The End of an Era: Shanahan

It’s been a while since the blog has had a post, since my brother has been busy with college applications and I have been busy with college. Don’t worry frequent Hail to the Huddle visitors, because we are back. This post will be long so hold on tight; it will cover everything from when news that broke the morning of the Kansas City Chiefs game, the moment that marked the beginning of the end.

The Redskins were 3-9, coming off a loss to the Giants, one which Robert Griffin III was sacked five times, four by Justin Tuck. It was Sunday morning and the Redskins were set to play Chiefs, who were 9-3 and second in the AFC. That morning out of nowhere, ESPN’s Dan Graziano broke news that last season before the Seattle playoff game Mike Shanahan had his office packed up and was ready to resign as coach of the Washington Redskins. He would be leaving the team on a high note, though his record through his 3 seasons would be21-27. He would also be leaving the team with no first round picks for the next two years, and another $18 million cap penalty for the next season. The team would have a ton of potential and be coming of winning the NFC East with a rookie quarterback, sights would be set high. The report stated that the reason that Shanahan was willing to leave is because of the personal relationship between Robert Griffin III and owner Daniel Snyder. Shanahan felt that this relationship undermined his authority as head coach. The report cited Griffin having dinner with Snyder on Thanksgiving after the Dallas game, Snyder’s personal body guards assisting Griffin when he was out of the house, and on occasion Snyder’s limo would take Griffin’s fiancée to the games. The report also stated that the only reason Shanahan stayed for the next season was because of what happened in that playoff games, the knee injury of franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.

When I first heard this report, I sympathized with Mike Shanahan, because I know what a disaster it can be to have one’s authority undermined. To have someone with a lot of influence go above your head really can damage the chemistry of the locker room. But I then looked at the offenses that Robert Griffin III was accused of and realized that this was an attempt to pass the blame on someone else, to tarnish a reputation. Eating Thanksgiving dinner with Dan Snyder? Robert was in Dallas with his family away from home and Snyder offered hospitality, not as big of a deal as it was made out to be. Having Snyder’s bodyguards also help out with Robert? Griffin is the highest profile person in Washington D.C., maybe he might be a close second to Barak Obama. Wherever he goes he is mobbed by fans, whether it’s Wal-Mart, Costco, or his honeymoon in France. To have the same top-notch security team to follow him around as Snyder, not a problem. To have Snyder’s limo driver take Robert’s fiancée to some of the team games? Again, this is not a big deal either, and it is worth noting that she took a taxi for the rest of the games. So while I first sympathized with Mike Shanahan, I then realized that something else was going on. By placing the blame on both Snyder and Griffin, fans began to agree with this position and forget that the Redskins were 3-9 and showed no signs of being even an average team. Shanahan plan seemed to work pretty effectively. It should also be noted that both of the stories that broke that week were first reported by Dan Graziano and Adam Schefter. Graziano had had close ties with Shanahan and Schefter had helped write Shanahan’s biography, it was no coincidence that these two broke the report because Shanahan had leaked it to them.

Shanahan may have been able to make a quiet exit after this report had a number of other factors happened. First of all, later that afternoon the Redskins took the field at home and were completely outcoached and embarrassed by the Chiefs, losing 45-10. The same problems that plagued the Redskins all year were magnified this game. Special teams gave up 300 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 returns. After the game Shanahan dropped a bomb that surely sealed his deal, he was thinking about resting Robert Griffin III for the final three games. And sure enough, at the press conference three days later he did just that, benched the franchise quarterback for the rest of the season. Robert Griffin III in his sophomore season was going to be benched for the final three games and Kirk Cousins would be starting, but why? Shanahan said that he was just looking out for the good of the franchise, saying, “He’s getting hit too many times … I have to build this organization in the right way and this decision is to protect our future quarterback.” This reasoning would be perfectly acceptable if there weren’t two major problems: Shanahan did not care for the direction of the franchise, and he didn’t care about the health of Robert Griffin III either.

If Shanahan had really cared about the health of Robert Griffin III surely he would have expressed concern before the report he leaked. Surely after 12 weeks he wasn’t coming to some realization. Surely sometime during the 38 sacks that Griffin took he would have seen something. How about in the San Francisco game, did Shanahan not see anything in that game? Why was Griffin on the field in snow and sleet against one of the NFL’s top three defenses in Kansas City? The bottom line is that Shanahan didn’t care about the health of Robert Griffin III. As for the direction of the franchise, how can someone honestly that Shanahan would care about the direction of the franchise? He had given up on the team from the moment that he quit after that Seattle playoff game. He had surely given up on his tenure in his coach as the Redskins after he had leaked the report to Schefter and Graziano. And if none of these instances were convincing enough, he had finally given up on the franchise when he benched the franchise quarterback and stunted his development citing health reasons. Bottom line; Shanahan didn’t care for the health of the franchise quarterback or the future of the team, he wanted out now.

By the time Shanahan had been fired, he messed up everything good that he had dome with the franchise up until the season before: he has stunted the growth and development of the team’s franchise quarterback, he had left the team with an incompetent special teams coach, he had hired positional coaches who had never coached the position they were assigned, he had hired his son, he had cost the Redskins $36 million in cap penalty, he had lowered the draft value of Kirk Cousins, and miraculously he had done all his and placed the blame on an owner who was a scapegoat and a young man who was hardly at fault.

Snyder was easy to blame and Shanahan knew this. The owner who has been largely unsuccessful in his operation of the franchise has always been the target of criticism from the fans. In years previous, Snyder would have been at fault. Up until the Shanahan regime came in, Snyder had done a ton of bad and not much good, but this was different. Snyder had done everything that Shanahan had asked. First, Shanahan fired longtime buddy and villain Vinny Cerrato. Then he hired a respected name in the league, Bruce Allen, to run the team as general manager. Snyder made Shanahan the highest paid coach in the league and gave him something no other team would, the final say on player personnel. Shanahan was a successful coach, but an awful player personnel manager which is why he was fired from Denver. Snyder gave Shanahan all those duties with a five year guaranteed deal which made him the highest paid coach in the league. Upon becoming the head coach Shanahan requested a practice bubble, narrow field goal posts, and moving the team away for training camp, all these wishes were granted by Snyder. As an owner, Snyder had finally done things the right way, and Shanahan repaid him with 24-40 record. But Shanahan was smart; he knew that if he placed all the blame on Griffin the fans would rally against him, he needed a scapegoat. Snyder was the man, he had been blamed many times and the fans would buy what Shanahan was selling for a while. Time ran up for Shanahan though and not many people were buying his story. High profile men around the league were quoted saying that what Shanahan did was wrong. Shanahan was fired immediately on Black Monday and the Redskins began to move on with their franchise.

I hoped you enjoyed this take from our view and you’ll be seeing a lot more posts soon.

 

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Chris and Cameron Kotwicki

Game Review and Thoughts: Minnesota Vikings

Game Review and Thoughts: Minnesota Vikings

Thursday Night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings was the perfect opportunity for the Washington Redskins. They were coming off an emotional overtime victory at home against the San Diego Chargers, playing a beaten up 1-7 team on a short week. The Redskins were 1.5 games out of first place and would be playing the Philadelphia the next week practically off a bye week at Lincoln Financial Field where the Eagles have lost 10 straight home games. This was an opportunity that was practically gift wrapped for the Redskins, and like they have time and time again, they blew it. This is the type of game that fans should not be worried about, the type of game the Redskins always seem to lose. Here are some notes on the game that got away:

  • The Special Teams for the Washington Redskins is horrendous. Let’s start with Kai Forbath, the kicker who finally gave fans confidence in their kicker last year. Kai’s short kickoffs are really hurting the Redskins. All of Kai’s 6 kickoffs were returned by the Vikings, all 6. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that any or all kickoffs should be going out of the endzone, but if you can’t get any out of the endzone, then you should be near perfect on your field goals. Giving Cordarrelle Patterson 6 tries could be dangerous with the way the Redskins coverage teams have played.
    • Sticking with Special Teams: returns. I’m not positive, but the Redskins might be the only team in the league with a tight end as their starting kick returner. Mike Shanahan seems perfectly content with Niles Paul as well. Paul averaged getting the ball to the 24.7 yard line, which is a relief for Redskins fans who have grown to just want to be at the 20. As for punt returns, I just feel bad for Josh Morgan. Josh just should not be a starting punt returner. He had just one punt return for 0 yards. He is too risky in his returns, fielding punts that should be fair catches. I know he wants to make a play, but he is just getting abused.  No one on either return unit blocks, so even when Niles and Josh do have the opportunity to field a kick or punt, they gain minimal yardage.
    • Last note on Special Teams, the fake punt. I have no idea what the Redskins were thinking. Though the fake punt would have been a back-breaker, those are the types of plays that can keep a team like the Vikings in the game long enough to seize an opportunity. Apparently Sav Rocca saw a favorable matchup with the press man and Niles Paul, but what he failed to do was relay that to Niles, who ran down the field as if Sav was going to punt and did not turn around as the pass skipped behind him on the failed attempt. Earlier today, Special Teams leader Reed Doughty took the blame for the miscue, saying that he should have made sure everyone on the field was aware of the fake call. The Redskins were bailed out by an illegal motion which saved them from destruction earlier than necessary.
    • On to the Defense, where the Redskins have seem to forgotten what talent they have on this side of the ball. Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo can be great pass rushers in this league; in fact they have both proven this: Kerrigan has recorded 9 sacks in each of the past two years and Orakpo proved this during his rookie year when he recorded 12 sacks. The Redskins lack of a pass rush is quite disappointing, the defense only had one sack, and Orakpo and Kerrigan combined for 2 QB hurries on a team without two of their starting lineman and Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel as quarterbacks. This defense has made Josh McCown, Philip Rivers, and now Christian Ponder look like elite scramblers who cannot be contained in the pocket.
      • Brandon Meriweather had a great interception and reminded Redskins fans why he is still on the team, because there is no one better who can make a play like that. Meriweather baited Ponder into thinking he could hit Greg Jennings on a deep seam over Perry Riley, and then shadowed over top and made a great interception and a return which switched the field position for the Redskins.
      • The Redskins have seemingly found a way to slow down Adrian Peterson in each of the last three times that they have gone against him. At the beginning of the game it seemed no different, but the first mistake the defense made (Barry Cofield not holding the A gap), AP made a quick cut and went untouched for a touchdown. Any time the Redskins made attempts at arm-tackling or over pursuit, Peterson made them pay in a big way.
      • Now on to offense. The first half of this game, the Redskins offense was hitting on all cylinders. Robert Griffin III looked like his pre-injury self, running with a flash, hitting receivers in stride, and providing defenses with a serious threat of keeping the ball. Despite his amazing game, however, he was getting abused. The Vikings took every opportunity to tee off on Griffin that they could. They blew up the mesh point on the zone read and made sure Griffin got hit anytime he looked like a threat to run. Griffin showed poise in the pocket though, pump faking and looking off Jordan Reed before finding him back over the middle for a touchdown before getting blown up on his throw. Griffin has also worked a lot better at avoiding unnecessary shots, getting out of bounds and getting down, but the Vikings made sure he took any shot he could. Often times the Vikings gave up big runs on the zone read because the defensive end played Griffin and did not close down on Morris. The play action killed the Vikings last year, and they made sure they were not affected too much by it this year, making sure the defensive ends kept their angles and did not crash down on the run fake.
        • In the second half, the Redskins offense regressed in a major way. The run was not abandoned by Kyle Shanahan, but it was definitely a drop-off from the first half which is not what the Redskins wanted. Alfred Morris leads the NFL in yards per carry and with a lead in the second half; the run needs to be the crutch to lean on. The offensive line also took a giant step back in the second half, allowing Griffin to be sacked on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter. The Redskins success on runs has come on the outside, as the interior lineman have been the weakness of this offense in the past couple of games.
        • Leonard Hankerson has played well these last two games. His biggest problem has been consistency, often making a spectacular catch and then dropping the next one that comes his way. Josh Morgan seems to make a great block on every single run that comes his way, wide receivers are not paid to block, but Morgan is doing everything he can to make a positive impact on this team, and its guys like that that you want to stick around.
        • I thought the last drive was a perfect combination of poise by Robert Griffin III and great play calling by Kyle Shanahan. The Redskins drove all the way down the field in two minutes and had 4 shots at the red zone. The Redskins wen’t two their most reliable two targets on two plays, Reed and Garcon, who both could have made catches for touchdowns. The last play was a good call because you had to assume the defense was going to play Reed and Garcon for the game winner. Santana Moss in man on a corner route was unpredictable and with one more foot of room it would have been the game-tying touchdown.
        • One last quick point that I wanted to make was about penalties. This Redskins team is not good enough to hold up with mistakes that should not be made. The Personal Fouls against Darrel Young, Perry Riley, and Chris Baker were unacceptable. Baker’s penalty did not look like it was a personal foul, but the two on Young and Riley are mistakes that this team cannot afford. When a team lacks discipline, self-inflicted mistakes can lose them a game. This Redskins team cannot afford those mistakes.

I have been seeing a number of major news outlets compare this year’s 3-6 Redskins to the team last year that closed the season on a seven game win streak to win the NFC East. Stop. This team is not last year’s team. That is not to say that the Redskins cannot seem to string together a seven game win streak, but that this team needs to win back to back games before it looks towards the end of the season. The Redskins have 5 of the last 7 games at home, so there is always hope, but at 0-2 in the division with games against San Francisco and Kansas City, people need to slow down with comparisons. This week’s game against a 5-5 Philadelphia Eagles will be very telling either way.

 

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Chris and Cameron Kotwicki

Reacting to and Reviewing the Washington Redskins First Win

October 3, 2013- It was long overdue and should have been all but a given, but the Redskins found a way to make Sunday’s win against the Oakland Raiders way closer than it ever should have been. Here are some takeaways from Sunday’s game.

  • Though the defense has been the subject of large amounts of criticism, the special teams has underperformed greatly. First, on the punt block returned for a touchdown, the Raiders ran a basic stunt and Perry Riley failed pick up the lineman who was crashing on the inside. This is a basic assignment problem, and resulted in a touchdown for the Raiders, this is the type of simple mistake that good teams in the NFL simply cannot make. Another story from the lack of special teams performance has been no production in the return game. Chris Thompson has not played a snap on offense, and was kept on the roster for his explosiveness in relation to being a returner. Since the start of the season, he has lost his role as kick returner and now only returns punts. Thompson has been bad, but it is not all his fault since the blocking on special teams has been awful too. Averaging 5.6 yards a return just will not cut it when that is the sole reason for his roster spot on the team.
  • The defense played significantly better, with 7 sacks, an interception for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery. All this should be taken with caution though, as the Raiders were without their starting running back, quarterback, and full back.
    • Barry Cofield played extremely well the first three weeks, proving to be the most valuable player on this Redskins defense. In Sunday’s game against Oakland, he had his club removed from his broken hand and it seemed to help him significantly in shedding blocks, as he is constantly double teamed by opposing lineman.
    • Brian Orakpo looked significantly better this week, and proved why so many fans missed him. His pass rush was, combined with Ryan Kerrigan, and Barry Cofield gave the Raiders offensive linemen problems. One of the best plays of the game was on Oakland’s fourth-and-inches quarterback sneak attempt; on this play Orakpo jumped the pile and stripped the ball from Matt Flynn from behind. Orakpo’s weakness the first three weeks was his coverage, but the Redskins seemed to have realized this and played him in minimal coverage schemes. Of Orakpo’s 54 snaps, he was only in coverage for 11 plays, one of which almost resulted in an acrobatic interception in which Orakpo jumped in like he was rushing and then stepped back in coverage to jump a pass.
    • David Amerson showed flashes of his NC State glory days, jumping in front of a Matt Flynn pass and taking in 45 yards for a touchdown. These big plays are what Amerson was praised for, and it seems that each week he progresses in this defense, he further minimizes his mistakes.
    • The Redskins offense was also a lot better than they have been since the start of the season, primarily because of the balance between run and pass.
      • The not only to establish the run, but to stay with it even when losing helped the Redskins open up the rest of the play book. The offense was about as balanced as could be (32 runs and 31 passes) which helped expand to play action and rollout passes.
      • Another part of the Redskins offense that was surprising, but refreshing was the display of a hurry up no huddle offense. Late in the first quarter the Redskins switched to a no huddle offense and drove the ball 78 yards. The drive stalled in a field goal, but this hurry up offense opened up the offense with rollouts and runs (4 for 28 yards).
      • Pierre Garcon has become a receiver that has the ability to change the game plans of opposing defenses. With 29 receptions (6th in the league), 18 first downs (8th in the league), and 144 yards after catch (6th in the league), Garcon has become a serious threat. As Robert Griffin III’s clear-cut favorite target, Garcon has big play ability on every catch, and gives opposing corners problems with his aggressive play style. On Garcon’s touchdown on Sunday, DJ Hayden attempted to jam off the line of scrimmage, but Garcon was too quick and aggressive, easily beating Hayden inside on the quick slant for a score.
      • Logan Paulsen had a rough game as the starting tight end. Without primary pass catchers Fred Davis and Jordan Reed, Paulsen stepped into the role of starting tight end. Paulsen made some good catches, but needs to hold on to the ball with both hands when he is breaking tackles, the fumble is inexcusable. Paulsen’s strength is blocking, but he struggled mightily during this game, not being able to get to and hold his blocks at all.
      • Robert Griffin III started showing signs of vintage Robert Griffin of 2012. He seems to get more and more comfortable each week, and this week’s bye should help him significantly. He has been rolling out a lot more, moving the pocket to extend plays. One play, which took place in the middle of the fourth quarter, was Robert Griffin in true form. The Raiders sent 4 pass rushers, and sent Charles Woodson on a blitz from Griffin’s right side. Griffin sensed the blitz, stepped up in the collapsing pocket and spun outside to the right, avoiding the blitz and completing a pass that went to Roy Helu Jr. for 28 yards.
      • Leonard Hankerson may have solidified the number two wide receiver on Sunday. Playing in 42 snaps to Josh Morgan’s 19, Hankerson keeps separating himself further from Morgan. Hankerson is also taking advantage of his playing time, especially on big downs. On a third and three from Oakland’s 29 yard line, Hankerson caught a pass over the middle for 17 yards on what would be a Washington scoring drive. Though I believe Morgan brings more to the team with his tremendous blocking, I think Hankerson has almost won this job.

As the team heads into the bye week, there is definitely a communal sigh of relief. Going into the bye week 0-4 with a loss in Oakland would have all but killed the spirits in Washington, but this win does not mean much for a turnaround. The Redskins play next Sunday night against Dallas after the bye, in what could be a battle for first place in the division. With the way that the NFC East is shaping up, the Redskins have been given a gift. Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins return this week which should be a boost to the defense if nothing else but for depth. Two weeks of game planning for Dallas should be necessary and hopefully the team will find a way to use this Oakland win to give them a boost into the bye and into the Dallas game. Normally early byes are not ideal for a team, but this bye comes at the perfect time. Though this win should not be a huge reason to get hopes up in Washington, it is a start and a win that the team will gladly taking going into the bye.

 

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Cameron and Chris Kotwicki

Five Aspects to Watch For: Week 4 Redskins vs. Raiders (with prediction)

1. Will it be Pryor or Flynn?

The first thought that would come to mind is that the Redskins would much rather matchup against Matt Flynn. He has only played in four snaps this year, and he does not provide the running threat that Terrelle Pryor (198 yards rushing) does. Flynn provides somewhat of an unknown, losing his job to a young quarterback in the preseason for two years straight, Flynn has something to prove. It will be interesting to see what the Raiders do, up until Wednesday Pryor had not taken part in practice, and Flynn was receiving all of the first-team reps. The Redskins have not fared well against the past two dual-threat quarterbacks they have faced (Russell Wilson and Michael Vick) and Pryor would have the ability to extend plays and make the Redskins terrible secondary work even more then they want.

2. The Redskins Need to Establish the Run Game Early.

Last week the Redskins had 22 rushing attempts in comparison to their 50 total passes. This has been a problem with the Redskins for the past three weeks; they have fallen behind early and have not been able to give opposing defenses the threat of a serious rushing attack. The Raiders defense held the Colts and the Jaguars to low rushing totals, but was gashed last week by the Broncos who are not well known for their ability to run the ball. If the Redskins stick to establishing the run with Alfred Morris, (only 40 rushing attempts this year) then the passing attack will start to open up and Robert Griffin III should be able to put up great numbers against this secondary, as starting safety Tyvon Branch suffered a serious injury week 2.

3. The Redskins Pass Rush Must Be Effective

Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo can significantly help out the Redskins secondary by quickly getting to Pryor or Flynn. This would be the perfect week for the duo to “go off” because of their matchups. The man that will be matched up against Kerrigan is a backup right tackle who was cut by the Redskins in the final roster cuts, Tony Pashos. Though he has played relatively well for the first three weeks of the season, Kerrigan, a Pro Bowl outside linebacker, should be able to take advantage of this battle. On the other side, Brian Orakpo will be matched up against Khalif Barnes. Barnes, a natural right tackle, is starting on Pryor’s blind side. As long as the Redskins do not use Orakpo in coverage too much, he should be giving problems for Barnes.

4. Which Tight Ends Will Suit Up for the Redskins?

The injury has mainly hurt the Redskins in one position during this season, tight end. Fred Davis was inactive last week with a sudden ankle injury during the last session of walkthroughs. His play dropped significantly in week two, with only 16 snaps on offense. He should be good to go this week and will look to rebound and prove something as he is playing in a contract year and has lost time to rookie Jordan Reed. Reed has been one of the few bright spots on the Redskins offense, displaying an amazing catch radius and seeming to be a favorite target of Robert Griffin III. He suffered a thigh injury and remains day-to-day for this week’s game. Having Reed or Davis miss the game would be a slight blow to the Redskins passing game.

5. Who Will Take Hold of the Number Two Receiver Spot?

In his press conference this week, on the completion between Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson said, “We look at them pretty much equal until one separates themselves.” Hankerson has seen a significant increase in playing time over the past few weeks, while Morgan has slowly played less. Personally I think that Morgan offers more for this team, and could be one of the best blocking receivers in the league. Hankerson has played a bit better, but look for one of these receivers to have a big impact in this game against an average Raiders secondary who is without an interception this year.

Prediction: At the beginning of the season it would not have been a question about who won this game, but by how much. In the sad state that this team is in, this game will be very close and will depend on two key factors: how well the Redskins can contain Pryor (if he plays) and if the Redskins can establish the run early. I think the Redskins pull off a close one 24-20 and carry a win into the week five bye.

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Chris and Cameron Kotwicki

Redskins Roster Breakdown Part I: Offense

Six o’clock passed yesterday night. The Washington Redskins had chopped down their roster, the 75 players that were there the day before were now a slim 53. Some dreams ended, others began, but teams were formed for the time being. If you had asked me to predict the roster that is today, I would not have guessed it if I had 5 tries, mainly because of the quarterback situation. But here is my attempt to break down the 53 man Washington Redskins roster as of the last Sunday before football starts, September 1st. This post will come in two parts, part one being the Offensive Breakdown, and park two being the Defensive/Special Teams Breakdown. Here is Part One:

Quarterbacks:

Made the Team: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman, and Pat White (4)

I find it so unbelievable that the Redskins decided to keep Pat White. That was the only real question at quarterback for this team. There was no way that Rex was going to be cut, as he proves to be a valuable third string veteran. Robert and Kirk often credit Rex as a much needed and underappreciated player. The decision to keep Pat White is definitely a head-scratcher, and in my opinion must be temporary. Maybe the Redskins are planning on using him in practice as an imitation Michael Vick; both are left handed and mobile. Maybe the Redskins are waiting for waiver claims to go through to see if they can shop White; maybe a player for player trade or a for a low-round conditional pick. I cannot imagine a situation where White is on the team for longer than 4 weeks.

 

Running Backs:

Made the Team: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, and Chris Thompson (4)

Cut: Keiland Williams and Jawan Jamison

Alfred Morris has had this starting position locked down since last season, even though through his humility he acts as though he has nothing guaranteed. After the first two preseason games, it was apparent that Roy Helu Jr. would have a significant role in this offense as well, his ability to catch out of the backfield will provide a boost to the offense. Keiland Williams played well in the second and third preseason games and seemed to be edging out Royster for the final spot on the team, however, Royster played his way onto the team with an impressive final game against the Buccaneers and an injury to Williams solidified that battle. Chris Thompson struggled with two fumbles in the preseason, but a season-ending injury to punt returner Richard Crawford opened up a small door for Thompson. Thompson took that opportunity and ran with it; he ran that opportunity 69 yards for a punt return touchdown in his final preseason game and hopefully will provide the Redskins with a spark on special teams. Jawan Jamison never got a real opportunity to showcase his talents, and was signed to the practice squad, which is great because I truly believe he is a perfect fit to this system.

 

Fullbacks:

Made the Team: Darrel Young (1)

There was no roster battle here at all. Eric Kettani provided depth but fullback is not a position that you can afford to have depth in. Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen, and even Jordan Reed can play fullback if anything happens to Young.

 

Tight Ends:

Made the Team: Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed (4)

Cut: Emmanuel Ogbuehi

Coming into training camp, there was no real question as to who was going to make the team at this position. Fred Davis is the starter, and his role on this offense will be extremely valuable, as he was the leading receiver on the team until his Achilles injury against the Giants last year. Logan Paulsen plays a lot on two tight end packages, and also plays a big role in special teams. Niles Paul provides extreme versatility, as he can play fullback, tight end, an occasional wideout, and is a special teams ace. As a third-round pick in this year’s draft, Jordan Reed wasn’t going anywhere. He flashed play-making ability throughout training camp, and will hopefully mold into the role-player that the Redskins envisioned when they drafted him. Emmanuel Ogbuehi, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia State, Ogbuehi is pure raw talent, and hopefully the Redskins will sign him to the practice squad.

 

Wide Reciever:

Made the Team: Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, and Josh Morgan (5)

Cut: Skye Dawson, Nick Williams, Lance Lewis, Dezmon Briscoe

The five wide receivers that made the team were considered locks. A good amount of people thought the Redskins might keep another wide receiver, but due to some circumstances it ended up not happening. Briscoe had his best game of the preseason against Tampa Bay, however, he suffered a shoulder injury that would keep him out for a couple of weeks and that sealed his fate. Lance Lewis showed some flashes of big play ability and was signed to the Redskins practice squad. Skye Dawson brought excitement to the return game, but Chris Thompson closed that opportunity pretty quickly. Nick Williams made some buzz during the fourth preseason game, and deservingly signed with the Redskins practice squad today.

 

Offensive Line:

Made the Team: Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton, Josh LeRibeus, and Adam Gettis (8)

Cut: Xavier Nixon, Kevin Matthews, Tevita Stevens, Tony Pashos

Placed on IR/PUP: Maurice Hurt

The Redskins moves on the offensive line were another topic of discussion. Keeping only three reserve players is pretty risky. These three reserve players: Compton, LeRibeus, and Gettis, all have limited experience. An injury to any of the starting lineman this year would be devastating, especially because of luck the Redskins had with offensive lineman durability last year. Had the Redskins decided to keep one more lineman, Tony Pashos would have been the primary candidate. He developed a reputation for having a “mean-streak” when he blocked, and I would have liked to see him make the team. Xavier Nixon and Tevita Stevens were signed to the Redskins practice squad today, and can always be called up in case of emergency.

 

Number of Offensive Players on the 53 man roster for the Washington Redskins (26)

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Chris and Cameron Kotwicki

Redskins Daily Dose: Wednesday, August 14

Today was the day, the day in which Robert Griffin III began a new phase in his rehabbing plan. This new phase of 11 on 11 team drills was delayed a day due to the cancellation of practice on Saturday. This marks a huge step for Griffin, and although he still has a ways to go before he takes the field on Monday September 9th against the Philadelphia Eagles, this was a huge progression for him. Until now, Griffin had been participating in walkthroughs, 7 on 7, and any individual drills, but today marks the first time where he has gone up against a full defense. This step has been long overdue in Griffin’s mind, but by following along with Coach Shanahan’s plan, Griffin has coped well with what he has termed “Operation Patience”.

In related news, Donovan McNabb has continued his obsession with Griffin, by offering his expert advice on every action that Griffin makes. Last year upon drafting Griffin, McNabb went on First Take and said things like: “I don’t think it’s a great fit. [...] If this doesn’t work this year, we don’t see a splash like a Cam Newton splash, this could be it” and “A lot of the time ego gets too involved with when you’re playing in Washington.” McNabb obviously was way off on these opinions, but figured he’d keep talking about Griffin, offering to schedule a father-son meeting with Griffin and his father. McNabb stated “If you’re coming off ACL surgery, you don’t need to be having a press conference at OTAs.  Every week?  Really?  It becomes a circus, a sideshow.  It takes away from the focus of what those sessions are supposed to be about:  the team.” McNabb seems to have rights to talk about playing for the team and being a distraction since he knows about that all too well from his brief stint in Washington, in which he refused to wear a wristband with the team plays and was benched in favor of Rex Grossman. Off course with the new “rift” between Shanahan and Griffin, McNabb had to chime in, saying about Griffin, “But it’s a shame. I honestly think that over there in Washington, he’s getting brainwashed.” McNabb also came on 106.7 the Fan this afternoon to talk about his comments, and claimed that the Redskins PR staff and coaches had reached out to him to get him to talk to Griffin. There is no way that anyone in the Redskins organization would want Donovan McNabb advising Griffin on how to go about his career and how to handle himself. I think that McNabb is just causing waves and could really do everyone a favor by leaving out his input on Griffin, especially since Griffin turned down Donovan’s meeting invitation in his GQ interview.

Coach Shanahan’s press conference produced a few interesting points, and here they are:

  • Veteran Wide Receiver Devery Henderson was released by the team today, Coach Shanahan stated that Henderson was out of shape when he came to camp. Henderson has missed significant time recently due to the death of an immediate family member. The battle for the final one or two receiver spots is now between: D. Briscoe, D. Stallworth, L. Lewis, S. Dawson, N. Williams, and C. Reeves. This release does not figure to have any significant impact on the team.
  • Shanahan discussed Fred Davis’s recovery from an Achilles tear that he suffered against the New York Giants last year. Shanahan spoke about how the recovery is going well and said that Davis should play about a half on Monday night against the Steelers.
  • Nick Barnett and Richard Crawford were the notable players held out of practice today. Barnett is still working on getting up to speed and will not play against the Steelers. Crawford was sitting out today with a calf injury.

Until tomorrow,

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Chris and Cameron Kotwicki

Redskins Daily Dose: Tuesday, August 13

Here at Hail to the Huddle, we have come to realize that our posts about every five days just are not cutting it. To fix this problem, we are going to do our best to post a Redskins “Daily Dose” of news and information about the previous day. It will be difficult, but we feel that this will make our blog better and hopefully cause you to visit more. So without further ado, here is our first ever Daily Dose.

The news of the day came in the form of a surprise “no question” statement from Robert Griffin III. This statement was to clarify what he said in yesterday’s conference and to put an end to the nonsense of a rift that has been said by every national media source.

The quotes from Robert Griffin III on Monday that sparked a debate on whether or not there was some sort of power struggle between the star QB and head coach are below:

(On playing in the preseason): “”I want to play, let’s get that straight. I want to play in the preseason” and “It’s a hard ‘no’ right now, it’s my job to make that a soft ‘no’ and maybe a ‘yes.’”

(On whether or not he likes the recovery plan he is on): “I can’t B.S. that answer, so, no, I don’t like it” and “There’s some part of it I do understand. I don’t understand all of it.”

(On his status for Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles): “There’s no doubt I’m playing Week 1”

 

Here is the statement from today, in which Robert shoots down all the rumors and thoughts of a rift between him and Coach Shanahan:

 

I believe that this press conference was unnecessary, though it will help to disprove the rumors going around of Robert and Coach Shanahan being in a complete disagreement and causing a locker room divide. The way that both parties are going about the situation is  ideal. Robert, the motivated and hardworking player, should want to be on the field and should do everything in his power to get on the field, or else would he really be doing his job? Coach Shanahan, on the other hand, has to protect Robert from himself. He needs to know that Robert will do anything he can to play, so Coach should stick to the schedule and not let Robert come back early. Both parties win here because Robert will be the dedicated and hungry player that he is, and Coach Shanahan will be the protective coach that he needs to be.

In other news today, Coach Shanahan revealed that Philip Thomas, the fourth round pick from Fresno State will be out for the year. Thomas, a strong safety, injured his left foot in the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday. His injury was officially diagnosed as a Lisfranc fracture, which requires surgery and about 4-5 months to heal. This timetable should have Thomas fully healed by the beginning of offseason programs next summer. This injury is a major blow to a paper-thin secondary and will affect the Redskins for the next two years. Thomas was progressing well in his adjustment to the professional level, and a year without game experience could stunt his growth. This injury opens up a battle for the backup strong safety spot, a spot which could see playing time this season due to starter Brandon Meriweather’s injury history. Reed Doughty will presumably fill this role, and DeJon Gomes just received a huge boost to his roster chances.

 

Hail to the Redskins and Hail to the Huddle

Chris and Cameron Kotwicki