Redskins mailbag: Part 1

In Part 1 of this week’s Redskins mailbag, we take a look at, who else, Robert Griffin III, Antoine Winfield, Niles Paul and, of course, Jim Haslett. All questions were submitted via Twitter.

@Fertzy asks: Are the Redskins effectively prepared to write off this season while RG3 gets fit, even if losses pile up?

John Keim: The season isn’t about Griffin. There’s not a single player or coach who will say, “It’s OK if we lose as long as Robert gets healthy for next season.” London Fletcher probably doesn’t have a next season. DeAngelo Hall is a free agent after the season. Fred Davis is playing for a contract. Etc. Do you really think they care more about Griffin getting fit for 2014 than winning -- or their own livelihood? Not a chance. Man that would be a dangerous precedent for a team to take that approach.

@ADEckman asks: is def’s yards allowed being exaggerated greatly by off’s inability to sustain drives? Or is it that bad?

Keim: You just can’t blame it all on the offense. Yes, the offense has not helped at all but it’s not like the defense was stopping Philadelphia early and just wore down. The Packers could have scored 50 points if they wanted to. And against Detroit the defense played better, but they still allowed 27 points, 441 yards and surrendered six plays of 20 or more yards. This despite the offense controlling the ball for 31 minutes, 12 seconds and gaining 420 yards of their own. It would definitely help if the offense did more, but when you see the inability to stop teams and the breakdowns, it’s just not because of the offense’s inability to do much. They’re allowing 6.9 yards per play; that’s terrible.

@enkay85 asks: Never mind Rhodes, why can't this team entice A. Winfield to join? Seems like he'd be a tremendous help.

Keim: I’m sure Winfield would love to join a team that’s 0-3 for his last go-round. I really like how Winfield plays and thought he had as good a game against Washington last year as any corner. But I don’t know how much money he would want; the Redskins still don’t have a lot of cap room.

@mikeyvanilli asks: I know onside kicks are rare, but isn't he on the roster to be a ST guru? Shouldn't he know that rule?

Keim: Of course he knows the rule. The problem on the kick is that the ball was not going to go 10 yards; the players are supposed to try and get it in the air. I’m not making excuses for him, but if he lets the ball go then it hits on the ground after eight yards -- or a Lions player catches it (one was right there). Either way it wasn’t going to work. Calvin Johnson also was approaching too, with Reed Doughty trying to box him out. Have a hunch Johnson wins that battle.

@JalfredoC10 asks: Any chance we have a new DC after the bye week ?

Keim: If they start 0-4 and the defense has another terrible game -- against a backup quarterback in Matt Flynn no less -- well, I think we’ve all been around long enough to know nobody should feel comfortable. But I haven’t heard those sort of rumblings; I’ve heard more the opposite (to this point anyway). I know you can place blame all over the place; to suggest it is just Jim Haslett’s fault is just wrong. The tackling was bad; rookie mistakes have really hurt a secondary that wasn’t strong to begin with and there are some players just not having the start they needed. But coaching is always part of the equation; failures like this start are a cumulative effort (yes, throw in the cap mess and the inability to adequately upgrade in the secondary). Haslett was not considered an elite coordinator; his reputation based on many I’ve spoken with -- people with far more knowledge than I -- is that he’s pretty good, but one criticism was the soundness of his defense’s coverages, how they meshed with blitzes, etc. That said, who would you replace him with? Bob Slowik had a failed tenure as a defensive coordinator in Denver. That leaves Raheem Morris. He’s energetic and perhaps this ultimately will be his job -- here or somewhere. But his group hasn’t flourished either. Haslett and his coaches improved the defense last year and will have to resort to weekly maneuvering to do so this year, more so than most teams.

@RolandWNoBrakes asks: With LF59 slowing down & Barnett working his way into the D, do you think he will be LF59's replacement in '14?

Keim: No, I don’t. Or, right now, I haven’t seen enough evidence to suggest he should be that guy. It’s tough to measure Barnett because when we saw him play this summer he was still recovering from offseason knee surgery. Barnett struggled last season in Buffalo, particularly in coverage, according to Bills’ insiders I spoke with. Barnett is a good insurance policy for this season; he’s smart and prepared and knows the defense. But I think they’d be wise to keep looking after the season. They think Perry Riley can handle play-calling duties, but he's well-suited for where he's at now. Even if they wanted to move him, they'd still need a replacement on that side.

@TMM75 asks: Do you think Jenkins' return will make any real difference? I feel he hasn't shown much for us to miss him.

Keim: Not sold that it will. Jenkins will add depth at a key position; that’s always welcomed. He won’t be the reason the defense turns it around; it’s not as if starter Kedric Golston has been a problem. He just didn’t show he could be a difference-maker in 2012. But he did improve against the run. Jenkins can play in the nickel, though he has not shown good pass-rush skills. He worked on that in the offseason, but against starters this summer I didn’t see a difference.