Thursday, January 23, 2014
Quick Takes: Front office, defense and more
By John Keim
The three Redskins in Hawaii won’t be split up for Sunday’s Pro Bowl game. Running back Alfred Morris, left tackle Trent Williams, and linebacker Brian Orakpo all were drafted by Team Prime, coached by Deion Sanders. Can’t say I’m a big fan of this format; what would happen if Orakpo had a chance to level Morris? Would he really do that to a teammate? It might have been fun to watch Williams and Orakpo go one-on-one; it’s the matchup we get to see daily in training camp. But this game hasn’t been fun to watch in a while.
It makes sense if former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams joins Washington’s front office. This was actually first mentioned a few years ago when general manager Bruce Allen joined the organization. Several months later Williams was out of a job and said he had talked to the Redskins, but that the timing was off. It’s no longer off. He soon became the general manager of the Virginia Destroyers in the United Football League.
Keep in mind that Williams worked in Tampa Bay with both Allen and new head coach Jay Gruden as a personnel executive. After both were fired by the Bucs, Williams became the coordinator of pro scouting for two years.
I would expect a decision on who will coach the running backs Thursday or Friday, based on a conversation I had with a team source early in the week. Yes, Earnest Byner remains in the running, but last week two team sources said they had planned to interview more candidates.
For those who missed it, Sean McVay said he will coach the quarterbacks.
Haslett also told reporters about Jay Gruden: "He’s going to spend his time with the offense, and I think he’ll trust the guys we have on defense to do what we have to do. Obviously, we’ll play as a team, from defense to special teams. I think we’ve got to get back to playing. I think we’re closer to the 10-win season than the three-win season that we had. We’re much closer to the 10-win season as a football team than the three-win season."
That word trust will be said a lot. Obviously, Mike Shanahan was involved quite a bit in the defense. One player said having another strong voice involved in the defense sometimes led to confusion in assignments and over who was really calling the shots. How much did it hurt? Tough to say. But it couldn't have helped.
Haslett also said, "We played much better, I thought, that last 13 games. We played extremely well from the standpoint that we didn’t give up a ton of points, we didn’t give up a ton of yards. We played Peyton Manning about as good as you can get. And, I think that’s something to build off of. We played good after those first four games. Can we get better? Yeah. We were middle of the pack. But we were fourth in the league on third-down efficiency. So, all that stuff is something you can build on."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Redskins ranked ninth in total yards from weeks 4-17, allowing 323.2 yards per game; they were last in the NFL for the first three games, allowing 488.0 total yards per game. They allowed 32.7 points per game in the first three weeks (31st in the NFL) and 29.2 thereafter (29th).
The Redskins ranked 18th in the NFL by allowing 88 points off turnovers. Considering how many they had (34), that’s not a bad number. The league average was 82 points allowed. There were eight teams that had at least 30 turnovers; the Redskins, with 34, were tied for second most. But they were second best in the points allowed per turnover.
So let’s say the Redskins had repeated 2012 when they were fourth in this area at 51 points allowed. And let’s say they only allowed three returns for a touchdown (on special teams and offense) instead of seven. That would deduct 65 points from their total, leaving them with 413 allowed for the season. And that would have left them 24th in the NFL at 25.81 points per game allowed.
Only two teams in the bottom 15 of points allowed finished with a winning record. One happened to be Denver (24.9 ppg); Green Bay (26.8) was the other. So the Redskins' performance in this area was unacceptable, and I don't think Haslett would disagree. But his overall point was finding positives upon which to build.