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In the NFL, Speed Kills - and the Redskins Simply do not Have This

NCAA Football: Clemson at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The old saying that “Speed Kills” is alive and well in today’s NFL. Teams that have it thrive; teams that don’t, suffer.

The Washington Redskins are a team that lacks speed, both offensively and defensively, and their brand of football suffers because of this.

The goal heading into the 2018 off-season on offense was to get a deep weapon for new quarterback Alex Smith. The Redskins went to the free agent market and signed Seahawks speed wide receiver Paul Richardson. The former Colorado Buffalo is a legit 4.40 guy, who also possesses quick-twitch ability, and short-area burst. Problem is, Richardson can’t seem to stay healthy. The diminutive 6’0” 183 pound wideout played in just six and a half games with the Redskins, totaling 20 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns before being shut down for the season.

Chris Thompson is another Redskins who has cat-like quickness and good long-speed, but his inability to stay healthy takes yet another weapon off the field for the Skins. Thompson played in parts of just 10 games in 2018, and his presence in many of them was non-existent. Battling a rib injury (among others) throughout the year, he had just 43 carries for 178 yards and caught 41 passes for 268 yards with one touchdown. In comparison, during the 2017 season in the same amount of games played, Thompson had 804 yards of total offense and six touchdowns before going on IR.

Richardson’s and Thompson’s departure from the lineup left the Redskins with the least explosive offensive skill positions in the entire league, and it showed, as the offense averaged just 299.7 yards per game (28th), and 17.6 points per contest (29th).

The best offensive skill positions for most of the 2018 season:

- A 33 year old Adrian Peterson - who was a pleasant surprise

- A pedestrian Josh Doctson

- A diminutive Jamison Crowder

- A slower-than-molasses Maurice Harris

- A tentative Jordan Reed

- A 34 year old Vernon Davis

The Redskins defense was not much better...

Manusky’s unit started the season off well, but then got exploited by high-power offenses before their ultimate collapse over the team’s final six games.

The reason - pedestrian athletes at key positions throughout the lineup.

Ryan Kerrigan, for as great as he’s been in a Redskins uniform, is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an athletic 3-4 outside linebacker. He wins with exceptional effort, hustle and good technique, but no one is mistaking him for Von Miller or Khalil Mack when it comes to speed and athleticism.

His teammate on the opposite side is even worse. Preston Smith might be a similar athlete to Kerrigan, but he lacks the discipline, motor and technique of the multi-time Pro Bowler. He has exceptional length, but that’s about it. He’s about as worse a 3-4 LOLB as you’ll find in this league. Could he be a decent 4-3 7-technique defensive end...possibly.

...but wait; it gets worse.

At the MIKE linebacker spot, you have Mason Foster, who can’t even get out of his own way. Talk about pedestrian - Foster is about as bad as you’ll see for one of the most important positions on the football field for a defense. He has poor speed, no quick-twitch, can’t re-direct, can’t cover tight ends or running backs, and can’t stop opposing runners from getting the edge when they break contain. He was, by far, the biggest liability on the 2018 Redskins defense.

The secondary, when fully healthy, isn’t too bad in the speed category; with one exception - Josh Norman.

At this stage of his career, Norman is a zone corner. He does not have the speed to trail a team’s number one wide receiver, when that teams player is a Odell Beckham, Julio Jones or T.Y. Hilton. Norman is still a very physical CB, but he’s best in a cover 2 or man-over look where he can have deep help if needed.

The Redskins need to focus on speed on both sides of the ball this off-season. Getting a speed wide receiver who can beat man coverage is a must. A mismatch tight end with top-level speed would be nice as well, considering the team can’t count on Jordan Reed to stay healthy, and will likely move on from Vernon Davis due to age and a significant decline in his play.

Getting Derrius Guice back at running back will definitely help with offensive team speed, as will a healthy Chris Thompson. Although Adrian Peterson doesn’t have the same speed he once had, he’s still fast enough to break off long runs. The Redskins would be wise to re-sign him for another season as a mentor and insurance for Guice.

Defensively, the team needs a quality young speed edge rusher to play opposite Ryan Kerrigan. The draft is very deep at the position, and it would be wise for the team to take advantage of that somewhere in the first two rounds.

Linebacker is a huge area of need and speed, but help may be on the way in the form of former 49ers first-round linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster has the speed and tenacity to drastically change this defense. There may be a suspension coming his way after the NFL finishes its investigation for off-field actions this past fall, but I think six games will be the absolute max (if he gets anything at all).

In the secondary, an eventual replacement for Norman at cornerback will need to come sooner rather than later. If the right player is available in free agency or falls into their laps in the draft, the Redskins may be wise to pounce.

2019 Off-Season All-Speed Team:

2019 Free Agent Acquisitions:

Tyrell Williams (4.42) WR

Kwon Alexander (4.55) LB

Tyrann Mathieu (4.50) FS

Rodger Saffold G

2019 NFL Draft (first 3 rounds):

Rd 1: Brian Burns EDGE Florida St.

Rd 2: Parris Campbell WR Ohio St.

Rd 3: Iman Marshall CB USC

Rd 3: Jared Pinkney TE Vandy

Is speed important for the 2019 Redskins? What would you suggest the team due to improve on our overall team speed?


How important is improving the overall team speed for the Redskins this off-season?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    It’s critical for our future success
    (879 votes)
  • 12%
    I’d rather have a big, tough, physical team than a fast one
    (127 votes)
1006 votes total Vote Now