Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roster Review (Offense)

There's a storm of stories and parasites gorging themselves on supposed bad blood in Washington, right now. Not only do I believe it's massively overblown, but I also think it's the wrong thing to focus on. That will work itself out eventually -- hopefully in the off-season -- and I would rather discuss football matters. So, given that this season is clearly over for all but evaluation, I'm going to look at the roster, position-by-position, and discuss where the Redskins need to go. They are still, of course, missing their first round draft pick from the RG3 trade, but they have the rest of the draft, picking early in rounds, and will have 18 million dollars of (unfairly-taken) cap space returned to them this off-season, so there's plenty of room to make moves to improve the team.

I'll post installments or updates adding new positions periodically.

1/8/2014 update: I'm finishing this up and adding players who were signed after the Redskins' season ended. Depending one when entries were written, references to scheme are obviously subject to change.

1/9/2014 update: With Jay Gruden named head coach, we will need to see what he plans in terms of scheme changes, but early reports are that he is likely to promote tight ends coach Sean McVay to offensive coordinator, which I would guess could mean Chris Foerster stays in charge of the line and the blocking schemes don't change too heavily. I think that would be a good move as they are effective and the team's personnel is very much built to run them. Still, we won't know for sure for a little while how much things will change. 

1/20/2014 update: Fully updated for every player on the team or who has been with the team this season. 


1. Robert Griffin III (23 years old/6'2" tall/220 lbs.
) College at Baylor, drafted 2nd overall in 2012 [2 years, $12.5 million remaining on his contract after this season]: He's the starter, he will be the starter, and any "reporters" bleating to the contrary are just regurgitating each other's inaccurate information or trying to get attention. He's a transcendent talent and one of the best players on the team in his second year, and, honestly, has played pretty well this year. Not great, but well enough that everyone would be perfectly happy with this notch in a sophomore quarterback's development coming out of a Big 12 spread offense if it weren't following up the greatest season a rookie QB has ever had, an ORotY award, a pro bowl berth, and the attention that comes with being DC's franchise QB and savior.

Griffin has things to work on: he's one of the worst pre-snap quarterbacks in the league, his mechanics sometimes falter as he tries to let his outstanding arm strength do the job that should be done by his footwork, and his mechanics on the run this season have been much worse than last season (whether that's a result of the injury, the knee brace, or just bad habits coming out as he's often running for his life, I don't know). Griffin is inconsistent on when he tries to trust his receivers' timing coming out of breaks and throw to where they should be be and when he tries to look around and find an open player, and is sometimes punished for both by drops, bad routes, or sacks. He's not unable to read a defense, but isn't as fast or sure of it as a great pocket quarterback, and has trouble picking up on pre-snap clues to what the D will do on the play à la Peyton Manning. He also, of course, needs to learn when to give up on a play and lay down for a sack or toss the ball away instead of trying to force things. These problems are all fixable, however, and not uncommon for a young player, and being as good as he is this early is still impressive. He's smart, incredibly hard-working, and unbelievably talented: there's no reason to think he won't improve. He is in his second year, coming off a major injury, and had no off-season to develop chemistry and work on timing. This entry should be longer than anyone else on the team's will be, for obvious reasons.

2. Kirk Cousins (25/6'3/209 lbs.) Michigan State, 3rd:24 in 2012 [2 years, $1.5m]: Cousins is hard-working, smart, and has college experience that is more applicable to the NFL level than Griffin. But he has his own problems and certainly isn't the talent that Griffin is. He is more of a Matt Flynn/Matt Cassel type. If he gets really lucky, his upside may be Matt Schaub. Any Matt, really. Adequate-but-unimpressive arm strength and athleticism, he is a good backup and I could see him being a solid game manager, but I would be surprised if he's ever a franchise QB for anyone (would be happy to be wrong here though, I like the guy). He will probably be back as the Redskins second string QB next year, but it will depend on how much interest teams have in the off-season. There are a lot of interesting prospects in this draft at the position, but if a team decides they want someone a little more veteran, the Redskins will certainly listen to offers. Cousins started the final three games of the season, and while he wasn't bad per se, he likely didn't do any favors for his stock. The entire team was floundering and he simply showed he wasn't ready to come in and put the team on his back, which no one should have expected. Santana Moss even expressed his belief that Cousins was essentially being set up to fail. Overall, taking context into account, his performances were mediocre, but ended on a particularly poor zero-touchdown, two-interception flop in bad weather against the Giants.

3. Rex Grossman (33/6'1/225 lbs.) Florida, 2003 [Free agent]: Doesn't really matter. If Shanahan is still here, Grossman probably will be too. If he's fired, Grossman will be gone. He's here because the Shanahans like him and he's familiar with their scheme.