The Washington Redskins got their new general manager yesterday, and it almost felt like we were listening to another team describe their team philosophy. Build through the draft? The draft is the lifeline of the organization? Mold yourown players and sign your own? Don't rely on old, injured free agents? Get bigger players on the lines? This is just not how the Redskins do football, and you can't help but hope that the whole thing doesn't get Snyder'd in the end.
The question that everyone wants to know is what will happen with the quarterback situation on the team next season. It was a mess this year, not many people will deny that. The team started 3 different QBs, and all 3 of those QBs effectively got benched for one of the others. Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle in Week 2 which led to Kirk Cousins starting and being benched for turnovers. Colt MCoy finished the Titans game with a win and then went into Dallas to lead the team for an OT victory. Griffin came back from injury, but couldn't win a game. Jay Gruden turned back to McCoy, but the wins didn't come and McCoy was injured leading to Griffin finishing the season. Griffin was able to get a win against the Eagles and effectively knock them out of the playoffs, but Dallas shut them down the following week.
Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins are in the final years of their rookie contracts. Griffin has a 5 year option that would cost the team $16-18 million for the 2016 season, and the team has to make that decision in May. The team could also choose to extend him during next season if they believe he is their QB of the future. Colt McCoy signed a 1 year, vet-minimum deal last offseason, and will be a free agent in March. That is not a lot of long-term stability at the QB position.
McCloughan was asked several times about the QB situation during his mini-media tour yesterday.
Here is what he said during his introductory press conference when asked about his assessment of the QBs:
"I don’t want to get into any past grades, I really don’t. I thought they were both productive college football players. They both had a lot of wins in programs that were good programs. But I’ll leave it at that. Like I said, I need to get on this tape for now because that’s three or four years ago. But I thought they’re both high-character individuals that had a chance to be good NFL football players."
He was asked about the QB position:
"Well, from my standpoint right now, not seeing all the tape, any option is open right now. Again if we are going to draft somebody in the draft it's going to be a good football player that we agree upon."
He was asked about the future of mobile QBs and the zone read in the NFL:
"You know what, that's a great question. I go back and forth on that. I really don't know. The thing I do know, I've being around one that's lights out. But it wasn't so much from the standpoint of athleticism, it's more the ‘it' factor - the instincts for the position, the intelligence. It's going to be the scheme that Jay wants to run and the coaches want to run. Everybody wants to go because now all these high schools are doing the spread, of course colleges are doing the spread, so they walk into the NFL knowing that as their base offense. It's proven to work some but also I think you realize with the injuries, they're considered running backs most of the time now. You've got to be careful because if you have one, you better have two."
After his press conferene he did several interviews on radio and television. First up was an interview on the Sports Fix on ESPN 980 with Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan.
"You don't give up on a young QB who took you to the playoffs as a rookie" "He's been banged up" McCloughan on RGIII on @ESPNRadio980— Hunter Jennings (@HunterLoganX) January 9, 2015
"I was impressed w RG3's deep ball accuracy in college" "Also impressed with Kirk Cousins in college" "Colt McCoy won games too" McCloughan— Hunter Jennings (@HunterLoganX) January 9, 2015
He then spoke with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 the Fan:
His views on supporting the QB position:
"The key thing with me, and the same thing we did with Alex Smith when we drafted him in SanFran, was build around him," he said. "Don't make the quarterback have to win or lose the game for you. Let's get him some stud offensive linemen, let's get a damn-good running game, let's get a tight end that can stretch the field, and a couple receivers to make plays. You know, then all of a sudden, that one guy becomes much better."
And on the current QB's on the roster:
"Where are you at on the development of quarterbacks after you give a lot up, and the time you need to allot them?" Paulsen asked.
"Well, I think you need to give them some time," McCloughan answered. "It's the most important position on the field, for any organization. You have to give them some time, but again, you can't put the ball in their hand and say ‘You have to do it. For us to win on Sunday, you have to do it.' You have to set it up where he has talent around him, where he doesn't have to do it. Of course, he's taking the ball every snap of the game, so he has the most impact, but run that ball; set that run up early. Let them know you're going to be hitting them in the jaw all day, because I'm telling you, if you break a guy's will on the D-line, you got him, and you keep going downhill.
"But I think you have to be careful giving up on a quarterback too early in the NFL."
He then spoke with the beat reporters who covered his presser yesterday
"I know he's had a couple of injuries," McCloughan said. "I'm withholding judgment right now."
"Now he has a new coordinator, he has a new offense he has to learn, especially with Jay’s offense," McCloughan said. "I remember with [Mike] Holmgren it took Brett Favre two years to figure it out. With Robert, mentally he’s ahead of Favre from the standpoint of picking up schemes and understanding what the offense is trying to do." Griffin’s pocket instincts came into question this past season, from taking the proper drops to knowing how to maneuver. In general, McCloughan said, you don’t develop those instincts. "You just have them, that’s any position," he said. "It’s tough."
He spoke with Dave Owens from WUSA9 who said he hasn't seen Griffin play live since he was at Baylor, and he needs to evaluate him.
McCloughan was interviewed by Scott Smith from Fox 5:
What was the last question asked by Scott Smith to McCloughan?
"Is there any position that is off limits @ the #5 pick?" - Scott Smith "No." -Scot McCloughan "Does that include QB?" -SS "Correct." -Scot— Paul Conner (@P_Hazard) January 10, 2015
McCloughan isn't going to give any draft strategy to a reporter on his first day on the job, and he is not going to publicly eliminate any position for the Redskins top pick. For a GM who likes to have a lot of draft picks to work with, leaving QB on the list publicly could help on April 30th if Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston falls to #5. Does this mean anything in the long run? Probably not, GMs and coaches live on the lie during draft season, and you can rarely fully believe anything they say when it comes to picks/positions. He told Paulsen yesterday that he was "willing to move back. No doubt about it.", but they would use the pick if they love somebody.
Scot McCloughan believes in the tale of the tape, and will be pouring over every player, every game, and every piece of tape available. Robert Griffin III was coming back from ACL surgery in 2013, struggled, and was eventually benched. He came back last season and was learning Gruden's system, and struggled before being injured in Week 2. He came back and struggled along with the rest of the team. He was benched, and didn't return to the field until Colt McCoy was injured.
McCloughan mentioned the injuries and the new system in his answers yesterday, and preaches patience. Does this mean Griffin will be on the team next year, probably, but nothing is definite in January. If McCloughan talks to Jay Gruden, studies Griffin's tape, and looks at the long-term needs for the team and determines a trade is the best option, he will put feelers out around the league to gauge interest and value. If he determines Griffin is salvageable, he could turn to the other QB on the roster in the last year of his rookie deal for a possible trade. The draft is April 30, so McCloughan has 3 1/2 months to figure it all out.
What will happen with the QB position in Washington in 2015?