John: Everyone seems to blame the secondary for giving up all the passing yards, but not many people give them credit for doing what they can when the pass rush is ineffective and the opposing QBs have forever and a day to throw. Who do you see as being more at fault, the pass rush or the secondary? Also, since the secondary is lacking, am I correct that it’s resulting in us asking the OLBs to play more in coverage and rush the passer less? Isn’t that a bit of a vicious cycle, since the effectiveness of the secondary depends on the effectiveness of the pass rush?
And a special bonus question: it seems like a lot of analysts are stuck on the idea that right tackle should be a high priority this offseason, but it seems to me that Polumbus is coming into his own and doing just fine. With him being a young guy and with Compton developing as a backup (we hope), am I right to suggest that adding another tackle could be a mid to low priority instead? Besides, I’m sure we could transition Lorenzo Alexander over to right tackle…
Adam: 1) I think the lack of pressure has been a major contributor to the secondary issues. Going into the season the defensive backfield was a problem, but you figured they’d apply more pressure to somewhat offset. I’m not absolving the secondary of any blame, but the Redskins have not won enough one-on-one battles. Losing Brian Orakpo really hurt and Ryan Kerrigan has had too many quiet games; it’s not all because he’s getting double teamed, either. But they’re not just rushing four every down. They do have to drop linebackers, but they did that even when Orakpo was healthy. Kerrigan is not playing that much more in coverage. 2) I’m not sold that Polumbus is the long-term answer at right tackle, even though his play has improved in the second half of the season. I’m curious to see how he finishes the season. I think they’d still like to see better cutback lanes (see Houston’s run game, for example). I think it’s a priority, but landing a safety and corner should be higher. I don’t know if Compton can handle it or not; we haven’t seen him since the summer.
John: Rob Jackson has gotten some hype over the years as a good backup pass rusher but it seems now that he’s starting he isn’t really much of a force at least in terms of making sacks — what have you noticed about him good or bad when you study the games? My other question is on Josh Wilson, I read somewhere that quarterbacks have over 110 rating this season when they throw in his direction — what do you think of his play this year? Thanks for the great coverage of the team.
Mike: Thank you. On Jackson, I’ve seen improvement vs. the run and shedding blocks. Looks like he’s improved there. As a pass rusher I thought in the past he was helped by the fact that less is more: he would play sparingly, so tackles wouldn’t know what to expect. His pass rushing was supposed to be a strength; good hands. But he was also considered a finesse rusher so I think his lack of variety hurts him, especially because he’s not an elite talent. I think Rob has been fine and showed that he’s a good backup, but he’s not an every-down linebacker. On Josh, the Redskins are asking him to be a No. 1 corner and that’s not who he is. I’m not blaming them because he is their best cover corner, but he’s considered a No. 2 type. So I think that’s part of it. When teams decide to challenge him they have done well this season. I thought he played well last year and I think with a reshuffling of the secondary he can be good again, but as a No. 2 and not facing the top receiver each week.
John: Your buddy @RedskinsST21 from twitter here – thanks again for all the insight. Couple questions too long for 140…Do you think just the leadership/presence of RG3 has improved the line play? I feel like they all must feel they have a real asset to protect back there, and could be part of the intangibles of the line playing better. 4.3 speed certainly helps as well.
What would you do with the WR corp going into FA/draft? You think we go into next year with Garcon at WR1 and S. moss in the slot again? Robinson is a nice speed guy and I have always hoped Morgan would turn into a super physical Boldin type – but I think we could be surprised with a WR draft pick early or something in free agency.
Is it possible to fix this secondary in one year? They seem to be playing a bit better, and if we did a 2nd/3rd on a safety – I’m hopeful we could see some real improvement.
Zack: I think the line feels the same desire to do a good job as it did last season for Rex Grossman. It’s their job so, no, I don’t think it’s just because of Griffin. I think the scheme helps them a lot by fooling the defense’s eyes and causing hesitation, thereby slowing the rush at times. It’s rare that Griffin drops back without some sort of play-action; that helps, too. Griffin’s speed helps, but mobile quarterbacks tend to get sacked more just because they feel they can get out of situations and sometimes they can’t. 2) They always have a lot of interest in receivers, so it’s always a possibility. Garcon is clearly the No. 1, as long as his foot is healthy. If Moss continues to stay in this sort of shape, then he could return. But they were willing to ditch him last offseason had they signed Eddie Royal (but that was before Moss showed what sort of shape he was in). But his base salary of approximately $4 million is expensive (he’d be entering the last year of his deal). What they need to do is keep developing the young guys such as Robinson and Leonard Hankerson. That makes more sense to me than using a high pick on another wideout. 3) Not sure that I think they’re playing any better or different. It’s tough to turn any spot around in one year because they need a couple bodies back there – a starting safety and corner. It’s possible if things break right in both free agency and the draft. As stated in another answer, if their pass rush improves, that would help a great deal too.
Hey John: Not that I’m already looking to the offseason, but is there any chance the Skins fight the 18 million $ cap hit they’re scheduled to take? I still can’t believe this is legal. Thanks,
Matt: At one point I had heard the matter was over, but turns out that wasn’t the case. The Redskins are still trying to recoup that money and have a case pending against the league to appeal the $36 million. I don’t know what the chances are of them winning, nor do I know when the matter will be resolved in time for it to even matter this offseason.
John: What must RGIII do to prove he’s a top QB and MVP- get more wins for the Redskins or cont. to play at a high level or better?
Brandy: (Pulled from Twitter; better to answer in more than 140 characters). All of the above. It’s tough to win an MVP award if your team is 6-10 or 7-9 so winning is the top priority. There’s always someone who had a great year whose team won a division title. The way Denver is rolling right now, Peyton Manning is in a good position to win the award. But if the Redskins somehow win their remaining games, then Griffin absolutely will be in the discussion. And the only way they’ll win those games is if Griffin plays at a high level. I think he’s already proving he’s a top QB. But a lot of those who are in that group right now have proven themselves over years, not just one season. However, Griffin will remain in that group because of his work ethic and desire to improve. Those traits plus talent equals big-time talent for years. I have a hunch he’ll win a couple MVPs before his career is done.