Friday, July 14, 2017

Offseason Review Series: Day 10: The Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins

Division: NFC East

8-7-1 Record (3-3 Division)

General Manager Changes

Back in January 2015, Team President Bruce Allen hired Scot McCloughan to be the new GM. Fans were elated...finally a real GM! But fingers were crossed that Scot McCloughan would stay sober after battling alcohol/family-related issues in SF and Seattle.

After just two seasons with the Redskins, Bruce Allen fired Scot McCloughan in March 2017, one month before the NFL draft.

Redskins fans are outraged…and rightfully so. In the two seasons prior to McCloughan’s arrival, the Redskins were 7-25. In the two seasons with McCloughan, the Redskins were 17-14-1 with an NFCE division title and a bright future. "All hail GMSM!" was a common /r/Redskins refrain.

Why was McCloughan fired? The initial assumption was that Scot had relapsed with alcohol which also led to his firing from front-office positions with the Niners in 2010 and Seahawks in 2014. But it appears that he never quit drinking at all. He reportedly was drunk at the facility on multiple occasions. But it seemed really curious that none of the drinking reports surfaced until AFTER McCloughan was fired. His firing right at the start of free agency was not taken well, and Bruce Allen taking McCloughan’s place as GM was vomit-inducing.

The best part of it all? The Redskins still haven’t hired a legitimate GM to take Scot McCloughan’s place. Instead, it seems that we’re stuck with Team President/GM Bruce Allen running the show. In June 2017, the Redskins promoted Doug Williams (Redskins Super Bowl XXII MVP) from a front office personnel position to “Senior Vice President of Player Personnel,” in what looks to be a quasi-GM-scouting-type-role-thing, but it seems that Bruce is still calling the shots. The Redskins front office in many ways feels like the Buccaneers of the North, with GM Bruce Allen, SVP Doug Williams, and HC Jay Gruden all serving on the Bucs staff from 2004-2008 (recently fired DC Joe Barry was also in TB from 2004-2006). No offense to TB that the franchise we should be copying?

Coaching Changes (decent amount of turnover)

Offensive Coordinator:

Out: Sean McVay (left to become Rams HC)

In: Matt Cavanaugh (formerly Redskins QB Coach)

The 30-year-old boy wonder Sean McVay had been the Redskins OC for two seasons after serving as TE coach under Kyle Shanahan. But since McVay was hired as the youngest ever HC by the LA Rams this offseason (look out for the Week 2 matchup between WAS and LAR), the Redskins needed a new OC. Since Jay Gruden is heavily involved on the offensive side of the ball, an internal promotion made the most sense to preserve continuity. Now we have former Redskins QB coach Matt Cavanaugh as the new OC, though one would expect the playcalling and gameplanning to come from Gruden himself this season. Also, keep in mind that the Redskins retained the well-respected OL Coach Bill Callahan, who is heavily involved in the Redskins run game design.

Defensive Coordinator:

Out: Joe Barry (fired, now Rams LB coach and Asst HC)

In: Greg Manusky (formerly Redskins OLB Coach)

Joe Barry wasn’t exactly a sexy hire two years ago. Redskins fans were well aware that he was the DC for the 0-16 Lions in 2008. So he was on a short leash right off the bat.

I think the WaPo’s Mike Jones describes Joe Barry’s tenure the best: “The Redskins’ defense struggled in nearly every key statistical category the past two seasons. In 2016, the unit was 28th in total yards, 24th in rushing yards allowed, 25th in passing yards allowed, 19th in points, 32nd on third downs, tied for 17th in takeaways and 25th in red-zone touchdowns allowed.” Redskins fans were yelling to "Fire Joe Berry[sic]!" well before the axe finally came down.

After Barry was fired, the Redskins interviewed former Browns HC Mike Pettine, former Jaguars HC Gus Bradley, and former Bills DC Rob Ryan. After a painfully long and worrying DC search, the Redskins ended up promoting former Redskins OLB coach Greg Manusky to DC. Manusky was DC for 9 years from 2007-2015 with the Niners, Chargers, and Colts and was…well…fairly average. But, hey, fairly average would be a huge improvement from pathetic.

We really don't know what to expect from Manusky's defense; he says that he plans to chew bubblegum and kick ass. Welp, I hope he didn't pack much bubblegum.

Quarterbacks Coach: Kevin O’Connell

Kevin O’Connell was drafted at QB by the Patriots in 2008 and spent 5 years in the league bouncing around various teams. He’s entering this third year in coaching, and he was previously an Offensive Assistant in San Francisco.

Defensive Line: Jim Tomsula

With the firing of DC Joe Barry came the firing of DL Coach Robb Akey who was working with subpar talent but also didn’t make them any better than terrible. Redskins fans are very excited for Jim Tomsula, who was a longtime DL Coach for the Niners and a one-year Niners HC in 2015.

Defensive Backs: Torrian Gray

Perry Fewell was the Giants DC for 5 years before serving as Redskins DB Coach for two seasons. While CB Josh Norman looked great last year, CB Bashaud Breeland has regressed noticeably which is very concerning. Torrian Gray was previously the DB Coach of the Florida Gators, so fans are hoping he can maximize the youth on the team which includes a fresh 2nd rd pick at Safety (Su’a Cravens) and two fresh 3rd rd picks at CB (Kendall Fuller and Fabian Moreau).

Other News

HC Jay Gruden Contract Extension

Amidst all the chaos and turnover in the front office, it was a massive relief when HC Jay Gruden and the Redskins agreed to a 2-year contract extension in March 2017 which keeps him in Washington through 2020. Want to hear something amazing? This is the first HC contract extension since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999. So in a sad way, this is a big freaking deal for the franchise and a story that got totally overshadowed by the GM Scot McCloughan drama occurring at the same time.

Kirk Cousins Franchise Tag

Here's the Redskins QB story in a nutshell:

2014 - RG3 played 2 games then missed a bunch due to injury, then Kirk played 6 games and put up huge yards but also huge INT and was benched for Colt McCoy, then Colt played 5 games and got sacked a lot and hurt, then we went back to RG3 for the last 7 games. This was not my preferred flavor of Redskins football, but hey, it was the perfect test trial for all our QBs.

2015 - Gruden named RG3 the starter at a random press conference in the middle of the offseason, but he really did not sound thrilled about it. RG3 got knocked around by the Lions in a preseason game and got a concussion. Then Kirk was officially named the full-time starter (I personally was overjoyed at this moment, but there was a large number of fans who were still on Team RG3). Kirk played pretty average for the first 8 games, then amazing for the last 8 games. He ended the year with 4,166 yd / 29 TD / 11 INT / 69.8% comp / 101.6 rtg. Since that was the last year on Kirk's rookie contract, the Redskins didn't know whether he was worth a long-term deal. So the Redskins franchise-tagged Kirk for $20MM 1-yr guaranteed. Time for Kirk to prove himself. Between Scot McCloughan and Bruce Allen, who was the one who was sold on Kirk? Who still doubted him? You could dig through every piece of journalism until you go cross-eyed, and you still wouldn't know the answer to that.

2016 - Kirk got off to a slow start in his first two games against the Steelers and the Cowboys, then he had some fantastic games against the Bengals, Vikings, Packers, and Cowboys, then he ended the season with some shakiness against the Cardinals, Panthers, and Giants. He ended the year with 4,917 yd / 25 TD / 12 INT / 67.0% comp / 97.2 rating. Now Kirk has officially proved himself as a legitimate starting NFL QB, and he is now worth some serious $$$. What do the Redskins do? Do they break the bank for a QB that hasn't won a playoff game? Do they franchise tag him again, this time for a $24MM? Will they franchise tag him again next year, that time for a whopping $34.5MM? Welp, for now, Kirk is franchise tagged for $24MM that was placed a day before the deadline (March 1), and have until Monday, July 17th at 4 pm to sign Kirk to a long-term contract. That's right, BIG MONDAY is three days away. It's impossible to predict what will actually happen, and the future of the Redskins franchise depends on what happens before then. Stay tuned.

(My guess is that Kirk signs a deal similar to the one David Carr did, but it also wouldn't surprise me if the Redskins disappointed me again and failed to get a long-term deal done).

Directory to Sections

Free Agency

Redskins Draft

Training Camp Battles

Projected Starting Lineup

Position Group Strengths / Weaknesses


Schedule Predictions

Shoutout to /u/skepticismsurvival for organizing this!

Shoutout to /u/thehbrwhammer for the assist! Sam does a lot of great work on his website NFL Breakdowns.

Link to the 2017 Offseason Review Hub

Submitted July 14, 2017 at 08:21AM by tee2green
via reddit

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