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Daily Slop - 14 July 23: Rookies Chris Rodriguez & KJ Henry in the spotlight; a closer look at the LG position battle

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

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Walter Football

Washington Redskins Rookies Forecast

Future Depth Player

Rodriguez shows a real burst to hit the hole and acceleration to get downfield. He has good contact balance and patience that allows him to flow to the line before darting downfield. Rodriguez will power through arm tackles, and his legs don’t go dead on contact. With his burst and strength to run through contact, Rodriguez is a dangerous threat to break runs into the second level.

Antonio Gibson may not be signed to an extension, and Rodriguez could become the No. 2 back behind Brian Robinson. While Rodriguez may not have the elite receiving ability or game-breaking speed for the NFL, he could be a Jamaal Williams-type No. 2 back for Washington. Rodriguez was a superb pick and value in the sixth round.

Commanders Film Room: KJ Henry

Key points from the video:

  1. Background: KJ Henry was a fifth-round draft pick for the Washington Commanders. He played at Clemson and brings an interesting skill set to the table. His father has over 30 years of experience coaching at the college level, and KJ grew up around high-level athletes.
  2. Strengths: Henry is praised for his high-energy style and his quickness and flexibility. He has a good inside move that many offensive tackles struggle with. He also has a knack for finding passing lanes at the line of scrimmage for bat-down opportunities. His motor is described as “red hot,” and he has a lot of second-effort plays on tape. He’s also noted for his ability to disrupt plays and create turnover opportunities.
  3. Weaknesses: Henry is said to lack the desired size with only mediocre length and build. He has an average edge setting and can struggle against larger NFL tackles. He can be over-aggressive and sometimes overruns the play. He also needs to develop his hand efficiency to disengage from blockers. His pass-rush repertoire requires further examination to keep blockers guessing. He has only one season of full-time work and production, and he never reached 5.0 sacks or double-digit tackles for loss in a single season.
  4. Potential: Despite his weaknesses, the commentator believes that with some coaching and improvement in his handwork, Henry could become an above-average pass rusher. He’s also walking into a good situation with the Washington Commanders, as they don’t have a lot of players at the defensive end position under contract past this season.
  5. Performance in College: During his 58 appearances and 24 starts at Clemson, he had 130 tackles, 28 for loss, 13.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He was 2nd-Team All-ACC his senior year.
  6. Future: The commentator suggests that Henry could be used as a situational pass rusher at first, but he has the potential to take on a larger role in the future. He’s expected to improve the longer he stays in the system.

Bullock’s Film Room

Will Saahdiq Charles or Chris Paul win the battle for the Commanders starting LG spot?

Taking a closer look at the battle for the starting left guard spot

One of the biggest objectives for the Washington Commanders this offseason was to improve the offensive line. The team signed Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates in free agency and followed that up by drafting Ricky Stromberg and Braeden Daniels in the middle rounds of the draft. Most of the offensive line spots can be penciled in now, with Charles Leno at left tackle, Gates battling rookie Stromberg at center, Sam Cosmi moving inside full time to right guard and Wylie securing the right tackle spot.

However, there is one spot still up for grabs and that is left guard. Ron Rivera has consistently mentioned Saahdiq Charles and Chris Paul as the two candidates in an open competition for the starting role this offseason. Now it is still possible that the Commanders add a veteran to the competition during training camp or if another offensive lineman gets cut elsewhere. With the flexibility of Wylie to play either tackle or guard, the team could be on the lookout for a veteran left guard or right tackle knowing that Wylie can fill the other spot. But as things stand, the competition appears to be a two horse race between Charles and Paul.

Overall I think Paul would have the edge based on the film from last season but given Charles has more experience it appears he’s getting the first crack at the job. I expect come training camp, Paul will be pushing him hard for some of those first team reps and could potentially overtake him during preseason. It’ll be an intriguing battle to watch and a rare instance where it is a true open competition for the job....

Joe Jacoby one of multiple former Washington players named semifinalists for Hall of Fame Class of 2024

In the 13 seasons that Jacoby played for Washington, the team won five division titles with 10 winning records. Washington also averaged 130 rushing yards per season while Jacoby was part of the offensive line.

In addition to his Pro Bowls and Super Bowl championships, Jacoby collected a long list of other personal accolades. He was selected to the PFWA All-Rookie team in 1981; he was named to the 1980s All-decade team; his name was placed in the Washington Ring of Fame; and he is one of the organization’s 90 greatest players.

Other former Washington players who have been named as semifinalists include:

  • Henry Ellard (wide receiver, 1983-1998), who played five seasons in Washington and is 13th on the franchise’s all-time receiving yards list (3,930).
  • Larry Brown (running back, 1969-1976), who spent his entire eight-year career with Washington and was voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls and two First Team All-Pro selections. Brown is third on Washington’s all-time rushing yards list with 5,875 yards and fifth on the all-time rushing touchdown list with 35 scores.

Two of Washington’s former head coaches — Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Shanahan — were named as two of 29 semifinalists in the coaches/contributors category. Assistant coach Clark Shaughnessy (1944-47) and Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, who worked in player personnel and scouting, were also named semifinalists.

The selection committees will meet to compile a list of 12 Seniors and 12 Coach/Contributors who will move on to the next stage. The results of that selection will be announced on July 27.

ESPN video about Snyder and the Gruden emails:

The Athletic

Washington’s All-Dan-Snyder-Era team: The best players and coaches since 1999

It’s not so much that the Redskins/Football Team/Commanders didn’t add any Lombardi Trophies to the three won under Jack Kent Cooke in four appearances from 1982 to 1991. It’s that they didn’t come close — ever — after Snyder purchased the franchise in 1999. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, it was the meh of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of sporadic wisdom, it was (way too often) the age of foolishness. Two playoff victories and six winning seasons in 24 years of persistent chaos tell the tale.

But heroes emerged. On game days, fans still wear legacy jerseys featuring No. 9, 28 and 44. But also, the more modern 17, 26, 91 and — most certainly — 21 can be found throughout the FedExField stands. There are plenty of others, too.

So, let’s start positively, with the best squad from Snyder’s tenure.

Note: Selections, including coaches and front-office executives, were made based on how individuals performed in Washington. Those whose careers in D.C. largely pre-dated Snyder (like Brian Mitchell, and Darrell Green) were excluded.

QB: Robert Griffin III (2012-15)

Honorable mention: Brad Johnson, Kirk Cousins

For a brief time, Washington’s place in the NFL conversation was about fun and electrifying football. Imagine that. The aggressive trade-up for the second pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to select the reigning Heisman Trophy winner appeared franchise-altering. Mike Shanahan’s coaching staff uncorked run-pass options that turned the athletic Griffin into the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and fueled the franchise’s first division title since 1999.

We know how the story ended, that the sun kept shining for only so long. In 1999, Johnson reminded starved local fans what a legitimate QB1 looked like. Cousins’ three-season run as a full-time starter provided the most sustained success for any Washington signal caller in the Super Bowl era. Neither sniffed the heights of RGIII’s rookie season. Few in league history ever have.



NFC East links

Discussion of the Saquon Barkley situation:

NFL league links



Why star NFL running backs have been devalued: What’s next

Popular veterans getting cut toward the tail end of their careers is nothing new, but the age at which these players have become free agents stands out. Cook, Elliott and Hunt are 27. Fournette is 28. 27-year-old stars at other positions are years from being cut candidates. No team would dream of moving on from Myles Garrett, Deebo Samuel or Budda Baker, each of whom is 27. Those 27-year-olds who play other positions are in the primes of their careers. Meanwhile, 27-year-old running backs are being portrayed as fossils hanging on to any hope of a meaningful NFL career for dear life.

None of this is brand-new, but the stress on running backs to produce and get paid before they’re cast aside feels more acute than ever. Has there been an even more significant shift in recent years than what has been perceived? Is it a case of analytics run amok? Are teams being foolish in how they’re valuing even the best backs? And is there any way to break the cycle and get running backs paid more money in the decades to come?

We actually saw a shift away from the first-round pick as the lead back early in the 1990s, but the most dramatic change has come over the past decade. As recently as the final few years of the first decade of the 21st century, nearly half of top backs on teams were Round 1 picks. That figure has nearly been cut in half, with those players replaced by middle-rounds selections.

That change puts more running backs who are starting their careers in vulnerable positions. First-round picks make far more money than players drafted in the later rounds, and their contracts typically are fully guaranteed. Najee Harris, whom the Steelers drafted in Round 1 in 2021, will earn about $3.3 million per year over his first four seasons, and all of the $13 million he signed for was fully guaranteed. Rhamondre Stevenson, selected in Round 4 of the same draft, was slotted for just over $1 million per season and was guaranteed only $750,000 when he signed his four-year deal with the Patriots.

[T]he idea of the back who carries the ball 20 times per game has mostly gone out the window. From 1978 to 2010, 4.2 backs per season averaged 20 rushes per game over a full season. Since then, just 12 have hit that mark over the ensuing 12 seasons, and there have been only two instances of a runner pulling it off over the past five campaigns. (Unsurprisingly, those are both Derrick Henry seasons.)


Execs, coaches, scouts rank NFL’s top 10 tight ends for 2023

For the past three years, the tight end conversation started with one simple question: Travis Kelce or George Kittle?

And from 2020 to 2022, the voting for the best tight end was incredibly close. Kelce was the Ferrari route runner with plenty of tread on the tires. Kittle was the off-road Hummer with hybrid sensibilities.

This year’s voting was not at all close, marking a rare style of victory for this exercise: A 33-year-old at a skill position dominating the process.

The Kelce-Kittle gap has now widened, and then some: Kelce dominated the 2023 process with more than 80% of the first-place votes.

Reasons to appreciate his game aren’t hard to find: Kelce’s 9,482 receiving yards since the start of the 2015 season are the most in the NFL regardless of position. His streak of seven straight 1,000-yard seasons is the longest in NFL history for a tight end.


The Playcallers Ep. 4: Blood can blind

Sean McVay becomes the first coach from this coaching family to win the Super Bowl, but it costs him more personally than he could have realized. Before McVay gets to the championship, he has to exorcise his “Kyle Shanahan demons” in the NFC Championship game. Shanahan and Mike McDaniel built their offense into a versatile, punishing group as McVay’s own system centers around the flourish of the passing game. McDaniel, who becomes the Dolphins head coach in 2022, starts stretching his legs after so much time working under Shanahan. Meanwhile, Matt LaFleur’s own Packers offense is built around compromise and a Hall of Fame quarterback. In speaking with host Jourdan Rodrigue, each head coach opens up about how play-calling has shaped their identity.

Voices in the episode include McVay, Shanahan, LaFleur, McDaniel, Kevin O’Connell, Zac Taylor, Kevin Demoff, Les Snead, Raheem Morris, Andrew Whitworth, Mina Kimes and Steve Wyche.