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Can 2019 UDFA JoJo McIntosh solve the Redskins issues at the safety position?

Yes, the Redskins seem to have safety issues again this season...

Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry.

That was probably the last time the Redskins fans went into a season feeling really good about the safety position.

Last year felt okay. D.J. Swearinger & Montae Nicholson seemed like a good duo. Swearinger was a reasonably talented veteran who seemed to have finally found a home where he could thrive with Washington, while Nicholson was a younger player who showed promise.

However, at mid-season, the front office traded for HaHa Clinton-Dix and Nicholson was benched. A few weeks later, Nicholson got into a drunken brawl, resulting in his arrest. The Redskins responded quickly by moving him to the Reserve/NFI list. Not long after, D.J. Swearinger’s habit of mouthing off in public resulted in him being released by the Redskins, and suddenly Deshazor Everett was starting games.

The Redskins let HHCD walk in free agency, but made one of the biggest moves of any NFL team this off-season when they signed former Giant, Landon Collins, to a 6-year, $84m contract. The 25 year-old should be a defensive cornerstone for the Redskins for the next half-decade.

With Swearinger and Clinton-Dix both gone to other teams, Montae Nicholson had his day in court this week; the judge dismissed the charges against him for lack of evidence. Apparently His Honor does not have a Twitter account. That may have spelled the end of Montae’s recent legal issues, but his situation with the Redskins is still uncertain. He may well be in the team’s plans as the starter alongside Landon Collins, but he could also still face further discipline from the team or the league. Having not drafted a safety in April, the Redskins could be faced with the unpalatable option of starting Deshazor Everett again if Montae Nicholson faces a suspension, or if the team simply decides to release him.

Fans have made some noise about signing a free agent — Tre Boston has been a popular name to throw around — or possibly having a cornerback or linebacker switch position, but Jay Gruden has mostly tossed cold water on both of those ideas.

So, the team has limited existing depth on the roster, no safety selected in the draft, no veteran free agent added since Collins signed in mid-March, and the head coach says that we won’t see any other players switching positions to fill the roster spot.

There’s really only one other source of safety help, and that’s an undrafted free agent. From among the original 8 UDFAs signed by the Redskins just after the draft, there’s only one safety in the group.

Jo Jo McIntosh, welcome to Washington — possibly the most inviting place in the NFL for a young safety looking to make a roster.

Click this link to access all 2018 and 2019 Undrafted Free Agent profiles on Hogs Haven

The 23-year-old McIntosh will be right at home, having played his college ball in Washington.

What’s that? err... I guess that would have been SEATTLE, Washington.

Anyway, Jo Jo McIntosh is 6’1” and 204 pounds. He played college football at the University of Washington, where he was a starter for the final three seasons. In his senior year, McIntosh made 56 tackles over 14 games, but he didn’t make any interceptions. He’s currently one of six safeties on the Redskins’ roster, and he’ll look to make the squad as a specialist.

He has the kind of draft analysis you expect to read for an undrafted player.

Here’s what Lance Zeirlien had to say:

The size, toughness and urgency all work in his favor, but he lacks a definable play trait that he can hang his hat on. McIntosh is an aggressive hitter who will rush downhill to the football and play with good urgency, but his lack of agility in the open field could create issues against NFL ball-carriers. A lack of instincts and balls skills show up in his poor ball production and create a ceiling of functional effectiveness as a pro.

McIntosh’s profile from the Draft Network is pretty similar:

Looks to have excellent length. Hard-hitting safety that looks to punish. Plays with good vision and anticipation downhill against passing concepts and most space ideas, arriving on time and with good leverage. Closing burst particularly impresses--wins as a contain/EMLOS player because of his ability to get downfield in a hurry. Takes on climbing blockers with good physicality near line of scrimmage; will help create congestion and shows the ability to rip through and reset. Plays with aggression from his deep alignment and looks to eliminate passing options early....

Not a consistent tackler, either in the scrum or in space, given desire to lay the wood. Struggles with gearing down and playing under control in his approach; angles are often over-aggressive and allow for cutbacks. Does not wrap when bringing contact and will melt off of tackles; also arrives too upright into tackles and blocks alike, playing with a weaker base that makes him easier to displace. When approaching the box, does not see blocking concepts and leverage overly well, which contributes to his over-aggressive downfield play.

Coverage ability--both zone and man--a major concern. Does not seem to have ideal range to play centerfield, his primary alignment in 2017 tape. Shows some ability in short zones given burst and vision, but poor agility limits his ability to adjust throughout the down. Experience in man coverage highly limited and physical limitations seem to indicate quicker players could separate from him. Must prove he can offer something during man coverage reps to earn significant defensive snaps.

These profiles aren’t surprising: this young man has skills, but wasn’t a strong draft prospect.

The descriptions of his play (aside from those troubling comments about lack of agility) make him sound like a player who could possibly take to coaching and be a good candidate to develop into a depth player for the future, but I don’t think we’re likely to see him lining up on the first defensive play from scrimmage in Philadelphia in Week 1.

Personally, I will be cheering for Jo Jo because of a distant and somewhat tenuous connection I learned about as I was researching his background.

As most of you are aware, I live in South East Asia — in Thailand specifically. After 14 years of living here, I have a certain affinity for the region and its people.

But nearly 40 years ago, in 1981, I worked together with several people from my church to sponsor two Cambodian refugee families and help settle them in America. One family was a father and his two children (the mother had been murdered by Pol Pot’s soldiers while she was pregnant with a third child) and the other a young married couple whose first child was born in the U.S. We helped find homes and furniture for the families, helped them get jobs, taught them English and did a lot of socializing with them.

The kid that was born in the U.S. is now a man in his late 30s. I see pictures of him often because his father is one of my facebook friends. What does all this have to do with Jo Jo McIntosh, you ask?

When he needs a taste of home, when his supply of Cambodian spices are running short, Jojo McIntosh calls grandma.

Cooking is an outlet for McIntosh, the Huskies’ junior safety. One of his favorite dishes is Cha Kroeung, a sautéed stir-fry chicken that’s best served with grandma’s lemon grass seasoning. When he needs more, she’s happy to ship some flavor his way.

“He loves his Cambodian food. Anything that smells really bad he loves,” his mom, Sayom, said with a laugh.

McIntosh has learned to appreciate the traditional dishes passed down from his grandma. And as he has learned more about her flight out of Cambodia — helping her eight children, including McIntosh’s mom, escape the war-torn country — the more he has learned to appreciate his own situation.

Jo Jo’s grandparents came from Cambodia to the United States decades ago — at around the same time that I was involved with helping two Cambodian families get settled in the U.S.

In 1982, when McIntosh’s mom was 5 years old — one of eight children — the family received a sponsorship to immigrate to the U.S. They settled in Texas initially.

“That’s where they dropped a lot of us off at,” the younger Sayom said. “We were one of the families blessed enough to get brought over during the war.”

They later moved to the Los Angeles area. There, McIntosh’s grandparents worked in a clothing factory. They sewed clothes, earning seven cents for each finished piece.

“They struggled,” the younger Sayom said, “but they were real hardworking people.”

Before immigrating to the United States, McIntosh’s grandma (who shares a first name, Sayom, with her daughter) had been, in her daughter’s words, a slave for a wealthy family. As she later explained to her daughter, she had been sold to the wealthy family to pay off a debt her parents owed. She cooked and cleaned for that family while her husband — McIntosh’s grandfather — served in the Cambodian army.

“Eventually,” McIntosh’s mom said, “my dad worked enough to pay off the debt to get her back.”

Cambodian’s suffered greatly under the dictator Pol Pot. Modern research has located 20,000 mass graves from the Khmer Rouge era all over Cambodia. Various studies have estimated the death toll at between 740,000 and 3,000,000—most commonly arriving at figures between 1.7 million and 2.2 million, with perhaps half of those deaths being due to executions, and the rest being attributable to starvation and disease.

The sad story of Jo Jo’s grandparents is one that is echoed by hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of Cambodians who suffered in that era. The genocide that took place was one of the great tragedies of the 20th century.

Knowing where his grandparents came from, I’m thrilled that Jo Jo has a life that offers him the opportunity to live in freedom and prosperity, and pursue his dream to play professional football.

As he took to football, Jojo started to dream about playing in college. Early in his high-school career, he wrote emails to coaches at small colleges, hoping to generate some interest.

“I usually didn’t get a reply,” he said.

One coach from Cal Poly, a Division II program, did respond, and the prospects of earning a scholarship began to crystallize for McIntosh.

“I always say how hard my parents worked, and I was working hard on the field, and I didn’t want them to have to worry about paying for my college,” he said.

By his junior year at Chaminade Prep, as his profile and his body grew, Pac-12 schools started to call. He later chose the Huskies over UCLA. At UW, his major is social justice, and his goal is “to make a difference in the world” once his football career is over.

JoJo McIntosh wasn’t drafted, but the Redskins have a need at safety and they saw enough in JoJo’s college play to bring him to camp.

So let’s not rely on my interpretation of second and third hand draft profiles to form an opinion. Hogs Haven has a broad membership; one of our readers is a film analyst who has volunteered to give his take on the Redskins UDFAs like JoJo McIntosh.

James FitzGerald (@GMDfitz7765) is a former college player, high school coach, and an avid college football fan who has spent hours in the film room watching opponents and his own teams. His analytical skill adds depth to these profiles that I can’t supply on my own.

Let’s see what he has to say.

Fitz’s film review

Film Watched: Washington v. Auburn, Utah, ASU (2017)

JoJo McIntosh is a hard hitter, and he uses that hitting ability to knock the ball out of the receiver’s hands and make an impact in the game

He is strong and is able to fight off blocks. He congests the second level so the ball carrier has fewer places to run.

Also, Mcintosh closes in on the tackle after the reception well. He’s able to anticipate a reception and make the tackle before the receiver gets too many yards after the catch.

However, JoJo tends to go for the big hit over the sure tackles; this over aggression causes him to miss some tackles, and the same over aggression also causes him to over pursue and run straight past ball carriers.

Despite being a big hitter he is an inconsistent tackler. At times he tackles too high, doesn’t wrap, or puts his head down. He missed quite a few tackles because of poor fundamentals.

I also do not think he is good enough at coverage to play free safety in the NFL. He is not very agile and he played very few reps in man coverage.

How would he fit with the Redskins?

JoJo McIntosh can make the team if he shows enough improvement in the offseason, but that is partly because the Redskins are missing depth at safety and nobody is really sure who will start in that positon right now. For that reason alone, JoJo McIntosh has a chance to make the roster. However, I do not think he possesses the coverage ability to play free safety at the NFL. He appears to be more of a special teams player and backup at the position.

In my opinion, JoJo McIntosh will be cut during camp or the preseason, though because of the team needs at the position, he seems like a candidate for the practice squad.


As UDFAs go, rate JoJo McIntosh:

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    (44 votes)
  • 25%
    (174 votes)
  • 51%
    (359 votes)
  • 14%
    (99 votes)
  • 2%
    (15 votes)
691 votes total Vote Now


How good are the chances that McIntosh is on the Redskins roster in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Pretty strong
    (36 votes)
  • 12%
    Above Average
    (88 votes)
  • 31%
    (222 votes)
  • 50%
    (350 votes)
696 votes total Vote Now

A taste of JoJo McIntosh’s Twitter feed: