Redskins mailbag: Part 1
@john_keim: Well, the purpose typically of a wildcat quarterback is to have a run threat back there. The Redskins already have that in Robert Griffin III -- and he presents a much bigger problem overall for a defense because he can also pass. So why go away from that? I'm not a big fan of the wildcat, because 95 percent of the time it's a run. The zone-read threat is a lot better (the Redskins averaged 5.33 yards per carry from that look in 2013, the year it supposedly was figured out by defenses). And if the purpose is to let Reed throw, why would you want any other dual threat than Griffin? Finally, Reed is a lot bigger than when he was a quarterback. Smaller, shiftier guys work better in that role.
Keim: There are drills where they will have the quarterback look off a target and throw the other way. There are drills that emphasize checkdowns -- last week, for example, we saw a lot of these to running back Roy Helu. Just to reinforce what else is available and when to get the ball to him. Last season, Griffin sometimes stayed with his first target too long and the checkdown was no longer available. Then he would get sacked. (He was very good at throwing to the checkdown in the first game against the Giants). It's just something they have to continue to harp on, making sure your body is in the right position to go through progressions and then unload the ball. Some of it, too, starts with stronger pre-snap reads and knowing right away what might not be available. All of this comes with experience. They also can have the defense run certain looks that force the quarterback to dump down, too.
Keim: I've heard good things about his offseason, but it means nothing right now. Safeties always look a lot better in shorts. Last summer, for example, Bacarri Rambo looked fine as the deep man -- he was not flashy and I rarely saw him make big plays, but he was usually in the right place. A good start. Then we saw what happened when the games began and he struggled (just as bad at the end as in the beginning). So anything you read about safeties right now, you absolutely have to keep it in perspective. No idea how he will fare against the run until the games begin. Akeem Davis must help on special teams. The Redskins received too few contributions from their safeties on special teams last season. That is inexcusable.
Keim: Well, when they went to certain fronts last season they did ask them to be one-gap rushers. Also, they need to be careful about this because the whole key to their pass rush is getting teams into second- or third-and-long situations. If linemen are getting upfield too fast or vacating gaps, then offenses will take advantage (doesn't have to be bad, though. Arizona last season switched from a two-gap to one-gap 3-4 front). What will help their pass rush even more is adding more pass-rushers, such as Jason Hatcher and, they hope, Trent Murphy. They have more versatility at linebacker and a more diversified rush, with someone inside finally able to help.
Keim: The players were mostly together last season so that wasn't an issue. Yes, there were some who were upset/annoyed/frustrated with various teammates as happens in a 3-13 season. Most players were not, even privately, ripping their coaches last season. The issues mostly surrounded a small group of participants. That said, there is no drama hanging over the franchise -- or with the coaching staff and any players -- and that makes it appear things are more together. There is a bit of a breath-of-fresh-air attitude. And there is little doubt that right now there is more "togetherness" between Jay Gruden and Griffin. The key is whether that is still the case after the season.
Keim: I posted a video on this topic the other day, but the answer there -- and here -- is Andre Roberts. At least he's the safe choice right now given his experience, speed and desire to handle that role. DeSean Jackson should not be used as anything other than an occasional punt returner -- why wear him down and therefore limit his effectiveness on offense? I'll be curious to see what Richard Crawford can do as a punt returner when healthy this summer. But he does not return kickoffs. Santana Moss, if he makes the roster, is not a full-time punt returner anymore. Roberts is the best one for both roles as of now.
Keim: Honestly, I haven't paid enough attention to Spencer Long the past two workouts during organized team activities (that we could watch) to give a strong assessment. I liked what I saw of him in the rookie minicamp and in the first OTA. He moves well. But we need to see him in more situations and how he handles some of the one-on-one contact drills that they can't run during the spring. Every time they run their fast nickel, those three linebackers are in together. It will be used quite a bit. Brandon Jenkins would have done more in that role, but his inability to help on special teams kept him in active too often..