Redskins mailbag: Ask John

Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

John: RG 3 had an incredible deep ball at Baylor.  While he is clearly off to a great start in the NFL, the one thing he’s arguably missing is a WR like Kendall Wright with the speed to go deep along with having sure hands.  While the Redskins are deep at WR I am not sure they have a legitimate deep threat.  Leonard Hankerson can’t seem to get separation.   Santana has lost a step.  Garcon has been hurt and if I recall wasn’t good at catching the deep ball with the Colts.  That leaves maybe Aldrick Robinson who is still unproven.  Do you agree?  And if so do you agree that RG 3 would be significantly more dangerous with a deep threat weapon?


Mike: To a point I absolutely do. Any QB with a big arm is helped by downfield speed. Garcon is good at making difficult catches but has had drop issues. However, he does have excellent speed and would threaten teams downfield. It’s funny because Hankerson’s 40-yard dash time was good (at the combine it was 4.44 compared to Robinson’s 4.43). But Hankerson isn’t as quick and that plays a role in getting separation. Corners can match his speed. A big key is having several receivers on the field who have good speed, which the Redskins can do when Garcon is healthy. Then you have a number of players who can make big plays. But it’s tough to take a lot of shots downfield, so if you are getting the big chunk plays (20+ yards) then you’re doing well.



Hi John: We’re 6 weeks in… what’s the word on J. Brown? PUP to IR, or will be be left in limbo a few more weeks?


Mark Solway

Mark: They’re hoping that he could come off the PUP list after the bye week. Once he starts practicing the Redskins have three weeks to determine their next move, whether it’s to activate him or place him on IR. A couple of us talked to Brown last week.


John: Haven’t written in a while, but I felt my post was a good question for the mailbag too, so here goes: I just watched Sunday’s game again….

On the first 3 Vikings drives:
1) Big 20 yard play to Harvin to get them going…who got beat? D. Hall
2) Big run by AP down the sideline…who missed the tackle? D. Hall
3) Huge Harvin 20 yard+ play across the middle into the gap vacated by who? D. Hall

On the first TD drive that got the Vikings going again in the 4th quarter:
1) On 3rd & 9 we could of put this game away, but Harvin gains 20 yards…who got beat?
You guessed it…D. Hall

I’ve been noticing DH getting burned in every game and the opponents seem to be targeting him now more too because they probably see the same thing….

Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

Thanks for the great writing and analysis, much appreciated.



Martin: Yes. So are other offensive coordinators. But Hall has never been a great cover corner; his thing always has been interceptions. You can live with some plays if he’s making others. When he’s not making plays … Just because you’re paid like a top cover guy doesn’t mean you are one. I will say, there are times when he’s not getting the help he’s anticipating (happened vs. Tampa Bay a couple times, but even on the deep ball he had good coverage; he just lost to a great throw and superior player). On the 23-yard Harvin pass, he got turned around (happens a lot with him, in part because, from what I’ve heard other coaches say, he’s not as disciplined with his eyes) but the linebacker, Perry Riley, failed to properly drop leaving a big gap underneath. Hall was still turned around, so he didn’t play it well either and it starts with him. On the big one in the fourth quarter he lost big-time to Harvin. Sometimes I wonder if he overestimates his own speed and ability to stay with guys. Hall is a tough corner, but every player will miss tackles. London Fletcher missed a handful the other day and has missed at least one in almost every game this season. It happens. But I think there’s a reason the Redskins wanted to pursue Cortland Finnegan last offseason.



Hello John: I think you do a great job with the column, please email to Shanahan on a weekly basis :-) . I believe that our DBs are spending too much time looking at the QB and at times they are losing the WR. Josh Wilson was guilty of this last week and it cost us a sack. I always hear about how our D-Line needs to get pressure on the QB and that this will take pressure off of the secondary. But at the same time, don’t we need to make out DBs accountable for staying with WRs long enough so the D-Line has a chance to get to the QB?



Jevon: Haha. I think if coaches listened to me for even one minute they’d be out of work rather quickly! There are times when you must focus on the QB, when you’re in zone for example. However, the problem is when you lose sight of the receiver because all you’re doing is staring at the QB. In basketball you’re taught to play ball and man; some DB coaches teach it the same way in football – see the ball and the man in your zone. I’ve seen other examples of that this season – Hall is known for keeping his eyes too long on the QB. But I do think the secondary has received its share of criticism for what you describe. The coaches and players will tell you that the pass rush works in tandem; the better they cover the more time guys have to reach the QB. I think the problem in this situation is that the front seven is supposed to be the strength, whereas the DBs are starting two backups every week, and they need to help the secondary more by applying pressure.



John: From my observation, the Redskins haven’t run a single 3/5/7 step drop back pass play (non-play action) with RG3 under center all year (I may have missed a snap or two from the Vikings game, but I didn’t see one run there either). The only time they ran it was with Kirk Cousins…in fact, it was the first play Cousins ran when he took over for RG3 in the Falcons game. My question is why do you think this is and is it hindering his development?



Justin: It’s a good observation. But he never did it in college and he’s more comfortable operating out of the shotgun. He didn’t have a read progression in college, which he needs to have now. So put him in a spot where he’s comfortable and that’s what they’ve wisely done. Cousins did that a lot in college so use him where he feels best. If the Redskins keep putting up points the way they are now, it’s hard to say it’s the wrong philosophy. Yes, it would help his development to drop back in this fashion, but so, too, would the ability to run more no-huddle and make it more of a speed game and use his brains and athleticism even more. The big plays that are being left on the field now result more from his indecision in the pocket than anything. It’s not because he didn’t drop from under center. It is something they will continue to work on; along with just passing from the pocket in general.



John: Please focus on 3rd down play calling.  Kyle has failed to give RG3 sufficient options when throwing.  How many outs do you see? Almost everything is over the middle.


Elizabeth: It sometimes might seem that way — their offense is heavy on plays over the middle, partly because of all the play-action that sucks in linebackers and leaves gaps. But on every third down pass last week the Redskins did a good job balancing the field with receivers. I’ll show you in a minute, but one thing that makes it seem this way is that teams play a lot of cover-2 against the Redskins on third down, which generally leaves the middle free. Robert doesn’t turn the ball over a lot because he won’t force passes. It also means he sometimes misses plays because he won’t pull the trigger. I’ve seen that several times, including Sunday. It’s part of the learning curve and for now one reason the Redskins are 3-3 is because of the low turnover rate – with a high-scoring attack. Tough to complain.

Anyway, here’s what they did on the six times they dropped back to pass on third down:

  1. A deep go on the left; another between the hash and the numbers on the right. They ran a screen.
  2. On the interception, Santana Moss, in the tight slot to the right, ran an out and up. He was open – it was one of the few single-high safety looks – and Griffin, for whatever reason, didn’t throw the ball (he had a rusher coming at him but was about five yards away).
  3. Shovel pass.
  4. Shovel pass.
  5. An option route to Moss  between the numbers and the hashmark.
  6. Three receivers to the left – one ran outside the numbers, another at the hash, another ran a deep cross. The receiver to the right runs over the middle and a running back leaks out and runs an out-and-in. Nobody was open; Griffin ran.
  7. On the 76-yard touchdown, they had two receivers on the right; one over the middle and another on the left.

Glad you asked it; forced me to go back and look at more of the game just to see what they are doing. Hope that helps.



John:  Again, love your writing, it’s so in-depth. You might know the cap situation better than others right now. How much are we under the cap this year and what does it look like for next year? We have Fred Davis and Orakpo that we need to re-sign, and from Fred’s numbers so far it doesn’t look like he will come cheap. Not only do we have to resign our own guys, but we need to get some better secondary players, a RT, and play makers for RG3. Without a first rounder we are going to need to use free agency. I know its early, but like every other Redskins fan, we are interested in our cap situation and what we are looking at next year.
Rich Rudolph


Rich: Thanks. They were around $6 million under the cap when the season started but it’s now around $1.5 million. They’re around $104 million for next year (without the $18 million penalty), but so many variables enter into play that it’s tough to say what it will be like come March. There are ways to help. For example, it depends on what they do with Jammal Brown – if they cut him after June 1, 2013 he’d count only $1.1 million vs. next year’s cap. So there are a lot of variables that will come into play – DeAngelo Hall’s salary is around $8 million next season. Do you keep him around for that cost? Then again, you’d still have to replace him. They also have free agents (in addition to Davis) such as Kory Lichtensteiger and Lorenzo Alexander. They won’t be expensive, but you have to factor them into the equation. They also will need to sign a punter and perhaps a kicker. They won’t be starting at a good point when it comes to next year’s cap – maybe a few million under

Orakpo is not a free agent; he can become a free agent after next season. Davis won’t come cheap, but I don’t believe he’s going anywhere either. This is just a guess, but he’ll probably get around $7 million a year (the franchise tag this past season was $5.4 million). The top tight ends make around $7.5 million this season. They’re going to need to be creative. The other part of this is: They drafted 21 players combined the past two springs, including four offensive linemen. Develop your own. That’s how you succeed. Haven’t we seen too many times where the answers aren’t in free agency? I know that’s how you fill out the roster and it’s a help, but it shouldn’t be the primary solution. For example, they could save money by letting ‘Steiger walk and replacing him with Mo Hurt or Josh LeRibeus (who did not show a whole lot this summer). But is either one capable? If you’re developing guys then one of them should be, right?



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