The Washington Examiner’s John Keim (JK) takes questions from fans about injured linebackers, more RG3 and the defensive backfield in this installment of “Redskins Mailbag.”
Q: Do you think the team believes Keenan Robinson is likely the mlb of the future or will they likely fish in the draft for another? Ditto when it comes to right tackle do they like Polumbus and or Compton or do you think they see that position as a major need? – Mike
JK: Early to say on Robinson, but I do know they really like him. He’s smart and fast and was improving when he was injured. It would help if London Fletcher returns to give Robinson another season learning the defense to see if he’s ready to take over. Would he be ready next season? That’s very tough to imagine; they’d have to use a combo of Lorenzo Alexander and Robinson. I’d still look for another ILB to take in the early rounds (or in 2014 free agency). As for right tackle they seemed to like how Polumbus progressed and they consider Compton a good athlete. But I have a hard time believing they won’t look hard at this spot in the draft. I go by actions and last offseason they had this position on the list until cap concerns. Then they turned to oft-injured Jammal Brown before Polumbus. I agree with them; I think Polumbus improved throughout the season. But was that enough? The question Mike Shanahan always asks is this: What is the players’ ceiling? Also, Shanahan drafts a lineman pretty much every year. I think they’ll continue to look and see if they can find something better.
Q: Is there any way RG3 can develop his pocket passing skills this offseason while he’s still rehabbing? Or do we have to worry about another full year of the pistol offense? (which is effective, but puts RG3 at risk). — Thanks, Chris
JK: It’s not just developing as a pocket passer, it’s developing as a passer in general. Yes, I think it makes it tougher to improve in this area if you can’t get on the field. But some of that development is about watching film, both of himself and opponents. He needs to see all the pass plays again and gauge his decision making. They’ll go over every interception, every big play, every touchdown, multiple times so Griffin will have a chance to learn. Then it depends when he’ll be able to get on the field again to take it further. Yes, it won’t help him to be sidelined. I think it could slow the development of the offense too. It’s not like the other QBs will run what he does so you need him behind center to run the show. By the way the pistol absolutely does not put him at risk any more than being in shotgun puts Tom Brady at risk. Griffin was hurt when scrambling; that could occur from under center just as easily as from the pistol. He did not get hurt on the zone read and was not hit all that hard running it after the Cincinnati game.
Q: As always, thanks for the great work this season. Considering the needs on both sides of the football and the (correct me if I’m wrong) depth at defensive backs in the draft, is it possible the Redskins trade down to take more fliers on draftees? Is it harder to find hidden talent at a non-skill position than it is a skill position (a la Alfred Morris)?
To what extent should Redskin fans fear that RG III will be rushed (or rush himself) back from the injury? Will the coaches and management learn from the Seahawks game and protect RG III from himself?
What percentage of players would you say spend the offseason in the DC area? Ten percent even? –Thanks again, Andrew
JK: Thanks. 1) The Redskins have done an excellent job trading down to get more picks each of the past two drafts. It’ll be hard to do that when starting late in the second round, but they have been aggressive making such moves so, yeah, it’s possible. I think it depends on which skill position you’re talking about. I consider corner a skill position; hard to find good ones late. I think it’s hard to find playmakers and they usually play the skill positions. Look at the Redskins’ roster: their top pass rushers both were first-round picks and their corners were picked in the first and second rounds, respectively. Their QB is a first rounder; their best lineman is a first rounder. Their best receiver was a proven free agent. Not sure where I’m going with this other than to say it’s hard to find elite talent but for the positions you consider most important you’ll have to pick them higher, in general.
2) There’s no doubt Robert will try to get back as soon as possible. I’m sure the doctors will be cautious in his recovery simply because this is his second ACL surgery in four years. And based on everything I’ve heard about Mike Shanahan from players and those who have worked with him is that he won’t rush guys back. People can scoff at that, but that’s what I’ve consistently heard. As for Seattle – keep in mind the medical staff said he could keep playing – everyone will have to learn that Griffin will never remove himself from a game if he can still walk (he did take himself out vs. Baltimore; watch the replays and it’s clear he only went out because he finally sat down on the ground because he could no longer move around). Shanahan treated Griffin the same way he treated Trent Williams and London Fletcher throughout the season. The difference is that I think veterans tend to have a better idea of when they need to come out. I hope Griffin learned when he must take himself out.
3) Not sure of the percentage but it’s at least 10 percent. Some of these players have kids in school so they stick around for that reason.
Q: The secondary seems the obvious thing to fix in the off season. Most Redskins fans say the next most important position to fix is right tackle. But I wonder if the team feels the same way? Pro Football Focus ranked Tyler Polumbus as one of the worst RTs in the league. But Shanahan I noticed is complementary when asked about Tyler. Also I understand, Shanahan puts a premium on players who can run block well and stay healthy. Question is do you think there is a decent chance they sign Tyler on the cheap as a free agent and ride with him and Compton again next year? The 2nd position I wonder about is DE. Do you think there is a decent chance they’d look for a player in free agency or the draft who could bring more interior pass pressure? It seems that the elite 3-4 defenses have at least one guy who isn’t just a space eating run stopper but also brings pressure like a JJ Watt or Justin Smith. — Mike
JK: I talked about Polumbus above. But I’ll add a couple more things: Coaches always will be complimentary of their players publicly. That’s not to say it’s always false, but especially in Shanahan’s case if a guy works hard and does what they asked he will praise him as he should. That’s Polumbus. I don’t have a great feel yet on what their plans are at this spot. I do know every coach puts a premium on good run blockers who stay healthy. I also know that Shanahan loves competition so I can see them eyeing a tackle. And, again, they wanted to upgrade here last year. Not sure that anything really has changed. But here’s why your scenario is plausible: If you don’t get a tackle in free agency and you don’t draft one in the early rounds then it’s tough to expect anyone new to come in and contribute. Also, their limitations in free agency and the lack of a first-round pick limits their options.
As for a DE, those guys cost money. The Redskins don’t have it. I think they’ll view the return of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker and the youth of Jarvis Jenkins as reasons why the pressure will increase next season. Carriker is not a true pass rusher, but he gave them better pressure than they got from Jenkins this year. The pass rush in most 3-4 defenses still comes from the linebackers. Orakpo’s return should help Stephen Bowen too.
Q: I am very much surprised about the still lack of any update from the Redskins organization (3 weeks out) or RG3 himself, regarding the exact nature of the surgical findings, surgical procedure and updated recovery/rehab news… Perhaps the “stem cell” angle that’s being reported is a reason. I would have expected a news conference by now with RG3 himself. I’m even more surprised and somewhat disappointed that the Redskins beat writers have not raised out loud this issue or is this being actively pursued behind the scenes?.– Fares, Lebanon
JK: Trust me when I say that every beat writer has inquired about getting more information. Just because it’s not done publicly doesn’t mean many aren’t trying. But just because fans and media want it doesn’t mean the team will agree. It would have been nice to have Dr. Andrews talk about what was done and answer questions about what to expect going forward. But I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for the club to allow this to happen. They’re a secretive bunch, especially when it comes to Griffin. I would not expect him to have had a press conference. He’s down in Florida, and will be for some time, and if I were them I’d wait until he’s further along in his recovery to make him available. Right now, I’d rather talk to those who performed the procedure. As for the stem cell, all that’s been out there is that Dr. Andrews has used this procedure in the past. Nobody knows if he did it for Griffin.
Q: Possibly lost in the shuffle at this time is another important prospective “comeback” player, Brian Orakpo. How significant was it that his first surgery didn’t “take” and what did that signify for the shape he will be in, when and if he does make it back this time? – Peter
JK: I think it’s significant because he also hurt it in the preseason too. So that was three times in a short period of game action, starting with the 2011 finale. And pec tears are tough to fully recover from, especially at his position given how he plays. He’ll reach out with that arm quite a bit to try and make a tackle when forcing runners inside. I’ve talked to some defensive coaches who say better technique would help him avoid this sort of repeated injury. It bears watching next summer. Perhaps the longer time off will help it heal more. But
Q: Is there anyone else who’s a candidate to receive the franchise tag other than Fred Davis? – @SGininger
JK: Anyone’s a candidate, but a legit one? No. If they use it on anyone it would have to be Davis. But given their cap space it might be hard to franchise him (it would cost around $6.5 million to do this with him). My guy Grant Paulsen pointed out today that it might be wiser to sign him to a couple year deal at a lower cost. That’s a possibility. Regardless, they need to keep him.
Q: Any idea if we will we re-sign Tanard Jackson and Meriweather back? I know we will acquire more CBs and Ss but we need help. — @Abstract_cool
JK: Meriweather is under contract. Not sure what they’ll do with Jackson and they won’t talk about him because it’ll be early September before he’s even eligible to ask for reinstatement. I would not count on him. Yes, they do need more help in the secondary. It’ll help the DBs if the front seven applies more pressure. That was an issue much of the season.
Q: Thoughts on CB needs this offseason? Get someone like s. smith (Mia) or good with Wilson & other young cb’s (@ChaseMinnifield) — @joshking804
JK: No, they’ll need to get someone else other than their young CBs. As of now their best option would be to re-work DeAngelo Hall’s deal because I’m not sure they’ll be able to afford a whole lot. Sean Smith, from everything I’ve heard, has been inconsistent in Miami and was not a playmaker (five interceptions in four years). He has measurables, but honestly if he’s that good then Miami finds a way to keep him considering the Dolphins’ strong need for corners. I would not rely on Minnifield. He’s coming off a microfracture knee surgery and then an ACL reconstruction. That’s brutal. The problem with microfractures is that, based on what I’ve researched, it increases the likelihood of more knee issues, which he’s already had.
JK: I touched on this a week or so ago and it’s a good point. Can it improve the team? I don’t think so because if they’re going to grow this offense it’ll be tailored to Griffin’s skills. However, there is a great benefit to Cousins because he’ll get all the first team reps. It’s rare for a guy in his position to get the sort of work he’ll get this offseason. If Griffin isn’t ready to start the season then Cousins will be prepared if nothing else. So in that sense the team will have been helped.