The Washington Examiner’s John Keim (JK) takes questions from fans about Ryan Kerrigan, Aldrick Robinson and, of course, RG3′s knee in this installment of “Redskins Mailbag.”
Q: Do you think Aldrick Robinson could be groomed as a slot receiver behind or to replace Moss? — Charles
JK: Maybe, but I’m not sure how long it would take to make him a consistent one and I’d rather find someone else with a better all-around skill set to handle the job. Moss is so good at getting away from defenders off the line; it’s not just about being athletic and fast. Robinson is fast and quick, but his skills have a ways to go. Robinson has worked more as the X receiver because of his speed and ability to threaten defenses downfield. For now that’s the role he’ll probably continue as a backup.
Q: I know the emails are on hiatus, but if you could answer, I’d be grateful. I read somewhere there’s a possibility that Dan Snyder may fly Griffin to Europe for stem cell treatment. Being that I’m a progressive, I can’t stand the fact that it’s still not entirely legal in this country. Having said that, I would love to know that was the case. Thoughts? Anyone even ask? — Aaron
JK: Well, the team isn’t answering questions about this nor are the doctors. So it’s tough to get legitimate answers. But what I do know is that Dr. James Andrews, who operated on Griffin, has used stem cell injections in the treatment of his patients. This article says that Andrews uses that therapy mostly on football players with knee problems.
Q: Maybe you read the Rant Sports post that suggested we could switch Kerrigan back to DE and give his OLB spot to Rob Jackson? The prospect of Kerrigan, Orakpo, Jackson, and Bowen all rushing the passer sounds fantastic. What’s your take? Also, how much turnover do you expect to see in the Skins secondary this offseason? Meriweather, Gomes, Jackson, Williams, Crawford, Minnifield, Hall… Seems like it’s a huge question mark moving forward. Thanks for all your insight. — Adam in Charlottesville
JK: No, I did not see the article. I would have stopped reading the minute someone suggested turning Kerrigan into an end in a 3-4 front. He’s too small. Period. If you want him to play end in a 3-4 he’d need to add 40 pounds. Take a look at Stephen Bowen, Kedric Golston, Jarvis Jenkins and Adam Carriker. All are around 300 pounds. Then you’re changing a guy’s mindset. Kerrigan’s college and NFL career have been about getting to the quarterback; in a 4-3, that’s what ends do. But in a 3-4 the bulk of their job is setting up the linebackers to make plays. Not to mention the fact that Kerrigan is a better all-around player than Jackson, more versatile and has a better understanding of the D. Now, if you want to tinker with something on third downs and use Kerrigan in a four-point stance on occasion in their nickel or dime package and use Jackson and Orakpo as your stand-up ‘backers, that’s fine. They will be creative if they have all three. Or if you switched to a 4-3 and wanted Kerrigan (or Orakpo) to play end, that’s fine. But not in a 3-4.
As for the secondary, it is a huge mark and I see at least a couple changes: adding a corner and at least one safety. Maybe two players at both spots.
Q: With all the misplaced criticism over the Kirk Cousins pick last April, shouldn’t the earlier pick of LeRibeus be scrutinized more? That could’ve been a safety or a right tackle, and likely a contributor given its place in the draft. With Hurt having had some experience off of which he could build going into the season and Gettis coming into the fold later on, it seems like more of a luxury pick than Cousins did. Long term, does the staff view LeRibeus as a center to push or back up Monty, or as a guard? Thanks, John. — Trevor
JK: Yes, that can be scrutinized. Every pick can be. There were some players at positions they needed help, but I don’t know where those players were on their draft board. They did need interior help, especially if Kory Lichtensteiger’s knee did not rebound, which it did. The fact that they took LeRibeus with Hurt on the roster should tell you something too. And they don’t exactly know they’ll be taking Adam Gettis two rounds later; no one plans that well. With third-round picks (any pick for that matter) it’s about long-term value. What if LeRibeus ends up starting next year and is a mainstay for 10 years? No one will ever say he was a bad pick. Then again, if that doesn’t happen (if ‘Steiger returns LeRibeus would have to play awfully well to beat him out) … So I’m not saying you can’t question it by any means. But there’s a lot of time left before determining whether it was a smart pick or not.
Q: As always, thanks for the great work this season. With Chip Kelly arriving in Philadelphia, will the Redskins’ opponents (in NFC east as well as eight other common opponents) have additional preparation for the Shanahan offensive scheme that they would not otherwise? Do you think that the success of these schemes is attributable to the fact that they’re untraditional so opposing defenses are less prepared? And if so, will the scheme soon become a victim of its own success as it proliferates? Are the Redskins active at all in the use of statistical analysis in making front office decisions? Do you have a sense for how common it is throughout the league? I understand that the Jacksonville Jaguars created a football technology and analytics group last year. — Thanks again, Andrew
JK: Thank you… and good question. I think the more any offense is run in the NFL, the more defensive coaches find ways to stop it. But not every zone read team will run their offense the same way; will they be more of an inside or outside zone? How will they use their passing game in connection to it? But eventually if more teams run this then it stops being revolutionary; however there’s no doubt the Redskins have an idea where they want to take their offense and it would be wrong to think they won’t develop it more in terms of pre-snap looks and what they run off it. I saw teams adjust to their zone read play-action game later in the season, particularly Dallas, to take it away. As far as statistical analysis, I can’t say I’ve had a discussion about that with anyone. I do know that it didn’t seem to work out well with Jacksonville. I think it’s very hard to measure by stats and project. But I also know when teams are able to break it down into detail, how many yards per carry a back averages vs. an eight-man front or how many catches this receiver had vs. press coverage, then it’s helpful. Football has so many variables that it’s tough to just look at stats. But I’ve read stories quoting Gil Brandt as saying this will become a bigger part of the scouting process.
Q: Has London talked about the chances of him returning next year? and if he doesn’t, is he a hall of famer? – Thanks, Anthony
JK: He’s still saying that he’ll take time to make a decision. He does not want to let the emotion of the season taint his decision one way or another, which is a smart move. In talking to people who know him, they think he’ll return. But that’s just a guess, based in part on the fact that this is the first time he’s really brought up retirement. However, Fletcher has viewed this season as the second most fun he’s had in his career. Will he want to go out with a positive memory? Will Griffin’s recovery factor into his decision? The hard part for athletes his age, playing remains fun. But it’s the work it takes to hit the field Sunday fully prepared that’s draining, from the film work to everything else. Fletcher had to gut it out the second half of the season; maybe that was eye-opening or draining. As for Canton, those I’ve talked to who know more say no he’s not. I remember seeing a long list of current players and their Hall of Fame chances in Sports Illustrated a couple months ago; they did not mention Fletcher.
Q: I hear many people (“experts”) discount Griffin’s passing success, saying he only had to make 1 maybe 2 reads per play compared to Luck having to read the entire defense. What are your thoughts on this? — Amani in LA
JK: Luck was a more polished passer coming out of college and therefore could handle more in the NFL. He was handed more responsibility in the passing game at Stanford than Griffin had at Baylor. Griffin did not have to read receivers in college; there was no route progression he had to worry about. In the NFL, that’s all he has to worry about. In college, he threw when the receiver broke open; in the NFL, he must throw him open. The Redskins needed to ease Griffin into an NFL passing offense, which they did quite well as 20 TDs and only five INTs suggest. Luck played in an offense that required him to be proficient in these aspects and I think it showed in the Colts’ aggressiveness having him throw downfield and throw more in general (234 more than Griffin). Doesn’t mean he was a better QB, but in the passing game he was more advanced. I wouldn’t worry much about it. Griffin improved as a passer and his work ethic plus brains suggest he’ll continue to do so.
Q: Has @RGIII’s injury affect the way they draft this year? — @DinoFTW
JK: Well, at this point there’s no way to know until they make a draft pick. We already know they might take a right tackle. If they take a QB in the second round then yeah it had an effect. But I don’t see them taking linemen with their first four picks. It’s not like he got hurt because of his line. But I’m sure what you’d respond is that if they want to turn him into a pocket passer he’ll need better protection. Sure he would. I just don’t see him ever becoming fully that sort of quarterback. Regardless of how much he runs in the future, he’ll always be able to roll out, run the bootleg, etc.
Q: Due to the emergence of the passing game without him, does Fred Davis become a cap casualty? – @jabedoben
JK: He’s not under contract so unless you mean an indirect cap casualty then no. But I didn’t see this great emergence without Davis. I saw some good games and big plays, but consider that Griffin threw for less than 200 yards in four of his last five games and fewer than 220 in seven of his last nine. Logan Paulsen was not a receiving threat for most of the win streak (13 catches last eight games combined). Why let a guy like Davis get away? Heck, I’d want to see what this offense could do with Davis and Pierre Garcon both healthy at the same time. The way the Redskins run the ball defenses get fooled all the time; I was amazed at how many times they’d lose sight of Davis. With his speed, he’s a perfect fit for what the Redskins want.
Q: Moss or not we are in need of a slot WR, what are our best options internally, free agent or draft wise, keep up the good work. – @thekingrobert7
JK: The Redskins say Leonard Hankerson can work in the slot, though he seems best suited outside. Robinson always is a possibility, but see above. I haven’t studied the draft deep enough to say who would be a good slot receiver available in, say, the middle rounds. As for free agents, Wes Welker and Danny Amendola are unrestricted. But the Redskins likely won’t have a lot of cash to spend. Could be that the best way to go is continue with Moss and find someone in the middle rounds to groom. Or deal with it in 2014 free agency. (To do this you’d likely have to re-do Moss’ deal, unless you think this is his last season here in which case how much future cap space would you want to use to keep him for one more year?)
Q: You might not know, but lots of us are curious about Minnifield’s recovery. Any word? – @Poker_Donkey
JK: Sorry, haven’t heard. What I do know is that the odds are very much against Minnifield. A microfracture surgery last offseason followed by an ACL reconstruction suggests long-term rehab and a small chance for recovery. He’s a smart kid and he looked good last spring, but once you have a microfracture surgery the chances for more increase – as he’s already seen.
Q: If Morris misses out on a coordinator position, what would be the chances Talib would join him in DC? I believe he is an UFA. – @CumberlandCup
JK: No idea; bit early to get a read on free agents. If he helps the Patriots win a Super Bowl and they want him back, why would he leave? Just to be reunited with Raheem Morris, who could be leaving after next season for a coordinator’s job? Also, the Redskins might not have that sort of cap room. Always keep in mind that players go where they get paid the most and being reunited with a coach is usually more of a tiebreaker.
Q: First thanks for all the great and tireless work you do following the Skins. Now here is a question, or rather want to get your opinion. Alot of Skins fans have assumed and are hoping the Skins will release Hall to clear cap space. Thing with that is I think it gives you one of two options. Option one, they release Hall and say the cap space. Yea, more cap room. But in doing this you create another hole in a roster of a team that lacks cap space AND doesnt have a first round pick in the coming draft. Yes the release of Hall clears cap space. But it also means the Skins go into the off season needing not one or two, but now three defensive backs. While Hall isn’t playing up to his current cap number, I have got to think replacing him with the likes of Mike Jenkins will cost at a minimum half the cap space we saved. And its for a guy who cant really stay healthy and on his best day is maybe 2/3 the corner of Hall. Younger sure, but I was never really impressed. and sure don’t want him starting or playing the nickel for the Skins.we also need safety help, and that aint going away.
Option two. rework Hall and clear basically half his cap number off the books for 2013 so maybe he costs $3 million against the cap. But you also are not then looking at needing two corners on top of at least one safety and a RT. You also are not going into the season with as many as three defensive backs trying to learn the defense at the same time. Is hall an all star at this point deserved of $7.5 million this year?? Probably not. But he was not the worst corner in the league and likely would save the team some growing pains on the defensive side of the ball and allow them to take the best player available in the draft in stead of almost being forced to take a corner.
But whats your take on this??? –Dirk
JK: As of now I’d re-work his deal and bring him back. You need to have a backup plan and, as of now, they won’t have a lot of money to spend in free agency to find another corner of his caliber. There’s no one on the roster who can replace him. Without a first-round pick it’s tough to find a quality corner. Is Hall the best corner? No. But he can still help them.