Training camp starts in 38 days.
This is what Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan believes:
“The threat of a quarterback who can run, especially in the running game with the zone-read, whether that’s working or not — just the threat of it — opens up everything else.”
I think he's absolutely correct. Rich Campbell has a great column pointing out that the zone read option offense, far from endangering the health of QB Robert Griffin III, actually preserves it because the threat of the run slows down the pass rush, making RG3 safer in the pocket. The problems for RG3 came when he left the pocket and got crushed by opposing defenders -- but not on planned runs. The four injuries sustained by RG3 last year -- the concussion against Atlanta, the knee injury against Baltimore, the knee injury on an incomplete pass in the first quarter against Seattle and the final blow, the knee collapse in the fourth quarter against Seattle -- none came on option runs.
The Atlanta injury came about because Griffin was running after being unable to find a receiver on a planned pass. He didn't get down or to the sideline fast enough and got crushed by an Atlanta linebacker.
The injury against Baltimore was similar; Griffin scrambling for yards after being unable to find a receiver. NT Haloti Ngata fell on Griffin's knee in a cringe-inducing way and the original knee injury was sustained.
It was aggravated badly in the first quarter against Seattle, when Griffin was rolling to his right near the goal line and looking for a receiver. He threw incomplete and came up lame immedidately. He was able to throw a TD pass on the very next play, but he didn't look like a healthy QB for the remainder of the game.
The final blow, where Griffin collapses in the pocket with no pressure, came when his injured knee just gave out on the hideous and dangerous FedEx Field turf.
On none of these plays was Griffin running the option. He was scrambling after giving up on a pass play in the first two injuries. The last two, which are just aggravations of the Baltimore injury, came when Griffin wasn't really under much pressure. The last one, he was just dropping back into the pocket normally, something he was no longer capable of doing.
What this tells me is that Griffin had no business playing in that Seattle game after he aggravated his knee injury in the first quarter. Kirk Cousins should have come in on the next player or, at the very least, in the next series. But what this does NOT tell you is that Griffin is not safe in the zone read offense. What Griffin needs to do is be more aware of when to get out of bounds or down to the ground. He needs to favor his health over an extra few yards. But ditching the zone read offense that skyrocketed the Redskins from worst to first last season and made RG3 the Offensive Rookie of the Year?
I don't think so.
Jason Reid writes that when it comes to Robert Griffin III and his surgically-repaired knee, the tough decisions for Mike Shanahan come AFTER the doctors sign off on the young passer playing again.
No matter how many doctors check off on Griffin’s comeback, protecting Griffin falls on the guy at the top of the Redskins’ depth chart. Shanahan failed Griffin and the organization last season (leaving Griffin in that playoff game was the worst decision of Shanahan’s career). As Griffin prepares to return to the field, Washington needs Shanahan to show responsibility, vision and leadership. Unfortunately for Shanahan, Griffin seems determined to make his job as difficult as possible.
OLB Brian Orakpo, coming off a severe pectoral muscle injury, says he's not worried about being in the final year of his rookie contract. My view is that the Redskins will let Orakpo play out this year before attempting to re-sign him. They'll want Orakpo to prove he's healthy, prove he can stay healthy adn prove, finally, that he can be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL.
Via Brad Herson, this is what the new grass at FedEx Field looks like. Let's hope it lasts.
One thing the Redskins liked about their defense last year was that it was third in the NFL in forcing turnovers. One thing the Redskins did not like about their defense last year was that it was third to last in the NFL in passing yardage. To keep the former while improving the latter, the Redskins drafted CB David Amerson in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and then grabbed safeties Phillip Thomas and Baccari Rambo in rounds four and six, respectively. All three players are know as turnover-creating ballhawks. Now it is up to Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett and Secondary Coach Raheem Morris to turn the three promising rookies into the cornerstones of tomorrow's defensive backfield.
“I like what I see,” Haslett said Wednesday morning before the final practice prior to July’s training camp. “Obviously, there’s a lot of teaching that’s involved, and a lot of learning, but I think things are starting to click in for all three of them. I think all three are going to be good football players.”
Amerson in the three previous weeks of offseason practices had rotated in and out with the starters while Thomas and Rambo played with the second unit. But this week, when the Redskins kicked off their minicamp, all three worked with the first team. That doesn’t mean all three will start for the Redskins when they open the season. But it is a sign that they are grasping enough for coaches to integrate them with the first unit so they can further evaluate them.
“We’ve kind of worked them in,” Haslett said. “We’ve worked David in with the [starters], Bacarri, more than Phillip, because Phillip missed a week [because of Fresno’s graduation]. But I think all three of them are coming along really well.”
But he later added, “First of all, can you play with three rookies at one time? I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but we’ll see. But we’ll play the best players, but over time, all three of those guys are going to be on the field at some point. I don’t know when that’s going to be.”
Although uncertain over their roles, Haslett loves the potential the rookies boast, which was evident as he broke down each players’ strengths.
“[Amerson is] a guy that has great ball skills, great length, has the ability to play to play man or zone. I think that’s the biggest thing about him, is he’s a playmaker. He had 13 interceptions as a sophomore, [five] as a junior. … I just think his ball and playmaking skills are off the chart,” Haslett said. “Phillip, is the second one. Same thing, great ball skills, key plays, big interceptions. Both of them led the NCAA in interceptions. Phillip’s got good size, good speed, likes football, understands football, studies football. And then Bacarri is a guy that’s a really good athlete, was a high school quarterback, has good ball skills, has a chance to make a lot of plays for us. And that’s what wins in the league. We figured, last year, we had 31 turnovers, which is really good for a defense, but we had a chance to pick up three guys that can add to those totals through interceptions.”
Apparently, the Redskins will welcome back safety Tanard Jackson when his drug suspension is over.
Staying in the secondary, oft-injured CB Chase Minnifield is vying for a roster spot, coming off the ACL tear that ended his rookie season before it even began last year.
“You can tell he’s not 100-percent yet, but once he gets there, you can tell he’s another [player] who’s been around football his whole life with his father and everything,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said, referring to Minnifield’s dad, Frank, who earned four Pro Bowl appearances as a defensive back for the Browns. “He’s got football instincts and you can see that right now, even when he’s not moving at 100-percent.”
The contracts for newly-signed wideouts Devery Henderson and Donte' Stallworth are very team-and-cap-friendly.