- As the Washington Redskins break camp in Richmond and head to Ashburn to prepare for the remaining slate of preseason games, we have an opportunity to review what it is we think we know about this team so far (or at least what we know we think about them). For all of you waiting to make that determination in September, I get it, but there are plenty of takeaways that matter at this point, so let’s get right to it. We’ll be incorporating your comments into our recording of The Audible tomorrow night, and since we are basically a bunch of whiskey-drinking knuckleheads, we appreciate your solid contributions in advance!
- A mere four months ago, the story was all about who the Redskins were going to draft to take Rob Kelley’s job. Post-draft and into training camp, our very own Robert Kelley has put what appears to be a stranglehold on the #1 running back gig. I would even suggest that it has less to do with the beginning of Samaje Perine’s rookie campaign and more to do with what Rob Kelley has done. This is important. The last thing you should want is for a guy to be named starter by default. We have had about...ooooohhhh, 5,000 of those over the last 20 years of this franchise. We know what it looks like when you become reduced to sending warm bodies onto the field after the national anthem finishes each Sunday. From increased confidence to reduced fat (no more “Fat Rob”?), Kelley has impressed his coaches and teammates this summer. I am not sitting here telling you he transformed into a young Adrian Peterson, but the Redskins want to run and they seem pretty excited about building their running game around the second-year guy out of Tulane. Samaje Perine is going to get his share of touches, as will Chris Thompson.
- Though it is hard for me to agree with Clinton Portis’ pregame assessment the other night of our running back corps being the best in the league, I think we can all agree that the Washington running attack has a chance to be an above average and highly productive unit. I thought it worthwhile to gauge everyone’s attitude toward Matt Jones at this point. Scot “McLovin” McCloughan seems to think he can still be a bigtime contributor, which is enough for me to at least reconsider my feelings there. If Matt Jones makes the final roster and is available for this team in case of injury, it stands to reason he could actually help us win games (of course, that reason is met head-on with reasons why he might fail). It is also worth noting that our offensive line did not look good at all in the first preseason affair. That has to get cleaned up, but I think it is fair to assume that our offensive line unit will come together sooner rather than later. Of all the areas of our team that I enter the season feeling halfway decent about, it is this group that has me most excited. (Matt Jones poll below)
- Sticking with offense, as much as you all know I love Derek Carrier, I will suggest I am getting a bit antsy at the tight end position (a terrible place for ants). I understand Jordan Reed should be fine, but we have to be honest with ourselves here: he has had difficulty turning in a full season (I feel like I should add something like, “I wouldn’t last two downs at tight end in this league,” just to make sure nobody thought for a second I was questioning the man’s toughness.) Vernon Davis is no spring chicken, and neither Niles Paul nor Derek Carrier can do what elite tight ends in this league are doing these days. Jeremy Sprinkle seems to be impressing folks, and I would like to think the team will figure out a way to keep him in the fold. We all know how much Kirk relies on the tight end position, so until Jordan Reed is 100%, I am going to be worried. That said, the increased size of our outside wide receivers should help Kirk Cousins and this offense—not to move away from the tight end role, but to give Kirk the kind of big target he likes. We’re still talking about a world where Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor help each other, but if we have no Jordan Reed at any point, the Pryor/Doctson/Davis combo is not a terrible consolation scenario.
- At cornerback, I think the Redskins are about as good as they have been in a very, very long time. I will wait to make any actual previous unit comparisons until we see them on Sundays, but the fact of the matter is we can cover. I will caveat this by suggesting that in today’s NFL, success on the outside looks different than it used to (perhaps James Dorsett can work up a mathematical thesis to back this up). Given the league has robbed corners of the ability to be overly physical in its zeal to help wide receivers make a zillion catches, cornerbacks have to measure their success by getting their hands on the ball and by bringing receivers down immediately. I like the physicality of our defensive backs (include the safeties if you like...as I do). I saw glimpses of the athleticism at safety the other night and how it will be used to help corners in certain spots. Are you all still down on Kendall Fuller? I am not. Are we still not expecting anything from Fabian Moreau this season? I AM expecting him to be on the field down the stretch this year. In a league that is predicated on the passing game, the Redskins might have their best means of defending it in two decades. (I am REALLY encouraged by the fact that Moreau is on the practice field at all right now. Remember, he was graded as a first-round talent by most scouts before he tore his pectoral muscle leading up to the combine.)
- I’ll close out on the front seven, as the success of our cover guys is going to be largely dependent on success up front on defense. As optimistic as I am (shocker), I won’t blow smoke up your skirt here: this group has to line up in September and prove it. We are all encouraged by what Phil Taylor is doing. The reports of Ziggy Hood’s impact on guys like Matt Ioannidis and even Jonathan Allen warm the heart, but mean little until we make that first big third down stop. Watching Zach Brown’s ability when it comes to sideline-to-sideline pursuit feels as good as something can feel in August, when teams aren’t trying to take such things away. Our confidence in Ryan Kerrigan grows by the second, but he can only do so much himself. Hoping Junior Galette can stay healthy has not been a successful endeavor in prior years, but he sure looks good right now. Will Compton and Mason Foster continue to look incredibly reliable, if not world-beating. I think you all get what I am feeling. Jim Tomsula and Greg Manusky (among a handful of professional and able-bodied coaches) have talent to work with, but until we see it in September, I find it difficult to pin too many hopes to that side of the ball. Still...so many hopes are pinned there nonetheless. Tell me the one player not named Josh Norman, Ryan Kerrigan or Junior Galette that is going to get us over the hump. Why?
Will Matt Jones make a meaningful contribution to the Washington Redskins 2017 season as a running back in this offense?
This poll is closed