few key players who would be free-agent eligible under the proposed rules, and one of those is valuable tight end Kevin Boss. The Giants like Boss a lot and would love to re-sign him, but they want to re-sign quite a number of their players, including Ahmad Bradshaw, Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith and Barry Cofield, and someone is going to slip through the cracks. If it turns out to be Boss, the Giants are probably going to need to find someone to replace him or at least provide a safety net in case Travis Beckum isn't ready to take over the position.

Eagles: Brent Celek is one of the better tight ends in the league, and given the rest of the offensive weapons the Eagles have at their disposal it's hard to imagine them making this a high priority item. But I saw this item recently about how Andy Reid is enamored of the idea of a two-tight-end set, and since more and more coaches are using them, I don't think you can rule out the possibility that Reid and the Eagles would explore it. And I'm not sure Clay Harbor is the answer if they do. So here they are, "need" or not.

Top five potential unrestricted free-agent tight ends:

1. Zach Miller. He's averaged 61 catches per seaosn over the past three seasons with absolutely no reliability or stability at the quarterback position in Oakland. He likely would thrive in a more active and potent passing offense, and he's probably looking to do just that. Should get a very nice contract.

2. Boss. On the other hand, Boss is a guy who has played in a big-time passing offense the past two seasons but just hasn't been one of its top targets. A reliable blocker and route-runner who's looked, at times, like a good red zone target for Eli Manning, Boss fits his role well in New York and would probably do well to stay.

3. Bo Scaife. Has been more of a blocker than a receiver in Tennessee. So if the Eagles really did want to go that way, he'd be a nice complement to Celek. I still don't see it, but they always surprise you, those Eagles.

4. David Thomas. He's been a good backup for the Saints who can catch passes when needed but isn't going to bug the coaches about wanting to do more. Might be a nice fit for either of the teams we're talking about, assuming he could handle a starter's workload if he ended up in New York.

5. Daniel Fells. There are better overall options, but I'm putting Fells on this list because, if some team is looking for a tight end who can function as a red zone target and won't need to be a passing-game factor otherwise, Fells could be the man. He hasn't done too much in St. Louis, but they've had quarterback and receiver issues there as well. This guy lists at 6-foot-4, 272 pounds and has caught five touchdown passes over the past two seasons.

Predictions that mean nothing: Giants re-sign Boss, and the Eagles, always looking to keep multiple options open, do bring in a guy from further down on the list. Maybe a guy like Fells who can be a bruiser near the goal line.