- One thing that has kept me going as both a fan of the Washington Redskins as well a writer that covers the Washington Redskins is this idea that my passion is being fed from a huge variety of food groups—some healthy and some not so healthy. For my part, I use words like “we” and “us” when referencing my favorite sports team...something that separates me from at least some other writers. My passion has generally informed my coverage. My love of football and my lifetime of rooting for the Redskins has oftentimes guided my approach to whatever news of the day exists regarding this team. In recent weeks, the opposite has seemed to occur for me and for others I believe—and not for the first time. As we as fans have labored through things like the Kirk Cousins saga and the Scot “McLovin” McCloughan firing, these events have had the effect of influencing our passion. In short, lately it has made being a Redskins fan less fun. In short, lately it has made loving this team difficult. As many of you know, I have made a habit of treating the act of loving a football team like the extracurricular action I believe it to be. In other words, we aren’t talking about nuclear war or world hunger, for example. It should be noted at this point that our ability to love our favorite team needing (for some of us) to be rationalized and justified by reminding ourselves that “it’s just football” is not...an ideal fandom experience.
- It is fitting that we in the D.C.-area got one last wintry blast over the last week or two. Coming out of this cold snap, there is a thaw occurring in town, and it isn’t just the ground warming up. I am sensing that more and more Redskins fans are waking up to find they just might be able to overcome the petty and seemingly absurd actions of the team steward and his top employee. This is not to suggest that these fans are moving on to the forgiveness stage; rather, these fans are discovering that they are actually eager to learn more about the men in pads who will be doing the hard work this fall on the field on Sundays. Despite what I consider to have been somewhat staunch efforts to look away, I myself am very much drawn to what the Redskins are up to this free agency period, for example. Far be it for me to declare something like, “It’s time to talk football.” I know that plenty of fans find themselves unready and unwilling to fast-forward their process of getting past these shenanigans, but I also think those shenanigans have been and continue to be seen and processed by all of us. I would like to try and compartmentalize a bit here in a transition to discussion about actual football moves. In this way, I find it both ironic and hilarious that I am using the Redskins as a distraction from the Redskins.
- As I have said in this space over the last week or two, the Redskins have added personnel that will help make them competitive next season. I thought we might wade into that water today in the hopes of engaging in an actual football conversation about our team and its chances based on these additions. Before I roll up my pants and take off my shoes to take those steps, I would make one last comment. I don’t always mean to be a smartass when saying such things, but it is worth noting that with Bruce and Dan teaming up to make important roster-building decisions, my confidence is incredibly muted. That said, confidence does exist. I am confident that we have a very good coach in charge. I am confident that we have a very good quarterback under center. I am confident that we can’t be that much worse on defense than we were in specific situations last season. Perhaps a strong spring will see this confidence take root and grow.
- One guy who is only going to make us all feel better and better about our chances in 2017 is Terrelle Pryor. We’ve all read about his performance in Cleveland in a tough spot for a young wide receiver to flourish. Getting his first meaningful time as a starting wideout, Pryor suffered perpetual churn at the quarterback position but continued to produce. He turned in a very good performance against the Redskins and Josh Norman. He ended the season with over 1,000 receiving yards and survived being targeted 140 times. At 6’4” and approximately 225 pounds, there is very little about this player on film that fails the eyeball test. On a one-year “prove it” deal, our brand new giant of a receiver is beyond incentivized to perform at or above the expectations of not just us, but of many league experts. Pryor is not just a replacement for departing starters, but is an answer to the woes this offense experienced in the red zone last season. For all that he has done, he remains a work in progress, meaning we could be getting a young, raw player about to establish himself on the NFL landscape. In terms of shiny objects worthy of attracting our attention, Pryor fits the bill. I expect him to be a heavily targeted receiver up and down the field in this offense, and I expect the referee to be making MANY “first down” arm gestures after he catches the ball.
- On the defensive line, many (most?) of us wanted to see Chris Baker come back. Many (most?) of us wanted to see Ricky Jean Francois return as well. Both are gone. Thus far, the team has inked free agent defensive linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee and has re-signed Ziggy Hood. Not to be overlooked, the team also signed nose tackle Phil Taylor to a reserve/future contract back in January (don’t worry, Odie...I got your back on this one). While nobody is out there suggesting the Redskins have reassembled the Purple People Eaters, it wouldn’t take too much imagination to envision a top draft pick—or two—anchoring this group. We all need to remember that we are about to see one of the league’s best defensive line coaches, Jim Tomsula, go to work. We saw the results when Bill Callahan—a hell of an offensive line coach—took over coaching the Redskins offensive line. I would argue we should expect to see that kind of bump in overall production from our defensive line.
- I am not about to dedicate an entire point to Chris Carter, the journeyman linebacker signed by the Redskins last week. He is a classic example of a 27-year old player looking for an opportunity to put his NFL career back on track and squarely on the map. He is low-risk/high reward, which leads me to my last point about this free agency period. Now that the first thrust of free agency has been...well, thrust...there is a group of free agents left standing that will be looking for a similar chance. This group includes older players like Adrian Peterson and Darrelle Revis. Guys like this will likely still get to choose where they go, on deals that will likely be friendly to the signing team. I don’t expect guys like this to choose the Redskins (and I don’t think that needs a lot of explaining...hahaha). My question to you today is very simple: of the remaining free agents, which players do you think offer the most immediate assistance to the Redskins, and which players do you think have a chance to come to Washington and revitalize their career(s)? I would expect this portion of the comments section below to be featured prominently on The Audible tomorrow night. On behalf of Tim and Kevin, I thank you in advance for being part of that conversation (the most important part).
With the first round of free agency over, some of the more intriguing names left will look for homes on teams that may not have thought they had a chance at players like Adrian Peterson.